I first heard of William Deresiewicz after his excellent essay went viral (I blogged about it here), and then I heard about him again after Zim posted Steven Pinker’s also-excellent essay which attacked Deresiewicz’s ideas. I decided to give Excellent Sheep a read.
Some of y’all may wonder why bigWOWO tolerates debate and discussion in the comment section, especially when so many people get their feelings hurt from time to time. The reason is and has always been the comments. By having relative freedom of speech, people bounce around new ideas and educate one another. And when something interesting comes up, sometimes I’ll front page it. A good example is this question: Are the humanities easier than STEM subjects? I double majored in Comparative Literature and Chemistry, so I have a background in both. Plus, it’s relevant since we’ve had two podcasts on the issue, here and here. So here’s my opinion, and as usual, feel free to add your own in the comment section.
The battle over school testing continues. As I’ve said many times, I think that standards are important. I think it’s good to rate students, and I think it’s great to rate teachers so that schools can promote the good ones and fire the bad ones. My oldest is going to undergo some Common Core testing this year, and while I can understand the nervousness that testing can create, it’s the right thing to do for public schools. Every child should have age-appropriate goals. Of course there should be a reasonable amount of testing–kids shouldn’t be tested every day, and schools shouldn’t waste three weeks on a single test because they don’t have computers–but the idea is right. Kids should be able to pass tests.
Meet 13-year-old Avery Gagliano. She is a piano and concert prodigy, the daughter of a Chinese mother and Caucasian father. She travels the world, entering and winning competitions, playing before large audiences. Last year she played at a prestigious event in Munich. She’s a straight-A student.
But no longer. The problem was that she missed a lot of school in order to pursue her musical education. In the D.C. public school she attends, that’s a big no-no. After she missed ten days, her record was permanently marked: Avery was considered a truant for missing school.
Sorry for not posting more on Asian American issues, but I’m Asian American’ed out.
For you parents with elementary/primary school kids out there, this article will ring familiar: Math Under Common Core Has Even Parents Stumbling. In the first few paragraphs, the article tells the story of a family that moved to a better school district in Louisiana only to pull their children out of school because they didn’t like Common Core Math. The father, who is a pipe designer at an engineering firm, had to watch YouTube videos to understand the new math. The parents have now decided they will opt-out and homeschool their children in the fall.
Pic from Time
It’s an oft-quoted statistic in the ethnic media that Asian Americans support affirmative action. But those organizations reporting this statistic are mostly liberal-biased organizations that use questionable statistical methods. As we’ve seen from SCA-5 and other popular uprisings among Asian Americans, lots of us, if not most of us, are against affirmative action. Affirmative action discriminates against Asians, but I thought I’d talk a bit more about the rift between the ethnic media and the rest of us.
Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the commencement speech at Harvard on Thursday and ripped into the out-of-control liberalism that has infected our universities:
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, delivering Thursday’s commencement speech at Harvard University, criticized what he described as a disturbing trend of liberals silencing voices “deemed politically objectionable.”
“This spring, it has been disturbing to see a number of college commencement speakers withdraw — or have their invitations rescinded — after protests from students and — to me, shockingly — from senior faculty and administrators who should know better,” Bloomberg said.
Professor Jonathan Marks has been a friend of this blog for some time. Yesterday, he wrote this article for Commentary: Playing Politics with NYC’s Magnet Schools. In the article, he links the NYTimes article that I wrote about here. Marks astutely writes:
The public magnet schools have been a means for non-affluent families to get an education on par with the education they would receive at a first-rate private school. You would think that people on the left would view the success of Asians in the system as a sign of the triumph of merit over racial and, in many cases, economic privilege. But Asians are the wrong kind of minority, and their success, far from meriting celebration, apparently needs to be rolled back.
Photography: Jonathan Sprague
HBR has a great short interview with Salman Khan of Khan Academy. Check it out here. I particularly liked what he had to say about learning.
Exciting news for me: I joined a chess tournament. It’s a real over-the-board tournament where local chess players battle for supremacy in the royal sport. G90 for the first forty moves, and then…then I don’t know. I haven’t gotten there yet. I played my first real game yesterday…and I won! My opponent was really good though. He skewered my queen against my rook with his bishop, which meant I was down a bit of material for much of the game. I managed to get lucky a few moves later when I pinned his rook against his queen while threatening a back rank mate. He made a wrong move, however, and I took his queen, forking the rook and the bank rank mate. He would have been down a queen and rook, so he resigned. My second match was today. I played White against an opponent I had faced before, one whom I had beaten many times before, but he prepared a special opening for me which I had never seen before, and I had to settle for a draw when it came to a threefold repetition that I couldn’t escape. He was happy, but to me it feels like a loss. I guess our losses make us better.