Rajat

Rajat

Let's teach for mastery -- not test scores | Sal Khan
YouTube l https://www.youtube.com/

YES EVERYBODY IS REALLY CREATIVE-YES IT IS IN YOUR DNA:

Excellent TED talk by Sal on the quintessential mastery based concept of learning. He argues that just like you would not build a house without a solid foundation you could not learn something without mastering every step of it.

"In the industrial age, society was a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid, you needed human labor. In the middle of the pyramid, you had an information processing, a bureaucracy class, and at the top of the pyramid, you had your owners of capital and your entrepreneurs and your creative class. But we know what's happening already, as we go into this information revolution. The bottom of that pyramid, automation, is going to take over. Even that middle tier, information processing, that's what computers are good at.

All this new productivity is happening because of this technology, but who participates in it? Is it just going to be that very top of the pyramid, in which case, what does everyone else do? How do they operate? Or do we do something that's more aspirational? Do we actually attempt to invert the pyramid, where you have a large creative class, where almost everyone can participate as an entrepreneur, an artist, as a researcher? "

Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma

Here's a reflection this week on gender-based myths of innate brilliance and how they affect minority representation in subjects like math and philosophy---

I excelled in math in high school, rising to the top of the tiered class track and dabbling in multivariable calculus before college. I, however, immediately and subconsciously faltered in confidence when I reached Princeton. I was deterred from trying a proof-based math class by the thought that these were only for “math people” – students who had excelled in extracurricular math competitions from a young age or who already had exposure to “real math” beyond AP calculus. The kinds of students, who, when presented with a problem, could scribble across a blackboard and find the answer with a spark of genius.

That student wasn’t me, and so I decided that I must not be a “math person.” I still took college math, but instead of enrolling in a proof-based class, I pushed through Math 201 (multivariable calculus) and 202 (linear algebra), required courses for engineers. The exams were still notoriously difficult, and it wasn’t unusual for average scores to hover around 65%. This seemed to me like a strategy the department used to allow it to separate star students from “the rest of the pack.” Linear algebra during my freshman spring was the last math class I took in college.

Three years later, I’m studying philosophy – a subject with gender ratios comparable to mathematics. Many people know about the lack of females in STEM departments, but this issue slips under the radar in fields like philosophy and music composition. Philosophy professor Sarah-Jane Leslie’s research helps connect the dots.

Professor Leslie has shown that gender gaps are more prominent in disciplines where innate ability – a spark of raw genius – is perceived as a prerequisite for success. Departments like physics, philosophy, and math fit the bill. Using nationwide surveys of academics from 30 disciplines, Leslie and her colleagues demonstrated that people’s success in fields like biology and education is often seen as a result of effort and discipline rather than innate brilliance. These fields attract men and women in more equal ratios. Subsequent research also supports that such stereotypes take hold in children’s minds as early as the age of six. Women who don’t see themselves as innately brilliant mathematicians, musicians, or philosophers often do not give themselves the chance to pursue these disciplines. Since these views shape people’s career choices, women are more likely to choose careers in fields where hard work, rather than brilliance, is seen as the key to success.

Recognizing and stating stereotypes and fears helps me face them. Every time I feel like I am holding myself back in a philosophy seminar, I remind myself that ability is a reflection of effort, and effort entails active participation. After a wonderful time dabbling in proofs in advanced formal logic, I’m considering enrolling in another math class next semester – this time with an understanding that what leads to success is hard work and determination, and the empowering realization that I have what it takes.

Rajat

Rajat Never realized, do you mean there are more males than females in Philosophy! Quoting NPR "There's been no shortage of speculation about why. Perhaps, to quote Hegel, women's "minds are not adapted to the higher sciences, philosophy, or certain of the arts." This is so weird!

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Adam Pryor

Adam Pryor Perhaps that "raw genius" emerges when a child is allowed to try and fail over and over. Soon they become good at it or christened as geniuses. Perhaps the problem also is that our method of teaching/learning does not facilitate enough of failure.

