Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Question: Scientific predictions on weather patterns/climate

Temperature increase could definitely have catastrophic outcomes for climate around the world. A discussion question this past Tuesday evening asked how could we believe or trust long term scientific predictions on weather patterns and conditions if meteorologists are often wrong and off target concerning short-term predictions and weather forecasts. This is a GREAT question! Weather is sometimes so unpredictable, but does not completely leave people in the dark. For example, we know that hurricanes bring certain weather: heavy wind and rain.  However, the pattern the hurricane is taking can change in a second. I think this is useful when thinking about the future. Many things can change the “pattern” of the weather, we just have to be ready to face the “heavy wind and rain.” In other words, I do not think that we can be entirely sure of what the weather will hold for us in the future. But, I do think that meteorologists have an idea of what can be expected and we, has a society, should try and solve the problems that could occur.      

Week 6 "Armageddon Science: The Science of Mass Destruction

The reading for this week, Armageddon Science: The Science of Mass Destruction, made me realize just how much movies portray Armageddon in a number of ways, most notably some type of alien invasion. In the Prezi presentation, 7 movies were mentioned where the plot dealt with the world coming to an end. I am sure there are many more that have been filmed and will be in the future.  I think people are so fascinated by it because it is something that most people fear (and it sells movie tickets).
The book presented many man-made and natural causes for the world coming to an end. Mad scientists, anti-matter weapons, and nuclear destruction are a few of the man-made options. Heat waves and climate are a few of the natural causes to Armageddon. The most interesting part of the reading to me was the idea of Ray Kurzeil, in which technology becomes “super intelligent” (Natural cause to Armageddon). There was a movie that I watched (I do not remember the name of the movie or when it was made, I believe I was in middle school) where a computer controlled the functions of the house. Near the middle of the movie the computer is upset that the family always leaves her and she locks them into the house. It was poorly made, but entertaining to me as a child. This is the vision that popped into my head after hearing Kurzeil’s idea. I think it is ridiculous and a little superstitious to believe that technology is going to become smarter than man and destroy him. I personally think that could never happen.
These topics are relevant to secondary social studies teachers because culture and people are what we discuss in our classrooms. I think Armageddon could be a natural discussion that arises during class when we talk about, say the fall of Rome, or some other major civilization. It may spawn ideas how our world is going to end. I think that using some of these key points would be a good discussion; however I would not feel comfortable going into a lot of detail.       

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week 5- Question #7

There is definitely a “look at me” culture in American society today. I think that social media plays a major role in developing and continuing this viewpoint among Americans today. Think of all the reality shows where people are begging to be seen (Desperate Housewives, Toddlers & Tiaras, The Bachelor). All of these shows are about these people and their life. I think that young people watch these shows and think this is what they should aim for, being seen on television or by the public as some “important” person. E! News constantly shows the newest fashion statements and the hottest new trends, all things people can do to get seen.
I do not think this culture would of spread as fast if media was not prevalent in so many ways today and easily assessable. Most of the trends that society follows are set by celebrities; therefore I think this “look at me” culture originated with them and will remain with the public as long as celebrities are around.    

Week 5: Starstruck Reading

Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity was a very interesting read and made me think a lot about celebrities. I never thought of celebrity as a business, but Elizabeth Currid-Halkett does a great job of examining how celebrities become stars and, most importantly, how celebrities impact society. I think that most people understand that celebrities spend a lot of money to get ready for premiers, the spot light almost always shines on them, they make millions and some people either have “the light” or do not.
What I found to be most interesting was the following quote from page 17, “In a superglobal world… celebrity offers an adhesive that bind us together.” When I first read this, I thought that this was ridiculous and I did not agree. However, after much thought, Currid-Halkett’s point becomes more and more agreeable. People are constantly talking about celebrities, especially secondary age students. Technology, like mentioned by the author, has helped increase this desire for assess to celebrities and has also increased the popularity of reality show stars. There are many users online every day and a plethora of websites that are devoted specifically to stars (E! News, who even has a Facebook page). I think that celebrity may bind us together, but I also think that technology plays a huge role in fueling the “need” for more celebrity news and gossip.
I think this is an important concept that can be discussed in a physiology class in school, or can be used in a world cultures class to discuss societies/cultures and how they evolve during time. Many years ago, celebrities were not that big of a deal.       

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Week 4- "You are not a Gadget" reading

You are not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier was a very interesting take on technology and how it is shaping the world today. So many educators in our program thus far have taught about how technology is amazing and can be used in our classrooms to enrich the education students are receiving. This book offers another stand that I think touches on some good points, though I do not agree with them all. I do agree that technology can be great for the classroom, but I also understand Lanier’s viewpoints on the effect it is having on this generation. In the YouTube video he stated that he is concerned people are “fitting into data based representations” of themselves. To a certain extent, I do have the same concern that he has. Many people portray themselves differently online than they would act in real life. Consider “Autumn Edows,” the young lady that we learned about in our methods course last week. She spent hours online responding to posts made by people she has never met and probably never will. Or, how about dating sites where people often times can post pictures of themselves looking 20 years younger than they actually are.
This concept of fitting into a representation of your self is very fascinating. Many students in my classroom would be able to relate to this topic because almost all of them will probably have a Facebook, Twitter or other type of social networking account. They need to realize that although they can display things about themselves online, not all of it needs to be made public and they still need interaction with people in the world. After all, not all jobs are online and social skills are still important. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week 3- Question Reponses (#3)

Garland simply stated that less than 1% of inmates on death row are actually executed. The statistics show that (some states do not follow this pattern) executions since 1976 are far less than the number of inmates on death row per state. I cannot say for sure since I have never been through an experience like this, but I feel that families would heal differently and may gain retributive justice other ways, besides wanting offenders to be put to death. I am sure that some families do not feel justice until the offender is killed, depending on the severity of the crime (which is obviously high if they are on death row) and their views on capital punishment. However, some families may be happy just knowing the offender is spending the rest of their live in jail, which will not be very easy. I honestly cannot answer how I feel because I certainly would not be able to kill someone or watch someone being killed.     

Week 3- "Peculiar Institutions: America's Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition" Reading

Peculiar Institutions: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition by David Garland has been my favorite read this summer. Garland believes that the death penalty is a way for people to release their rage on people who committed horrible crimes through local capital punishments. I have to admit that I have struggled with the idea of capital punishment and my personal stance on the controversial issue, but I have never really come to a conclusion. I found it very interesting that less than 1% of people on death row are executed. According to Garland, one of the main agreements for capital punishment is it provides a sense of relief to the families of the victim (and perhaps a town, as was exemplified with the killings in Gainesville mentioned in the Preface of the book). Garland states on page 287 “The gratifications it (capital punishment) produces becomes sources of energy that drive and sustain the system.” It seems to me that capital punishment is around merely to provide retributions to not only the families, but also the public that hear about many horrible cases on the news.
This topic is very relevant today because this is a controversial topic that is being discussed and being used in today’s society. It is important for students to understand how capital punishment in the past has shaped what capital punishment is today. Is it necessary? Are there other ways to handle horrible cases? These are the questions they will face in their generation as capital punishment takes on new forms.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 2- Question Reponse (#7)

There is no question that home ownership is the “American Dream.” If people did not want to buy houses, then there would be no reason for the increased growth of mortgage-backed-securities and other financial investments. Financial institutions would not have had to move away from traditional 30-year mortgages or expand into “shady areas,” because if someone could not afford a home they would simply rent an apartment, or buy something affordable, not look into a quick fix for buying a house.
For these reasons, I do feel that too much emphasis is placed on home ownership. People should feel like they are “living the dream” no matter where they live or if they own a home or rent their home. I do not think that homeownership should be a priority on a national policy level.   

Week 2- "All the Devils are Here" reading

 I found the reading for this week to be a very insightful read on the economic/financial crisis of 2008. However, I must be honest and state that I also found it to be very confusing. Most of the information in All the Devil are Watching  was over my head, as I have little background knowledge in economics and the crisis. Therefore, it is hard for me to write about something that is still very confusing. Despite the all of this confusion, I did find parts of the book to be very interesting. The book explains the factors that led up to the crisis, starting in the late 1970s when the Baby Boomers were starting to buy houses. Economists were afraid that there was not enough money to fund all the mortgages people were taking out, so the Mortgage-Backed Security was formed, as well as Sub-Prime Mortgages and Credit Default Swaps. It fascinates me that people actually thought that CDS (passing the risk of default onto a 3rd party) and Sub-Prime Mortgages (lending money to people who could not afford a regular mortgage plan) were a good idea and would not harm anyone, including the economy. It seems like many people during this time were concerned with making money themselves, and not about the people who they were supplying with mortgages and a dream of owning a home. It also interested me that the government did not know how bad off these companies were and that they would have to bail them out! Regulation of some sort needs to occur!
This whole topic has present-day relevance to my practice as a secondary school social studies educator. It seems to me that this crisis will still be occurring when I get a job and many students may have questions about how the crisis started. As with other crises in history (i.e. The Great Depression) many of them are comprised of many factors. It is important for students to understand that it takes time for things to “build up and explode” today, as well as in the past. For an American History teacher, comparing the economic/financial crisis of today to the Great Depression may allow students to see how complex many issues are and help them relate past events to the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week 1- Readings

One of the readings that I found interesting this week was The Clearing House by Susan R. Cramer, particularly the section entitled Twenty-First-Century Learning on pages 128-129. This section discusses how important it is for teachers to incorporate technology into their classroom and that twenty-first-century tools need to be used to develop learning skills. This section challenges teachers to move away from the traditional whole-class structure and mastering basic skills, to focusing on authentic instruction and assessment.

In the world in which we live today, I think that this is very ideal and necessary. I think that this idea relates to teachers today because the students we are going to teach have not known a world without technology, so why not incorporate it into the classroom? A higher education is needed in today’s world to get a great job, and teachers need to be preparing students to succeed. Students need to learn beyond “the basics” and become challenged and learn to think critically. As stated in this section, learning objects and technology work together to allow students to think critically and engage in real-world discussions. Authentic instruction and assessment involves engaging students through discussion about the topic and posing questions that have value beyond school. Whether teachers plan for it or not, discussion about real-world events will occur in the classroom. Teachers can use technology to help create a context in which students can learn and develop critical thinking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Welcome to my blog for SSE 6046, Social Studies Perspectives! Enjoy!