Pushing Science’s Limits in Sign Language Lexicon

Imagine trying to learn biology without ever using the word “organism.” Or studying to become a botanist when the only way of referring to photosynthesis is to spell the word out, letter by painstaking letter.

For deaf students, this game of scientific Password has long been the daily classroom and laboratory experience. Words like “organism” and “photosynthesis” — to say nothing of more obscure and harder-to-spell terms — have no single widely accepted equivalent in sign language. This means that deaf students and their teachers and interpreters must improvise, making it that much harder for the students to excel in science and pursue careers in it. Continue reading

Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning

In 1979, when Jim Stigler was still a graduate student at the University of Michigan, he went to Japan to research teaching methods and found himself sitting in the back row of a crowded fourth-grade math class.

“The teacher was trying to teach the class how to draw three-dimensional cubes on paper,” Stigler explains, “and one kid was just totally having trouble with it. His cube looked all cockeyed, so the teacher said to him, ‘Why don’t you go put yours on the board?’ So right there I thought, ‘That’s interesting! He took the one who can’t do it and told him to go and put it on the board.’ ” Continue reading

In Reaction to: Student IDs That Track the Students (NY Times)

Call me a hold out, a technophobe, or someone just behind the times, but the idea of student ID cards with transmitters contained within as required accessories to the everyday mundane school outfit is scary. The immediate benefits are clear, of course: a real time description of a student’s whereabouts on campus, an instant picture of school-wide student attendance, attendance patters for particular students without the hassle of manual entry, and a possible expansion into the design and development of a campus that cuts down on the effects that overcrowding has on traditional hallways and transit times between classes. Continue reading