Open House 2015

So every year my school has an “open house” for grade 8 students thinking of coming to our school next year. This is definitely a promotion event to “sell” the school and try to increase school population for the next year. However, the other thing it does is give the staff and students a chance to showcase the programs and feel good about the good work being done. In doing that, this year I made a “cheesy” promotional video for my own classes and classroom that is shown below…

Gettier and justified true belief: fifty years on | The Philosophers Magazine

This is the golden – the fiftieth – anniversary of Edmund Gettier’s remarkable paper on why knowledge isn’t justified true belief. It seems like an appropriate time, therefore, to evaluate what we have learned – or should have learned – from his elegant counterexamples. Gettier’s paper had a tremendous impact on contemporary epistemology. Measured in terms of impact per page his three-page paper (yes, only three pages) rates among the most influential of twentieth-century essays in philosophy. Prior to Gettier it was more or less assumed (without explicit defence) that knowledge, knowing that some proposition P was true (when it was in fact true), was to be distinguished from mere belief (opinion) that it was true, by one’s justification, evidence, or reasons for believing it true. I could believe – truly believe – that my horse would win the third race without knowing it would win. To know it would win I need more – some reason, evidence or justification (the race is fixed?) that would promote my true belief to the status of knowledge. Gettier produced examples to show that this simple equation of knowledge (K) with justified true belief (JTB) was too simplistic. His examples triggered a widespread search for a more satisfactory account of knowledge. Read more at: Gettier and justified true belief: fifty years on | The Philosophers Magazine.

And see this similar video:

The year of the “Pot Luck” …

So it seems one of the ‘themes’ for this 2012-2013 school year is the “Pot Luck.” It started in September, when out of the blue, one of my grade 11 Computer Science students came up and asked me if he could use my microphone to ask the class a question. Within a few minutes, he had not only proposed the idea of a pot luck, but organized it. A week later, we had a Computer Science pot luck with a class of 95% boys (often very shy and apathetic boys). The kids enjoyed a variety of tasty snacks including homemade samosas (from his grandmother). One of my other classes, my grade 12 I.B. Theory of Knowledge class of 95% girls, heard about this and organized their own pot luck to coincide with Halloween day and our second lesson on ethics. In addition to enjoying tasty snacks (like oranges carved like pumpkins with faces on them and filled with grapes), the kids did ethical dilemma skits (with a Halloween theme) with full stomachs from the pot luck. In addition, a week ago, the Alternative Education program in our school (which is designed for kids who want to recover credits they may not have received  or kids who have troubles operating within a ‘typical’ classroom setting) also organized a pot luck after I mentioned it to the class (I help out in this program every other day). Three different classes: Computer Science, Theory of Knowledge, and Alternative Education all had pot luck meals within their classes. This unique opportunity to create a classroom community, promote sharing and bonding has been a valuable if not unexpected surprise to this year. Below is a short cell video short on Halloween morning during the Theory of Knowledge pot luck: