Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Defeat of the Schools - 39.03

The Defeat of the Schools - 39.03: "Most people--certainly most laymen--would be apt to think that the chief business of the schools is to give pupils at least a modest working knowledge of the subjects of the curriculum. Not a few students of education, it is true, consider that this is a misconception, and that the true purpose of schools is to bring about an adjustment to social demands for which the various subjects are at best only means. Nobody, however, who surveys the conventional working apparatus of courses of study, textbooks, recitations, examinations, and marks can have much doubt that in practice the schools are making the mastery of the curriculum an end in itself. Whether in theory they ought to or not, this in fact is what they are manifestly trying to do."

From 1939, it's been happening for a long time.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids: Scientific American

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids: Scientific American: "Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine."

A 30 year study!? Well, we had to be sure, maybe they should have nuked it from orbit.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Concentration: "Concentration means directing one's attention on whatever one intends. We all have a natural ability to concentrate. Have you noticed how difficult it is to get young children's attention when they are playing? Do you remember the time when you were completely engrossed in an interesting novel, a super film, an exciting match or an exhilarating piece of music? You were concentrating then. "

We also know this as flow.

A Very powerful and very useful skill and one well worth learning.

Occasionally I go tot he library to "get away from it all," but sometimes there are some people who just don't get that a library is supposed to be quiet. If I can here someone talking on a cellphone a good 50 feet away they are talking way too load. The library is generally well designed, it has a separate children's room that keeps the noise under control, but some of their chairs are absolutely awful, they cut into you spine if you try leaning back.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Why No Child Wants To Study Math and Science

Kansas City area students recognize that their generation had better master math and science.

But too many of them, according to a survey released today, answer, “Who, me?” when asked what they personally intended to do about it.
from theKansas City Star

Most engineering schools stress subjects like differential calculus and physics, and their graduates tend to end up narrowly focused and likely to fit the stereotype of a socially awkward clock-puncher. Richard K. Miller, the president of the school, likes to share a professional joke: “How can you tell an extroverted engineer? He’s the one who looks at your shoes when he talks to you.”
from The New York Times

I have noticed that children aren't all that dumb, they may not be able to tell you in some may words why they know something is bad but they do have the gut feeling that something is wrong. They read Dilbert and see that it is too close to the truth, when their Uncle Bob or their friend's dad is laid off and it takes months if not years for that family to recover.

They might not have a plan on what they should do but they do have a clue about what they know won't work out. How many times do you have to hear on the news that more engineers are being laid off and jobs moved offshore before you realize that engineering is not a good, safe job.

Getting a math, science or engineering degree is hard work, and then when you do get a job, even if you do a great job solving a problem that had never been solved before, it is all that was expected of you, but if something doesn't come out in just the right color, you're fired. The story of the guy who invented the blue LED and got $11,000 for it is real. And there are tons of other stories about inventors getting fleeced. One of my former bosses had founded a company but he was little more then a show dog for them, he would invent things and get hardly anything back from the company after he gave control to the VCs who put in their own management team.

The kids see "All pain, no gain" so obviously they are going to choose to go in another direction.

An engineering degree is a long hard slog, I remember we had a whole college lecture and the speaker asked how many expected to graduate in 4 years, only 1 person raised their hand out of 1500 students, most expected 5-6 years. And when you do get out of school you end up doing huge amounts of grunt work, until you are ready to do real work.

If they are even the slightest bit diligent they realize that businesses aren't really interested in engineering for the most part. Engineering wages have been stagnant for decades, except for a blip for the dotboom period. They hear their parents or the parents of friends about how the engineer slaves all day and night but the English LIt manager gets all the reward.

Why should they ever think of going into the hard stuff when the soft stuff gets better rewards.

I have got to give Olin credit here. Helping engineers be more entrepreneurial will help them far more then another math class ever will.

Friday, September 28, 2007

MIT Entrance Examination, 1869-70: Exhibits: : Institute Archives & Special Collections: MIT

MIT Entrance Examination, 1869-70: Exhibits: : Institute Archives & Special Collections: MIT

This is pretty cool and fairly tough. These are scans of the test questions and are not for the faint of brain.

If you are homeschooling it is a glimpse into what was important to people then and that is important to know. It is a way to think about how you might want to test your own children and see what is important to you.

I wonder if the tests actually got them the poeple they were looking fo or someone else. These tests are there to exclude people. But were they the right ones to exclude?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

TCS Daily - CEOs Learning About Education

TCS Daily - CEOs Learning About Education: "They also recognize that restrictions induced by the federal No Child Left Behind act 'have made it more difficult for high schools to take a radically different approach to curriculum and instruction.' In other words, the autonomy required for the replication of successful enterprises is currently stifled by central planning."

It is amazing how some well meaning group can spend so much money to learn something that a million+ people figured out without spending any money at all.

The school system is tied up in its own red tape and cannot change. The administrators are going to do everything in their power to protect their jobs, that is natural. Everyone wants to protect their income and therefore their family.

We, the people, just need to make it painful enough for them to make it in their interest to change. But that doesn;t help our children so we homeschool.

We've been officaially homeschooling for a couple of weeks now and she is generally quite excited about schooltime. Not always but then she is 5 and that is okay we toss plan A and pull out plan B and see what she would like to do and add some material to it to make it more educational.

It is the full Moon right now and we were driving around and she mentioned that the Moon was following us. I explained why it looked that way. And so it goes.