One of the most formative courses in my educational history was David Harriman’s “Fundamentals of Physical Science” – formative of my knowledge of science, formative of my views on education, formative of my very ability to think. It taught me what it really means to learn science, and by extension, what it really means to learn.
Let me illustrate the difference between science as it is conventionally taught and science as it is taught by David Harriman, using Newton’s law of universal gravitation as a striking case in point.
If your education was like mine, this law was presented as a commandment to be memorized—as knowledge that, along with Newton’s apple, fell from the sky. You had no knowledge of the prior discoveries that were the “shoulders” on which Newton famously declared he stood, no awareness of the questions that remained and that Newton sought to answer, and therefore no substantive understanding of the meaning, the explanatory power, and the monumental importance of Newton’s achievement.
When, in Harriman’s course, you arrive at Newton’s law of universal gravitation, it comes as a page-turning, climactic chapter in an epic story of discovery.
You will have already learned about Galileo’s principle of inertia, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, and Newton’s own law of circular acceleration. You will see how these discoveries made possible the question Newton asked himself when the apple fell.
You will have already learned Galileo’s law of fall, Eratosthenes’ calculation of the size of the Earth, and Aristarchus’ calculation of the distance to the moon. You will see how these discoveries made possible Newton’s answer to the question.
When guided through the ingenious process by which Newton integrated this knowledge and built upon it, you are able to thoroughly grasp the principle of universal gravitation: to see that it is true and why it must be true. The law of gravitation becomes connected to and explanatory of the things you see around you every day. It is real knowledge.
Harriman teaches all of the great achievements in the history of physics, from the heliocentric theory, to optics, to electromagnetism and more, in this historical, inductive manner.
The value of a course that takes this approach to teaching science is inestimable. It provided me with a clear filter for distinguishing “knowledge” I had memorized from sincere, independently held, fully-formed knowledge. It helped me to see that complex, abstract principles of science are not the province only of geniuses, but are, if properly taught, accessible to all. It inspired me with epic stories of world-changing discoveries that have made life as we know it possible. And it modeled, and helped me to develop, real intellectual self-discipline.
That is why I cannot recommend this course highly enough.
Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute says no, and Paul Vaaler from the University of Minnesota says yes in a 2015 debate hosted by the Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it. It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
The results of the survey are difficult to interpret, pollsters noted. Capitalism can mean different things to different people, and the newest generation of voters is frustrated with the status quo, broadly speaking.
Yet 48 percent agreed that “basic health insurance is a right for all people.” And 47 percent agreed with the statement that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them.” “Young people could be saying that there are problems with capitalism, contradictions,” Frank Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup, said when asked about the new data. “I certainly don’t know what’s going through their heads.”
John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard, went on to personally interview a small group of young people about their attitudes toward capitalism to try to learn more. They told him that capitalism was unfair and left people out despite their hard work. “They’re not rejecting the concept,” Della Volpe said. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”
This video is a glimpse into the world of VanDamme Academy – a world we hope to share even more, in a full documentary.
VanDamme Academy is known for producing some of the best academically prepared students in Orange County. But there is something more, something altogether different – a bristling energy, a depth of discussion, a sincere joy in the endeavor to become educated – that sets the school apart. It is these qualities that prompted a recent graduate to write, “This school is the best thing that ever happened to me.” It is these qualities that prompt parents, and visitors, and distant admirers to say, wistfully, “I wish I had gone to this school.”
One of those admirers is a filmmaker, who believes strongly that in the debate over education reform, VanDamme Academy has something vital to contribute. But what it has to contribute is something so utterly new, so essentially different from the educational norm, that people really grasp it only by stepping inside the school’s walls and experiencing it for themselves. We can give the whole world that experience through a documentary.
We need help to make the documentary happen. If you would like to learn more about this project and how you can help make it a reality, email a request for the documentary project details to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is a generally accepted truth these days that good corporate culture is good business. Almost without exception, great companies point to their organizational values as a key reason for their success. But why? In what way do strong guiding values enable a business to achieve its goals?
Ray Girn, CEO of LePort Schools, shares a few stories about how his company’s core values have impacted the growth of his business, and through them explore key reasons for the immense practical power of moral values in business.
Recorded at the STRIVE Clubs 2015 Fall Student Conference on “The Morality of Value Creation & Trade.”
Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son — already an avid reader — would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.
“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Rungta, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”
When most kids are entering kindergarten, Rungta was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Rungta’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.
“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was 5, I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”
When Rungta turned 12, his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, as his parents realized he needed to be in a more intellectually stimulating environment. He also wanted to live closer to MIT.
