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José Sócrates confirma demissão do coordenador do Plano Tecnológico

(Last edited: sexta, 18 novembro 2005, 8:03 )
José Sócrates confirma demissão do coordenador do Plano Tecnológico vazio.gif
17.11.2005 - 19h23   Lusa, PUBLICO.PT 

O primeiro-ministro, José Sócrates, confirmou hoje a demissão de José Tavares da coordenação do Plano Tecnológico, mas escusou-se a adiantar as razões que levaram à sua saída.

"O ministro da Economia comunicou-me que o coordenador do plano tecnológico apresentou hoje a demissão. Agora, o ministro vai nomear novo coordenador", declarou o primeiro-ministro.

Esta manhã, o Diário Económico noticiou que José Tavares, responsável da Unidade de Coordenação do Plano Tecnológico, apresentou a demissão por discordar com a forma como o processo tem sido conduzido pelo Governo. Segundo o diário, o coordenador, nomeado em Junho pelo ministro da Economia, mostrou-se descontente com a indefinição do Executivo quanto às medidas a incluir no plano, que deveria ter sido formalmente apresentado no final de Outubro.

Sem adiantar as razões que ditaram a demissão do coordenador, José Sócrates sublinhou que o "importante é que o plano tecnológico está em marcha há muito meses. Não esperámos por um documento" para avançar, afirmou o primeiro-ministro, lembrando a introdução do ensino de inglês no 1º ciclo, o programa de novas oportunidades ou os incentivos fiscais às empresas que apostem na inovação.

Ainda de acordo com o Diário Económico, José Tavares estaria também desagradado com a gestão do processo por parte do ministro da Ciência e Ensino Superior, Mariano Gago, que coordena algumas das principais medidas que fazem parte do plano, como é o caso da expansão da banda larga e a qualificação profissional.

Numa primeira reacção, o ministro da Presidência desmentiu qualquer conflito de competências no seio do Governo, garantindo que o Plano Tecnológico, que continuará sedeado no Ministério da Economia e Inovação.

Oposição lembra uma das principais bandeiras do Governo

O argumento não calou as críticas da oposição, que esta tarde exigiram no Parlamento explicações do ministro da Economia, Manuel Pinho, lembrando que o plano tecnológico foi uma das principais bandeiras do Governo.

Para Luís Marques Guedes, líder parlamentar do PSD, a demissão de José Tavares constitui "um rombo grande no relançamento da economia", que considera estar "completamente ausente" da política governativa.

Usando os mesmos argumentos, o CDS-PP apresentou um requerimento para ouvir, na Comissão de Economia e Finanças, José Tavares, bem como os dois ministros envolvidos no processo.

Já para o deputado comunista António Filipe "o plano tecnológico começa mal, porque nem sequer começa", sustentando que a política económica do Governo não faz menções a esse plano.

Por seu lado, o Bloco de Esquerda, Francisco Louçã, acusou o Governo de se "atrapalhar a si próprio" neste domínio e desafiou o primeiro-ministro a assumir a coordenação desta pasta.

A direcção do grupo parlamentar do PS escusou-se a fazer qualquer comentário sobre este assunto.

Entry link: José Sócrates confirma demissão do coordenador do Plano Tecnológico

O desafio da educação, MARIA DE LURDES RODRIGUES

(Last edited: sexta, 18 novembro 2005, 9:04 )
O desafio da educação, MARIA DE LURDES RODRIGUES

Público, 18 de Novembro de 2005

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O maior desafio que se coloca hoje a Portugal é a necessidade de alteração da qualidade e do nível de exigência nas nossas escolas. Do último relatório da OCDE sobre a educação este é o gráfico que mais impressiona. Ele revela Portugal isolado no quadrante superior esquerdo, numa situação única, não comparável com nenhum outro país.
[ver quadro em cima]
No espaço económico mais desenvolvido, Portugal tem a maior percentagem de jovens dos 20 aos 24 anos com baixos níveis de escolarização e que abandonaram o sistema de ensino, e simultaneamente é um dos países com mais baixa percentagem de jovens da mesma idade a estudar. Esta singularidade resulta de, todos os anos, milhares de jovens abandonarem a escola sem a escolaridade obrigatória ou com o ensino secundário incompleto. O gráfico permite ver a dimensão do problema da educação no nosso país e da urgência de uma intervenção sem hesitações.
No mercado de trabalho, aos adultos de outras gerações com baixas qualificações por falta de oportunidade de acesso à escola, juntam-se todos os anos jovens nascidos depois do 25 de Abril para quem o acesso à escola não se transformou numa verdadeira oportunidade. Isto, apesar de nos últimos anos o país estar a fazer um enorme esforço de investimento na educação, esforço maior ainda se considerarmos que o número de alunos tem vindo a diminuir e o investimento em educação tem aumentado sempre, em valores absolutos e em valores relativos, passando em 10 anos de 3,5 para 6,0 mil milhões de euros.
Portugal tem revelado genuína vontade de melhorar o sistema de ensino: aumento do número de professores para o apoio a alunos com necessidades especiais de aprendizagem (professor para cada 4 alunos); melhoria do estatuto sócioeconómico e profissional dos docentes, bem como das condições de progressão na carreira (cerca de 45% dos professores estão nos últimos escalões da carreira auferindo entre 2000 e os 2800 euros); investimentos significativos na valorização profissional através da formação
contínua e especializada de professores (nos últimos seis anos investiram-se mais de 300 milhões de euros na formação contínua de professores, sendo muito largas as ofertas formativas e as oportunidades de formação).
No nosso país, a despesa por aluno, tendo em conta o PIB per capita, é a maior dos países da UE, quer dizer, que sendo Portugal um dos países mais pobres faz um investimento equivalente a países mais ricos.
Todavia, a este esforço financeiro não tem correspondido uma melhoria dos resultados. As séries estatísticas revelam que nos últimos dez anos as taxas de insucesso se mantêm em níveis muito elevados:
anualmente15 por cento dos alunos abandonam o ensino básico sem o concluir e, ao nível do secundário 35 por cento dos alunos abandonam no 10.º ano e 50 por cento no 12.º ano. Apesar da melhoria do rácio
do número de alunos por professor, do aumento dos apoios educativos e da valorização das competências e qualificações dos professores, o insucesso persiste e ao nível dos resultados obtidos não se registam
melhorias correspondentes.
Vários relatórios nacionais e internacionais têm apontado para a existência de problemas de diferente natureza:
1) Ao nível sistémico e organizacional são apontados o excessivo centralismo do sistema de ensino e défice de autonomia das escolas, o défice de actividades de acompanhamento e enquadramento de alunos, o défice de envolvimento e trabalho de docentes ao nível do estabelecimento, o défice de acompanhamento e supervisão de aulas e do correspondente controlo da qualidade do ensino.
2) Ao nível sócio-económico é apontado o quadro de enorme desigualdade social, a extrema heterogeneidade dos alunos e das escolas nesta matéria, bem como o défice de acesso a recursos sócio-educativos e culturais dos nossos alunos.
3) Ao nível do desenvolvimento curricular são apontadas questões relacionadas com a excessiva dimensão e desajuste de programas e instrumentos de ensino e aprendizagem e ausência de articulação entre as condições de ensino e os mecanismos de controlo externo, designadamente os exames nacionais.
É muito importante que no interior das escolas, mas não só, se abra um debate sobre estas questões. Que os relatórios de avaliação e documentos de diagnóstico sejam efectivamente lidos e divulgados para que possamos todos reflexivamente encontrar e concretizar soluções.
A escola a tempo inteiro e o enriquecimento curricular e extracurricular do primeiro ciclo, a reorganização da rede de escolas e a melhoria das instalações, a ocupação plena dos tempos escolares, a valorização das competências científicas dos professores, a melhoria das condições de trabalho e de ensino, a valorização da gestão e da autonomia das escolas, colocam a escola no centro da política educativa. Este é o desafio do país e o compromisso do Governo para a legislatura, por isso todos os dias têm de ser ganhos para inverter a situação.

■ Ministra da Educação
Entry link: O desafio da educação, MARIA DE LURDES RODRIGUES

Software 'cannot stop cheating'

(Last edited: quinta, 24 novembro 2005, 9:39 )
Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 17:12 GMT o.gif
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/4460702.stm

Software 'cannot stop cheating'
Keyboard
The exam watchdog has warned of plagiarism using the internet
Technological solutions alone will not be enough to prevent children using the internet to cheat in their coursework, a government adviser has said.

Professor Jean Underwood of Nottingham Trent University says it is up to teachers and parents to show that plagiarism is inappropriate.

The government has asked Professor Underwood to provide technical advice on how to detect internet cheating.

It has commissioned a review of GCSE coursework in each subject.

The move comes after report by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said downloading essays from the internet "could not be controlled".

Internet search

Professor Underwood, an expert in the impact of new technologies on teaching and learning, said less repetitive and more creative questioning would reduce the scope for cheating.

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COURSEWORK CHEATING
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start_quote_rb.gifThe availability of the internet is a powerful aid to learning but carries a new generation of risks of plagiarism. end_quote_rb.gif
QCA report on coursework
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She said the parameters of her study were still to be defined, but she wanted to help find solutions "so that everyone is reassured that coursework is valid, relevant and secure".

Rules should be made clearer, Professor Underwood said.

"We all reject websites which sell essays, but where does that leave us when there are so many help books to get pupils through their GCSEs? Where is the line?"

And parents need to understand that by doing work for their children, or telling them what to include, they are not allowing them to learn effective research - an important skill for later life.

"If a parent helps their child to carry out an efficient internet search, I personally do not see anything wrong in that," she said.

"But downloading five papers from the internet would be a borderline crossed."

She said the government has recognised there is concern and will put down guidelines around February next year.

But it was "all our jobs to collectively show that cheating should not happen".

Teachers have voiced concerns that there are inconsistent guidelines across exam boards regarding how much guidance teachers should give to pupils.

They are also concerned that providing templates and checklists for work leads to "cloned essays" which are difficult to tell apart.

"Templates are worrying, if they lead to the pupil not understanding the material," Professor Underwood said.

The NASUWT teachers' union said it was important to keep the issue of plagiarism in proportion.

But it welcomed the idea of clearer guidelines, but said policing every line of work for plagiarism would "place an impossible burden upon teachers".

