Tag Archives : Education


Morning Coffee 147

  • My son Patrick turns five today. The big treat was his cousin Jack coming up for a visit. Here’s a picture of the two of them at Patrick’s party on Saturday. My wife has all the details on her blog. Update: My wife just posted a whole slew of Early Patrick Pictures.
  • If my son is five, it means this blog is also five – I started this blog about a month before Patrick was born. I never remember to mark the occasion until Paddy boy’s big day comes around.
  • Major props to the House of Representatives for growing a backbone and not caving to President 30% Approval on telecom immunity…yet. Personally, I’d like to see the House bury the measure completely, though I’m not holding my breath. But given that even the right-wing Washington Times reports “Analysts say FISA will suffice“, maybe the House Dems will do the right thing.
  • After tearing it up since Thanksgiving, the Caps have gone a little cold. 5-4-1 in their last ten and 2-2-1 in their last five. In the month of February, they’re 1-3-1 against SE division opponents. Good news is that they’re still even with Carolina (two points behind with two games in hand), half a game up on Atlanta, a game and a half up on Florida and two and a half games up on Tampa Bay.
  • Bill Gates announced a new program called DreamSpark to provide college students access to all of Microsoft’s developer and designer tools, including Visual Studio, Expression, SQL Server, Windows Server and XNA Creators Club membership. This looks like an outgrowth of the MSDN Academic Alliance program. I think it’s a great idea. Update: Looks like high-school students will be able to access the DreamSpark program too. However, since they’re minors, they have to get the software via their teachers. (via LiveSide)
  • The winners of the XNA Silicon Minds contest have been announced. Of the five winners, Specimen looks the coolest to me. I wish I had more time to get into game development. (Via LetsKillDave)
  • Speaking of game development, this week is the Game Development Conference, so be on the lookout for lots of game-related news. Xbox Live VP John Schappert is giving a keynote on “Unleashing the Creative Community”. XNA GM Chris Satchell said last year they would “announce full details on, and … vision for, opening XNA creations to the community” sometime this year. I’m guessing this is said announcement.
  • Speaking of Xbox, there’s a rumor that Microsoft and Netflix will announce this week that Netflix is bringing their Watch Instantly service to Xbox 360. If true, sign me up!
  • Grigori Melnik announces the GAX/GAT February 2008 final release. Key feature is VS08 support. Is it just me, or does calling it the “final release” make it sound like they won’t be upgrading GAX/GAT further?
  • Speaking of p&p, Grigori also announces the Feb 2008 CTP of Unity, p&p’s new IoC container. I’ve seem lots of folks echoing the announcement, but not much in the way of specifics on Unity itself. For example, Chris Brandsma describes IoC and mentions Unity, but he doesn’t cover any Unity specifics. :(
  • MSIT EA Nilesh Bhide has started blogging. His first post is on Customer perception of Service Quality in S+S/SaaS. I’ve worked closely with Nilesh in the past two years, so I’m excited to see him take to the blogosphere. (via Nick Malik)
  • I don’t know how I missed it, but the MSDN Code Gallery launched last month. As Charlie Calvert explained, this is logical successor to GotDotNet’s user samples area. Between Code Gallery and CodePlex, GotDotNet has finally been shuttered for good.
  • Telligent, makers of the very popular Community Server, have released Graffiti CMS, which looks like a more flexible content platform than Community Server. (via DNK)
  • In somewhat unexpected news (at least, unexpected by me) Microsoft has released specs for the Office binary file formats. I’m not sure why this is happening now, rather than say when we released the specs for the Open Office XML file formats. (via DNK)

(Late) Morning Coffee 36

  • It snowed again yesterday. Last year we had one snowstorm, the year before that none. We’ve now had I think five this year plus the massive windstorm that knocked out power for days.
  • Technorati told me that “social news aggregator” Megite is linking to me. For some reason, this post of mine on Powershell is considered related to “Is PR Too Stupid for Conversational Marketing?” from Amanda Chapel. Seems like Megite has some bugs to work out.
  • Paul Andrew announces BPEL support for WF but David Chappel writes “no one should interpret the announcement as an embrace of BPEL-based development by Microsoft”. Personally, I think BPEL is just the latest attempt at “write once, run anywhere” and will meet with the same limited success of previous attempts. The last thing I think MSFT should do is embrace BPEL based development.
  • BPEL actually has two flavors, Executable and Abstract. Abstract BPEL is potentially fairly useful. You could use to exchange of the publicly viewable parts of a process with a partner in order to make two processes work together. That’s fairly exciting. I would welcome Abstract BPEL support for WF and/or BTS. But as far as I can tell, most of the BPEL focus has been around Executable BPEL, which as I wrote above is attempting to be a platform independent language for implementing business process. That’s fairly unexciting since we’ve been down this road before many times (UNIX, CORBA, J2EE) and it has never worked out.
  • Soma announces the launch of the Beginner Developer Learning Center. It includes Kid’s Corner with the cutely named C# for Sharp Kids and VB for Very Bright Kids e-books. Very cool, I can’t wait to share this with my kids in a few years. Only complaint: where’s the XNA love?

Against School

Graham Glass called this article “thought provoking”. Calling that an understatement is an understatement it and of itself. The article is by John Taylor Gatto, former NY State and NYC teacher of the year. In this article, he completely shreds the modern school system. He describes our education system as “deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens – all in order to render the populace ‘manageable’”.

I’ve long had issues with the education system (I’d say “of this country” but it’s fairly universal) but I couldn’t ever articulate them. I’ve been known to say stuff like “a diploma is evidence of attendance, not intelligence” and “never let school stand in the way of your education”. I got better at understanding the problem after reading The Third Wave. Toffler points out the need for an industrial society to have a mass education system to turn children into factory workers. But Toffler doesn’t really get into the downside of the mass education approach the way Gatto does. Note to self, pick up Gatto’s book The Underground History of American Education.

As I type this, I wonder if I’ll regret blogging this when my kids are in school. I can almost hear the argument now: “Dad, why should I have to go to school if you think it’s designed to produce mediocre intellects?” Frankly, I don’t have a good answer for that now and I doubt I’ll have a good one then. (“I don’t know. Go ask your mother.” Kidding!)

You know, now that I think about it, I’m looking forward to that conversation with my kids. Gatto suggests teaching your own children to be leaders and adventures instead of letting schools train them to be employees and servants. A frank discussion about the value of school sounds much more like leadership than servitude to me.

Update: You can read the book online for free or you can buy the book (and others) online from Gatto’s website.