For his 13th birthday, Rungta only wanted one thing — a visit to the Institute. “I stepped onto campus and it changed my life,” he says. “I will never forget the feeling of walking into the lobby of Building 7, looking up, and then touching the pillars to see if they were real. I couldn’t believe I was at MIT. My life and my ambitions moved to another level at that moment.”
Later that day, Rungta saw an Indian restaurant in the Student Center that had been closed down. He suggested to his dad — a chef who owned a restaurant in Lowell — that he look into reopening the café. His father soon became the manager of Café Spice, and the family moved from Lowell to Cambridge. Rungta studied in the Student Center every day while his father ran the café.
MIT was undergoing big changes of its own that year, with the launch of MITx, in which MIT courses would be made available online and delivered on the edX platform. Just as Rungta was ready for a new intellectual challenge, MIT once again was there for him, as its own digital learning efforts were expanding to now provide online courses in addition to course materials. When he was 9, Rungta took 3.091 (Introduction to Solid State Chemistry) through OCW with Professor Donald Sadoway. Four years later, he signed up to take it again — this time through MITx with Professor Michael Cima. He has since taken 55 MITx and OCW courses, and he now uses these online resources to supplement his on-campus undergraduate experience.
Reflecting on his journey from Calcutta to Cambridge and the many intersecting moments with MIT, Rungta is grateful to his parents and to MIT for being responsive to his needs every step of the way. “MIT has been my middle school, my high school, my entire education. That’s pretty amazing. Some people think I’m gifted, but I don’t think so. OCW was a gift to me. I was lucky to be born at the time MIT was opening up education to the world and extra lucky that OCW brought MIT and me together.”
As he ponders declaring a major next year, Rungta pauses for a moment, and then he lights up. “In an ideal world, I would want to major in everything.”
Written and Directed by Neel Kolhatkar Modern Educayshun delves into the potential dangers of our increasingly reactionary culture bred by social media and political correctness. According to Neel “the film is the appraisal of science and reason – how extensive political correctness can hinder the pursuit of such values.”
When I began teaching years ago, I had the view that I can change any child; overtime, however, through working with and alongside hundreds of unique students, I came to see that such a view is more accurately stated as any child can change himself. A subtle shift in phrasing, yet a fundamental distinction in pedagogy. This self-directed approach to education does not mean the teacher, the “guide,” is unnecessary. To the contrary, a thoughtful guide creates the content-rich, and often highly structured environment in which a child can thrive, but only through her own will. As Rachel’s story exemplifies – and as Maria Montessori spent her life both observing in children and demonstrating for adults – growth is impossible to achieve for another human being: “One must act for him or herself.”
Marva Collins, a former substitute teacher whose success at educating poor black students in a private school she founded made her a candidate for secretary of education and the subject of a television movie, died on Wednesday in a hospice near her home in South Carolina. She was 78. […] After working as a substitute teacher for 14 years in Chicago public schools, Ms. Collins cashed in her $5,000 in pension savings and opened Westside Preparatory School in 1975. The school originally operated in the basement of a local college and then, to be free of red tape (the same reason she said she had refused federal funds), in the second floor of her home.
She began with four students, including her daughter, charging $80 a month in tuition. Enrollment at the school, on Chicago’s South Side, grew to more than 200, in classes from prekindergarten through eighth grade. It remained in operation for more than 30 years.
Ms. Collins set high academic standards, emphasized discipline and promoted a nurturing environment. She taught phonics, the Socratic method and the classics and, she insisted, never expected her students to fail.
“Kids don’t fail,” she once said. “Teachers fail, school systems fail. The people who teach children that they are failures — they are the problem.”
At Westside Prep, she said in 2004 when she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, “there are no dropouts, no substitute teachers, and when teachers are absent, the students teach themselves.”
“We’re an anomaly in a world of negatives,” she added. “Our children are self-motivated, self-generating, self-propelled.”
An article about the school in 1977 in The Chicago Sun-Times attracted national attention, an interview on “60 Minutes” and the interest of filmmakers, who went on to produce “The Marva Collins Story,” a 1981 television movie on CBS with Cicely Tyson playing Ms. Collins and Morgan Freeman as her husband. […] As her stature as an educator grew, she began to train other teachers from around the country and published several books, including “ ‘Ordinary’ Children, Extraordinary Teachers” and “Marva Collins’ Way,” written with Civia Tamarkin. Speaking engagements followed.
In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan was said to be leaning toward choosing Ms. Collins for secretary of education, but she said she would reject the job if it were offered. By that time she had already turned down offers to run the public school systems in Chicago and Los Angeles. […]
She insisted that she never craved awards or publicity. All she wanted, she told The Island Packet, the local newspaper, in 2007, was “to be able to say I got an A-plus on the assignment God gave me.”
You can read some comments from past students at jetmag.com.