There is private insurance that basically lets you cut the line in certain cases, mainly ailments where an operation isnt time critical. We do have a few small private specialist hospitals that accept patients that pay their own way, but they work within the system as well. I had an operation on one of these hospitals, paid for by the standard single-payer insurance. Worked just like on any other hospital.
Fractions are important for later mathematics and for understanding things like percentages, decimal notation, scale, parts of the whole, ratios, I could go on. Early work in fractions helps foster a better way for kids to think about mathematics. We use few fractional measurements in Sweden, but its still an important mathematical concept. Also, using graphical representations of fractions frequently leads to misunderstandings or fixations on fractions being just pieces of a pie. When you actually try to do math beyone adding up to one whole pie, bar, octagon or whatever a lot of students hit a brick wall unless you have worked with multiple representations and thinking about fractions as numbers, not pieces of a given whole.
Why on earth would you lock down an iPad? We have about 100 iPads at my school (its 1-1, iPads for 10-12 and laptops/chromebooks for the older kids) and very few technical glitches. But then, ours arent locked down and are on an open wireless network. I have no problem managing the use of the iPads in my classsroom, they are used when and how I say. Sysadmins and others tend to have a very narrow focus on tech in schools, at least thats my experience. Open standards and a good infrastructure is whats needed, not lockdowns, bureacracy and management.
The device itself is a tool, its what I as a teacher do with it that makes a difference. I teach math and science at a school near Stockholm in Sweden. All my students in math turned in their own video explaining how to separate any number into ones, tens, hundreds and so on the other week. I get the kids to think and act and I get a great overview of their math vocabulary and basic thinking. We use it to watch videos with short lessons and explanations of problems, to do homework and write on our classroom blog. We use them for documenting science projects by writing, snapping pictures and making videos, we train multiplication tables and watch clips from Youtube and sources like myself and other teachers at the school.
The iPad is a complementary tool for my teaching. What I teach doesnt change when you add technology, but how I can teach and how the kids can learn does. Last year I had three computers and 34 kids at a different school. I still teach the same things, but I can do a lot more in the same time now.
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Teaching is like carpentry. Most people can figure out how to use a hammer, saw, nails and some planks to make a useable chair. Making a Windsor chair is a different thing. Or, a more slashdottian example: most people can learn how to make a "Hello world" by reading a book, but it takes a bit more to write kernel modules for Linux.
Technology probably (not scientifically proven yet) has quite a bit to offer in the field of teaching, but its not a replacement for teachers. If you want to know what works (scientifically proven) , try John Hatties metastudy of metastudies, "Visible Learning". He shows that feedback and more importantly, feed forward and feed up, are key elements of improving learning in the classroom.
Nope. The greatest threat to personal liberty in the US comes from the military-industrial complex you have let fester and the paranoia that seems to be the basic state of many americans. Personal liberty is only encroached upon by government if there is a demand for it from its citizens to give them "security". Just like with the bomber gap and the missile gap you quickly closed the terror gap when the citizens screamed. And hey, "security" has a price.
Morally there is very little difference between terrorists killing people they disagree with using IED:s and rifles and the US using drones to do the same.