Re: Your affliction

1

Yes I can.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:44 PM
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I tell you what is going to be on my mind tonight: I just watched an advert where a man pulled a dead rat out of his mouth.

Give me fish nipples anyday.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:46 PM
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You would have preferred that he left the dead rat where it was?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:47 PM
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2: The marketing of dental services thread is the other one.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:48 PM
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Whale fish, whale fish, whale fish and the whale was in full view.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:50 PM
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Yes I can.

What's your technique?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:51 PM
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Give me fish nipples

Penguin dust for me.


Posted by: Gregory Corso | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:53 PM
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7: I know who you are!!! You can't hide from me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 5:54 PM
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9

Actually, that was me. Who were you thinking it was?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:01 PM
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9: HAHAHHAHA. You and helpychalk really ought to have gotten married.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:03 PM
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God, this post is so fnpl.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:03 PM
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God, this post is so fnpl.

Ftuff night people like?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:10 PM
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I can't believe you said that, heebie.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:13 PM
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Yet again the internet proves that everything you can imagine and everything else besides is a fetish for someone.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:14 PM
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fish night people like


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:15 PM
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fearsome Pope-nougat lickers


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:16 PM
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I can't believe you said that, heebie.

Whatever. You're so Spbpl.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:17 PM
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Fish nipple people like.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:17 PM
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I thought the term was hairy fish nuts.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:17 PM
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fish nipples people lick


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:17 PM
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mildly relevant Onion


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:18 PM
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I heard that 40% of all girls have played with their fish's nipples.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:23 PM
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My affliction: I just lost the fish nipple.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:24 PM
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I don't even have a fish nipple.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:31 PM
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That was my fish nipple in 23.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:33 PM
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Fo' shnipple?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:42 PM
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Those aren't nipples. Those are gun mount points.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:47 PM
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HAHAHHAHA. You and helpychalk really ought to have gotten married.

At 17 I would have instantly agreed to marry any guy who knew that poem.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:47 PM
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28: We were all obsessed with it in college. Robert did a dramatic reading of it at a friend's wedding.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:51 PM
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What's your technique?

I think about their calves instead.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:52 PM
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31

Yum, veal sticks.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 6:56 PM
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At this point, I had to stop the killing of whales in the election of the mayor of people! When his milk bottle and penguins, dust, lead dust can learn about penguins, I was a penguin dust --


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:01 PM
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Is there anything better than breaded salmon roe?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:01 PM
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34

Penguin, dust, my penguins, dust, dirt, penguins!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:02 PM
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35

let us know that you want to reap the whirlwind of his apron from me


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:06 PM
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36
And, I'm not angry, but to eradicate hunger and bacon and beans, stick a lonely male head of household, the eradication of hunger and I mean that all four walls and one above the roof. However, concerns about the fire from Ohio! Since joy, comfort, love and women's crown cramful

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:14 PM
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37

||So I am writing simple algebra problems for Rory (binomial equations? My math skills are so atrophied! ) because she is so bored by school. This may seem like a "my kid is so smart" brag thing (and, you know, kinda) but I'm really torn about whether we need to make some changes so she is challenged. She basically "failed" half her "effort" grades last report card because she doesn't do the homework. A's for her actual substantive grades. But I don't want her to be a poorly socialized little brainiac. Frankly, she's already a little vain about her smarts.|>


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:27 PM
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38

Maybe get her a tutor to start in on a topic orthogonal to what she does in school? Like, keep her engaged and mop up some brain activity, and actually challenge her enough that she has to work at it? I think it's healthy for kids to be exposed to stuff that they have to work at.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:29 PM
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37: Just let her start commenting here.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:30 PM
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40

No way. You want a topic acute to what she does in school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:31 PM
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41

Completely off topic, but it looks like we're all going to have to watch what we say about college football.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:32 PM
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37: I suggest you somehow her into some place where she's not the smartest fish in the pond and there's some hard work required. IMX that "I'm so smart I don't have to study/practice/whatever" is a terribly difficult habit to break once it's estabished.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:33 PM
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43

42 is better than my suggestion.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:35 PM
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44

And way better than Sifu's.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:36 PM
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45

42.2 I totally agree.
Se.w Like what?

Also, I'm not bright enough to draft simple algebra problems after a glass of wine. (Maybe not before either.)


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:38 PM
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46

Kidding aside, I have to confess that I'm pretty happy to be able to send my kid to a way better school than the one I went to. He may or may not do anything spectacular with the opportunities he has, but at least he knows they're there and that some of them require a lot of work.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:41 PM
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47

Se.w = 42.1.

I'm not smart enough to comment after a glass of wine.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:41 PM
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48

37: I suggest you somehow her into some place where she's not the smartest fish in the pond and there's some hard work required.

Is it clear that such a place exists?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:42 PM
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49

42.1: Look into camps and programs run by nearby universities.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:43 PM
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50

I mean, to 47.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:43 PM
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51

Maybe get her a tutor to start in on a topic orthogonal to what she does in school?

Like figuring out where all the fish nipples went.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:45 PM
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52

I've seen friends' smart kids do really well when they get involved in creative projects like film making or drawing or performing -- these kinds of things can take all the smarts you can throw at them, and often the smarter you are the higher your standards and the harder you'll work. I have no idea about actual ways to implement this advice for Rory.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:46 PM
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53

Like figuring out where all the fish nipples went.

Gone to sea puppies, every one.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:47 PM
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54

Like figuring out where all the fish nipples went.

Perpendicular.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:48 PM
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55

I was always a little suspicious of the "I'm too smart and get bored too easily to do my math homework" excuse, because yeah, it was boring, but on the other hand, it only took like ten minutes, so why not do it? I realize I might sound like an asshole saying this.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:49 PM
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49: Speaking of which: anyone have any experience or anecdata on the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth programs? I can't tell from the materials whether it's mostly about exposing kids to interesting stuff in summer programs or massaging parents' egos and kids' college applications.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:50 PM
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55: Also because the frequency of that excuse is exactly the same among the future Ivy Leagueys and the future Heebie Ueys.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:50 PM
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When I was age 10 to 13, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth programs were the only time I ever encountered another kid as smart as me. I really really looked forward to them every year.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:52 PM
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56 - Both? It's fun and there are bright kids and I even learned something one of the two years, but it's mostly just summer camp for nerds with helicopter parents.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:52 PM
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55: I've probably mentioned before that one of my all-time cringeworthiest experiences was admitting to not having done my math homework because it looked like pretty much the same stuff we'd done the night before, having the football star who sat next to me decide that since he was screwed anyway he might as well recycle my excuse for a laugh, and then having the teacher spend about half the class period explaining in great detail that I could get away with shit like that because I got A's on the tests and he couldn't because he got C's or D's or whatever it was that he got. The football player was a genuinely nice guy and never held it against me, but some of his buddies sure did.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:55 PM
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it only took like ten minutes, so why not do it?

Because it might lead to finishing the whole textbook by the end of winter break?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:55 PM
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55: Yeah, I've thought that, too. So cures for the lazy are welcome, too.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:56 PM
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58, 59: Summer camp for nerds would be good, although my little nerd has a distressing level of actual social skills. I didn't really get exposed many other kids who were as smart or smarter than I was until I was almost through high school. The first time I quoted Tom Lehrer and the whole room joined in was like being reborn or something.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:58 PM
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49: Speaking of which: anyone have any experience or anecdata on the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth programs? I can't tell from the materials whether it's mostly about exposing kids to interesting stuff in summer programs or massaging parents' egos and kids' college applications.

I went to the similar program at Duke when I was 13 or so, and loved the class I took there but hated the social experience and most of the other kids. This might have been me being socially maladjusted, or might have been that people were rude and obnoxious and arrogant and, well, 13.

CTY sent me mail for like a decade, even though I never went to their program. In fact, recently my parents were telling me they got some mail from CTY (or maybe it was SET? never quite disentangled those two) wanting DNA samples for a study of the genetic basis of intelligence, which thoroughly creeped me out.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 7:58 PM
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65

60 just reminded me of my insane math teacher, senior year of high school.

Weekly he would pull a chair up to my desk and have a talk with me, at projecting volume, while the rest of the class listened in. The gist of the talk was generally: "None of your other teachers will tell you what your problem is. They're too nice. I'm the only one who'll tell you what your problem is. You may be able to get away with it now, but it will catch up with you in college. Your professors won't put up with you."

On other occasions he told me I think like a banana, and that I think like a bump on a log.

He tormented other kids, too. He told one kid that if he was late one more time, he'd tear off the kid's arms and feed them to his dog. He had this slightly crazed way of delivering these statements.

His lectures to me were actually not half as cruel as the ones to other kids; I wasn't particularly upset but I was very squirmy while they were being delivered.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:01 PM
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CTY sent me mail for like a decade, even though I never went to their program.

That's funny. TIP has just started sending me mail, presumably for the next decade, even though I never went to their program. Or any such program. PS I am thirteen


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:02 PM
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67

56: I worked there!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:03 PM
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68

Amazing how quickly we can turn a thread from fish nipples to the experience of being too damned smart as a kid.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:05 PM
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65: My teacher was pretty insane, but he was also a really extraordinary math teacher for a lot of kids. He just demanded that you really get in there and grapple with the material, and if you were willing to do that you could learn a lot in a hurry (by the standards of my school, at least).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:06 PM
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Look into camps and programs run by nearby universities.

Just echoing that, without a lot of angsting around about it. If the kid is smart, she can either be bored most of the time throughout high school until she goes to college, or she can go to a private high school that's more challenging, or you can sign her up (with her permission) for a CTY type of thing pre-high-school.

I wouldn't wring my hands about it overly much, because that will just make her do the same. What does she want?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:06 PM
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56, 63, etc: I got in an my mother wouldn't let me go!!! The folks I know who went loved it -- and these are very smart people, but not socially maladjusted. Also, your kid can grow up to be Austan Goolsbee, who shows in my friends' CTY alumni groups. This amuses me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:09 PM
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68: Sad, innit. Not that I know why Standpipe is concerned about the fish nipples.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:09 PM
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73

I never even heard of CTY.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:10 PM
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TIP was the first place I met Randroids. Delightful!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:12 PM
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55: it was my excuse, but that doesn't mean you're being an asshole.

I think I went to 56. It was fun! I played a lot of Uno. Make of that what you will.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:13 PM
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Check it out. Three more to go!


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:14 PM
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73: Me too. But my basic child-rearing strategy is to try to help my kid find a clue a little earlier than I did, so.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:15 PM
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73: No worries, I only ever heard of it because it's affiliated with Hopkins, and word of teaching opportunities gets around.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:15 PM
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I'm inclined to say the universal answer for smart kids who are bored by school is to read books, but that might be too flippant.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:15 PM
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80

I worked at CTY for the littlest kids, 5th and 6th graders, and my takeaway was this:

Most of the kids felt like it was being let into heaven early. They chose a single three-week course in something they were interested in (doing math problems by themselves 8 hours a day, model UN, forensic science, etc.) and spent the rest of their waking moments doing fun stuff and games with other nerdy kids who didn't make fun of them for being smart.

For a very few kids, it was just more hell, like bottomless-despair-type hell. One little guy chewed his teeth to bits from anxiety during the session, and his parents couldn't be reached to come pick him up because they took a cruise. To be unliked and friendless in the one place where everyone told you you'd be surrounded with People Like You! is unbearable.

That said, most of the happiest kids were the ones who never expected to find friends or community anywhere. The drawback, for them, was that leaving was even more terrible, and they went back to schools where their two years' worth of math during the summer basically meant they'd now be bored basically forever, except at CTY.

We couldn't afford it when we got the letters, so I never went as a kid, but I've often wondered which group I would have been in and what I would have gotten from it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:16 PM
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She wants to go online and look at Illinois Math Science Academy. Camps she's okay with only if local (not overnight). She is inclined to look at some alternatives to her public school. Apparently she was ahead of UNG's girlfriend at the start of the semester working on GF's homework.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:17 PM
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The problem with all of these answers is that they don't actually help you do better in school. I read oceans of books, taught myself to program, did creative bullshit out the ass, researched esoteric toopics, got myself online, taught myself everything I possibly could about computers, and still almost failed out of high school because I never did my homework.

0 minutes is less than 10 minutes, especially if you're otherwise occupied.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:18 PM
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80, cont'd: I understand that unbearable-misery/unbearable-joy divide is less intense for kids who go when they're a bit older. Some of these kids were advanced in school anyway and were doing this thing at age 8. A three-week intensive 8-hour-a-day class, away from home, at age 8.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:19 PM
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84

I did end up doing some local university summer program that billed itself as something other than summer school for kids who want to take more classes and maybe jump a level in high school math, but that's really what it was.

I actually have heard of CTY. I think I learned about it on one of the previous threads about it here.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:19 PM
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I went to CTY for a few summers in a row. It was a lot of fun. Which is not to say that there weren't a lot of arrogant little pricks. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a place with a higher concentration of arrogant little pricks. But there were enough bright, creative nonpricks to make it fun. Lots of late-night bullshit, a little opposite-sex experimentation. We played so much Diplomacy that lawns started to resolve themselves into maps of Europe unless we squinted.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:19 PM
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AWB, were you the teacher I had in the CTY class where I won an award for my essay inspired by Lewis Thomas's "Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:19 PM
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87

Most of the kids felt like it was being let into heaven early.

I went to a summer program for kids who want to nerd it up, and was nearly tearful with joy when I realized what I stumbled into. I went back for the next six years.

I feel strongly that that summer camp kept me anchored during my otherwise conventionally-miserable middle school years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:21 PM
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One of my really distinct memories of TIP is being told by the kid with the strongest Southern drawl "you're heah in the South now and we do not tawlerate No-r-the-ners".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:22 PM
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I was also told we couldn't afford to go, so I had to wait until later for my nerdcamp experience. And IMSA was cool as a dream when I was in junior high, but by the time I could go, I realized that it was more of a challenge to make public school academically challenging, and at the same time try to figure out how to navigate normal social situations.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:23 PM
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I must not have gone to CTY. Maybe I went to some other kind of summer camp at Johns Hopkins? I was younger than the kids described herein.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:23 PM
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86: Ha! No, surely not. I was not a teacher. I was an asst. acad. dean at the SH campus, 2002.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:24 PM
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87 cont'd: I should note that we did not nerd it up with anything fucking close to the way you all nerded it up. (Really. I didn't score high enough to go to TIP or these others. This place was a notch less intense.) But it was still a respite from middle school with other smart kids who I loved dearly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:24 PM
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Let's talk summer camps!

I went to day camps which don't really make an impression on my memory.

Of the sleep-over camps:
1. was really nature and/or "complete boy" orienting, featuring lots of outward bound-ish ways to challenge oneself and identify herons and bound across land masses with watercraft and so on. I went for three years, but I fucking hated that Lord of the Flies shittiness.
2. was an "arts" camp targeted at dissolute children of New Yorkers -- they had glass blowing, painting, an honest-to-god clown school, and all sorts of sexual tension. I loved it, but in retrospect, sure, of course I did. Unlike camp 1, they allowed candy and introspection.
3. was computer camp. It was good, but I was already way beyond the instructors computer-wise, and they had shitty hardware (not even Apple IIs, I don't think). I played a lot of tennis.

All of this is somehow relevant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:27 PM
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Reading 80, I think TIP for me was one of those bottomless-despair-hell-type experiences, except for in class; on the other hand, the experience that for me around that age really was like being let into heaven was realizing I could go to my local university library and just sit down and read the sort of highly technical things that I would never find in the public library. Of course, these days the internet probably means a kid can have the same sort of experience without leaving home.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:28 PM
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95

I played a lot of tennis.

I always suspected Sifu was an imaginary creation of David Foster Wallace.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:29 PM
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96

I also did some math-oriented thing, that was apparently a somewhat experimental program for working with kids, when I was about 8, where we did some normal math and some conceptual stuff like using "invented" operators. I also almost got kicked out of class one day for rudely suggesting that we weren't going to get any further with the all Cretans are liars paradox, and no one really cared any more. So at least I learned some socialization.

I then went back to long division or whatever we were doing in school and some years later realized when we finally got to them, that I'd already seen variables.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:29 PM
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95: that explains why I dislike him so much.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:29 PM
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98

I never even heard of TIP.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:31 PM
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97: David Foster Wallace just never managed to go to Burning Man. He'd have found it annoying, maybe. He may have had trouble relaxing; or it may be that he didn't write about those parts.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:38 PM
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100

ebok


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:41 PM
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97: David Foster Wallace just never managed to go to Burning Man. He'd have found it annoying, maybe

The pope shits in the woods, maybe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:41 PM
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102

I'd like to think that DFW was a bit open-minded. I could be wrong.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:46 PM
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103

Huh. The only summer camp I ever went to was for basketball, because I was terrible and the hope was that it would make me less-terrible. I don't know if it worked, but it was a fun week.

For academics, my parents relied on the gifted program plus my innate sense of obligation. But my 2nd grade teacher told my mom to get me into gifted or there'd be trouble ahead.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:48 PM
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Do check out IMSA, Di. The folks I know who went there had excellent experiences all. Far more so than, say, folks from Simon's Rock.

I was not allowed to apply for CTY. Blanket veto from my folks, who found the whole thing sinister.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:48 PM
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on the other hand, the experience that for me around that age really was like being let into heaven was realizing I could go to my local university library and just sit down and read the sort of highly technicalnaughty things that I would never find in the public library. Of course, these days the internet probably means a kid can have the same sort of experience without leaving home.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:51 PM
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Let's talk summer camps!

2 stints at monthlong Jewish sleepaway camps. I was miserable both times, although at least the second time I ended up in the hospital with an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, so I got to watch TV and eat non-kosher food. (Yes, I preferred hospital food to camp food.)

Then I did a 28-day Outward Bound course the summer before my senior year of high school. Part of the course was a 3-day solo, stuck in a clearing in the woods with an apple, an orange, a bag of raisins and peanuts, and all the water I could drink. It was supposed to be a time to reflect on what I'd accomplished; I spent most of it bored out of my skull and planning all of the meals I'd have when I finally got home.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:52 PM
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Outward Bound was pretty meh on the sense of accomplishment side of things, but at least we got to go to some places I'd otherwise never have gone.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:56 PM
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Part of the course was a 3-day solo, stuck in a clearing in the woods with an apple, an orange, a bag of raisins and peanuts, and all the water I could drink. It was supposed to be a time to reflect on what I'd accomplished; I spent most of it bored out of my skull and planning all of the meals I'd have when I finally got home.

