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First space, then auto—now Elon Musk quietly tinkers with education | Ars Technica

That first year, Musk’s children accounted for nearly two thirds of the student body. “It was really small,” remembers Dahn. “Especially when five [students] from the same family... go on vacation and you have three kids [left].” It is not unusual for parents to have a grassroots effort to build their own school, according to Nancy Hertzog, an educational psychology professor at University of Washington and an expert in gifted education. “But money talks in terms of how that school is directed and supported,” she says. “The worry would be, are these schools preventing kids from other populations getting in? Are there strict test scores, and can they support kids with disabilities?”

Students learn Italian playing Assassin's Creed video game -- ScienceDaily

In a class called Intensive Italian for Gamers, all students made progress equal to two semesters of Italian over the course of a single fall semester. By the final, students were 3 to 5 points ahead of students in a traditional Italian course.

Lesson learned? Massive study finds lectures still dominate STEM education -- ScienceDaily

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Marilyne Stains and her colleagues found that 55 percent of STEM classroom interactions consisted mostly of conventional lecturing, a style that prior research has identified as among the least effective at teaching and engaging students. Another 27 percent featured interactive lectures that had students participating in some group activities or answering multiple-choice questions with handheld clickers. Just 18 percent emphasized a student-centered style heavy on group work and discussions.

The happiness project | Science

In 2010, cancer biologist Lei Cao—inspired by a family member who had died of cancer—wondered whether she could combat it by looking beyond drugs or genes. Her team at OSU created a 1-square-meter enclosure filled with so many mazes, running wheels, and bright red, blue, and orange igloos that her daughter dubbed it “Disneyland for Mice.” <img class="fragment-image" src="https://d2ufo47lrtsv5s.cloudfront.net/content/sci/359/6376/624/F3.medium.gif"/> A fish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor gets to choose between an empty tank and one filled with marbles. PHOTO: AUSTIN THOMASON/MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY When injected with cancer cells, animals housed there developed tumors 80% smaller than those in control mice, or no tumors at all. Cao even discovered a possible mechanism: A stimulating environment seemed to activate the brain's hypothalamus, which regulates hormones that affect everything from mood to cancer proliferation. “We showed that there's a hard science behind enrichment,” she says. “You can't just treat the body—you have to treat the mind.”

The happiness project | Science

Today, lab mice live in shoebox-size cages hundreds of thousands of times smaller than their natural ranges, and rats can't forage or even stand upright. Both spend their days blasted by ventilation and bright fluorescent lighting that disrupts their day-night cycles. “We're doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing to make these animals happy,” Garner says. Lab animals tend to be obese, have weak immune systems, and develop cancer—all before scientists do any experiments on them.

Kids in high-achieving schools: 2-3x addiction rates?

"We found rates of addiction to drugs or alcohol among 19 to 24 percent of women in the older cohort by the age of 26, and 23 to 40 percent among men. These rates were 3 and 2 times as high respectively, as compared to national norms," Luthar said. "Among the younger cohort by the age of 22 years, rates of addiction were between 11 and 16 percent among women (close to national norms) but 19 to 27 percent among men, or about twice as high as national norms." Luthar said a look into the lives of these adolescents provide some clues to the cause of these high rates of addictions. When the NESSY groups were first assessed, they all attended the best schools in the region -- suburban schools with very high-standardized test scores, rich extra curricular offerings and high proportions of their graduates heading off to very selective universities. In general, kids at such schools experience enormous pressures to achieve, and many come to live by the dual credos of "I can, therefore I must" and "we work hard and we play hard" with the playing involving parties with drugs and alcohol. Also implicated is affluence in the school community. "Not all of these students were from wealthy families but most were; as parents typically had advanced educational degrees and median incomes much higher than national norms," Luthar said. "And without question, most of the parents wanted their kids to head off to the best universities, as did the kids themselves."

Hungary: The War on Education | by Jan-Werner Müller | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

The number of university students has been declining dramatically since 2010; meanwhile, the age at which students can legally leave school has been lowered from eighteen to sixteen. Orbán, as part of his self-professed turn to “illiberalism,” has put forward the notion of a “work-based state.” In theory, such a state is the opposite of a polity where financial speculation generates most of the wealth. In practice, this idea has meant public works programs—especially for Roma—that critics view as highly exploitative; it has also resulted in an attempt to create a workforce primarily of manual laborers, where everyone knows their place and can at most aspire to employment by German industry (Mercedes is currently spending a billion euros on a new plant in central Hungary).

