⚡Presentation ‘Conditionals and Arguments. Concepts Conditional Antecedent and Consequent Necessary and sufficient conditions: how to identify Biconditional Contrapositive.’

Conditionals and Arguments. Concepts Conditional Antecedent and Consequent Necessary and sufficient conditions: how to identify Biconditional Contrapositive.

Source: ⚡Presentation ‘Conditionals and Arguments. Concepts Conditional Antecedent and Consequent Necessary and sufficient conditions: how to identify Biconditional Contrapositive.’


Old stuff on “New Literacies”

[I’m taking this off of my main site and putting it here; it’s my reaction to my “new literacies” training in June 2009. I’ll have much more to say about “new literacies” and 21st-century skills soon]

[NLI, June 21-25, 2009] I’ve been at a New Literacies conference this week. 9 to 5 at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center. (Make the acronym… Microsoft isn’t appealing to Hipsters.) At any rate, it’s been keynotes every morning, intensive tech sessions, then a collaborative project to use new technologies in the classroom. Interesting discussions about theoretical inputs and outcomes, policy (at least a small group of us), and model classrooms. Jen Bauer’s use of technology is pretty close to the New Literacies Collaborative’s ideal. (Props to Jen. Woot!) However, they admit, upon questioning, that their core goals are still traditional literacy skills (combined with the ability to use new technologies and the cognitive and social skills associated with them) and it is not sure how the use of new technologies will affect the ability of young people to develop those traditional skills, or how applicable those traditional skills will be in a future new technologies world. My increasingly firm conviction is that we’ll see a tiered system: old technology skills (rational, linear reading and comprehension; traditional literacy tools like books, scholarly/journalistic/cultural articles, op-ed pieces, letters, etc.) will remain important in certain spheres of social power and influence, but new technology skills will predominate in others. The elite will navigate both worlds. Others will not; some will be successful in a world dominated by new technologies, others will be hobbled by the negative aspects of the new technologies (neurologic effects, like, e.g., impaired ability to attend, inability to sequence linearly when needed, impulse-control issues, etc.) that have no upside compensations. There are many upsides to the new technologies for communication and socialization (I’m not a Luddite), but I suspect in my gut that on the whole they will sharpen the socio-economic gaps that we are trying to bridge with public education, not ameliorate them, mainly because their popular aspect (as opposed to their productivity-enhancing/idealized aspect) conditions people in the same way that advertising and the new electronic media have since the thirties, which trends away from traditional literacy. The new web 2.0 technologies also, by and large, run on the same economic model as television (i.e., revenue ultimately is derived from advertising). Given what that’s done to the civic character in general in this country, I don’t know… But it’s still pretty shnifty, some of the shiny, shiny toys that they’re having us  use. I’ll have some good stuff in my classes in the fall. Maybe we’ll get some adoption in the Summer School, too.

Thoughts on the present maledictions of the President

[A recent reply to a political action list that I receive. The essential issue is over religious leaders comparing Obama to Hitler.]

One of the things that is glossed over in our popular knowledge of the Nazis is how Hitler et al. crafted Nazi public spectacle and ritual with the trappings of religious ceremony (the knights of light, oaths, commandments, etc.) Many Germans (and others) were attracted to the ersatz spirituality of the Big Idea that Hitler claimed to have. (I see that in the Ayn Randians, too.) At any rate, it was a major dynamic that allowed “nice” people to express race hatred and still stay “virtuous.” (The Frankfurt school dealt with this in several works; I have a hazy recollection that Marie-Louise von Franz dealt with this, too, in a series of lectures on Goetz’ Das Reich ohne Raum that she turned into a book on the puer aeternis of Jungian psychoanalysis…)

At any rate, it’s clear that this sort of comparison (“Obama is a fascist, communist, socialist, etc.”) is permissible in public discourse and is occuring because it is a totemic substitution for what the good bishop and many others in this country want to say, but are no longer allowed to, that is the taboo expression: “Obama is a f-ing N-r who is going to help the f-ing N-rs, Sp-cs, Ch-nks, G–ks, H-m-s, take everything away from me, rape my daughter, and knife me when I’m not looking. Then they’ll make us whites live like slaves.” As I’ve said before — and I’m sure I’m not the first or most elegant — we have Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which formally brought disaffected white race hatred into the GOP (after it left the Democratic Party with the exodus of the Dixiecrats in ’48), to thank for all of this.

The problem we face as a nation is similar in structure to the problem of what to do with Germany after Versailles. We have a large group of people (white racists/suprematists) who were conquered by fiat (from 1954 to 1965), but not physically and do not understand/accept that they lost the battle. (The battle was over inclusive modernism and expanding the concept of who constitutes the American Nation; that battle started in earnest following WWI.) They believe, still, that they were morally right and de facto won this culture/race war, proof of which is seen in America’s “winning” the Cold War. (That is, the intuitive belief that the pathways of white suprematism were vindicated by the defeat of the Soviet Union by White America.) That destructive impulse of hate submerged into a form of American popular religion that became tied to political power through the GOP. I think the fact of the constant comparison of Obama with Hitler and Stalin is telling, since that impu! lse is the same one that we see in the historical record from the Bolsheviks and National Socialists. Jung, again, has much to say about what happens when you refuse to acknowledge the destructive energy in your own psyche. Or, as Goethe put it, Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine tätige Unwissenheit.

