CV4TT

 

Update: The book is available now. Spannaus, T.W. (2012). Creating Video for Teachers and Trainers. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

My new book, titled Creating Video for Teachers and Trainers, will be available in May. Published by Pfeiffer, it covers planning, scripting, shooting and producing video, using inexpensive equipment and software.

I teach a course on digital video for teaching and learning and have never found a book on video production that showed equipment that teachers and trainers can actually afford. That’s what this book is about. You and your school, business, or church probably don’t have 5-figure budgets for a camcorder, lights, and all that great stuff. But with proper planning, and using professional thinking and techniques, amateur gear will produce videos you’re not ashamed to show and that your students can learn from.

The new site will be up with more resources soon. I’ll let you know when it and the book are ready.

Hot summer

Yes, it’s been hot here in Michigan and across much of the country. And we complain about the heat.

But while at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market Saturday, buying produce to eat right now and much more to can for later, it occurred to me that the beautiful cucumbers, tomatoes, berries, corn and other great food on display is there because it’s summer and it’s hot. It’s hard to grow tomatoes in cooler climates. Corn needs long hot days and nights.

Enjoy the great bounty of summer produce. And endure the heat that makes it all grow.

The deficit deal

I suppose one measure of a compromise is that no one is happy with the final deal. By that measure the proposed bill to raise the deficit ceiling is a good compromise. No one likes it. I don’t either. Here’s why:

From a policy perspective, it is certain to deepen the recession we’re in. Yes, I know technically we’re not in a recession. But no one I know thinks the recession is over. Maybe I don’t know enough bankers or financial wizards, who seem to be doing OK.

It will deepen the recession by pulling money out of federal expenditures, costing as many as 1.8 million* jobs in 2012. Did you notice last month that private sector employment was up by 58,000 jobs, but public sector layoffs cut so much that the net was only 18,000 job growth? That’s what happens when we cut government spending. People lose their jobs, either directly as government employees, or indirectly as suppliers to government. And many more lose out because those people aren’t spending any money.

Job growth was a lot stronger while the stimulus funds were being spent and have dropped as the stimulus dropped. Oh, yes, the stimulus worked, but it doesn’t work after the money runs out.

It harms the least of our brothers and sisters, who will necessarily be damaged by cuts to discretionary spending. They are the least able to cope with cuts because they have nothing to fall back on. Once again, the rich will be OK.

Other voices:

Paul Krugman, Nobel economist: “The deal itself…is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy…The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further.”

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary: “Anyone who characterizes the deal…as a victory for the American people over partisanship understands neither economics nor politics. The deal…puts the nation’s most important safety nets and public investments on the chopping block…the largest threat to our democracy is the emergence of a radical right capable of getting most of the ransom it demands.”

Another way to look at the deal is politically. Here, it’s a bad deal too. It rewards the Tea Party caucus of the House for holding the government and the economy hostage. Remember Pavlov? And Skinner?  The wingnuts will do it again because their irresponsible behavior was reinforced. The Progressives are weakened, because once Social Security and Medicare are put in play by Democrats, it’s hard to maintain the position that we’re the defenders of those programs that the vast majority of the population absolutely love.

Sure, nobody likes it. Maybe it’s because it’s a bad deal.

 

*Updated to use the numbers from the Economic Policy Institute

Science? What science? I know what I know.

Many have written about the systematic assault on science and reason. It comes largely but not exclusively from the right, including politicians and fundamentalists. Their reasons and methods vary but the result is the same: a conflation of expertise with elitism. And no one in this egalitarian nation wants to be considered elite.

What I have experienced in my classes is that a few students regard their opinions as worthy counters to research. I’ve recently posted some comments about learning styles, particularly the popular VARK (visual, aural, read/write, kinesthetic) or VAK (visual, audio, kinesthetic) schemes. My comments include references to research, which in general does not support either approach. My students often respond with their opinions, which are often supportive of VARK and other ways of thinking about learning styles, but devoid of any empirical support. When asked for empirical support, the response is often some variety of, It just seems to make sense; Or, Everybody knows learning styles are useful predictors.

There is a useful takeaway from the learning styles conversation. It’s that in general learning is enhanced when we use multiple senses or media. That is, people learn better from images and verbal content than from either alone. That’s based on Mayer’s Multimedia research, for which there is a lot of useful data. And it’s based on Paivio’s dual coding theory. But it’s not an individual thing, as the learning styles people presume. It’s a generalization that applies to most learners.

As educators, our responsibility is to make decisions based on evidence. There are different kinds of evidence, of course. But for questions amenable to empirical research, that’s the standard we look to. Our opinions, or common sense, are valuable. But we look to better evidence when we can.

As I turn 65 …

“It used to be that you could count on two pensions – social security and a pension from your employer. But now work-related pensions are an endangered species and Social Security is under assault from a lethal combination of Wall Street’s insatiable greed and the pernicious philosophy of Ayn Rand.”

From AlterNet, the clearest explanation of the economics of retirement and why it is getting so difficult. I know I’m not the only Boomer who plans on working well past 65. This helps explain why, and points to an even more challenging retirement for our kids.

Teachers aren’t the enemy

Excellent article in The Nation about teachers and current disputes about quality schools.

Don’t do a thing and it will get better

One of our problems as humans is a bias for action. We want to do something. But there are times when doing nothing is just fine.

Here’s an interesting take on the deficit. If congress and the president do nothing at all, the deficit goes down by about 75%.

Read it here

And now I’ll leave the deficit alone for a while.

It’s not about the deficit

A lot of the news for the past several weeks has been about the deficit. There is a certain hysteria that we now have a huge deficit and nothing, including jobs, is more important than cutting the deficit.

The concern is driven by the Republicans, and especially by the Tea Party caucus. It’s fair to ask where they were when the deficit leaped up during the Bush 41 administration, or why policy issues like Planned Parenthood are more important than deficit reduction.The clear answer is that they don’t care about the deficit. What they care about is eliminating programs they don’t like, including health care reform and social security. Health care reform, to take an example, actually reduces the deficit. The Ryan budget increases the deficit, largely by repealing health care reform.

Reducing taxes increases the deficit. We know that from what is now 30 years experience with tax cuts. But the Ryan plan cuts taxes yet again, to levels not seen since 1929. Now that was a good year.

The point here is that we shouldn’t get sucked into a debate about the deficit with people who don’t care about it, but are merely posturing as a way of cutting the programs they don’t like. We’ve known this since the Reagan administration when Grover Norquist set out the agenda, which was to cut taxes until government got so small it could be drowned in a bathtub.

It’s not about the deficit. It’s about cutting important programs that protect the poor and middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthy. That’s what the GOP and Tea Party want to do.

Don’t get sucked into the wrong debate. Let’s instead talk about jobs, education, infrastructure, research and development. Those grow the economy and, with growth and increased tax revenue, the deficit takes care of itself.

Zombie administration

There’s an excellent new book out on zombie economics. The thesis is that long discredited economic ideas (such as that the market will solve all problems) never seem to die. They keep resurfacing, with politicians and media types assuming that these ideas actually work. We know after 30 years of experience that they don’t.

But it’s not just in economics that bad ideas won’t die. I talked today with an education administration prof, who reminded me the same phenomenon happens in administration. There are business schools, some of high repute, like Harvard, that have decided, once again, that a good manager can manage anything, even a school. Now I thought we learned, back in the 80s, that this notion didn’t work. Huge conglomerates were formed and dissolved (think ITT, among others) on the reasoning that management didn’t need to understand the specifics of each business. They could manage anything. Think also of the damage to the auto companies that came about when financial managers (Roger Moore comes to mind) ran the show. They knew nothing about manufacturing or product development. But they know finance. And nearly destroyed the companies.

So now we get the b-schools taking on education. It’s a zombie idea. We know it doesn’t work. The management people have to understand the business they manage. When they don’t, things break. Seriously.

Let bad ideas die.

union boss

It appears that the tired old phrase “union boss” is back with a vengeance. Politicians, even some journalists, seem to think that elected union officers are somehow bosses.

I just want to observe that, having been an elected union officer in the past, “boss” is hardly the first term that comes to mind. I couldn’t really boss anyone around. We weren’t paid. And we could be (and were) voted out regularly.

I have to admit there were times when it might have been of some benefit to be a boss. But, no, the vast majority of elected union officers are not bosses, in any sense.