Coursework is marked internally within schools, while exam boards call in samples of the work for external checks, known as "moderation".

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start_quote_rb.gifThe internet is a wonderful thing with the power to change lives - but there will always be a downside end_quote_rb.gif
Professor Jean Underwood

At GCSE level, it varies from 20% of the overall qualification in double science, to 60% in art and design.

At A-level it can be from nothing to 30%, or 60% in the case of art and design.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said coursework should only be used where it is the most appropriate assessment method.

The QCA's report found coursework was a valuable tool to stimulate pupils' own learning, but that the value placed on it by teachers varied between subjects.

Technical solutions

Professor Underwood said technology could help ameliorate the problem but was "no quick fix".

She said software already existed to help schools ascertain whether work was the pupil's own.

"It can even be as simple as typing a phrase into Google."

"If a phrase has been plagiarised, sites will bring it up."

"Software is already out there that schools can use, from the Joint Information Systems Committee."

Exam board Edexcel and the Joint Council for Qualifications said they were working with the Plagiarism Advisory Service with a view to rolling out plagiarism detection software.

A JCQ spokesperson said it would reduce the potential to use or re-use work produced by other people.

Professor Underwood said some software could check as well as mark work. But she said some clever students would find ways round such programmes.

"One method used is to translate phrases in papers into a different language and then back into English with a translation tool," she said.

She said that tackling firms providing essays for sale or download would not guarantee children could not access essays, as hackers could still make them available for sale.

"We need to think smart on an academic and technological level," she said

"The internet is a wonderful thing with the power to change lives - but there will always be a downside."

Entry link: Software 'cannot stop cheating'

Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S.

(Last edited: domingo, 27 novembro 2005, 10:38 )

Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S.

Published: NYT, November 26, 2005
 

After Tennessee tested its eighth-grade students in math this year, state officials at a jubilant news conference called the results a "cause for celebration." Eighty-seven percent of students performed at or above the proficiency level.

But when the federal government made public the findings of its own tests last month, the results were startlingly different: only 21 percent of Tennessee's eighth graders were considered proficient in math.

Such discrepancies have intensified the national debate over testing and accountability, with some educators saying that numerous states have created easy exams to avoid the sanctions that President Bush's centerpiece education law, No Child Left Behind, imposes on consistently low-scoring schools.

A comparison of state test results against the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal test mandated by the No Child Left Behind law, shows that wide discrepancies between the state and federal findings were commonplace.

In Mississippi, 89 percent of fourth graders performed at or above proficiency on state reading tests, while only 18 percent of fourth graders demonstrated proficiency on the federal test. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Alaska, Texas and more than a dozen other states all showed students doing far better on their own reading and math tests than on the federal one.

The chasm is significant because of the compromises behind the No Child Left Behind law. The law requires states to participate in the National Assessment - known to educators as NAEP (pronounced nape) - the most important federal measure of student proficiency.

But in a bow to states' rights, states are allowed to use their own tests in meeting the law's central mandate - that schools increase the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency each year. The law requires 100 percent of the nation's students to reach proficiency - as each state defines it - by 2014.

States set the stringency of their own tests as well as the number of questions students must answer correctly to be labeled proficient. And because states that fail to raise scores over time face serious sanctions, there is little incentive to make the exams difficult, some educators say.

"Under No Child Left Behind, the states get to set the proficiency bar wherever they like, and unfortunately most are setting it quite low," said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which generally supports the federal law.

"They're telling the public in their states that huge numbers of students are proficient, but the NAEP results show that's not the case," Mr. Petrilli said.

Other educators and experts give different reasons for the discrepancy between state and federal test results. A Standard & Poor's report this fall listed many reasons for such differences, among them that the National Assessment is a no-stakes test, while low scores on state tests lead to sanctions against schools.

The report noted that the National Assessment is given to a sampling of students, whereas schools administer state tests to nearly all students. The tests serve different purposes, with the federal one giving policy makers a snapshot of student performance across the nation, while state tests provide data about individual performance. Because of these differences, some state officials say it is unfair to compare the test results.

But the report by Standard & Poor's, which has a division that analyzes educational data, also noted some states' tests are just easier.

G. Gage Kingsbury, director of research at the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit group that administers tests in 1,500 districts nationwide, said states that set their proficiency standards before No Child Left Behind became law had tended to set them high.

"The idea back then was that we needed to be competitive with nations like Hong Kong and Singapore," he said. "But our research shows that since N.C.L.B. took effect, states have set lower standards."

Not all have a low bar. In South Carolina, Missouri, Wyoming and Maine, state results tracked closely with the federal exam.

South Carolina is a state that set world-class standards, Mr. Kingsbury said. The math tests there are so difficult that only 23 percent of eighth graders scored at or above the proficiency level this year, compared with 30 percent on the federal math test. South Carolina officials now fear that such rigor is coming back to haunt them.

"We set very high standards for our tests, and unfortunately it's put us at a great disadvantage," said Inez M. Tenenbaum, the state superintendent of education. "We thought other states would be high-minded too, but we were mistaken."

South Carolina's tough exams make it harder for schools there to show the annual testing gains demanded by the federal law.

