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October 31, 2014

The descent of college students continues apace

"Cosmo is sending a bus with models to North Carolina to shuttle college voters to the polls".

Link courtesy of Michael Greenspan.

October 30, 2014

Two on teaching math

"How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math: Sorry, education reformers, it’s still memorization and repetition we need.

"The best way to teach kids math is not in a classroom".

Lists of independent facts without a network of connections are hard to follow and harder to retain. The problem reminds me of trying to dig a deep, narrow hole in dry sand. As the hole goes down, the sides collapse and fill it back in. It is possible to dig a deep hole, but only if it stretches out to the sides. 

I gave a graduation speech many years ago. When asked, “What is the biggest thing you learned after you left school and became a practicing engineer?” my response was that in school, when you have an exam, you at least know what subject you are taking the exam in. In real life, you don’t know if the solution of the day will come from math, physics, chemistry, or just as likely human behavior or the quality of product instructions.


October 29, 2014

". . . troubling, disturbing and shocking"

What NCAA President Mark Emmert said about the Wainstein report on the troubles at UNC-Chapel Hill.

And see "President of Macalester College Calls for University of North Carolina to Lose its Accreditation Over Academic Fraud Scandal".

I'm not convinced anything really bad will happen to UNC-CH. But it seems more likely than I first thought. 

And I agree with this: "Did Wainstein Report Whitewash High-Level Culprits In UNC Cheating Scandal?"

October 16, 2014

"The 15 Best Colleges In America, According To People Who Work In Finance"

Duke improves significantly from the main ranking.

October 14, 2014

"Learn Economics Online Using These 33 Free University Courses"

I can't vouch for any of these courses, but they could well be useful.

October 08, 2014

"U.S. campus 2014"

Jack Jolis and Iowahawk absolutely nail it. (Too short and too perfect to excerpt.)

October 01, 2014

"Why Academics Stink at Writing"

Steven Pinker smacks some of the more egregious problems in "academese". 

Enough already. Our indifference to how we share the fruits of our intellectual labors is a betrayal of our calling to enhance the spread of knowledge. In writing badly, we are wasting each other’s time, sowing confusion and error, and turning our profession into a laughingstock.

September 30, 2014

"Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core"

I don't agree with everything--on #5, I think kids need a lot more "workforce-prep mentality" from the schools and on #8, lots of things make little kids cry, including the current curriculum--but for both supporters and opponents of Common Core there's food for thought here

And see also former engineer, now math teacher, Cynthia Walker's piece, "Un-Common, Not Core".

I predict that if we continue implementing Common Core, average students will drop out of math as early as they are allowed.  Even math-bright students will hate math.  Tutoring companies will proliferate to serve wealthy families.  The educational gap between rich and poor will widen.  If we want to destroy math and science education in this country, keep Common Core.

September 29, 2014

"U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks Gets Free Speech Very Wrong"

As complete and razor-sharp a takedown of a prominent person as I've seen in a while.

Pardon my incivility, Chancellor Dirks, but I don't give a shit whether you wish to honor an ideal; I care whether you will comply with the law. If you don't, you should be compelled to do so at the point of a lawsuit. You will find litigation rather uncivil.

Link via Mike Munger.

September 23, 2014

"What Wellesley learned when it stopped giving out so many A's"

Good, nontechnical summary of what a recent paper in the professional economics literature (Journal of Economic Perspectives, Summer 2014) reported. 

Related: "Princeton and Wellesley May Re-inflate Grades".

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