Recent quotes:

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 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:
Over the past several years, Purdue University has been experimenting with a data-driven solution way to find kids who are at risk for dropping out, or who--in a critical mass--might indicate which classes or majors have inadequate instructors. Administrators call it a “student success algorithm,” but it’s official name is Course Signals--and if it works, it could change the way modern universities are run. Incorporating data-mining and analysis tools, Course Signals not only predicts how well students are likely to do in a particular class, but can also detect early warning signals for those who are struggling, enabling an intervention before problems reach a critical point.
Over the past century, the freshman composition papers had exploded in length and intellectual complexity. In 1917, a freshman paper was on average only 162 words long and the majority were simple “personal narratives.” By 1986, the length of papers more than doubled, averaging 422 words. By 2006, they were more than six times longer, clocking in at 1,038 words – and they were substantially more complex, with the majority consisting of a “researched argument or report,” with the student taking a point of view and marshalling evidence to support it.
when I sit on faculty evaluation committees, I’m the one who ends up defending the boring but expert professors, the ones who get poor write-ups from non-majors who just took the class for a distribution requirement, but whose senior project advisees think of them as gods. And I’m a little ashamed of myself for feeling smug about my ability to entertain 19-year-olds. Though perfectly successful by the available metrics, I am not yet the type of professor I most admire. One of the problems with college culture throughout the field, I think, is that teaching well is not rewarded much. Everyone smiles indulgently when a student raves about a professor, but it’s publishing (mostly), committee work (somewhat less), and professional honors that raise one’s profile in the institution. I resent switching my focus from my current book project to my next class, partly because it’s the book that’s going to impress my superiors and colleagues. That’s kind of sad. Edmundson is exercised about college devolving into a credential factory, in which we entertain young people for four years and then declare them qualified for a job without having changed their lives, transforming their sense of who they are. He waxes eloquent on the way we present to them the great minds of the past condescendingly, without acknowledging how much superior they were to most of us today. My school recently lost a wonderful music teacher who had come from studying and teaching in Asia, and she was horrified by how lazy American students were. She wouldn’t bend on her assignment workload, and her student evaluations suffered as a result; now she’s teaching in Beijing, where she’s more justly appreciated.
37.1% of the freshmen are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who identify themselves as students of color.
Students with family incomes above $100,000 received grants that were roughly 25 percent larger than those whose families earned less than $20,000, according to the report. Students from the top-earning families also received $10,200 in institutional grants on average – compared to $8,000 in grants for families below $20,000 in annual income.
Joshua Cohen, a Stanford political philosopher who also edits Boston Review, described a conversation he had with John Hennessy, the president of Stanford, who has extensive financial and professional ties to Silicon Valley. “He was talking about the incompetent people who are in government,” Cohen recalled. “I said, ‘If you think they’re so incompetent, why don’t you include in a speech you’re making some urging of Stanford students to go into government?’ He thought this was a ridiculous idea.”
In 1983, parents at Woodside Elementary School, which is surrounded by some of the Valley’s wealthiest tech families, started a foundation in order to offset budget cuts resulting from the enactment of Proposition 13, in 1978, which drastically limited California property taxes. The Woodside School Foundation now brings in about two million dollars a year for a school with fewer than five hundred children, and every spring it hosts a gala with a live auction. I attended it two years ago, when the theme was RockStar, and one of Google’s first employees sat at my table after performing in a pickup band called Parental Indiscretion. School benefactors, dressed up as Tina Turner or Jimmy Page, and consuming Jump’n Jack Flash hanger steaks, bid thirteen thousand dollars for Pimp My Hog! (“Ride through town in your very own customized 1996 Harley Davidson XLH1200C Sportster”) and twenty thousand for a tour of the Japanese gardens on the estate of Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle and the country’s highest-paid chief executive. The climax arrived when a Mad Men Supper Club dinner for sixteen guests—which promised to transport couples back to a time when local residents lived in two-thousand-square-foot houses—sold for forty-three thousand dollars.