This year less than half of the state's 1,109 schools met the federal law's benchmark for the percentage of students showing proficiency, a challenge that will get tougher each year. As a result, legislators are pushing to lower the state's proficiency standard, Ms. Tenenbaum said, an idea she opposes.

Because of the discrepancies, several prominent educators are now calling for a system of national testing that counts, like those at the heart of educational systems in England, France and Japan.

"We need national standards and national tests," said Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University who is a former member of the National Assessment's board. "I conclude that states are just looking to make everybody feel good."

Ms. Tenenbaum too says the differences among states have convinced her of the need for a national test. "I think we should all just take the NAEP," she said. "Get it out of the states' hands."

But Representative John A. Boehner, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Work Force, defended states' rights to define proficiency as they see fit and said that over time comparisons with the federal test would force them to draw up better tests.

"The bright lights of accountability are going to shine on the states who are kidding themselves," said Mr. Boehner, Republican of Ohio.

The battle lines have long been sharp in the testing debate. Most corporate leaders favor national testing, said Susan Traiman, a director at the Business Roundtable, a group that represents corporate executives.

Opponents include liberal groups that dislike all standardized testing; the testing industry itself, which has found lucrative profits in writing new exams for all 50 states; and political conservatives who fiercely resist any intrusion on states' rights to control curricula and tests.

Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education, says that the comparison of state and federal tests provides useful information. "It allows us to shine a light," she said. "This is a truth-in-advertising type deal."

But Ms. Spellings has declined to criticize states whose tests appear to overstate the percentage of their students who are proficient. The law leaves it to states to calibrate their accountability systems, including how difficult they make their exams, she said. "We're not going to sit up in Washington and look at all those moving parts," Ms. Spellings said.

The National Assessment uses three performance levels to classify student results: advanced, which denotes superior performance; proficient, which indicates that students have "demonstrated competency" and basic, which indicates students have attained only "partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills." Many students also score below basic, which the National Assessment's governing board does not classify as an achievement level.

On Oct. 19, the day the federal results were released, Ms. Spellings urged reporters to compare the percentage of students performing at the proficiency level on state tests with the percentage of students performing at the basic level on the federal test.

Many state officials said they also preferred that comparison, which greatly softens the discrepancies. In Tennessee, for instance, the 66-point gap between the federal and state results in eighth-grade math shrinks to just 26 points if the state results are compared with the federal measure of basic skills.

"NAEP's basic is comparable to our proficient," said Kim Karesh, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education. "Now whether Tennessee's test is stringent enough is something that we're reviewing constantly. Nobody here would say we have a perfect test."

Officials in many other states whose scores differed sharply from those of the National Assessment cried foul over the very idea of comparing the results.

"The comparison to NAEP is not fair," said Mitch Edwards, a spokesman for the Department of Education in Alabama, where 83 percent of fourth-grade students scored at or above proficient on the state's reading test while only 22 percent demonstrated proficiency on the federal reading test. "Making comparisons to the NAEP becomes very difficult without giving the impression that some states are not measuring up to others or to the nation."

In Georgia, 83 percent of eighth graders scored at or above proficient on state reading tests, compared with just 24 percent on the federal test. "Kids know the federal test doesn't really count," said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the State Department of Education. "So it's not a fair comparison; it's not apples to apples."

Entry link: Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S.

Kids Gone Wild

(Last edited: terça, 29 novembro 2005, 12:13 )
The Nation

Kids Gone Wild

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Chip Wass
Published: NYT, November 27, 2005

CHILDREN should be seen and not heard" may be due for a comeback. After decades of indulgence, American society seems to have reached some kind of tipping point, as far as tolerance for wild and woolly kid behavior is concerned.

Party Gone Bad: Blame the Parents (November 24, 2005)

Are children ruder now than in the past? Do parents care?

Last month, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans said they believed that people are ruder now than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and that children are among the worst offenders. (As annoyances, they tied with obnoxious cellphone users.)

The conservative child psychologist John Rosemond recently denounced in his syndicated column the increasing presence of "disruptive urchins" who "obviously have yet to have been taught the basic rudiments of public behavior," as he related the wretched experience of dining in a four-star restaurant in the company of one child roller skating around his table and another watching a movie on a portable DVD player.

In 2002, only 9 percent of adults were able to say that the children they saw in public were "respectful toward adults," according to surveys done then by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan and nonprofit public opinion research group. In 2004, more than one in three teachers told Public Agenda pollsters they had seriously considered leaving their profession or knew a colleague who had left because of "intolerable" student behavior.

Even Madonna - her "Papa Don't Preach" years long past - has joined the throng, proclaiming herself a proud "disciplinarian" in a recent issue of the British magazine Harpers & Queen and bragging that, as a mom, she takes a tough line on homework, tidiness and chores: "If you leave your clothes on the floor, they're gone when you come home."

Jo Frost, ABC's superstar "Supernanny," would be proud.

Whether children are actually any worse behaved now than they ever have been before is, of course, debatable. Children have always been considered, basically, savages. The question, from the late 17th century onwards, has been whether they come by it naturally or are shaped by the brutality of society.

But what seems to have changed recently, according to childrearing experts, is parental behavior - particularly among the most status-conscious and ambitious - along with the kinds of behavior parents expect from their kids. The pressure to do well is up. The demand to do good is down, way down, particularly if it's the kind of do-gooding that doesn't show up on a college application.

Once upon a time, parenting was largely about training children to take their proper place in their community, which, in large measure, meant learning to play by the rules and cooperate, said Alvin Rosenfeld, a child psychiatrist and co-author, with Nicole Wise, of "The OverScheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyperparenting Trap."

"There was a time when there was a certain code of conduct by which you viewed the character of a person," he said, "and you needed that code of conduct to have your place in the community."

Rude behavior, particularly toward adults, was something for which children had to be chastised, even punished. That has also now changed, said Dan Kindlon, a Harvard University child psychologist and author of "Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age."

Most parents, Dr. Kindlon said, would like their children to be polite, considerate and well behaved. But they're too tired, worn down by work and personally needy to take up the task of teaching them proper behavior at home.

"We use kids like Prozac," he said. "People don't necessarily feel great about their spouse or their job but the kids are the bright spot in their day. They don't want to muck up that one moment by getting yelled at. They don't want to hurt. They don't want to feel bad. They want to get satisfaction from their kids. They're so precious to us - maybe more than to any generation previously. What gets thrown out the window is limits. It's a lot easier to pick their towel up off the floor than to get them away from the PlayStation to do it."

(Page 2 of 2)

Parenting today is also largely about training children to compete - in school and on the soccer field - and the kinds of attributes they need to be competitive are precisely those that help break down society's civility.

Are children ruder now than in the past? Do parents care?

Parents who want their children to succeed more than anything, Dr. Kindlon said, teach them to value and prioritize achievement above all else - including other people.

"We're insane about achievement," he said. "Schoolwork is up 50 percent since 1981, and we're so obsessed with our kids getting into the right school, getting the right grades, we let a lot of things slide. Kids don't do chores at home anymore because there isn't time."

And other adults, even those who should have authority, are afraid to get involved. "Nobody feels entitled to discipline other people's kids anymore," Dr. Kindlon said. "They don't feel they have the right if they see a kid doing something wrong to step in."

Educators feel helpless, too: Nearly 8 in 10 teachers, according to the 2004 Public Agenda report, said their students were quick to remind them that they had rights or that their parents could sue if they were too harshly disciplined. More than half said they ended up being soft on discipline "because they can't count on parents or schools to support them."

And that, Dr. Rosenfeld said, strikes at the heart of the problem. "Parents are out of control," he said. "We always want to blame the kids, but if there's something wrong with their incivility, it's the way their parents model for them."

There's also the chance, said Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist whose 2001 book, "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee," has earned her a cult following, that when children are rude, obnoxious and outrageously behaved, they're trying to tell parents something - something they've got to shout in order for them to hear.

"These kids are so extremely stressed from the academic load they're carrying and how cloistered they are and how they have to live under the watchful eye of their parents," Dr. Mogel said. "They have no kid space."

Paradoxically, she said, parental over-involvement in their children's lives today often hides a very basic kind of indifference to their children's real need, simply to be kids. "There are all these blurry boundaries," she said. "They need to do fifth-grade-level math in third grade and have every pleasure and indulgence of adulthood in childhood and they act like kids and we get mad."

If stress and strain, self-centeredness and competition are the pathogens underlying the rash of rudeness perceived to be endemic among children in America today, then the cure, some experts said, has to be systemic and not topical. Stop blaming the children, they said. Stop focusing on the surface level of behavior and start curing instead the social, educational and parental ills that feed it.

This may mean less "quality" time with children and more time getting them to do things they don't want to do, like sitting for meals, making polite conversation and - Madonna was right - picking their clothes up off the floor.


Judith Warner is the author, most recently, of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety." She is also the host of "The Judith Warner Show" on XM satellite radio.

Entry link: Kids Gone Wild

Tecnologia como cultura

(Last edited: terça, 29 novembro 2005, 10:29 )
Tecnologia como cultura
Público, 29 de Novembro de 2005
FERNANDO ILHARCO

O baixo individualismo e a alta aversão ao risco são dos
principais problemas da cultura portuguesa. Assim se
percebe que apesar de na União Europeia, em termos
percentuais, sermos um dos países com menos licenciados,
que um quinto deles vá trabalhar para o estrangeiro

entendimento da tecnologia como
cultura, ou seja, a prática quotidiana
possibilitada e contextualizada
pela tecnologia como um determinado
tipo de cultura contemporânea, que é o
que no mais essencial é assumido no plano
tecnológico, constitui um alinhar de esforços,
de práticas e de ambições com o perfume dos
tempos correntes. Claro que os planos são uma
coisa, acontecem no domínio da reflexão, e as
medidas enumeradas são uma outra coisa, que
acontecem ou não num outro domínio, o da
acção concreta que corta o tempo, separando
o passado do futuro. Em boa medida, o que se
passa entre um e outro domínio, também no
caso do plano tecnológico, depende de uma
forma importante da nossa cultura enquanto
comunidade. Não do grau em que a tecnologia
seja já parte da nossa cultura, mas da nossa
cultura nacional, pré-tecnologia, como ela
mesma nos nossos símbolos, valores, práticas,
rotinas e padrões comportamentais,
se tem manifestado e se manifesta hoje,
mantendo-nos para nós mesmos como nós
próprios somos.

