Promoting his memoir Known and Unknown on CNN’s State of the Union today, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked about the things he didn’t know. Rumsfeld reiterated the claim that intelligence reports, now shown to have been false (and maybe pretty dubious in the first place), that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction were the “big” reason the United States attacked Iraq and ousted Saddam Hussein from power. When CNN asked if the U.S. would likely not have gone to war had it been revealed Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said, “I think that’s probably right.”
“maybe pretty dubious in the first place”? Talk about completely unjustified equivocation. They knew Iraq did not pose any credible nuclear threat, they knew those aluminum tubes were unsuited for refining nuclear bomb material and they knew Iraq had not tried to acquire yellow cake.I watched Fair Game ( the movie based on Valerie Plame’s memoir, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House and Joseph Wilson’s , The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity: A Diplomat’s Memoir. Even though I was so familiar with all the details from reading, seeing the juxtaposition of what the White House and much of the so-called liberal media was saying, with the actual facts gave the story a kind of fresh immediacy. There was little Donnie Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush lying as though it was a contest to see whose pants could burst into flames first. They all walk away with government pensions and millions of Americans still thinking of them as patriots. Amazing the level of treachery one can get away with if you wrap it up in the guise of patriotism.
The newest controversy that I was not aware of, The Case for Play – How a handful of researchers are trying to save childhood.
The emphasis on standardized testing, on attempting to constantly monitor, measure, and quantify what students learn, has forced teachers to spend more of the school day engaged in so-called direct instruction and has substantially reduced or eliminated opportunities that children have for exploring, interacting, and learning on their own. Recess has, in many districts, vanished from the schedule entirely. After school, parents shuttle their kids from activity to activity, depriving them of unstructured time alone or with friends.
That matters, according to researchers, not just because play reduces stress and makes children more socially competent—which evidence suggests that it does. It matters also because play supposedly improves working memory and self-regulation; in other words, it makes kids sharper and better-behaved. So, ironically, by shortchanging them on play in favor of academics, we may actually be inhibiting their development. Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor at Temple University, considers the move away from play to be a crisis, even comparing it to global warming, in the sense that it may take years for the consequences to be felt. When it comes to the value of play, she declares: “The science is clear.”
As one might expect there are several sides on the importance of play in childhood development. Play Skeptics ( self-explanatory), Free Players ( play is all) and Play Moderates. As a blogger we’re supposed to have some insights to add. One that comes to mind, because I read another article recently critical of it, is the role of rote memorization. People hate to memorize things like major dates and people of the French Revolution , the periodic table or the epochs of geological time. What I found was that memorizing the basics of an area of interests gives you the foundation for thinking which uses those information building blocks . If you want to cure AIDS it helps if you know how carbon, hydrogen and the macromolecules of DNA bond. The AIDS virus hijacks your DNA. Though if we have a Moderate Rote memorization school on the subject, that is where I would be. Educators who expect too much rote memorizing can suck the enthusiasm clear out of a bright student. No one actually required That I memorize the Periodic Table for instance, maybe because of my study track they knew I would be using it so much that I would come to memorize from sheer use. And they were right.