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Boston time capsule: Sealed box buried in 1795 by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere finally reveals its treasures.

By Adam Withnall  7th January 2015.               Find Full Article + Photos Here:_

Museum officials say ‘this is the stuff of history’.

Historians have opened up America’s oldest time capsule – buried more than 200 years ago by some of the US’s most iconic Revolutionary figures – and they had every right to be excited.

“This is the stuff of history,” said Boston museum director Michael Comeau as the contents of the box were painstakingly removed on Tuesday.

The capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the “New” Massachusetts Statehouse when its construction began in 1795.

According to a plaque, it was buried by renowned figures of American history including the early industrialist Paul Revere and the then-Massachusetts governor Samuel Adams.

Museum officials had believed that the contents were shifted to a copper box in 1855 before being replaced in the building foundations. On Tuesday, that box was discovered to in fact be brass.

Stephen Gaskin – Obituary.

Posted 4th July 2014.           Find Full Article and Video Here:-

Stephen Gaskin was a teacher who led a caravan of hippies across America to found a commune built on tradition.

Stephen Gaskin in 1969

Stephen Gaskin in 1969 Photo: ALAMY

Stephen Gaskin, was a self-confessed “professional hippy” who became an unlikely presidential candidate.

As a proponent of love, peace and harmony, he co-founded “The Farm” — a spiritual community of like-minded tie-die clad, vegetarian, pot-smoking pacifists — in Summertown, Tennessee, in 1971. It became the largest hippy community in the world and an example of an effective self-sufficient subculture.

As a potential leader of the free world — campaigning in the primary elections of 2000 — Gaskin was a Green Party hopeful with a mission to introduce universal health care, reform financial institutions and legalise marijuana.

Although he failed to win the Green Party ticket for the presidential poll he fought a frank and funny campaign. “Did you inhale?” he was asked about his personal experience of marijuana. “I didn’t exhale,” he answered.

Stephen Gaskin was born on February 16 1935 in Denver, Colorado, and had a peripatetic, eclectic upbringing that, while atheist, was inclusive of various cultures. His father was variously a cowboy, builder, mail clerk and commercial fisherman and Stephen was raised throughout the south west of America, with periods in Santa Fe, Phoenix, and San Bernardino. “I’d been to so many different places I had to learn how to make friends on purpose,” he recalled. He maintained that his freethinking was hereditary, noting that his grandmother was a suffragette and his great uncle helped the longshoreman’s union in San Francisco.

Gaskin served in the US Marine Corps between 1952 and 1955, during which time he fought in Korea. During the Sixties he lived in San Francisco, where he taught English, semantics and creative writing at San Francisco State University, working under the celebrated linguist and semanticist SI Hayakawa.

Gaskin with one of his Monday Night Classes

Gaskin’s formal teaching grew into a more personal and philosophical pursuit through his experimental “Monday Night Class” — an open discussion group involving up to 1,500 students and held in 1969 and 1970 at a huge auditorium in the city’s Bay Area. His classes ranged from “Group Experiments in Unified Field Theory” to “Magic, Einstein, and God”. In these gatherings he discussed “consciousness, the spiritual plane, religion, politics, sex, drugs and current events” — all viewed through the kaleidoscopic lens of the Sixties counterculture movement (and its psychedelic pharmaceutical refreshments). Unified by the hippy sensibility, the classes formed the genesis of the group that settled at The Farm.

In 1970 Gaskin led 250 people in a caravan of “20 or 30 old buses” from San Francisco to Tennessee on a four-month lecture tour of churches and colleges. “The farther we went, the more people there were who joined the caravan,” he said. “Pretty soon there were three or four hundred of us and the police were meeting us every time we crossed a state line.”

Gaskin’s caravan of hippies crossing America to Tennessee in 1971

Young people give up privacy on Google and Facebook ‘because they haven’t read 1984’.

By   6th June 2014.          Find Article Here:-

Young people hand over their private details to internet companies and on social networking site too readily because they have not read 1984 by George Orwell, an academic warns.

A photo taken on May 16, 2012 shows a computer screen displaying the logo of social networking site Facebook reflected in a window before the Beijing skyline.

The services that Google and Facebook give us are so good that people are willing to trade off their privacy for them.

Young people willingly give-up their privacy on Google and Facebook because they have not read George Orwell’s ‘1984’ unlike previous generations, a leading academic has warned.

Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University, said that large corporations were hovering up private information and modern generations did not realize it was wrong.

He said that older people who had grown up reading George Orwell’s 1984 about ‘Big Brother technology and ‘ authoritarianism’, were in a better position to resist the creeping erosion of privacy.

Professor Sharkey, speaking at Cheltenham Science Festival, said: “I’m 65, I don’t want to be targeted. I am very uncomfortable with it. It seems to me that our privacy is gradually being violated and eroded without us noticing.

“I am part of the generation which all read 1984 – I think we are less happy about giving up our privacy.

“But the younger generation aren’t really thinking about it. The services that Google and Facebook give us are so good that people are willing to trade off their privacy for them. If you grow up with that, that is what you know to like.”

Technology commentators have become increasingly concerned that Google has recently purchased a collection of artificial intelligence and robotics companies.

They fear it will give the technology giant unlimited access to private information.

Google recently paid £1.9billion for Nest Labs, a firm which makes internet–connected heating systems, allowing people to control their thermostats from afar.

Although supporters ague that having greater control over home applications can only be beneficial, others are worried that it enables firms to collect data about energy use and living habits.

Google also spent £300 million on Deep-Mind, a British artificial intelligence firm which specialises in quickly building up a profile of an individual based on their internet activity.

He said: ‘Google has a policy where they keep our entire history. They know far too much about us.

“At the moment it doesn’t seem harmful. But because governments can get hold of this information, they can monitor you, things might change quite dramatically.

“You give away that much information – you can now take little bits of data, put in a simple little algorithm, and it can put it all together and build up a big picture about us.”

He warned that soon Google would know ‘where you are all of the time.’

“The problem with any technology is that once it goes into the wild, once it starts picking up momentum and getting critical mass, we have no idea how it will be used, no idea. It is quite worrying,” he added.

Our addiction to the internet is as harmful as any drug – and what passes for comment these days is often simply foul abuse.

By Robert Fisk  25th May 2014.                   Find Article Here:-

The focus on ‘surfing’ rather than proper reading has impoverished literature.

Something is rotten in the state of technology. I only realised the extent of this when I wrote last year about an Irish government minister who had committed suicide just before Christmas 2012, partly because – according to his brother at the graveside – he had received so many abusive messages on the internet. The response from those claiming to be “readers” of this newspaper was 1) to suggest that the brother was lying; 2) that the minister deserved to die because of his policies (which included cuts in care homes); and 3) to condemn the dead minister for not being thoughtful enough to postpone his suicide until after Christmas.

Was it always like this? Did these hateful anonymous messages arrive when “Letters to the Editor” was the only way to express feelings – in print, of course – about other human beings? “Name and address supplied” was the last straw in anonymity that any editor permitted. But now anonymity must be protected, cosseted, guarded, because privacy, even privacy to abuse, is more important than responsibility. “Online comment” – and the “comment” bit definitely deserves a “sic” – takes precedence over criminal threats.

As I travel around the world to lecture on the Middle East, I am finding that an increasing number of journals are suspending or restricting online comment. Among the latest to do so was the National Catholic Register, whose editor, Dennis Coday, decided that the malicious, abusive and vile comments received – far from remarks on the substance of an article – were “pure vandalism”. Coday suggested it was everyone’s responsibility to make the internet a civil place by making contributors identifiable, just as they were in the days when editors (and lawyers) decided whose letters may or may not be published.

The Irish columnist Breda O’Brien wrote in February that, while she had to adhere to strict guidelines in her work as a print journalist, it was “bizarre” that “people can comment on my articles with impunity and say anything they like about me or about others. The sheer level of nastiness is difficult to describe”. O’Brien wrote of the “dark” experience of those who – online – wish her to “be badly beaten, or die from painful diseases, or that my children be taken away from me… One person has repeatedly expressed the wish that I be burned to death”. Much of this material is intended to “take down” individuals. “The savagery of online commentary,” O’Brien wrote, “is beginning to bleed into everyday discussions.”