Personality differences uncovered between students at different US universities – Research Digest

larger universities tended to have more extraverted students; more urban and diverse universities had more open-minded students;  universities requiring letters of recommendation had more agreeable students; public colleges had less agreeable students than private colleges; and more expensive colleges had higher trait Neuroticism. Differences like these could reflect students with particular personality profiles being drawn to particular institutions; selection could be at play, in the sense of university selectors showing a preference for particular personality types; and also students’ personalities could be shaped by the culture of their university.

Under challenge: Girls' confidence level, not math ability hinders path to science degrees -- ScienceDaily

The research team found perception gaps are even wider at the upper levels of mathematics ability -- among those students with the most talent and potential in these fields. Boys are significantly more confident in challenging mathematics contexts than otherwise identically talented girls. Specifically, boys rated their ability 27 percent higher than girls did. Perceived ability under challenge was measured using a nationally representative longitudinal study that followed 10th grade students over a six-year period until two years after high school. A series of questions in the 10th and 12th grade surveys asked students to indicate their level of agreement with statements such as "I'm certain I can understand the most difficult material presented in math texts."

Why Black Americans Stay Poor - Bloomberg View

a study exploring the idea that racial wealth inequality stems from life choices and personal achievement -- that is, that blacks would be as rich as whites if only they got good educations, formed stronger families, worked hard and saved money. Using data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the researchers found that, as of 2013, none of that seemed to matter: Whether they were college-educated, married with kids, employed full-time or prudent savers, black families’ net worth was invariably many times lower than that of white families with the same characteristics.

Suzanne Nossel: Donald Trump’s Assault on the Enlightenment | Foreign Policy

Trump’s declaration of war on the arts and humanities must be seen in the context of his repudiation of the American ideals — grounded in the Enlightenment — of self-expression, knowledge, dissent, criticism, and truth. These proposals are an early effort to entrench within the machinery of the U.S. government his elemental disdain for intellectuals, analysts, and experts. Seen this way, they deserve to be rejected even by conservatives who have gleefully targeted these agencies in the past. If Donald Trump makes our venerable federal arts and humanities agencies disappear, it will represent a victory for his illiberal agenda, one conservatives and liberals must unite to defeat.

Running away

For four years my strategy had been deflecting and defending from my past—running away from my hometown just as I ran around a forehand. But I realized there are no rules that must be kept; you can stay the same or you can change. You’ll never be lovelier than you are now. Strategies need only be temporary.

The Finnish educational model and current Hungarian reality

The Finnish system is radically different from the Hungarian one, especially as transformed by Viktor Orbán in 2011. One difference is that in Finland parents can’t choose the school to which they will send their children. All children attend the school maintained by the local community closest to his or her home. Moreover, there is no tracking like in the United States. Proponents of the Finnish system claim that the success of this model lies in the uniformity of education provided. Thus, there are no “elite schools” but there are no markedly inferior schools either, such as one finds in Hungary. The Hungarian system exacerbates the divide between the haves and the have-nots and stands in the way of social mobility. While the current government made it compulsory for children to attend kindergarten for three years, beginning at the age of three, and to enroll in first grade at the age of six, Finnish children start school only at the age of seven, preceded by a voluntary preparatory year. Children must attend school between the ages of 7 and 16, but almost all of the graduates continue their education. About half of them attend gymnasium, which is a three-year course of study. The other half attend basic-level vocational schools. The choice of trades is great: a Finnish 16-year-old can choose among 119 programs. There are 17 universities and 27 colleges in Finland, where the competition for admission is fierce. In 2011 out of 66,000 applicants to universities only 17,000 gained acceptance, while out of 70,000 applicants to college only 22,100 were accepted. Finnish higher education is free. According to OECD’s “Education at a glance,” Finland has one of the highest levels of educational attainment among the OECD countries: 84% of 25- to 64-year-olds have completed at least upper secondary education (against an OECD average of 75%) and 39% hold college or university degrees (OECD average: 32%). A few more facts about Finnish elementary education can be found here and here. The same “Education at a glance” of the situation in Hungary points out that although a large number of people finish high school, only 23% of young people are expected to complete university studies. The OECD countries’ average was 39% in 2014. “Moreover, this rate has considerably decreased since 2010, by almost 9 percentage points.”

