Articles Posted in Education

Published on:

dodgeball-300x266Researchers from three Canadian universities claim that the popular gym class game dodgeball is a tool for certain students to oppress their peers.

This isn’t the first time you have heard this.  People have been talking about dodgeball for a while.  There are two camps: (1) the sissification of American camp, and (2) the dodgeball is a bullying tool of evil.  I see both sides of this and I don’t totally know where I stand as I start this article.  Let’s see where we end up. (Spoiler Alert: I come down softly in favor of dodgeball.)

The Anti-Dodgeball Argument from This Study

Published on:

Does summer vacation affect children’s overall academic performance? National Summer Learning Association argues that by 9th grade, two-thirds of the achievement gap between low and middle-income children is due to summer learning loss.  I’ve been hearing these types of arguments forever and have pretty much accepted them as fact.   In part because of this, my wife and I double down on the summer academics to make sure we are moving forward and not backward.

New Study Case Doubt on Theory

Paul T. von Hippel, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas recently published a study that casts doubt on this assumption that summer break negatively impacts academic performance.  This is important because there is a movement against summer vacation.  Because there are social and economic reasons to preserve summer vacation, we certainly don’t want to change the system that we have unless there is a strong educational reason to do so.

Published on:

Kindergarten used to be a place where you really honed in on your napping and fingerpainting skills.

No longer. My youngest son graduated from kindergarten a few weeks ago.   The academic requirements of a kindergartener in 2019 are significantly greater than those placed on my 13-year-old son when he was in kindergarten.

I think this is a good thing.  I think getting ahead academically helps prepare kids for the future.  I’m convinced that not starting from ground zero is a huge help when learning a topic.  I’d rather have my kids doing first-grade math with some early exposure to the concepts. If you can add numbers from 0-9 easily, it will be easier when you are trying to regroup numbers for subtraction.  Certainly, early repeated exposures to the concepts make rote learning much easier.

Published on:

I look so hard for these on-line. Annoying, North Carolina has some that you can’t print out. So you can put them on line but you take off the print function. I would love to see the meeting where that was decided.

Anyway, I discovered today that the great state of Maine really saves the day. Here are a ton of tests that they have that go back to 2005.

They value in these tests, in my opinion, is that they mimic the kind of testing that these kids are going to see for the rest of their lives.  People eschew standardized tests because they do not represent what they want the world to be.  Fair enough.  I agree.  But the biggest tests our kids are ever going to take is the SAT and any graduate school entry tests (MCAT, LSAT, GMAT) they need to take. These standardized tests are just a ramp up to these tests.  It certainly is the not the most fair system.  But it the system we have and we have to have a children ready to face the challenges these tests bring.

Published on:

There has been a lot of debate of late about whether college is for everyone. Robert Samuelson, a noted economist, wrote a editorial in the Washington Post a few weeks ago arguing that the ” college-for-all crusade” is one of those utopia dreams that should come to an end for the good of the U.S. economy.

I agree with this premise: there is little economic utility in trying to get every student to go to college. But I think Samuelson fails to fully appreciate that there is more to life than economics. If a student tries two years of college and fails, he is likely to make less money over the course of his life than if he had gone to, let’s say, trade school. Okay. But is he a better and happier person for the experience? In 2012, we seem to funnel everything through economics. Isn’t there more to life than just money? Couldn’t we at least talk about it?

Anyway, MSN Money put out today a list of the 11 worst public universities by graduation rate. In spite of my little speech above, schools have to give students some chance of success. If kids are just taking out loans and not being properly supported in the path to graduation, that is no opportunity at all.

Continue Reading

Published on:

If you read the popular books on success, almost all of the authors refer back to Carol Dweck’s work. She is clearly a titan researcher so when I found out she had written her own book, “Mindset”, I was giddy. Why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth?

Her premise is that intelligence is not fixed but eminently teachable. If you don’t believe this, if you have the wrong “mindset”, it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and, worse, it makes you stop challenging yourself because you don’t think effort helps. Moreover, a limiting mindset causes a lack of fulfillment, depression and a host of other ailments. It all makes a ton of sense.

