Re: Hornballs

1

Once you stop hearing "sir" and "ma'am" the rest is soon to foller.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:38 PM
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School uniforms forever! The middle school my wife teaches at has them and it's super popular with the parents. I think the two main reasons being the clothes are bought through the school and are super cheap and I suspect the parents like not having to have any kind of fights with their kids about what they're wearing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:39 PM
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Heebie is right, as always.

For some reason what annoys me the most is when the hardcore "noticing revealing clothing = creepy and inappropriate leering" movement refers to dressing revealingly as "dressing for the weather". OK, but the boys are managing to get by while "dressing for the weather" 0% of the time.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:42 PM
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I would have hated school uniforms. I needed to express myself through all my baggy tye-dyed t-shirts and baggy men's shorts. And goofy polyester.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:44 PM
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Young women get in trouble for wearing sexy clothes to high school, but young men don't, and that's super sexist.

Do teenage boys often wear revealing clothing to high school?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:44 PM
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4: Quiet down, drone.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:46 PM
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OMG, rape apologist.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:49 PM
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See, I feel like rape would also be a classroom distraction.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:52 PM
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I had school uniforms in elementary school and I kind of liked them. It meant I never had to think about what I was going to put on in the morning, and it made for a nice transition from school to playing when I got home because I would change into other clothes. Also, looking back, formal (British style) school uniforms are kind of adorable on third graders.

But short of that I'm not convinced of the value of dress codes in high schools. I mean, yes, as a teenage boy I had to deal with being distracted by girls and all that. But even though boys generally wore more clothes it didn't seem to me that girls were substantially less distracted than boys, though probably in less demonstrative ways. What distracts people usually ends up being (1) that the girls/boys exist in the first place, (2) that they're in the vicinity, and occasionally (3) that they're wearing something less revealing than you'd expect. But that's purely a matter of expectation not how revealing things are. Dress codes would just set that line in a different place than it would naturally settle, with the added bonus of teenage boundary pushing. The Catholic high school across the street from my house had school uniforms for everyone but honestly I don't remember that making the girls who went there less distracting.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:54 PM
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We have one local friend who sends their kids to the local private school, and the uniforms sure are douchey on those kids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:57 PM
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The Catholic high school across the street from my house had school uniforms for everyone but honestly I don't remember that making the girls who went there less distracting.

Yes. Pretty sure uniforms amped up the hormones at my Catholic high school, both because of the easy sexualization and fetishization of the uniform and because it makes the rare get-to-wear-normal-clothes days a treat (which is going to be interpreted sexually because high school).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 3:58 PM
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One of the fancypants schools I went to had a dress code for boys that was coat and tie, but not a uniform -- you wore your own coat and tie. There was no real equivalent for girls; they weren't supposed to wear t-shirts, I think, or halter tops, but nothing precisely equivalent. So, the boys got into trouble all the time for uniforms and the girls didn't. But also this was the late 80s-early 90s and all the fancypants girls dressed like showing skin was a religious taboo anyway so there wasn't really a sexiness gap, unfortunately. And then I wrote this anecdote on a website and failed to bill for much more than $5.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:03 PM
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I can still remember high school. If the girls had been wearing burqas the boys would have been day-dreaming about what might be underneath.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:05 PM
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Yes to 13.
In late 60s high school dress code was all about boys. Hair length, sideburn length, whether shaved.

Never heard of a girl stepping over any line, if any really existed.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:19 PM
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When I was in high school women got in trouble for wearing granny dresses, which are about as close as you can come to a burqa without going full Muslim.

I forget who said this (maybe Dave Barry), but basically adults are usually against anything kids decide they want to do, especially where clothing and "style" is concerned.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:25 PM
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I wonder if there are any places in the world where women are considered dangerously sexual even when they're wearing really conservative clothing? Or if there's ever been a time when clothes we would consider absurdly modest today were believed to be completely trampy? If that were the case, it would almost be like women's bodies would always be considered "distracting", or as if women were considered to be what feminists used laughingly to describe as the "sex class".



Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:26 PM
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My kids' school's uniform is your option of polo or oxford shirt and jeans. Probably still distracting, depending on tightness and buttoning habits, but certainly easy from the parents' point of view.

Generally, I don't mind equitable enforcement of arbitrary rules -- skirts must be fingertip length or longer, shirts must have sleeves, no exposed midriff, whatever. I get super-feminist tense if the enforcement is "that looks provocative on you", though -- if the message from the school is not "Abide by the dress code" but "Don't go around making people think about sex with your hotness", I'm pissed off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:28 PM
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And, as per usual, what Frowner said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:29 PM
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16: I'm thinking you've never been a teenaged boy.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:30 PM
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Hey, me neither. What did you think she was wrong about?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:31 PM
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I add that when schools reinforce the whole "women's bodies are inherently TOO SEXY, especially young women's, and we can't expect men to ignore that" message, there's harm to young women - arguably more harm to young women than being forced to take geometry while seated next to a girl in a crop top does to young men.

There's also some humor in the "queer women don't exist or else are too pious and modest to have sexual feelings" angle in all these boy-panic stories - when in school I was just as capable of being distracted by a mini skirt as anyone, IIRC, but possibly my most distracted moment ever was prompted by a perfectly modest button front sleeveless blouse with a badly cut and hence unfortunately gaping armhole. (My heart, however, belonged only to a bad-tempered, brilliant and modestly dressed young woman with thick glasses.) And yet, incredibly, I managed to graduate at the top of my class and go on to the sort of underemployment to which people like me are drawn. I also did not grope, assault or insult anyone.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:32 PM
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And you'd think "teenage lesbians may be leering at your daughter's be-legginged legs during math class" would be an even better source of moral panic, too.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:34 PM
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Not clear on the distinction in 17. How can you tell whether a given set of arbitrary rules is motivated by sexist concerns?


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:35 PM
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...but possibly my most distracted moment ever was prompted by a perfectly modest button front sleeveless blouse with a badly cut and hence unfortunately gaping armhole.

I think we've all been there, except in my case it was the way the front gaped between the buttons when she leaned over just right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:35 PM
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And there was nothing in the dress code about bras.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:37 PM
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23: Essentially, if who gets called out for violations is governed by what they look like rather than about literal compliance with the code, and if the rhetoric around enforcement is about 'distraction' or other coded or less coded terms for sluttiness.

Button-front blouses are really tough in the age bracket where you're not sure how big your breasts are yet. Gapping happens.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:38 PM
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"Skirts must be fingertip length or longer"

Good way to help the armless compete in the cutthroat teenage sexual marketplace.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:39 PM
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...possibly my most distracted moment ever was prompted by a perfectly modest button front sleeveless blouse with a badly cut and hence unfortunately gaping armhole.

Frowner was into sideboob before it was cool.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:40 PM
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20: It's I wonder if there are any places in the world where women are considered dangerously sexual even when they're wearing really conservative clothing? that prompted my comment.

Near as I can tell, almost all women are dangerously sexual for a teen boy. Plenty don't do anything about those urges other than masturbate but they're not thinking of cheeseburgers when they do, and they didn't back when I, idp, and dinosaurs roamed the halls of high school.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:41 PM
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I think the telling thing here is the word 'distracting.' We recently started sending our 3-year-old to a Montessori school, where they explicitly tell us that we shouldn't dress him in clothes with 'characters.' That they are distracting.

The thing is, in our case, distracting pretty clearly sits in for cultural elitism (i.e., the t-shirt with the giant head of Beethoven is ok, but the Hello Kitty is distracting). In the HS case, distracting is sitting in for sexualization. And this does work primarily in only one direction - hence, sexygirls are distracting. I could imagine that sexyboys are probably distracting as hell too, but so what? In the end, it's not really about distraction. Distraction is fancy liberal-speak for regulating women.

Bigger picture, the problem is that the definition of personhood and normal is super shaped by what boys are and what they (presumably) desire.

Plus, fuck boys being hornballs. Maybe *that's* the distraction.


Posted by: Peter | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:45 PM
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Incredibly, my HS would have passed this test. It was about authority, legitimacy, not sex.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:47 PM
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29: Yes, that was precisely the point of my comment, sort of - that women are sexualized all the time no matter what they're wearing or doing, and so pretending that it's about skirt length instead of about policing women's bodies is pretty silly. On a more innocent note - there's no reason to punish teenage girls because teenage boys have sexual feelings.

I wasn't a teenage boy, but I did know a variety of them, and they were all capable of behaving appropriately even when distracted by the young women around them. Acting like a leering gross creeper is a choice.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:49 PM
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where they explicitly tell us that we shouldn't dress him in clothes with 'characters.' That they are distracting.

My wife has found she can't wear things like her beloved Catbug shirt to work because it distracts the kids.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:54 PM
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Frowner is getting it exactly right, big surprise.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:56 PM
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35

I'm still distracted, thankfully.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 4:57 PM
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36

All dress codes are about sexiness, otherwise they'd just require shoes and let the kids otherwise be naked. Unless they had their own modesty based reasons to wear something.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:02 PM
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All dress codes are about sexiness

Poor kids do in fact often get shit about their clothes from their peers not to mention the issues that arise in schools with gang problems.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:05 PM
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38

Super distracted.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:05 PM
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37 -- Right, regulating gangs would be another basis for dress codes, but that's not what's at issue here.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:11 PM
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Did you read comment 36, Charley, or just write it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:11 PM
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All dress codes are about sexiness

I refuse to believe that at the age of 12 I was compelled to wear a green tweed jacket to school as a sort of straitjacket for my otherwise unrestrainable masculine allure.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:12 PM
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In Japan, they make the kids take off their shoes.

In my 60s HS, skirt length was regulated. Below the knee. Jeans were out, and no slacks for girls. No cleavage. No sweaters without shirts, no sandals or flip flops. I wore a tie a lot, and wasn't unusual.

Now I have to go back to googling "Japanese sailor suit schoolgirl uniform not sexy" in order to stay informed and authoritative.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:12 PM
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All dress codes are about sexiness, otherwise they'd just require shoes and let the kids otherwise be naked.

Plus a towel to sit on, as the old SF standard had it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:14 PM
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I never read what I write, nos, which should have been obvious years ago. That said, OK, dress codes also have an element of class signalling. Is slut a class? In the minds of the authors, yes it is.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:17 PM
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45

And, in their minds, you can tell one by attire. Without needing to know anything at all about interests or conduct.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:21 PM
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I sort of think high school and college are the perfect time to wear regrettable things and be unprofessional. Frowner is exactly right re: girls, but I think that for most of your life, you have to modulate your wardrobe to be appropriate, and high school is the time to wear ridiculous shit because you can. (NB: I took full advantage to look ridiculous, and sometimes kinda slutty, but not all that far towards the outrageous end of the spectrum.)


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:54 PM
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|| This is obviously completely unrelated, but good for the victims for making police reports, and good for the police when/if they make an arrest. I'm not sure this kind of thing would have gone very far when I was young. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:56 PM
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about policing women's bodies

Women don't enter into it; the bodies in question belong to children. I'm not sure that it's an injustice if they are indeed policed. Teenagers do not enjoy absolute freedom with respect to their bodies: they can't put alcohol in them or draw on them permanently. Even to the degree that dress is an exercise of their sexuality, a regulation thereof may still be legitimate. The school acts in loco parentis, and surely parents have an interest in some restraint of their children's sexuality.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 5:58 PM
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Checking out the girls was about the only part of middle school I enjoyed. If there was a dress code, it sure wasn't enforced. It seems like the bare midriff look has since been disallowed. Belly buttons don't seem to be a thing anymore.

I blame Baby Boomers moving into administrative rolls. Maybe things will loosen up when they are finally retired.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:13 PM
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50

||

I could probably get away with this being on topic if I wanted to pretend. N-exactly-SFW.

|>


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:20 PM
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50 is amazing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:26 PM
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-exactly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:29 PM
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50: what led you to that today of all days?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:31 PM
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Teenage girls are are all about using breasts for extra attention. Then, they go to meet teenage boys, and wear a tight knit tops that draw attention to their breasts and stand right in front of them and position themselves to make their breasts as obvious as possible.


Posted by: Opinionated Ann Althouse | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:35 PM
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One of my earliest memories of talking sex with other boys was in sixth grade, when my neighbor brought his friend to my house and they told me what the pubescents of the local middle school were doing to their brains. "There's this one girl who has the biggest tits. And she wears black bras under white t-shirts. It's NOT FAIR."

Years later that guy married a friend of mine. She divorced him after an extended spell of erectile dysfunction, then died in her late thirties from cancer. Black bras and white t-shirts, man.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:42 PM
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53: Someone posted it to my FB group "Assholes".


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:44 PM
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55 is like a whole Franzen novel.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:45 PM
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57: Not whole. I deleted the section where she wanted to join the CIA and we got in a terrible argument about that.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:48 PM
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59

We had the code for girls bob mentioned, but I can't remember it being challenged.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:50 PM
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50 is clearly the movie that How To Get Ahead In Advertising always wanted to be, but was to repressed to actually become.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:50 PM
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I should probably go back and watch 50 again with the sound on this time.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:53 PM
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I would like to endorse more maybe-I'm-trolling-but posts on topics that aren't about gender and the patriarchy. It's getting me down, man.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:53 PM
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I know how you feel. It is hard to think of another area where you could get a plausible "hey, maybe I'm trolling, or maybe I really mean it" vibe going, though. No one's going to bite on "Maybe we really should be bombing someone into black glass."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:57 PM
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What if we really need the glass?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 6:59 PM
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50 truly is amazing though.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:00 PM
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62, 63: sure, when the woman has a post like that you complain.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:01 PM
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Maybe we'd get more debate if we just assumed we're going to bomb someone into black glass and tried to figure out who would be the best target? I've been hearing a lot about Benghazi. Maybe we should bomb that instead of Syria or ISIS.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:04 PM
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What about Canada? They are close by and have oil.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:10 PM
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I could make a list of candidates:

1. Benghazi
2. Syria
3. ISIS
4. Iraq, NFS
5. Iran
6. Gaza
7. Russia
8. Russian forces in what is legally the Ukraine
9. Ukrainian forces in what is legally the Ukraine.
10. Ohio
11. Rob Ford's tumor
12. Quemoy and Matsu


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:11 PM
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All dress codes are about sexiness

All dress codes are about enforcing norms of respectability, which often (almost always? always?) include the regulation of sexuality and sexual display.

I think I agree with Frowner, except that the objection that "women are considered dangerously sexual" almost seems old-fashioned, given the newer cultural imperative to which teenage girls and young women are now subject, which is to be HOTT in a highly scripted, and arguably coercive, way. The prohibition against sexy clothes no doubt helps enable some young women to resist or ignore the HOTTness imperative.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:12 PM
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68: No two countries that have Tim Horton's have ever gone to war.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:12 PM
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OMG, 50! On the OP, can't we just give all the teen boys blinders or something? And the teachers and administrators would need them too, I suppose, which is where it gets awkward. Here, the public school dress code starts in third grade, oxford or polo shirt in red/white/black and khaki or black pants, all of them as skinny or baggy as you like as far as I can tell, but no sagging. It actually looks nice as you see the kids walking to school, and I know it's a money-saver for families who only have to be able to afford a few outfits.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:14 PM
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What about Canada? They are close by and have oil.

Is that you, OPINIONATED TEDDY ROOSEVELT?


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:19 PM
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Maybe I'm trolling, but don't most liberals actually want to take guns away from law-abiding Americans?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:44 PM
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which is to be HOTT in a highly scripted, and arguably coercive, way

Based on neb's recent comments on the other thread, this has something to do with homotopy type theory, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:57 PM
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Regarding the OP, there are several different things going on at once that are tricky to untangle. Certainly everything that Frowner says here is correct. Regulating women's (girls') expression because of the effect it has on men (boys) is a thing that happens all the time. And it's a bad thing.

But JPJ in 70 points out the other thing: Women are socialized to dress in ways that men aren't. That's also bad.

As best as I can reckon, the link in the OP involves a case where dress codes are being enforced identically between men and women. (But not necessarily equally! It's complicated!)

Women are socialized to show more skin than men. If you create a rule regarding the amount of skin shown, you're going to catch a lot more female violators than male.

A lot of stupid things are said on this topic. For instance: Who is to say that a burka is more oppressive than a miniskirt?

Well, I say so. Belief-systems that require burkas are bad. But that doesn't change the fact that belief systems that strongly encourage miniskirts also have problems.

I think it's entirely consistent to believe that Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin have important insights regarding pornography, but also that they're kind of crazy and have destructive attitudes about female sexuality. It's complicated!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 7:59 PM
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My favorite way to use that pun, is to call one approach HoTTer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 8:07 PM
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Not clear what the coercive way is.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 8:10 PM
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The most prolific yarn bomber in the Twin Cities uses the tag "HOT TEA", but it usually looks more like "HOTTER" based on the font detail limitations of the medium (yarn on chainlink fence).


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 8:11 PM
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Vee haff vays uff makink you hott.


Posted by: OPINIONATED SEXUALIZING GESTAPO INTERROGATOR | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 8:13 PM
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High school seems like the perfect place for slippery slope arguments. You're already making them go to class, why not make them do other things, like mine clean coal?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 8:40 PM
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Despite the above, I agree with frowner.

But I think dress codes where the set of clothes prescribed for boys and girls are largely similar, like LB and Thorn described, are probably better. Ones that highlight differences between genders makes it easier for the women-should-be-in-burqas/women-should-be-in-miniskirts duality to influence things and harder for someone who wants to opt out of it to do so.

Yes, even in such a system boys will be shitty. (But there is the obvs benefit of being easy on parents and reducing apparent class differences.) The "boys will be distracted" arguments are bunk, they/we need to learn to get over it. (It's not like this ends after high school, unless you move to a land of burqas.)

School uniform conversations feel a bit like trying to change deep social mores with a TED talk solution.

Anyway, I really should be learning HoTT, shouldn't I? Is there a preferred free text? I know Rober/t harp/er has something up, does anyone know if it's any good? How much topology do I need to re-learn?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 8:41 PM
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The lurker chris y, who was once not bald because he shaved his head and is now not bald because he does not shave his head, not the present commenter chris y, may have some HoTT tips.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-17-14 11:16 PM
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I absolutely agree with Frowner, who, as usual, gets it exactly fucking right. I'm also agreeing with RFTS - jesus christ, it would be nice to have ONE place to go and read stuff where my response wasn't seriously, ffs?

Here, most schools have uniform up to 16, and then for the last two years (6th form), that's relaxed. How relaxed depends on the school - Kid A (all girl school) can wear anything except offensive slogans, spaghetti strap tops, midriff-baring clothes, and shorts or skirts that expose more than 1/3 of her thigh, and she's been known to go to school in pyjamas. Kid B (mixed school) has to wear basically 'office smart' clothes, and the guidelines are pretty gender neutral, although do specifically mention no visible bra straps.

My friend's daughter's mixed school has these guidelines for their sixth formers:
Boys
Smart full-length tailored trousers. No jeans.
Shirt - colour of choice (no extreme patterns)
Tie
Formal shoes, covered toes
Plain jumper or cardigan
Formal jacket
Jewellery should be kept to a minimum and should be discreet
Girls
Smart full-length tailored trousers. No jeans or leggings.
Smart respectable shirt/blouse tops (modest neckline & covers the shoulders)
Skirt/Dress that are not too short
Formal Sensible shoes or boots (ankle or knee length) with a flat or small heel, covered toes and back strap
Plain jumper or cardigan
Formal jacket
Jewellery should be kept to a minimum and be discreet

Respectable????? Fuck that shit.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 12:30 AM
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I don't disagree with Frowner et al., but can we spare a moment's pity for the heterosexual male high school teacher who has to work surrounded by underage girls in yoga pants?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 12:42 AM
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No.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 12:43 AM
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84: That detailed uniform sounds like it would be really expensive to provide!

I am assuming I was simply oblivious in high school, but I don't remember a stringently enforced dress code. People wore clothes, and sometimes it was weird, but no one seemed to make a big deal about "respectable" clothes or "revealing" clothes (I remember kids wearing very revealing and very not-respectable things). I did attend a French-speaking elementary (k-8) school in an English-speaking area, and there was some tension around whether extensive (English) text on shirts should be allowed or not. I also remember a bit more emphasis on non-revealing clothing in the elementary school, which makes some sense, I suppose.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:00 AM
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Kudos to 86.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:01 AM
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Harsh.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:09 AM
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90

But fair.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:24 AM
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Yeah, I don't have much sympathy for covering up girls because teenage boys can't handle the distraction, and no sympathy at all for grown men. Adults can keep their own thoughts inside their heads.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 4:05 AM
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92

50 to 91.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 4:25 AM
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70, 76: There's a reaction to revealing clothes on teenage girls as revealing something diagnostic about the teenage girls' oppression by an oversexualized culture that I don't like. A post from Keith Humphries at the Reality Based Community that I commented on in an irritated fashion back when it went up, but all their old comments went missing sometime:

I can only say amen, and also how sympathetic I feel for parents who are trying to raise daughters in this cultural miasma. In my neighborhood, I see 12-14 year old girls in hot pants or miniskirts, with clingy tops cut low on one shoulder to show a bra strap. They are already defining their identity solely around their sexuality...but even that isn't correct because it isn't their sexuality, it's a sexuality that has been foisted upon them by a media and cultural surround that are poisonous to the well-being of women and girls.

