Technology

Today, I am guest teaching at Palm Desert High School.  Palm Desert High School has some unique programs, not unlike Palm Desert Charter Middle School.  The Middle School, which is geographically located in reasonable proximity to the high school, has, in my opinion, some of the most unique programs.  While I was guest teaching a math class in Palm Desert Middle School, a number of students brought in flags that are used in Marching Band.  When I asked about the club, they told me that it was a class.  Where I taught before, you can’t find a high school with such a class.

While at Palm Desert High School yesterday, I ran into a student who shouldn’t be here based on geography.  He said he came for baseball.  He makes the trip for baseball.  I had noticed the baseball field outside of my classroom yesterday.  I remarked to myself that it was amazingly manicured.  At the end of the day, when I left, there was a baseball practice underway.  This practice had to be underway before the end of the day as the students were already in uniform.

A November baseball practice.

It dawned on me how different this school and it’s middle school are from the average school and yet how much of it is the same.  The students are still required to do the work of the curriculum, yet there are these extras.  I am inside a class of computer science students.  It has been said that this field is dominated by men in the workplace.  Out of a class of 24 students, there are 2 girls.  The previous class had 21 students and only 2 girls.  In truth, if a tech company was looking for the best candidate for a job without regard to race, gender, or anything other than the qualifications of the individual that might make them a “rock star” in their industry, the numbers are skewed in favor of the males.

The entire class quickly finishes their assignment of what they are required to do and moves on to what they want to do. I should probably be a little scared about this, but, they are using school machines through wired into the school network, so they are precluded from doing any damage as a result of juvenile mischief…I hope.

I really wish that their work that they did everyday had a relevance to their interests or their lives.  Some of their conversations about the “gaming” that they are involved in certainly lend themselves to the creativity necessary to come up with the next big thing.  I guess it is hard to gauge this when you are a guest teacher and a little out of your field.  Still the energy is palpable and you want to catch the energy.  This should be the true art of teaching.

Fake News Blues…

It is amazing that now we have to deal with such new terms as “alternate facts” and “fake news”.  These accusations that are launched by our current resident in the White House have caused an expected polarization along the lines of supporters on both sides, but it does definitely make somebody wonder…just what, if any, “truth” is there in the assertion?

If you watch certain networks, it is clear that there is a slant on the delivery of the daily news from the commentary to the guests or experts that are interviewed.  While this is painfully obvious even to the most naive viewer, we have to remember that all of these news outlets are a commercial venture.  Every news broadcast is interrupted by a series of commercials that target their loyal audience.  The broadcasters set up their news twist so elegantly prior to the commercial to keep you on their station through the advertisement.  These advertisers want to keep their predictable audience and quite often their political views will affect their purchasing choices.  I recently watched a news station that leans toward the liberal side and saw a number of ads for medical programs or devices that indicated that they will be covered by medicare.  Government insurance is a commitment that comes from our Democratic party.

This type of news delivery has been around for a while now, so we should be used to it.  The charge of “fake news” as issued by the executive branch of the federal government is something quite different.  It is designed to inflame the electorate and believe that there is something genuinely evil about the news industry as a whole.  News satire channels on TV and and Internet are definitely fueling the fire…but they serve the purpose of entertainment more than the responsible journalism that keeps government honest.

Our president is using this new phrase to deflect the focus off of his relationship to a totalitarian leader of a regime that stands in direct contrast to what America is at it’s core.  He has refused to implicate Russia and continued to shower praise on their leader.  If he had been forthright, honest and transparent then there would be no suspicion about his international dealings but he hasn’t.

There is a real difference between real news and fake news.  So much of the “fake news” comes from discussions that are taking place on social media with no basis in fact and continues to polarize Americans.  A leader who leads with tweets is no leader.

Twitter has it’s place…so does Facebook. It should not be a playground for misinformation particularly when it is being spread by the President of the United States.  Enjoy my “tongue in cheek” musical lament inspired by number 45.