A tecnologia tem vindo a ser estudada e
investigada de variadíssimas formas. Desde
uma prática sistemática, um tipo de arte, ou
a aplicação prática da ciência, à ordenação
eficiente dos recursos, à com-posição monumental
que revela o mundo, muitas têm sido
as perspectivas de entendimento de um dos
fenómenos mais marcantes da história da
humanidade. Mesmo que uma boa parte das
interpretações deste quadro escape à visão instrumental,
algo ingénua, do fenómeno, em todas
elas a tecnologia nos surge com algum grau
de manipulabilidade; como uma possibilidade
de manipulação superior à da cultura. Pelo
menos nas suas camadas superficiais, talvez
a tecnologia possa ser
entendida como a área
mais trabalhável e por
isso mais alterável da
própria cultura. A
cultura, por seu lado,
percebida não apenas
como os valores, as
rotinas, as práticas,
etc., que temos, mas
antes como aquilo
que genuinamente
somos, é então não
apenas uma espécie
de lente para ver e ler
o mundo mas antes é
os nossos verdadeiros
olhos, mente e sistema
nervoso. Assim, hoje,
entender a tecnologia
como cultura é uma
parte importante
do processo de nos
integrarmos na reordenação
do poder
mundial.
Não deixando
de constituir uma
perspectiva correcta,
porque consequente
e útil no ambiente
contemporâneo, o
entendimento da tecnologia
como cultura
pressupõe de alguma
maneira, mais, sugere
como futuro, o
entendimento da cultura
como tecnologia.
Partir da tecnologia
como cultura levarnos-
á sempre à cultura
como tecnologia. Por
isso, um dos grandes
desafios, não apenas
nosso, é o de pensar
e possibilitar um quadro
global em que cada
cultura, da Europa à
África, da América à
Ásia, do Norte ao Sul
e do Leste ao Oeste, tenha possibilidades equitativas
de bem-estar, de paz e de futuro.
Cultura nenhuma é estática, é certo. A
cultura pode mesmo ser entendida como
a dinâmicas como os diferentes grupos e
comunidades se transformam e sobrevivem
no tempo. No entanto, o quadro global actual,
sobretudo porque global, impõe um grau de
homogeneização que, longe de ser claro, está
também longe de ser aceite por aqueles a quem
ele toca. O problema é o de que a nova ordem
global, dos mercados aos produtos culturais
passando pela saúde, pela indústria e alimentação,
foi desenhada ou simplesmente surgiu,
beneficiando objectivamente determinadas
comunidades nacionais e sociais. As culturas
nacionais mais beneficiadas na nova ordem
globalizada são aquelas onde são fortes os
traços do individualismo e a disponibilidade
para arriscar, bem como onde é menor o peso
da hierarquia e o peso das divisões sociais e
profissionais; todos aspectos onde a cultura
portuguesa não é particularmente forte. Aliás
o individualismo, no sentido de assentar no
indivíduo, singular, a perspectiva primária
da actividade da sociedade, mais do que a
educação formal dos portugueses é o nosso
verdadeiro problema. Temos uma população
com uma das menores taxas de formação
secundária e universitária entre os países
da União Europeia, mas cerca de um quinto
dos nossos licenciados vai procurar trabalho
no estrangeiro O que aqui não bate é certo
é não existirem, porque não são criadas nem
pelos privados nem pelo Estado, oportunidades
suficientes para os comparativamente
poucos profissionais qualificados que todos
os anos chegam ao mercado de trabalho. É um
problema de iniciativa, de individualismo, de
resultados e de recompensa, por um lado; pelo
outro lado, é obviamente a velha questão das
corporações, dos mercados fechados, do poder
da mediocridade, das invejas, dos tráficos de
influências.
A não exposição generalizada do país à
concorrência internacional permite que em
muitas hierarquias continuem a subir não
os mais competentes mas os que melhor manobram
nos corredores das influências e dos
enganos. É por isso que, a prazo, uma das mais
importantes medidas do plano tecnológico é a
generalização do ensino do inglês no primeiro
ciclo do ensino básico. Por muitas e variadas
razões, o inglês é hoje a língua da comunidade
global; a prazo, o domínio do inglês poderá
fazer mais pela iniciativa individual e pela
capacidade de arriscar do que todos os cursos
nacionais de empreendedorismo juntos. E
dessa forma, quando a concorrência passar a
ser intensa, deixa de ser opção não contratar
os melhores.
Cada sociedade é definida pela linguagem
que a estrutura e desenvolve. A comunidade
global assenta no inglês; num novo inglês,
num novo latim. Não quer isto dizer, obviamente,
que se deva tomar essa plataforma
linguística como única. Esta questão vai mais
longe quando colocada no domínio da cultura.
A cultura é-nos dada, transmitida no tempo
e espaço, pelos nossos antepassados e não a
podemos mudar de um dia para o outro, nem
de forma substancial numa geração. Se hoje
os países anglo-saxónicos, com uma língua
sem tu nem você, são beneficiados pelo
quadro global marcado pelas redes, pela pouca
relevância da hierarquia, pelo individualismo,
noutros tempos outros tipos de culturas
foram as beneficiadas. No entanto, numa
época obcecada pelo correcto, correcto parece
dever ser que, tal como não é aceitável que o
género, a raça ou a religião constituam bases
de discriminação, também nenhuma cultura,
menos individualista ou menos avessa à incerteza,
possa ser prejudicada pelo simples facto
de ser o que é. Trata-se de algo imensamente
difícil de resolver, evidentemente. Trata-se de
reflectir e em ultima análise de influenciar o
processo da constituição ontológica da sociedade
global. ■ Professor Universitário
www.ilharco.com



