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Education

July 29, 2014

"Closing Comments"

K. C. Johnson winds up the "Durham-In-Wonderland" blog.

He bravely accomplished, very well, what he set out to do, so now he's moving on.  (If only some government agencies--hello, TVA!--did the same.)

July 28, 2014

"The Common Core Commotion Haven’t we seen this movie before?"

Magnificent attack on education reform by Andrew Ferguson. Virtually no one escapes. He concludes as follows:

The delays and distancing suggest a cloudy future for the Common Core. Even its advocates say that the best possible outcome for now involves a great deal more unpleasantness: The tests will be given to many students beginning next spring, and the results will demonstrate the catastrophic state of learning in American schools. Of course, we knew that, but still. “Maybe this will be a reality check,” one booster told me the other day. “People will take a look at the results and say, ‘Aha! So this is what they’ve been talking about!’ It will send a very strong signal.”

It would indeed, but a signal to do what? Educationists don’t like unpleasantness; it’s not what they signed up for when they became reformers. We already know what happened when NCLB state tests exposed the reality of American public schools. It was time for a new reform. 

In that case, Common Core would survive, but only as NCLB survives—as a velleity, a whiff of a hint of a memory of a gesture toward an aspiration for excellence. And the educationists will grow restless. Someone somewhere will come up with a new reform program, a whole new approach—one with teeth, and high-stakes consequences for stakeholders. Bill Gates will get wind of it. He will be intrigued. His researchers will design experiments to make sure the program is scientifically sound. Data will be released at seminars, and union leadership will lend tentative support. The president will declare a crisis and make reform a national priority. She will want to be called an education president too.

"Madness in Madison"

Professor Emeritus of Economics at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, W. Lee Hansen:

The University of Wisconsin adopted its first diversity plan back in 1966 and every few years it launches a much-touted new one. During my 30-year teaching career at Madison, followed by more than a decade of retirement, I have seen not the slightest bit of evidence that the fixation on “diversity” has made the campus better in any respect.

I predict this new Inclusive Excellence plan will fail to produce its hoped-for utopian outcomes. In a few years, the university will hear demands for yet another diversity plan.  

Achieving “diversity” is like sailing toward the horizon.

You never get there.

July 23, 2014

"The 12 Most Popular Free Online Courses For Professionals"

For the online-interested autodidacts among you.

July 22, 2014

"Flaccid American Universities"

Imprecisely titled--the author means not the universities per se, but the students--but still interesting. And sad because the students in question attend my alma mater.

(And, come to think of it, "flaccid" is also a poor choice. Better would be a reference to Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver: "It's not that they're stupid, it's just they don't know anything.")

July 21, 2014

"Confession of an Ivy League teaching assistant: Here’s why I inflated grades"

"I just didn’t want to deal with all the complaining." I can definitely relate, but it is what you're getting paid for.

See also "Give Me a Better Grade--I Deserve It." I got one of these last year. A student objected to my suggesting she write more concisely. "That's not how I was taught to write," she said. "I should just get a higher grade."

It was one more indication it was time for me to retire. 

"MBAs are totally misguided about how much they’re worth"

Just the personal experience of one Montreal headhunter, but for MBAs it's probably worth considering.

July 15, 2014

"UNC professor blasts university and its athletic heroes in defense of Rashad McCants"

There's at least one UNC-CH professor who has some common sense.

"I'm struck by the profiles of those attacking Rashad McCants," Smith wrote in his email to me. "On the one hand, you have old-timers spouting off about their experiences in the 1960s, '70s or early '80s. These people haven't seen the inside of an academic support program in years, even decades. They don't have a clue what the program was like in 2005. Yet they hurl their venom at McCants – a player who had the guts to share his transcript on television, and who also had the guts to buck the tide while he was at UNC [an offense against ‘the family' for which he has never been forgiven].

July 14, 2014

"Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today"

A "pediatric occupational therapist" argues that it's because kids need more exercise. (Some supporting evidence here.)

Seems reasonable. But I want to know this: can they sit still for TV? For texting and Playstation and Xbox? If so, the problem isn't lack of exercise.

July 10, 2014

"What universities have in common with record labels"

"If you spent the 1990s plucking songs from a stack of cassettes to make the perfect mixtape, you probably welcomed innovations of the next decade that served your favorite albums up as individual songs, often for free. The internet’s power to unbundle content sparked a rapid transformation of the music industry, which today generates just over half of the $14 billion it did in 2000—and it’s doing the same thing to higher education."

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