Well somebody missed the lesson about killing a rabbit with your mind.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 8:58 PM
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Thanks all. Lots of good tips. Off to bed now.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 9:00 PM
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Our solo was cut short by a thunderstorm and a flash flood just before it was supposed to start. So they sent us out to our solo spots the next morning when the weather was better. I vaguely remember writing a journal of things that happened about a year earlier and working out how long it would take to walk home at various average mileages per day.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 9:01 PM
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My "favorite" wilderness expedition at Camp of the Flies was a five day sailing trip along the Maine coast, undertaken in classic, open, single-sailed wooden sailing vessels, not unlike those used in Homeric times. Yeah, you know, the ones that were rowed by slaves? Five days of pouring rain and utterly still winds later, had we learned to love the outdoors? We had not. Had we learned to love the hunter's cabin full of porn that our counselors finally, out of a desperation borne of the whining of eleven twelve year olds forced to portage 60 pounds each of soaking wet gear (incl. tents, underwear, sleeping bags), broke into so we could sleep there? Yes we had.

This is, of course, applicable to Di's offspring.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 9:03 PM
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I went to week-long sleep-away church camps, 4th-8th grade, and they were uniformly horrible. After ninth grade, I spent a week at a theater camp, my first secular camp experience, and it was a revelation. Why am I making friends and not having anxiety attacks or being bullied to tears? Oh yeah, because they aren't Baptists.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 9:04 PM
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wanting DNA samples for a study of the genetic basis of intelligence, which thoroughly creeped me out.

Holy mackerel level of creepiness. Geeze. That's really, really unpleasant. I'd have been tempted to call up the researchers and interrogate them.

Also, 81.last is extremely amusing, although I know it is uncharitable to think so.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 9:29 PM
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Just echoing that, without a lot of angsting around about it. If the kid is smart, she can either be bored most of the time throughout high school until she goes to college, or she can go to a private high school that's more challenging, or you can sign her up (with her permission) for a CTY type of thing pre-high-school.

Um. Isn't there something a bit dodgy about just assuming that there's no way a public school could be challenging?

(Aside from the moral and social objections to the idea of buying children's education like that.)

Also, I dunno that the solution to boredom is just to make the work more `challenging'; the subject I found by far the easiest at high school was not the one I did the least work in. The difference was more that art history was worthwhile, while English was a complete waste of five hours a week.

The problem is more likely to be that the work is inherently uninteresting, even if it is challenging --- I mean, do the kids who are finding the work challenging enjoy it? Probably not.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 10:47 PM
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Isn't there something a bit dodgy about just assuming that there's no way a public school could be challenging?

Aside from the moral and social objections to the idea of buying children's education like that.

In a better world, very good schools would be available to every kid. In the world we live in, whether it's an elite public school that you pay for by buying in an expensive neighborhood and paying higher property taxes or a private school that you just pay directly doesn't have much bearing on equality of access to education either way. If anything, private schools that offer financial aid are probably doing more for equality than a lot of suburban public schools. And putting your kid in a crappy environment as a gesture toward equality isn't doing a whole lot of good for anyone.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 10:55 PM
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Um. Isn't there something a bit dodgy about just assuming that there's no way a public school could be challenging?
No Child Left Behind has been working pretty hard on making sure that's the case.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 10:58 PM
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I get the feeling we've had this discussion before, actually.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:05 PM
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More than once, I believe.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:06 PM
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116: For that and other reasons, I think the culture of American K-12 public education is pretty screwed up. Fixing it isn't going to be easy because it's all tangled up with a whole bunch of our other national pathologies.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:09 PM
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In the world we live in, whether it's an elite public school that you pay for by buying in an expensive neighborhood and paying higher property taxes or a private school that you just pay directly doesn't have much bearing on equality of access to education either way. If anything, private schools that offer financial aid are probably doing more for equality than a lot of suburban public schools.

It was more the false dichotomy between `bored in a public' or `challenged in a private' that annoyed me.

(Also I do think private schooling as a system is immoral, even compared to buying into the Grammar zone or whatever; it's putting people's minds at the mercy of the market in a particularly nasty way. You can't reduce it to a simple utilitarian calculus.

I don't know how that transfers to any individual's moral obligation in any given situation.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:26 PM
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I've always thought the whole "need to be challenged" thing was kind of BS.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:31 PM
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Also I do think private schooling as a system is immoral, even compared to buying into the Grammar zone or whatever; it's putting people's minds at the mercy of the market in a particularly nasty way. You can't reduce it to a simple utilitarian calculus.

I'm having a hard time making sense of this. Do you have the same reaction to private colleges and universities? How is schooling provided by a private nonprofit inherently more "at the mercy of the market" than schooling provided by a governmental entity created for the purpose and funded with tax revenue?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:37 PM
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37 -- We're living this, a few turns of the wheel ahead of you. I wish I had some good answers. All I can say is fix it now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:43 PM
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To expand on 122, in an area that's populous enough to support a bunch of schools, there's no particular reason why a mix of public and private providers couldn't produce equitable opportunities if they're funded equitably. That's obviously not the world we live in, but making access more equitable doesn't need to start by shutting down private schools.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:51 PM
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Do you have the same reaction to private colleges and universities?

Yep. Education should be free.

It isn't, I don't think, the private part I particularly object to (tho I do think that public institutions are better in so far as they are democratic and so-on) as the `fee-paying' part.

I don't think public need mean literally state-run, because I think academic independence is important.

And I don't suppose that I object to Workingmen's Institutes and so-on, or to private tertiary education set up to meet very specific needs that the State doesn't, but in general, I do think think private fee charging education is immoral.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-23-09 11:51 PM
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OK, I think you're starting from a sort of public/private distinction that doesn't map all that well onto U.S. education.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:01 AM
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And now I'm going to bed.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:01 AM
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hat's obviously not the world we live in, but making access more equitable doesn't need to start by shutting down private schools.

Oh, I don't know. It'd be a start. Or, if not literally shutting them down, taxing them till they squeak.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:02 AM
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It isn't, I don't think, the private part I particularly object to (tho I do think that public institutions are better in so far as they are democratic and so-on) as the `fee-paying' part.

In an American context this would imply an objection to public institutions vs. the top elite private ones which effectively don't charge tuition to anyone in the bottom ninety five percent of the population and largely pay for room and board for low and middle income kids as well. In other words, Harvard - good, State U - bad. Though I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'democratic'.

128 What do you apply the tax to without profits? I guess you could tax property which would hurt private day schools in the expensive blue metros while barely touching the elite boarding schools.

I've got a better idea though, make the damn public schools good enough that the private school industry atrophies. In Switzerland they're a very small presence, surviving to a large extent by catering to wealthy kids who can't get into public high schools. At least that was the case in the eighties. There were also plenty of English language ones, but that's a whole different issue.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:16 AM
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re: 129

There are lots of services and/or products that are taxed irrespective of profits.

I've got a better idea though, make the damn public schools good enough that the private school industry atrophies.

That would work quite easily in some parts of the UK -- Scotland, for example, which, because of 'teh Calvinism' is much more like Switzerland than England is -- but I think the private school system is deeply entrenched in others. Any solution is going to involve a mixture of measures: withdrawing charitable status from private schools, increased spending on state schools, plus a load of other measures to reduce social and economic inequality.

Crudely, however, reducing social and economic inqequality is always going to involve a decent amount of 'taking rich people's shit', and expensive elite education, because of its central role in maintaining inequity, is some of the shit we should be 'taking'. 'Making the damn public schools good enough' is always going to run into problems when those who disproportionately hold the strings of power have absolutely no incentive to want to do so. Carrots _and_ sticks.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:29 AM
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We can still tax the profit-making private post-secondary schools. And maybe not hand them loans.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:47 AM
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One of the key elements in the Swiss system's success is different tracks after elementary school with only a minority going to the university track ones. I think you guys called them 'grammar schools'. There is a certain degree of class reproduction in those as well, but a lot less than in private schools.

I'm wondering if some of this difference between American and Anglo commenters is the greater importance of 'public' schools to the English class system than private schools to the AMerican one. We've got our Brit modeled Andovers, Grotons, and St. Pauls, but they're marginal to the overall class structure in the country unless you're a northeastern WASP. Instead private vs. public is a geographical choice - affluent parents tend to choose between living in urban areas and sending their kids to private schools or moving to a high end suburb, paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes and getting excellent schools with great facilities and high paid talented teachers. So eliminating private schools in this system seems more likely to increase geographical class segregation than reduce educational inequalities.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:51 AM
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And round here you'd have to suddenly produce a bunch more state schools to have room for the children you're trying to entice out of the private schools, so that would be tricky. And even then, people are odd. According to the Sunday Times, my eldest daughter's school got the third best state school A level and GCSE results this year. Which if you mix in independent schools too, makes it be in the top 20 in the country (purely going by results). And some parents, when their daughter is offered a place there, will still turn it down in favour of one of the local independent schools.