She is right. I have written before of the foul, racist abuse I receive – passed on in hard copy by friends who say they sometimes fear for my safety – and of the ambivalent, slovenly way in which those who are involved in “chat rooms” and “platforms” run away from their own responsibility by claiming that they’ve no money for a “mediator” (by which they mean editor) or that “the internet is here to stay, whether you like it or not”. Journalists around the world have noticed this phenomenon, whether it be the “preening nastiness of online comment” in Brazilian media about the need for street vigilantes, or the outright ethnic hatred that you can find on the websites of quite respectable publications, often remarks which should result in prosecution for racial hatred.

Some of the material I read about Muslims – sent to me on paper by internet users who are even more shocked than I have become – are the product of psychopaths, demanding the rape of Muslim women. Equally venomous, and just as dangerous, is the anti-Semitic filth aimed at journalists, politicians, historians and activists who are Jewish. One European Jewish government minister wrote of how “racist and prejudiced online commentary … all too frequently results on occasions when I am personally in the public eye”. I should add that both those claiming to loathe Israel and those claiming to support it are also on the front line of dishing out abuse.

Perhaps my own fury and frustration with this state of affairs makes my response all the more direct. But the dirt, racism, foul abuse, the lies and innuendo and slanders and bullying on the web, in blogs and text messages and chat rooms, has become a sickness. “Trolls”, we call these psychologically disturbed people, and even that is indicative of our craven addiction to technology. So awed are we – so “taken over” by the new science of communication – that we have to liken these poison-pen writers and abusers to creatures of Scandinavian mythology rather than to the fantasists and racial bullies whom they really are.

It leaches, this language, into the shock-jock radio shows and to right-wing cable news channels, and it deadens the soul; not in the religious sense, but in the way in which the internet itself – the experience of “social media” – has indeed become an addiction as fearsome as drugs or cigarettes. We must be “computer literate” rather than “literate”; some of the hard copy e-mails I receive are not only ungrammatical – the spelling is also appalling – but virtually incomprehensible. Who were the first addicts? The young who gulped down these new “freedoms” – or their peers who told them that this was the way forward?

I’m still stunned by a moment several years ago when I was asked by a student, after giving a lecture at a US university, if I “could name any good websites on the Middle East”. I replied with four words: what’s wrong with books? The students cheered. Their academic tutors in the front row glowered at me reproachfully.

The internet catastrophe – perhaps I should say tragedy – grows tentacles. We have become, as one psychologist has said, “seduced by distraction”. We no longer reflect. We react. We don’t read books – always supposing we buy them – we “surf” them. Take Spritz. According to its own pap advertising, it’s a “Boston-based start-up focused on text-streaming technology”, whose founders are “serial entrepreneurs with extensive experience in developing and commercialising innovative technologies”. And you’ll not be surprised to learn that the crackpots running Spritz, after inviting fans to read up to 600 words a minute, claim that you’ll soon be able to read Tolstoy’s War And Peace in less than 10 hours.

 Is that not part of the problem? When you delete thought, impoverish literature and worship technology – not as a wonderful scientific achievement but as a god – then there are no rules. You can drink Tolstoy, smoke books, and breathe in hatred. Something rotten? What does rotten mean?

UK Department of Education reveals plans to privatise vital child protection services.

By Tom Payne  17th May 2014.        Find Article Here:-

Private security giants such as G4S and Serco could be put in charge of child protection services under new proposals drawn up by the government.

In papers published by the Department of Education last month, the government is proposing to permit outsourcing of children’s social services in England to ease the burden on local authorities.

They say the plans will allow authorities to “stimulate new approaches to securing improvements” and “harness third-party expertise”.

Campaigners have voiced strong opposition to the plans, which they say could distort decisions on sensitive family matters.

G4S is currently being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for “serious issues” in connection with “invoicing, delivery and performance reporting” on contracts worth almost £4 billion as well as overcharging taxpayer for botched tagging contracts.

The firm suffered severe damage to its reputation after its failure to fulfil its contract to provide enough security staff for the 2012 London Olympics, forcing the Government to draft in members of the armed forces at short notice.

Professor Eileen Munro, who carried out an independent review of child protection for Michael Gove in 2011, said the proposals were “a bad idea”.

“It’s the state’s responsibility to protect people from maltreatment. It should not be delegated to a profit-making organisation,” she said.

Critics have cited the track record of companies such as G4S and Serco as evidence of the danger of introducing profit motive to vital public services.

G4S was recently fined for overcharging on a contract to tag offenders, and Serco was rapped for manipulating its results for outsourcing NHS family doctor services.

