Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fred's Finds: American Ed, Victorian Web, English in England

The Underground History of American Education

This is a book (free) for download. This book was written by John Taylor Gatto, a former teacher, and is highly regarded by many people. Gatto considers the shortcomings of public education, what it does and what it does not do, and why it is simply a useless enterprise. I was delighted to discover that it does not simply blame all things on teachers' unions! Poke around in the download (18 chapters). You may not agree with the notion that public and compulsory schooling is worthless and ill conceived. But there are many readers who agree with the author. Here, for example,is what some have said:

This book is the Silent Spring of American education.
-Diane Flynn Keith
Publisher, Homefires

A breathtaking work of scholarship and encyclopedic scope...history accompanied by an incisive and illuminating narrative. Gatto delivers for our consideration an astonishing cast of cranks while revealing the nest of special interests which profit from schools just as they are. This marvelous book should be required reading for anyone interested in the frightening truth about the enterprise we call "education."
-Adam Robinson, co-founder, The Princeton Review
Author, What Smart Students Know


The Victorian Web

All things Victorian found at this site, including all of the writers worth knowing about. Includes, too, some pre-Victorian writers.

"The Victorian Era of Great Britain marked the height of the British industrial revolution and the apex of the British Empire. Although commonly used to refer to the period of Queen Victoria's rule between 1837 and 1901, scholars debate whether the Victorian period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political concerns that have come to be associated with the Victorians—actually begins with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. The era was preceded by the Regency era and succeeded by the Edwardian period."


Majority of Americans Believe in Angels

"An overwhelming majority, almost regardless of backgrounds and religious convictions, think angels are real, according to an AP-AOL News poll exploring attitudes about Santa Claus, angels and more."

Meanwhile, a recent poll in Europe shows that a majority of people believe religion causes more harm than good. A disparity in religious convictionsh may have something to do with American history, but, if so, I am not sure what explains such beliefs in America in 2006. Is there any evidence to support a belief in angels? Pictures, witnessed encounters?


The University Channel

If you've never been on Princeton's University Channel, you should check it out. The site presents some great lectures from prominent speakers at both Princeton and other universities.

Two great lists of other university sites are on Open Culture: University Podcasts & University Online Courses and Media.

Also see the Productivity 101 podcast list.


Brain Mapping

"The purpose and goal of brain mapping is to advance the understanding of the relationship between structure and function in the human brain. Scientists in this field seek to gain knowledge of the physical processes that underly human sensation, attention awareness and cognition. These results are immediately applicable to surgical intervention, to the design of medical interventions and to the treatment of psychological and psychiatric disorders."


How long has English been spoken in Britain?

(Left: Uffington White Horse)

"Did the Anglo-Saxons bring English to Britain? Did they drive the "Celts" to the western margins of Britain? Were many of the "Celts" massacred in a wave of ethnic cleansing by continental immigrants?

Since the 17th century, it has been believed that England was invaded by immigrants from the Germanic speaking areas of north-western Europe. The earlier inhabitants, believed to be Celts, were thought to have been conquered, subjected, annihilated or displaced to the western fringes of Britain. The ancient languages of Cornwall, Wales and Cumbria are indeed similar to each other. The English language is indeed to be found in much of England and Scotland since medieval times.

But now a small group of scientists are challenging this view..."

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