Entry link: Tecnologia como cultura

Overhaul of Linux License Could Have Broad Impact

(Last edited: quarta, 30 novembro 2005, 10:35 )

Overhaul of Linux License Could Have Broad Impact

Published: NYT, November 30, 2005
 

The rules governing the use of most free software programs will be revised for the first time in 15 years, in an open process that begins today.

Free software, once regarded as a tiny counterculture in computing, has become a mainstream technology in recent years, led by the rising popularity of programs like the GNU Linux operating system.

Industry analysts estimate that the value of hardware and software that use the Linux operating system is $40 billion. And Linux has become a competitive alternative to Microsoft's Windows, especially in corporate data centers.

So the overhaul of the General Public License, which covers Linux and many other free software programs, is an issue of far greater significance today than before.

"The big boys, corporations and governments, have far more reason to be interested and concerned this time," said Eben Moglen, general counsel to the Free Software Foundation, which holds the license, commonly known as the G.P.L.

The process will also be closely watched for how the new G.P.L. will take account of software patents, which have exploded among proprietary software developers since 1991, the last time the license was revised.

A document that describes the principles and timeline for updating the G.P.L., as well as the process for public comment and resolving issues, was to be posted today at www.gplv3.fsf.org. A first draft will be presented at a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scheduled for Jan. 16 and 17.

A second draft is expected by summer. If a third draft is required, it should be completed by the fall of 2006. The process, Mr. Moglen said, could involve comments from thousands of corporations and individuals, but the Free Software Foundation will make the final judgments.

The revision process promises to be intriguing because of the man behind the G.P.L., Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation.

The G.P.L., according to Mr. Stallman, is an effort to use copyright law to protect what he calls the "four basic freedoms of software" - the unrestricted right to use, study, copy and modify software. The license also requires that any modifications be redistributed with the same unrestricted rights.

Mr. Stallman is renowned as both a brilliant computer programmer and a person of emphatic views on matters of software. At the Artificial Intelligence Lab at M.I.T. in the 1980's, Mr. Stallman began writing a free version of the proprietary Unix operating system, which he called GNU, and he distributed his work free.

Mr. Stallman, working as a lone craftsman, wrote a huge amount of code for the operating system and software tools for building it. But he had not gotten around to designing the "kernel" of the free operating system - the core of the program, controlling a computer's most basic functions.

In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a university student in Finland, wrote a kernel and wrapped much of the GNU code around it. The completed operating system attracted a following of programmers, working collaboratively to debug and improve the program. The operating system became known as Linux, and the networked style of work was called open source.

In Mr. Stallman's view, proprietary software is an unwarranted restriction on the freedom of information. The revision of the G.P.L., he said, is "part of something bigger - part of the long-term effort to liberate cyberspace." Software patents, he said, are "utterly insane."

For Microsoft's part, Steven A. Ballmer, its chief executive, has called the G.P.L. a "cancer."

Yet in his way, Mr. Stallman is also quite pragmatic. Proprietary software applications can run on Linux without restrictions, which is important for the survival of Linux as a viable alternative to commercial operating systems.

Mr. Stallman also acknowledged that patent rights are a sticky issue for free software, because any attempt in the G.P.L. to counteract the spread of patented software could backfire by making it difficult for free and proprietary software to run on the same computer.

"Patents are a serious issue we have to address, but we have limited leverage," he said. "Sometimes, if you push too hard, you end up pushing yourself back instead of hurting your adversary."

Entry link: Overhaul of Linux License Could Have Broad Impact

Clima sofre a pior alteração dos últimos cinco mil anos

(Last edited: quarta, 30 novembro 2005, 7:38 )
Clima sofre a pior alteração dos últimos cinco mil anos


rita carvalho, DN 30 Nov 2005

A Europa está a sofrer as piores alterações do clima dos últimos cinco mil anos. As consequências estão à vista 10% dos glaciares alpinos desapareceram em 2003 e os anos mais quentes de que há memória registaram-se em 1998, 2002, 2003 e 2004. Um relatório da Agência Europeia do Ambiente, divulgado ontem, faz um diagnóstico cinzento e não traça cenários risonhos. Portugal não é excepção: por cá os "progressos são pouco animadores", refere o documento.

O desaparecimento dos glaciares no Norte, a expansão dos desertos a Sul e a necessidade de concentrar a população no centro do continente, são alguns corolários do aquecimento global do planeta, que aumenta ao ritmo que crescem as emissões para a atmosfera de gases com efeito de estufa. As mudanças no clima já provocaram a subida de 0.95º C da temperatura média da Europa e prevê-se que, devido a isto, o homem se confronte, num futuro recente, com condições climatéricas com as quais nunca lidou.

