Bill Gates Unplugged

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mapping Empirical Reality to Solve Social Problems

Written for Educators

By Eddie Griffin

Friday, August 22, 2008

Here is a page from the Black Panther Old School: Teaching problem-solving techniques by “mapping” reality, interpolated from Alfred Korzybski’s “Science and Sanity”.

Probably, the simplest way to explain it is like this scenario:

In our minds, we map a mental picture of the world we engage in. When the map does not accurately depict empirical reality, we misjudge situations and make mistakes in our engagement.

A classic example of this phenomenon would be a man sitting in a car at a stop sign, waiting for the traffic to give him a break, so he can traverse to the other side.

An accident at the intersection tells us that a misjudgment has been made on the part of the man sitting at the stop sign. The “map” inside his head was simply incorrect. Therefore, he proceeded with a distorted and false mental picture of the true external situation.

He either miscalculated the speed of the oncoming car, or miscalculated its distance. Simple mathematics inside the head would signal when it is “safe” for the man to make a dash. Even if the man fails to understand the physics of distance and speed, he should be able to judge, intuitively, if it is “safe” to cross.

What is missing in the mental equation is the “risk” factor. What is “safe”?

Here, a whole number of subjective issues come into play, the most egregious of which is the driver who did not see the other car coming.

How can a person miss seeing another vehicle barreling down the road? It is inconceivable but common. Something in the composition of the driver’s mental picture did not include the other car. Simply put, the other car was obliterated by “mental blinders”, commonly put on by the attitude of “seeing only what I want to see”. Therefore, the driver only saw that the road as “his”, when it actually was not.

The same principle holds true when we map out a social problem and try to solve it. An incorrect mental picture will produce a false answer.

Being wrong is not as big a crime as a terminal mistake. It’s one thing to come up with a false answer, but another when comes the attitude of forcing a round peg into a square hole. The War in Iraq is a classic example of trying to force fit a round peg into the square hole conceived by politicians with a faulty mental map of the world.

It is of ultimate importance that our subjective mental map of reality matches the objective, empirical world. For then, with correct information, accurate data, a keener sense of casual relations, and intelligent mental diagnostic and analytical tools, we can make better decisions in our problem-solving.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School: What Next?

By Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nearly 50 ministers on Monday embraced plans for students to boycott at least the first day of Chicago Public Schools classes… Also Monday, another group of clergy urged a different tactic on Chicago's first school day. Organizers of the 5th annual Million Father March asked fathers to escort children to class on Sept. 2. (“A school boycott, or not?” Robert Mitchum and Ray Long, Chicago Tribune)

Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? (James 3:11)

Wouldn’t you just know it? The Chicago Tribune discovered this apparent contradiction arising from the African-American community.

On the one hand, the Million Father March seeks to recruit “500,000 men in 300 cities to take their children to school this first fall school day”. While on the other hand, Chicago State Senator James Meeks “has issued a call for all school kids in Chicago's poorest districts to boycott the first day at their assigned school and instead head to resource-rich predominately white schools and attempt to register there.”

Before we conclude the right hand don’t know what the left hand is doing, let’s examine what these two different strategies entail.

The Million Father March is an annual national event originally designed to get fathers more involved with their children’s education. Historically, fathers have been the absent factor in a child's education. Recent experience has shown that children accompanied to school on the first day with their fathers exhibit more pride and are less fearful.

The boycotters of the Chicago school system have one primary local focus: the disparity in education funding. By skipping registration at the home school and seeking to register in the “resource-rich predominately white schools”, students in poor schools might gain a contrasting view of what the best schools offer, as compared to their own.

But how can both strategies work in the same city at the same time, with the million father back-to-school movement, on the one side, and a boycott on the other?

It is impossible for both events to occur without one undermining the other... UNLESS.

Note that both plans anticipate that all students attend school on the first day, whether their home school or whether to try and register at the better school. In either case, the father should accompany their child, especially those who try to get into a new school where they might not be particularly welcomed.

