Strange Fruit (3:08 E.R.T)

Today’s first article concerns history, which holds a special place in my heart after teaching it for fifteen years or so.  It is an article from the Washington Post about the new African American Museum in DC.  It discusses how it can be difficult for parents to take their children, so there are signs in red which highlight the difficult exhibits.  I love this quote though

“Skipping exhibits that describe the rape of young black women or the lynching of young black men is a disservice, she said.  “It would seem like taking your child to the Holocaust Museum and not expect to deal with the Holocaust,” Hinkson said.”

When I was in elementary school in the late 70’s and early 80’s we studied the Civil War, and it was apparently difficult for people then to determine why the war had been fought.  South Carolinians in 1860 knew why, slavery, but apparently the authors of my scrubbed elementary school social studies books did not know that.  The problem continued until college, when apparently it is finally safe to learn the truth about history.  Though even today many introductory college textbooks can be rather lean on the history of race, gender, and discrimination in the United States.  I was privileged enough in my first year of teaching to have an older student in my history of Chicago class, which I was teaching in Chicago.  She did her final paper and presentation on Emmett Till, and for her presentation she had many pictures, most of which I’d never seen.  That’s because she knew Emmett Till, had grown up with him, lived in the community all the years after his death, and the pictures were her own.  That day my students and I learned a lot about history, and I hope every visitor to the museum has a similar experience.

More news about self-driving cars, this time from the New York Times.  The federal government has created some guidelines which should help pave the way for self driving cars sooner rather than later.  With these guidelines auto manufacturers, software developers, state legislatures, and judges should have the green light for future development.  Once insurance companies get on board it will be a short time before commutes become fun or productive and family road trips become more enjoyable for all.

In Minnesota we have a school that has severed their math ties to Texas Instruments and lets students use an app on their smart phones in math class.   I think this is great, the TI 84 somehow costs 100 dollars still and is a huge monopoly in math classes around the country.  The software they are using is from a company called Desmos and there are apps for Android and Apple users.  If it can do the same thing, on something students already own, I’d say do it.  Or at least take a deep interest in it and check it out as an option.

The final article is from the Chronicle about integrative general education classes.  The idea is instead of thou must take a quant reasoning, a lab science, and a speech class you can take classes all leading towards a theme.  So perhaps classes in social justice which you learn about statistics and presenting information.  I must admit as I was reading this I kept thinking, great idea, but will it work at a community college?  And then they discuss how it didn’t work at one community college, but they are retooling the idea.  So I think this is a topic worthy of discussion at schools.  We are not living in a world where everything simply comes down to math, or writing, or speaking.  Integrating these ideas to understand how statistics work, and being able to write, present, or converse on the information presented, however  will be valuable.

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