Teachers, leave them kids alone

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:41 pm
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

On my home planet, everyone learns basic algebra. Earth seems to be different.

People are actually discussing whether to remove algebra requirements from community college curricula. They don’t seem to be discussing the elimination of basic reading and writing skills, at least not yet. It seems to me, though, that passing algebra ought to be a really low hurdle to leap, but apparently it isn’t.

Algebra is one of the biggest hurdles to getting a high school or college degree — particularly for students of color and first-generation undergrads.

It is also the single most failed course in community colleges across the country. So if you’re not a STEM major (science, technology, engineering, math), why even study algebra?

I was a first generation undergrad. I didn’t take algebra in college…because I took it in high school. If you were on the college track, you took it early, because in your junior or senior year you’d take trigonometry/pre-calc. If you were an advanced math student (I wasn’t), you got calculus done right there in public school. 16 year olds can learn algebra. It really isn’t that daunting.

“Why even study algebra?” is a stupid question. If you’re not a history major, why study history? If you’re not an English major, why do you need to learn to write good? If you’re an American, why bother learning a foreign language? Algebra is a kind of minimum standard for elementary numeracy.

This interview with Eloy Ortiz Oakley is appalling in many ways.

You are facing pressure to increase graduation rates — only 48 percent graduate from California community colleges with an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year institution within six years. As we’ve said, passing college algebra is a major barrier to graduation. But is this the easy way out? Just strike the algebra requirement to increase graduation rates instead of teaching math more effectively?

I hear that a lot and unfortunately nothing could be farther from the truth. Somewhere along the lines, since the 1950s, we decided that the only measure of a student’s ability to reason or to do some sort of quantitative measure is algebra. What we’re saying is we want as rigorous a course as possible to determine a student’s ability to succeed, but it should be relevant to their course of study. There are other math courses that we could introduce that tell us a lot more about our students.

No one decided that it was the only measure. People looked at the progression of math concepts that were taught — algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus — and set the standard on the most introductory of the math skills. Students who come into college not knowing algebra are totally screwed if they want to enter any STEM field, but even if they’re doing a non-STEM major, I’d argue that everyone ought to have that minimal level of math literacy.

I don’t see the problem here. If “relevance to their course of study” is the standard, I could see biology majors insisting that they don’t need to know psychology or literature (they’d be wrong). A college degree should not be a narrow certificate that says you’ve been exposed to a thin slice of knowledge, but here we are, arguing that it’s all about getting a job.

A lot of students in California community colleges are hoping to prepare for a four-year college. What are you hearing from the four-year institutions? Are they at ease with you dropping the requirement? Or would they then make the students take the same algebra course they’re not taking at community college?

This question is being raised at all levels of higher education — the university level as well as the community college level. There’s a great body of research that’s informing this discussion, much of it coming from some of our top universities, like the Dana Center at the University of Texas, or the Carnegie Foundation. So there’s a lot of research behind this and I think more and more of our public and private university partners are delving into this question of what is the right level of math depending on which major a student is pursuing.

Look. We get transfer students from community colleges at my university all the time. They do not and should not get a free pass on courses that our full four year students have to take — we don’t set standards arbitrarily. They need to take certain lower level courses because they’ll need those skills in upper level courses. If the community colleges set lower standards, it just means that they’ll have wasted two years as the four year colleges tell all those students entering in their third year that sorry, you have to go back and take all these courses your CC decided were unnecessary.

In a perfect world, students would learn algebra in high school; students who struggled or were not mature enough to engage in disciplined learning (which is a real problem) would attend a CC to get the prep they missed in high school, and the four year colleges would be able to assume a basic skill set on all entering students. If CCs are going to punt, what next? Do we just get unprepared students who enter college with 60 credits of unchallenging courses that do not prepare them all for the major curriculum?

And there are people writing about concepts of numeracy that may be different from what people have been teaching all this time. Do you have in mind a curriculum that would be more useful than intermediate algebra?

We are piloting different math pathways within our community colleges. We’re working with our university partners at CSU and the UC, trying to ensure that we can align these courses to best prepare our students to succeed in majors. And if you think about it, you think about the use of statistics not only for a social science major but for every U.S. citizen. This is a skill that we should have all of our students have with them because this affects them in their daily life.

I kind of agree with this — I would like to see more statistics-literacy in the general public. But this is a proposal to increase the amount of math students should know, and I don’t know how you teach statistics to students who can’t comprehend algebra. Again, there seems to be a relevance argument lurking here — if statistics awareness is good for every U.S. citizen, how can you suggest that art majors have no need of algebra? I want to see some minimal expectations for numeracy and literacy, and we don’t get there by trying to second-guess whether a student will ever find a particular fundamental skill “useful”. You just don’t know.

[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

It begins thusly:

The new bed:

Which you may think looks quite a lot like the old bed, and you wouldn’t be wrong, in the sense that we did not swap out the headboard or bed frame. But those of you who are sharply observant and/or are creepy creepers might note the mattress is taller than it used to be. That’s because instead of a box spring underneath we now have a frame that raises and lowers the head and foot of the mattress when desired. That’s right, no longer do we have to sit up in bed on our own! Our bed can do it for us! Surely we live in miraculous times.