Wilson tried to deal with Germany through a centrist, pragmatic approach. (We tend to forget that the Progressives were not radicals, but were pragmatic centrists; Erez Manela at Harvard is doing nice work on this and Wilsonian internationalism.) I see Obama as trying to do the same thing. Wilson lost to Lloyd George and Clemenceau (reactionaries) on the one side and to Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini (radicals) on the other. I’m beginning to suspect that part of the institutional craziness over the GWOT is to construct a radical left vision of the world (terror as politics) to appose the reactionary (billionaires, Fundi-ban) strain and give Obama a middle path to follow. The Soviet Union isn’t around any more, Russia is too weak, and China just isn’t scary enough militarily. Whether this intentional or organic, I’m not sure. It explains, however, how someone can both push health-care reform to reduce infant mortality and extra-judicial killings that also take out innocent civilians in the same logical universe.

Enough rambling. Regards,


On College Costs

Just sent this to an editor at eSchools, regarding an article on students grappling with debt around the “explosion in college costs” and how colleges should include financial literacy so that their students understand what they’re getting into with their loans:

“This line of reasoning obscures a more important issue. First, yes, kids need to be financially literate. These issues, though, should have been addressed in middle school and high school social science classes. Kids should come out of high school with the intellectual tools necessary to understand basics in micro- and macro-economics, including personal finance. The cost of post-secondary education is a burden.

The bigger issue here, though, is that the current debates over the high price of college miss the central point: the big issue isn’t cost, it is cost-shifting. To illustrate: here in Massachusetts, districts generally run a per-pupil K-12 expenditure rate at about $12K to $14K. If you factor in “room and board” for those kids, the ten-month rate is probably around $16K to $24K, depending on where one lives, what degree of extracurricular “enrichment” a family supplies, etc. Of the latter figure, a family does not pay the bulk of the education expenses of the student, it is shared by society (or the tax base) as a whole.

Now, if you look at what the total costs of one academic year at the University of Massachusetts runs, it is…about $24K. That is, it’s not much more than what was spent educating, housing, feeding, and enriching that same kid in high school. Yet the benefits, physical plant, and opportunities are significantly greater than a student would have had in high school. (The spread in cost for those differences is covered by grants, research income, endowment fundraising, etc.) The same situation applies if you compare private prep schools and private colleges.

So why all the social angst around the cost? The answer is that we as a society still live in the pre-WWII era when it comes to post-secondary education. At that time, college was a luxury largely for the upper classes and a few strivers from the working class. College education wasn’t a social prerequisite to becoming a fully productive, successful citizen. It is now. However, we haven’t changed our societal stance regarding who pays for it. Thus, the shock of the price of college comes really not out of its cost per se, but rather out of the dissonance that is created by society saying that this education is absolutely necessary, but society will no longer pay for it the way it did for K-12 education.* To put it another way: the way college is paid for is predicated on it being a luxury that isn’t socially necessary citizens’ life-long success and productivity. That is no longer true.

The essential issue that should be addressed is whether we as a society want to continue to allow that dissonance to exist and/or whether we should be figuring out how to pay for basic public 13-16 education in the same way that we pay for basic public K-12 education. We know that post-secondary education is a global competitiveness/national security issue. We should start treating it that way.


*I haven’t seen one news article yet that compared public college rises in costs to public K-12 rises in cost. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/), the average raise in all college costs (2 and 4-year) from 1980 to 2008 was 221% in constant dollars. The same K-12 rise was 183% for the same period. This is a 21% greater rise in cost for colleges compared to K-12 schools, but both round to about twice as expensive. If you consider the difference in infrastructure requirements of college vs. K-12, it doesn’t seem that surprising which one is rising slightly faster than the other. Another comparison that is worthwhile, the average cost of a new car between 1990 and 2008 rose 164% (http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_17.html) in constant dollars. The rise in cost of K-12 education for the same period was 132% and for colleges was 162%.

Disclosure: I am a high school teacher, not a college administrator.”

Here we go…

I’m starting this as an adjunct to my website at http://www.robertdelossa.net to mirror the blog that I have at robertdelossa.wikispaces.com. The former has static information and important files, including information on the textbook Розмовляймо, which I co-authored with Roman Koropeckyj, Rob Romanchuk, and Lesia Isaievych–along with our audio files for the book. The latter has my day-to-day information and files for the classes that I teach at Lowell High School. These include U.S. history, psychology, and communications (including media studies, introduction to linguistics, and advertising).

The blog before you is for everything else. I am starting it to have a good place for more essayistic writing, travelogs, and careful replies to the simplistic inanities often extruded through the more restrictive portals of the cyberworld (e.g., FB and newsite comment fora). Those remind me of Goethe’s admonition, “Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine tätige Unwissenheit”: the horror of an Enlightenment philosophe before the unruly, ignorant mob could not be greater than in the present day when it is powered by instant, global communication. They also remind me of McLuhan’s observation that the medium is the message. FB, Twitter, comment boxes have proven of what cloth they’re cut. I have hope that WordPress will be something a bit more durable and gentle to the touch.