Whether the black community can come together with a merged strategy or whether each movement will pursue its own agenda will be an interesting dilemma to see played out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A TEEN FORUM: Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk” aims to decrease infant mortality rates by providing adolescent girls with formal instruction on

• Prevention of teen pregnancy
• Prevention of STDs
• Self esteem and stress management
• Proper nutrition and fitness
• General Health Promotion

For Girls Ages 13-17
Saturday, September 20, 2008
8:00 am – 4:00 pm
University of North Texas Health Science Center
3500 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth, Texas

Limited seating, call or email for registration

Phone: (817) 457-3911
Fax: (817) 457-9556

Sponsored by:
A B Christian Learning Center; Center for Community Health, UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth Independent School District, Fort Worth Public Health, Susan G. Komen FOR THE CURE Tarrant County, Texas Center for Health Disparities, Fort Worth Women’s Health Initiative

Loretta Burns
Executive Director
AB Christian Learning Center
5009 Brentwood Stair #101
Fort Worth, TX 76112
(817) 457-3911

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Texas Loses Track of Black Student Drop-Outs

By Eddie Griffin

The annual dropout rates for African American students in Texas, already higher than dropout rates for white and Hispanic students, might be even higher than previously reported, according to a Texas Education Agency report released last week.

(For the full story, read “Study: Texas schools more likely to lose track of African American students” by Molly Bloom, Austin-American Statesman)

Linda Roska, director of the Texas Education Agency's division of accountability research and a co-author of the report, said she couldn't say why the gap exists.

Eddie Griffin Commentary:

When the TEA reports that African-American students are falling through the cracks of the educational system and the Division of Accountability cannot explain why these students do not show up on the drop-out statistics, something is terribly wrong with the meaning of accountability.

Did this information come as a new revelation to the Texas Education Agency? If so, how long has this trend been going on? And, how many black students have we already lost, without any accounting?

What could be wrong besides racism?

First is the resistance of school administrators to count a student as a “drop-out”. That would signify the public school system had failed that student. And, the Fort Worth ISD, as well as other school districts, would rather look the other way than concede failure, than admit that a student is lost.

The second problem is the confusing methodology used to calculate the drop-out rate. School administrations try to keep students on the books as long as possible. The school is funded on the basis of daily attendance per student. The high drop-out rate cuts into state funding allocations.

These are two possible incentives for underreporting the drop-out rate of African-American children.

If the Texas Education Agency cannot explain this “mysterious” mass disappearance, it becomes all the more apparent that community leaders must intervene and seize control of the institution. It is obvious that the public school system failed these students who disappear into thin air.

That’s our baby

The problem could be in the tracking system. I have been a long advocate of a clock-in/clock-out system, where the unit of measurement for the drop-out would correspond with loss of productivity time, i.e. percentage of hours lost in the classroom.

Not only does this system give real-time attendance accounting, but an overview of the percentage of time spent in the classroom. On the other hand, attendance does not necessarily translate into quality education time. The quality of classroom education should be measured by academic achievement, whether by an end-of-course assessment or the standardized TAKS test.

Quantity versus Quality in Education

A student with 50% class time would be considered a “drop-out” in anybody’s book. But if the student has 90% high academic rating, he or she is not considered a lost cause. Therefore, there has to be a combined assessment of quantity and quality.

There should be triggers when productivity or class participation time decreases. There should be benchmarks when academic achievement rises to either new heights or falls to a new low.

This model is simple, comprehensible, and efficient. But it seems, however, that the public school system continues to build upon an antiquated mass production model, with an ever-increasing and expanding bureaucracy. For example, when I look at the number of employees in the Austin accountability office, and compare it with this sad-looking data, it signifies, to me, that the overhead is not worth the results.

