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Educational

Save the Arctic, “A Homeless Polar Bear in London”

Save the Arctic

World Wildlife Fund

Defender of Wildlife

It’s one of the great shames we, as humans, have perpetrated in our time on this earth: in our tunnel-vision preoccupation with our own survival, we’ve invaded and destroyed the natural environments of our fellow animal astronauts. There are many realities that make me sad on a daily basis, but few get to me the way the plight of animals like the polar bear do. Here are creatures that live in harmony with the planet and their peers, according to a natural balance, and we bring them to ruin by accelerating the decline of their habitat, because we desire more of things we don’t really need. Is there anything more despicable?

And the most frustrating part is my willing, characteristically human hypocritical involvement in this crime. Well, I’m trying to help combat the unfortunate state of affairs here and now.

Please take a moment to check out the links above. They are all extremely informative and inspiring with regards to the state of our relationship with animals like the polar bear. I know this kind of promotion seems corny and disingenuine to many, but understanding and being aware of this situation is a responsibility we all have as denizens of this planet. I encourage you to donate to or take action on behalf of the organizations.

Everything is connected. Though animals’ plight may seem distant and disconnected from your life right now, consider that the horrible negative circumstances we impose and they suffer may one day expand to influence the lives of your children, their children, and so on.

TED-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing

I’ve often debated friends regarding the objective value of the internet when by-and-large, it seems constructed as less a democratic tool of information sharing and more a slick method by which companies can sell us things (in the end it is what you make of it). But every now and then a new website pops up that thankfully runs completely counter to that cynical view.

With the release of “TED-Ed,” the TED organization, already a bastion for thought-provoking dialogue, continues to cement its position as one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and interesting organizations producing online content. In short, TED-Ed is a site which offers compact educational, animated video lessons on any topic you can imagine, all of which are provided by top-ranked educators from around the world. As an added bonus, these lessons are accompanied by quizzes and links to further information.

TED-Ed’s mission is to provide educators and students anywhere with quick-and-easy references that can be incorporated into their lesson plans or supplement learning. Though the project is still in its Beta stages, there are about 60 videos already up and there are plans to continue expanding the offerings as rapidly as the TED team can produce them. One of my favorites so far is a lesson exploring the question, “How many universes are there?” And one of my favorite things about the project is that you can nominate an educator, animator, or lesson plan to help improve the site!

I’ve watched a lot of online educational videos (my favorite site is Academic Earth, which offers a collection of free videos of university course programs), but TED-Ed’s mission seems limitless in its ambition and resonance. In a time when crushing education costs are limiting and hotly debated, free sites providing quality information to anyone are priceless. I have little doubt that this could be of great use to many new teachers, as well as those great ones who are always willing to expand their teaching resources.

UPDATE (5/2): In a completely serendipitous discovery, The New York Times is running an article identifying newly-announced FREE online course offerings from some of the most renowned U.S. universities, including MIT, Harvard, Princeton, and more. Excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge abound!

The New York Times, Tamar Lewin, “Harvard and MIT Team Up to Offer Free Online Courses”