It was her birthday yesterday (Happy belated Birthday JRoth!) and she went out with some of her friends on Sunday night for dinner. They're such a cute little bunch of nerds!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:53 AM
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133 to 129.3, 130


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:55 AM
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Just as an example of this, I went to a public elementary school in the US for my first few years before moving to Geneva and going to an English language private school with one year in a French language one to learn the language. But I know that if we had stayed in the US my parents were intending to send me to a private high school unless we moved to one of the towns with great schools - and correspondingly expensive homes and high tax rates. We weren't even living in a bad school district. It was an upper middle class town with a perfectly decent school system, but not at the level of a good private school or an elite public one which in turn were seen as interchangeable.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:59 AM
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Whale nipples are really the things to think about.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 5:35 AM
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Whale nipples are really the things to think about.

Chilly. Brrrrr...


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:01 AM
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137: BACK OFF BLOWHOLES, THIS ONE's MINE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED WITCH | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:25 AM
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"Robert Pattinson Nipple" has its own google search category and indeed its own internetwide controversy.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:26 AM
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Off topic, has anyone heard of this? I'm interested in suggestions and ideas.

On topic, I went to CTY. I think they changed its name to IAAY, the Institute for Academic Advancement of Youth, while or shortly after I was there, although this thread makes me doubt it because I would have expected someone else to mention it by now.

I went two years, sometime around when I was 14. Maybe the summer after eighth grade and the summer after ninth, or maybe the summers after ninth and tenth, I don't know. My first session, I took a college class in logic, and learned all about Xeno's arrow and Polish notation. I also learned that there was more than one Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, and how to play four-square and a version of the card game Mao based on the H2G2 series.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:08 AM
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Oh, god, I hate this topic. I have to choose/apply for a middle school for Sally next year -- she can stay in the middle school attached to her current elementary school, or go someplace else. And then there's all of this enrichment stuff. I really hate the inequality of our school system, but I also hate the idea of her and Newt missing something, or developing a bad attitude about academics because their current school is too easy and they're bored. (Of course, isn't everyone reasonably bright bored by elementary school?) I can't think about this without getting simultaneously guilty and worried.

I've been counting on the bilingual thing to make school hard enough that they don't blow it off, but I'm not sure that's enough. Argh argh argh argh.

(I've got Sally's application in for a good public middle school nearby, and staying where she is wouldn't be tragic. The whole subject is maddening, though.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:29 AM
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re: 141

We've talked about this before; I don't really think it's necessarily a problem if school doesn't stretch/stimulate the brightest kids as long as they have opportunities to explore things on their own. Either at home, or in free time at school.

I think it's a mistake to think that school can provide everything, for everyone, and if anyone has to lose out, better those at the most-able end of the spectrum since they are better placed to seek out what they need elsewhere.

Of course, I understand why people worry about it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:32 AM
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Jewish Canadian summer camp, 2 months/year for 11 years (working there the last two years.) Wealthy spoiled kids, but actually was good for my social development.
If you live near NYC, this at Columbia was pretty good for high school kids. I got to do college level physics, astronomy, and programming.
My kid goes to a title I school and it's awesome- no need to buy school supplies, free fruits and vegetables in the classroom several days a week, and my property taxes are 1/5 as much as people who moved to the suburbs. Oh, and the education's pretty good too- bilingual instruction in kindergarten.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:32 AM
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142: I mostly think you're right, and I'm mostly acting on that basis. OTOH, I'm out of step with everyone I know in this country in roughly my educational/socioeconomic class, and if I'm wrong, I'm screwing my kids up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:36 AM
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re: 144

There's not necessarily anything wrong with being out of step with what is, essentially, a fucked-up pathological culture: helicopter-parenting, etc


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:37 AM
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141: If I had a school-aged daughter in Manhattan, it would be almost impossible for me to resist sending her to Sacred Heart because omgsquee those gingham pinafores they wear are the cutest things in the world. (Sally has aged out of the gingham pinafore group, and after that the uniforms are just dull and grey.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:38 AM
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144: And everyone else in Manhattan is so relaxed about things like this.

Kayla, who will be 4 in December, held her tiny pointer finger still as she inspected the four choices. "Too hard," she peeped.
Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance -- costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions -- will help them win coveted spots in the city's gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:42 AM
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140.1: I think Translation PArty can help with that one. I like how the 2nd quote comes out: Rugged frontier, the United States is the perfect combination of breath spray scent of autumn in a small town.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:51 AM
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142: I largely agree as well, but I worry about her never really learning to have to work at something and becoming an unfocused slug in midlife like her mother, who has a very difficult time getting things that take any effort done. She just started an instrument and is pretty active in theater. But these seem to be things she just coast through effortlessly as well. Maybe she will just never hit the wall and I'll have worried for nothing.

Also, though, she's the one who brought the subject up. So she apparently is feeling the need for a challenge. I'm sort of thinking what she really needs is something that is hard, but not necessarily populated by the "smart" kids.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:06 AM
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I'm hoping the TKD classes are good for that. We've had them both in TKD for a couple of years largely because it's convenient afterschool daycare rather than because we're expecting them to get terribly good at it, and it's hard for both of them -- they're really not naturals. Both big and strong, but really not flexible or particularly fast. So they're getting some experience with working hard at something over a long period of time, and getting better at it but not being effortlessly superior. If they can transfer that experience to when they hit academics that are difficult, I'll be ecstatic.

I never did -- college was the first time I hit anything academic that took much effort, and I did not deal with it successfully.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:13 AM
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something that is hard, but not necessarily populated by the "smart" kids

Hockey.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:13 AM
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149: So having her start up "Unfogged Offspring: The Blog" is right out, eh?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:14 AM
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Unfogged, the Next Generation. Hmmm... I preferred ShatnerOgged.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:18 AM
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Huh. I would think that being in a big city, especially in the super-dense heart of one, would take some of the pressure off the need for the school to provide all the interest and stimulation - there's a lot more to do that isn't school. Growing up in the suburbs/rural fringes, making school bearable was a much bigger deal, because there weren't really any other outlets or sources of information (very pre-Internet), and even just the logistics of transportation made the school vastly more accessible than even the local public libraries.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:21 AM
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151: Let's just see how HCR turns out first. We are a brittle-boned people.

154: Moving to the heart of the city might indeed be a solution, if it were compatible with custody/visitation provisions. Alas, Stepford isn't as stimulating.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:23 AM
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We've had them both in TKD for a couple of years... If they can transfer that experience to when they hit academics that are difficult, I'll be ecstatic.

It's probably better if they try reasoning with academics that are being difficult first. Though, I grant you, some faculty members simply don't respond to anything short of being hit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:45 AM
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155: I was targeting LB's version of the concerns with that remark - I don't think I knew what kind of area you were in, beyond the general metro region.

Of course, my unhappy history in a rural area has led me to prefer living in a pretty dense city myself, which is becoming a problem, as it's very expensive to buy a house, and I'm being stubborn about how much density, walkability, and transit access I'm willing to compromise.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:47 AM
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154: That may help in a couple of years, when we can let them loose to get themselves to stuff. At 10 and 8, though, they still have to be taken to anything they're going to do, and we both work full time. (Buck has some flexibility working at home, but not as much as you think -- Sally's on a swim team along with the TKD, and getting her to two 4:30 practices on weekdays is a serious difficulty, even with the parent of a friend on the team taking them both about half the time.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:51 AM
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Of course, my unhappy history in a rural area has led me to prefer living in a pretty dense city myself, which is becoming a problem, as it's very expensive to buy a house, and I'm being stubborn about how much density, walkability, and transit access I'm willing to compromise.

Having to drive to the awesome beer bar would simply be unacceptable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:54 AM
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Unfogged TNG sounds like a brilliant idea - go for it Rory!

LB, you have my sympathies. I found it all horrible enough when we were applying for Kid A's secondary school place, and that was with Plan B being that if she hadn't got into her current school we could have carried on happily home educating. If our choices had actually been current school vs any of our other local schools I would have been a real wreck. Her school is a very good match for her (full of the freaks and geeks we'd hoped for), and it's nice not having to worry too much about the next 6 years! Kid B and I are just starting to talk GCSEs (current plan of Maths and possibly something else in June 2011).

Di, does Rory want something challenging to do with other people, or something to do by herself? Learning an instrument gets you into orchestras etc at some point, which might be good. Or maybe some sort of online course she can work on at home would appeal? I can give you some interesting maths links if you like!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:55 AM
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160: Math(s) links would be truly awesome. (I'd be all for "Unfogged: TNG," too, but she has decided to break her mother's heart and prefer math/science over writing.) We were very literally right at the edges of the most sophisticated math I could remember well enough to make up problems last night. I could probably dig up old text books, and it would probably be good for me to refresh my numbers a bit, but if you already have links, that's less effort for me!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:00 AM
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The name "Center for Talented Youth" really squicks me out. I'm sure that part of this is real snobbery on my part. It seems like something obviously aspirational middle class, something that the sort of people who think that SAT scores are important and interesting in their own right.

I had a neurospych exam done a while ago, and the young psychologist asked me if I had ever been in a program for gifted children, and I really wanted to vomit.

A lot of people find my all-girls grade school pretentious, but I much prefer their self description as a scool for "academically promising and motivated girls."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:00 AM
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if anyone has to lose out, better those at the most-able end of the spectrum since they are better placed to seek out what they need elsewhere

True of kids from families with a decent amount of social capital, not so true of those without. Those public school G&T programs are important, IMO.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:01 AM
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160, 161: Post links, if you would, rather than emailing? Sally and Newt are both mathy, and while they had fun messing with those workbooks I got them, anything interesting online to fool around with would be good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:05 AM
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161: How about SAT prep materials? We were working through a few math questions on the College Board website last night (kid is interested in CTY), and they were actually pretty decent at making him work a bit conceptually. Mine's a couple of years older than yours, but he's also a somewhat lazy math student, so if she's really interested in math it might work. And God knows there's no shortage of materials out there.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:08 AM
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Big government to the rescue! There were all kinds of science and math lessons developed during the cold war that are now available free online. For example (although that site's server technology seems to be stuck in the 60s as well.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:08 AM
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This one works better. Advanced topics.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:10 AM
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re: 163

Yeah, there is some truth in that, maybe.* That's not the situation of the people discussing the topic in this thread, of course.

* depending on just quite how easy the mainstream stuff is.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:12 AM
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How about SAT prep materials?

I'm sure her dad still has those and I probably have GRE books. But then she's just going to start questioning my lectures on the evils of standardized testing...


Posted by: di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:14 AM
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Thanks, SP!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:15 AM
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Advanced topics, nice presentation, fun.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:19 AM
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Yeah, there is some truth in that, maybe.* That's not the situation of the people discussing the topic in this thread, of course.

Not the situation of our kids, but was the situation for some of us, and perhaps part of the reason why we're bitter and maladjusted. Which mostly supports your point, not mine, but if we're going to start taking stuff away from the well-off (and we should!), really good education is pretty low on my list.

But then she's just going to start questioning my lectures on the evils of standardized testing

Evil, sure, but kind of fun.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:21 AM
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but if we're going to start taking stuff away from the well-off (and we should!), really good education is pretty low on my list.

There's a strong argument that preferential access to really good education should be high on the list. That turns into being able to call every inequal result for the rest of the kids' lives objectively merit-based; if it went away, we'd be living in a more equal society.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:27 AM
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I also just want to add to NPH's point that in an ideal world you wouldn't expect schools to do nearly everything, but that isn't the world we live in.

Given my mother's illness and the limited funds they had themselves, going to boarding school (paid for by my grandmother) was probably the best thing that could have been done for me. If we had planned better and my father had known better, a different school might have been better, but living at home was not good. And being taken from home and put in foster care probably would have been bad too.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:29 AM
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173: Yes, but good education is a good thing all by itself. It's not just about credentialing, which is the objectionable part.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:30 AM
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Evil, sure, but kind of fun.

Man, I sort of hate standardized testing, and that wasn't based on distaste for multiple choice tests. I genuinely enjoyed some of the AP tests---especially the ones in U.S. history.

I resented the idea that I was supposed to prepare for standardized tests. I also really wanted to argue with the people who wrote the reading comprehension questions. I felt sure that there were times when none of the answers to the question were good and that the questions themselves were dumb.

I'm sure that this was a failure of my emotional intelligence at the time (somebody at Yale has studied this--currently the dean of something, I think).


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:34 AM
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Right -- I'm not saying there should be less good education, given that education is a good thing, but conditioning access to it on money is an equality problem. I don't have a good solution beyond making public education competitive in quality with the very best private education, and I don't know how to do that. But the problem's there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:37 AM
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I actually enjoyed standardized tests while thinking that they were ridiculous in their claims since, apart from socio-economic issues, a large part of what they measure is a knack for standardized testing.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:39 AM
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178: Right; it's a combination of being generally fairly bright, confident enough not to lose time stewing, and a knack for getting in the head of the person who wrote the test. You can do okay with just the first, and quite well with the first two, but with the third they all get very easy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:42 AM
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re: 173

Exactly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:46 AM
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Right -- I'm not saying there should be less good education, given that education is a good thing, but conditioning access to it on money is an equality problem. I don't have a good solution beyond making public education competitive in quality with the very best private education, and I don't know how to do that. But the problem's there.

Except that most of the really best public schools in this country are better than or at least as good as the best private schools; didn't you go to one of those for high school? And at least where I grew up, the best high schools were public magnet schools. (Which isn't to say that there isn't an equality problem, because the lack of money is correlated with poorer education earlier in life and a tendency to fail to get in to the good magnet high schools. But it's not the same as private schools that are, explicitly, very expensive.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:47 AM
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Yup, it's a lot like having a talent for crosswords. Same sort of fun as well.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:48 AM
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re: 172

Not the situation of our kids, but was the situation for some of us, and perhaps part of the reason why we're bitter and maladjusted.

It was largely my situation, too, although on the whole I'm not at all bitter and maladjusted about it. But I don't really think education systems should be designed primarily around the needs of people like me/us.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:52 AM
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Gah, italics fail on the previous comment.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:53 AM
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It would be awfully ungrateful for me to denigrate standardized tests, considering all they've given me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:54 AM
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178, 179: My thoughts exactly. Rory's school gets all crazy prepping them for the standardized achievement tests, which truly annoys me and leads me to tell her things like, "standardized tests are for standardized children."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:54 AM
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181: Well, I'd agree that there are public high schools at the very top of the quality spectrum. There are a bunch of NYC high schools that are as good as anything in the country, including the one I went to (which certainly could have been improved -- it's not like they actually expected us to work terribly hard -- but nothing's perfect). But in the areas that don't happen to be served by schools like that, a rich family can buy a better education than a poor family, which is still a justice problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:55 AM
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Ok ...

We like NRICH very much.

"Make you think" type puzzles:
Primary Maths Challenge - aimed at 9-11 year olds; download some past papers, or buy the book.

Or if they're too easy, go on to the Junior Challenge and so on - Junior is aimed at 11-13 year olds.

CIMT cover every topic on our national curriculum and give you about a zillion problems on each at each level. (Password for anything marked P is CIMT4maths) I use these a lot in my tutoring as there's just so much of it.

The BBC Bitesize pages (KS3 is 11-14, GCSE is 14-16, but most of it's not particularly deep or demanding) are quite good for an independent poke around - as it says, bitesize chunks of info and then a quick test.

Also, my kids all like any sort of verbal or non-verbal reasoning problems - they prefer NVR, but VR is ok too. We have piles of the Bond books.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:56 AM
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185 makes me feel sorry* for saying 186. Oh, standardized tests, I know how much you've done for me and I'll never forget that!

*No, not really.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:56 AM
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I've said this before, but I had a sad moment walking out of the bar exam -- the last time a standardized test was ever going to do me any good. Of course, then I went into labor, so that took my mind off it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:58 AM
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I dunno, ttaM. I'm sure I'd have been as hopeless in a regular school as someone who couldn't get through it on the low end. I pretty much credit the magnet program with saving my life. I wasn't doing well before switching schools.

If can only afford to design education programs for one type of student, then sure, it should be the modal kid. But so long as we're wealthier, I have no problem spending money on the niches.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:58 AM
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185: Standardized tests did their best to give me everything, but I still managed to throw it all away.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:59 AM
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190: And then you had the APGAR test! (Or I guess not you exactly...)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 9:59 AM
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I'm taking a standardized test in the spring! I'll have to study for this one. I'm looking forward to the whole process.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:00 AM
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Children are standardized to standardized test
Truly translation party is wise.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:00 AM
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And at least where I grew up, the best high schools were public magnet schools.

Not so true in new England, at least not yet, and Massachusetts is still really tied to town and city boundaries.* Boston Latin is a selective school, but you have to live in Boston to go.

* There is a program called Metco where kids from te city go to schools in te suburbs, but that's for low-income kids.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:01 AM
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I'm taking a standardized test in two weeks, just because you all said it's so fun.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:02 AM
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re: 191

Sure, if the money is there to be spent, yeah, and I'd much rather that than only have the 'good stuff' being provided by elite academies and private establishments.

I'm not against the idea of providing kids with interesting work, I'm just against the idea that the school is the sole responsible body when it comes to intellectual stimulation for kids, and against the relentless concentration [understandable though it is] in Unfogged discussions of education on the needs of what are a tiny minority of kids.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:02 AM
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Pregnancy tests aren't standardized, Sifu.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:05 AM
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on the needs of what are a tiny minority of kids

But they're everybody I know.

(This doesn't pose huge problems for me because in my school, it was skimming from the LAUSD. My classmates were super diverse, by race and class. So I haven't had to confront that kind of education only being given to whomever goes to Andover.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:06 AM
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173 177

So do you want to take kids away from their parents and raise them communally so no one has an unfair advantage?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:06 AM
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177: Agreed. What I'm objecting to is the idea that if you shut down really good private schools (and really good suburban schools?), that will somehow magically make the remaining public schools better. Reduce inequality, but do so by making lousy schools better, not by shutting down good schools.

178.3: That's the "kind of fun" part.

183: Yeah, I was including you in that, and I'm not really bitter and maladjusted either. But I do think it's better if people like us enjoy school and get something out of it rather. And my observations of elite schools suggest that the ratio of over-entitled assholes to decent people isn't a lot different there than it is anywhere else.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:07 AM
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...rather than being bored and frustrated much of the time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:08 AM
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201: Oddly enough, I believe that would have been the position of my grandfather, an early labor-Zionist kibbutznik.

I kind of doubt anyone commenting here is quite that committed to egalitarianism.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:11 AM
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Pregnancy tests aren't standardized

THEY ARE IN MY HOUSE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JIM BOB DUGGAR | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:13 AM
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against the relentless concentration [understandable though it is] in Unfogged discussions of education on the needs of what are a tiny minority of kids.

Of course, this happens because we're talking about our own kids. I'd be much more successful at keeping myself on the hard equality line if I wasn't looking at Sally and Newt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:15 AM
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202

Reduce inequality, but do so by making lousy schools better, not by shutting down good schools.

But the good schools are good because they have good students. And the bad schools are bad because they have bad students. You can't make bad schools competitive if all the good students are attending good schools.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:15 AM
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It certainly took you a while to show up in this thread, Shearer. I had been wondering what was up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:18 AM
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204

I kind of doubt anyone commenting here is quite that committed to egalitarianism.

Probably not but for the most part differences in schools just reflect larger differences in society. They don't cause them. So it seems silly to expect equalizing schools to make much difference.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:20 AM
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re: 206

A lot of these conversations end up focusing on how horrible it was to be clever at school, leavened with a fair bit of self-pity. That probably sounds a bit harsh, but there is a current of that.

The other current is, "what kind of moral monster are you that wouldn't throw aside all of your principles and run trampling over them [and other people!] ... for the sake of your kids?".

Both of those are understandable sentiments, of course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:32 AM
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Well, we've got less social mobility than the European democracies with more egalitarian school funding and welfare states. If you're fond of social mobility and equality (which, certainly, you don't particularly seem to be), it's reasonable to think that public policy, including educational policy, is going to affect it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:32 AM
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re: 211

Remember, Shearer's view is that that's because European countries contain no black people.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:35 AM
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210: clever, shmever; it was horrible to be me at school, and I'd like to know how we can deploy the resources of the state to fix that, post-haste.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:36 AM
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211 to 209.

210: It's certainly a topic on which I'm dripping with self-pity, so, busted. OTOH, given that there's fairly broad agreement that being a bright kid in a nonselective American school was, in fact, kind of miserable, seeking ways not to inflict that misery on your kids where it can be done without harming anyone else too much seems reasonable.

On the second paragraph, eh, I think you're oversimplifying. You can think a system's unjust, and be willing to do what you can to dismantle it (where 'what you can' comes down to very little, of course) and still want, while the injustice persists, your loved ones to benefit from, rather than suffering from, that injustice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:36 AM
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If only that comment had more commas in it, I think the flow would have improved.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:37 AM
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Catching up on this thread, I have to say that all of the discussion of nerd-camps makes me feel mildly depressed and frustrated -- which isn't to say that it's a bad topic just that it clearly hits a sensitive spot for me.

So they're getting some experience with working hard at something over a long period of time, and getting better at it but not being effortlessly superior.

That has been my experience with basketball. I often say that it is the single activity that I have the most time practicing despite not being very good. It's good for me, but I started as an adult (more or less) so it's different. I don't know that playing soccer as a kid taught me any lessons that I could have applied to academics.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:42 AM
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clever, shmever; it was horrible to be me at school,

I just barely avoided that. Most of my friends had truly terrible experiences at school, but by some point in High School I managed to figure out how to adapt well enough that school was merely frustrating and not awful for me.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:44 AM
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178
a large part of what they measure is a knack for standardized testing.

Agreed. I forget where I first saw this article/blog post linked, about how you can often figure out the correct answer on standardized tests without knowing the questions. I got the correct answer myself, and by a much more simpler method than the author of that book goes through. (He goes through nine paragraphs from first principles of test-question-asking. I started out by assuming that each incorrect answer would be just one mistake away from the correct answer, so that someone could plausibly get that answer by skipping a step or dividing instead of multiplying or something, with at most one completely out-of-left-field choice thrown in. Sounds fair, right? Well, of the possible answers, nothing is totally out of left field. The answers are 4(pi) sq. in., 8(pi) sq. in., 16 sq. in., 16(pi) sq. in., and 32(pi) sq. in. The only answer that's just one operation away from all the others - is 16(pi). It took the author six times as many words as I just did to arrive at the same answer.) (The first commenter said the same thing, even more succinctly than me, but I swear we arrived at our methods independently.)

209: Nothing does, so clearly this is the best of all possible worlds.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:47 AM
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212

Remember, Shearer's view is that that's because European countries contain no black people.

Since you brought the subject up, to the extent that social immobility in the United States is due to ethnic stratification you would expect more mobility in countries which are ethnically homogeneous. How does social mobility in Europe compare to social mobility in the United States among the white population?

And does anyone have sources for the claim that social mobility is greater in Europe? Is this just within countries in Europe or would it still be true if measured continent wide?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:51 AM
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there's fairly broad agreement that being a bright kid in a nonselective American school was, in fact, kind of miserable

Didn't bother me any. I was miserable, sure, but then so was pretty much everybody else my age, regardless of whether they were bright, dull, rich, poor, popular, or a pariah. Some hid it better than others, and some coped with it more effectively than others, but we were all special snowflakes, hideously oppressed by a system that just didn't understand the real me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 10:51 AM
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Here's a paper comparing the US, UK, Canada, West Germany, and the Nordic Countries. The US has the lowest social mobility, although it's not much worse than the UK.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:03 AM
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I was thinking a little bit more about what sensitive spots were being triggered for me by the discussion of summer camps for nerds etc

1) Is just a feeling of mild resentment at the fact that I wasn't aware of anything like that in my area of the country.

2) Because of (1), I associate those sorts of programs as correlating with a culture of status competition and class consciousness/anxiety. That may not be accurate, but there's a part of me that immediately thinks, "East Coast snobs" even though I know such programs aren't confined to the East Coast.

3) More personally, it strikes a particular chord of anxiety from my childhood. I was somewhat skeptical of organized programs and had a strong feeling of, "I want to figure things out myself" or "I want to be doing things because I chose them, not because somebody told me." At the same time I always sort of wondered if I was missing out by not buying in to the various organized activities.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:12 AM
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214

... given that there's fairly broad agreement that being a bright kid in a nonselective American school was, in fact, kind of miserable, ...

Actually I don't remember being particularly unhappy. I didn't really mind being able to do well without working hard. Although as Biohazard pointed out 42 this wasn't great for instilling good work habits. So I don't think I received the greatest education but that is a different issue.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:13 AM
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220, 223: Eh, maybe that bit was just me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:23 AM
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I was somewhat skeptical of organized programs and had a strong feeling of, "I want to figure things out myself" or "I want to be doing things because I chose them, not because somebody told me."

I was and still am this way, but I don't really think it's a good thing. You can often learn more faster if you're a little more receptive to being taught.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:24 AM
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You can often learn more faster if you're a little more receptive to being taught.

Could you come over and explain that to Newt, please?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:25 AM
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I think 220 is probably right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:26 AM
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Eh, maybe that bit was just me.

My point was the opposite. Adolescents are miserable more or less across the board.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:27 AM
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Could you come over and explain that to Newt, please?

Considering that I still can't really practice what I preach, probably not very effectively.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:28 AM
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229: And he really wouldn't listen.

227, 228: Eh. I was an ordinarily discontented teenager, but by then I was comfortably in a school where I wasn't particularly academically weird. That's not really what I'm talking about. I was, trust me, an unusually miserable and ill-functioning elementary school student, and it certainly seemed to have something to do with being an academic misfit. Maybe the social problems would have resolved without the selective school, of course -- no way to tell.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:32 AM
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You can often learn more faster if you're a little more receptive to being taught.

I came around to that idea by my last two years in high school. I still like teaching myself things but I definitely appreciate good teachers.

*shrug* perhaps that's why it's a sore spot.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:38 AM
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So, would a furry who's into dressing as a fish be referred to as a "scaly"? I'm sorry, but this question is the natural end of the line when one is trapped in the fish nipple obsession equivalent to a k-hole.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:58 AM
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||

I encountered the phrase "totes adorebs" on Facebook today and I am now much less comfortable with shortening words.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:01 PM
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232: And one whose fursona is a slug would be a "slimy."


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:02 PM
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210.1: Meh. I don't think school's "horrible" for Rory. She seems remarkably well-liked among her peers for her cleverness. Worst case, I suppose she remains perpetually bored and is forced to become the most prolific blog commenter in her graduating class one day.

210:2. I also don't see anything contrary to my own particular principles in wanting to give that kid the world. If it were in my power and within my "jurisdiction" to give any other kid the world, I'd do it, too. Although, none of those other kids are making me coffee in the morning...


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:05 PM
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A clam-identified persona might go so far as to refer to itself as a "gooey".

What about bugs? Crunchies? Or does an adjective referring to how one feels when squished not really work?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:06 PM
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Somewhere on the internet, a website for bug-loving furry BDSM types is being born.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:09 PM
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236: Shelly and Chitiny would be my first guesses. Your hedgehog and sea urchin freaky-ass weirdo demographic are both Spinies, despite vastly different habitats.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:11 PM
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I am now much less comfortable with shortening words.