Este diagnóstico consta do relatório "O Ambiente na Europa - situação e perspectivas 2005" e faz das alterações climáticas o principal desafio ambiental do futuro. Mas outras questões se colocam, como a perda de biodiversidade, os problemas dos recursos hídricos, da poluição atmosférica, dos ecossistemas marinhos e da desertificação dos solos. A pressão do homem sobre o território é cada vez maior e o aumento das zonas urbanas e edificadas implica a destruição dos recursos naturais.

"Alterámos a composição da atmosfera. Por isso estes dados que reflectem as consequências deste facto não são surpreendentes", considera Filipe Duarte Santos, cientista especialista em alterações climáticas. E explica desde os tempos da revolução industrial, os componentes de dióxido de carbono existentes na atmosfera aumentaram 30%. A libertação destes gases poluentes deve-se à queima dos combustíveis fósseis (petróleo e seus derivados), motivada pelo aumento do tráfego automóvel. A destruição das grandes áreas florestais também contribui para a concentração de gases, pois diminui a acção de sumidouro de dióxido de carbono das árvores. Os efeitos das alterações do clima estão à vista e tenderão a agravar-se, diz o cientista. O aumento de intensidade e capacidade destrutiva dos ciclones tropicais, a manifestação de fenómenos climáticos extremos, como as grandes secas no Sul e as cheias torrenciais no Norte, já fazem parte do presente e vão acentuar-se no futuro.

positivo. Mas nem tudo é mau. O relatório mostra que a implementação da legislação europeia no domínio do ambiente já está a ter resultados positivos, embora alguns efeitos só sejam visíveis ao fim de 10 ou 20 anos. "Conseguimos despoluir as águas e a atmosfera, eliminámos gradualmente algumas substâncias que destroem a camada de ozono e duplicámos as taxas de reciclagem de resíduos. Temos veículos menos poluentes", refere o documento.

À medida que os temas ambientais ganham destaque na agenda política, a sensibilização dos cidadãos cresce e, com ela, a exigência junto dos governantes. As sondagens eurobarómetro indicam que mais de 70% dos europeus desejam que os decisores políticos atribuam igual importância às políticas ambientais, económicas e sociais.

A alteração das regras da fiscalidade é uma medida concreta urgente, pois é uma das formas mais úteis de operar mudanças comportamentais. "Precisamos de reduzir os impostos sobre o trabalho e o investimento", defendeu a directora da Agência Europeia.
Entry link: Clima sofre a pior alteração dos últimos cinco mil anos

Bartoon, A Igreja e os padres homosexuais

(Last edited: quarta, 30 novembro 2005, 8:49 )
a
Entry link: Bartoon, A Igreja e os padres homosexuais

Finding Design in Nature

(Last edited: quarta, 30 novembro 2005, 10:10 )
July 7, 2005
Finding Design in Nature

By CHRISTOPH SCHONBORN
Vienna

EVER since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was "more than just a hypothesis," defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance - or at least acquiescence - of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith.

But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.

Consider the real teaching of our beloved John Paul. While his rather vague and unimportant 1996 letter about evolution is always and everywhere cited, we see no one discussing these comments from a 1985 general audience that represents his robust teaching on nature:

"All the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator."

He went on: "To all these indications of the existence of God the Creator, some oppose the power of chance or of the proper mechanisms of matter. To speak of chance for a universe which presents such a complex organization in its elements and such marvelous finality in its life would be equivalent to giving up the search for an explanation of the world as it appears to us. In fact, this would be equivalent to admitting effects without a cause. It would be to abdicate human intelligence, which would thus refuse to think and to seek a solution for its problems."

Note that in this quotation the word "finality" is a philosophical term synonymous with final cause, purpose or design. In comments at another general audience a year later, John Paul concludes, "It is clear that the truth of faith about creation is radically opposed to the theories of materialistic philosophy. These view the cosmos as the result of an evolution of matter reducible to pure chance and necessity."

Naturally, the authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church agrees: "Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason." It adds: "We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance."

In an unfortunate new twist on this old controversy, neo-Darwinists recently have sought to portray our new pope, Benedict XVI, as a satisfied evolutionist. They have quoted a sentence about common ancestry from a 2004 document of the International Theological Commission, pointed out that Benedict was at the time head of the commission, and concluded that the Catholic Church has no problem with the notion of "evolution" as used by mainstream biologists - that is, synonymous with neo-Darwinism.

The commission's document, however, reaffirms the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of design in nature. Commenting on the widespread abuse of John Paul's 1996 letter on evolution, the commission cautions that "the letter cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe."

Furthermore, according to the commission, "An unguided evolutionary process - one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence - simply cannot exist."

Indeed, in the homily at his installation just a few weeks ago, Benedict proclaimed: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

Throughout history the church has defended the truths of faith given by Jesus Christ. But in the modern era, the Catholic Church is in the odd position of standing in firm defense of reason as well. In the 19th century, the First Vatican Council taught a world newly enthralled by the "death of God" that by the use of reason alone mankind could come to know the reality of the Uncaused Cause, the First Mover, the God of the philosophers.

Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real. Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence.

Christoph Sch–nborn, the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop of Vienna, was the lead editor of the official 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Entry link: Finding Design in Nature


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