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Anju Sharma

Anju Sharma I am happy that you are discovering more of your innate talents!

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Vineet Gupta

Vineet Gupta Another reason why math, CS and physics departments may have fewer women is that these tend to be more "macho" --- in the intro courses, faculty are trying to weed out students rather than encourage them. So they tend to be less friendly, and women possibly get turned off more, but a lot of men are discouraged from taking them as well. This could be related to your observation --- teachers and students are asking "Are you good enough to be in this class", which assumes that there is an innate ability that a student may or may not have.

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Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma ^ I find this to be very true. The faculty in these subjects, in my experience, have had a definite streak of pride in their discipline's inaccessibility. Fixing this requires a massive shift in both students' and teachers' attitudes.

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Elizabeth Kimball

Elizabeth Kimball

Investing in Teachers Instead of Prisons

I want to tell you about something I'm not proud of. Early in my time as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, we set out to make our schools safer places for children and adults. We knew that too many of our students were going to jail.

"Yes, it's about educational and economic opportunity. But it's bigger than that. It's a fight to increase social mobility. It's a fight for social justice. For too many of our children today, it can literally mean the difference between life and death."

Violet Grant

Violet Grant

The Town That Decided to Send All Its Kids to College

Residents of Baldwin, Michigan, pooled together their money to provide scholarships for everyone, and it changed the town profoundly. Please consider disabling it for our site, or supporting our work in one of these ways Subscribe Now > BALDWIN, Mich.-College was never much of an option for most students in this tiny town of 1,200 located in the woods of the Manistee National Forest.

"The story of Baldwin begins to answer the question: What does it look like if everyone in a community goes to college?"

Youngbin Yoon

Youngbin Yoon This is an amazing story! I wonder what attributes so strongly to the success of Baldwin? The idea seems controversial (it could easily be argued as a Communist policy and, for better or worse, thereby painted in a negative light) and so I think the town's success is based on more than just the idea that people contribute money for a collective goal. In my head, it stems to the belief in each other / themselves. Every student is made aware that they are given the opportunity to succeed and shown that a literal town of people believe in them, and then are asked to live up to this belief -- that strikes me as the defining pillar of the town's success. There's a lot of room to talk about this story, thanks for the AWESOME story!!!

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Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma ^ I agree, this seems to connect with what you were saying about how a teacher/mentor's belief in a student is a huge motivation for him/her to try his/her hardest to succeed. In this case, it was the belief of an entire town! It certainly must help that it's a small town, so the kids probably personally knew everyone who showed some investment in their education.

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Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma

Key & Peele - TeachingCenter

Boyd Maxwell and Perry Schmidt report on the latest developments in the exciting world of pro teaching. Watch more Key & Peele: http://on.cc.com/1RUEbiW

I find this really hilarious with its fair share of social undertones. Key & Peele parody Sports Center-type shows by replacing them with a segment on "pro-teaching."

It made me wonder: Why do we idolize sports stars so much? Is the pay gap between pro athletes and teachers, for example, fair?

I had an economics professor in my freshman fall at college who argued that this was a ridiculous question. "Of course it's 'fair'!" she said. Prices and payouts are a result of consumer demand. People care a lot more about watching NFL than documentaries about nature or going to talk to teachers, and the pay gap is the result.

There is no doubt that teachers should be paid more, given the importance of their work and the importance of incentivizing qualified people to apply for teaching jobs. But the question of "fairness" is a bit trickier. How much of a pay gap would be warranted, and how much is absurd? I find myself oscillating between the extremes.

Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma

I've been learning a lot about homeschooling recently, and am fascinated by different families' paths towards the choice to homeschool. Some people are motivated by religious reasons, others by the lack of education in a special subject that their child loves (i.e., ecology or philosophy).