I've taken to fattening words myself.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:11 PM
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Dolphins are hard. "Skinny" doesn't really work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:17 PM
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Sponges, on the other hand, work perfectly. Assuming the persona is a little dull, but you work with the kinks you have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:18 PM
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Sponges, on the other hand, work perfectly

I thought they had at least some failure rate...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:22 PM
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a website for bug-loving furry BDSM types is being born

Here, here, and here.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:23 PM
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240: Blowholies?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:24 PM
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Flippies.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:26 PM
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245: I knew a guy once who'd named it Flipper....


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:28 PM
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Flukies. It'd be a term encompassing all cetacean personae, from porpoises up through baleen whales.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:29 PM
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I suppose calling toad-identified people Warties would seem cruel. On the other hand, if they're toad-identified, they might not mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:31 PM
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||
One of the best parts about reading history survey textbooks that go in for aggressive anglicization of foreign names is that you come across historical figures you've never heard of. Like hero of the battles of Dresden and Leipzig, and post-Napoleonic power player in the Russian court, General Diebitch.

At least for the tiny 15-year-old who lives inside each of us.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:32 PM
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230

... I was, trust me, an unusually miserable and ill-functioning elementary school student, and it certainly seemed to have something to do with being an academic misfit. ...

Was your sister unhappy also?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:45 PM
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Your affliction: you can't stop thinking about dolphin nipples.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:52 PM
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General Diebitch.

I think I want a new pseud.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:52 PM
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Not in the same way, no -- we were treated very differently by the teachers in our elementary school, so the social fallout was different. I could go into it in wearying detail, but I can't imagine anyone would be interested.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:53 PM
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251: An elusive topic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:55 PM
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there's fairly broad agreement that being a bright kid in a nonselective American school was, in fact, kind of miserable

This does seem to be broadly agreed upon in pop culture; it doesn't square with my experience at all, attending the only (public) high school in my county with 3,000 + kids in a not particularly wealthy (for coastal California) area. Smart kids were one of the de facto popular groups; you had your jocks, your pretty people, your surfers, etc, etc, but the smart kids were right up there, hugely over-represented in the other categories as well. So it was quite comfortable to be a smart kid, because you were both surrounded by others like you and embraced by the school as a member of the elite. If anything, I struggled with never feeling smart enough.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:55 PM
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253: We'd all be fascinated, but we know how you love to keep your secrets.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 12:55 PM
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This does seem to be broadly agreed upon in pop culture

This reminded me of the House episode that I watched last night -- the point of it seemed to be that being rextremely smart makes you miserable for your whole life.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:00 PM
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Adolescents are miserable more or less across the board.

That wasn't true for me. I was miserable in the schools where I was a social failure, and when I got to a school where the other kids were like me, we had a pretty good time. So I'm not fatalistic about what a high school could offer.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:05 PM
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Flukies.

Too parasitic.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:05 PM
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255: In a big enough school that you've got a peer-group of some considerable size that defines itself as 'the smart kids', I'm sure someone who fit into that group wouldn't have any particular social problems. I was thinking more of someone in the position of being genuinely unusual in their school.

(Ick. I sound like I'm claiming to have been the second coming of Isaac Newton as a child, which, no. But I was unusual enough to have been socially isolated by it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:05 PM
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251: An elusive topic.

Cool and unexpected. Now I wonder whether and where male dolphins have nipples. The word on the internet is that male mice and stallions don't have nipples.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:08 PM
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260 further: And, to be clear, I'm not arguing for the reshaping of public policy around making life easier for kids who have social problems in school due to being academically unusual. Just that I think it does happen, and is something worth watching out for as a parent.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:14 PM
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"Useless as tits on a boar" is one of those ruralisms that needs to be lovingly preserved for all time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 1:14 PM
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260

In a big enough school that you've got a peer-group of some considerable size that defines itself as 'the smart kids', I'm sure someone who fit into that group wouldn't have any particular social problems. I was thinking more of someone in the position of being genuinely unusual in their school.

So what are you saying? That you were too smart to fit in with the other smart kids at your school?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:36 PM
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"Too smart"? I wouldn't put it that way. Academically unusual enough (in grade school) that it screwed me up socially? Yes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:39 PM
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264: That wouldn't be a particularly surprising thing if you're somewhere out on the tail of the distribution. It's perfectly plausible to be the smartest person in most rooms you're in but also to periodically run into people who are a whole bunch smarter.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:44 PM
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How big was your school, LB?

I'm just curious if that factors in much. The only other person that I know that I think had a very rough time in school on the basis of her intellectual pursuits alone (ie, not general adolescent angstiness, social awkwardness, etc) grew up in the Owens Valley of CA. (Her graduating class had 20 people in it.) She got a lot of shit for her smarts, and I assume that this is somewhat common in more rural areas with very small populations.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:45 PM
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Don't want to pry, but what does "academically unusual" mean?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:48 PM
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268: all of her number grades were recorded in Octal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:50 PM
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My grade school had, IIRC, two classes in each grade, so between 50-60 kids in a year.

what does "academically unusual" mean?

Nothing terribly exciting. I read a lot, at an adult level, very young, and didn't learn to keep my conversation age-appropriate well. So teachers were overly impressed with how frighteningly brilliant I was, and made a huge fuss over it, and my peers, as a result, thought I was from Mars. This was more an early-blooming thing than anything particularly remarkable in later life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:55 PM
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This was more an early-blooming thing than anything particularly remarkable in later life.

No, we still think you're from Mars. Or maybe the future.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:57 PM
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Maybe I'm really in a coma in 1973.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:59 PM
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272: Well, you do seem suspiciously committed to procedure and due process.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 2:59 PM
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I too was extremely, wretchedly miserable in grade school. This is because (a) I was not good at socializing with other children in general, (b) I was bad at dealing with being bored in a way that didn't make both me and other people hate me, (c) there just weren't enough different people around to prevent me from being the sole weirdo of my type. I fantasized about being teleported into some kind of lovely school for smart kids, but in fact what made me much happier was to go to the ordinary, but large and diverse public middle school. The work was too easy and only encouraged me to be the big lazy ass that I naturally am, but I was quite content.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 4:04 PM
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the sole weirdo of my type.

Yeah, maybe the secret is just bigger schools, not selective schools.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 4:08 PM
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re: 270

I was fairly like that. I was certainly crazily well-read for a little kid -- epic novels at 7, etc. I once did an entire year's (or maybe it was a term, I can't remember) maths worksheets, in a morning.* There are lots of stories of that type -- correcting teachers, even once the school Minister, and so on. But I could switch it on and off. I don't think I was 'from Mars' outside school, playing with other kids. It was mostly football and running about. That code-switching ability is something that's mostly stayed with me into adult life.

* for which I got into real trouble.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 4:26 PM
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270

... So teachers were overly impressed with how frighteningly brilliant I was, and made a huge fuss over it, and my peers, as a result, thought I was from Mars. ...

My experience was similar but it didn't make me miserable. I didn't mind being the weird smart kid. Better than just being the weird kid.

But perhaps there is less pressure on boys to fit in.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 5:12 PM
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276: correcting teachers

Kids say the darndest things department:

A friend's kindergartner, to her teacher, when instructed to do something: "That's your opinion."
When reprimanded and reminded that she was enjoined to listen to her teacher: "Only when you're not wrong. And you're wrong."

Altar or the gallows, that one.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 5:36 PM
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Anyway ... fish nipple isn't in urban dictionary yet. It probably should be.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 5:36 PM
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But do keep the miserable schooldays anecdotes coming, so I can continue to feel smug about home educating.

(That's a joke. I never feel smug - sometimes vaguely relieved. Smugness would have to involve not constantly making mental notes and plans and evaluating and reevaluating and hoping for the best. But at least my kids have never had to be bored or miserable because they're top of the class.)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 5:41 PM
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Have I already told the one about how my (heretofore) best friend in 8th grade and I got into a fight on the school camping trip at the end of the school year and he then claimed to everyone who would listen that I had kissed him when we were rolling around on the ground punching each other? That was a great school memory. Especially since it was followed immediately by my parents forgetting about picking me up that day after school (I had a 6-person tent, a large cooler and my own bag of clothes and sleeping bag). I wouldn't inflict school on my worst enemy.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 5:46 PM
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I suspect a lot of the badness of elementary school has to do with the way the teacher responds to outliers. My previous schools weren't bad in this way--there are always other weird kids, and the teachers didn't freak out about it--but when we moved in 4th grade, I had two teachers in a row who were obsessed with conformity. They made a big deal about how AWB was so incredibly intelligent that she had to go to a special school one day a week because otherwise she'd be wasting her time and stuff.

They were also really shitty, as I recall, to the hyperactive kid, the loud kid, the super-popular kid, the shy kid, the special-needs kid. With gifted kids there was also this "oh you think you're better than everyone don't you?" shit. (That's a quotation from calls to my house.) I'm like, listen lady, I don't think anything. I go where I'm told to go.

