Special Education Today Newsletter 3(3)
And ahead, ahead we go!
Here we go with Special Education Today, Volume 3, Issue 3. I’d say that this issue is hot off the presses, but that’s too much of a reminder of how intemperate the weather has been in many parts of the world. According to Isabella Kwai, “A heat wave engulfing southern Europe this past week is expected to send temperatures close to record highs in some areas, prompting officials in Italy, Greece, Spain and elsewhere to impose measures to protect residents and tourists from the scorching conditions.”1
One important index of the current heating situation is the effects on sea ice in the Antarctic. The following graphic from the news source, CNN, illustrates current conditions in comparison to last year and an average covering the previous 39 years.
On my personal blog in 2011, I wrote about sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean. Although the evidence was not all disheartening, the prognosis seemed dire. More recently, there have been rises and falls (there’s not a decline in sea ice extent every year in comparison with the previous year), but there has been an overall decrease, as illustrated in the next graphic (see the US National Snow & Ice Data Center for the original report).
It would be a little bit of a stretch to say that the heat in parts of Europe (e.g., Italy, Spain, Portugal) and the Western Hemisphere (e.g., Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in the US. and multiple states in Mexico) are causing the ice to melt at the poles of Earth (or vice versa), but it’s probably true that both phenomena are consequences of the same global function.
Table of contents
Here is a list of the posts for the week of 10 July 2023. Remember that because I didn’t publish lists of posts for the weeks of June 2023, because I didn’t publish newsletters during that time! So, if you’re interested in the posts for the previous weeks, please visit the site directly. Check the archives.
Greg Ashman on teacher education reform in Australia: Would you expect the reaction he described?
Follow Tim Shanahan: If you’re interested in reading, why wouldn’t you consider what he writes?
Make sure you go to the Website to see the most current content. There will be additional posts during the coming week. You’ll find an nicely formatted version of this newsletter in addition to any newer posts.
Here’s an update about the status of SET. Total subscribers number is approaching 570. Four more people subscribed in the last week. I hope that the growth increases. Increases in subscriptions make my chimes ring.
So, subscribers, please share posts and recommend SET to colleagues. Allow me to reiterate that I encourage you to invite your friends to read SET. (You are certainly welcome to invite your enemies, too, of course)
There should be a link (“Leaderboard”) on the front page of the site that shows the readers who have frequently shared SET…and the subscriptions for which they will qualify by sharing. Mike N., you’re the only one who was on the leaderboard the last time I looked! Learn more about the leaderboard in the post of 2 July (“Invite your friends...”).
Also, please recall that I am launching group subscriptions. A group of people can subscribe at a reduced rate when someone (say, a school administrator or a professor) is willing to work with me on the subscriptions. When multiple members of a group start paid subscriptions, the price per sub drops. Professors might use the newsletter and posts as sources for recurring discussions; school faculty members might use them in making shared instructional plans. Write to me for additional details; just reply to this newsletter from your e-mail application.
The leading commenters this past week were Dan H., Sally B., and Terry O. Thanks, y’all, for chipping into the good of the community. I encourage readers to scroll past the ends of posts and read what subscribers have to say.
Just about exactly 20 years ago, Pat and I drove the Thunderbird #2 from LA to C’ville. We took a meandering path, visiting family and friends and seeing some sights along the way. On 16 July 2003, we passed through Death Valley in California. The temperature was 125 degrees F. (~52 C). Although this photo, taken near the northwestern entrance to the park, shows the top down on the ‘Bird, I think I recall that we put the top up and turned on the AC soon after taking this photo.
Last week I commented about my concern with attributing learners’ failures to a lack of motivation on their part. My concern about that problem is predicated on at least two more general concerns I have: (a) the general idea of motivation and (b) interpreting others’ private thoughts and feelings. I don’t want to spend long on these topics, but I do want to mention them again, perhaps as prompt about returning to the topics in greater detail at a later time. In reverse order…
Attributing causal status to thoughts and feelings is a pretty risky business. First, if I’m doing the attributing, I would have to trust my assessment of another person’s ideas and emotions. Based on how frequently I’ve seen people mistake others’ thoughts and feelings, I’m reluctant to trust interpretations of them.2
Second, those thoughts and feelings to which we attribute actions (even our own actions) may not actually have causal power. There is a legitimate debate about this point. The question goes at least as far back as William James, who asked whether we run because we are afraid or we are afraid because we run.3 A more general version of this concern was one of the foci of the late Dan Wegner, who argued that our idea of the experience of will may be illusory, that perhaps those perceptions of our intentions to act in certain ways are actually by products of the actions themselves.4
I imagine that some readers will immediately doubt these ideas that I have just expressed. That’s healthy, in my view. I’d like to hear the doubts. Please explain them in some comments. Oh, and please bring data, especially data beyond introspection and anecdote.
Meanwhile, I encourage us to take care of ourselves (e.g., wear those seatbelts; keep exercising; drink lots of water), take care of others, and teach our children well, because, as with the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.
SET Editor guy
Special Education Today by John Wills Lloyd is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
SET should not be confused with a product with the product that uses the same name and is published by the Council for Exceptional Children. SET predated CEC’s publication by decades. Despite my appreciation for CEC, this product is not designed to promote that organization.
Kwai, I. (2023). Heat wave hits Europe, and it’s only going to get hotter: More scorching weather is expected in the southern part of the continent and the Balkans in the coming days. Here’s what to know. New York Times, 16 July 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/article/europe-heat-wave-forecast.html
And among those mistakes, I’m not even considering how often politicians use such attributions to put negative spins on their opponents’ policies or proposals (“Oh, that’s just because he wants to throw some red meat to his base.” “He’s just trying to destroy your livelihood.” “That man is driven by a desire to get your sympathy.” (Note, I used male pronouns here, but female candidates do this, too.)
James, W. (2013). What is an emotion? Simon and Schuster.
Wegner, D. M. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press.