Innovation in liberal arts

Many liberal arts colleges (e.g., Antioch, Reed, Colorado, St. John’s) have been sources of innovation in undergraduate education. Due to their small size, emphasis on undergraduate education, and private control, they have been free to experiment with alternative curricula and pedagogies, unencumbered by the influence of powerful practitioner groups or the fixed requirements of professional licensure. If the liberal arts college as an educational alternative dies out or morphs into another type of higher education institution, an influential “test kitchen” for innovation in undergraduate education will disappear or, perhaps, become too peripheral to play a leadership role.

Declawing the ‘tiger mom’

“Our research debunks the idea that there is something intrinsic about Asian culture, traits or values that produces exceptional educational outcomes,” Lee says. “First, the change in U.S. immigration law in 1965 was critical, because it ushered in a new stream of immigrants from Asia who are hyperselected – meaning that they’re more highly educated than their compatriots and also more highly educated than the general U.S. population.” For example, only 4 percent of people living in China have college degrees, but about 51 percent of those emigrating to the U.S. do. […]Moreover, these immigrants exceed the academic attainment of most Americans, 28 percent of whom are college-educated. “The biggest predictor of a child’s success is parental education,” Lee notes. “If your parents are college-educated, the likelihood of you going to college and graduating is very high.”

Studying Dante

In the late nineteen-eighties, I spent a semester in Florence, where I sat in on a Dante course at the university. The entire term was devoted to the analysis of a single canto. As it happened, the canto was Inferno 19, which is devoted to simony. Dante reserves a special hole in the third sub-circle of the eighth circle of Hell for corrupt Popes; they are stuffed into it, one after another, headfirst. Their feet are then lit on fire. Among the issues the class discussed at length was how, exactly, new Popes could be accommodated. Had space been left open for all those that would come along? Or did each new arrival compress his predecessor into some kind of pontifical pesto?

Clay Johnson on the robot raising his child

The Amazon Echo is summoned by the word "Alexa" -- you say that word, and then ask it questions or tell it to do something (play some music, set a timer, check the weather, etc) and it just does it. And it works great. Especially on 2.5 year olds. I've noticed recently that Felix has started interacting with Alexa. He can't quite say the word well enough to trigger a response (he's almost there) but he'll bark orders at her; more interestingly, he treats her as an authoritati...ve source. A few days ago, Felix told me that it wasn't time to go back home from the playground because Alexa said it wasn't time to go. Then, On Saturday, on the way to a birthday party, after I disobeyed the GPS's command to take a highway, Felix chimed in from the back seat: "Dad, *other* Alexa said you need to take the highway" Our minds were blown at this for a lot of reasons. And it's all fascinating, and I'm sure somebody will write books about the kids who grew up with computers they could talk to just like they wrote books about my generation interacting with televisions and the Internet. But that's *not* the point of this little Facebook post. No, the point is, Amazon shipped functionality that allows you to make the Echo say things via a handy remote control. So realizing that Felix viewed his invisible friend "Alexa" as an authority, and realizing that I could make Alexa say things, we seized the moment tonight. C: Felix, it's time for bed. F: NEVER. THERE WILL BE NO BED. NOT NOW NOT EVER. NO NOTHING. NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. (exact words.) C: Okay. Well, I'm going to go get a bath ready. Alexa: Felix, it's time to go take a bath. F: Really Alexa? Alexa: Yes. Please join your father in the bathroom. Felix was in the bathroom immediately, and told me that it was time for his bath. After bath, he promptly told Alexa good night. She told him to have sweet dreams. Parents who are prime members, the Amazon Echo costs $99, and it is worth every penny. Tomorrow we'll try housework.

Students use Pullquote to improve online research

“It ended up being a lot faster for them than ‘taking notes,’” said KayCee Butcher, who taught the Honors English sophomore classes. “They were pulling quotes that they thought would be helpful to include in their paper (the direct quote) and also ideas that they wanted to paraphrase/information they needed to include.”

Why do you have to be so accomplished to get into college?

