An insensitive response from me

2015-11-20 04:13

Fay Wells told her story to the Washington Post. It all started when she locked herself out of her home, as I assume we’ve all done once or twice. After calling a locksmith, she was confronted by nearly 20 police officers, with guns drawn. They entered her home and made sure both that she belonged there and that her home was secure. Then they left, and reportedly did not file an official report. Ms Wells has filed a complaint, but, from her description, I doubt there was any misconduct on the part of police in this case. They had to take the emergency call from her neighbor seriously.

She understandably feels violated, but there is a silver lining here. Research from Denmark has shown that, at least in Denmark and its neighboring countries, one of the best things police can do to minimize the number of police shootings is to arrive with a large number of officers. While a large number of police officers is more scary in the moment for a suspect, the situation is significantly safer for all involved. Perhaps this is the case, in part, because it is more frightening for the suspect, who will be less likely to escalate. I speculate that it is because officers are less afraid, more focused and better organized when working in teams.

Because statistics on shots fired by police in the US are incomplete (by design), it is hard to know if this European observation carries over to the States. A quick review of anecdata supports it. Using one of the community-compiled listings of these events and coding some data from their sources sounds like a good data research project for a student.

NJames

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Peg With Pen: On Teach Like a Champ

2015-09-22 06:31

Teaching Like a Champ is a dystopian version of Keller’s Goodbye Teacher:

Out of the 46 videos I’ve watched I’ve seen 12 teachers smile and/or laugh and 6 students smile and/or laugh. Out of the six students who smiled or laughed 3 out of the 6 were due to a child having difficulty answering a question and/or making a mistake when answering…. In terms of what “talk” looks like, it takes form as a direct answer to a question from the teacher, popcorn reading (where the teacher calls on students to read a portion of a text – always a fun and relaxing strategy for readers who struggle), and 4 videos which showed a brief moment where children were allowed to partner talk (simply turning to the person next to you to converse).

Teach Like a Champ 2.0 is a warmed up turd, but maybe Lemov has a point, and we should really just give up on making a better world and accept that the most valuable thing our students can learn is how to deal with systematic unfairness and petty tyranny without going postal. Well, it turns out, maybe I’m not far off the mark:

All the classes are mainly children of color in the 46 videos I have observed so far. Out of the 46 videos there was only one video in which the children did not wear uniforms. I wonder, where are the wealthy districts in suburbia in these videos? Has this been tried out at Sidwell?

Who most the skills to deal with the emotional cost of micromanagement, unfairness and exploitation? Not the kids at Sidwell Friends.

NJames

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Not exactly brain surgery

2015-09-10 23:51

Harry Brighouse at Crooked Timber:

First look at the surgeon. He has numerous highly skilled people —who have had years of training and experience— helping him. The patient knows what it would be like to get better, and wants to get better – completely compliant. No distractions – nobody is on their cellphones, or messing around with facebook, and I would bet that there are no workman drilling in the next room. The patient didn’t get stoned before class, and even if she did, it doesn’t matter because she is anesthetized! She just lies there, and lets him cut her open and fiddle around. He has lights on the parts which he is fiddling with. Oh, and, by the way, he has been trained, intensely, for this, for years. He practiced on dead brains and got good at it before he was allowed anywhere near a living brain.

Now look at the teacher. He has, let’s say, 150 students, and no help at all, skilled or otherwise (he probably had to figure out the AV himself, unless he had the sense to ask a student to help). However eager they are in principle, many of the students have very little interest in learning at that moment. Some are distracted, by cellphones, Facebook, twitter, some of them are stoned, several hungover, many of them sleep-deprived, the athletes are tired from their 2 hour workout earlier in the day, some are fantasizing about sex, some are thinking about a job interview coming up, one is still drunk from the night before, and another is drinking a screwdriver from her flask (yep, you know who you are, reader!); and then there are the things over which they have no control – someone is anxious because their parents just separated, or a parent is guilt tripping them about visiting the other parent, or not having called enough, or they have mental illness and forgot to take their medication this morning, or have recently had a bad break-up, or fallen in love, or have been sexually assaulted, or have been up all night with a friend who has a mental illness, or recently had a bad break-up or was assaulted or…. Many of them are taking the class to fulfil a requirement the point of which has never been explained to them and to which the content is not especially well calibrated anyway. And, with all these distractions, the professor has to make them learn. He or she can’t even resort to anaesthetizing the students, because then they won’t learn anything at all (quite apart from it being illegal)! Whereas the surgeon just opens up one head and one brain, and looks inside, the teacher has to read 150 minds without opening any of them up, figuring out what misapprehensions the students have, and what mistakes they have made doing the reading, those of them that actually have done the reading. And whereas the surgeon has been trained for years, and practice on dead brains with an expert watching over him, and has several highly skilled people assisting him, the professor has had minimal training, and has nobody even watching to tell him what mistakes he made after the fact.

NJames

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Deal Broke

2015-09-03 01:32

I find these two consecutive sentences on NYT’s Dealbook to be self-negating:

The school reform movement’s focus on measurable results and “business-style management” is laudable. But it is downright chilling to watch the leadership team throw around buzz phrases from business best-sellers with minimal focus on the nuanced requirements of applying these principles to the education ecosystem generally or to the Newark public schools particularly.

NJames

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Andrew Gelman on the Replication Crisis

2015-09-02 23:30

[F]ailure to replicate is a feature, not a bug—but only if you respect that feature, if you take the failure to replicate to reassess your beliefs. But if you just complacently say it’s no big deal, then you’re not taking the opportunity to learn.

And, secondly:

We could let Barrett off the hook on the last quote above because she does qualify her statement with, “If the studies were well designed and executed . . .” But there’s the rub. How do we know if a study was well designed and executed? …. It’s almost as if reviewers often can’t tell whether a study is well designed and executed. Hence the demand for replication, hence the concern about unreplicated studies, or studies that for mathematical reasons are essentially dead on arrival because the noise is so much greater than the signal.

Finally:

[T]he point of various high-profile failed replications … is that, no, the system does not work so well. This is one reason the replication movement is so valuable, and this is one reason I’m so frustrated by people who dismiss replications or who claim that replications show that “the system works.” It only works if you take the information from the failed replications … and do something about it!

To understand the replication crisis, imagine a world in which everything was published.

NJames

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