Tag Archives: Education

The Backbone of an Argument

Claims that are used in arguments must be properly supported in order to contribute as a whole. If the original information is changed or exaggerated, the overall credibility of the work could be subject to question. Darrell West’s report on big data’s application in education (link) retains its credibility because it uses reliable and accurate citations as a backbone for its argument.

To prove that West’s report can be trusted, one must look closely at how he cites his sources and how those sources shape his argument (or how he shapes his sources to match his argument). At the bottom of each page that contains an external reference, West points the reader to his sources.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.17.02 PMTo prove that West’s use of of other researchers knowledge  is consistent with their research, it is necessary to look closer at the reference in the footer. By taking the title of Joseph Beck and Jack Mostow work listed in the footer as source number 5 and searching for the document online, one can easily find an abstract of the original document (link). While this work also contains references to external sources, the aspect that west was referring to (reading one story multiple times does not lend to as much learning as reading a variety of stories) was researched and carried out by the authors of the source. This makes this document the primary source for this particular piece of information in West’s report.

The work by Joseph Beck and Jack Mostow contained information that was consistent with what West claimed in his report:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.32.39 PM

West’s use of the source was honest and accurate. He brought in external information, properly sited it, and correctly reported the content of the source. His individual interpretation of the source (and how it affects education), as with any citation, is what provides backing for his argument. In this case, the source was referring to the effects of rereading on learning and West showed that this can be applied to education through the use of computer  aided education. The source provided backbone information and West shaped it in a way to support his argument.

 

Does Education Need to Change?

“This really happened. We were sitting there and I think they just went out of sequence, because we talked to the little boy afterward and we said, “You OK with that?” And he said, “Yeah, why? Was that wrong?” They just switched, that was it. Anyway, the three boys came in — four-year-olds with tea towels on their heads — and they put these boxes down, and the first boy said, “I bring you gold.” And the second boy said, “I bring you myrrh.” And the third boy said, “Frank sent this.” (4:47 – 5:22)

This excerpt from his child’s play sets up the rest on the Ted talk about changes to the education system very well. The argument of this Ted talk is about if the education system kills creativity. First, Robinson must set up a basis for this argument, that children are already more creative than adults. If children weren’t creative then Robinson thesis would fall apart since you can not take something away that is already not there. It is not only that this excerpt, about his son’s play, is important for his thesis, but it also shows how well structured his argument is. After telling the story Robinson transitions into talking about how kids are will to make mistakes and take their best guess, but in the corporate world of today that is looked down upon, so no one takes chances. No one doubts his authority since he was a university professor and is talking on TEDx, a very well respected organization. The one issue with having someone so well educated doing a talk is that it makes it difficult for the most people to identify with and could be difficult to understand, but by talking about how his own son and making jokes it is easy to understand for the rest of the public. He spends most of his argument putting in jokes for the audience. This makes the entire video much more enjoyable to watch and allows Robinson to get his message through. I do think there are other things Robinson could have done to improve his argument. If he had set up a power point then he could have shown statistics and graph that could back up his argument, but without and research sourced all we have to go on is Robinson’s logic argument. Without any for of visual argument there does seem to be something lacking but it does seem the Robinson’s intent was to start a conversation on education. This is because he only highlights the problem but does not offer any specific fix to the problem. It would be interesting to research into what he has done further for education since this Ted talk was from 2006.

The Power of Creativity in Children

 

8:43 – 9:03

In this Ted Talk, Sir Ken Robinson discusses how primary education is eliminating the creative capabilities of children.  He gives several examples of how children are more likely to take risks and are not afraid to be wrong but they are essentially educated out of their creative tendencies because of how school’s are structured. He states that there is a very narrow spectrum for opportunity and success and that few children are capable of being successful in such a system.

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In this talk Robinson only uses oral and nonverbal communication to express his ideas. His presentation seems to not require any visuals because he discusses abstract ideas. His examples are short stories that come from him personally so any visual representation would most likely distract from what he is saying. Robinson speaks effectively throughout the presentation. His speech is clear and at the right pace. He pauses whenever the audience applauds or laughs at one of his jokes. This combined with subtle hand gestures makes his  presentation constantly interesting. Although for most of the lecture his hands are by his sides sometimes he move them around to emphasize a point.

Robinson uses a lot of humor in this lecture to express himself. His hand gestures help emphasize his jokes and certain parts of his stories which he uses as evidence for his argument. While the humor makes his monologue a bit unprofessional it feels appropriate for the kind of lecture he gives. Whenever he brings the speech back to his main point he always adopts a serious tone which is similar to that of a university professor teaching a class.

Using Positive Statistics the Wrong Way

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Immediately this picture draws our attention to two things, the words “worth it?” and the price tag on the graduation cap. This simplifies the whole argument of this infographic to the point where it can easily be picked up in a matter of seconds.  by comparing the large amount of debt owed by graduates and the huge increase in for-profit institutions to the relatively small increase in starting salaries, the author gets the audience to start questioning whether going to school is really worth it. This is done by short snippets of facts that are otherwise unsupported. One of the sources listed on the graphic is the College Board. On the College Board’s website they state, “The purpose of the College Board is to develop and coordinate activities related to student academic preparation, admission, financial aid, and success in postsecondary/higher education. In carrying out these activities the College Board is committed to access and equity for all students,” (https://www.collegeboard.org/about/governance/bylaws). This info graphic is using stats published by the College Board with the purpose of showing, “success in postsecondary/higher education,” to try and prove getting a 4-year degree is not worth it. By doing this the author takes the facts and statistics out of contexts and uses them to try and say that by not going to college you are somehow making yourself more unique and marketable. The truth is quite the opposite, when hiring for any job no employer would hire the high school dropout over someone with a BS or BA. That is the reason so many more people are going to college now, because even though you might build up debt by going to school, the investment will pay off with more lucrative job opportunities and better financial prospects. Just by scanning the list of sources, which are placed in very small print in the corner of the page, one can see how ridiculous it is that some would have any negative statistics about the value of getting a degree. Besides the College Board, who not only makes it their purpose to promote secondary education, but whose profit also depends on the interest of students wanting a postsecondary education,  the infographic also sites the Board of Education who states, “ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access,” (http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/mission/mission.html). By taking two such out of context sources and using them to prove a point contradictory to both, without using them as a counterargument, destroys the credibility of this infographic and shows how easily facts can be manipulated to try to prove the opposite point.