Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Seven Point Five

Mr. Cowells shared a website with me the other day and told me the world population was about to break 7.5 billion.  The website is fantastic.  You can see world population over time.  Countries by population and population density.  It tracks births today and deaths today.

It's a little depressing if you imagine yourself devalued down to just a number.

But there's another way to look at it: think about all the experience and value each one of those numbers has.  The knowledge and skills, the love, the will.  There's something to be said for the notion that nothing is new.  That the sun rises and the sun sets on empires, let alone human lives.  And that there's nothing new under it.

But there's also something to be said for individuality, innovation, freedom of thought, and human capital.  That right now, in this moment, I exist.

To get the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult today, students have to check out this website for at least 5 minutes.  (The adult can look at it with them, or they can go scroll through their phone or do whatever they want...  They were here for the blog part...)

THEN, students have to find a scrap of paper and write five things they found on the website.  Discuss those five things with the adult, and have the adult sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit spot.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Progress Reports and an Influx of People Wanting Extra Credit

So, progress reports come out tomorrow.  And we just took a little quiz that a lot of people got Ds on.  SOOOoooo... I'm anticipating an influx of students who are looking forward to some extra credit.

You've come to the right place.

We've finished studying religions.  You should now know the difference between monotheistic and polytheistic religions.  What theocracy is, and when it comes into play.  You should know some differences between the monotheistic religions - what Jews and Christians believe about the Messiah, for instance.  What are the Five Pillars of Faith for Islam?  What does "poly-morphic monotheism" mean?  Which religion is it specifying?  Which religions believe in karma and reincarnation?  How is the idea of karma in Hinduism different from the idea of mercy in Christianity?

We'll come back to the religions in review, but we're done for all intents and purposes.

For now, we're doing some moderate review - both for the ISTEP, and for our final, which is coming up in about 3 weeks.

It's been a while since we've discussed globalization, standard of living, or human capital.  Hopefully you still remember the differences between limited and unlimited governments.  More recently we've talked about colonization and imperialism.  How many of you remember the colonization simulation?

Does anyone remember why you learned TKWA?  Not just what each letter stands for, but why you learned it?

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, you need to read and discuss it with an adult.  To get the points, write the answer to at least 3 questions asked above.  They can be any three questions.  Third paragraph.  Fifth.  Have the adult you read it with sign your paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Life is a Test

"...If this is only a test, I hope that I'm passing, 'cause I'm losing strength..."

Good news, tomorrow you don't have a test.  It's only a quiz.

Hopefully you brought your Venn Diagram home and studied it.  And if not, there's always the bus tomorrow morning.  ...Or, if you're reading this tomorrow... this morning.

There's also the map section, and the Gandhi section.

Seriously, though, I'm expecting most people to ace this.  We'll see tomorrow, I guess.

I'll keep this short: if you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, write 3 similarities and 3 differences between Hinduism and Buddhism.  Then, have the adult you read and discussed it with sign the paper you wrote the differences on.

And as far as tests, tomorrow is the last of the LA ISTEP.  Rejoice.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Life is Pain

Anyone who says differently is selling something.

We are moving from Hinduism to Buddhism.

I asked students this morning to think about and write down some big questions religions try to answer.  I hadn't taught them this, per se.  And as I believe it's important to teach students how to think instead of simply what to think, I let them struggle through it for a while  (So often teachers give students information, then students give that same information right back on the test.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But if we only teach them how to regurgitate information, we're going them a disservice.)

Some students came up with some good "big questions":

  • What happens to us when we die?
  • Is there a God?
  • How does God want me to live my life?
  • What do I have to do to get to heaven?
  • Is karma real?
  • Why do people get cancer?  (Or why do good things happen to bad people?)

We've looked at what Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism believe.  We're moving on to Buddhism.  The biggest two questions Buddhism tries to answer are these: Why do people suffer?  How can someone stop the suffering in their life?

One of The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism is that we suffer because of desire.  We watched to videos in class today.  If you want to get the extra credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, tell that adult what the videos were about.  Tell who was suffering and why.  Finally, tell the adult whether you agree or disagree - and why.  Do we suffer because of desire?  If not, what do you think causes suffering?  Then, write a few of your answers from the conversation down on a piece of scrap paper.  Have the adult you read it with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

(In case you were absent:  video one from class, video two from class.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Life is Unfair

I started off today by asking my students to draw the caste system pyramid from memory.  Then, they had to explain why Gandhi was against it.  Here it is the picture I made, by the way:

*Side note*:  Before break, I wanted to show students how a lot of other people made the caste system pyramid - with the "untouchables" as part of the pyramid itself, and how I drew them as not part of the pyramid, but rather the ground around it - not even worth of being part of the society.  But when I searched google, I found this:

But THEN... I saw that my picture was showing up under searches, but NOT on my site.  (For instance, you can find it HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE... to name a few...)  I didn't know whether I should be annoyed or thrilled.  So I chose thrilled.  I was happy that none of them came with the comment, "this is the worst rendition of the caste system I have ever seen..."  *End of side note*

Many students told me that Gandhi was against the caste system because it was unfair.  ...This is true.  But why was it unfair?  It was unfair because at the time, people couldn't move from caste to caste.  Where you were, you stayed.

I told students a story (common to many kids, I'd bet) about my dad.  I asked him if I could go to my friend's house.  

"No," he replied.

"But that's not fair."

"Life's not fair."

"But everyone else is going."

"I'm not every one else's dad.
"But! But!"

"Hey... you should have thought of that when you were in the dad aisle picking which dad you wanted.  #sorrynotsorry."

And we get it, right?  We can't pick our parents, our race, which culture we're born in...  There's so much that's out of our control.

Here in the US in 2017, we're striving toward equality of rights.  Gandhi understood that life is inherently unfair.  I can't help that I was born into a super-rich family (lie) any more than my friend could help being born into a super-poor family.  But we can go to school, increase our human capital, and try to work our way up and out.  In India, in Gandhi's day, this was not possible.  And that's why Gandhi fought against it.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, you should discuss it with an adult.  How is being born poor today similar to being born an untouchable in Gandhi's time?  How is it different?  Is it a fair comparison?  What are some things you can do now to help ensure you have more money later in life?  Write your answers to some of these questions on a piece of paper, and have the adult you read and them with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.