As someone who's raising a just-turned fifteen-year-old girl, with an attitude that's relaxed to the point of neglectfulness, Sally shops for and chooses her own clothes (outside of the school uniform). There are probably outfits I'd object to, but I generally don't. And her choices involve a lot of stretchy stuff that fits like a coat of paint, short shorts, and so on: stuff that would have Keith Humphries tutting to himself about how she's defining her identity solely around her sexuality.

Which, if you know her, a load of horseshit. While we don't discuss it in detail, I'm sure she's got a sexuality in there someplace, and the point of dressing like some cross between a superhero and a cartoon hillbilly (the total esthetic is hard to describe. Grunge, but with lycra?) is to express that sexuality and attract attention from whoever she's attracted to. But anyone looking at the way she dressed and thinking that she was defining her identity solely around her sexuality would be sorely confused about her in an incredibly sexist way: "Given the way that girl's dressed, all I can think about her when I look at her is her tits. That must be all she's thinking about either. Poor oppressed thing, someone throw a tarp over her and then maybe she'll be able to focus on something else."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:11 AM
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I'm trying to figure how how to dress express my sexuality. Would getting rid of pleats be enough?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:37 AM
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Pleats on trousers, that is. Maybe getting shirts with pleats would help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:38 AM
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Brian McVeigh, Wearing Ideology

The distinction between expressed selves and performed selves/roles is relatively clear because intimate (uchi-ura) and ritualized (soto-omote) scenes are kept so distinct (at least ideally). If individuals are encouraged to ritualize their social landscape, a predisposition to theatricality should not be surprising, and this is, as I have argued elsewhere (McVeigh 1994, 1997b, 1998a), exactly what we find in Japan. The ubiquity of ritual and a polar view of self as intensely private (expressed) or highly dramatized (performed) resonate with this theatricality. Perhaps this, in part, explains the liking of cuteness (whether humorous, playful, erotic, corny, even trite or vulgar) which, it seems, often borders on camp - an artificiality of manner or style in which posing, posturing, commodification and commercialization all meet.

Most Japanese are skilled at making the necessary transitions from one role to another in compartmentalizing their lives. In fact, Japanese often think of themselves as a chest of drawers and believe that the more drawers the chest has the more qualities he or she possesses - a sign of an interesting and well-developed personality by Japanese standards (Miyatake and Norton 1994).

This predilection for "compartmentalization" deserves attention because it offers an important clue about individuality (kosei) in Japan*. An examination of dress uniformity seems to indicate a predilection for conformity**, regulation and standardization. But such a conclusion is superficial, because ironically, what many Japanese actually do with the codes of dress uniformity - e.g. alter, supplement, subvert, convert, make cute - illustrate an adaptable, abounding and resolute - indeed, at times obstinate - individuality.

The idea is, I think, that by "performing" an identity, people gain some distance and control over it. However, like a man wearing a suit or a uniform to work, it isn't as simple as "this isn't me"

*and not only Japan, never only about Japan

**not uniforms here, but variations within "cute culture" and subcultural fashion


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:38 AM
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(the total esthetic is hard to describe. Grunge, but with lycra?)

She a big Fishbone fan?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:40 AM
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I don't know what Fishbone is, but I have a Japanese co-worker. I keep meaning to run some of bob's stuff by her and see if it make sense, but I really can't see myself saying most of those things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:42 AM
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High school swimming in gym class is coming up. Girls: must either wear a one - piece suit or a tank top over their two-piece. Boys: speedos not recommended, but permitted.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:42 AM
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No? At least the name doesn't sound familiar?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:43 AM
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Shit, I just confused Fishbone and Living Colour. That is totally terrible of me!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:44 AM
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Now I feel as though I should be listing her favored bands, but I get confused between bands she talks about because she likes them and bands she talks about to explain how badly they suck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:44 AM
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On some level, I just don't listen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:45 AM
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Throw out some names and we'll see how we do on the classification problem!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:45 AM
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Isn't Living Color from the 80s or 90s? They had the video with the fish flopping out of water.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:45 AM
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105: yeah. But they were kind of grunge-adjacent and also wore a lot of lycra, so maybe Sally has a retro thing going.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:48 AM
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Remember when Axl Rose used to be all cool wearing flannel and bike shorts? Boy, fashion was different exactly the same then.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:49 AM
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Axl Rose looked just like DFW.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:50 AM
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From the waist up, I'm assuming. I never saw what DFW wore over his lower portion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:51 AM
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The White Stripes? Julian Casablancas? I'm not sure if she listens to Neko Case or if it's something Buck listens to that she doesn't insult him for? Let me go look at a set list for that festival she was excited about last spring and see what names ring a bell.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:51 AM
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Hang on, I wasn't suggesting anyone sympathize with the teachers that act on their thoughts.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:55 AM
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They had the video with the fish flopping out of water.

Faith No More. Same era, though.

Short shorts and tights is just the uniform of tall female hipsters.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:55 AM
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tall female hipsters

Speaking on Sally's behalf, I believe them's fighting words.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 5:57 AM
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Taylor Swift is a tall, female hipster.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:00 AM
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93: saying someone's dress defines them totally by their sexuality says much more about the observer then the observed.

And there are two chris y's*! I thought I knew this to be true but had no provenance for the info so I wasn't sure if I was just imagining it.

* pronounced "ease"


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:00 AM
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112: I thought that was the uniform of East Asian college students in the fall.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:01 AM
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94: Pleats are key, and today couldn't be a more appropriate day to go full kilt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:03 AM
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re: 101

I've seen both. Fishbone were excellent, live. Lots of crowd surfing dudes playing piccolo trumpets, and/or baritone sax. Living Colour, not so much, and I don't think their music has aged at all well.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:03 AM
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I've seen both

I think I have as well, oddly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:03 AM
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Eggplant, I think I've said this before, but at my all-girls high school they made an announcement that we needed to wear flesh-colored bras under our white blouses because visible leopard print etc. (not specified as leopard print, but we knew) made the male teachers uncomfortable but they were also uncomfortable asking people not to wear them. I think the general student response was "So don't look!" even though we all knew who was on which side of the bra style divide.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:04 AM
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I just assume school decency rules are the grown up women trying to control what the grown up men can see. Probably I'm wrong and there's 1% good-hearted attempt to teach kids respectability.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:04 AM
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121: Funny, the online discussions don't break down along gender lines like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:06 AM
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not specified as leopard print, but we knew

I always have trouble remembering the difference between leopard fur and cheetah fur, but I suppose you guys had a better biology program.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:06 AM
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Also jaguars. One has clusters of spots, the other has simple spots, or something along those lines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:09 AM
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115.1: too true


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:11 AM
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123: Sigh, leopard means the student waits to pounce on the unwary teacher, cheetah means they just chase them down.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:11 AM
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121: Funny, the online discussions don't break down along gender lines like that.

Yeah, but online discussions are probably not the greatest sample selection for school administration busybodies. I mean... they're busy. Checking on kids. And their bodies.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:12 AM
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I had jaguars confused with cougars and was thinking them spotless. There's a whole bunch of different names for cougar (mountain lion, puma, panther), so I guess I figured why not add another.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:16 AM
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Catamount.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:17 AM
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I don't know enough about large predators to teach in primary or secondary school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:18 AM
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In those places, you're the large predator.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:19 AM
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But not the cougar.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:20 AM
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Pfff. I'm old enough that I can get a creepy feeling looking at women old enough to rent cars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:20 AM
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Creepy feelings are getting easier to come by. One of the benefits of aging, I guess.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:22 AM
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I'm surprised by Humphreys; he's usually better.

I know this will be irritating, but we let our daughter dress herself in the same spirit for the same reason.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:24 AM
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What's irritating about that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:35 AM
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Kids making choices is usually irritating.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:37 AM
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re: 120

"So don't look!"

I think that's a fairly impossible demand to make. People dressing in very tight, or revealing clothes [the leopard skin bra thing, is daft, though] are going to attract looks.

"Don't be creepy, and if you can't stop thinking about it, that's your problem, not theirs, and you need to just get over it ...'

Seems a more modestly achievable one.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:39 AM
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If you love someone set them free, but only after carefully explaining that exactly nobody is going to think that design is about Falun Gong regardless of whether you point the arms in the right direction or not and therefore you can never, ever draw it on something at school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:40 AM
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139: the Raelians have much to teach us about swastikas and dress codes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:42 AM
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Coming from me.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:42 AM
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121: Anyway, it's good to know that Ogged is keeping our focus where it belongs. Always remember that what's important isn't what's happening to teenage girls, it's whether or not adult men should be restricted from obtaining the eye candy that is their due. Any time you're analyzing a situation and not focusing on men's experience of it, you're missing the real issue. (I mean, do things that aren't men even really have experiences in any meaningful way? Seems unlikely.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:43 AM
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141: I am totally okay with your being right about things.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:44 AM
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Fishbone. So great.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:45 AM
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Faith No More are reunited and back on tour this year and are sounding AWESOME by the way.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:47 AM
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138 is fair and it was more of a "Who gives a shit?" response. Yes, if people wore dark-colored bras under white shirts, that was visibly noticeable. As the only out student, I certainly didn't care and wasn't bothered by it.

But in general there were a lot of uniform write-ups where people had to pay fines (so I got one once because I'd forgotten that while the previous year you hadn't been allowed to wear tights with socks, that year it was mandatory that if you wore tights you also have socks and so on the first very cold day I was out of uniform) but I think the issue was that no one could be written up for having a distracting bra unless we'd all been informed. Alas, this was after the nun who prefaced all such announcements with "I know this isn't a problem for all of you, but some little girls..." had left that role, so it wasn't even funny.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:47 AM
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My high school had uniforms, but it was mostly to try to minimize the huge class divide between students. Everyone pretty much agreed that it was the right thing, though the girls fought a constant low-level war over the length of the hemlines of their skirts.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:47 AM
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When I was in high school there was something of a fad for overalls with no shirts among the (particularly more hippie-ish) female students. I can't speak for anybody else but I was certainly in favor of that trend.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:48 AM
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When I was in high school, there was a fad about teasing your bangs into absurd heights and then freezing them into place with hair spray. I don't know why.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:51 AM
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re: 149

Ditto. I have some hilarious photos of my sister with her hair like that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:53 AM
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There's a reaction to revealing clothes on teenage girls as revealing something diagnostic about the teenage girls' oppression by an oversexualized culture that I don't like.