It seems that many homeschoolers stop by the time high school rolls along (and certainly for college), and I'm wondering about the transition to "regular" schooling.

Has anyone experienced it, and what has it been like for you or your child? Susanna Olson?

Susanna Olson

Susanna Olson I think transitioning into a new environment is something quite a few homeschooling parents worry about. Funny my sisters and I were just discussing this last night. Me and my siblings were all homeschooled from pre-school all the way through 12th grade. For us the transition into "regular school" has gone pretty well so far. My oldest brother graduated summa cum laude from his university and is now working for a non-profit organization that he is passionate about. My second oldest brother dropped out of college when his iPhone app won an apple design award and started his own business. My older sister is about to graduate. She LOVED every bit of college and has very few complaints about the transition. She said the hardest thing was learning to follow instructions after being independent for so long. Also, she sometimes found that classes moved frustratingly slow as she was used to being able to move at her own pace all the time.

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George Cohen Lee

George Cohen Lee I've had some homeschooled friends, and I'm always struck by how unique each of their experiences is. Telling that you mentioned that your sister's biggest problem was classes moving too slowly! Susanna, have you experienced the transition yourself? I wonder if people can tell at first who homeschooled kids are- I might expect their ways of thinking to go outside the box! But maybe not- maybe people's educational experiences are more similar than I think.

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Ben  Glackin

Ben Glackin

All shall have prizes

Top 100 rankings of the best business schools. Find full-time MBA, part-time MBA, online MBA, and EMBA.

Grades at Ivy League schools have risen across the board since the 1950s. Today, it is easiest to get a high GPA at Brown, while it is most difficult at Princeton (which, just this year, ended its grade deflation policy).

Are students getting smarter, or are standards slipping? The Economist argues that it is a little bit of both. Should anything be changed about the current grading system?

Sofia Perello

Sofia Perello Students are definitely smarter, and better prepared for college. I think that a "B" is fine as an average grade. However, many of these schools go to excessive lengths in coddling their students and making the average grade an A- or A, so that there really isn't much room to grow. What a joke!

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Ben  Glackin

Ben Glackin I agree! I'll be interested to see what happens at Princeton, which just ended its official grade deflation policy, in a few years. After Princeton took the step to end grade deflation, I doubt that other schools would step up and try to institute it for the first time.

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Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma

Princeton Correspondents on Undergraduate Research (PCUR)

This week, I was having a standard lunchtime conversation with friends about our classes. The conversation veered to next fall's course offerings, which will include the three legendary classes Practical Ethics, Constitutional Interpretation, and Politics of Modern Islam. Having recently read reviews of Constitutional Interpretation, I joked that it might be unwise to take all three simultaneously.

At Princeton, I'm a member of the Princeton Correspondents on Undergraduate Research, for which I write a post every week. Last week, I wrote about the academic biases on our campus, and what we can do to combat them. Here's an excerpt:

"This week, I was having a standard lunchtime conversation with friends about our classes. The conversation veered to next fall’s course offerings, which will include the three legendary classes Practical Ethics, Constitutional Interpretation, and Politics of Modern Islam. Having recently read reviews of Constitutional Interpretation, I joked that it might be unwise to take all three simultaneously.

“This might be a very B.S.E thing to say,” one friend said, “but I don’t understand how humanities classes can be hard.”

As a philosophy major, I felt shocked, and then defensive. How could an entire set of disciplines be “easy,” unless a student is uninformed or pursuing it incorrectly? I felt like retorting that most of the engineers in my humanities classes did not read what was assigned, wrote papers the night before they were due, and failed to be productive precept participants. I bit my tongue. My thoughts were equally unproductive generalizations."

Do you see these at your college/school as well?

Anju Sharma

Anju Sharma Please post the complete article or a link to it. I'd love to read your views!