It was time to get a new mattress in any event. The last time we purchased one for this bed was 11 years ago, and it had gotten to the point where the “memory foam” had lost its memory entirely and both Krissy and I were getting backaches out of it. Once at the store and finding a mattress we liked, we decided to splurge a bit and get the motorized frame. If nothing else it will make everything weird for the cats. Which is its own benefit. Also, if it turns out that elevating the head of the mattress makes it easier to type, I may finally go full Grandpa Joe and never leave the bed at all. Note to self: Check Amazon for bedpans.

(Additional note to self: Really, don’t.)

And I got some saucy tweets out of it! Which, you know. Is its own reward.


Three Hines Books On Sale!

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:56 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I checked Amazon today and was surprised to see that three of my books are on sale in electronic format. Barnes and Noble doesn’t appear to have price-matched the sale yet, and I don’t know if this is limited to North America, but here’s what I do know:

Libriomancer is on sale for $1.99.

Goblin Quest is on sale for $2.99.

The Stepsister Scheme is on sale for $2.99.

That’s book one of all three of my fantasy series. If you’ve been waiting to check out my stuff, this is the perfect time.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Please explain

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:39 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The logic of requiring pedestrians to press a button for the pedestrian crosswalk sign to change, rather than just linking it to the traffic lights.
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

First: Which Beatles song was I thinking of? If you want to hear me sing it, here it is:

If you’d rather hear the Beatles sing it (which, to be fair, is probably the better choice) it’s here:

And for those of you who don’t wish to hear either version (or can’t, for whatever reason): It’s “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

There were three of you who correctly picked the tune I was thinking of, and of the three, my random number generator (“Alexa, pick a number between one and three”) picked “one” and so the winner is Maudie, who was the first to suggest it. Congratulations, Maudie!

Remember that the signed limited hardcover of Don’t Live For Your Obituary is now available for pre-order from Subterranean Press. There will also be an eBook edition, but it’s not available for pre-order yet.

Thank you to everyone who entered! This was a fun one.


It’s another fermented fish sauce!

Jul. 24th, 2017 01:09 pm
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

It’s amazing how often these ingredients come up in human cuisine. I have a couple of bottles of Asian fish sauces in my cupboard, it was a key element in Roman foods as garum, and what they all have in common is that they are made by taking large quantities of whole small fish and letting them ferment and liquefy into a spicy umami-rich sauce. Now I learn that Worcestershire sauce is also made by letting anchovies decay. I shouldn’t be surprised.

Although the story about how the original mixture that was made and tested is troubling. It tasted terrible, so they put the bottle away in the basement, and then years later, someone came along and decided to taste it again? When I find old leftovers I forgot in the refrigerator a few weeks before, I’m not tempted in the slightest. Maybe the problem is that I didn’t neglect them long enough, and I should let them a bit more tang, festering in the dark for a couple of years.

Oh, joy, the car battery is going.

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:38 pm
archangelbeth: Bleach's Captain Byakuya, three-quarters view. Captioned: sigh (Sigh)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Here's hoping it'll make it to the car place tomorrow! (I turned the car on this evening -- after going nowhere all day yesterday -- and got a "grindgrindgrind." I paused, tried again. She started. The clock had reset to 1:00. Um. Mm-kay. I wasn't going far, so spouse could rescue us, and I hoped that it was just that I hadn't driven her all day yesterday. Went and got gas. She ground a little (didn't lose the clock) and started. Got dinner nearby. Re-started car and she groundgroundground a little less than the first startup, but more than the second, and lost the clock back to 1:00 again.

Pretty sure that's "battery does not hold charge; replace battery" indication. ...crap, I'm gonna hafta reset the radio buttons AGAIN. *headdesk*

Tomorrow is ALSO fun because of multiple doctor appointments -- spouse has one pretty far away, and I have one nearby, and there's going to have to be Dropping Car Off, and depending on how the weather is, I might wind up walking back home or something. -_-

Well, we'll see. (Might need a jumpstart tomorrow, depending on how bad the battery is being.)

Have sneaking suspicion I have the kid's -- and spouse's -- stomach bug now, which has Queasiness After Eating. Maybe I should take a ginger pill.

Havva Quote
GM: The woods are dark and creepy and...oh never mind, you all have low-light vision.
RANGER: We do?
GM: You have darkvision.
RANGER: Oh. Huh. Yeah!
--http://tkingfisher.dreamwidth.org/1488336.html


INwatch+Bookwatch )

Dragons under fold )

Fig and Ibid still need rehoming

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:40 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Jasmine provided me with a very apt description for Ibid and Fig: the feline answer to Pinky and the Brain.... So if any Waterloo Region and adjacent people would like a cat who spends a lot of time thinking and one who spends a lot of time ... not thinking, let me know...

(also open to suggestions for rehoming them, because what I am doing isn't working)

Dur

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:03 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Of course I can review the Kobo Aura. It just never occurred to me I could until someone suggested it.

Negative? What Negative?

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:35 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
A plaque I found in a car boot sale (US="Swap meet") today.



