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March 12, 2014

"Higher ed’s failure to deliver qualified graduates to business world starts in first grade with the public school monopoly"

Mark J. Perry:

Unless and until the public school monopoly and the teachers unions are reformed, universities will continue to provide four years of largely remedial education to high school graduates ill-prepared for university-level learning, and will continue to deliver college graduates lacking the necessary skills and required competencies for success in the business world.

March 03, 2014

"The Dark Power of Fraternities"

A long but interesting article on an underdiscussed feature of what we're so pleased to call "higher education". 

Includes a pro tip for anyone on a college campus: especially if you've been drinking, but maybe even if you haven't, stay away from the upper floors of Greek houses. 

"Teens defend ‘fail factory’ school in error-filled letters"

You really, really can't make this stuff up.

Earlier this month, The Post exposed a scheme at Manhattan’s Murry Bergtraum HS for Business Careers in which failing students could get full credit without attending class, but instead watch video lessons and take tests online. One social-studies teacher had a roster of 475 students in all grades and subjects.

Red-faced administrators encouraged a student letter-writing campaign to attack The Post and defend its “blended learning” program. Eighteen kids e-mailed to argue that their alma mater got a bad rap.

Almost every letter was filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.

Well, at least they didn't cheat. 

February 25, 2014

"End Harvard and End Inequality?"

Michael Rizzo at Rochester argues that if we were really serious about ending inequality we "should endorse the immediate and rapid end of Harvard and any other elite university in America". 

Dopey Liberals, what say you? (Personally, I'd keep Harvard but end the lesser, more obnoxious Ivies like Yale and Princeton.)

See also "Seriously, Don't Give Money To Fancy Colleges," "Just Ten Colleges Take in One Sixth of All Donations," and "Cut Off Harvard to Save America".

For one truly embarrassing representative of Harvard, see "The Doctrine of Academic Freedom: Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice". (But the comments, at least some from presumably Harvard-associated folks, almost make up for her.)

February 20, 2014

"Why We Should Stop Teaching Novels to High School Students"

Excellent. (I wouldn't "stop," I'd just cut them by about 75%.)

Journalism, essay, memoir, creative nonfiction: These are only things I started reading as an adult because of how little I enjoyed reading novels in high school. Surely, the un-made-up stuff would be more of a bore, I thought. Yet when I finally read In Cold BloodInto Thin Air, the works of Hunter S. Thompson and Joan Didion, I continually pleaded aloud to my friends in their twenties, “Why didn’t anyone make me read this in high school?!”

How much easier it would have been! The stakes, so high and clear: A group of people set out to climb Mount Everest. There is no metaphor to untangle! The mountain is, like, a big fucking deal on its own. People die on it. Will people die on this expedition? Probably! Tell us more, Jon Krakauer!

The stories are direct and engaging. A whole family is slaughtered in a podunk wholesome town in Kansas. Who did it? And Why?

February 18, 2014

The Internet answers another one of life's important questions

"Why Organic Chemistry Is So Hard".

February 17, 2014

"How we ended up with a generation of no-discipline, no-talent job seekers"

Writing in the Washington Post, Marina Ein is ticked off

As a small-business employer, I have seen a disturbing downward talent drift in job candidates — most acutely in the past five years. When a job candidate’s first question is about vacation days or benefits, we know we have encountered collateral damage from the teachers and parents who believed in “softening the learning experience.” Armed with a meaningless bachelor’s degree from colleges and universities that allowed majors in non-core subjects, we see youngsters who cannot write, research or think analytically. Their lack of discipline is evident in job applications filled with typos and cover letters that reveal no interest in teamwork or service — rather, they emphasize their high opinion of themselves. (Many young job seekers come forward with an executive attitude that is backed by zero capabilities).

See also "The Skills Employers Wish College Grads Had".

February 14, 2014

"The 14 Most Beautiful And Iconic American College Quads"

Harvard, UVa, and 12 others

February 13, 2014

"School Today Vs. When We Were Kids"

Discouraging but interesting

February 11, 2014

"Postdocs for Jocks"

A good proposal. It complements one of my own. A principal source of the hypocrisy and corruption in big college football and basketball is the pretense that the athletes are "student-athletes," that each jock will graduate with a degree. Over the last couple of decades the NCAA has raised entrance and eligibility requirements in support of this delusion. And that has yielded the phony courses and phony grading and phony degrees we see so frequently now.

I say lower the requirements. Instead of forcing them to be on track to get a degree in four years, let them take six or eight years, or not even get a degree at all. (Whether the university wants to fund them beyond four years would be up to the university.) Instead of passing four courses a term, tell them they only have to pass two, or maybe one. Tell the athletes "We certainly hope you take advantage of your scholarships to graduate. But if graduating is not what you're interested in, if it's too time-consuming and difficult, if you're not adequately prepared for college coursework, we want give you an opportunity to spend a few years in college getting what you can from it. Learn to read and write a little better. Read a couple of good books. Talk to smart, academically motivated people. Learn to use the library. Make friends."

Gregg Easterbook proposes something in a similar vein:

For FBS players, the year-to-year scholarship -- which pressures them to favor football over the library, to ensure the scholarship is renewed -- should be replaced with a six-year scholarship. That way once a player's athletic eligibility has expired, typically after 4.5 years, and once the NFL does not call -- 97 percent of FBS players never take an NFL snap -- there will be paid-up semesters remaining for him to be a full-time student, repair credits and earn that diploma. Not all will need the extra semesters. But six-year full scholarships would change big-college football from a cynical exercise in using up impressionable young men and throwing them away, into a fair deal: The university gets great football, the players get educations.

Any of these proposals would, in my view, be far better than either the present system or the proposal to pay them salaries.

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