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March 2010

"'Culturally relevant' education is a contradiction"

Gregory Kane:

When I was a lad I did not have to "see" myself in the curriculum. The only picture I needed to see was my mother's foot being placed firmly up my derriere if I didn't bring home good grades from school. You'd be amazed at how "relevant" that made everything my teachers taught me.

In other words, the geography I learned in eighth grade, the history and the science: all were relevant outside of school because my mother said they were. And her vote was the only one that counted.

Wouldn't it be great if Moore's Law applied to everything?

Comparison of some old-school PCs of 25 to 35 years ago with today's. Obvious conclusion:

. . . we’ve established once again that, yes, computers today are mind-blowingly more powerful than they used to be.

More importantly, consumers get vastly more computing power and capacity for their dollar today than they ever have before. The low end of the market gets lower, and the high end…also gets lower. It’s very difficult to to buy a non-diamond encrusted $10,000 PC, much less a $20,000 one, which you could do back in 1980s without breaking a sweat. But it’s easy to buy a steel-encrusted $350 bargain PC that’s just as powerful as a top of the line model a few years ago.

And here's a comparison of hard drives.

"The Secret to Having Happy Employees"

MBAs take note:

About 10 years ago I was having my annual holiday party, and my niece had come with her newly minted M.B.A. boyfriend. As he looked around the room, he noted that my employees seemed happy. I told him that I thought they were.

Then, figuring I would take his new degree for a test drive, I asked him how he thought I did that. “I’m sure you treat them well,” he replied.

“That’s half of it,” I said. “Do you know what the other half is?”

He didn’t have the answer, and neither have the many other people that I have told this story. So what is the answer? I fired the unhappy people. People usually laugh at this point. I wish I were kidding.

Read the whole thing.

What to avoid on a college application

Pay attention, kids; this is some excellent advice

“My best advice is don’t write a boring essay. Sometimes I just read a first sentence like, ‘This one time I changed the world with my church group by playing the tambourine in Costa Rica…’ and I put that file directly into the ‘to be considered much later’ back-burner pile. Tell me who you actually are, and it is such a welcome change.”— Midwestern public university admission officer

“I wish students understood what really makes a competitive application for the most selective colleges. I've seen time and again students with excellent standardized test scores and mediocre grades expect to have a reasonable chance of admission. The reality is, if s/he has no ‘hook’—for example, not a legacy, not underrepresented (with respect to ethnicity or geography), and not a recruited athlete—then the most selective colleges will reject the application. There are far too many applicants with excellent grades and excellent test scores— not to mention letters of recommendation, activities, and essays—to justify admitting a student with mediocre grades. Highly selective colleges will likely perceive these types of applicants as lazy: obviously very bright students who were not motivated to work hard in high school.”— Former Ivy League admission officer and current East Coast private college consultant

“In my book, the biggest mistake an applicant makes is when they answer the [essay] prompt from another school. It’s so apparent they’ve just cut and pasted from that school’s application. Why bother applying if you’re not going to edit the essay for our application?”— East Coast liberal arts college admissions dean

Also see "Praising the low grade for a harder course".