Howard Zinn, MUN, & The Future of Education

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Blog, Current Events, ModelUN, MUN, MUN-E | Comments Off on Howard Zinn, MUN, & The Future of Education

Howard Zinn, MUN, & The Future of Education

After spending weeks thinking about the presentation and education panel I would be leading at ChoMUN, I found a new perspective on our current systems. The group at the Da Vinci Institute had a great deal of experience in “Futurist” thought. In the first few paragraphs of their treatise on the future of education, they cite the inefficiency of systems as they exist today. It is a distant past, but before I continue I want to explain their first reference to an inefficient system that hindered progress in the ancient world: the Roman Number system. It is accepted by most mathematics historians (yes, they exist) that the progress of the Greeks ground to a complete halt when the Romans asserted their grip over most of Europe and the Mediterranean coastline. Writing a number in Roman numerals is an addition and subtraction equation in itself! Think about the number MDCCCXLIV = 1844. Imagine trying to do bookkeeping and data entry with this system. Imagine division problems… never mind exponents and decimals!! Now go a step further and imagine how engineering and finance must’ve been held back by this inefficient numerical system. In our country today, we have developed a tax code that is now 64,000 pages long. We have so many laws that most lawyers believe they are uncountable. Another system that is becoming utterly decrepit is the education system. Each of us were born with the natural proclivity towards learning (we witness, we crawl, we walk, we speak, we write, we develop language and vocabulary…) yet by the time we’ve reached adolescence, most students grow sick of the tedium of grades, papers, exams, standardized tests, rigid classrooms, and they question the “reasons” for knowing math or history. Something has gone wrong with our current investments, and our future deserves a fresh perspective. Students deserve to be inspired and teachers deserve inspired students. Our system has been slow to adapt to the revolution of the internet. The academics who are revealing a renaissance of education research are slow to push their discoveries into the classroom. The local public education districts are so oppressed by budgetary constraints that they struggle more with balance sheets, completely losing sight of advantageous reform. As a graduate student in the most quantitative field that currently exists in education (An outline of a program in psychometrics), I am a first-hand witness of the trench that lies between the practices of policy makers and educational researchers. When imagining the future of education, we must make room for the creativity of learners to pursue their interests and motivations. The extent of subject matter that can be learned has become so vast, each with a depth unrivaled in any historical context. When we restrict each student to read a subset of classical novels, whitewashed interpretations of history, and terse outlines of science, we dull the beauty and richness of the human experience. Then we take it a step further and force today’s students to bubble in dots for more than two weeks of the school year, instigating anxieties and insecurities that negate the confidence building activities that should be...

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Big Q’s for the next generation?

Posted by on Aug 19, 2012 in Current Events, Friends of MUN-E, ModelUN, MUN, MUN Debate Topics | 0 comments

Big Q’s for the next generation?

This is a very serious question and we can guarantee that no one around you will have a good answer… Which presidential candidate has a plan on any issue that addresses the lifelong needs of the age group that is not even in college yet, namely “children?” Inflation has been increasing faster than at any point in history. Programs like Social Security & Medicare are scheduled to be dilapidated by the time today’s children hit their 30’s. College costs are rising so quickly that students are being advised that college loans will result in costs that are equivalent to a mortgage. Updates of our country’s infrastructure are estimated to cost trillions of dollars, public schools are losing employees faster than at anytime in history, and unemployment is at an all-time high for 18-30 year olds and is NOT getting better. Today’s 20-35 year old group is making less than their parents did and this trend is on pace to turn out worse for today’s children. War has been in the news every single day of a 10 year old’s life. Technology is changing so quickly that laws, economics, education, medicine, and PEOPLE can’t keep up. This is happening WHILE THE COUNTRY IS ON A TEN YEAR TREND OF CUTTING INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION and while our nation’s scores are declining relative to the rest of the world. We need kids to ask these questions to the rest of the nation! The problems in our country are only becoming MORE detrimental to the future generation in the United States. The solutions to these problems are also going to rest on their shoulders more than any generation before them. We personally believe that the students who read this and realize their situation are going to be better prepared to change the world for their generation and themselves… And you MUNners who are practicing the skills that will be needed to change the politics of our nation for the benefit of everyone, we are here because we want to help. The future used to be a bright horizon that inspired beautiful movies and classic poems. The world NEEDS YOU to ask questions about YOUR FUTURE. We need you. And we wish you the best of luck in preparing for the future… But unlike the loud mouth figureheads and misguided voters & media, we promise to help you. And don’t be afraid let us know how we can help you even more… Learn to be one of the trendsetters in the future: Get MUN-E! Free membership to The MUNIVERSITY comes with your book!...

