A Favorite Present and Why

18 12 2006

A happy story, with felicitous power all around —

Favorite Daughter just came in from her dance studio with a Christmas present from a new friend who seems to already know her VERY well. It’s from our local “fair trade market”, a small handmade red-and-black bound book of what she loves to call “blank paper” just waiting for her thoughts, journaling, poetry and prose to be spilled out across them. Mind meets medium of choice. But what delighted her so about this particular blank paper that she came rushing in the back door bubbling and laughing, is that it’s made from rice with such care by Vietnamese in a village who themselves have no written language!

Or so its power of story goes . . . now can you top that with the usual mall fare? 🙂

Even The Best Students Aren’t All Alike

18 12 2006

More from Vanderbilt U. via the VU WordPress.com blog:

. .“We found that mathematical gifts and a variety of aptitudes have a significant impact, but that special educational opportunities and commitment can dramatically increase this impact,” Lubinski said. “These students are intellectually gifted, and those gifts are best fully realized when they have the full support and understanding of their teachers, their parents and their social network.”

Benbow and Lubinski found that while this group of students as a whole had exceptional mathematical ability it was far from homogenous, with a great diversity of talent and interests. These differences have a direct impact on participants’ future career choices and success, some of which were outside of traditional scientific and mathematic fields.

Exceptional verbal ability is characteristic of participants whose favorite courses, college majors and occupations were in the social sciences and humanities, whereas higher levels of mathematical and spatial abilities characterize participants whose favorite courses, college majors and occupations were in engineering and math or computer science,” the authors wrote.

“Given the ever-increasing importance of quantitative and scientific reasoning skills in modern cultures, when mathematically gifted individuals choose to pursue careers outside engineering and the physical sciences, it should be seen as a contribution to society, not a loss of talent.”

The researchers also found that differences in ability exist even among this elite group. The findings contradict a widely held belief in educational literature that

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While We’re Arguing Over What’s Best . . .

18 12 2006

. . .does real school success involve anything about getting educated and prepared for productive adult life, rather than simply being trained to pass various schoolified tests and become a schoolteacher of same?

At least Vanderbilt U. is asking the question and considering some less creepy answers than the “terse, keen, cross-referencing angels” of cum folder doom from 1929.

  • academic attainment,
  • acquisition of general education,
  • development of academic competence,
  • development of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions,
  • occupational attainment,
  • preparation for adulthood and citizenship,
  • personal accomplishments, and
  • personal development.

College Prep Once Studied the Students

18 12 2006


Here’s what was considered progressive practice in college prep schooling by Time Magazine, 1929:

Monday, Feb. 11, 1929

In The Hill School at Pottstown, Pa., are 425 boys. Presumably each wants to go to college. And the parents of each have, presumably, planned a college career for their offspring. For The Hill, great Eastern preparatory school, sends annual quotas of competently trained students to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Williams. . . .

But what if the young new Headmaster of The Hill, James I. Wendell (TIME, Sept. 24) should say to a parent: “Our records seem to indicate that your son should not go to college. We can probably train him to pass his college board examinations. But we know from experience that the chances of his entering and staying in college are slim. We will liberalize his courses at The Hill. But we advise against his going to college.”

This, in substance, is what Headmaster Wendell has already said to the parents of twelve boys. And the parents, far from wrathful, agreed with the Headmaster, even praised him.

. . . at The Hill new questions are asked, a new sort of chart is being kept. Searching and revealing, it justifies Headmaster Wendell’s advice to the parents of the twelve who will not go to college.

. . .Each boy’s chart becomes a minute cumulative biography, recording calendar years instead of only school years. Tiny tragedies, failures, successes are noted by terse, keen recording angels with a flair for cross-reference. Tendencies lurking secretly behind chance acts are revealed. The Hill is thus gently turning to scrupulous study of the individual boy. It can advise and knows how best to phrase its advice. It knows too when certain students for one or another reason will find only unhappiness or failure in the looming college years.

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School’s Stone Soup

18 12 2006

Liza is cookin’ on all burners at Culture Kitchen today. . .

(you guys remember the power of that story, right?)