And yet, here is a personal narrative of a very, very different flavor from Sally's experience.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:53 AM
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93 is well put. Also you should totally take Sally to see Faith No More this year.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:55 AM
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Hah. I remember girls hanging their heads upside-down in the bathroom and spraying with Aquanet. It wasn't common, though -- mostly one girl who was doing a kind of metalhead look.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 6:56 AM
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151: The problems with those experiences, though, are so not the clothes she's wearing. Modesty would not have been a meaningful way of improving her life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:00 AM
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Oh, true - the solution is not to police girls. But I do think there is actually something oppressive (not universally oppressive, but sometimes) about the hyper-sexualization of girls.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:02 AM
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155: it's interesting that the consensus here is "it's wrong and sexist to impose rules on girls that stop them following the intense pressure on them to dress in a revealing way, which is also wrong and sexist". I agree with both bits of that sentence individually but put together it sounds strange (and rather depressing).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:09 AM
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FNM with Patton? Really?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:14 AM
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"Strength through vanity" is the name of my campaign to get teenage girls to dress how they want in order to look good, but not "for" men.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:15 AM
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157 -- yes.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:16 AM
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157: FNM = Finished Not Masturbating? Patton has come back to life?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:17 AM
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"Strength through vanity"

That's what I was going to use to sell my bathroom cabinet/weight machine device. While brushing your teeth, you do curls with the other arm.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:18 AM
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re: 157

News to me. I thought he was touring with his various arty projects. With Spruance, and others.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:19 AM
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161: Why not just make really heavy toothbrushes?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:19 AM
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Gum damage if you have bad form.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:21 AM
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I'd rather see FNM with the original singer than this new Patton guy. "Introduce Yourself" is a great album.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:21 AM
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"it's wrong and sexist to impose rules on girls that stop them following the intense pressure on them to dress in a revealing way, which is also wrong and sexist"

I don't totally agree with that, though. I think a school dress code is fine. I think it's fine to have other venues - presumably roller rinks - where girls are free to dress as provacatively as they want, but that a main staple of one's time can have some dress code parameters.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:32 AM
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I complained immensely about the school dress code when I was a kid. Now that I have one in school, I think it's the best thing since sliced bread paying somebody else to teacher your kid to read.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:36 AM
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teacher your kid to read.

Is our children studenting?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:41 AM
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I blame my parents.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:42 AM
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156: Is it wrong and sexist to, in at least in an environment with minors in loco parentis, impose rules such that the sexualization of clothing is made approximately equal between the genders?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:44 AM
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My daughter probably remembers it differently, but I can't think of more than a couple of times asking whether she really wanted to wear something in particular. A waste of breath.

111 Yeah, still no.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:49 AM
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170: Is that even possible? Would we have a panel of bisexuals evaluating the relative hotness of various possible uniforms? I suppose that would work.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:54 AM
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170 -- I don't think the concept of "equality" has any place in a discussion of men's vs women's dress. It's just too apples and oranges. What the equivalent rule to no leopard print bras? No spaghetti strap tops? Skirt length? I mean sure, you can dictate the length of a boy's shorts, or the opacity of his shirts, but, isn't that really like how the law forbids both rich and poor from sleeping under bridges and all that?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 7:58 AM
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173: On the other hand, what my kids' school does -- mandates a reasonably unisex uniform -- seems perfectly equitable to me. No one's getting hassled over being too sexy; boys and girls equally are getting hassled over random stupid things like hoodies with writing on them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:00 AM
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You don't think it's more oppressive to the girls?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:01 AM
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It may be more oppressive to the girls, but as long as the rules are neutral, I don't think that's a big problem. School is a pain the ass to different people to different degrees for different reasons.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:03 AM
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175: Why would that be?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:03 AM
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More restrictive? Yes. More oppressive? No.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:04 AM
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By phone: this thread is blocked.

My daughter learned how much race and class shielded her from 151, same clothes, same street,same friends.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:05 AM
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173: Who cares what your underwear is your uniform is to wear a solid-colored polo shirt? Why would skirts be part of the uniform? That doesn't sound particularly uniform unless it's for the lads, too. On 173.last, fair enough.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:07 AM
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is your -> is when your


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:08 AM
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Everyone is free to express themselves to the extent possible wearing opaque t shirts without writing (and whatever a t shirt neckline is called) and ankle length jeans. That's equality, and if the administrators thought they could get away with it, that would be the rule.

177 -- Because it's more restrictive compared to contemporary fashion, and because the increase in restriction is gender based restriction: we're not restraining boys' sexuality be dictating what they wear, we're trying to restrain boys' sexuality be controlling what the girls wear. Because boys are subjects and girls are objects.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:13 AM
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156: it's interesting that the consensus here is "it's wrong and sexist to impose rules on girls that stop them following the intense pressure on them to dress in a revealing way, which is also wrong and sexist".

I think what's missing from that sentence is that it's possible for teenage girls to dress in a way that other people perceive as sexual without anything being wrong. The reason why the policing is wrong and sexist is that it looks at a girl who's wearing 'revealing' clothes and reduces it to two possibilities: (1) she's a slut who should be kept under control because she's an offensive temptation to the men and boys around her, or (2) she's a poor oppressed darling who's been pressured into behaving like a slut by the patriarchy. And there is pressure from the patriarchy to sexualize yourself in ways that make you an object, and that's bad, and the pressure should be resisted where possible. But there are still other possibilities beyond those two: (1) she literally is 'dressing for the weather' or comfort, or whatever. The sexualized nature of what she's wearing is in your (you, throughout, is 'whoever's considering policing her dress) head, not hers, and you should get over yourself; (2) she's dressing for fashion and either self-expression or conformity. Someone's dad wanted a plaid cummerbund back in the day -- she might be wearing a leopard-print bra in the same spirit; or (3) she's wearing revealing clothes because she's a human being who has sexual feelings and is expressing them by trying to be attractive to the people she is attracted to, which is possible even in the absence of patriarchical pressure.

The sexism of the policing is that it both defines the girl's sexuality purely as an object (if it looks sexual to me, it's sexual) and defines any sexuality from a girl as pathological (either offensively slutty, or a helpless response to social pressure).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:14 AM
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182: Most school uniforms don't allow either tshirts or jeans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:16 AM
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And wasn't that a typo filled mess!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:17 AM
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Because it's more restrictive compared to contemporary fashion, and because the increase in restriction is gender based restriction: we're not restraining boys' sexuality be dictating what they wear, we're trying to restrain boys' sexuality be controlling what the girls wear.

Enforcing dorkiness seems equally troubling (or a relief) to boys and girls alike. What non-dorkiness looks like may vary greatly, but either way you're requiring the kids to throw self-presentation somewhat out the window. Boys care very much about self-presentation. Except for those who don't, which come in all flavors, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:18 AM
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Who cares what your underwear is

I wonder if high school dress codes forbid visible nipple shape, which seems to be taboo now. Maybe it's taboo in like a "gross, how embarrassing" way rather than a scandalous titillating way though. I kind of don't get it.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:18 AM
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Has anyone considered the unisex burqa as a school uniform?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:19 AM
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Oh god, having poky nipples was a nightmare for me. That generated a good chunk of why I wore super baggy clothing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:20 AM
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Because it's more restrictive compared to contemporary fashion, and because the increase in restriction is gender based restriction: we're not restraining boys' sexuality be dictating what they wear, we're trying to restrain boys' sexuality be controlling what the girls wear. Because boys are subjects and girls are objects.

I don't think that's the thinking at my kids' school, and it's certainly not the expressed message. There's no special enforcement directed at the girls, and no discussion of the dress code in terms of sexuality, which I think is just right. If your polo shirt is powder blue/navy (depending on grade), you're good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:20 AM
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187: This is probably informally forbidden; it'd be unlikely to be written explicitly in the code because administrators don't want to (or don't want to be seen as) think too closely about these things.

I think something like LB's school is the best, but 188 could be promising. Make it in the school colors and you could have impressive pep rallies.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:28 AM
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I guess it's fair to distinguish actual uniforms from the sort of general dress code that's at issue in the OP link. Uniforms have a number of motivations (including sexuality), dress codes, and the enforcement thereof as discussed in the OP link, are about sexuality, even if administrators have been coached to use different buzzwords.

Some boys care a lot about presentation, but I've spent a lot of time in high school over the last several years, and I can't think of times when words like "racy" or "sexualized" occurred wrt boys' attire. It's entirely likely, though, that I'm blind to the signaling.

You're around college students all the time, and while I'd guess you don't have much of a formal dress code, there's surely a social expectation of how the kids are going to dress. Equally restrictive of the genders?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:31 AM
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Some boys care a lot about presentation, but I've spent a lot of time in high school over the last several years, and I can't think of times when words like "racy" or "sexualized" occurred wrt boys' attire.

Right, that doesn't happen. That doesn't mean a school uniform wouldn't dampen their self-presentation the same as it would for a girl.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:34 AM
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Oh right, your first paragraph in 192. I should read it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:34 AM
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At Heebie U, a bunch of the Business Dept profs make their students dress up slightly for class. I think their biggest transgressors do tend to be male - they get most up-in-arms over sagging pants and baseball caps. They are ridiculous, of course. "But we have to train our students for the workforce!" Wow, you must really think your students are complete idiots.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:36 AM
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To be fair, their students probably are complete idiots. That's why they're majoring in business.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:38 AM
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I remember one substitute lab teacher who had a mini rebellion among the men in physics lab when he made them take off their baseball hats. He was from somewhere in Asia where that kind of stuff didn't fly. I can't recall him directing any attention to the women, but it's possible there were none.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:38 AM
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196: Right. Undergraduate business majors, because Communications is too hard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:39 AM
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192: I'm not disagreeing with any of this, but I'm not actually exactly following where you're going.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:39 AM
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If I found a genie in a lamp and was given just 3 wishes, I swear I'd seriously consider using one of them to end the fashion of sagging pants for all time. I'd probably end up going with World Peace, but it would be a struggle.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:39 AM
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I don't disagree with Frowner et al., but can we spare a moment's pity for the heterosexual male high school teacher who has to work surrounded by underage girls in yoga pants?

You just have to not look directly at them. Only look at the other students.

Like you would with women in yoga pants in the workplace.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:42 AM
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If you were a yoga instructor, that wouldn't work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:44 AM
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200: Serious question: why do sagging pants bother you? I always assumed that the reasoning behind hating it was that it's associated with the intersection (enh, maybe the union) of youth culture, black culture, and working/lower-class culture.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:45 AM
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199 -- I'm ok with uniforms. Absent uniforms, I think a public school should have rules about clothing no different from society at large. I do not approve of school administrators (I'm tempted to end the sentence here) using powers in loco parentis to police boys' sexuality by policing girls attire. I think the more effective lesson would be to police boys' sexuality by policing offensive conduct (inc. verbal and non-verbal harassment).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:45 AM
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I understand now. Yeah, I'm right with you there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:48 AM
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I'm going to start a fashion trend of wearing sagging pleated khakis.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:48 AM
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Sagging pants bother me also, but not more than the lack of world peace. I assume it's just incipient "get-off-my-lawn"ism. Yoga pants don't bother me not at all. They don't exist in my workplace, but fortunately they're all around when I walk to lunch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:48 AM
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203 Slovenly is the word, I think. I don't really care about anyone else's pants, but my son has gone all-in for this look for several years.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:49 AM
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203: I kind of find the extreme version of sagging pants (where the underwear-clad buttocks are completely exposed) annoying like high heels are annoying -- why are you doing this inconvenient thing that has to be uncomfortable and restrict your movements in the name of fashion? The less extreme version just looks untidy. But I'm not all that exercised about either of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 8:51 AM
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"The kids are untidy" just sounds like off-my-lawnism to me.

209: But at least it (presumably) doesn't mess with your muscles like how long-term high heel wearing does.

I regularly wear untucked button-down shirts with wrinkly un-ironed plackets. I can't judge someone else for untidiness. To my eyes there's a bi- or tri-modal distribution where there are a few ideal sag amounts, and if a wearer achieves that it doesn't look untidy at all; it's a kind of well-structured fit even if it doesn't line up with my norms. (On the other hand, dude with pants around his ankles is violating the norms of pants-sag and just looks silly.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 9:06 AM
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"But we have to train our students for the workforce!" Wow, you must really think your students are complete idiots.

Have you spent any time in big corporations? Because those business profs are right.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 9:22 AM
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I am very glad my kid never had his style stifled by a uniform at school (dance of course is another story). I really enjoy his very personal take on what he wears, and learning to deal with the occasional grief he took for it was a great learning opportunity. The uniforms described make me sad, but I can theoretically see the attraction.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 9:22 AM
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I find the pants-falling-off look absurd and it makes me think less of the person doing it. It's not entirely rational, but there's something about it that just grates.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 9:23 AM
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211: I think the idea is that the students aren't going to have any trouble adjusting unless they're idiots -- you don't have to prep for not wearing a hat to work by starting not wearing hats years ahead of time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 9:27 AM
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195: Lee got comments about this when she was hired at the community college, that because she's black she'd be able to bully her black students into dressing more professionally and I was all "That's bullshit; you know the Richy School kids are going to class in pajama pants!" Now that she teaches there, I should really ask how true that is. But seriously, you teach code-switching explicitly in case they don't get it already and then you let them make their own choices. There's no need to be a dictator about it all. But this is why I don't teach in the business school.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 11:28 AM
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Sagging pants were a thing in the '90s, so no one must be wearing them now. Next you'll be complaining about leisure suits.

you don't have to prep for not wearing a hat to work by starting not wearing hats years ahead of time.

Truthfully, I wore a ballcap most days of college, and it was years before I broke the habit. But I never actually had to struggle not to wear one to a job interview or whatever.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 11:33 AM
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You live in a town where some days it seems like half the white men over 30 wear mullets.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 11:34 AM
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But seriously, you teach code-switching explicitly in case they don't get it already and then you let them make their own choices.

I had the exact same thought. And understanding code-switching is valuable in and of itself. At a church retreat when I was in HS, they talked about it using the metaphor of masks*, and while it wasn't exactly a revelation, it was still a good thing to talk about and have everyone think about.

*and of course with a spiritual element that's absent from code-switching, but it was pretty much cognate with the code-switching idea, e.g. that it's appropriate to behave differently in different contexts


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 11:37 AM
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But togs and Charley don't!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 11:38 AM
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I just had a code-switching talk with Sally -- she's in a class with Ivy League undergraduates, and was commenting on how clear, coherent, and smart they sounded even when the substance of what they were saying made it clear they really didn't understand what they were talking about. I pointed out that there was a good chance that she was reacting to the upper middle class white-bread idiom rather than the upper-Manhattan middle/lower-middle-class minority idiom she's used to from her classmates, and that (a) hearing that as 'smarter' was going to lead her astray, but (b) imitating it fluently would be useful in future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 12:51 PM
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In other words, "Don't be the bunny."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 12:57 PM
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I wore a ballcap most days of college, and it was years before I broke the habit. But I never actually had to struggle not to wear one to a job interview or whatever.

If you were to try internet dating you probably wouldn't have to be told to not send women pictures of your dick. And yet, these things happen.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:35 PM
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Which doesn't mean that college kids shouldn't use classtime to send dick-pics, on the off-chance that they'll keep doing it at the office.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:40 PM
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Whose dick are you supposed to send pictures of?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:41 PM
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Whose dick aren't you supposed to send pictures of?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:46 PM
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220: wait, as a sophomore she's in this class? Is she likely to end up shaving a year off either high school or college, or is it just going to be an intense eight years?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:50 PM
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I'm just always amused by the thought process "I, thoughtful and reasonable person, would never need to be coached in this obvious thing, therefore it is ridiculous for other people to be coached in this manner." Haha, no.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 1:52 PM
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226: She's not going to shave time off high school -- her high school has a relationship with the local university that lets them take classes (in a managed, curated kind of way -- they have to get permission from the high school for each class), so she should be able to put together a fair number of credits by the time she's applying to colleges. What that means in terms of getting out of college faster, who knows?

(I am ridiculously pleased that Sally's scrappy inner-city classmates consistently kick Pigeon U. undergraduate ass in the classes they've been permitted to take, if I can count 'performing above the class average' as kicking ass.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 2:03 PM
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225: Minors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 2:06 PM
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Only major dicks, please.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 2:08 PM
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"If I found a genie in a lamp and was given just 3 wishes, I swear I'd seriously consider using one of them to end the fashion of sagging pants for all time. I'd probably end up going with World Peace, but it would be a struggle. "

Skinny Jeans for everyone, forever!!!


Posted by: OPINIONATED HIPSTER GENIE | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 2:14 PM
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I think the opportunity to take classes and perform well above your grade level is a great experience. I had it, and so did my daughter at points in our educations--middle school--when the psychological boost was important.

Shouldn't be necessary, neither my wife nor son had it or needed it, but for a certain kind of "underachiever," priceless.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 2:22 PM
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What age are we talking about. There is a kind of specialization of young girls (5-8 or so) that seems genuinely oppressive to me and horribly sexist. And very sad, because I think it takes away from time as a kid.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 3:40 PM
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Ah, ok. This was possible at my h.s. but not that early -- jr or more often sr year -- and several friends basically spent their senior year in college for free, though they were moneyed / scholarshipped enough to do 4 college years after that. To my parents' chagrine I graduated early instead. Neither in h.s. or college dix I dvdf nogice distracting clothing ok phone you win


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-18-14 3:48 PM
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Sophomore year is young, but it's not just her -- there's a bunch of kids in her grade that accelerated in math, and so got the go-ahead for college classes a year early. I think they're the first set of sophomores to do it.

I do like the perspective it gives one on the incredible merit-based selectivity of our premier colleges. To get into Pigeon U., you need the spectacular standardized test scores and the resume with the extracurriculars and and and, and letting in anyone that wasn't at that level would be unfair to them because they wouldn't be able to keep up. Except that if you put hardworking kids from a selective, but not one of the flagship, NYC public high school, into Pigeon U. classes, they consistently keep up just fine, and on average outperform the carefully curated undergrads.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 5:17 AM
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235.2: except... is that really that informative? It's the absolute best math students at her high school, yeah? And they're taking an introductory math course at the college, yeah? If there's one college course where it's maximally likely that the difference between School Of Great Meritocracy and elsewhere, it's going to be introductory math for non-majors. Maybe they'll get more homework than at community college, but probably not that. Also they're top of their class in math at one of the top public high schools in New York, as you point out. For all that Sally is living out her dream of hanging out with the homeless skaters from Kids that's still at least a couple of standard deviations above your average public high school math student. They're probably all going to do pretty exceptionally well on the math SATs, wouldn't you think?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:08 AM
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They're actually taking statistics -- calc is next year.

And sure, they're smart kids. But 'one of the top public high schools in New York' kind of overstates it. It pulls from a specific neighborhood -- it's not citywide, to get in you needed to have been living in Manhattan north of 96th at the time of the admissions test in 5th grade. And while there was an admissions test, they let in about half the kids who applied: so, they're a picked bunch, but picked means (allowing for the selectivity of who even applies) maybe the best quarter of public high school students in Upper Manhattan, allowing for the fact that part of the absolute pick of that bunch gets creamed off by the flagship schools like Stuy and Bronx Science.

Once they're in Sally's school, there's not that much more sorting for who takes college classes -- maybe the top half of the class, or more than half? Sorting is more that you don't get to if you're a fuckup, than that you only get to if you're super special. (The particular small crew of sophomores Sally's in class with now are early, but next year most of her classmates should be taking a college class.)

So, it's selective, but nowhere near the selectivity of elite college admissions. (And demographically, while these are mostly middle-class kids; we're not talking grinding poverty, they are largely from ethnic and economic backgrounds that are underrepresented at elite schools. Mostly Latino, and the ones who aren't Latino are more likely to be black than white.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:28 AM
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I'm telling you, "selective high school in Manhattan" and "introductory quantitative course for non-majors" gets you a lot of explanatory power. I took introductory math and statistics classes at community college and at [ selective non-flagship UC ] and they were not very different, but a lot of my community college classmates would have been absolutely screwed trying to finish a degree at the UC. Admittedly, much more of that is based on things like English competency and the ability to write a paper quickly and coherently and so on which, sure, correlate with social class a lot more than you'd hope in a meritocratic world.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:35 AM
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I don't know for sure about statistics, but certainly in calculus the average Pigeon undergrad is well above the average Pigeon U calc student for two reasons: first the ones who are good at math don't take low level math courses, and second there are a lot of extension students and Pigeonette students.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:37 AM
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Aren't there students who are so bad at math they don't take calc at all? There were at UofC.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:41 AM
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But I don't mean to overstate anything -- I'm sure Sally's classmates would have a much harder time in a class with writing, as you say -- Sally's writing isn't college level, to my eye. I just find the fact that a not all that selectively chosen bunch of public high school kids do function very successfully in the introductory classes they're permitted to take is a nice check on the position that affirmative action is just cruel, because relaxing admission standards would mean giving people work they couldn't possibly handle.

(And no one here believes that last, of course, or I don't think they do.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:51 AM
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My wife never took calc.

A dozen years ago Chicago Selectives were just like the above description, with the same demographics. Since much more competitive and whiter. My kids, although in a sense the thing itself, hated the change.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:06 AM
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If I'm following this correctly, isn't Pigeonette a pretty dang good school too?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:11 AM
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Is Pigeonette the women's college affiliated with Pigeon? I thought it had actually been subsumed by Pigeon in all but name, like Harvard/Radcliffe. But I don't know anything specific.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:15 AM
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I never, ever get the animal things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:16 AM
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All's I know is the tenure process at Pigeonette is absolutely bonkers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:16 AM
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Columbia. Barnard. I'm being silly with the code, and there's no reason for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:16 AM
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Maybe someday I'll understand what the puppy was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:17 AM
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(Basically, after your department at Pigeonette votes to grant you tenure, the analogous department at Pigeon U has to also vote to give you tenure. And they use Pigeon U standards. But Pigeonette uses Pigeonette standards, and since Pigeonette conceives of itself for these purposes—or so I'm told—more on liberal arts college lines, and Pigeon U conceives of itself as a research university, the standards do not precisely coincide.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:18 AM
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The puppy was your youthful innocence.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:18 AM
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Yes, you're right, I forgot to compensate for 240.

Yes Pigeonette is good, but it's certainly much much less selective. SAT Math and Reading scores are 60-80 points lower. I would not at all be surprised if Sally's school has higher average math SAT scores than Pigeonette.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:18 AM
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Columbia is coed, Barnard is separate womens-only and has their own faculty and admissions and some separate classes (e.g. Calc III but not Calc I). It is a selective excellent liberal arts school, but not the same caliber as Columbia.

nosflow is right that their tenure process is batty. On top of the crazy tenure process they also have significantly lower pay.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:22 AM
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I would not at all be surprised if Sally's school has higher average math SAT scores than Pigeonette.

Possibly, I don't know. But if they do, they got there by taking a, as I said above, not terribly tightly selected group of mostly minority middle/lower-middle-class fifth graders and teaching them math on an NYC public school budget. Which is my point. (Not that anyone here is arguing against that point. But I find it worth noting.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:23 AM
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Can I repeat, as per when AWB was doing this, all this Pigeonette/Pigeon stuff is going to make me break something in rage.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:23 AM
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AH, I see that someone has revealed the code.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:24 AM
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Don't worry, 254, nobody in the US knows what it means either.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:24 AM
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A little google suggests I'm totally wrong and average SAT scores at even the top New York High Schools are much lower than I'd have expected. That said, I'd expect "decided to go to a school with an science and engineering focus" counts for a lot even without an especially hard test.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:28 AM
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It is related to what Columbia means. But yes, maddening, an I apologize.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:28 AM
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Columbia means very nice but expensive winter gear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:29 AM
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as per when AWB was doing this

Needs to stay anonymous in a very small place.

Boy, howdy.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:33 AM
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252: Barnard is part of Columbia. It's just that it's the women's college. Columbia used to be all men, and unlike Harvard and Radcliffe, they decided not to merge.

I looked at going there, and people can take classes at Columbia, but the number is limited. The Classics departments are merged. I don't think that there are enough people at either school interested in the subject for it to make sense for them to be separate.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:47 AM
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Upetgi, I know you have direct experience in this area but 239 really rubs me the wrong way. "Students who are good at math don't take calculus in college" and "students from the women's college are bad at math" are both harmful messages. I hope you're careful about that kind of thing when you're talking to your students.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:06 AM
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As I'm sure I have mentioned here before, my boyfriend told a female CS major student essentially that her degree would be useless. I was mad about it when he described the conversation, and he super did not get it. "What?! I just told her that a CS degree isn't necessarily valuable if you're trying to get a job as a programmer! It's true!" He is now much more sensitive about that sort of thing. Maddeningly, his enlightenment came from a Ruby Rogues "very special episode" podcast years after the fact.

That student is now dating a friend of ours, so we see her socially some. She hates my boyfriend.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:18 AM
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Seconding 262.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:20 AM
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259 - Wrong, Columbia means a tap-dancing groupie played by Little Nell Campbell.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:21 AM
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262: Yeah, I had the same thought, and didn't want to say it because in the context of the conversation I thought it might come across as being defensive about your trying to diminish the accomplishments of my special snowflake daughter.

Generally, on "good math students don't take calculus" -- is this really any kind of a norm, and if so is it new since the late 80s? I placed out of one semester but not two of the intro calc sequence at MIT, and I think less than a quarter of the freshmen did the same: most people took the whole calc sequence. And while I certainly wasn't all that impressive, one of the people who was in second-semester calc with me was a housemate who was a superstar: a physics major, but a particularly mathy one.

Has this changed a lot -- like, you'd be surprised to find a math major in an elite university who hadn't completed calculus before they got there? Or by 'good math student' are you talking about ten percent or less of the math majors at elite schools?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:34 AM
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I think conflating "math student" with "math major" here is misleading. I would be surprised to find a math major who hadn't taken calculus, because if you haven't taken calculus how do you get the idea that you'd like to major in math? (I actually took a discrete math class in a summer program before I took calculus, but that is pretty unusual.) "Math student" could mean anyone in a mathy major like CS or engineering, and I think it's normal for those students to take calculus in college.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:46 AM
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I actually took a discrete math class in a summer program before I took calculus, but that is pretty unusual.

You don't need to keep your math class in the closet these days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:49 AM
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I would be surprised to find a math major who hadn't taken calculus, because if you haven't taken calculus how do you get the idea that you'd like to major in math?

Again, this might be a change in norms since my long-ago day, but my sense was that a lot of people, including people who wanted to be math majors at MIT, had taken some calculus in high school, but not enough to be comfortable placing out of college calc. Didn't Heebie not take calc in high school, too?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:51 AM
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Of math majors who don't take calculus until college, though, they tend to be from underrepresented groups. (Me! I didn't take calculus in high school, after being explicitly advised not to, and actively agreeing that it would be too hard. I've mentioned my chip on my shoulder many times here before, though.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:52 AM
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270 without seeing 269.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:53 AM
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And yes - super common for students to retake calculus in college. And the degree to which they're advised to retake it is going to depend heavily on how confidently they describe their confidence to an advisor, if they otherwise have a score or credit that allows them to place out of it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:55 AM
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I'm on my ipad; pretend 272 makes sense, please.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 8:55 AM
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262: I apologize. I should have been much clearer that I was trying to say that Barnard was a worse college, not that they were worse at math specifically.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:00 AM
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266: MIT's intro math classes are probably harder than those at other places. Doesn't their statistics class require that you understand calculus?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:02 AM
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Huh. I remember there was Calculus AB (or something) and Calculus BC (or something) in high school, and people who hoped to get into MIT were almost certainly doing BC. But maybe that's insufficient to get you out of taking it again in college.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:03 AM
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The other half was also wrong. I meant it as a statement of averages (it's not fair to conclude that students at Sally's school would be successful as science majors based on comparison with a class with very few science majors). But I not only said it badly, I also was revealing some bad instincts of mine that you're right to call out.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:04 AM
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276: At my school, they didn't offer BC unless you had already taken AB. It was stupid. The reason probably was that they finished all of the material for the class early --like right after Spring Break (March 5-25) so that they could spend the rest of the year prepping for the exam.

They did only require one semester of geometry so that a student who had taken Algebra I as an 8th grader, could double up in the spring and get into pre-calculus as a sophomore.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:07 AM
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people who hoped to get into MIT were almost certainly doing BC.

Nope, not consistently. Lots of schools didn't offer BC in my day, so there were lots of freshmen who didn't have that option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:07 AM
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My high school didn't offer calc at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:08 AM
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272 makes it worse, not better. That the Barnard students are worse at math is something you're pretty much qualified to say, based on your experience, you just shouldn't because it smacks of "women suck at math." Saying that Barnard students are worse at everything, in general, based on their SAT scores ffs, makes it an assertion that's not based on your experience. And it still retains a strong whiff of "women suck."


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:08 AM
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267: the one person I know who majored in math at MIT (okay, it might have been Applied Math) did no calculus in high school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:11 AM
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274, I meant, not 272. And without seeing 277, which probably would have made me be more polite if I'd seen it.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:12 AM
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282 cont'd: and he wasn't from an underrepresented group, unless "jewish new yorker" is an underrepresented group at MIT for some reason.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:13 AM
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My high school didn't offer calc at all.

My rural Midwest brother!

I did take calc in high school, but it was pretty terrible. They don't offer it every year.



Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:14 AM
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Doesn't their statistics class require that you understand calculus?

As should all statistics classes which hope to end with you understanding statistics, but I'm aware that they generally don't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:14 AM
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275: This is right -- if I recall correctly from the dawn of time, MIT wanted a 5 on the BC to let you place out of one semester, where most good schools would give you one semester for a 4 or a 5 on the AB, and two for a 5 on the BC. To have placed out of two semesters of calc, I'm not sure what the process would have been, but I think it would have had to have been individualized rather than routine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:15 AM
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285: The math teacher offered to work with me on an independent study (correspondence course) for Calc, but I'm not the independently motivated sort.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:17 AM
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Oh yeah, it's super common for high school calc to be super awful - there's a huge range from teachers who love the material and are eager to teach it, to teachers who got saddled with it because no one understands it. The latter teaches "memorize the following derivative tricks ok bye".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:17 AM
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286: Not meaning to badmouth the college in question at all, and I'm relying on a fifteen-year-old for what I'm hearing about it. But the specific stats class she and her classmates have been permitted to take seems to be, how do I put it politely, "So you're majoring in something that requires you to have stats on your transcript, but you get nervous making change. We have a solution!"

I'm just as happy that her introduction to real college classes is not overly challenging, so as to break the intimidation factor. But it does seem to be not overly challenging. (In the context of this discussion, of course, the fact that it's not overly challenging is meaningful in its own regard. The real undergrads taking it are walking out with an Ivy League degree, regardless of the rigor of the particular classes they took.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:20 AM
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289: Yeah, I had a wonderful wonderful (REALLY SO WONDERFUL) teacher for my high school calc class who sadly got cancer mid-year and was replaced by an example of the latter. This resulted in my never taking another math class again. Yippee!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:20 AM
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(And I have told her that stats is seriously important for pretty much anything technical, and she should plan on taking it again at an entirely different level. This is familiarization.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:21 AM
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I had a supper great calc teacher in my math/science high school, did fine on the Calculus AP and was still told to re-take calc at Berkeley.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:28 AM
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I'm not the independently motivated sort.

New mouseover text forever.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:28 AM
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I didn't take calculus in high school OR college and I'm absolutely sure that a smart 15 year old math student would have done at least as well as I would have in the hypothetical college math class I didn't take. I did complete a STEM requirement by taking a class called "the physics of nuclear war." And I can skillfully and lucratively bullshit with rich people and make a good amount of money, so who's looking good now, meritocrats?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:28 AM
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290: Eh, when I was in high school I took a couple of courses at [almost-flagship UC], including an intro to philosophy course, and it wasn't challenging at all. To the extent that it was, it was more a matter of having to be more self-directed in terms of study outside of class, rather than the material itself.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:32 AM
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My high school calculus teacher didn't understand math much beyond that class, but he was still a wonderful teacher. He had struggled himself, and that made him a better teacher.

The other calculus class was taught by the headmaster who went straight to teaching the derivative rules. My teacher made us learn about Riemann sums first. He was super angry at the boys who went straight to the shortcut.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:33 AM
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walking out with an Ivy League degree,

I at first parsed this as describing a romantic relationship with the degree. I've been reading too much Upstairs, Downstairs sort of crap, haven't I?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:35 AM
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No such thing as too much Upstairs, Downstairs-type crap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:38 AM
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My HS calc teacher was a wonderful teacher of calculus but also got stuck teaching AP Stats because no one else could/would, and she was not so wonderful at that. Sad to say! She was really great at everything else she taught.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:41 AM
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The sex thread turned into a math thread. In other words, you people are getting old.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:43 AM
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It is a selective excellent liberal arts school, but not the same caliber as Columbia.

Schools do sometimes have different strengths. Barnard is pretty good over the last 30 years if you want to be a writer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Barnard_College_people#Writers



Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:50 AM
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I'm pretty sure that the admitted to Columbia students, especially the women, are snobby about the admitted only to Barnard students, which makes Barnard seem like it would be a really constantly annoying place to go to school.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:56 AM
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I'd heard that some departments at Berkeley were now either encouraging or requiring majors with even 5s on AP math or science courses to take the intro courses anyway instead of testing out. I don't know if this is true but the idea was that covering foundational material within the context of the department/major would pay off in the longer run.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 9:59 AM
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304: That was true at the State Us the boyfriend and I attended way back when. I took the advice and retook several classes (and it didn't work out very well for me); he ignored it and was just fine.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:04 AM
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the idea was that covering foundational material within the context of the department/major would pay off in the longer run.

I suspect the idea was that the department would get $$$.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:20 AM
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I'm somewhat confused about what point you want to make, L. Is it that one should not ever call one school better than another? Or that you disagree factually and think Barnard students are as strong as Columbia students? Or that it's rude to point it out?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:21 AM
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To keep on griping at Upetgi, and this has probably been said implicitly but not quite explicitly, "first the ones who are good at math don't take low level math courses" seems like a really bad thing for someone teaching college math to think.

A student who doesn't take low-level math courses in college is a student who's had an opportunity to take them already in high school -- not taking low level classes doesn't mean that they're too easy for you because you're smarter than that, it just means you've done the work already.

And that opportunity to take classes that are conventionally college classes while you're still in high school is not only incredibly contingent on the specifics of your high school, it's also really contingent on adult gatekeepers, which will plausibly lead to continued underrepresentation of currently underrepresented demographic groups. It's a real problem if the door to being a math/science major is implicitly closed to anyone who didn't successfully convince their high school that they were a super-special prodigy, because looking like a super-special prodigy to your high-school teachers is about a lot of things beyond just being competent with the subject matter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:23 AM
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I thought the only academics who thought "If this student was going to be good at this, they would have taught it to themselves already by age 17" were in computer science.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:26 AM
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307: If I read her correctly, it's that different average SAT scores are a bad enough proxy for "Columbia students are going to be smarter than Barnard students when they're in the same class" that you shouldn't say that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:26 AM
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303: I really believed in women's colleges. I was accepted at Wellesley and seriously considered going there. I applied even though I had been admitted early to Yale, and I thought seriously about Bryn Mawr and Smith. I decided that I didn't want to go to college in Manhattan, but I had only ever considered Barnard and not Columbia.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:30 AM
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308 seems right. Though, in UPETGI's defense, I suspect that he's largely thinking about people who are truly elite, eg top .1% in Math. It seems plausible to me (obviously without personal knowledge!) that all or substantially all of those guys are identified early enough so that they either independently learn or are taught advanced math at an early stage, barring a few exceptions. The problem is that there are probably also a lot of non-elite types who could be sufficiently "good" at math to do some very math heavy things who weren't quite that elite and didn't go through that process, and could really shine in a college-level intro class and go on to do great things with encouragement. And who gets or doesn't get encouragement is heavily class and sex and probably race dependent.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:35 AM
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that all or substantially all of those guys are identified early enough so that they either independently learn or are taught advanced math at an early stage, barring a few exceptions.

Probably true, probably also quite a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy -- unless you're doing it all by yourself with library books, the super-elite kids are being groomed by someone, but if you dismiss anyone who doesn't come into college with that kind of pre-grooming, then tautologically everyone in the real mathematical elite is going to be someone who got that treatment before college. And as you say in your last sentence, there are certainly going to be issues with who gets groomed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:41 AM
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that all or substantially all of those guys are identified early enough so that they either independently learn or are taught advanced math at an early stage, barring a few exceptions.

Probably true, probably also quite a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy -- unless you're doing it all by yourself with library books, the super-elite kids are being groomed by someone, but if you dismiss anyone who doesn't come into college with that kind of pre-grooming, then tautologically everyone in the real mathematical elite is going to be someone who got that treatment before college. And as you say in your last sentence, there are certainly going to be issues with who gets groomed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:41 AM
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So clever, I said it twice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:42 AM
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I can't hear "grooming" now in a non-creepy sense. There's a pet store near where I live that advertises "Gentle Grooming By Josh" and just sounds nasty.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:45 AM
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316: Ewww.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:47 AM
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I would like to state for the record that I have nothing to do with 316.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:51 AM
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If you want to claim that Columbia students are better at math than Barnard students, based on your experience teaching them, fine. You taught them and I believe you. No factual disagreement here. The way you phrased it in 239, though,

I don't know for sure about statistics, but certainly in calculus the average Pigeon undergrad is well above the average Pigeon U calc student for two reasons: first the ones who are good at math don't take low level math courses, and second there are a lot of extension students and Pigeonette students.

bothers me because it assumes that your audience will understand Barnard students to be worse than Columbia students. Columbia and Barnard are both fancy-pants schools, and like LB in 244 I thought they were pretty much the same thing at this point. So the assumption that Barnard students are worse looks like it's resting on either (1) sexism, or (2) extremely fine-grained snobby discrimination between elite schools.

I thought I understood you to be implicitly appealing to your experience when you wrote 239, which would be reasonable. I intended in 262 only to point out how it might sound, especially to someone who wasn't aware of that experience. I'm now getting the impression that I was wrong, and you were really appealing to the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which, dude, most of us have not memorized, and speaking for myself I think that is a bullshitty way to predict students' performance.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:51 AM
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And you resent the implication that you'd be gentle.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 10:52 AM
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Of course you're right that it's a bad attitude, which is why I thought I was right to be called out on it. (This is independent of how true or false it is. There's some truth to it, but some falsehood.) To be good at my job I should be on the lookout for the rare but important student who had bad opportunities but can excel.

That said, it's not like Columbia has very many students in Calculus who didn't take Calculus in High School. I don't have numbers at Columbia, but at Berkeley literally 98% (49 out of 50) of my students in the good Calc 1 class had taken Calculus in high school. On the other hand, the valedictorian the year I graduated started with college algebra in community college and ended with Berkeley grad classes.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:03 PM
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The setup was "Columbia is way more selective than Sally's school, but Sally's classmates still do above average." Certainly Columbia is significantly more selective than Sally's school, but it's relevant to this point that Barnard is not obviously more selective than being in the top half of Sally's school.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:05 PM
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I don't know much about Pigeon U, but I know plenty of students at So-Lost-We're-Not-Even-Directional State who are taking calculus, but because it's been ten or twenty years since they had a math class and so they need to start somewhere. What one had access to in high school isn't a great correlation for what one is capable of as an adult, which might be good to keep in mind if one is ever banished to the provinces where some people don't get AP credits.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:16 PM
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I don't know that it actually affects anyone badly, but isn't the Columbia-Barnard arrangement a really dumb system that sets up really unnecessary pointless sexism? "Let's have two colleges of people that will be taking the same classes on this campus, one extremely selective and one that's not as selective. The extremely selective college will admit both men and women, the not as selective one will only admit women. The extremely selective students can then be snobs about the women from the womens' college." It just seems like it's designed to to encourage men at Columbia to assume that they're better than the women around them, and for the Barnard women to feel like they're second-class.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:18 PM
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You're using 'selective' as if it were a synonym for capable. Sally's school is, objectively, not all that selective -- the students are a draw from the top half of fifth graders in the northern third of Manhattan. By the time they're in the latter years of high school, they may be as capable as students in an elite liberal arts college and an elite university, but my whole point bringing them up was that you can get the capability without the incredible selectivity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:20 PM
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+ of


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:21 PM
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Oddly enough, I've never taken a stats class.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:21 PM
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I've never taken calculus which, I assume based on this thread, means that I am a spectacular math genius.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:24 PM
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That said, it's not like Columbia has very many students in Calculus who didn't take Calculus in High School. I don't have numbers at Columbia, but at Berkeley literally 98% (49 out of 50) of my students in the good Calc 1 class had taken Calculus in high school.

Before, you were writing people off as not good at math if they didn't place out of calculus. Can we figure that some of the explanation for people who took calculus but didn't place out is also lack of opportunity? (Bad teaching, poor advising, and so on.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:24 PM
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Fair enough, I think that was a point where I was factually confused. I had thought that it was more selective than that.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:26 PM
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You know, I'm sure part of it is that the kids at Sally's school who are pursuing math at a college are probably pretty good at math, but every college or university I've known has had Math For Those Afeared of Numbers, and stats in my experience is often one of the incarnations of MFTAN. If she's in one of those classes, it's really not surprising that a bunch of high school kids confident enough in their math skills to want to take a college course would find themselves to be the bigger fish.