Are you satisfied with Linda Roska answer above? If not, contact:

The Texas Education Agency
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas, 78701
(512) 463-9734
Linda Roska, Accountability Research (512) 475-3523

Thursday, August 7, 2008



uWink Menu Now Available in Multiple Languages with a Touch of a Button

LOS ANGELES – July 9, 2008 – uWink (OTCBB:UWKI), an entertainment and hospitality software company and operator of an interactive restaurant concept, announced today menu language translation. With the touch of button, uWink’s menu is translated into Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, or Spanish. At uWink customers order their food and drinks via touch screen terminals located at their table.

To provide language translation of the menu, uWink designed the system with an easy to use interface that allows users to choose their language with the touch of a single button – their native flag. For example, hit France’s flag if you want to view the menu in French, or hit Japan’s flag if you want to view the menu in Japanese.

"Hollywood and Highland has a huge number of international tourists which make it the perfect location to showcase our menu language translation capabilities," said Brent Bushnell, chief technology officer at uWink. "We hope that by providing customers the ability to read our menu in their native language they will feel more at home while dining at uWink."

About uWink's technology:

uWink's interactive digital content operating/display system and real-time, multi-player game platform allows intuitive and easy access to and interaction with various forms of digital content and custom applications including menus, games, videos and music. The software also allows patrons to take control of many aspects of the dining experience, including check-in/checkout and food/drink ordering using uWink's tabletop touch interface.

About uWink:

uWink develops digital media entertainment and hospitality software and an interactive restaurant concept that allows customers to order food, drinks, games and other digital media at the table through proprietary touch screen terminals. uWink is led by entertainment and restaurant visionary Nolan Bushnell, founder and former CEO of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese (NYSE: CEC). For more information:

Alissa Tappan
VP Marketing
uWink Inc.

Monday, August 4, 2008

ADDENDUM TO POSITION PAPER on Toward Solving the Math-Science Achievement Gap

By Eddie Griffin
Monday, August 04, 2008

I received a shout-out from SES: Science, Education, & Society, a site devoted to “commentaries on science and education and how these topics relate to soci-economic status (also referred to as SES) and other class issues among African-American communities”, for my position paper: “Toward Solving the Math-Science Achievement Gap”.

I especially like his links to Tutorials/Virtual Education Tools on various math and science subjects...
The Urban Scientist, SES: Science, Education & Society,

I also received this email:

Date: Monday, August 4, 2008, 9:38 AM

I recently read your post, "Toward Solving the math-Science Achievement Gap" and wanted to let you know about the LEAD Program for Engineering program, an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) residency program that just launched at Georgia Tech and UC Berkeley. The program, facilitated by youth development innovator LEAD (Leadership Education and Development), has received over $1.3M in sponsorship from Google and DuPont and will tackle the crisis of low technical literacy among America's black and brown children. The CEO, Brother Ric Ramsey, is an alum of Hampton University.

A press release with program details and sponsor comments is here.

From: LiRon Anderson-Bell
President | Crisis Contingency Partners
"Helping You Take Responsibility for Your Visibility"
215.284.2964 |
Twitter: lkab | AIM: Kenyatta4

Toward Solving the Math-Science Achievement Gap

Let me begin at the end, at the point of solution. Then demonstrate the proof that Math-Science teaching capabilities has reached a new high, making it easier for our children to learn. To achieve our objective, we examined the Texas Instruments TI-calculator series and the integrated math-science curricular and teaching format contained in it.

The technology signifies a new age in Math-Science Education.

In order for our kids to catch up in math and science, let them take a glimpse of the future. Check out the New tutorials and demo posting from the TI-series. The TI-INSPIRE series is an eye-opener on the future.

The students of today will find the TI handheld calculator features familiar to menu-given high tech devises like their mobile phones. Watch these videos. Pay particular attention to the New features.



The Foundational Model










CAST - Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (Texas)
Nov. 6 - Nov. 8, 2008

Start Date:
Thu, November 06, 2008
End Date:
Sat, November 08, 2008
Fort Worth Convention Center
1201 Houston Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102

Karen Hewitt
Phone: (512) 451-STAT [7828]

Promethean Board demonstration