Tuesday, March 29, 2011

EZ Reads 3/29/11

  • An incredible back and forth of letters to the editor in the 1890s Jewish Standard on head coverings for women. (On The Main Line) It's pretty funny to see much of the same back and forth as 120 years later, though with the caveat that it seemed completely accepted then that within the walls of one's own home a woman does not need to cover her hair. While I know some people now who do this, for the most part people don't seem to know about it. It's worth reading the whole back and forth, it's quite entertaining.
  • LYING IS BAD. (And destroys lives.) Just thought y'all should know that. Some halachos of it are here. (Hirhurim)
  • Really good sound/music video for JudaBlue's song Falling, which is about David vs. Goliath. (RafiG)
  • Public school math doesn't teach kids how to reason. (Freakonomics) I don't understand how you can teach math without logic and reason - it's just horrible education. 
  • Jameel with a cool and crazy video of a blackout sandstorm in Kuwait; he compares it to the 9th plague. (Muqata)
  • Shira Dicker with an interesting essay (hat tip: ED) entitled Why I Am A Conservative Jew; the most interesting is what she decries, which is the "graduation" of many to (mostly Modern) Orthodoxy or the shift away from Judaism by most. This is part of what I'll be discussing when continuing the series on the future of Judaism.
  • ProfK on Minhag and Mishagas when it comes to making Pesach. Nice quote:
    Personally, I think all the varying customs, both group and individual, are interesting. To me many of them speak of family life and lore being recreated many generations down the road since those customs sprung up. Telling me that I don't have to do something just because my great grandmother did it misses the point entirely. Isn't it wonderful that I actually know what my great grandmother did and that I can connect to her through doing the same thing.


  1. It's not that public schools aren't teaching math with logic and reasoning - it's that states are putting together frustrating standardized tests and then judging students and teachers and schools based on the students' performances on those tests.

  2. I also found a lot of the comments on the Freakonomics post interesting. A few stuck out, but I'll just comment on one:

    "While I would agree that the way the question is worded is unrealistic, I would disagree that your way of addressing the problem is any easier. I would argue that the relevant question is ‘Which box is a better deal?” For that, I would convert both to a per ounce base and immediately realize the small box is more expensive per ounce. How much more would the large box cost if priced at the small box price doesn’t really weigh into the decision of whether to buy or not."

    The way the person who posted would have presented the problem involved several steps (not really very "simple" or "direct"), including finding percentages, which these kids may not even have learned how to do yet. I don't know what grade this test was for, but that is also something to take into account. Before kids can be able to answer higher-order thinking questions, they have to fully understand what they are doing when they do a computation - when they should divide, multiply, etc. and why. Many kids struggle with this (even while taught in a way that emphasizes reasoning and explaining why you answered the way you did) and the higher order questions sail right over their heads.

    Many of my fourth-grade students right now are struggling to understand what it means when a number has a decimal in it. They'd never be able to answer the problem proposed by the author of the post.

    It's good to expect a lot out of your students and to push them, but your expectations also have to be within reason and age/level appropriate.

  3. Lying is bad.....

    Do you know of someone that is a liar?

  4. Anon - Yes, all too many people.

    Erachet - I think we agree that the way it's currently done is flawed, at least in schools that teach without any logic portion. The primary purpose in learning math is to learn how to think and make proper decisions in life by being able to understand the problem you need to solve and how to best solve for it. To not teach that is just pointless.

  5. "funny to see much of the same back and forth as 120 years later"

    can you explain what you mean here? it seems to be accepted broadly within the orthodox community that a married woman MUST cover her hair - in fact i cant think of any Ortho rabbi that would permit it!

  6. Agreed, which is exactly what someone said 120 years ago. There's always a fringe argument that is mostly ignored or discarded, and there's always a sizable portion of people who simply don't, but it's interesting to read the discussions then and now on it.