According to latest estimates, around 68,000 children were in the child care system in England in 2013, with 43,000 on child protection registers.

Kathy Evans, chief executive of the Children England charity, has hit out at plans to outsource vital services to private providers.

“Michael Gove must ensure that no commercial company and its shareholders should ever be able to make profit from public spending on child protection,” she told The Guardian.

“Such an important public function must never be open to the real, or even perceived, risk of being done in the pursuit of profit.”

A spokeswoman for the NSPCC, Britain’s largest child protection charity, said the question was about “how good a service is at turning children’s lives around.

Its director of strategy, Lisa Harker, said the charity was “still looking at the detail to see if there are sufficient checks and balances around service quality”.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said there was “no obligation for councils councils to take up these freedoms and any that do will still be held accountable by Ofsted.”

 

You Won’t Believe The Method That Common Core Is Using To Teach Our Kids Subtraction.

By Michael Snyder, on April 18th, 2014.         Find Full Article Here:-

 

Common Core Subtraction

The dumbing down of America is accelerating.  A massive federal takeover of education known as “Common Core” is attempting to impose nationwide academic standards on public schools throughout the entire country.  Thanks to the backing of billionaire Bill Gates, endless promotion by the U.S. Department of Education, and financial bribes to state governments by the Obama administration, 45 states and Washington, D.C. have already agreed to implement the full Common Core standards in their schools.  Unfortunately, these “standards” are doing to public education what Obamacare is doing to our health care system – absolutely ruining it.  Just look at how basic math instruction has changed.  Posted below is a comparison between the “old method” of subtraction and the “new method” of subtraction being taught in many of our schools.  When I first came across this on Facebook, I thought that it was a joke…

Common Core Subtraction

I thought that there was no possible way that this could be real.  I really thought that this must have come from some sort of parody website.

But it is actually true.

Categories: Education

End of the creation story? Design and craft subjects decline in UK schools.

By   11th February 2014.   Find Article Here:-

Many pupils are losing the benefits that come from studying craft and design, and Britain’s strength in the creative industries may be under threat.

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Pupils at Strood Academy in Rochester, Kent, work on a craft project. Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian.

Oskar Paulinski is talking Education Guardian through his design for a birdhouse, conceived in the style of a chocolate box-perfect country cottage. Holes in the roof, fashioned to look like skylights, will allow the birds to fly in and out, and doors at ground level allow access to the box’s owner. The pencilled plan shows pretty paned windows. “I’m still figuring out whether to paint them on or leave it as glass,” says the 16-year-old. We discuss whether nesting birds might prefer the darker interiors afforded by the painted option.

“I like practical stuff and designing stuff,” says Oskar, who is studying for a GCSE in resistant materials at Strood academy, in Medway. Does he know what he’d like to do for a job when he’s older? “I haven’t decided yet, but it has to be something practical.”

Simon Ofield-Kerr, vice-chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), might view Oskar’s window question as a perfect example of the importance of realising designs in real materials, for real use. Creations that exist solely on paper won’t teach their designers how to take account of the way wood, metal or textiles actually work, or push them to think about the needs of consumers – be they human or avian.

Yet schoolchildren of all ages are increasingly missing out on the opportunity to enjoy and learn from “making things”, Ofield-Kerr says. Sewing, ceramics, metalwork, woodwork and crafts are all on the wane as digital disciplines take hold and resources become scarcer. Not that there’s anything wrong with digital, he stresses, but translating it to the real world is essential.

“My sense, when I go into schools, is that it’s all become very flat,” he says. “It’s become a 2D world. Young people are becoming incredibly confident in their use of digital, and that’s wonderful. But they’re not getting the experience of how the material world around them is fabricated and developed.”

And as policymakers focus on Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths), he says, “kids are just not getting the same experience of playing with clay, with materials, of doing embroidery, of getting their hands dirty”. He believes craft education is being better sustained in the private sector.

UCA is the sponsor of the four-year-old Strood academy – a non-grammar school in an area with selective education – and is working to ensure that making things is a key part of its offering. There are traditional workshops for wood, metal, plastics, clay and textiles, GCSEs in textiles and resistant materials, and an A-level in product design. Pupils spend time in the art and craft workshops at UCA’s nearby Rochester campus, and UCA students come into the school as mentors for days of project-based learning.

