Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hollywood never heard of the Gulags

I don't go to the movies and don't read movie reviews as a rule. However a few headlines led me to believe that Colin Farrell's latest - The Way Back - ain't all that great.

Columnist Anne Applebaum acted as an adviser to the director and wonders if some of the reviews are due to the fact that the underlying story about Soviet Gulags is so unfamiliar. Director Peter Weir told Applebaum that people in Hollywood didn't know about the Gulags, "never heard of Soviet concentration camps, only German ones."

If true, that speaks volumes about Hollywood, bastion of stupid lefty views. How could Hollywood accept that the Soviet Union was capable of such institutionalized evil as the Gulags? Of course they couldn't so they ignored all the stories from survivors - Andrei Sakharov was hardly an unknown name in America - and references to the same by leading (mostly Republican) politicians, including and especially Ronald Reagan. To Hollywood if a Republican said it, it had to be untrue/ignored/denied.

Groupthink had a hold on Hollywood during the Cold War and it still does. They unlearn what's inconvenient.

Friday, January 21, 2011

March 11 is important, but so is St. Patrick's Day

We cannot afford for the government AND opposition to blow St. Patrick's Day in America and elsewhere. Many people put no value on these trips abroad for the national day, but those people are wrong. St. Patrick's Day is a vitally important occasion for us to be represented abroad. {More here.}

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Primary teachers need intensive math training, not Higher Level Math ability

The Teaching Counil wants all potential teachers (primary, I presume) to take Higher Level Mathematics in the Leaving Cert. This is only one of a number of suggested changes to the entry requirements for teacher training/B Ed programs.

I have no problem with interviews and aptitude tests to screen applicants for primary school teacher, but surely there's little need for such an emphasis on higher level math. I have a degree in Math and I love it. And it's vitally important.

I just don't see why someone who teaches children up to the age of 12 should be able to "Express μ and σ in terms of a" where "real numbers a, 2a, 3a, 4a and 5a have mean μ and standard deviation σ." (Last year's higher level Paper 2.)

I've encountered enough teachers who are challenged by 6th class math to realize that we have a problem here. However, I'm not sure this is the solution. Better to double the emphasis on math in the college course. Math understanding and math teaching (something that not everyone who is good at Math can actually do) are crucial and we need to ensure our teachers are up to it.

Maybe we should consider teachers specializing in math/science and english/irish/history from 5th class on. I had that from 4th grade (4th class).