Unfortunately, for buyers of the book, I’ve told you virtually everything you need to know. She never really takes the book anywhere else beyond repeat the premise 1,000 different ways. Worse still, Dweck weaves in a bunch of silly anecdotes and contrived narratives:

Published on:

Effort to Teach Kids Practical Financial Skills

What is the biggest criticism of our schools today? Okay… that is too big of a bear to tackle… what is one of the biggest criticisms about our schools today? The failure to teach real life skills you need to be successful not only in a job but in life. (I’ll go out on a limb and say this is historically the biggest criticism of law schools.)

Richmond public schools in Virginia are trying to help bridge the gap between learning and the real world, partnering with New Generations Federal Credit Union to give students real world financial experience. The theory? Students will learn while working at the bank how to deal with their own finances as an adult.

Published on:

Some people are moved by love, beauty, and justice. Some people are moved by money. If you are the latter, this post is for you. According to a new study, “Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?” by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, our inability to compete in education with the rest of the developed world may be costing us a trillion dollars a year.

A trillion. I know with all of the numbers being tossed around in our budgetary debacles, a trillion seems like the new billion. One trillion one dollar bills would go about 94 million miles which is further away than the sun.

U.S. students, this study found, fall behind 31 countries in math proficiency and behind 16 countries in reading proficiency. We seem to be beating most of Europe in reading. Then, again, pick up a newspaper. The European economy has bigger problems than we do. Maybe this is not a coincidence.

The reading does scare me more than the math. There is no question that math is important. But the U.S. is still churning out great mathematicians. I think it is more important to have great mathematicians than to raise median averages. Most of us know enough math to do our jobs.

But reading is a different story. Many more people need to be able to read, understand and comprehend. We need students with developed logical reasoning skills.

Continue Reading

Published on:

teachingHistorically, there has not been a lot of honest assessment about the quality of our school teachers in Maryland. It is too sensitive, too subjective, etc.
But times are changing. Why? Because kids in too many other countries – China comes to mind – are outperforming us by whopping margins. To make meaningful change, we have to do things that are hard. Being honest – brutally honest – is just plain hard.

With that intro, the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked a random sample of three colleges in each state. The lucky Maryland winners were Mount St. Mary’s University, Salisbury University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Actually, UMBC comes out looking pretty good, getting a “good” ranking. Mount St. Mary’s? Salisbury? Not so well. They were ranked “poor” in training their teachers.

Honesty is tough. This report is part of a much larger study that most colleges renounced even before the first report came out. No one wants to be judged and we don’t want to judge. One byproduct is that it indirectly maligns the good teachers that come out of these schools. But if you think these schools and principals and school officials who hire teachers are not paying attention to this report, I think you are kidding yourself.

The Baltimore Sun publishes this story, using a positive spin with the title “UMBC gets high marks for student teacher training programs.” Potential headlines such as “Don’t let your kid get taught by someone from Mount Saint Mary’s or Salisbury” or “Bad teacher alert” were apparently rejected.

I think most people would say that UMBC is a better school – statistically speaking – than Mount Saint Mary’s or Salisbury. (If you dispute this, you or your kid graduated from there.) That’s no knock by the way on either school. Steve Bisciotti and Frank Perdue graduated from Salisbury and Mount Saint Mary’s produced a number of smart people (that, admittedly, I have never heard of).

Continue Reading

Published on:

George WashingtonWhat is the capital of South Sudan? I was excited to teach my kids this week the birth of a new country, South Sudan. The capital is Juda. Tonight, we are going to try to handwrite in on our maps the border between Sudan and South Sudan. (Hopefully, with a new border comes a new era of peace for the Sudanese people and that South Sudan has their own George Washington.)

Don’t get wedded to Juda, though. South Sudan is searching for a new capital because they do not believe Juda is the best city in the long haul to be the capital of the country. So when you teach Juda as the captial of South Sudan, make sure you let your kids know that it comes with an asterisk of “could be changed soon.”

Continue Reading

Contact Information