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Comment Why don't we just be honest, and say it (Score 2) 246

The vast bulk of elementary school teachers in the United States don't like Science, just as much as they don't like math.

I am *NOT* saying that they are not good teachers. But rather - you're taking someone who probably never really liked those subjects in the first place, and are trying to get them to instill a joy in something that they, themselves, don't have in it to people. It just is not going to work!

Let's look at the elementary school teachers here in the US.. most of them are coming from a liberal arts teaching background. Which is great, because they're expected to teach a plethora of subjects, and also spend the bulk of the day with the students. So they also have the crowd control skills and so on. But ask them in a non-school setting about any basic science - most of them would roll their eyes at the questions, and even tell you that they never even liked it. A lot of them look at science as almost a voo-doo thing, and they just do what's in the textbooks/curriculum.

What really should be done, is to bring in science (and math!) specialists for just those subjects at that level. Let people who have a ready understanding on the material, and who can relate it to every day things interact with the kids for those bits. Let them explain every day things to these kids, to keep the joy of learning there!

Note here: I am an engineer (still consulting) turned Chem/Physics/Math HS teacher in the public sector here in the US. I have also worked these alleged crazy new fangled math stuff that are trying to conceptualize things, when they really need to just go back to basics, and instill basic skills so that the advanced things can be 'fun' , or at the very least be seen by the students as something that they can do, because they already have the tools to do so. Instead of just flat out giving up.

And yeah, we should involve more parental involvement and so on. And oh yes, say it's ok to drop out. Go get a job, and see how awful it truly is without an education - and when their heads are screwed on right - to go get their GED/whatever degree from that point on.. as they'll be self motivated - as opposed to having us to motivate them!

Comment who knows who is actually doing the work? (Score 1) 294

Let's just be honest here.. one class or a badge, at a time. Do we even really know who is actually doing the work?

Granted, the same could be said about large universities - but the chances of that happening are significantly lower!!

But the reality is that part of the educational process is learning how to work with other people in real time under different conditions. I don't care how many certificates, or whatever you have saying that you know something. But if you can't actually communicate with other people, and work under actual multiple time pressure constraints - you will *NOT* succeed. That's the bottom line.

Comment The problem is the editors and... (Score 1) 1268

possibly even the people doing the study...

I say this as a public high school math/science teacher in the US.

In older and more traditional texts - the x or "empty square box" or the fill-in-the-blank-underline is readily found as the missing variable. It is only textbooks/materials from the last 5-10 years where that "( )" *@&#^&@%#^!!!#! has started to appear in the lower level, and now, the more advanced high school text books.

When i first encountered it - I was totally confused by the question (like many here on slashdot). However, having gone to mathematics conferences, talking to people in the textbook publishing field, and the actual authors of some of these math texts - I can only conclude the following:

1) A lot of the editors of these books are flatout clueless. Authors come up with the text materials, and insert blanks, question marks or underline in place of variables for the lower level/basic texts. However, from text translation from one form to another (example material formatted on a Mac and then opened on a PC) you get the occasional random character because of whatever reason (Yeah, I'm that old where I can recall this being a typical problem!) between formats. The editors see the strange characters, or heck, even a question mark, assume it's a boo-boo and have changed it into the whole parenthesis insanity. Since these same editor types usually don't just edit for one text - practices like this get transferred over from one text to another.
2) from my experience talking to elementary / middle school teachers who teach math... the vast majority of them hated math as a topic with a passion. And when asked why - it comes down to the fundamentals of not really understanding the material. I have pointed this out again and again - when you have people teaching something that they've hated and/or don't truly understand - you are not going to get students who will grasp the material and understand it! These math teachers do not understand that the formatting/question method is not in the best interest of the students - and don't question it! They do enough to get by to get the kids to pass whats on required on the state exams - and they're done. So between a bad model and bad modeling - yes, you will get students who don't get it!

it's just aggravating to me that when I teach chem/physics - a lot of times, I also have to teach what i call "Algebra-Zero" to show the kids what some of the things that they do is totally wrong, and how to it's really not that bad...

Comment There's great stuff there!!! Go see it! (Score 5, Informative) 122

even if it looks like a converted old school Howard Johnson motel of sorts! They actually have a lot of interesting stuff on display, besides an actual enigma machine that you can play with!

