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The Teacher Wars

A new book by journalist Dana Goldstein profiles the deeply controversial history of the teaching profession in the US. A write up in the New York Times and the New Inquiry.
posted by latkes on Sep 16, 2014 - 23 comments

‘A National Admissions Office’ for Low-Income Strivers

College admissions officers attribute the organization’s success to the simplicity of its approach to students. It avoids mind-numbingly complex talk of financial-aid forms and formulas that scare away so many low-income families (and frustrate so many middle-income families, like my own when I was applying to college). QuestBridge instead gives students a simple message: If you get in, you can go. Yet the broader lessons of QuestBridge aren’t only about how to communicate with students. They’re also how our society spends the limited resource that is financial aid. The group’s founders, Michael and Ana Rowena McCullough, are now turning their attention to the estimated $3 billion in outside scholarships, from local Rotary Clubs, corporations and other groups, that are awarded every year to high school seniors. The McCulloughs see this money as a wasted opportunity, saying it comes too late to affect whether and where students go to college. It doesn’t help the many high-achieving, low-income strivers who don’t apply to top colleges — and often don’t graduate from any college. Continue reading the main story “Any private scholarship given at the end of senior year is intrinsically disconnected from the college application process,” Dr. McCullough said, “and it doesn’t have to be.” - The New York Times takes a look at Questbridge, "which has quietly become one of the biggest players in elite-college admissions." (SL NYTIMES)
posted by beisny on Sep 16, 2014 - 27 comments

Selected Lectures on Science and Engineering in the Boston Area

If you live in the Boston area and would like to attend science, technology, math, or engineering lectures, you'll find Fred Hapgood's exhaustive and continually-updated list of Selected Lectures on Science and Engineering in the Boston Area very useful. (Here's his list of sources.) Perhaps you know of a list like this for lectures in your locality or field of preference?
posted by not_on_display on Sep 15, 2014 - 6 comments

"How to Keep Your Cat, c. 1470"

If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house. [more inside]
posted by Quietgal on Sep 13, 2014 - 63 comments

Why can't our education system be more like theirs?

In China, there are now more than 200 Waldorf elementary schools, filled with the children whose parents are looking for a more child-centered alternative to the test-driven state education system. Why can't Chinese schools be more like American schools? Meanwhile, in America, Stephen Pinker argues that Harvard and other elite universities are wasting their resources on athletes and musicians, and should select students by standardized test scores, the way Chinese colleges do. Why can't American schools be more like Chinese schools?
posted by escabeche on Sep 7, 2014 - 56 comments

Twenty miles and a world apart

A Duke University summer intern attempts to provide empowerment to migrant farmworkers and their children through the federal Migrant Education Program, and discovers firsthand the many obstacles to that mission.
At the beginning of summer Eric promised his girlfriend Sara he’d come back to Charleston on weekends. He enjoys the first few trips back, hanging out with Sara and enjoying burritos and tequila shots at Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale, a popular hangout near campus. But it doesn’t take long for Eric to notice a surreal disconnect between affluent Charleston and the much larger part of Lowcountry where farmworkers live. “It’s only twenty miles from the center of Charleston to a tomato pickers' camp on Jones Island,” says Eric. “And it’s like nobody in Charleston knows. Or cares.”

posted by drlith on Sep 5, 2014 - 18 comments

Three Pie Charts That Prove You Shouldn't Slack Off in College

Students who did as little as possible during college continued to drift after graduation [more inside]
posted by Nevin on Sep 3, 2014 - 60 comments

March in August: "Liar Liar, pants on fire" (also: "Kick this Knob Out")

March in August: thousands rally against Tony Abbott by taking to streets:
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets for the latest wave of protests against the federal government.

Demonstrations were held in cities across the country, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, to protest against a range of of social and economic policies being implemented by the Abbott government.

About 3,000 protesters marched through Sydney, voicing their concerns on a range of issues, from Australia's asylum seeker policies, to education cuts and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 31, 2014 - 40 comments

No emails -- unless you’re scheduling an in-person meeting.

I don't always ignore your emails, but when I do, it's because the answer is on your syllabus. "In my effort to teach students appropriate use of emails, my syllabus policies [had] ballooned to cover every conceivable scenario -- when to email, when not to, how to write the subject line -- and still I spent class time discussing the email policies and logged hours upon hours answering emails that defied the policies. In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more." [more inside]
posted by scody on Aug 28, 2014 - 71 comments

The compelling history of vaccination

A timeline of diseases and vaccines [warning: graphic photo of cutaneous diphtheria at year 1975]. Categories are: diphtheria, measles, polio, smallpox, yellow fever, and 'others'. You can select one keyword to view only that subject's timeline. From the History of Vaccines website (about page | FAQ). Similar timelines at the same site for pioneers, science and society, and there's an En Español timeline, too. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 26, 2014 - 22 comments

girls and technology!

WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
posted by divabat on Aug 16, 2014 - 70 comments

This explains so much academic writing

"It seems that, if you just present the correct information, five things happen," he said. "One, students think they know it. Two, they don’t pay their utmost attention. Three, they don’t recognize that what was presented differs from what they were already thinking. Four, they don’t learn a thing. And five, perhaps most troublingly, they get more confident in the ideas they were thinking before." It turns out that confusion is a powerful force in education.
posted by shivohum on Aug 15, 2014 - 26 comments

A tale of easy student Loans, for-profit schools & private equity

The most striking feature of the Direct PLUS Loan program is that it limits neither the amount that a school can charge for attendance nor the amount that can be borrowed in federal loans. "This is, for a private-equity firm, a remarkably attractive arrangement: the investors get their money up front, in the form of the tuition paid for by student loans. Meanwhile, any subsequent default on those loans is somebody else’s problem—in this case, the federal government’s." [more inside]
posted by TheLittlePrince on Aug 15, 2014 - 66 comments

Millennials Don't Stand A Chance (gasp!)

Millennials Don't Stand A Chance. A terrific debate from Intelligence Squared: "...spotlight is shown on millennials and their use of revolutionary technology while growing up in a time of recession. Some think they are coddled, narcissistic and lazy. Have we let conventional wisdom blind us to the millennial's openness to change, innovation, and optimism in the face of uncertainty, which, in any generation, are qualities to be admired?" (running time ~50:00) [more inside]
posted by xtian on Aug 14, 2014 - 51 comments

Was there a control group?

For an entire school year Hillsborough, New Jersey, educators undertook an experiment, asking: Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning?
posted by exit on Aug 5, 2014 - 51 comments

Sweden’s School Choice Disaster

It’s the darker side of competition that Milton Friedman and his free-market disciples tend to downplay: If parents value high test scores, you can compete for voucher dollars by hiring better teachers and providing a better education—or by going easy in grading national tests. Competition was also meant to discipline government schools by forcing them to up their game to maintain their enrollments, but it may have instead led to a race to the bottom as they too started grading generously to keep their students.
So it turns out that the good results of the Swedish school voucher system of "free" school choice, long the benchmark for those wanting to disrupt public schooling were created by, well, cheating.
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 27, 2014 - 41 comments

Our nation’s preschool-to-prison pipeline

"My son has been suspended five times. He’s 3." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 25, 2014 - 116 comments

Rarely is the question asked: is our kids competing?

"We sort our kids. We rate them. We chart them, and we measure their progress against the rest of the country and pray that they come out on the high end of the curve. And frankly, it's all horseshit. Every last bit of it. The competition industry is crushing us all." Drew Magary, at Deadspin, unloads on the idea that "these kids today" are little ninnies made soft by participation trophies and unscored soccer games. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Jul 16, 2014 - 49 comments

Another way the school testing regime is rigged against the impoverished

Meredith Broussard at The Atlantic discusses another way the system of standardized testing is rigged against the underclass - thanks to the incestuous relationship between testmakers and textbook manufacturers, the tests are easy to pass - if the students are taught from the right textbooks, which many poorer districts simply cannot afford. [more inside]
posted by NoxAeternum on Jul 15, 2014 - 36 comments

Wrong Answer

In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice. A look inside the standardized-test cheating scandal in Atlanta.
posted by zeptoweasel on Jul 14, 2014 - 109 comments

Reporting a Rape, and Wishing She Hadn't [SLNYT]

The New York Times examines the case of a student raped by football players at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The colleges are under investigation by the Department of Education [Not Alone, previously] [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Jul 13, 2014 - 64 comments

“The instructor is just there to deliver the content”

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a small non-profit school, has gained a reputation for its adoption of for-profit marketing and operating techniques, relying on prolific advertising and a faculty of low-paid adjuncts to teach its online courses. More recently the school earned the unenviable title of "The Amazon of Higher Education". [more inside]
posted by Librarypt on Jul 7, 2014 - 25 comments

#peakedinhighschool

In March, Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson, the first Black woman to be elected to that position, posted a photo to her Instagram account where she depicted what she described to be a “Lawrenceville boi”: white, Republican, and cockily holding a hockey stick. She used the hashtags “#romney2016,” “#confederate,” and “#peakedinhighschool." In response to the backlash from the photo, Maya, who is headed to Wesleyan in the fall, chose to step down. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 7, 2014 - 314 comments

Learning languages with Muzzy, the clock-eating fuzzy alien

“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!” If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back in 1989 (six episode playlist). The shows were both translated in to French, German (playlist), Spanish (and the Spanish vocabulary builder), and Italian (Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back).
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 28, 2014 - 32 comments

You're way off.

