Remote Learning Guidance from State Education Agencies

9th April 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Special note: Barb’s daughter Rosie is a physician on the front lines of battling COVID-19. She asks: “Please donate any PPE (gowns, masks of any kind, or eye protection) that you might have to your local hospitals—it would mean a lot to us.”

Remote Learning Guidance from State Education Agencies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We would like to point school administrators toward this masterful preprint, compiled by Harvard’s Justin Reich and his colleagues, about what the 50 different states are doing to try to best address the unprecedented demands of educating while social distancing. Interestingly, synchronous approaches to teaching (eg Zoom and Google Classroom), are discouraged,  “since coordinating the meeting times of students, parents/caregivers, and teachers (who are often addressing the needs of their own children) makes this approach very difficult and perhaps unsustainable.” Vermont explicitly warns against more than 2 hours of synchronous instruction per day. Asynchronous is much better in reaching out to teach, and best practices for agencies often seem to involve providing the personal touch by communicating via videos–which implies this approach might be worthwhile for teachers as well.  Some innovative outreach, for example, in the state of Arkansas, is being done by a partnership between schools and public broadcasting stations like PBS to provide scheduled programming on television for students.  

Coursera Offering Free Certificates!

For a limited time, Coursera is offering free certificates for 85 courses. Here is the full list, with instructions to access. (This list includes our Mindshift)!

Book of the Week

The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church, by Malachi Martin. At a time when some (thankfully, as noted above, not all!) public schools are refusing to teach in the name of “equity,” (as we mentioned last week), this book is as topical today as when it was first published in 1988.  Martin was originally ordained as a Jesuit priest—he became Professor of Palaeography at the Vatican’s Pontifical Biblical Institute. From 1958 he served as secretary to Cardinal Bea during preparations for the Second Vatican Council, so his knowledge of the Jesuits and the inside history of this important group was unparalleled. (Disillusioned by reforms, he asked to be released from certain of his Jesuit vows in 1964.) Martin makes a convincing case for how the Jesuits used cult-like revamping of the meaning of Roman Catholic vocabulary, such as equating evil with capitalism, that allowed the group to essentially become a Marxist splinter group in direct opposition to Pope John Paul II’s attempts to overcome the evils of communism, particularly in South America. (See here for Barb’s experiences with communism.) As Martin notes: “Cleverly used, the new ‘theological’ lexicon not only justifies but mandates the use of any means—including armed violence, torture, violation of human rights, deceptions, and deep alliances with professedly atheistic and antireligious forces such as the USSR and Castro’s Cuba—in order to achieve the ‘evolution’ of Marxism and its promise of material success.” 

See also Perfect Peril: Christian Science and Mind Control for another example of how cults redefine important words so that when you think you are discussing the same ideas, you actually aren’t—making cult deprogramming all the more difficult. Martin’s views must be taken as a snapshot of the context of the time and his own beliefs, but his careful attempts to be objective contain much worth pondering.

Being Stubborn, Rigid May Lower Your Alzheimer’s Risk

Well, this study is a new one for us!  Key graf: “A truly fascinating new piece of research finds that being just a little stubborn and argumentative may just protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s… Before you go and pick a fight with the next person who looks at you funny, that lack of agreeability would be most effective if accompanied by a healthy dose or curiosity and an aversion to conformity. According to researchers at the University of Geneva, people with that personality combination showed better preservation of brain areas that usually deteriorate and lose volume during the aging process and lead up to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.” 

Now we know why there are so many curmudgeonly old people around! 

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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