Ignoring the slightly dodgy use of photographic terms, it occurs to me that we're already living in a world where a large percentage of photographers have no idea what a negative is...

Trailer Roundup

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:36 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

It’s movie trailer season!

1. Thor: Ragnarok – I love the banter between Thor and Hulk/Banner. Everything I’ve seen about this movie looks like fun.

2. Star Trek: Discovery – I’m intrigued enough to want to see more, and it will be nice to have some new television-style Star Trek. We don’t have CBS All Access, but I’m sure it will be available on Blu-ray eventually.

3. Ready Player One – I know a lot of people loved this one, but for some reason, the book just didn’t work for me, and the trailer seems to be following suit. The trailer looks pretty, but it doesn’t grab me.

4. Justice League – I don’t know. DC’s cinematic universe has let me down again and again…but then they did Wonder Woman, and I started to hope again. This looks like it could be fun. Or it could be a mess. I’m withholding judgement for the moment.

Which ones, if any, are you looking forward to?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Dumb and dumber

Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:45 pm
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Oh, crap. It’s Sunday morning, and all I need is a sermon from dumbshit Jim Carrey. It’s nice that he’s working with former prison inmates, but the most help he seems to providing is dollops of platitudes, while promoting a pernicious and ugly Christian doctrine.

Ultimately, I believe that suffering leads to salvation. In fact, it’s the only way.

No. Ten thousand times no. This is the gospel of Mother Teresa, and it does not lead to salvation — it leads to the veneration of poverty and misery and pain and death. This is why Christianity is a death cult (although, in the case of the prosperity gospel, some splinters of it are transforming themselves into a money cult, which isn’t any better).

Suffering is not a blessing. We should not look on human beings in pain and console ourselves with the thought that the more despair they experience, the more likely they are to find Jesus. We should look on that pain and do what we can to end it.

So yes, it’s good that Carrey is trying to do something to help the needy, but praising their suffering is not the way. Would he also praise cancer for bringing people closer to his god?

Probably. Because he’s a dumbshit.

[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Inaccurate. The Democrats would sit down, scribble up some half-assed slogan, and then they’d take a half-day off at the beach.

It is correct in illustrating the white guys ignoring the brown person with objections, though.

(Note also: if they had just gotten their asses kicked in an election, they’d also ignore the brown person and take a half-day off at the beach, so this is kind of a universally applicable cartoon.)

Steaming ahead

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:14 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Don't usually get up early on Sundays, but today I was making breakfast at nine, looked out of the kitchen window and saw this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Class_A4_4488_Union_of_South_Africa

Needless to say I did not have a camera handy... It was hauling several carriages and for some reason there was a diesel engine at the tail end of the train, I suspect to provide a backup if it broke down or ran out of coal or something. I'm guessing that the summer steam excursions in and out of Paddington have started again - and it turns out to be The Cathedrals Express, on the route Paddington-Westbury-Yeovil Pen Mill, Weymouth-Southampton-Paddington

http://www.uksteam.info/tours/t17/t0723d.htm

Unfortunately it's £100+ per seat, I suppose worth it if you're a steam enthusiast but I made enough long steam journeys in my childhood to satisfy me, I think.

Kid stayed in; spouse and I went out

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:16 pm
archangelbeth: Bleach's Captain Byakuya, three-quarters view. Captioned: sigh (Sigh)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
And talked mostly politics, alas. I also at least got enough ice tea to stave off the headache that'd been trying to get at me, despite me having had a mug of tea that I made myself, yesterday! Or maybe I simply hadn't had enough fluids and it was dehydration? Or both? Dunno. Hmph.

I have been eating these Sungold/golden Kiwis (not the bird) like peaches. NOM NOM NOM. Skin's just more fiber, yay!

Kid might, might, might be recovering from stomach bug. Slowly. Let us hope.

I have complained about a VLACS test where -- and I checked -- none of the answers in the multiple-choice actually fit the material. Plus one of them wasn't in the text material at all and had to be googled up. I mean, it's nice to have research as part of a class, BUT. Y'know?

Online classes that require a separate account to view part of the material are Bad Planning. If they don't also have text, then they are inaccessible to the deaf and that's an ADA violation and I will make grouchy noises because I have developed, over the years, zero patience with hurdles to my kid being able to process required information.

Anyway. Got to bed at 4am last night. Oh, well. ...I need to repair the little holes in that houserobe. O:(

(Oh, hey, a relatively new 5-star review of Herb-Witch on Amazon! Yay!)

Havva Quote
S••••• says, "Hah. Okay the way Athens financed things like warship upkeep is that rich citizens were simply ordered to finance it, something called a "liturgy". There were two ways to get an exemption -- prove you performed another liturgy last year or this one, or prove that someone richer hadn't done a liturgy last year or this one. But, of course, there were no public accountings of wealth, so how do you think they enforced the latter?"
S••••• says, "You offered to exchange everything you owned for everything the person you claimed was richer owned. If he refused, he was admitting he was richer, and thus had to perform the liturgy."
arcangel says, "Ha!"


INwatch+Bookwatch )

Dragons under fold )

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