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Anju Sharma

Anju Sharma Embarrassed to say that I grew up with this generalization. Science and math are tough and for smart kids while arts/ humanities are easy and for the lazy ;)

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Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma

Becoming a Real Person

This summer, The New Republic published the most read article in that magazine's history. It was an essay by William Deresiewicz, drawn from his new book, "Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life." Deresiewicz offers a vision of what it takes to move from adolescence to adulthood.

How do you think a college can/should be measured? What is the goal of a college education? Read three different viewpoints here, and let me know what yours is.

Francesca Felder

Francesca Felder First, some points against Pinker's mention of using the SAT to judge college and job candidates: the SAT's are still biased against lower income students; affording SAT prep is one factor in this. Relying solely on the SAT at this point limits the opportunities of those students to shine on a college application. Also, the SAT's are not necessarily a measure of one's writing and reasoning ability, especially if a student is a bad test-taker. Furthermore, one method of evaluation can hurt student innovation and curiosity. If one assessment is seen as the 'in' to opportunity, some students will learn and work hard for the main purpose of doing well on that assessment, instead of applying their skills and knowledge to the real world. (V, I'm remembering what you told me about the exam for the IIT in India and how that dictates the structure and purpose of high schools.)

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Francesca Felder

Francesca Felder Second, all three of the' outlined purposes of college/education are necessary and important. Commercial purposes (vocational, professional schools) are easily justified today: make money. Cognitive purposes (liberal arts, humanities) are also understandable: learn how to think and evaluate the world in relation to yourself to move more effectively within it. But from my experience of touring colleges, those administrations shy away from telling you what to do with your money and intellect during or after graduation: "...people in authority no longer feel compelled to define how they think moral, emotional and spiritual growth happens, beyond a few pablum words that no one could disagree with and a few vague references to community service. The reason they dont is simple. They dont think its their place, or, as Pinker put it, they dont think they know."

The assumption I felt was that the students were self-motivated and knew what to do: be yourself! follow your dreams! change the world! the college will fund you! when, like many young people, I have no idea what I want to do with my life.

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Francesca Felder

Francesca Felder Third, while college is not the only place to learn about/create yourself, the world around you, and maybe even your purpose in life, it can be a great place to start. In fact, some have whole departments dedicated to the study: philosophy, religion, sociology, history, political science, social justice, gender studies, environmental sciences, education, health studies, even engineering. The more knowledge and skills you develop, the more power you have to alter your life and the world around you by the choices you make: will you help engineer fuel efficient cars or cleaner power plants? will you teach middle school students to love math? will you write a book that inspires kids with a love of reading?

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Francesca Felder

Francesca Felder This was a good article to tag me in xD Thanks V!

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Sarah Olson

Sarah Olson

The Harrowing Journeys Some Kids Take When Going to School from The Harrowing Journeys Some Kids Take When Going to School

View Students hold on to the side steel bars of a collapsed bridge as they cross a river to get to school at Sanghiang Tanjung village in Lebak regency, Indonesia's Banten village in this Jan. 19, 2012, file photo.

Check out this cool article done by ABC on how children get to school around the world. Also check my blog out at http://upandcomingteachers.blogspot.com

Anju Sharma

Anju Sharma My father used to walk six miles to school. He was the first person from his village/town to get a PhD and went on to become a professor of electronics and tele-communication. I feel soooo proud of him :)

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William Smith

William Smith An eye opener. Pity how wealth desensitizes people to abject poverty and living conditions of humanity.

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Sarah Olson

Sarah Olson Wow, Anju! Thanks for sharing! Yes this would be a great way to discuss family history from students in the classroom as well! And yes, William, this is a great way to deepen students' understanding of how much harder it is to live in other parts of the world.

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Vidushi Sharma

Vidushi Sharma This is really cool. I would love to share it on thehobmob facebook and twitter pages, if you don't mind! https://www.facebook.com/thehobmob?ref=hl and https://twitter.com/thehobmob

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Sarah Olson

Sarah Olson Yes, please do!

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