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Category Archive: Education and learning

May 23 2012

Affirmative action in education for white people

Whenever the subject of affirmative action in education comes up, it is always assumed that this is used to give preference to under-represented minorities (African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans) in admissions to colleges.

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May 19 2012

Why academic life is now less attractive

I have lived all my life working in universities, except for two years in a national laboratory which was pretty similar to a university physics department except that there was no teaching involved. It has been a good life for me.

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May 03 2012

How to fool a computer grader

There has been much discussion recently about computer software that seems to be able to grade students high school essays about as well as humans, but of course much faster.

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Apr 30 2012

Should everyone go to college?

I am a firm believer in the power of education. The mind is a powerful weapon in the fight for peace and justice and I believe it is a fundamental right of all children everywhere to get a good education. But it is a mistake to directly link this to incomes.

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Apr 22 2012

How good is the US education system?

The US education system comes in for a lot of trash talk in the media and by politicians and business people. This has seeped into the public consciousness and it is now taken as a given that the US educational system is in dire straits and needs radical changes in order to be rescued from …

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Apr 22 2012

The hare and the pineapple

You may have heard about the infamous question on New York State’s test for all eighth graders that gave them a fable about a hare and a pineapple and then asked them two questions. (You can read the fable and the questions here.) This caused a lot of head scratching by students, parents, and educators …

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Apr 17 2012

Those dangerous dinosaurs

I am a little late to this story about how in the US extreme sensitivity to religious people’s beliefs can result in the most bizarre policies being implemented. For example, the New York City department of education has banned certain words in citywide tests because they may upset students. What words? ‘Dinosaur’ for one.

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Apr 06 2012

Using education to entrench privilege

Suppose you are in charge of a community college and there turns out to be a huge demand for math and English classes so that students are being repeatedly turned away because they are full. You might think that it is a good thing that people are seeking more education and that the solution is …

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Feb 29 2012

Critical thinking and argumentation

If there is one thing that people can agree on as a universal good in education, it is that we should seek to increase the critical thinking abilities in people. Actually, that is not quite true. During the days when the debate over intelligent design was raging in Ohio in 2003, one letter to the …

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Feb 21 2012

Unintended consequences

One of the many things I have been fighting against as an educator is the growing tendency to treat students as if they will only learn if they are subjected to a regime of carrots and sticks. Instead of trying to make learning enjoyable for its own sake, many have

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