Here is a quote by Einstein, whose birthday is today.

This school with its liberal spirit and teachers with a simple earnestness that did not rely on any external authority, made an unforgettable impression on me. In comparing it with six years schooling at an authoritarian German Gymnasium, I was made acutely aware how far superior an education that stresses independent action and personal responsibility is to one that relies on drill, external authority and ambition.

Einstein on Education

Snow Day in Tokyo

Not really, but i am going to take the day to do grades from home. No  classes anyway.

Testing out my new Galaxy Note 3. I now am fully mobile.

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Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

I started listening to this podcast a couple of weeks ago. I can’t get enough.

I remember driving all over Japan a few years ago, listening to the series about the Byzantines by Lars Brownworth, a prof,  who is doing one on the Normans. Driving around the US last summer I listened to How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill.
hh_headerBut now this new guy (for me), Dan Carlin, talks about lots of different kinds of history. His podcasts are long, 3-4 hours, but engrossing. I’ve listened to #48, about heretics and a trial in Munster, Germany just after Gutenberg and Martin Luther. And #41, about how the Dark Ages weren’t really so Dark, and how the Goths were a lot more civilized than most people think. Covers from the fall of Rome in 472 up through Charlemagne in the 800’s.
He’s got a much more conversational style than Brownworth, and jumps all over the place. He is at the top of iTunes Podcast list, for a good reason. I just wish I had more time. Next for me: #49 The American Peril. He also does series, such as the ones about Mongolia and the Khan. Well worth the listen. 

Some Rhizomatic Learning on P2PU

rhizomatic

Our first task for the the first week of the new MOOC by Dave Cormier is not so much reconcile cheating with learning but rethink learning so there is no place for cheating. A MOOC, especially a Connectivist MOOC, with rhizomatic roots is a good place to do that. Rhizomatic Learning is an attempt to assemble a community of people, some with knowledge of the focal topic, others with knowledge of other topics, to work together to fill each others’ chinks. More on the root system that allows single plants to weave themselves together into a single organism, and how Dave had taken that idea and applied it to online learning. I have to take care of a couple of my other blogs, one over at DMLL, about Digital Mobile Language Learning, and another for student work over at languagejapan.com.

But I will be right back with another post. About Burma.

Burma Bound

MyanmarSchool3A friend of the family has wrangled me into volunteering as a teacher trainer for a week next January in Myanmar. The group is small, and works through a travel agent and has connections to the Education Network, founded by the National League for Democracy (NLD), the political party founded by Aung San Suu Kyi.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive. I had to raise funding to get there, and stay there, and also find someone else to match that. I was extremely fortunate to ask Frank Berberich, longtime friend, who has recently retired. He immediately signed on, saying he had been looking for something exactly like this.

We are in the process of raising funds now, and getting visas. It looks like we will be training about 100 high school teachers in the Yangon (Rangoon) area. These teachers are part of a network of schools that teach the poorest and most disadvantaged children in Myanmar.

MyanmarSchool2So here I am, an expert in using computers to teach adults languages, and I am going to try to train teachers on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of polite Japanese school girls as students, we will have harried teachers, trying to add to their arsenal of teaching tools, so as to open up Myanmar to the world.

As we approach deadlines and prepare for the training, Frank and I are getting more and more excited. We are going along with 6 others on the trip, and will meet them in Yangon shortly after the new year. I will keep you updated on events as they happen.