I graduated from Yale in 1984, although I’d never get in today. It occurs to me that I’d also not likely get into Colby College, where I have been a professor for almost 20 years, or Tufts, where I worked as an adjunct for seven years before that. After all, I was just a smart kid. I got good grades and did well, but not extraordinarily, on the SATs. I was the editor of the school literary magazine and wrote for the school newspaper. I didn’t play any sports. I thought of those in need with distress but that was the sum total of my humanitarian efforts. I babysat a little, read a lot. The only thing I really excelled at was having no friends. But being a bright, socially awkward teenager won’t, it seems, get you very far anymore.

Paul Graham – Lecture 3: Counterintuitive Parts of Startups, and How to Have Ideas | Genius

Q: Do you see any value in business school for people who want to pursue entrepreneurship? A: Basically no, it sounds undiplomatic, but business school was designed to teach people management. Management is a problem that you only have in a startup if you are efficiently successful. So really what you need to know early on to make a start up successful is developing products. You would be better off going to design school if you would want to go to some sort of school. Although frankly the way to learn how to do it is just to do it. One of the things I got wrong early on is that I advised people who were interested in starting a startup to go work for some other company for a few years before starting their own. Honestly the best way to learn on how to start a startup is just to just try to start it.

Digital learning takes front row seat in classrooms - CBS News

But beyond convenience, the school saw some academic improvement since switching to the digital textbook library. Based on the limited sample - just one year - Stepinac found that the percentage of students with failing grades was cut in half.
Of the 3,292 students at Stuyvesant in this academic year, 73 percent are Asian; 22 percent white; 2 percent Hispanic; and 1 percent black, according to the city Education Department. That contrasts with the ethnic make-up of the city’s 1.1 million public-school students, who are 40 percent Hispanic; 28 percent black; 15 percent Asian; and about 15 percent white. “Stuyvesant was overwhelmingly Jewish in my day; now it’s predominantly Asian,” said M. Felix Freshwater, a 1964 graduate and trustee of the school’s endowment fund who attended the gathering. Stuyvesant and the other specialized schools have for decades offered opportunities for high-achieving students who couldn’t afford private school, said Freshwater, who’s now a Miami surgeon. “Having an exam seems fair, but how a student becomes prepared starts with how children are educated starting in pre-kindergarten, not a summer cram course,” he said. “We need to rethink the admissions criteria, but I’d feel more comfortable if educators were making the decisions, not the state legislature.”
The meta-analysis, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that teaching approaches that turned students into active participants rather than passive listeners reduced failure rates and boosted scores on exams by almost one-half a standard deviation. “The change in the failure rates is whopping,” Freeman says. And the exam improvement—about 6%—could, for example, “bump [a student’s] grades from a B– to a B.” “This is a really important article—the impression I get is that it’s almost unethical to be lecturing if you have this data,” says Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard University who has campaigned against stale lecturing techniques for 27 years and was not involved in the work.
In the study by the Institute for Policy Studies, Ohio State was No. 1 on the list of what it called the most unequal public universities. The report found that from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012, Ohio State paid Mr. Gee a total of $5.9 million. During the same period, it said, the university hired 670 new administrators, 498 contingent and part-time faculty — and 45 permanent faculty members. Student debt at Ohio State grew 23 percent faster than the national average during that time, the report found.
Tom McManus, a former Regional Director of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, tells one college counselor that early admissions allows colleges to lock in certain desired student populations early. A college can ensure they get their sports recruits, affluent domestic and foreign students (who can pay full tuition), star musicians, and even the one kid from Idaho. According to McManus, “you might sacrifice on test scores in the early rounds as you can make up for it later with high scores.” And as the Georgetown administrator quoted above points out, colleges may be able to do this while rationing their financial aid, since students won’t walk for a better package elsewhere.
What we do know is that private schools that participate in the program do not require students to take state proficiency exams, teachers to be licensed, or schools to issue report cards. We know that the private schools that will receive our tax dollars, unlike our public schools, are permitted to discriminate against students on the basis of race, gender, family income or wealth, disability, and religion. We also know the historical links between racism and private schools. In 1964, 83 private schools enrolled approximately 9,500 students in N.C. But from 1968 to 1972 – when advocates and the federal government began to enforce meaningful school desegregation – the state jumped from 174 private schools and 18,000 students, to 263 schools and over 50,000 students. Surging enrollment in non-public schools was often concentrated in areas with high concentrations of African-American students , and the segregative legacy of these private schools and academies continues to this day: