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Comment Re:They're probably correct (Score 1) 273

I'm a college professor at a community college where I teach both chemistry and physics. The vast majority of my courses I teach at a local high school to kids who are in a dual credit program. They're accelerated two years ahead and graduate with associate's degrees simultaneously with their high school diplomas. The program is bloated with too many kids who have been wedged in when it's me that gets to be the bad guy gatekeeper. I have posted on my walls my transcripts. I have my high school transcripts where I was #10 out of 500 some odd. I have my undergraduate transcripts where I was #1300 out of #1800 (I only discovered a couple years ago when I requested new transcripts that a class rank existed!) and then I have my graduate transcripts. Straight 4.0. Tied for #1. I talk to them about how I didn't go from being smart, to dumb, to smart again... high school was too easy and I was unprepared for my undergrad. Once I learned through trial and error (mostly error), I eventually tuned my study habits and got back to successful practices. My students whine and whine about the work load and that they're required to think. I spend only half of my efforts doing knowledge acquisition and half of my efforts doing skill building. I teach science for non-majors at the high school so I focus on backing up reasoning with data, critical thinking, analyzing situations, and logical design. It's mind blowing for them. #thestruggleisreal

Comment Re:Ph.D. != qualified to teach (Score 1) 157

I am a professor and I'm ABD in an EdD in Curriculum & Instruction. My research is on exactly what you mention and, thus far, the literature does not support your idea. At least through secondary school, having basic concepts and skill in teaching is ideal. Raising a teacher's conceptual level shows little return whereas giving ongoing education in teaching does result in achievement. This research is not that widespread and my suspicion is that it is different for different subjects. There is a lot of research in mathematics. As long as you know high school level algebra, you're just fine to teach algebra 1.

Comment Re:Unfalsifieable (Score 1) 470

You can make a claim for the lack of necessity of the theory in explaining the world around us. Occam's Razor

You can claim that the reason that things fall is that because they are within a gravitational field and their potential energy closer to the center of that field is lower than their potential energy farther away from that field so that when available they will move to a more stable configuration.


you can claim that there is a complicated series of pixies who are quick enough to watch your eyes and move in between small jitters and blinks so that you never detect them. They also have the power to impact electromagnetic forces so they reprogram cameras from a distance using their minds. They think that things far apart are ugly and so that they move them together. The pixies are also extradimensional and can shift between different multiverses at will so that they'll never be be trapped.

The second one may not be falsifiable, but it just is completely unnecessary when the first one does a sufficient job of explanation.

Comment IAAP (Score 2) 470

I am a professor of chemistry and physics with significant high school experience. I was teaching a section of advanced high school students that were dual enrolled in a college section of freshman level chemistry during their senior year of high school. They were subjected to the same rigors of knowledge but we had more time together. I performed the Forer demonstration with them right around the time that I was going over the history of atomic models. (

So, I started the lecture that day with a bunch of pseudoscientific garbage. I told them that if you start with something small and multiply it up to a large scale that you'd get large errors but that you could get shockingly good measurements if you started with something big and narrowed it down to the small. For example, if you measured a single floor tile and then multiplied by the number of floor tiles in the room then you'd compound your errors and end up being off; however, if you measured the whole room's square footage and then divided by the number of floor tiles then you'd be really close to a good, precise answer. The kids are nodding their heads by this point. Well, as a professor of chemistry and physics, through the various colleges and universities I'm affiliated with, and the journal publications that I have access to, I can get some very reliable data, astrophysical readings, and other star charts. If I start with data at that scale, and then narrow it down to the scale of say, Earth, then you might be surprised what kind of predictions I can make. Now, I've ran some calculations for you, following the models, along with some computer assisted predictions, and I have some for you to take a look at. These aren't common newspaper style predictions but ones made with access to high level resources. I'm going to ask you to do an evaluation of the model so it's really important that there isn't any talking. I need you to see your work and your opinion alone. We will share after you have completed your written evaluation.

At this point, I'm still talking but I'm handing out pieces of paper. They're folded in half, and on top there is written a last name with a date of birth that I've pulled from their records. I tell them that they are customized to the individual and I'd like you to evaluate them by striking through anything that seems like it doesn't apply to you, underline anything that you agree with, and put a box around anything that is spot on. You'll get a chance to share in a moment, but please keep this to yourself until everyone is done writing.

I have several kids out of the 20 some odd that are having trouble keeping quiet because they're freaking out saying things like, "how do you know this!?" and, "this is scary!" but I try to calm them down until everyone is done. Of course, everyone's says the same thing: "You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life."

Because of the authority that I've established by this unit, I've only ever had one kid give me the, "I know what you're doing look but I'm playing along." The kids are shocked as a whole and several admit to having formerly read horoscopes regularly. We go on to talk about several logical fallacies from appeals to authority, false dichotomies, quid pro quo, etc. I've never been brave enough to try a cold read for fear of bringing up some bad memories for students. People who pretend to do that are evil and I've never convinced myself to join their ranks.

We talk a lot about confirmation bias particularly as it relates to the supernatural. I use the street light interference example. ( We have all walked under street lights hundreds of times. When you walk under a street light, and you walk away with the street light still on, that is hardly a remarkable experience. When you walk under a hundred street lamps, and two of them turn off... the next day as you recall back, you remember the 2 that turned off. You don't think about the 98 non-noteworthy ones that stayed on. So, as time goes by, you reflect back on your experiences and all you can seem to recall are street lights turning off. You didn't form meaningful long term memories of street lights doing normal street light things. Typically, at this point, we're done with that class period, but the kids are eager to keep talking about the history of science, scientific thought and natural philosophy. Unfortunately, we're segueing back to Rutherford...

tl;dr yes we absolutely should.

Comment Re:Not just florida... (Score 1) 663

Exactly. Why do teachers act like glorified baby sitters? The answer is because we're paid like glorified baby sitters. The talent that is attracted to the position is largely unable or unwilling of achieving much beyond following simple instructions. I have to write curriculum for my district in such a manner that it can be followed like a fast food employee preparing a sandwich. Yes, I am a teacher. I teach high school physics to juniors and remediate biology and chemistry to seniors. I hate the argument that we still make more than the average American family. That may be true... but I have two bachelor's degrees and I'm finishing my second masters this summer. I've accomplished what it takes to have an advanced understanding of my subject matter to the point where I can explain it competently. I'm rewarded with the huge sum of a raise of ~$80/month over the gym teacher teaching algebra because of my qualifications. The vast majority of us who are capable of performing well and have the proper training don't work as teachers. That same training and capability allows us to make more money at other jobs that we also enjoy.

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