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Topic: Homework or Alfie Kohn
Replies: 11   Last Post: Dec 8, 2010 1:54 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 3,514
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: Homework or Alfie Kohn
Posted: Dec 6, 2010 3:48 PM
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On Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 9:54 AM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:
> What surprised me the most in the TIMSS analysis was how large the effect is when you combine homework and parental support. In fact, it is the first time I have seen American numbers approach Asian numbers. It even surpasses the effect of social economic circumstances.
> It also explains why my son is so far ahead. If I spend 3 hours a week with him, that is 12 times as much equivalent time his teacher has with him. A teacher teaching 20 kids one hour a day 5 days a week is equivalent to 15 minutes per kid per week. I am not saying that this is an exact comparison, just that one on one time with a parent is significant. I won't fret anymore that I was overdoing it. According to those charts no matter how I work with him there is going to be a gap between him and school.

I don't think these results are news to anyone. The ed industry keeps
circulating the same findings over and over and over.**

Many analysts have a Calvinistic bent and think low income means the
parents probably weren't high enough on the bell curve to warrant the
big incomes they get in the gated communities, like we had, guards
with rifles at the ready. Over the ramparts: shanty towns. The
people on the far side were not genetically any less capable, but the
resources committed for their use were paltry compared to what was
lavished on foreign service brats or the occupying military (since
withdrawn, no shots fired).

So the goal of any program should be to boost household income, which
is probably most easily accomplished by making schooling itself a
remunerative proposition. Families of privilege already get paid
foster home level fees for providing exchange student opportunities
for similarly privileged students visiting from sister cities in Asia,
Africa and such places (don't fool yourself, the wealthy have plenty
of enclaves on all continents). Why should the under-privileged and
oppressed not have these same opportunities?

The answer is simple: the State Department would never permit
overseas families to live in the rat infested hell holes that pass for
"living accommodations" in so many of America's cities and rural
areas. The USA's reputation for having a working economic system,
although non-existent at the top, is still clung to by mystics and
philosophers in the middle classes. The whole point of exchange
programs is to advertise the American Dream, not to discredit its
ability to self-govern.

Now that more Chinese are riding Amtrak through the heartland (a
favorite tourist activity) and seeing North America for what it is,
they go home in less of a panic about "falling behind". They're
already ahead in enough ways to give comfort. Indeed, talk of a
Chinese Peace Corps with missions to Detroit have become a part of the
background buzz. Why leave doctors without borders to provide all the
clinical and dental services? They're already over-stressed by what's
happened in Haiti. Here in Portland, they line up around the block
overnight in the freezing cold to avail of said services, Portland
being a kind of mecca for both geeks and homeless (geek campers are
into pioneering XRL, per many already-published threads).

Anyway, old news that it helps to help your kids. That's why both
parents working and yet paying for daycare, even for pre-schoolers,
makes practically no sense at all (Michael Moore gets into this in one
of his, not the I Love Capitalism one). Any anthropologist not bound
by promises of secrecy would likely tell you that any culture driving
a wedge between the generations in this way is secretly suicidal.

My kid is at home today, out sick, having won 2nd place in the latest
statewide debate tournament (one of several awards, plus her school,
neither rich nor privileged, won best in show). We've been watching
'Gasland' together, a documentary about WDC's full-press chemical
warfare assault on the American heartland, and the National Guard's
failure to lift a finger in America's defense, having been deployed to
some hurt locker overseas (not sure where today, might be Yemen given
how the chips are falling).

Bringing the troops home to defend America might be a good
presidential policy, regardless of political party yes? Yeah, I know
about the Posse Comitatus Act (Tea Party people generally do too), but
I was talking about the National Guard. You'd think we'd have learned
something from Rita / Katrina no?

How do we launch a war on poverty with a debt kitty the size of Rhode
Island and no capital assets except square miles of parked tanks and
fighter jets, quasi-useless in cyber-warfare (though with amusement /
theme park potential, as eco-tourist destinations). I'm thinking "we"
probably don't, if "we" means the usual suspects who've failed every
test so far.

The private sector, e.g. Silicon Anywhere (Valley, Forest, Hills...
you name it), is certainly better prepared to teach STEAM teachers
than any ed school will ever be. So lets get over our squeamishness
about accepting help from commercial interests? Here in Oregon, that
means pioneering a Digital Math track with or without the cooperation
of the state's higher ed faculties. But why without? From what I'm
able to discern, there's a hunger for public/private partnerships on
both sides of the fence. See my Project Renaissance write-up (more
than a decade old by now) for more of a blueprint. Feel free to
imitate in your state, without attribution (or flatter your source and
maybe we'll help more directly).


** same finding, from a more plainspoken time (author at Kent State,
son of coal miners, a relative):

(note that in sharing this paper, I am not thereby signalling my
implicit endorsement of all the views expressed -- for example I think
every generation should have the privilege of creating and staffing
new public schools, even if these are failures. Any state that isn't
imaginative enough to create new public schools from scratch, which
means issuing new charters, is a state without vision or leadership).

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