The other 4-5th-grade teachers were not so bad, and I got a good one in 6th who wasn't a total prick to me. It made a huge, huge difference. People are always going to be shitty, but if even your teacher can't mask her hatred of you, it makes things a thousand times worse.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:00 PM
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NB: I am not freakishly intelligent. I think part of the message for unpopular smart kids at that school was that people hate you because they shouldn't have to tolerate a mutant like you, when a slightly more inclusive environment would have made me feel like less of a mutant.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:05 PM
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The other 4-5th-grade teachers were not so bad, and I got a good one in 6th who wasn't a total prick to me. It made a huge, huge difference. People are always going to be shitty, but if even your teacher can't mask her hatred of you, it makes things a thousand times worse.

YES. I had one of these in fifth grade. It was horrible.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:11 PM
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NB: I am not freakishly intelligent.

Sugar. I've been around the freakishly intelligent my whole life, and you'd fit in fine with my friends.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:20 PM
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270: So teachers were overly impressed with how frighteningly brilliant I was, and made a huge fuss over it, and my peers, as a result, thought I was from Mars. This was more an early-blooming thing than anything particularly remarkable in later life.

Yeah, this. As others have emphasized as well. The other kids didn't think I was from Mars as much as, well, what AWB says: "oh you think you're better than everyone don't you?"

No, I don't, so cut it out, people. I will say that this wasn't in grade school, but in high school. I think there were 250 kids in my high school graduating class, which you'd think would be large enough to offset some of the problem, but it apparently wasn't. Basically, it wasn't cool to be too smart, smart enough to attract attention.

It taught me how important code-switching, as ttaM puts it in 276, is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:23 PM
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Academically, public school / standardized tests / the system were made for my style of learning. The first non-A grade I got in my life (aside from gym, which didn't count towards GPA) was my next to last class in grad school. Socially 7th and 8th grade were somewhat difficult, other than that I wasn't the most popular kid but I had a group I fit in with. My parents were somewhat pushy, so I did get extra in-school tutoring at various points, and in general everything worked out.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:24 PM
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High school was awesome. I was sorry to leave. I cannot imagine that any of the private or wish-they-were-private schools would have been better. I'm almost certain they would all have been worse. It wasn't a particularly huge school either (1100ish, which would be in the high end around here, but not enormous).

Primary school was fine too. Both less and more organised, but pushier parents at that point.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:27 PM
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What's weird to me is the extent to which some people speaking up in this thread don't seem to have gotten over it yet.

It's over -- isn't it? It was a long time ago.

But I do see that if you have kids now who might be going through it themselves, the issue arises yet again.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:29 PM
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I think it was hard to get over, for me, because that was such a formative time for how I came to think of myself as a person in the world. When you're eight and everyone thinks you're some horrible freak, you develop a lot of defense mechanisms that turn out to be incredibly unhelpful for growing up and having a nice normal life. I only feel like it's been in the past few years that I've started to treat myself like someone who actually has the right to be in society, rather than some creep everyone's graciously putting up with.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:35 PM
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Oh, one annoying point in 5th or 6th grade was this competition they had- styled after the olympics- where one of the things that got points for your team was reading books. The gym teacher, who was in charge of keeping the score, refused to believe that I had read something like 150 pages a night for a couple weeks. Jeez, Mr. Gym Teacher, it was only Piers Anthony, not Dostoyevsky.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:40 PM
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You guys are making me pretty grateful for my schooling. The only person who ever made me feel othered about being smart was a high school teacher who accused me of "talking dumb" because he thought I was trying to hide my smarts out of insecurity. No, actually I just talk that way... But I went to a very big school, so it was quite possible to go most of. The day interacting only with other "smart kids."L


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:43 PM
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I blame enjoying school up to the end of high school for my not enjoying college. I was unprepared for needing to seek out friends with similar interests.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:45 PM
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My high school was 320 students. 55% boys, 75% boarders. My Freshman year, I think that there were only about 15 other boarding girls. That doubled the next year, but it wasn't enough.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:51 PM
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* for which I got into real trouble.

With the teachers or with the students? I never did math that quickly, but I did finish the 1st grade book about halfway between the first grade. I vaguely remember them needing to verify that I really was the one who did the work and then they gave me the 2nd grade book. But I was in a weird almost hippie-esque school where 1st and 2nd grade were in the same classroom, and within grades we were in smaller groups based on ability amount of work done, so all it meant was moving into the least advanced 2nd grade workgroup.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:55 PM
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between s/b through

You can tell my English/reading/writing skills were less advanced.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 6:58 PM
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There was one person at my high school who scored perfect on the SAT and another at 1590. Apparently they'd been sort of rivals since grade school. One of them was part of the popular intellectual* kids group; the other was part of a more traditional geek** kind of friend group. I wasn't close friends with either, so I don't know what they thought of their school experiences.

*I don't think "smart" is quite the right word.

**Yeah yeah, it's stereotype.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:07 PM
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You're all in the bathroom, smoking pot and making fun of me for showing up late to the thread, aren't you?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:09 PM
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What metal or goth album whose name begins with "My " does this post's title remind me of?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:11 PM
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I'm pretty sure it's two words. "My ....". Maybe it's a song?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:11 PM
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There was one person at my high school who scored perfect on the SAT and another at 1590.

In my class as well. Both were popular. Actually, I think there were multiple 1590s. There were multiple friendly rivalries for valedictorian as well, not to mention what went on with the academic decathlon team.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:11 PM
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Was it "My Suzerain" by Rhythm of Black Lines? Possibly!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:14 PM
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No! It was "My Socrates" by Tri-State Killing Spree!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:14 PM
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Thanks for helping me settle this.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:15 PM
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290: There may be just an age discrepancy here: I'm not 30 any more, so the effects of all that crap have faded more, or I've incorporated it all more into just ... the developing narrative of my life. It did take a long time to get over residual resentment and anger at my high school experiences, but eventually it's become somewhat irrelevant. There's been college and grad school and everything else in between since then; I'm not defensive any more. I don't think.

I will, though, always be very sensitive to coming across as smarter-than-thou, whether it's me or someone else doing it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:16 PM
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We didn't have valedictorians like you elitists with your "rankings." Instead, it was open mike an open audition to become one of the three student speakers. I always wondered if the guy who announced he'd decided to enter the Catholic priesthood gave that speech at his audition.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:21 PM
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||
Sparkman death ruled suicide.
|>


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 7:51 PM
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307: I will be interested in hearing the further details promised by the release. As described, it seems... hard to believe.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:01 PM
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Other things being equal, perceived 'smartness' was a big plus in my high school. A lifesaver for a socially inept geeky kid like me. We didn't really have organized sports except for skiing, but general athletic skills were also a plus. Geeky, socially inept, unathletic kids without any academic skills were sort of screwed. Wealth didn't matter at all though there were no poor kids, just middle income and up. Way, way up - and the two wealthiest kids I knew were social outcasts.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 8:08 PM
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re: 295

In trouble with the teacher.*

As I've said, I never felt singled out by the other kids for being 'smart', I got on fine with everyone at primary (elementary) school. There were other smart kids, but we didn't form a clique or hang out exclusively with each other. Ditto at high school. I've never really understood the desire, expressed regularly above to only socialise with one's perceived intellectual peers -- e.g. "But I went to a very big school, so it was quite possible to go most of. The day interacting only with other "smart kids."

*Basically, there were laminated worksheets of problems that the kids were supposed to do when they had some free time during maths sessions. We were told to bring them to the teacher to be marked after each one. So, one morning I had done my work particularly quickly, and grabbed some of those sheets. When I went up to get the second, or third one marked, there was a queue at the teacher's desk, so I decided to just keep working, and get her to mark them later. So I ended up doing all of the worksheets for that term/year. She was really not pleased at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-24-09 11:59 PM
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310: Just to defensively clarify... I did not socialize only with my "intellectual peers." The woman I hung out with the most in HS was in mostly remedial classes, actually. And I liked my solitude enough to have been described as a "loner" by a favorite teacher.

The bit you quoted was intended as speculation that not having the smart and the struggling stuck in the same classes all day surely reduces potential social tensions.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-25-09 4:41 AM
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re: 311

Fair enough, I wasn't really intending to single you out. In previous threads on this topic there have been others much more vocal about their desire to avoid their intellectual 'inferiors', often wrapped up in a lot of class snobbery.*

* not directed at anyone in this thread, in particular. I don't think the people I remember as being particular egregious in previous discussions are even contributing to this thread.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-25-09 4:57 AM
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312: Thanks for the clarification, I was about to jump in and get all defensive and hostile on about the same basis as Di. I got along fine with people who weren't particularly academic later on (come to think of it, I'm mostly thinking about people I was sailing with. Possibly Ogged was right, and sports really are the only basis for civilized society.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-25-09 5:15 AM
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310, 312: One of the great things about my big school is that it let me float along with lots of different groups. The boundaries between cliques, etc., just weren't as firmly set in stone as I've seen in other high schools. So I was able to spend time in and out of lots of different social groupings. (Working helped a lot with this, as well. Working a minimum wage job that largely employed other high school students meant that I got to meet and become friends with people from all over the spectrum.)

I felt that most of this conversation has actually been about avoiding bullying or feeling like the extreme weird kid because of smarts, and that's where it is good to be able to find people to share an intellectual connection with, not about class snobbery.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-25-09 11:09 AM
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