What was the average American college graduate's college-related debt in 2013? What state has the highest rate of poverty in the United States? Answer these and other depressing questions (or submit your own) at How Wrong You Are.
posted by desjardins on Jun 24, 2014 - 40 comments

Unrelenting Swearword Missionary

Chris Broad bought up a bunch of copies of a Japanese book called 正しいFUCKの使い方 (How to Use "Fuck" Correctly) and proceeded to introduce it to some locals.
posted by gman on Jun 23, 2014 - 58 comments

Me real, me fake, anxiety drowning, safe never

Every year students at Madonna University's Sign Language Studies program create ASL music videos of popular songs, incorporating elements of ASL poetry and storytelling. Each video comes with a comprehensive guide explaining the translations and artistic choices behind each line of the video. Some examples: Pompeii by Bastille, Four Women by Nina Simone, and of course Bohemian Rhapsody.
posted by divabat on Jun 18, 2014 - 2 comments

School chaplaincy program deemed unconstitutional

Today the High Court of Australia ruled (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia [2014] HCA 23) for the second time that Commonwealth funding of school chaplains was unconstitutional. This is in direct contradiction of the Abbott government's recent budget moves to totally defund secular counsellors in favour of a $244M school chaplaincy program[me]. [more inside]
posted by wilful on Jun 18, 2014 - 48 comments

"Within the university system today, adjunct faculty are made invisible"

”Practicing openness and making oneself radically vulnerable is not only scary, it is the opposite of what we are taught to do within the logic of the contemporary university (and society more generally). Our marginalization, meager pay and lack of job security, along with the attacks on professors by students and the administration’s refusal to back up even tenured professors, all contribute to a culture of paranoia and enmity (among administration and faculty, among tenure-track faculty and adjuncts, among professors and students). Even when we manage to maintain our commitment to our students (and we do), the university seeks to capture this affective relationship and use it to further exploit us when we ask for fair wages or better conditions with the reprimand that ‘we are doing this for the students and not the money.’ Just as the practitioners of modernity gutted the erotic and sold us the pornographic, administrators attempt to gut the material and affective conditions of teaching and sell us ‘passion.’” Dr Priya J. Shah: "My Last Day as a Professor."
posted by koeselitz on Jun 6, 2014 - 40 comments

The Big Game.

These Spelling Bee Champions Can Teach Us an Important Lesson About Race in America "In the past few years, the 89-year-old competition has seen a striking pattern in which Indian-American contestants have lifted the winner's trophy eight consecutive times and in 13 of the past 17 outings. Their streak feeds into years of conversation around race, achievement and immigrant success — all tied to problematic notions of what it means to be "American."
posted by sweetkid on Jun 2, 2014 - 70 comments

Who or what broke my kids?

Who or what broke my kids? "The basic premise of the activity is that students must sort cards including probability statements, terms such as unlikely and probable, pictorial representations, and fraction, decimal, and percent probabilities and place them on a number line based on their theoretical probability. I thought it would be an interactive way to gauge student understanding. Instead it turned into a ten minute nightmare where I was asked no less than 52 times if their answers were “right”. I took it well until I was asked for the 53rd time and then I lost it. We stopped class right there and proceeded to have a ten minute discussion on who broke them."
posted by escabeche on Jun 1, 2014 - 107 comments

A Different Kind of Field Trip

Some of us have more toys and bigger homes than others. We all have a lot in common, but there are certain things that make us unique, too. Let’s talk about those things and celebrate them, even. This is not standard prekindergarten curricular fare, but it’s part of what the 4- and 5-year-olds at the Manhattan Country School learn by visiting one another’s homes during the school day. These are no mere play dates though; it’s more like Ethnography 101. Do classmates take the bus to school or walk? What neighborhood do they live in? What do they have in their homes? - For Lessons About Class, a Field Trip Takes Students Home (SL NYTIMES)
posted by beisny on Jun 1, 2014 - 85 comments

Out to Pasture: Herding Education to Slaughter

Friedrich Nietzsche, famously a full professor at the tender age of 24, was in a good position to develop an acute sensitivity to the university as machine: "The student listens to lectures . . . Very often the student writes at the same time he listens to lectures. These are the moments when he dangles from the umbilical cord of the university. The teacher . . . is cut off by a monumental divide from the consciousness of his students . . . A speaking mouth and many, many ears, with half as many writing hands: that is the external apparatus of the academy; set in motion, that is the educational machinery of the university." [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on May 29, 2014 - 13 comments

How Children What?

"John Holt and Paul Tough are a half-century apart. Both were interested in children and how they learned. One wrote a book called How Children Learn, the other a book called How Children Succeed. Their juxtaposition has a lot to tell us about how we think about and treat our young people."
posted by overeducated_alligator on May 27, 2014 - 11 comments

Bee '14

Tomorrow morning 281spellers will begin to compete for the title of 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion, and starting Wednesday, you can play along. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 26, 2014 - 29 comments

Number Sense

Five reasons not to share that Common Core worksheet on Facebook [more inside]
posted by eviemath on May 25, 2014 - 202 comments

NASA and Kerbals, sitting in a tree...

Minecraft in Space: NASA embraces the space simulator Kerbal Space Program with the Asteroid Redirect Mission patch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 23, 2014 - 39 comments

Burning down the debts: protesting the high cost of education in Chile

Francisco Tapia, aka "Papas Fritas" (French Fries), is an artist and activist whose recent work has drawn international attention. It might not look like much, but it is US$500 million of ashes, the burnt remains of "debt papers" for student of the now defunct Universidad Del Mar, a private institution in Chile that was stripped of its legal standing in 2012. While this might sound like a singular bold move to make people pay attention to the cost of education in Chile, it's just one of many acts in support of efforts to reclaim a very expensive private education options in Chile, with student protests going back to 2006. Chile's president Michelle Bachelet proposed a reform bill on Monday, May 19th, but it doesn't go as far as some protesters would like.
posted by filthy light thief on May 21, 2014 - 8 comments

One Newark?

Almost four years after Mark Zuckerberg made a very well publicized 100 million dollar donation to Newark, NJ schools, and two years after the Newark Teachers Union agreed to a new merit-pay based contract, the current superintendent of schools, Cami Anderson is attempting a new education reform initiative called One Newark. Ironically, the plan has deeply divided the city, and last night members of the the Newark Students Union staged a sit-in at the Board of Education meeting, demanding Anderson resign. [more inside]
posted by lownote on May 21, 2014 - 13 comments

Why Libraries Matter

A day in the life of New York City's public libraries: Traveling from borough to borough, this short documentary by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks reveals just how important the modern library is for millions of people. Why Libraries Matter.
posted by cashman on May 17, 2014 - 6 comments

"has no place in the field of public education"

Tomorrow, is the 60th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision (pdf) in Brown v. Board of Education [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 16, 2014 - 12 comments

Who Gets to Graduate?

Who Gets to Graduate? "If you compare college students with the same standardized-test scores who come from different family backgrounds, you find that their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores."
posted by epimorph on May 15, 2014 - 48 comments

The Moral Question Of Our Time: Can We Share The Planet?

UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 23, 2014 - 50 comments

Racial and gender biases in faculty mentoring

"Faculty at private schools were significantly more likely to discriminate against women and minorities than faculty at public schools. And faculty in fields that were very lucrative were also more likely to discriminate. So there was very little discrimination in the humanities. There was more discrimination among faculty at the natural sciences. And there was a lot of discrimination among the faculty at business schools." (link to NPR story). Katherine Milkman and colleagues conducted a field experiment in which professors were contacted by fictional prospective doctoral students and found that "faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from White males, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions."
posted by needled on Apr 22, 2014 - 95 comments

InBloom wilts under privacy heat

Controversial education tech company InBloom has shut down over student data privacy concerns. Backed with $100 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, InBloom quickly announced nine states (CO, DE, GA, IL, KY, LA, MA, NC, NY) as partners, with more than 2.7 million students enrolled, with the goal of using big data to direct education emphasis and other decisions. With a recent decision by New York state to halt participation in any project involving storing student data in the way InBloom had planned (and the deletion of any such data already stored), all nine states had either put data sharing plans with InBloom on hold, made them voluntary, or pulled out completely. [more inside]
posted by 2bucksplus on Apr 22, 2014 - 29 comments

Nobody lives here.

Nik Freeman has created a map, based on census data, to illustrate the 47% of the United States where nobody lives.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Apr 21, 2014 - 113 comments

The hardest word

A better way to say sorry.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 18, 2014 - 59 comments

Hogwarts Is Here!

Ever wish you could actually take classes in Charms, Transfiguration, and Potions from Hogwarts for real? Now you can!
posted by divabat on Apr 17, 2014 - 38 comments

Resegregation in the American South

The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide series is "Segregation Now," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 17, 2014 - 90 comments

Protein Packing

Harvard University and XVIVO have come together again (Previouslyw/ a commercial focus, Previouslierw/an Academic focus) to add to the growing series of scientific animations for BioVisions -- Harvard's multimedia lab in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. 'Protein Packing' strives to more accurately depict the molecular chaos in each and every cell, with proteins jittering around in what may seem like random motion. Proteins occupy roughly 40% of the cytoplasm, creating an environment that risks unintentional interaction and aggregation. Via diffusion and motor protein transport, these molecules are directed to sites where they are needed.
Much of this is no doubt inspired by the beautiful art and explained illustrations of David Goodsell, a biologist at Scripps who has been accurately portraying the crowdedness of the cellular landscape for a long time now.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Apr 10, 2014 - 9 comments

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