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MUN SPECIAL TOPIC: Guns, Guns, and more *scary* Guns…

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012 in Blog, Current Events, Friends of MUN-E, MUN Debate Topics | 0 comments

MUN SPECIAL TOPIC: Guns, Guns, and more *scary* Guns…

In the past month, the United States has now been averaging about one domestic terrorist shooting per week.   Some basic statistics comparing the United States with European countries: Only Estonia(8.07) and Northern Ireland(5.24) have murder rates greater than the United States (4.14). Slovakia checks in next at half of our homicide rate, 2.17. Extrapolating that rate to the size of our population gives a number of 12,400 homicides by firearms per year which easily dwarfs the number of homicides in the smaller countries of the EU (The extra 20,000 deaths are suicides or accidental!!). It is estimated by the ATF that of the approximate 3,000 crimes committed with firearms per day in the US, 80% of the criminals are using ILLEGAL guns. The BATF approximates that 4.9 million guns are sold to Americans each year, while only 100,000 are confiscated and destroyed. The US has approximately 89 guns per 100 residents, doubling the EU’s most prolific gun owners (Switzerland – 45), followed by Finland (32), Sweden (32), Norway (31), France (31) & Austria (30). Canada also checks in at 31. Comparing homicide rates of these same countries we have the US (4.14), Switzerland (0.58), Finland (0.86), Sweden (0.18), Norway (0.3), France (0.44), Austria (0.42), & Canada (0.76). What are your reactions to these numbers? What sort of arguments would you be able to make at upcoming conferences with this information? Do you have other evidence that supports a need for gun...

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Body Language is UNIVERSAL!

Posted by on Aug 6, 2012 in Blog, Lessons, ModelUN, Social Skills | 0 comments

Body Language is UNIVERSAL!

Body Language is a UNIVERSAL Language In our experience, we’ve seen the slightest changes in posture to create profound changes in our delegates’ communication abilities. For example, let’s take the simple example of four people debating a serious topic. Look at this picture:  You can assume a few things just by witnessing the position of these four people who are discussing their positions: Speaker #2 is not leading the conversation. Speaker #3 is trying to respectful to Speaker #2 by being slightly shifted to the left. Speaker #1, #3, and #4 are having the most meaningful conversation while #2 has no choice but to listen. Eventually if Speaker #2 doesn’t get closer, he/she is going to be ignored and #1, #3, & #4 are going to feel that #2 is NOT a confident leader who they should listen to. Body language can be THAT simple. Here is the proper position for Speaker #2:  Have you noticed this in your own unmoderated discussions?? Pay attention to your position when having social conversations and start putting yourself in the position of a confident contributor! Want to get better at all of these skills? You should get the book, ASAP....

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Special MUN Topic: It’s more than serious in Syria!

Posted by on Jul 26, 2012 in Current Events, MUN Debate Topics | 0 comments

Special MUN Topic:  It’s more than serious in Syria!

The situation in Syria is deteriorating more and more every day. A civil war for control of the Syrian government has continued now for 16 months with no sign of relief any time soon. With a daily death rate approximately 10 times that of the war in Afghanistan many observers feel that intervention is long overdue. Attempts have been made by the United Nations to mitigate the chaos and bloodshed present in Syria but these efforts have had little impact on the current state of the conflict. Kofi Anan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, has been sent to mediate this dispute but has garnered little success. Neither the current government nor the rebels are willing to put stock in any plan to end the war anytime soon. To complicate matters further the Russian Federation, a long time ally of Syria dating back to the Cold War, has effectively used its veto power to stop any UN sanctions that could slow the pace of the war. These acts have given President Bashar Assad, the current leader, the freedom to crush the rebellion with excessive force. Despite these handicaps, however, the tide may be turning in the rebels favor. A recent bombing of the 14-man Nation Security Council successfully killed several key members of Syrian government including relatives of Assad. This type of action would have never been possible without inside assistance from members of the government loyal to Assad. The success of this bombing will only encourage the rebels, demonstrating that the Assad government is weakening and that peace negotiations may not be necessary in the long term. Does the United Nations have an obligation to protect the Syrian people from the horrors associated with this Civil War or should they respect the national sovereignty of Syria to rule over its people and maintain its current government? How would you argue if you were representing Syria? Have you recently been in a Security Council simulation where this topic has come up? Tell us about...

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