Interesting details that I noticed when I went this past summer:
1) My car (and phone!) GPS suddenly drops dead and gets nothing in terms of signal.. it's like we drove off the planet or something! The onboard GPS had to resort to using car instrumentation data to give us a rough guesstimate of where we are - which we thought was really funny!
2) There's a sign by the main entrance to the NSA there that basically says don't even think about taking any pictures, even of the sign itself that says don't take any pictures!! Note: You make a left right at the main entrance to the parking lots to follow the side road to the museum while passing a permanently parked fighter jet and a gas station right before you get to it. It's really non-descript!
3) At the gift shop - we decided to buy a few things and charged it on the credit card.. when we got home and looked at the receipt - it doesn't even say NSA museum - it had some totally different name to it!
4) Also, they had a totally cheap and reasonable soda and snack machines tucked to the side of the entrance once you walk in! Totally surprising - but nice ;)

and Incidentally, if you're thinking about going to the spy museum in downtown washington DC - *DON'T DO IT!* - it's an absolute travesty and waste of i think it was like $15? The NSA museum blows it away in terms of information and goodies to be seen - and WAYYYYYYYYYyyyyy cheaper too! The spy museum in DC is for kids. The NSA museum is for true Geeks!

Comment I understand why, and apply this teaching hs (Score 1) 439

I totally understand this, and apply similar tactics against my students to prevent cheating in high school science/math...

I have built limited area cell phone signal jammers - it does not damage the phones - just says no service on their phones. I have put up empty usb camera shell casings, along with fiberoptic terminal ends in random places for appearances.

This is in addition to using different coloured paper, different fonts, mixing up the questions - whether different order or multiples for values, limiting calculator usage and other things!

Why? The kids these days apparently cannot live without their mobile devices. Heck, they can't even make it through lab without looking at their cellphones to send a text to someone in the room next door! A lot (but not all) of my kids just want to know what will get them the grade.. there's not a lot of interest for the sake of learning as much at this level anymore. And their idea of what is cheating, and what isn't is vastly skewed from mine.. almost like the whole pirating/plagiarism stuff too! So I have to beat them at their own game, sadly.

Yes, I spend quite a bit of energy prepping homeworks, labs, projects and exams to make sure I have enough different versions to keep things interesting.. most of my colleagues think I am insane for doing so.. but I feel like I'm doing a disservice to the students if I don't do it to keep them focused .. and more importantly, trying as much as they can on their own for as much as they can!

For those of you that will probably comment as to - you're a *&^@#%! teacher who is probably boring.. you know what? There probably are days that I am like that, either because of content of what I have to teach because of requirements, or I am just flat out tired. But I would like to think that I try to keep it interesting by bringing things that I feel kids should see before they finish HS - like liquid nitrogen, napalm, gummi bear rocket fuel, growing silver and so on. But it's uniquely challenging to keep that level up for every class of every day! And when you have a lot of student indifference because they are there only because they are required to do so.. it's just not a great combination.

Comment this guy probably doesn't even like math (Score 1) 427

himself, and just pushing along stuff that rectifies his ideas...

Let's take this another way then - if he is SOOOoooooo right - that there ought to be less math - explain how the kids from practically every other country on the planet knows more about it than ours at the equivalent age frame!?

As a current high school teacher - I can tell you one thing - if our expectations of kids weren't sooo low at that same age frame - we'd turn out higher quality students with greater understanding, than just bodies that can regurgitate material! /rant off

My other beef with education? In general (And yes, I *AM* stereotyping now!) most teachers that teach elementary students are also the same folks that have never liked math in the first place - or never really LEARNED it!!! How can you instill a drive to like something in someone else when you don't in the first place?!!!

Emulation (Games)

Nintendo Upset Over Nokia Game Emulation Video 189

An anonymous reader writes "Nintendo is investigating potential copyright infringement by Nokia during some video demos of their N900 phone, which can be seen emulating Nintendo games. Nintendo spokesman Robert Saunders says: 'We take rigorous steps to protect our IP and our legal team will examine this to determine if any infringement has taken place.' In the video, Nokia says, 'Most publishers allow individual title usage, provided that the user is in possession of the original title.'"

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