Re: Gender Gap II, The Revenge

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... she has the option of going to one of the specialized high schools ...

So she has already aced the entrance exam?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:56 AM
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Yes. What, you expected differently?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:02 AM
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(That is, I wouldn't have characterized that last paragraph as bragging if she hadn't done something bragworthy. I will go soak my head now for being an obnoxious person.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:04 AM
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I think what James meant to say must have been, "Great! Congrats to Sally!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:09 AM
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How much did she pay for her condo?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:09 AM
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4: I took it as such.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:10 AM
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2

Yes. What, you expected differently?

No actually.

As to her decision IIRC you attended MIT which probably has a somewhat similar atmosphere to an elite NYC high school and so might be able to give her some useful information about what such environments are like for women (and students in general for that matter).

If she goes to an elite school and decides she doesn't like it would it be easy to switch back to her current school?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:37 AM
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Congrats to Sally!

Pigeon U is indeed an excellent choice but does she want to go there? Perhaps she'll want to spread her wings a bit and venture further from the nest.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:50 AM
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Oh, she wouldn't be committed to Pigeon U, she'd just have the opportunity to take Pigeon U classes while she was still in high school, so she'd be applying to colleges with a fair number of Pigeon U credits under her belt (which, not to be mercenary or anything, but could save us a bunch). (To continue bragging on her current school, the first batch of 11th graders are taking Pigeon U calculus this year. Sixteen out of twenty got As in the fall; their average is well over the class average for the actual undergrads.)

I agree that I'd expect her to want to get out of town for four years as an undergrad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:55 AM
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Way to go Sally!


Posted by: Washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:56 AM
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which, not to be mercenary or anything, but could save us a bunch

want to get out of town for four years

Aren't these contradicting each other? I don't see how having credits going in would save money, unless she wanted to graduate a year early.

(Plus, it's not really clear the credits would help much, is it? I took an absurd number of AP tests in high school and a couple of college classes but I don't think it bought me anything but an exemption from a language requirement. Although maybe at places without such a strict core curriculum it's more flexible.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:04 AM
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8: I don't think MIT gives me all that much insight into what it'd be like for her. Ethnic issues are going to be different; her current school is very diverse, but more Latino than anything else, and she's about as Latina as an Irish/English/German/Welsh-American girl can manage, so that's comfortable for her. And she's really attached to her current school. The other alternative is also way diverse, but much more heavily various varieties of Asian and hardly Latino at all; I don't see that as being a negative, exactly, but it'd be an adjustment.

Academic pressure shouldn't be a problem either place -- the only real question is whether she would successfully take advantage of all the wild extracurricular-but-still-academic stuff available at the elite school that's not at her current school. If she were just like me, I'd stay at the current school, because I would have enjoyed and done well in the Pigeon U classes, but I'm too lazy to actually drive myself through something like the Intel talent search. She got her work ethic from the other side of the family, though, so she might take advantage and do something interesting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:06 AM
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11.last: Yeah, it's less likely to actually save us anything than it is to free up her college schedule. I got out of first semester calculus and physics with AP credit, although I can't say that did me much good in the long run.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:08 AM
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9

... which, not to be mercenary or anything, but could save us a bunch ...

Something to keep in mind in this regard is the very top schools are often also cheaper. See here .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:08 AM
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It's not as if she couldn't do the Intel thing at her current school, even if there might be slightly less institutional experience with it. (For that matter, they have had finalists, haven't they? Assuming my guess about Pigeon U is right, which it might not be, since I'm not very well-informed about NYC high schools.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:10 AM
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12

... The other alternative is also way diverse, but much more heavily various varieties of Asian and hardly Latino at all; I don't see that as being a negative, exactly, but it'd be an adjustment.

More like MIT in other words.

Academic pressure shouldn't be a problem either place ...

So she would be at the top of her class without undue effort at either school? Ok, I'm impressed.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:15 AM
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AP credits saved my folks a year of tuition for each of their three children. I'm not sure graduating early was the greatest thing for my personal development, however. Rory has the opportunity to take her first AP course in the fall and my advice to her thus far has been that, even if she can graduate early with AP credits, she should stick around the full four years, be young and enjoy college hijinx.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:15 AM
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15: No, her school is quite new, and seriously wouldn't be up for providing any useful support at all for something like that -- they're trying, but they're really not there yet. Pigeon U has an associated private high school that you might be thinking of; the school she's at is a city public middle/high school that Pigeon U is partnering with as a partial apology for devouring all the real estate in the neighborhood. They're not doing all that much about the partnering, though; pretty much all the school is getting is the access to classes. (Which is huge, don't get me wrong.)

If she were supercrazy self-motivatedly aggressive about it, she might be able to mug a Pigeon U professor for some mentorship, but there's really no structure set up for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:16 AM
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So she would be at the top of her class without undue effort at either school? Ok, I'm impressed.

No, no. An A student either place without killing herself with more work than she's willing to put in, but not standout top of the class without effort. I'm bragging, and she's awesome, but I'm not absolutely deluded.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:18 AM
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I had over 30 AP credits but ended up taking four years on scholarship anyway. They did free up a lot of time for me to take other classes that otherwise would have been taken up by gen. ed. requirements.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:18 AM
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I went to college with about thirty credits and used it to only take four classes a semester. Which seems lazy in hindsight but also who cares.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:18 AM
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My point being I personally would encourage Sally (were it my place) to choose the route that gives her the best opportunity to balance all that thinking with a healthy dose of play.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:19 AM
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Oh, huh. I didn't realize the older Pigeon U High was a private school; I had a roommate in college who went there, and I thought he claimed to have gone to public school.

Actually now I see Wikipedia also calls the one I was thinking of a public school, and says it's publicly funded but not operated by the Department of Education, which... is weird. Is that the one you're talking about?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:19 AM
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Hers is Pigeon Secondary School, and it's a straightforward NYC public school; it's only about six years old this year. I don't actually know much about the other school except that it has Pigeon in the name and I thought it was private.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:21 AM
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I must be thinking of the wrong place


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:22 AM
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My AP credits were completely wasted by going to a college that doesn't accept any AP credits.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:23 AM
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Public but not Department of Ed sounds like Hunter, actually, which is where I went to high school but is not one of the schools I'm talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:23 AM
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27: Yes, that was what I was thinking about. I was about to clarify that I had in mind High School Cacciatore but I guess there's no need to disguise the name.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:24 AM
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Is this Pigeon in the sense of Guinea Pigs, Puppies, and Turtles?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:24 AM
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Oh, I see the one you mean.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:25 AM
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It's Pigeon in the sense of translate it into Italian.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:27 AM
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Sorta kinda.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:27 AM
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I get all googleproofy talking about the kids. And I find elaborate code-speak amusing, which makes me a terrible person.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:29 AM
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Ah. Congrats, Sals!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:30 AM
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I find elaborate code-speak amusing

Wait, some people don't? Maybe I really should regret some of my comments.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:30 AM
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The specific elite high school she's admitted to is the one tied with Belgium for Nobel laureates, rather than the one named after Peg-leg.

I will stop with the codes now. Other than Pigeon U, which I think is useful and amusing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:32 AM
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36.1: I bet it's a real gem.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:34 AM
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19

No, no. An A student either place without killing herself with more work than she's willing to put in, but not standout top of the class without effort ...

I find this a bit confusing. I would expect the elite school to be significantly more competitive making it harder to achieve any given level of (relative) success.

Also are you familiar with the elite school? Some such schools have a reputation for giving undue weight to willingness to do unreasonable amounts of repetitive homework.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:35 AM
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18.2 If she were supercrazy self-motivatedly aggressive about it, she might be able to mug a Pigeon U professor for some mentorship

I don't think it would require supercrazy aggressiveness. Lots of students at my high school found research projects with professors at the local (much less prestigious) university we had a similar relationship with, but it wasn't a very formalized system. And finding a mentor isn't really necessary to do well in something like the Intel competition, either, although it is a prerequisite for people wanting to do certain kinds of lab work, just because it's the only way to access the right infrastructure.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:38 AM
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38: I'm figuring the elite-school kids are about matched for ability with what my classmates at a similarly competitive high school were like, back in the day. That's about where the academically most successful chunk of her current school is functioning, and she's right in the very top chunk but not way out ahead of everyone. My guess, from outside the situation, is that changing schools will be the difference between being top 5% of the class versus top 25% of the class, but I don't see that as a difference that's likely to be a negative either way.

A positive for the elite school is that, and again I'm guessing and extrapolating from my own high school memories, I'd expect the less academically successful half of the class to be noticeably closer to the top half than in her current school; less spread among the students. But that doesn't seem to be a problem in her current school, so not a real issue either way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:43 AM
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I have no idea what Pigeon U is but I'm hoping against hope that it's the SUNY Maritime College. A life at sea is what the young LB offspring needs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:46 AM
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39: I may be wrong about how hard it is. But elite school has a three-year grooming/support process, which seems like it'd be a huge factor in your chances of doing something interesting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:47 AM
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41. Unless I'm mistaken it's not*. But traditionally one's offspring were only meant to spend two years before the mast, not a lifetime surely?

*I interpret it such that if it were Spanish it would be punctuational.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:03 AM
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I would, actually, be completely delighted if she decided she wanted a career as a ship's captain. I could get her a parrot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:07 AM
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Has she shown any interest at the local ship's chandler?


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:10 AM
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I can't remember if she's been. There's one out in Greenport, near my mother's beach place, which is fascinating. It really does make you want to go chandle something of your own.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:11 AM
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But elite school has a three-year grooming/support process

Overkill! But it occurs to me that, of the many people I know who did well in that competition, the only one who is completely insufferable is a product of that system.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:18 AM
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she won't be matriculated there

Probably not, but you should still get her the HPV vaccine.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:20 AM
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I'm finding this conversation a little depressing. Someone was telling me about their experiences with the 1st grade at our future elementary school: it's allllllllllllllllllll worksheets. Twenty minutes of recess a day. Ninety minutes of math a day. It did sound rather dreary.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:22 AM
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And recess gets taken away constantly. They get art class once every three weeks. Once every three weeks! It replaces recess, of course.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:24 AM
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I really am being obnoxious. I meant the post to be a continuation of the gender stuff, and the Sally-brag to be a sidenote, but I've been wallowing. (To continue wallowing, she's also currently nursing a skinned knee she acquired while assisting the coach at her school who's trying to get a boys high school rugby team started. In her six months of club rugby, she's picked up enough technique to knock older, heavier boys off their feet. (This will presumably stop working once they've picked up some rugby skills of their own, of course.))


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:27 AM
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it's allllllllllllllllllll worksheets

On the one hand, that sounds awful, but on the other hand, it sounds basically like how I remember school? I don't think we ever had "recess" really, apart from P.E., which was a very different kind of thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:29 AM
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I seriously thought that no one gets recess nowadays.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:29 AM
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Although I think we had art and music once a week in elementary school.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:30 AM
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My kids had a lunch hour divided into an eating portion and a playing outside portion. I don't think they really called it recess, but same function.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:31 AM
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Wow. We never had more than twenty minutes for lunch.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:32 AM
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Personally, I'm afraid that the schools aren't going to teach my kid math in any kind of useful way and I'm going to have no ability to do so either. So unless she's a genius or unusually self motivated she's kind of screwed.

Surely even without recess they get a bunch of physical activity, otherwise you'll have some very miserable first grade teachers.



Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:34 AM
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49,50,52: dire. I'm worried for my (very soon to be) five year-old.
To the OP-brag: that's great! I approve of Di's advice ever-so-much
To the OP-content: interesting.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:34 AM
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56: it always seemed that way to me, too. Like shockingly little time allotted, and yet could still be counted upon for goodness.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:36 AM
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57: Oh, come on. You can do arithmetic, that's all you need for years yet. How's your ex in terms of tutoring skills?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:38 AM
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60 -- even worse than me. AFAICT, people around here put their kids in tutoring to make up for the education that the kids are failing to get (even at) at expensive private schools where there's also no recess or play times. It's a wonder that anyone learns anything ever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:42 AM
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Why would people pay for expensive private schools if they think their kids are failing to get an education there? (Aside from racism.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:43 AM
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They said PE is once a week (replacing recess, of course).


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:45 AM
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It's true, I remember endless worksheets too. And some were fun.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:46 AM
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Good question! Though arguably the public schools are still far worse.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:46 AM
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51: you're really not being obnoxious.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:46 AM
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49, 50, etc., seems so awful. WTF, world.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:47 AM
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Surely kids these days just sit in class and type out blog comments on their cell phones? It must be a much more pleasant experience than it was back when we had to try to hide a book in our desk and hope the teacher didn't notice we weren't paying attention.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:48 AM
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I'm about to make myself really unpopular, but LB really is being obnoxious. It's not just bragging about her child's accomplishments, which is a fine thing to do, it's a public display of the advantages her child will enjoy. I was seriously trained not to ever do that.

Side note, though, which I fear will sound like I'm being a concern troll: I don't know how Newt fares academically, but my own family's experience was that my younger brother suffered from absorbing the words about how awesome I was. I guess I'd be careful about over-praising Sally; but I expect you know that fully well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:54 AM
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I'm about to make myself really unpopular

You don't say.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:56 AM
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Apologies all around for speaking frankly. I'm fine with moving on.

I'm interested in the main content of the OP. Will read the linked NYT article now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:58 AM
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That was pretty obnoxious! Fortunately, LB and her daughter have the best revenge, that is to say they're not bitter and envious idiots.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:58 AM
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I thought the best revenge was unscrewing the lid of the salt and pepper shakers and balancing them on top while nobody was looking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:59 AM
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The best revenge is drinking wine from the skull of your slain opponent, but I didn't want to presume on LB's part.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:01 AM
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Oh, Newt's right up there with Sally academically; he's not having any worries about not being able to keep up with her on that front. Sally gets a disproportionate share of the bragging because she hits all the milestones first, but that's just age.

And you've correctly identified what feels obnoxious to me about the post -- not so much "Look at my daughter, she's so great!" but "Look at my daughter and all the great opportunities the NYC public schools are handing her!" I mean, if we were living in a low population density area somewhere, she'd be stuck with whatever the local school was regardless of what it was like. (And I wouldn't worry about your popularity; we've all been hanging around here for long enough that we've got a sense of the kinds of things everyone's likely to say. Unless it's out of character, which your comment wasn't, any individual comment isn't going to change anything.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:03 AM
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Recess is still twice a day here. A morning one for fifteen or twenty minutes and a lunch/recess combo.

I'm afraid that the schools aren't going to teach my kid math in any kind of useful way and I'm going to have no ability to do so either

Eh, she'll probably be fine. My tenth grader has gone to the regular old public schools around here, no accelerated/gifted programs or anything and she's still going to be taking pre calc as an 11th grader.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:03 AM
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Don't wear nice clothes if you try that with red wine. Impossible to do neatly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:03 AM
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Red wine brings up the shine in leather armour a treat.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:07 AM
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77 to 76.1, I guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:07 AM
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it's a public display

Using a pseud on a low readership blog is a fairly generous use of "public".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:07 AM
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it's a public display of the advantages her child will enjoy. I was seriously trained not to ever do that.

Anti-semite.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:07 AM
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82

75 is appallingly polite, constituting an unacceptable public display of the advantages in interpersonal skills LB enjoys.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:09 AM
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75: (And I wouldn't worry about your popularity; we've all been hanging around here for long enough that we've got a sense of the kinds of things everyone's likely to say. Unless it's out of character, which your comment wasn't, any individual comment isn't going to change anything.)

Ack. Is my reputation really that bad?

I'm kidding. I'm glad you're not horribly, deeply offended.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:09 AM
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82. No it isn't. Read it again.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:10 AM
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84: Well, the sentiments may not all be completely polite, but they're expressed in such measured and circumspect ways.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:11 AM
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75, 84: Wow. LizardBreath, you are really, really good at that.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:12 AM
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Do you offer lessons?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:13 AM
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Yeah, that parenthetical should have left marks.
(And me, I'm wishing I hadn't even posted that before I even hit post. But I wil...)


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:15 AM
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Consider, parsimon, that being socially enjoined from mentioning one's advantages turned out to be great cover for the rich when they wanted to pretend their power was purely meritocratic. The Bushes seem to be an end-point of this. Ew.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:18 AM
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being socially enjoined from mentioning one's advantages

Then tight pants came back into style.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:21 AM
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We never had more than twenty minutes for lunch

I'm pretty sure at least in 5th grade we had 15 minutes of recess and maybe 30 minutes for lunch every day. Possibly an afternoon break too. I don't remember much about the schedule in the earlier grades - except there was definitely a morning recess - and from 6th grade on there was PE and no recess.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:22 AM
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Completely OT: I just drove by a new restaurant in my neighborhood called "The House of the Rabbit Casserole." I think that's got to be on the top 3 all time worst restaurant names list.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:24 AM
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83: I wouldn't have said obnoxious first if I didn't mean it: gloating over how great things are going for your family is, in my book as well as yours, kind of lousy, so I'm not saying you're wrong. I was wallowing in it because that's where my head is at this week with Sally fretting over the decision, and it's an anonymous blog, but I do think it's the sort of thing one should generally keep quiet about except in front of an audience that can be expected to be uniformly delighted by the good fortune, which a public blog isn't (even if it's got low readership.) So really no hard feelings.

Ack. Is my reputation really that bad?

To be less elliptically snippy than I was before, OTOH, the way you put it was a lot harsher than the way most people talk unless they're actually trying to create hurt feelings. From someone else, I might have taken it worse, but you do hit that kind of note more than most do, so I'm not taking it as indicating personal enmity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:25 AM
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You of all people shouldn't object to rabbit casserole.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:26 AM
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an audience that can be expected to be uniformly delighted by the good fortune, which a public blog isn't

On the other hand, many of us have been interacting with you for the better part of a decade, even if only on the interwebs, and are, in fact, delighted by your good fortune. The line between "public blog" and "informal discussion among friends" around here isn't always very clear.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:28 AM
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Oh, I suppose I have to go, unless the rabbit casserole is like Rabbit Tetrazini with noodles. But I didn't know there was pent up demand in the rabbit casserole market.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:30 AM
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I've never had rabbit casserole, but I'd try it. The last time I had rabbit, it seemed too chewy and a casserole would likely solve that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:30 AM
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Apparently that is more like the restaurant's subtitle.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:31 AM
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93: Okay. I don't always tiptoe around things, as you know, and no, it doesn't indicate anything personal. The trend of the discussion was making me uncomfortable because one doesn't broadcast one's advantages (so I was taught), so I said something. All cool.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:32 AM
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95: I try to take joy in your good fortune but I don't understand the animal metaphors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:32 AM
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(Would bragging about Newt add to, or detract from, the obnoxious? He's spent the day at a Sea Perch (robot fish) competition, and just called home to get permission to be interviewed for Channel 1. His team can't have won anything; they started late and just barely got their fish working.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:32 AM
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Congrats to Sally! Your instinct that it really doesn't matter that much is almost certainly right. I wouldn't put too much weight on the Intel thing. Yes doing well is a free ticket into any college, but most people doing well would get in everywhere anyway. In the long run it's not going to make a huge difference, because it's high school and what you do after that swamps what you did before. No one, including me, cares now about what awards I won in High School. To the extent that the experience itself matters, i.e. it gives an early idea that she'd want to be a scientist, the same thing can be gotten through Pigeon U. Since they have less experience with Intel she'd be less likely to win, but she'd also probably be getting a more realistic experience.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:33 AM
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Have I ever mentioned that it took me years to realize that Sally is short for Salamander? I felt really silly when it hit me.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:35 AM
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Anyway, I don't know how much there is to worry about with math ed in the early grades. Of course you need to learn the basics, but I thought you don't start going down the separate paths/tracks towards more advanced math until at least junior high.

I remember around 7th or 8th grade (in my public school) there being some decisions to make that would affect whether you'd even have the chance to take calculus in your senior year of high school. And then the school district decided to engage in a great experiment with math ed and they took away those decisions and everyone took the same 8th grade math class. The overall plan was for the high school to do something-or-other-new-and-different that took the kids who wanted to down the path towards senior year calculus.

But I was changing districts for high school and ended up having to test out of the non-eventual-AP track (which I was able to do, with the help of a tutor over the summer) in the new high school. From what I heard, my friends who stayed in the district I moved out of never did get the new-and-better math ed they were promised.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:36 AM
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Speaking of gender, Digby just had a post with an excerpt from a Sept. 2003 AEI article "Real Men, they're back" that is really something. It was a group discussion among six conservative women. I do generally recall this kind of crap from back then, but not how incredibly weird it got (Kate O'Beirne in particular). Such a treasure trove for future psycho-historians.

A few nuggets (but worth reading in its entirety):

Kate O'Beirne: ... And September 11 made it more difficult for liberals to criticize traditional male characteristics and virtues.
[I used to be a feminist, but after 9/11 I was outraged by The Feminine Mystique.]

Charlotte Hays: ...Most people today never needed to be carried out of a burning building. But once they see 3,000 people that need to be rescued, they know it takes men.
[Hmmm, the 3,000 died, right?]

O'Beirne: ...Because the Upper West Side is not fireproof. What happens in combat in some distant field is abstract to Upper West Side liberals.
[Time for someone to update their urban geography of ressentiment.]

O'Beirne: When I heard that he grew up jumping rope with the girls in his neighborhood, I knew everything I needed to know about Bill Clinton. There's no contest between Clinton and Bush on masculinity. Bill Clinton couldn't credibly wear jogging shorts, and look at George Bush in that flight suit.
[My God, I hope you got help, Katie.]


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:36 AM
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100 to 92.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:37 AM
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Shorter me: I'd worry more about what schools are doing in the later grades.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:38 AM
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104: I worry, because my classes are full of students who can't calculate their own grades because math is hard and scary.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:39 AM
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most people doing well would get in everywhere anyway. In the long run it's not going to make a huge difference

I almost completely agree with this, especially the bit about no one later caring what awards anyone won in high school.

But, a lot of really good colleges will give full tuition scholarships to kids who do well in this sort of thing. That does make a difference. I wouldn't have gone to college where I did if they weren't impressed enough by (ultimately silly and meaningless) high school awards to be willing to cover a lot of costs I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:40 AM
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There is a house in Los Angeles
They call the Rabbit Casserole


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:40 AM
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108: If the schools are really not covering basic math than yeah, that's a bigger worry than anything that comes after.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:42 AM
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104: Actually, I worry about early math ed a lot. My kids made it through unscathed, but there seem to be a lot of grade school teachers who find even very elementary math difficult and unpleasant, and pass that on to their students. It's not so much worrying about what information's being taught, as it is worrying about the attitude being transmitted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:44 AM
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Are palaeo people allowed to used onions* and herbs in their palaeocassaroles?

*They'd be fucked if they were in this country; onions were introduced by the Romans.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:44 AM
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and it's been
the ruin
of many a poor vegan
and God I know I'm one


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:44 AM
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I guess I have the wrong idea about early math. Also, I should admit I liked doing worksheet stuff, so I can't generalize on my experience. But it seemed like people made it to junior high more or less ok.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:47 AM
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Practically irrelevant past-sell-date whinge, skip now:

My goddamn high school let two of us skip a year of review algebra so that we'd have our senior year to be the test cases for teaching calc in high school, and then when we were seniors cancelled the class because there weren't enough of us. This after our schedules were awful for four mismatched years, and with the result that half the math team didn't have a math class.

Our parents should probably have been pushier. Don't know why mine weren't; it's remotely possible that I didn't mention it to them because complaining. The other kid was the despised (by his parents, for being a nerd) younger son of a football star.

I met him later when we were both working at the Soft, so there's that.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:49 AM
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109.2 is a good point. I was poor enough that it didn't matter (i.e. essear's school's offer with huge merit-based aid was not significantly different from the need-based aid I was offered at its non-merit-aid-giving peers), so I'd sort of forgotten about it.

That said, I think that's more an argument to do Intel, not to pick the school based on their Intel success. Semifinalist is probably already good enough to get great scholarships, and it's not clear to me that she's more likely to make semifinalist at one place or the other. Surely Intel-prep HS ranks their students in their letters into Intel, and at that level of competition it's easy to get knocked out of the top n. My sense is that she's clearly more likely to win at Intel-prep, but it's not at all clear to me that she's more likely to make semifinalist.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:49 AM
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Well, take someone like Halford, who's clearly generally not someone who should be having any trouble at all with the kind of math you'd encounter in high school, but feels bad enough about it that he's uncomfortable thinking about helping his five year old with the sort of math she's going to be running into soon. I may be wrong, but I tend to blame that sort of reaction on bad grade-school teaching.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:51 AM
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118 to 115.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:53 AM
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104, 112; yes. I've been talking with a lot of other science profs/TAs, and we're distressed how poorly our students can apply algebra, which means they're always floundering in quantitative classes, even when they really care about the subject. Sometimes we can light up one or two kids a class because now they care, but it's a long row.

And, when I think about it, algebra was relatively easy for me because my mother had drilled and drilled and drilled me on my times tables and two-digit adding and subtracting (sitting on the back porch shelling peas. In St Louis, so not quite as bucolic as it sounds). I could think about the distribution rules because I didn't have to think about whether the coefficients worked. I'm not especially against worksheets -- there's an age that will learn endless Pokemon stats, they seem worksheet-adapted.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:54 AM
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118 -- in my case it may also be blameable on being a moron, but I do think that my math education (at very "good" schools!) was generally terrible, although again make sure to read the first clause of this sentence.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:58 AM
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118: Maybe it's because of ketosis.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:59 AM
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best debate team

Speaking of obnoxious, it recently occurred to me that I've encountered a lot of former debate types in the legal world, and in my personal sample there seems to be a very strong correlation between "champion debater" and "obnoxious asshole", even taking into account the high asshole baseline in the profession.* But maybe it's just that the assholes self-select for law school?

Re: the elite HS, if I'm thinking of the right one, the couple of NY'ers I know well who went there and stayed or ended up back in NY remained far more tightly knit with large numbers of their high school friends than most people I know. Of course that may not generalize, and in any event is a generation out of date, but the people I'm thinking of certainly valued the bonding aspect (and they both loved loved loved the school to the point of obnoxiousness).

*This occurred to me during the whole Ted Cruz/Chuck Hegel "are you now, or have you ever been on Pyongang's payroll?" episode.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:00 PM
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112: Yes. I see this in some of my logic students. They're bright enough to grasp basic logic quickly, and they find proofs to be enjoyable and challenging, and then they try to figure out what they need on the final to secure that A, and you can actually see them tense up. I don't know whom to blame. But these are otherwise bright people who are in my class because they believe they can't pass college algebra.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:02 PM
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Well, I dunno, potchkeh, I lettered in both math and debate and occasionally take practice LSATs for fun but never considered actually going to law school. And I'm still obnoxious.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:02 PM
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117 Semifinalist is probably already good enough to get great scholarships

Maybe? There were several good schools (NYU and Stony Brook among them) that offered full tuition to all 40 finalists (but not semifinalists, as far as I can recall), whether they had even applied to the school or not. At the colleges I actually applied to, it's hard to say what tipped the scales.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:04 PM
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Interesting. I'm just proving I'm not that knowledgeable about this point and should be ignored. (I.e. I'm overgeneralizing from only knowing about one school and one person.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:09 PM
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Even for a very very talented student, is it reasonable to base your choice of schools on your odds of being an Intel finalist? Isn't that something that like 40 kids/year get nationwide?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:15 PM
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Besides, if Sally's one of the elect, it won't matter.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:17 PM
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120, 124: But algebra and proofs are not things I'm thinking of as early math ed. I remember 1st-6th being almost all about arithmetic, with division, multiplication, and larger numbers being introduced gradually. I don't think we started using symbols like 'n' and 'x' until 7th or 8th grade.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:18 PM
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128: Yes, but of those forty, on average somewhere between one and two are from the elite school Sally is considering. So it's a noticeable influence on the odds of getting tuition paid at elite colleges. Not one that I think should probably influence her thinking, but I see why it's potentially significant enough for LB to bring up.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:21 PM
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Yeah, I wasn't actually thinking about odds of winning or getting scholarship money out of it, which I have to figure are really very very low, just that the supportive program meant that she'd be much more likely to actually get hooked up with having an interesting research experience. (On the other hand, I had an interesting research experience as a teenager culminating in my only academic publication, which convinced me to stay way far away from the social sciences from then on. In retrospect, this may have been a mistake. Lessons to be learned from this? I have no idea.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:21 PM
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130: But it's like clew said -- algebra is really hard if your arithmetic isn't effortless. Someone who has to think seriously to come up with all the possible factors of 24 is going to be in trouble when they have to work on quadratic equations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:24 PM
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I think the main argument for having an early research experience is that it gives you the opportunity to learn that you wouldn't enjoy research early on, instead of one year into a graduate program.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:24 PM
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just that the supportive program meant that she'd be much more likely to actually get hooked up with having an interesting research experience

It could also mean that she'd swiftly be categorized as a potential finalist or not, and that interesting experiences would be apportioned accordingly.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:25 PM
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But I didn't know there was pent up demand in the rabbit casserole market.

Do one thing and do it well isn't just for Unix utilities.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:25 PM
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On the debate team thing, there's definitely a debate team mafia in legal practice here, that is people who all know each other because they competed (I guess at a national level, because they're from all over) in elite debate competitions (I'm not really sure what these are). Anyhow, I don't know that they're more assholish than the average local lawyer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:26 PM
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It's hard to say what, if anything, my high school research experiences did for my intellectual development. I probably got a lot more out of the mostly-undirected time I spent tinkering with computer programming than I did from any actual goal-directed research. Although even most of the more official research things basically involved me devouring a lot of books to learn about something and then half-assing some kind of paper at the end. Aside from the summer project that led to a publication; I actually spent most of my time there surfing the internet.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:31 PM
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My high school research experience was probably to focused on stealing things out of dumpsters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:36 PM
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High school "research"?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:38 PM
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I mean my mentoring was pretty informal/pseudonymous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:40 PM
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I'd have thought that the top schools would have had a success rate of higher than 1 or 2. I mean the top summer program for winning Intel has a way higher success rate than that. Sure they get to cherry-pick from everywhere, but a lot of people live in NYC.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:40 PM
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I can think of some interesting experiences that I would have liked to have researched in high school, but they mostly would have taken place outside of a laboratory setting.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:43 PM
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I guess the problem is that no NYC school is sufficiently dominant that they get everyone who wants to win Intel (unlike the summer program, which is dominant). Presumably there's three or four NYC schools each getting somewhere around 1 or 2 per year?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:43 PM
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I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about on this topic, but if I'm reading the right website and understanding things correctly it looks like there were no Intel finalists at all from the relevant NYC high school last year.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:45 PM
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And six semi-finalists, out of a class of ???


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:48 PM
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I think it's one finalist from 2012, and eight semifinalists.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:53 PM
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144: Yes, I htink you need to re-check your intuitive statistician.

Reading through the finalists for the last 10 years I get the following totals:
NYC elite HS south: 8
NYC elite HS north: 4

On year there were two each, but 4 years had none from either. (I might have missed a couple but not a lot.) There were a numbe rof other NYC winners, but less than 10 I think.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:54 PM
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For 2013 it was 6 semis NYCEHS-N and 5 semis NYCEHS-S.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:58 PM
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I had totally forgotten about the summer program. It does seem to have a disturbingly good track record.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 12:59 PM
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They seem to have made a conscious effort to spread things around more widely geographically (that or there's more parity than their used to be). By contrast, here's the year I graduated HS. There's multiple high schools with 3 finalists (though, not in NYC).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:01 PM
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When I said between one and two, I was going by Wikipedia, which says 13 from '02 to '10.

You could improve the odds by moving to Maryland.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:01 PM
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I guess I did do a science research thingy in high school. In today's world of IRBs I don't think it would ever have been allowed. We basically gave people drugs over-the-counter-supplements that some were claiming would increase people's intelligence (along measures like memory, ability to solve basic problems) and tried to see if they had any effect.

We only got 5 volunteers - I don't even know how we got any, to be honest - and then I ended up taking the test myself because scientific objectivity is nothing compared to slightly-larger-than-minuscule sample sizes. All I remember is that I was crap at memorizing numbers, good at quick simple arithmetic, and the supplement didn't taste very good. Our conclusion was "we all know this 'study' is laughable BS but we will now go through the motions of talking like it's science and enumerate all the reasons you should discount everything we're pretending could even meet the level of a 'finding'."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:01 PM
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149: Oops, make that 10 for S not 5


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:01 PM
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151: Huh. I heard one of those guys give a talk that year (at a different competition) on his work, which was in the field I work in now and seemed horribly abstruse and really amazing for someone in high school. In retrospect, I know who must have supervised it, and also that it would have been a fairly straightforward exercise in slightly modifying an existing argument, and that he almost certainly didn't understand all the background to the problem. Blew me away at the time, though. I think that's part of what's akward about these high school competitions-- people are often going through the motions of mimicking real science without totally understanding it. Certainly that applies to some of what I was doing at the time. There's a difference between being a talented mimic and actually doing something original.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:12 PM
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Maybe we could institute some kind of "least likely to live up to your potential" award for the most witty and erudite blog commenting by a high school student. I guess we could retroactively award it to L.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:20 PM
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(Just realized that could be read as a dig against L, as opposed to myself; not meant that way).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:21 PM
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There's not a lot of competition in that category, though -- have we ever had another highschooler other than no-pants-Wodehouse-boy?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:24 PM
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Not yet, but just wait until word gets around to both college admission offices and high school students that we're a forum for people who could probably do pretty well at an elite college without too much effort and then kind of half-ass their way through life.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:27 PM
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I just "discovered" that the Intel talent thing is the Westinghouse talent thing. And I just realized that the high school project from 153 is the only time I've ever "used" a chi-square test. An enlightening thread.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:30 PM
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95

... delighted by your good fortune. ...

The thing is though it really isn't entirely good fortune (as if admission was by lottery or something). It doesn't bother me at all that LB's kids have advantages in life but it is something that some of you all theoretically oppose at least in the abstract.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:50 PM
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110 is awful, but it made me laugh out loud.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 1:56 PM
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Most of it's good fortune.

Believing (which I do, although without rigorous proof) that there's some connection between genetic variation and capacity for academic success, to the extent that that's a factor in her doing well in school it's pure luck, like being tall or being healthy, nothing to be proud of. On top of that, she's done well in school largely because she happened to have middle class parents who buried her in books and so on from an early age, again, nothing for her to be proud of, and nothing particular for us to be proud of -- it's not as if we were doing anything bringing her up other than what came naturally. She actually does put effort into school, so that's something she can claim responsibility for, but it's not an overwhelming component of her doing well on standardized tests. And of course the availability of the schools she's choosing between is purest luck -- if she were someplace else geographically she'd have different, and likely less interesting, options.

I am very very pleased for her, and I think she's delightful and wonderful and will accomplish anything she decides to do. But getting a good score on a standardized test doesn't seem to me to be something to preen over as if it were an accomplishment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:02 PM
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In an effort to post a comment that isn't completely self-absorbed, I read the linked article. As a commenter there points out, the article starts to head towards an explanation near the end. It sounds like many girls who would be likely to do well on the admissions test - based on their prior academic record? the article doesn't say - simply don't take the test. So even though a majority of test-takers are girls, that doesn't mean that all of the potentially top-performing girls take the test.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:06 PM
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163

... But getting a good score on a standardized test doesn't seem to me to be something to preen over as if it were an accomplishment.

If you weren't bragging about Sally getting a good score on a standardized test what were you bragging about?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:23 PM
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123: I gained more from debate than I did from my high school classes, and the majority of my close friends in academia are former HS (and some college) debaters.

That said, the debaters I knew from Elite School were, largely, jerks. Also, national champions.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:24 PM
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Who says I always agree with myself about what's an appropriate subject for bragging? I posted about her because it was related to the other thing I was posting about, and I'm happy for her, and it's what we're thinking about this week while she's making the decision. That's not inconsistent with thinking it's mostly good fortune rather than anything particularly earned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:26 PM
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OT: One of my neighbors, who just moved to the street, backed into my wall and did a noticeable, but repairable, bit of damage to it. I told Hillary to let me go talk to him, but she didn't and the first thing out of the guy's mouth to her was a statement that he didn't do any damage to our wall. Then I went out, and he apologized, admitted fault, and introduced himself. I agreed with them (his roommate was there) that we wouldn't have any problems if they fixed the wall. Meanwhile, Hillary had called the cops with the plate. The police showed up in force (three cars), apparently based on the plate belonging to a semi-serious criminal. Drugs (I assume pot, but I don't know) and a large amount of cash were found, handcuffs came out, and now it is a big mess. At least one of the neighbors was cheering in the window, probably because these guys had been parking in such a way as to block other people's driveways and because they showed up a week ago and the amount of litter on the street increased immediately after. I think the morals are two. First, calling the cops complicates what could be simple. Second, if you are selling drugs and you insist on living on a street where people who have lived there ten years are considered 'new', you want to be careful.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:29 PM
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And to respond to Halford, there is a national high school debate circuit on which elite teams compete (though the circuit isn't directly related to either of the national championship tournaments, which have local qualifying tournaments). As a result, a number of my closest friends in HS lived across the country.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:30 PM
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Now four cars. One cop is cute.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:43 PM
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One cop is cute.

And that's when Bill decided to make things even more complicated.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:45 PM
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Can you cheat at debate?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:49 PM
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One guy hauled to jail, his three roommates living a few doors down from me, and now I have to fix the wall myself.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:53 PM
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Can you cheat at debate?

An acquaintance of mine likes to tell a story about how he won a high school debate by checking out all relevant materials from all local libraries so that the opposition wouldn't be able to do any research.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 2:58 PM
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Another enterprise rendered ineffective by the internet.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:00 PM
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FWIW, my experience with an elite school (when I went to college) was definitely mixed. There were lots of great things about it, but there was also the problem that most people there were not very happy, mainly due to stress / working too hard, and disappointment at no longer being in the top 10% of their class. I think that is pretty much unavoidable at any elite institution; people with more maturity or experience, or the right kind of narcissism, cope with it better.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:07 PM
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*This occurred to me during the whole Ted Cruz/Chuck Hegel "are you now, or have you ever been on Pyongang's payroll?" episode.

Several friends of mine know Ted Cruz because of college debate. They all thought he was an asshole.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:11 PM
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So it's no longer socially acceptable for a parent to brag about her kid's success? This whole subthread is bizarre to me. Sally did well and now has some exciting opportunities open to her. That's awesome. And it's pretty great that her mom is excited for her.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:19 PM
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Talked to the cops. Is two pounds a lot of pot?


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:21 PM
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Yes. Are you taking the piss?


Posted by: bizzah | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:25 PM
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disappointment at no longer being in the top 10% of their class.

This is actually something I think of as a serious plus from going to a high school with a lot of other smart kids, that you get your ego deflated a bit early and painlessly. I never had a shocking moment when I realized that I wasn't the smartest person in the room, because I've been used to being in rooms with lots of people as sharp or sharper than I am since seventh grade. But I saw a lot of people in college hit that moment of realizing that they weren't anything outstanding anymore, and it really looked like it was very unpleasant for them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:29 PM
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I never liked being considered the smartest kid in the class (which I generally was growing up), so I found it a relief to get to college and not be treated that way anymore.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:33 PM
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I'm not an expert, but while I was in Berkeley there was a local referendum about raising the personal use amount to 2 pounds, on the theory that if you're growing your own then at harvest time you could have a lot even if you're not dealing. If I remember correctly, this referendum lost *in Berkeley*.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:35 PM
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Have I ever mentioned that it took me years to realize that Sally is short for Salamander? I felt really silly when it hit me.

Belatedly, me as well.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:41 PM
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It's not usually a "let's start shooting" amount, is it.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:41 PM
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I have said it explicitly now and again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:44 PM
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186 to 185.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:46 PM
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Thus is it revealed that I have not hung on your every word.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:46 PM
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188: I didn't notice before this thread either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:49 PM
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It's possible that I didn't work it out myself and that instead LB mentioned it explicitly. In either case, I felt silly, especially because I'd immediately realized that Newt was in reference to the animal.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:49 PM
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188: This may take me some time to recover from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 3:50 PM
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185: Nah, it's a fair amount, but notthing exceptional.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:05 PM
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It's more than personal use. Either a grower or a smalltime dealer.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:08 PM
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I'd think the money indicates smalltime dealer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:10 PM
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178 So it's no longer socially acceptable for a parent to brag about her kid's success?

It is for most of us.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:17 PM
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182 goes for me as well. I remember being delighted when a compliment-your-peers exercise at a catechistic event, which was one of the first places twelve-year-old me spent time with contemporaries from without my school district, resulted in several nices and funnys and only one or two smarts - delighted even though that was praise from strangers, and nearly content-free.


Posted by: joyslinger | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:18 PM
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As the braggart in question, can we agree that it's an area where even if some bragging on your kids is acceptable, it's really easy to slip over the line into annoying the hell out of everyone you talk to? The new charm of the professional degrees has faded a bit by now, but my father's very funny talking about how his coworkers would dive over cubicle walls to avoid hearing him drone on about his daughter the doctor and his daughter the lawyer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:21 PM
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He should have invented a third child with an interesting profession.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:46 PM
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198: Lion-tamer. Has cachet but isn't white collar.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:48 PM
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151 - I'm somewhat surprised to see my high school on that list. I certainly don't think anyone was doing Westinghouse-level research when I graduated, which was only a few years before.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:48 PM
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198: Sea captain?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:51 PM
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198: Small time pot dealer/poor driver?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 4:53 PM
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198: Test pilot. Trapeeze artist. Trappist monk. Telenovela showrunner. Tennis lineswoman. Toreador. Technical diver. Trout guide. Timpani player. Talent agent. Tangerine farmer.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 5:05 PM
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201 -- it just struck me that the NYC area has not only SUNY Maritime, but also the Webb Institute and the Merchant Marine Academy. With all that education available, how could Sally NOT become a sea captain?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 5:09 PM
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204: very good point.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 5:15 PM
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204. And the Stevens Institute if she wants to design ships too.

I am pleased for Sally and her parents. I've always enjoyed reading about her and Newt.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 5:27 PM
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only meant to spend two years before the mast, not a lifetime surely

IIRC, one of the few points of dramatic tension* in Two Years Before the Mast comes when the author gets told that if he can't find a replacement, they'll force him to work on the ship for longer than the two years he'd agreed to.

*Not that lack of novelistic drama is a bad thing. It's not a novel.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 5:32 PM
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Congrats to the little reptile. And no there's nothing wrong with a little bit of bragging, or rather just sharing your happiness.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 5:53 PM
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My brag is that we got the official notice that Nia has been asked to repeat first grade at her worksheet-heavy school that also puts lots of human capital into helping struggling students like her. Nerd though I am, I've worked hard all year to not try to push her too hard but let her focus on emotional stability and happiness over school stuff. She's now a profoundly happy kid who's going to enter first grade able to do very basic addition and subtraction and (brag!) who now reads through Level 1 books you can get at the bookstore with enough awareness that she rereads each sentence she puzzles through to give it the right inflection!

If we adopt her, I will certainly consider sending her to the Intel-winner-heavy all-girls Catholic HS I attended, though I dropped out of science club and then went to a college that left me still typically smartest in the room. But there are lots of ways to suceed, and being able to be a comfortable mentor to first-time first graders next year should do her a lot more good than pushing her off the deep end, especially given we're her third family in the last year and she attended three kindergartens. I'm so grateful we have a school system that both meets and respects her needs, and that would not be the case in a lot of the local wealthier, higher-performing ones like where she was placed in her prior foster home.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 6:48 PM
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All that to say, yay for Sally! And also yay for teraz being around again, even if he's confused by lizard/amphibian distinctions. But since he's here, may I break the standard sanctity to ask for the name of the Polish sf?/fantasy?) novels about shape-changing dragons?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 6:50 PM
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Oh yeah, amd I forgot to brag that my
Intel-winner froend now in essear's field just named her baby Thorn, though presumably not after me. (I brought the girls to our friends' farm and they are not yet asleep, which is why I'm online to an annoying degree, since there's really nothing else to do with myself until they sleep, after which I can finish sewing the skirt I'll probably wear in DC or finally start reading Far from the Tree or do other things more unfogged-appropriate than commenting here.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:03 PM
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she rereads each sentence she puzzles through to give it the right inflection

Oh, this is great; she's really getting it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:04 PM
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212: It's so exciting! I think Lee almost cried the first time Nia read Mara a bedtime story. I'm so, so glad that we didn't push harder when I was sure she wasn't ready, even though it's meant being a little defensive with her mother and lawyer and caseworker about why I think it's important for her to do other things besides drill phonics 24/7. She's really getting it and it's adorable and right!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:07 PM
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The standard unit of retail pot sales is a quarter-ounce, to give two pounds a little context.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:08 PM
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we didn't push harder when I was sure she wasn't ready

Excellent strategy. I slowed Sally's learning to read fluently by about a year by being pushy -- she's strongwilled and dug her heels in. Didn't start reading well until late in first grade after I'd backed off. Newt read quite a bit earlier, and I think it's largely because I'd learned my lesson and didn't push.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:12 PM
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Apparently I entered kindergarten proud of my illiteracy and insistent that I had no desire to learn to read. (My sister had entered kindergarten, a few years prior, able to read.) Or maybe in each case first grade? When do kids learn to read?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:16 PM
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Before kindergarten is early but not particularly surprising; during kindergarten or first grade is ordinary; you start getting worried at a kid who's not reading pretty well in second grade.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:21 PM
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Kids used to learn to read by end of first, but NCLB has made fluent reading a kindergarten thing, which means Nia enterered first more than a full year behind in math and reading. Her teacher has spent 20-some years on the job and thinks Nia would have been totally typical 20 or even 10-ish years ago, but now has to repeat.

Honestly, knowing how hard to push with numeracy has been much harder. She still doesn't understand odd vs. even and I really don't know how to drill that in more other than by talking about mental math daily like I do with Mara.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:22 PM
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213 is adorable.

Despite 214, I have a family friend who is on medical marijuana, which her husband grows for her; sometime after the recent WA vote she left her traveling supply at my mother's. My mother joked that it was funny to be able to drive it back legally, and then mentioned the poundage of the supply, and the wilder persons at table turned pale and warned her it was way above the use limit. But I think it is a few days' use for the patient. A lot of things went badly in the surgeries, it's more pain than she can handle, and she's chasing habituation up the chimney.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:27 PM
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I was trying to teach odd and even to a three and half year old the other day, but failed completely. No that octagon can't have 7 sides, because the number of sides is clearly even! Ah well.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:27 PM
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Huh. For a kid having trouble with odd and even, I think I'd be drawing arrays of dots. One dot for one, a pair for two, a pair with one on top for three, two columns of two for four, add one on top for five, two columns of three for six, and so on. And then talk about how the even numbers are the ones where you can make them out of pairs of dots, and the odd ones have one extra dot.

Maybe not exactly that, but that kind of thing -- do it with pictures, until something clicks. And just chanting numbers, of course -- she doesn't have to understand odd and even to cheer "Two, four, six, eight!" but if she can remember it it's in her head to refer to as she gets herself to understanding.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:32 PM
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209 Intel-winner-heavy all-girls Catholic HS I attended

Oh, huh, I'm not sure I realized you went there. I think that's a different Intel, though-- ISEF (the big international science fair). I don't think they've sent anyone to the Science Talent Search, at least in recent memory. (I might be wrong, but I think only two people from that state were ever finalists.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:33 PM
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Essear knows a lot more about high schools of the US than I'd have guessed.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:34 PM
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211 my Intel-winner froend now in essear's field

Do I know who this is? There was someone who went to that high school who had an office next to mine at my first postdoc job, which was kind of a funny coincidence.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:36 PM
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I have the impression that when I started school (aged 4, mid 70s) it was standard that kids in Primary 1 (so age 4 or 5) couldn't read when they started. Perhaps they could recognise and write their own name, and count, but everything else was taught in school. However, looking at wiki, it seems like US kindergarten is age 5-6 and 1st grade 6-7?

So, most Scottish kids could read by the equivalent of kindergarten age, as you'd normally be reading by the end of Primary 1, I think. I certainly could, and I wasn't an early reader. I couldn't read when I started school.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:36 PM
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Someone's lonely, if it's odds, because three are never really besties.

I doubt it would be worth using that; I'm a little disturbed to find it in my number-feelings.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:37 PM
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223: Ones in the state I grew up in, at least. In the US more broadly, mostly the ones that were heavily involved in things I competed in when I was in high school (Science Olympiad, Science Bowl, quiz bowl competitions mostly limited to the southeast region, various science-fair type competitions, STS).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:40 PM
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I was reading well before k, possibly out of desire to catch up to my older sister. My kids both began to really pick it up before three, though the first had a period where he lost interest. He's not quite five but reads like he's a third-grader. Awful to brag but I'm so impressed with their progress.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:42 PM
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"Someone's lonely, if it's odds, because three are never really besties." — reads to me like a line from a lyric.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:43 PM
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228: Is there data showing that second kids generally read earlier than first? Newt read earlier than Sally, and I read earlier than my big sister, and it just makes sense that you'd get the second kid learning from the first.

Sally was weird -- she was writing a lot, in complete sentences, long before she was comfortable reading things as complex as the stuff she was writing. I think this was probably mostly because I wasn't being pushy about writing, so she didn't have to hold back. We've still got a page of notes she took while watching a nature show in kindergarten, headed "Information of Wolves". I should dig it out and post bits of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:50 PM
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essear leaned all about high schools during trips around the state to check out library books before competitions.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:52 PM
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222: You would know much better than I about science competition, but if there's someone your age who went to my high school, I'd know her. Mine is the only school for girls in my part of the state. Someday we'll actually meet and I can ask you about all my nerd camp friends from your school. Today I already saw the friend Smearcase and I have in common for the first time this century, so I'm sort of on a roll!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 7:59 PM
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230.2 dunno but that theory always made sense to me. "information of wolves" is adorable.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:05 PM
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221.2 She can count by twos just fine but can't remember that this means even and all her math facts disappear once the tens column shows up. I'm leaning on her test scores that show she gained a year (pre-K to mid-K) from September to December and the steady involvement of a remedial math expert to help me believe there's no math disability because I honestly don't know. But I've been honest with her teachers that I'd rather she go a year undiagnosed,especially because she's in foster care, than end up with something premature that might carry a stigma for her.

I also apparently should be looking into whether some of the stuff going on with Mara will qualify her for an IEP or 504 if we need it despite her comfortable early reading skills and clear interest in math, though I didn't spend much time worrying about her counselor's suggestion after taking her downstairs to the ER right after therapy because the finger where she'd bitten a hangnail had gotten scarily infected (or has an unrelated herpes simplex virus, and no one can be sure until the swa results come back!) last night. Sigh. But they're both asleep!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:08 PM
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217, 230: I have to keep reminding myself that most kids learn later as early precocious reading is a family trait. I was the earliest reader at about two and a half; sisters were all between three and four and a half -- a little later because why read when there's a sister to read to you?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 8:35 PM
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Someone's lonely, if it's odds, because three are never really besties.

Kind of sums up my evening. Sigh,


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:15 PM
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Aw, poor Di.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:36 PM
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214: Just to be clear my "nothing exceptional" in 192 is a response to 185's "[i]t's not usually a "let's start shooting" amount, is it" rather than in the context of personal use. Some level of small dealer/distributor sounds about right.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 9:38 PM
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229: Of the daughters of Memory, which one is lonely? (I can't get it into a villanelle.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:05 PM
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You'd figure if it was a let's start shooting amount then he'd have had a gun on him.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:18 PM
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You'd figure he would have taken the pot out of the car during the ten minutes before the police came.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:39 PM
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I posted 231 then my battery died before I saw I failed to sign it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 10:51 PM
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Also, like LB, I've wondered about learning to read from siblings. I learned somewhere between four and five, apparently from a combination of being read to and seeing my sister work through reading assignments.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-23-13 11:00 PM
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Two pounds is sometimes a shooting amount.

You'd figure he would have taken the pot out of the car during the ten minutes before the police came.

Or not try and dodge you guys on the whole wall thing in the first place. What a jackass.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:05 AM
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Unrelated, but holy shit.

Escort charged with attempted murder for penis-biting

The man had "significant" bites to his penis and testicles, the report states, as well as damage to his leg, abdomen, chest and fingers.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:30 AM
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Hi Thorn, the series is 'The Witcher' (Wiedzmin) by Andrzej Sapkowski. They're translated into English, rather badly in the case of the first book, but the others I glanced at seemed ok. The shape changing dragon is a major character, but not the central one - that would be the Witcher himself.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:58 AM
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244

Two pounds is sometimes a shooting amount.

If this site is to believed the value was on the order of $1K-$2K. Of course there is also the whole being arrested and going to jail bit.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 4:06 AM
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Well a joint is sometimes a shooting amount.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:23 AM
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Shooting pot is no good. The stems and seeds totally clog up the syringe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:28 AM
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Or not try and dodge you guys on the whole wall thing in the first place.

Given how rapidly he switched tactics on seeing there was a man in the house, it was probably reflexive sexism.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 7:32 AM
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Well done to Sally. I don't think talking to friends about decisions to be made is bragging, and I have a pretty low tolerance (lower than most people around me as far as I can tell) for bragging. I hardly ever talk about my kids to most friends because my children are just better than theirs (insert tongue in cheek emoticon) so it wouldn't be kind, but I'm perfectly happy talking about them here because the taken-for-granted level is so much higher - how can it be bragging when there are so many brilliant, accomplished people in your audience?

Anyway, my big girls are sort of living each of Sally's alternatives - Kid A at a highly-selective, top 10 in the country by GCSE and A level results state school, and Kid B is at a good/very good comprehensive school. Kid A is top third or so for most things - as long as she is above the median mark she's happy - and at or near the top for subjects she cares about. In Kid B's school they set them for most subjects (so e.g. her maths class is half of the top quarter of her year), and she is top 5% for pretty much everything. I imagine they will get fairly similar exam results at 16 and 18, and go onto similar universities.

Their different situations really suit their personalities though - Kid B gets lots of positive strokes from school and from being well-regarded there. She's hard-working and conscientious and likes to see her work rewarded, which she figured wouldn't happen as much at Kid A's school. Kid A is much lazier, and much less bothered about what anyone else might think of her, and I've always been fairly glad that if she coasts at all, she is coasting at a high level. Also Kid A is much geekier and less self-conscious and I think it's been pretty good for her to be in a freak-and-geek-heavy environment, whereas Kid B is a bit more normal and likes the mixture.

Which way is Sally leaning atm?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:11 AM
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She had been leaning toward staying in place, largely out of loyalty I think; today she's sounding as if she's going to jump. I figure were in for vacillation until the twelfth, when she has to turn in the form.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:16 AM
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Is it a reasonable journey to the other school?

I don't think I could turn down the other place, I'd be too flattered, I'm sure. But people do, I know. (Well, I know they do over here, I'm sure they're the same over there.) And I think the shock of not-being-the-cleverest is a good thing to have over and done with - Kid A had it at 11 and I will be gently encouraging Kid B to change schools at 16 rather than getting too complacent at her current place (which is good now, but their 6th form's not that great) (and I think she'll be more ready for it by then; she wasn't at 13, but if she doesn't want to move she won't).


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:25 AM
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234: The other thing I wanted to say about early math skills is that I think it's very ordinary for generally perfectly functional kids to get stuck on what seems to be a really simple concept in a way that's alarming to an adult paying attention. Sally had a hell of a time with reading clocks when that was a big part of the first grade math curriculum -- to the point that I was worried there was something wrong, because if she couldn't grasp a concept that simple, there must be a global problem. There wasn't an epiphany or anything, I don't remember a resolution, it just stopped being what they were working on and it clicked for her some time when I wasn't paying attention.

(All of these stories are about Sally, because by the time Newt got to any stage I'd stopped looking ahead for trouble--I figured I wouldn't worry until something got serious, and nothing ever did.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:28 AM
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253: Commutes are about level. The elite school is actually much much closer as the crow flies, but there's a river, a major highway, and a reservoir conspiring to turn two miles as the crow flies into 40 minutes by bus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:32 AM
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I was a really slow reader, grade level wise - I was in the lowest reading group in second grade. Some of this was likely due to being the youngest in my class, but for whatever reason I also just kinda sucked at reading for awhile there. I have a distinct memory of some sort of reading 'whateverness' clicking in, which I suspect is not common in this group as most seem to have been reading early. I always like to use myself as an example, though, when people are worried about kids not reading, as I became a voracious reader very very fast. I'm pretty sure my sister learned to read much earlier than I, but she never took to it in the same way.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:53 AM
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But it's like clew said -- algebra is really hard if your arithmetic isn't effortless. Someone who has to think seriously to come up with all the possible factors of 24 is going to be in trouble when they have to work on quadratic equations.

It's much more than this: algebra is really hard, period. No one really knows how to teach it effectively. Students seem to either grasp it or not, independent of the teacher. It's the largest bottleneck to graduating high school, and then those same students who eventually got through high school can't do the same exact algebra in college, and it becomes the same bottleneck all over again.

Furthermore, the arguments for why people must know algebra are not very convincing, since plenty of Americans are doing just fine, without understanding it at all. Certainly some doors close if you don't know algebra, but it's hard to make the case that someone ought to be repeating algebra five or six times if they're never going to take a class that uses that algebra.

(Even if their eventual career involves algebra-like computations, they'll learn them on the job and it will be much easier with a concrete context. There's not much reason that algebra should be the barrier to as many careers as it is.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:04 AM
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252

She had been leaning toward staying in place, largely out of loyalty I think; ...

Another thing to consider is that her current school won't quite be the same if a lot of the top kids leave.

Can she make a different decision in a year if she wants to?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:08 AM
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258: Interestingly, the pattern of who seems to be leaving isn't exactly the top kids. It's all complicated to explain, but for a kid to be on track to take full advantage of the Pigeon U classes, they had to already be doing extra work. It looks as if the school is going to lose mostly the kids with high grades who hadn't positioned themselves to get much out of the Pigeon U relationship. (And of course the current eleventh graders who are kicking Pigeon undergraduate ass in calculus are the survivors of a similar culling process -- that class lost almost half the students in ninth grade.) So that I'm not so much worried about.

Really, if I'm worried about anything at her current school, it's about the DOE deciding to scramble the school -- teachers getting moved, the Pigeon U relationship being disrupted.

But I'm pretty sure she can't change her mind in a year. There's another entry point in tenth grade, but I think it's much harder to do; not something she can do out of right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:17 AM
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257: That's right about how hard algebra is -- I was just theorizing about what makes it hard, for people who really do solve problems that are essentially algebra problems in real life (like figuring out when they're going to need to stop for gas). Weak arithmetic seems like it's got to be a big part of it - you can understand the concepts all you like, but if you're struggling with your times tables you're never going to be able to factor anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:19 AM
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256: Yeah, that was sort of Sally. A little earlier, but she was definitely lagging until a point in late first grade, and then clicked suddenly and solidly into completely fluent reading.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:20 AM
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Oh, definitely.

The thing I've been trying to put my finger on is this idea of retrieval of reasoning. It's one thing to understand an explanation of, say, why 3x+5x=8x but 3x+5y ≠ 8xy. I can explain that to anyone, in four different ways, and ask follow-up questions that convince me that they're following what I'm saying. But a lot of people don't retain the explanation whatsoever, and are baffled all over again when they get to another case.

So they revert to retrieval of facts, essentially memorizing enough cases that they can survive the algebra course on brute force of memory, which obviously is terrible preparation for a slightly different context, because it relies so heavily on the specifics of the textbook and instructor.

It's one thing to be able to creatively reason for yourself. It's another thing to be able to follow someone else's reasoning, and then practice enough that you can retrieve it for yourself. But then there's this whole population that practices over and over again and just apparently cannot retrieve the reasoning of algebra.

(Plus a whole lot of shitty teachers...But students who are going to eventually pass the class via brute force memory can't necessarily tell good teachers and shitty teachers apart, because they get frustrated when a teacher won't make the material easier to memorize.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:27 AM
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259

But I'm pretty sure she can't change her mind in a year. There's another entry point in tenth grade, but I think it's much harder to do; not something she can do out of right.

How about going the other way?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:28 AM
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That's very well put. I had a very extreme case of this recently of a student who seems to be trying to memorize the proofs themselves, rather than the reasoning behind them.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:30 AM
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Huh. I have a lot of faith in brute force memory as a first step, because that's how I learn anything difficult: first I bull my way through how to do it by dumbly following the steps, and then once I've got the process solid I can watch myself doing it and think through how it makes sense. But god knows how to make that second step happen if it doesn't come naturally.

I do really think, not that I know what to do about it, that some of that sort of thing is the conventional social permission to find math impossible -- if you're convinced that you're the kind of person who just doesn't get that sort of thing, you shut yourself down rather than actually trying to understand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:32 AM
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263: I think she could get back into her current school, probably, but there's a good chance she'd have fouled up the opportunity for the Pigeon U classes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:33 AM
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Although I think LB's point is important, this also happens with people who think they're good at math when they eventually hit the limit of their excellent memorization skills. So I think there's something else going on as well. The same issue should come up in other fields as well at the time when people are expected to really understand arguments.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:39 AM
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I do really think, not that I know what to do about it, that some of that sort of thing is the conventional social permission to find math impossible -- if you're convinced that you're the kind of person who just doesn't get that sort of thing, you shut yourself down rather than actually trying to understand.

This, certainly. There's some quote that I (obnoxiously) tell my students all the time, along the lines of "Success in math depends on your ability to tolerate being frustrated without giving up."

I have no idea where or what exactly the original quote was, but I expound on that quote for a good five minutes for them when I think that they're giving up too easily.

But when you have a student who can't, say, apply to whatever program until they pass algebra, that ceases to be the problem. They need to get through the class, somehow, and they're prepared to sink hours and hours throughout the semester, and they're terrified of it and have labelled the semester "The Semester Where I've Got To Pass Algebra" and they're still not grasping it. This happens lots and lots and lots.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:41 AM
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||

A good friend who's in her second year of a two-year-lifespan guinea pig at a nice little SLAC, and had given up on the pet-care market in favor of looking for high school teaching jobs just got an offer for some weird hybrid administrative/teaching/they'll support her doing research/career but not tenure track position at the university where she got her doctorate. Whatever the nature of the position, she's delighted.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:46 AM
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Great!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:51 AM
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Yeah, it's the ratio of willingness to do work to willingness to try to actually learn something which always boggles my mind. No amount of time studying is too much, so long as none of that time involves thinking.

With my current batch of students (not algebra or calculus) I don't think that's the problem with most of the ones struggling. They're willing to try to think, but so many of them just have really buggy thought processes.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 10:54 AM
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Exactly. Like students who study for hours by looking at the pages of their notes and book, without engaging with the material or picking up a pencil.

When I ramped up my soccer game, I was astonished to realize that playing better soccer was harder. (Obviously it got easier.) But the first step was ratcheting up how hard I was working on the field.

Engaging with the material is harder, but it's not more unpleasant. Staring at the material without engaging is just endless unnecessary suffering.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:01 AM
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268. To help me understand this discussion, how hard is this algebra that people have to pass in college? I mean, what are they going to use it for? Do they just need to know how to solve a straightforward quadratic equation by memorising the formula, or do they need to do the equivalent of deriving that formula from first principles? Or get into serious stuff?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:05 AM
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I'm guessing that the algebra that "people" have to pass in college isn't the algebra that math majors have to pass in college.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:06 AM
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Sometimes I wonder though whether it *is* more unpleasant for them. Maybe they just experience thinking in a very different (and more painful) way than you or I. Maybe frustration just feels way worse to them, or maybe studying mindlessly doesn't make them suffer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:07 AM
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I've never been somewhere where college algebra was the class that people needed to pass to graduate, it's always been calculus. But I'm just assuming that the situations are entirely analogous, but just with somewhat weaker students whose ability to pass classes without learning doesn't take them quite as far.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:09 AM
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College algebra is often the barrier to things like master's programs in counseling, or schools of social work, or tracks of kinesiology, biology, or nursing. Yes, you can make a case that these students will definitely be doing some computations on the job, but failing algebra five or six times makes it seem like the system is poorly designed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:15 AM
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Do they just need to know how to solve a straightforward quadratic equation by memorising the formula, or do they need to do the equivalent of deriving that formula from first principles?

The former. Applying the quadratic formula. Not getting overwhelmed when you have four different techniques to solve for x, and you can't tell from the outset which one will work. (Obviously developing one's math intuition is a huge part of it: I'd never bother to try all four techniques consecutively, because you get a sense of what will factor or whatever. But at their stage, it's being willing to try more than one technique without giving up in frustration.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:17 AM
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274. Exactly. If they're planning to major in maths or natural sciences, they shouldn't be allowed to try unless they can demonstrate a familiarity with sorts of algebra I couldn't do; if they're majoring in social sciences they need a firm grasp of statistics and enough algebra to support that; if they're studying mediaeval history, they need to know why Fibonacci was important, but who cares if they can't find x where 4x + 6 = 14?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:18 AM
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x's mother cares.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:20 AM
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275: Trying to think productively about something and failing really is hideously unpleasant. That was my last semester at MIT, taking quantum and classical electrodynamics. On both, while I had the formal prereqs, I was weak on the necessary math, and my usual strategies for understanding things broke down completely. (Quantum would probably have been okay if it had been the worst thing I had to deal with, but I dropped the ball chasing the other class.)

It felt awful -- endless staring at the material that wasn't actually thinking because I couldn't get enough purchase on it to start meaningfully thinking. (Did I go to a TA for actual help? Why, no; it never really occurred to me that that would have been a productive thing to do.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:25 AM
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Because symbolic manipulation and abstraction is how the species advances?


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:27 AM
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(to 279, somewhat trollishly)


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:27 AM
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277: I keep on getting stuck thinking that for someone who has the capacity to function as a nurse, or a social worker, it's got to be possible to teach them basic algebra; that the answer shouldn't be giving up on it, there's some kind of therapy or reassurance that would make it possible for them to learn the math without so much grief. But of course I don't have an actual answer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:28 AM
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Basically, I have no idea either. I have a lot of criticisms of current textbooks, and the textbook constrains a lot of what the teacher does. But it's also unavoidable that the material itself is tough, and much more abstract for students than doing the exact same thing when they're actually in the job context.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:38 AM
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282. Ain't that the truth?


Posted by: Joan Miró | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:41 AM
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272 at least 1 & 3 are very good, and very important to me. Although of course I am talking more about social sciences than mathematics.

I am not sure if you can really "engage material" without a thesis, and a commitment to the thesis. Then engagement, and "work" leads to the development of critical skills and the ability to defend of your thesis and attack your opposition. Sophistic skills mostly.

And I think this is what is valued in academia, mere verbal glibness and technical facility with jargon without any necessary insight or ability to grow.

And this is how experts can learn Arabic and study the ME for forty years and yet support the Bush War and be tools of AIPAC. Or win Nobels in economics and be Austerians.

If I were to say:"When you are meeting a person, be sure to analyze her every word to see how she is lying and a fool" would we ever claim that was a receptive open generous starting position for human relations? Is a new relationship even possible under those conditions?

But we claim that works with books.

The only way to read is to submit unconditionally to a new master, discarding all you have previously known or cared about.

But again, I am not sure you can learn at all without a pre-existing pre-committed thesis. As a Keynesian, you will read Marx and come away with a Keynesian's understanding of Marx, but not really know Marx at all, and that may be the best you can do.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:45 AM
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My logic class currently counts as a substitute for the college algebra equivalent (what I took in seventh grade.) Part of the problem here is that the institution has bought wholesale into the idea that you can just self-pace your way through computer modules that teach you algebra. No need to hire good math instructors! Not to put too fine a point on it, but if one is the sort of person who can teach themselves algebra, odds are good one isn't needing developmental math.

My sense of the problem:
1) a cultural belief that one is either good at math, or not, and there's nothing that can be done, and this is set in second grade.
2) you'll hear educated adults proclaim they're bad at math, in a way they wouldn't were it the case that they couldn't read on a fifth grade level.
3) this is hard to describe, and I'm oversimplifying, but half of the problem in math seems to be like this: someone knows that 2 +3 = 5. But they come to 3 + 2, and they haven't been shown exactly that before, and they can't make the connection.

I don't know what to do about the last one. You get it in logic, too; getting people to figure out ways to make the connection is absolutely the hardest part. And I think most public education actively discourages thinking outside the box, and now that drilling students in basic techniques isn't done either, you get a lot of people who have to keep looking up the rule in order to apply it, but can't deal with anything that isn't exactly like the book.

Anyhow, this is the last semester that logic counts as a math credit because the board of regents said "but why isn't there any arithmetic in the course?" and we said "because it's a logic class" and they said "you have a year to change the course to win the appeal" and we have decided that we're either not appealing it, or using the time at the appeal to make a case for more math professors.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 11:55 AM
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I think (3) is what I'm circling around with the whole "retrieval of reasoning" problem.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:03 PM
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1 and 2, definitely, and I think 3 comes from 1 -- if you believe that people who are good at math are specially brilliant, but math is really hard for normal people, then there have to be hidden pitfalls everywhere that make it hard. And then you freeze when anything changes, because even if it looks obvious, maybe that's where the hard bit is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:04 PM
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289: Yeah. It's very hard to articulate, which makes it a hard problem to solve. I've found that a heavier homework load helps, but only because if someone knows all the logical rules forwards and backwards it's one less thing tying up their brainpower. And I'm pretty good at breaking things down into five or six mini-tactics to try. But I feel like I'm making them mark time until it clicks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:10 PM
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I think to some extent 1 also comes from 3. That is there's a vicious cycle here, where there's something that's genuinely difficult for people and it's required earliest and most vehemently in math which reinforces the idea that some people just can't do math.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:13 PM
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Everything that isn't a goal is a tool;everything that isn't an end is a means.

It is all about tools and craft and we shouldn't abstract away from that too much.

How do you teach someone to use a wood plane;a violin; a chess opening?

Practice, practice, practice, self-analysis, eventually and especially goal-oriented practice with a point of success.

The best chess teachers are able to turn what they take for granted, what they understand intuitively, back into teachable exercises with a lot of variation. Partly because the material can be organized (50 different N + B mates in 5) and there is a lot of it.

And chess masters know they are and aren't teaching N + B mates.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:18 PM
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291: I'm not even sure non-research-mathematicians need more click than you get from drilling until you don't have to think about it. That's what gets most people through physically scary boring things. It's just an enormous lot of drilling, more than one needs to pass a final (usually). (Exam/prereq fright seems like an independent problem.)

Sitzfleisch for everybody.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:29 PM
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49 to 294.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:39 PM
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Discussions about the merits or otherwise of 'drill' in school always puzzle me, because I think brute memorization is incredibly useful. Math, obviously, history as well -- you can't get any interesting thinking done unless you know some facts to think about. But on the other hand, no one, and particularly no child, has the focus to memorize all day without doing anything else.

So a school that's all 'drill' and no recess does sound awful, but I don't think there's a problem at all by learning math through drilling math facts until they're solid, as long as the school day is structured so as not to drive the kids mad with boredom.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:50 PM
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||

Heebie, I sent you an e-mail--well actually 2--about DC. I'm trying to book flights, so if you see this, please check your e-mail.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:52 PM
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A simulation of the Baldwin effect must start with the second case, in which a learned ability is only partly genetically determined, and end with the first case, a fully genetically specified neural net. In one simulation extremely simple neural nets were used, much too simple to be useful in language processing, but the problem that had to be solved through the com­bined use of learning and genetics had only one solution. This means that the structure of the search space had the form of a "needle in a haystack, " with the only good solution represented by a high fitness peak surrounded by low fitness points. Without the availability to learn from experience the fitness peak corresponding to the solution was so steep that it was basically impossible to climb. Introducing learning, on the other hand, changed the shape of the search space surrounding the peak with a gentle slope that facilitated evolutionary climbing
...DeLanda

Another advantage chess instruction has is the opportunity for learners to be "good enough". When a 1500 is playing a 1500, he has many "wrong ways" to win. This is controversial because it can teach bad habits.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 12:54 PM
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296. Preach it. Did you learn multiplication tables? Easiest thing in the world when you're eight years old. But then you need to get outside an run around a bit before you start learning the presidents with the year they took office...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:00 PM
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Does everybody get the point of 298?

Of course drills and exercises, but math has a problem in that it kinda prides itself on unique solutions and limited paths. That would tend toward all-or-nothing, needle-in-haystack learning situations. A unique solution has too steep a learning slope.

We don't ask for exact words in an exact arrangement when teaching writing.

The point I'm getting at is that math teachers need to find a variety of ways of showing 2 + 3 = 3 + 2.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:01 PM
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||


Babysplosion pics in the flickr group.

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:04 PM
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My vague recollection from multiplication tables was that you really only needed to memorize a few of them (7*6, 7*7, 7*8, 6*8) and that I learned all the others without memorizing as such.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:10 PM
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Congratulations ttaM!


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:11 PM
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Discussions about the merits or otherwise of 'drill' in school always puzzle me, because I think brute memorization is incredibly useful. Math, obviously, history as well -- you can't get any interesting thinking done unless you know some facts to think about. But on the other hand, no one, and particularly no child, has the focus to memorize all day without doing anything else.

I think our brains work very, very differently when it comes to math. Drills just never, ever stick with me. I got fast enough at, say, counting by 7s to fake having my tables memorized, but I barely have them memorized, even today. If you ask me some multiplication like 7x8, I'll take whatever pops in my head - 7x10, 8x8, etc - and have an instantaneous halfway step on my way to re-computing 7x8. (not always, but not infrequently.)

Similarly, when memorizing poetry for school, I'd drill myself over and over again for hours at home and still fail the test. (one specific class from high school, I'm remembering vividly.) I'd make up as many mnemonic devices as I possibly could, and then on the test thered be endlessly many new ambiguities. You just can't derive a poem.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:14 PM
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302: Sure, an important thing about drill is not making it pointless and punitive by drilling something the kid already knows cold, so there's no reason to drill a times table the kid knows already. But for a kid who hasn't learned them without working at it, drilling them is the only way to get there.

One way to think about it is as an equalizer -- if you're not making the kids memorize times tables, you've got a couple of kids who memorize them easily on their own, who are good at math, and the rest of the class who are floundering and counting on their fingers while they're trying to learn the next bit of material, who are therefore bad at math. If everyone's drilled them, they're on a level when they're doing fractions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:19 PM
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Are these dreary worksheets just writing down numbers? That's more boring than drill has to be - you can rhyme it, sing it, turn it into hopscotch, string it as beads. Presumably one of the multiplying cram schools does this?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:21 PM
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You just can't derive a poem.

If it scans and rhymes, you can get pretty close if you remember enough keywords. There are a lot of poems I sort of know, in that I've got 30% of them memorized and can deduce the rest with 80% accuracy. But that's not really relevant to this.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:22 PM
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You just can't derive a poem.

Tell it to Jacques Roubaud.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:26 PM
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I probably was able to deduce about 80% of the poem, but got dinged on every bit of punctuation and non-essential word, and I'd get under a 50. And these were peer-graded and my friend wouldn't cheat for me and just insert the stupid comma, or whatever, which pissed me off. Also these quizzes were "supposed to bring our grade up" so we had them all the goddamn time.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:26 PM
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I was in the habit—as I believe I have related previously—of re-reading my translations a few times through the night before an exam in my Latin classes. Generally that was sufficient to carry me through the exam (I'd see the Latin and more remember than translate the English).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:27 PM
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I can memorize lines/poems just by reading them a bunch of times. But some of that might be early in life scripture memorization experience.

My tendency is definitely to try really hard to memorize as little as possible. My favorite example was an exam where we were supposed to know the name of piece/building, name of artist/architect, and date, for something like 15 pieces of art and 15 buildings. But they said the exam would only ask about one of each. Knowing I was never ever going to memorize 30 of these, I instead tried to work out which ones I would ask about if I were the professor. So I narrowed down to memorizing exactly two of each that I thought were the two most likely. Guessed right.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:27 PM
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Oh, yeah, that's hard. I don't think I ever had to memorize poetry perfectly for school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:28 PM
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304 is interesting, heebie -- do you have your smallish factors memorized? If not, what was learning algebra and integration by parts, etc., like? Everything I `get' is rhythm or geometry, and all my geometry has rhythm, but I know there are other roads. (Abstract algebra, apparently, is something other than what I have built in.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:28 PM
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Anyway, I do most math visually, and IIRC you at least did linear algebra just based on words.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:28 PM
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all my geometry has rhythm

Even your squares?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:30 PM
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Huh. My linear algebra works because if you turn it the right way it falls apart in slices, like halva or alfalfa or slate. (And also words and proofs, but I'd make heavier going of it without the haptic level.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:31 PM
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"halva or alfalfa" ---> halves or quarters.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:31 PM
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Squares are iambs on the road
You lift and thump the foursquare load.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:32 PM
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313: high school algebra or abstract algebra? High school algebra was where I first realized I could reason through everything myself when I got stuck, ie plug in numbers or whatever to verify a step.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:32 PM
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But how did you choose which factors were likely? Even with the dozen or so that high-school problems mostly use, undirected exploration seems slow.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:36 PM
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I don't think I ever had to memorize a poem at all for school -- that seems vaguely old fashioned to me, not necessarily in a bad way.

I was never great at memorization when the memorization seemed pointless and context-free, and I recall much school math seeming like pointless and context free memorization. Also that math never really seemed to make "sense" in the way that even the sciences did, it felt much more random and incoherent. I realize that's a weird thing to say given that the whole point of math is to be logical and coherent, but that's how it felt.


Probably some of this is related to Heebie's point above -- math (for the non-talented) seems to unusually involve both a lot of moments where you can't give up and also, annoyingly, very little ex ante information about just why it's important that you don't give up, how all this matters, etc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:41 PM
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My Shakespeare class in college required memorizing a speech. The only poem I still have memorized though is one that I just had open on my desktop for a while and so sunk in.

Although I don't work hard at memorizing things, I do work hard at *remembering* things. That is, if I think I knew something but can't remember it, rather than giving up immediately I'll spend some time trying to get at that memory.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:46 PM
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I don't think of it as memorization but as having something by heart.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:52 PM
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255 The elite school is actually much much closer as the crow flies

Wait, did I go through the whole discussion yesterday with the wrong elite school in mind? I guess I did. Not that it makes a huge difference.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 1:55 PM
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Your 37 didn't make sense to me, if that was meant to identify the one you were thinking of. She's admitted to Elite High School North, with all the Nobel laureates, rather than Elite High School South, which is, at least these days, slightly harder to get into and more prestigious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:02 PM
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Oh, no, 37 was about the other school she was admitted to. I don't know why I directed it to your comment about the elite school.

But the numbers I was quoting for Intel finalists were for Elite High School South, which at least by the Wikipedia statistics has about twice as many in recent years as Elite High School North. I should have known North was the one with the Nobel Laureates, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:10 PM
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Maybe 37 was supposed to be to 36.2. I don't know why 36.1 didn't sink in when I read it. Oh well.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:11 PM
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I don't know anyone insufferable who went to Elite High School North, so there's that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:17 PM
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Always good to hear. If she ends up going there, I expect to become irrationally partisan about the place, as one does.

I'm really deeply annoyed by the geography of it all. It's just maddening that it's so close in a straight line and there's no shortcut at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:24 PM
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Google maps thinks it's bikeable in a short-ish time?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:30 PM
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To somehow merge thread topics, Elite High School North's Nobel-winning alumnus who lives closest to heebie has a remarkable capacity to recite Omar Khayyam's poetry, not to mention apparently having memorized the dates of basically every historically important event ever. Last time I gave a talk at his institution, I expected to chat about physics at lunch, but he spent the whole time showing all the foreign postdocs that he knew more about their countries' history and literary traditions than they did. In a pleasant and almost charming way, though, not a one-upping kind of thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:34 PM
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That's what Sally's thinking. I'm a little torn -- it's not just street-biking, the neighborhood is really crazy with the erratic driving. Double parking, sudden u-turns -- when I take a cab home, NYC cab drivers who aren't used to the neighborhood get startled. It probably is practical, but it scares me.

But you're right -- I'd be surprised if it were much more than 15 minutes by bike.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:34 PM
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My school had us do the 12 x 12 multiplication table somewhere around second or third grade. I guess you could do it without memorizing everything, but we had a time limit so you had to memorize something.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:35 PM
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The Nobel Laureate in 331 would have made a superb quiz bowl player, except maybe for the "pleasant" and "charming" part.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:37 PM
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Actually, no, I think it was 8 x 8. 12 x 12 is a lot of numbers.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:40 PM
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12 x 12 is a lot of numbers.

If only there were some way we could know just how many.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:41 PM
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I HAVE A CALCULATOR!


Posted by: OPINIONATED K-12 MATH STUDENT | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:47 PM
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I need two more fingers on each hand to be able to do that.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:47 PM
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What, you don't have toes?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:49 PM
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Was it the Bea Arthur character on Golden Girls who said that Stan (?) had to get naked to count to 21?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:50 PM
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I have toeplitz and it isn't helping.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:57 PM
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Toes are completely different. I plan on learning that next.

Also, two more fingers on each hand is base 14. I believe in having a little space left over in case my counting system needs to scale up.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 2:57 PM
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I believe in having a little space left over in case my counting system needs to scale up.

...laydeez.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:00 PM
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Also, two more fingers on each hand is base 14.

God has 13 fingers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:10 PM
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Those stupid multiplications sheets were the bane of my 3rd grade existence. Or one of the banes, at least. I refused to memorize them.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:26 PM
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310 - Kid A has a Latin exam in June (I don't know how much any of you lot know about our exam system, but this summer she does the first set that are a big deal, before dropping down to 4 subjects in September), and she said this is basically how they have to approach the (I think) Aeneid paper - there are too many words left out to make it scan, and other oddities, to be able to reliably and quickly translate it, so it's easier to just learn the English and spew it back out. Ugh.

I've found it really interesting teaching adults maths over the last few years, and it has made me definitely think that (brilliant (ha ha) or otherwise teaching aside), a certain level of maturity just seems to help. Mostly with word problems - because they just understand things better generally? Of course, the fact that they're with me voluntarily (and are paying for it?) helps massively too.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:30 PM
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I don't know how much any of you lot know about our exam system

Something about O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, as far as I understand.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:31 PM
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...Alter's current line of work on how we experience fluent and disfluent information. Fluency implies that information that comes at a very low cost, often because it is already familiar to us in some similar form. Disfluency occurs when information is costly-perhaps it takes a lot of effort to understand a concept, or a name is unfamiliar and therefore difficult to say.

(through 3Quarksdaily).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:40 PM
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347 - yup, so she has OWLs in May/June, and has chosen her NEWTs for the next 2 years.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 3:58 PM
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288

1) a cultural belief that one is either good at math, or not, ...

Kind of like the cultural belief that it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 4:48 PM
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287 is good. I wonder if math anxiety isn't caused in part by massive, repetitive drills presented to the student before they have grasped the core procedure. Drills can be fantastic for solidifying newly acquired skills, but could be intimidating if the student is still lost.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 4:57 PM
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I realize that appealing to your common sense may be hopeless, and I'm not expecting you to walk away from all your treasured beliefs about how there are some people who will never be any use for anything. But take someone, to use an example from the thread, like Halford. You've been reading his comments for years (I assume) and, while a little excitable and prone to strongly held beliefs that may not be entirely evidence-based, he's a bright guy. Yet he's anxious enough about grade/high-school level math that's he's worried he won't be able to help his five-year-old with it.

Doesn't that seem implausibly weird to you as reflecting a real incapacity to learn basic math?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:02 PM
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Maybe it's on the same gene as overly strict beliefs about intellectual property?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:05 PM
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352

... about how there are some people who will never be any use for anything. ...

Being bad at algebra is not the same thing as being useless at everything. Although that is the message being sent by algebra requirements.

Doesn't that seem implausibly weird to you as reflecting a real incapacity to learn basic math?

No. First Halford wasn't specifically referring to really basic first grade math and I expect that wasn't what he meant. I think he meant things like algebra. And there are plenty of otherwise smart people who have real trouble with algebra. Your total incredulous disbelief that any intelligent person could have any trouble with algebra is kind of charming but I don't think it reflects reality. I don't have any trouble distinguishing red from green but just because it's easy for me doesn't mean it's easy for everybody.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:28 PM
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I don't know that I was abnormally horrible at algebra, or even that I'm particularly non-talented at math in an abstract sense (IIRC I did fine on the math SAT) but it was definitely a lot of work and not something that ever felt like it came naturally at all, as it clearly did for many other people. I definitely stopped taking math as soon as I had the opportunity to do so, and wonder if I might done differently with different teaching (or a different attitude).

Mostly, with the kid, I'm worried not so much about not being able to do arithmetic, but not being able to encourage her to have fun with numbers or convince her that they're interesting and important. I get the feeling that more mathy people can do things like, I dunno, talk about where the Fibonacci Sequence (not actually too sure what this is) shows up in real life and do cool tricks about how squares work or whatever, and I can't. To analogize to literature, it's not like you need to be able to do an interesting critical reading of Proust to read Harry Potter to your kids, but if you have a deeper love of words or books it's maybe easier to point out what's fun and interesting about them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:41 PM
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350: One reason that I think that it's more than mere talent for math is that people who are convinced that they can't handle basic algebra often do well in logic, which suggests to me that it's a mental block.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:48 PM
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355: Yeah, I was just going to link to a comment where you said you were capable of using algebra professionally, and did probably once or twice a month. Which makes you exactly what I'm talking about -- someone who's perfectly capable of doing high school math but is attached to a self-image as not-math-talented.

For your kid, I wouldn't worry so much about being Mr. Happy Fun Math Tricks, as I would about keeping a lid on any tendency to describe yourself or other ordinarily functional adults as incapable with math. I think that's where the damage happens.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:48 PM
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I thought I was bad at math through college. Until I passed my prelims, actually. That's counts as counter-evidence to 350, I think.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:49 PM
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I'm not surprised after what you said about your times tables -- I guess you really aren't an arithematician.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:51 PM
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Yeah, that is definitely mostly why. My parents used to drill me on times tables and subtraction and such on road trips, to help me get them.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:55 PM
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355.last: Actually, this is interesting. I always found math satisfying because it's clever -- you see all the moving parts clicking into place and then it works (this is a bad description, but it's an aesthetic reaction). I wonder how much of the I'm-bad-at-math feeling is just not ever getting the satisfaction of seeing something that works really sweetly, because it's not something you find appealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:56 PM
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I guess I should also point out that my Dad was a math major at Elite U and my Grandfather was an engineering prof at different Elite U, so whatever else I am I'm not very good evidence for genetics=failure at math destiny. I think part of my problem was that they assumed that math stuff would come pretty easily and automatically and so I felt extra specially moronic when it didn't.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:57 PM
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360: The MIT joke (probably broader, but that's where I heard it) was: Physics majors can't add anymore. Math majors can't even do calculus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:57 PM
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Just now:

Hawaii (in bed) wailing.
Jammies, guardedly: what's up?
Hawaii: I biiiiiit my fiiiiinger...
Jammies: keep your fingers out of your mouth then.
Hawaii: they weren't in my mouth!
Jammies: that makes no sense.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 5:58 PM
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362 seems like a game-changing confession on Why Halford Feels Mathematically Uneasy.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:00 PM
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362: Is your father around and available? If so, you should probably tell him that he's on deck for some seriously supportive mathy nurturing if the little Halfordette needs it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:01 PM
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So, anyway, Halford's an anecdote rather than statistical data. But as a mathy person with a lot of humanities-y friends in college (after I left MIT), I spent a lot of time hauling friends through required calculus/physics classes. And most of the ones who thought they couldn't do math were Halfordier than not -- if you sat with them and made warm and affirming noises for long enough, they did just fine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:05 PM
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If you could use your persuade him to put down the goddamn crossword puzzle and do a little active childcare, awesome, but I think it might be easier to solve some kind of 33 dimensional geometry problem.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:05 PM
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Teach your adorable (I assume) granddaughter fractions wouldn't set off his protective/showoffy instincts?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:07 PM
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UNG's dad was a math teacher. I remember one visit watching him "help" UNG with his homework for a calculus class and thinking, "Ah, the test anxiety now makes sense." A more or less lovely man otherwise (UNG's dad), but even I was starting to feel like a failure just being in proximity of the instruction. UNG now makes a living in a mathy career, so it was definitely not innate inaptitude holding him back up until then.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:12 PM
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Okay, here's another theory. Up above, heebie said:

There's some quote that I (obnoxiously) tell my students all the time, along the lines of "Success in math depends on your ability to tolerate being frustrated without giving up."

And I think that's right. But I also think that it's not something people hear in grade or high school. The commoner belief is that for people who are naturally good at math, it's all easy, they're not working at all. So as soon as you hit something you have to work at, that's proof you're not one of the elect and should give up. And so most of them do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:16 PM
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358

I thought I was bad at math through college. Until I passed my prelims, actually. That's counts as counter-evidence to 350, I think.

Why would somebody who thought they were bad at math become a graduate student in mathematics?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:23 PM
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A mad love for the subject that she thought was unrequited?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:24 PM
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I thought I'd be able to teach math well, and that I'd enjoy doing so.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:25 PM
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And I enjoyed my math classes and summer research experience a lot, and so I figured I'd enjoy logging more hours doing math.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:27 PM
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And everyone around me, at home and at school, gave the impression that grad school is always a great decision and outcome, and my alternative was product-testing at Microsoft or consulting, and those both sounded soul-crushing.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:32 PM
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You could have tried smuggling cigarettes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:34 PM
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my alternative was product-testing at Microsoft or consulting, and those both sounded soul-crushing.

What? Really? You can paper that right over with money. And testing can be kind of fun.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:34 PM
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Heebie's story is pretty remarkably awesome. I can't think of anyone I know who pursued an academic subject that they thought (a) they were bad at just because (b) they also thought that it was fun. Usually (a) trumps (b) and kills the fun.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:35 PM
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374 375

And yet you thought you had less than average math ability? Or is this the millionaire calling themselves poor because there are billionaires?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:36 PM
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No, it was more internally self-contradictory than I'm describing. I knew I was better at math than my non-math major friends. I also perpetually thought that I'd gotten lucky when I'd understood a given course, and surely the next one would be the course that exceeded my ability.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:43 PM
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logging more hours doing math.

It would be awesome if mathematicians kept logbooks, the way pilots do. 10,000 hours of math, accident-free!


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:43 PM
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You can paper that right over with money.

People used to tell me to sell out and I always thought I could sell out later if I wanted to. It turns out to be harder to find buyers if you haven't got a track record of selling out by the time you get to forty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 6:43 PM
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a track record of selling out by the time you get to forty.

How many years does it take to establish that track record? I might want to keep my options open.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 7:02 PM
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384: I think a PhD in physics would trump any amount of experience when it comes to selling out, so you're good for whenever.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 7:35 PM
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In my view, people vary widely in natural mathematical ability. This is along a spectrum not a binary you either have or you don't thing. People also vary in how much they like math but most people prefer things they are good at to things they are bad at. As with many things achievement in mathematics depends on application and effort as well as natural ability. So you can compensate (to a very limited extent) for lack of ability by extra effort. But most people don't like devoting a lot of effort to obtain marginal improvements in something they don't like and are bad at. I am reluctant to try to force them to do so.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-24-13 9:55 PM
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For the link in the OP, I actually don't buy this explanation:

He said that at the highest echelons of test-takers, girls scored as well as boys, but that overall, fewer of the strongest female students were taking the exam.

Stereotype threat is really well understood. Some factors which make it worst are things like: being the one of very few members of your gender in a room, having the test be for really high stakes, having the content be right on the edge of your understanding, having your gender/race emphasized to you right before taking a test, having the proctor be a member of the successful group, etc.

It seems obvious that at least several of those will be operating at any given time, for the test to get admitted to the elite schools.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 6:17 AM
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It would be awesome if mathematicians kept logbooks, the way pilots do. 10,000 hours of math, accident-free!

I picture a huge sign outside the maths department:

NOW [148] DAYS SINCE LAST UNJUSTIFIED EXTRAPOLATION


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 6:24 AM
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387

Stereotype threat is really well understood ...

The criticism section of the Wikipedia article suggests otherwise:

Whether the effect occurs at all has also been questioned, with researchers failing to replicate the finding. In followup work, Ganley et al. (2013) [7] examined stereotype threat on mathematics test performance. They report a series of 3 studies, with a total sample of 931 students. These included both childhood and adolescent subjects and three activation methods, ranging from implicit to explicit. While they found some evidence of gender differences in math, these occurred regardless of stereotype threat. Importantly, they found "no evidence that the mathematics performance of school-age girls was impacted by stereotype threat". In addition, they report that evidence for stereotype threat in children appears to be subject to publication bias. The literature may reflect selective publication of false-positive effects in underpowered studies, where large, well-controlled studies find smaller or non-significant effects. [7]


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 6:31 AM
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In my view, people vary widely in natural mathematical ability. This is along a spectrum not a binary you either have or you don't thing.

"Natural", I don't think is well defined enough to agree with or not; "widely" the same, but vary along a spectrum I'm fine with. What we're disagreeing about is (1) that while I think varying along a spectrum is a fine way to describe the actual state of affairs, I think there's a very common cultural belief that you have math ability or you don't, and that leads to people who could do much more with math than they do giving up, and (2) based on a fair amount of experience tutoring people who "can't do math", I don't believe that the spectrum of ability is such that there are many people of apparently normal intellectual functioning who really can't learn high school algebra.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:09 AM
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I also perpetually thought that I'd gotten lucky when I'd understood a given course, and surely the next one would be the course that exceeded my ability.

This pretty much describes my college experience also. I double majored specifically because I thought math would get too hard and I would have to quit. I still doubt I would have finished a math degree at someplace like Minnesota.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:21 AM
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All the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the math is harder than average.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:31 AM
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The criticism section of the Wikipedia article suggests otherwise:

That's what a "criticism" section is supposed to do. Anyway it's swamped by the outpouring of studies documenting the effect.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:33 AM
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I was wondering. Why Minnesota?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:34 AM
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Because that was the big state school I was actually considering going to. But by "someplace like" I mean big.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:39 AM
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That criticism section on the stereotype threat article certainly comes off as fairly credible. I would look at the original paper (the one with the meta-analysis) but apparently they thought it was a good idea to make it impossible to find online. The similarity of stereotype threat to social priming also makes me a bit nervous. Now is not an auspicious time for social psychology findings that have had a lot of publications with small samples and highly variable effect sizes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 7:55 AM
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Oh, shut up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:04 AM
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Huh. I didn't realize all these effects were so suspect. Probably because I only learned about them from the news media and somehow assumed the studies were competent and the effects were well-established. It's kind of stupid of me to take reporting on things like that seriously, isn't it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:06 AM
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Yup, science reporting sucks (except for Zimmer). (Oh, were you being sarcastic?)

There are these interesting studies about relatively simple (but to my mind very weird feeling) exercises at the beginning of a class can undo stereotype threat. But I've always found it too weird and awkward to try. Has anyone had any good experiences with it?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:12 AM
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397: I feel a little bad mentioning it! Stereotype threat probably is real! (For that matter I think there's a good chance social priming is real, at least for some things.) And googling around, I found, for instance, Steve Sailer trumpeting some of the results, which, yay. But the empirical work as summarized leaves plenty of reason to be cautious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:18 AM
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I know of them, but never bothered to use them.

There are also studies showing that when you have a male math teacher, the best students in the class tend to be male, and vice versa when you have a female math teacher. I do in fact think that's why I see such a gigantic underperforming of boys in my classes - it's all the normal, growing gap, compounded with my presence aiding the girls.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:19 AM
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A BOY CANNIT SUCCED IN MATHS WITH THE REVERSE SEXISM AND RADICAL WOMEN TEACHING IN TEXAS SCHOOLS. YOU ADMIT IT.


Posted by: OPINIONATED THAT GUY | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:32 AM
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399, 401: What are these exercises of which you speak?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:58 AM
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Here's an article on one of them: https://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/11/25/15-minute-writing-exercise-closes-the-gender-gap-in-university-level-physics/


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:05 AM
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There was a math one on FB recently - maybe from Tedra? - to the effect that the first test will have the largest gender gap and then successive tests will close the gender gap.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:08 AM
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Every time I hear about these studies I have a split reactions:

1) That's magic, not science, and obviously bullshit.
2) But it's only 15 minutes, shouldn't I at least give it a try?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:09 AM
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I can see the magic not science reaction, but you're talking about people, and they don't reliably react rationally to things. I'm sure those exercises don't work everywhere for all audiences, but if it's harmless and might do some good, no harm giving it a shot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:18 AM
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The length of the effect is what makes it still feel like magic to me. Sure a 15 minute exercise right before a test might do something if you did it before every single test. But once at the beginning of the semester?? That's magic!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:21 AM
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404: but that isn't a control group, that's a different treatment?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:22 AM
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There was a more recent study I saw that did have a control. I just can't figure out where I read it...


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:23 AM
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408: if the effect is specific to the class, not magic. Just another version of 'getting' a topic in one class and having scant memory of it in the next.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:25 AM
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It's just so foreign to my experience that anything a teacher could do in 15 minutes would have a semester-long effect. By the end of class half the people have forgotten what happened at the beginning of class!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:27 AM
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Some part of this thread: I never had to memorize poetry in English but in foreign language classes there were competition days where we'd go to some other school and recite things or whatever. So I know a little Goethe, a little Esenin...Russians are really into memorizing poetry. I can get through Tatiana's letter from Onegin but sometimes I have to stop and hum.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:34 AM
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399 Yup, science reporting sucks (except for Zimmer). (Oh, were you being sarcastic?)

I wasn't really being sarcastic. I already know most articles about physics are wrong, and I don't take articles about medicine or health very seriously, but somehow the articles I read about these psych studies didn't trip my "wait, I should look that up before I believe it" impulse.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:38 AM
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I can recite the whole of Catullus 85, in Latin.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:40 AM
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||

I was asked to call a prospective grad student to try to recruit him, but by the end of the conversation I was basically telling him to go somewhere else. My department chair should probably reconsider who gets asked to do these things.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:43 AM
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Man. I feel bad that essear is now a bitter veteran of the puppy wars, but also bitter veteran essear is kind of hilarious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:46 AM
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This wasn't really about bitterness. It was more that the guy had applied and said he wanted to work in my field, but when I talked to him he said he was also pretty interested in another field. I was like "oh, we have one guy who kind of does that, but... you got in to MIT and Caltech? They're really good at [other field], and pretty good in [my field] too. If you really think there's an order-one probability you'd prefer that other field, you might want to keep that in mind...." I thought about telling him I think [other field] has a much better future than [my field] but decided against it for now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:50 AM
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Hah. I'd sort of failed to draw the connection that the essear work posts were actually about his puppy relationship, and it's apparently a mean, snarly puppy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:51 AM
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I think it'll be fine if I can succeed in never again collaborating with the person I've been working with.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:54 AM
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So the issue is really that, while it may fundamentally be a decent puppy, your dog has fleas.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:56 AM
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</ukulele>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:59 AM
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"Natural", I don't think is well defined enough to agree with or not; ...

By natural I primarily meant genetic but would also include things like random variation in the way the brain gets wired as it develops.

... "widely" the same, ...

by widely I meant comparable in size to the observed range in performance (although not as great as there will be some amplification from positive and negative feedback as people who are good (bad) in mathematics are encouraged (not encouraged) to pursue it).

... I don't believe that the spectrum of ability is such that there are many people of apparently normal intellectual functioning who really can't learn high school algebra

There is a sizable number of people who could otherwise graduate from high school who can't if they are required to learn high school algebra in currently existing high school algebra classes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 6:20 PM
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There are also studies showing that when you have a male math teacher, the best students in the class tend to be male, and vice versa when you have a female math teacher. ...

There are studies showing all sorts of things. For example :

Ms. Antecol and her colleagues found that girls taught by a female teacher, as opposed to a male teacher, saw their math test scores drop by 4.7 percenage points by the end of the school year. Moreover, those girls performed on average 1.9 percentage points lower than their male classmates, about 10 percent of a standard deviation. The researchers characterized both effects as strong.

By contrast, boys saw no drop in math performance under the same teachers.

Doesn't mean they are correct.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:39 PM
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Huh. I didn't realize all these effects were so suspect. Probably because I only learned about them from the news media and somehow assumed the studies were competent and the effects were well-established. It's kind of stupid of me to take reporting on things like that seriously, isn't it?

The publication bias against negative results is a huge problem. Even if it didn't affect the results you would get some false positives by random chance and when your entire future career can depend on obtaining significant (publishable) results it is hard to believe it never affects the results.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 8:44 PM
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... I would look at the original paper (the one with the meta-analysis) but apparently they thought it was a good idea to make it impossible to find online. ...

This one?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:35 PM
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No. Citation 7 on the Wikipedia page. That one does get cited a lot, though, seemingly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-13 9:37 PM
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No. Citation 7 on the Wikipedia page. ...

That appears to be available here for $11.95.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 6:03 AM
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Are you going to buy it for me?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-13 6:41 AM
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