Strood’s principal, Kim Gunn, believes the sense of achievement her students get from seeing their finished work is second to none. “They experience success in areas where maybe they wouldn’t otherwise, and it provides them with an opportunity to move on to something they can succeed in post-17,” she says.

But the Crafts Council has observed a decline in craft education over the last four to five years, says its research and policy manager, Julia Bennett, especially in disciplines that require space, teaching expertise and pricey equipment or materials. This month will see publication of a Crafts Council study of achievement and participation in crafts over five years, from key stage 4 right up to postgraduate level. Bennett expects it to find more evidence of declining takeup.

Last year, leading figures within the arts world lined up to express dismay at the absence of arts subjects in the EBacc, and research suggested the effects had been swift. An Ipsos Mori study commissioned by the education department (DfE) found that a quarter of schools had withdrawn arts courses for the 2012-13 academic year because of the EBacc. Among those, design or design technology had been withdrawn at 14% of schools, and textiles at 11%. A study by the Cultural Learning Alliance released in September found that since the EBacc was introduced in 2010, the number of arts GCSEs studied by children had fallen by 14%, and suggested the narrowing of options away from the arts affected disadvantaged children more.

Lesley Butterworth, general secretary of the National Society for Education in Art and Design, says there is also a serious lack of funding for teacher development in craft education. Some 60% of those coming on her organisation’s courses pay for themselves, she says. The effect is that teachers can’t keep abreast of fast-developing contemporary practice, including the use of digital within craft – as exemplified by self-described “iPotter” Michael Eden, who uses techniques such as 3D printing in his acclaimed pieces.

“There’s a lot of really exciting work going on the moment,” Butterworth says. But she warns that if teachers aren’t able to make pupils aware of it, the field may seem less arresting than others. “If fine-art practices are seen as having digital context and craft doesn’t, then craft may quickly appear a bit fuddy-duddy.”

The replacement of the EBacc with a new performance framework that takes in pupils’ “best eight” subjects will not end the pressure on crafts, she says, given that the eight must include English, maths and three further Ebacc subjects. It’s not just the British craft industry that loses out, but young people themselves, she says: “There’s evidence that haptic skills help young people with other aspects of learning, with wider cognitive development and behavioural issues. It can help them find something they can focus on and be proud of.”

Bennett has little truck with the idea that crafts are something children can learn just as well outside the school week. “The government may say that these skills are the kind of things you can develop in Saturday schools and things like that,” Bennett says, “but if you make ‘making’ skills an add-on, then it requires people to have the resources, the time and support to be able to do that. Then it becomes rooted in inequality.”

The decline sits strangely with the growing popularity of crafts, both in the luxury goods market and at grassroots level, Bennett points out. “It’s a sector that makes a contribution to the economy and has the potential to be a much greater export business as well. There’s a dissonance between the way craft is perceived by the public and amongst adults, and the way we’re investing in supporting schools to keep that happening.”

At Strood, Gunn echoes Bennett’s concerns about GCSE choices and equality of opportunity, especially given the price tag on materials. With so many courses competing for the three slots available within the “best eight” framework outside the compulsory subjects, numbers opting for each may be small. “Schools can’t run expensive courses with only six people on them,” Gunn says. “[Education secretary Michael] Gove’s new agenda will restrict choice … To push parents to pay for those sorts of things means our children from more deprived backgrounds won’t make as much progress as others, because they won’t be able to afford it. It’s about equality.”

“You could have some middle class parents who’ll say ‘yes, here’s £50’ and you’ll have parents who will say ‘I’m really sorry, I’ve got to pay this electricity bill this month’.”

But the answer isn’t as simple as just dropping the Ebacc or including design in it, or even more university sponsorship of academies, Ofield-Kerr says. “Rather … we need much greater recognition by government, and indeed all levels of education, of the importance of material research and making, both in terms of personal development and the maintenance of our longstanding national strength in areas of cultural production.”

Britain’s great strength in the creative industries is no accident, Ofield-Kerr adds: “It’s the product of a very strong history of British design and craft education. You lose that at your peril.

“Without it, there are countries that have absolutely recognised why the UK is so good at creative arts and they’re looking to replicate it themselves. The number of art and design colleges China has opened over the last 10 years has been phenomenal. When production has been so decimated in this country, to put design at risk is just fatal.”

Categories: Education