(Not that I disagree with the larger point about the alleged meritocracy being bullshit, but the Ivies have a lot of bright students afeared of math.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:28 PM
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I didn't mean to write all of them off, I meant to just say that the average math ability of Calc 1 students at Columbia is significantly lower than the average math ability of Columbia students and may not be a good proxy for being able to succeed at Columbia. What I actually said was obviously wrong, but the statement about averages is still true.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:29 PM
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I didn't place out of Calculus because while I took it in high school, I didn't know which one I'd taken, and had no advice as to which AP exam to take, and took the wrong one.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:29 PM
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324: At least when I looked at Barnard, the number of classes you could take at Columbia was limited.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:30 PM
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331: Oh, the Stats class is clearly a bullshit class, if there's any validity at all to what Sally's telling me about it. I'm bragging on Sally's schoolmates' (not her own yet) prior performance in calculus, over the past few years.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:31 PM
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What I actually said was obviously wrong, but the statement about averages is still true.

I have seriously lost track of which bit is still true -- can you restate?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:33 PM
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I didn't mean to write all of them off, I meant to just say that the average math ability of Calc 1 students at Columbia is significantly lower than the average math ability of Columbia students

What, even the students who take no math at all? Or not even Calc 1?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:41 PM
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Most strong math students at an elite college do not start in Calc 1. In addition, particularly at Columbia there are a lot of students in a Calc 1 class who are not Columbia college undergrads (both because there are Barnard undergrads and also a decent number of students who aren't enrolled in either college). Due to both of these factors, one would expect being average in Calc 1 at Columbia to put you somewhere in the bottom quartile of Columbia undergrads in math ability. Thus it's a pretty poor predictor of whether you'd be successful as a science major at Columbia. (Of course many of Columbia's less math-skilled students are better at other subjects, but one wouldn't necessarily expect that of Sally's classmates.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:43 PM
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Clearly the average math ability of Unfogged commenters is greater than the average math ability of Unfogged commenters who are math professors.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:45 PM
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338: I can't actually argue with your facts, because you have direct experience and I don't. But (1) when you say "bottom quartile of Columbia undergrads", you seem to me to be to be again forgetting the ones who don't take any math, or at least don't get to calculus. Don't you mean "bottom quartile of Columbia undergrads who take at least calculus"? (2) You seem to me to be overrating placing out of calculus as saying something meaningful about differential ability. I placed out of some calculus at MIT -- I am not confident that I was in the top half of the mathematical ability distribution there, even compared to the people who didn't place out of first semester calc. Probably the people who placed out were on average better at math than the ones who didn't, but I'd expect a lot of overlap between the two groups. (3) You're still talking about the Barnard students as if they'd been rounded up from the nearest bus depot. I'm impressed with Sally's classmates for performing on a level with calculus students admitted to an elite liberal arts college, if that's all you'll give them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:57 PM
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||

Great fanfiction, or greatest fan fiction?

|>


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 1:59 PM
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340: Still harping on this -- would you really look at a class full of calculus students at Columbia or Berkeley, and think of their being in that class (rather than having placed out) as diagnostic that they're likely to have trouble in a technical major at the same university? Because it sounds as if that's what you're saying, but it also sounds implausible enough that I'd want to hear you say it explicitly if that's what you meant.

If you'd think that a student who was successful (top half of the class) in a Columbia calculus class would be likely to do adequately well in a technical major at Columbia, that's all I'm claiming for Sally's classmates.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 2:22 PM
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My experience is not so extensive really (I wasn't there that long and didn't teach that many levels of class), so feel free to think I'm just wrong. However I would be surprised if half the Calc 1 students got over 700 on their math SATs (which is the 25% for Columbia undergrads).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 2:22 PM
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Berkeley's somewhat different because it has two levels of Calc 1 (Columbia doesn't). But I'd absolutely think that most of the students in Calc 1 at Columbia would not be successful in a technical major. Basically the students with A's and some of the students with A-'s I'd expect to be able to do fine in an upper level math or hard science class. I'd also expect that around half of the students who got A's at Columbia would have aced the final at the beginning of the class and should never have been in the class in the first place.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 2:28 PM
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344 overrates how much calculus you need to do do hard science. Your standards are pretty high. I also knew plenty of engineers who took the normal 1-2-3 sequence. Maybe my definition of "do fine" differs wildly, though. I'd say maintaining above a 3.0 in major is doing fine.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 2:36 PM
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So, if they're getting As, which some of them are, that means something. And maybe we could cut Sally's classmates a little slack for being high school students, seeing the material for the first time, as opposed to college students who have mostly, as you note, been through it before, and figure that their demonstrated performance -- better than class average -- is underperforming what they'll be able to do once they're actually in college.

At which point I think we're still looking at something interesting about the need for insane levels of selectivity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 2:37 PM
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Yeah, anyone getting an A while in high school is doing very well. Of course they may also end up going to highly selective colleges.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 3:36 PM
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Of course they may also end up going to highly selective colleges.

I sense aggressive pointmissing here. Yes, they probably will mostly go to good schools, or at least get into them. The Columbia classes on their records are going to look awesome, and will also be academic preparation that will probably pull up their standardized test scores. It's a very good school, and it's a ridiculously lucky school (the Columbia relationship is some kind of deal they struck to mollify the neighborhood for consuming all the real estate like a giant vampire squid -- chill out and we'll adopt a public school and be nice to it).

My point was that there's nothing particularly special about the kids going in (brighter than average fifth graders, but not a school anyone was doing test-prep to get into), and there's nothing particularly special about their families in terms of the support they're getting (mostly stable and living comfortably indoors, but not the pampered UMC, mostly. Sally is, I guess, but she's not the school average).

Nonetheless, if you expect them to succeed, and do a respectable job teaching them, you get kids who can largely function in an Ivy League school. To the extent that there are people out there saying that it's just cruel to let anyone but the most exquisitely selected elite into top schools, because they'll never be able to keep up (and of course no one here is saying that, but I've seen it a lot elsewhere), this seems like a nice data point that they're talking nonsense.

Really, that was my only point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 3:51 PM
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I wasn't trying to miss your point, but over the past few minutes it sunk in that I had. Now I see you've explained as much. Yes, that's an interesting point.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:00 PM
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We're all good then. I am nothing if not willing to grind a point endlessly into the ground until everyone, whether or not they agree, concedes that it has been well and truly made.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:04 PM
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Is it the top half of students or the top half of students who take the test? My recollection was that most students didnt try to get into competitive admission New York schools.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:04 PM
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My recollection was that most students didnt try to get into competitive admission New York schools.

My impression is that if you're counting everything but the district high schools as 'competitive', that's well better than half. But I'd need to look up numbers. If you're only counting schools that use the SHSAT for admission as 'competitive', though, that excludes Sally's school -- they admit based on their own test starting in 6th grade -- and a lot of other public schools with individual admission standards.

But you're right: I said it correctly the first time I described the school, in 237, and then said it wrong in 325. If you allow for the fact that almost certainly only the better students even take the admissions test, if the test eliminates about half then the school is taking a draw from the top quarter, rather than the top half, of the distribution (leaving completely to one side what 'top' means and how accurately the admissions test determines it).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:13 PM
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309 I thought the only academics who thought "If this student was going to be good at this, they would have taught it to themselves already by age 17" were in computer science.

I've had similar thoughts with graduate students, but not undergrads. Like: students who get through college and decide they want a PhD in a subject and haven't the faintest clue what current research topics in that subject actually are? Why am I talking to these kids when they clearly didn't care enough to even read a Wikipedia page about it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:13 PM
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At any rate there's some point that stands. Even if its the top quarter and only the top quarter of them do great at Columbia, it's still clearly not the case that 1/16 students from tht demographic get accepted to Columbia. But this suggests that if you have interested 5th graders and give them a good education you should be able to have the top 5% easily succeed at an Ivy.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:27 PM
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My girlfriend has grad students in her class who don't understand complex numbers and can't invert a two by two matrix, so there's still hope for people who struggle with high school math to keep right on struggling with it all the way to a PhD from the nation's top party school.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:27 PM
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Catching up on the thread, I've thoroughly lost track of what the argument was all about. Some fraction of Manhattan high school students can be expected to be better at math than some fraction of Columbia students, therefore...?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:36 PM
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I wonder what fraction of college students end up majoring in something they had little idea about before they started. Premature specialization seems like a bad idea to me, even though I went for it pretty much wholeheartedly.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:41 PM
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I'll stop serial commenting now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:41 PM
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Just say QED and move on, essear. It worked in my geometry classes.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:43 PM
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353: Do they maybe come from undergraduate-only institutions? IME, they were the ones who were most likely to misunderstand what PhD programs looked like. Some seemed to think that it was like five more years of undergrad. They might have done summer research, but few had more than one summer of experience. Grad school was a huge shock. They usually did fine after they adjusted their expectations.

As for 355, I took a upper level lab course in undergrad that also served as a course on special techniques for first year graduate students in a top 10 program. I heard one of the grad students ask the TA what the density of water was. The TA made him look it up. Another managed to have a fire. It was amazing. Do party school rankings count for PhD students?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 4:58 PM
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Many people with graduate degrees have managed to have a fire.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 5:06 PM
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Some manage to have a fire, some start a fire, and some have fire thrust upon them.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 5:09 PM
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What if you create the fire through cutting edge research, possibly into providing an aspiring warlord with flamethrowers?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 5:13 PM
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Another managed to have a fire. It was amazing.

All the other graduate students leapt back, hooting in shock and fear, as the opening chords of Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" swelled on the soundtrack.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 5:15 PM
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353 feels like it described me, but 355 makes it sound like essear is describing much worse students. Actually 353 still describes me. I have no idea what anyone does outside of my tiny area.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 5:59 PM
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365: I felt the same way, until I realized that I haven't inverted a matrix in years and I'd have to rederive the process in an undoubtedly inefficient way. (Most of my math is like this now.)

No one in math knows everything in math.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 6:58 PM
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364. awesome


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:02 PM
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hooting in shock and fear, as the opening chords of Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra"
At least they've got musical taste.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:02 PM
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355: so painful


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:02 PM
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366: I can't remember the rule, but I would do it the way I learned in hs: gauss-jordan elimination on the augmented matrix. Obvs that's pretty unsatisfying but I can remember that algorithm.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:08 PM
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370: oh yeah. That does that, too. I was honestly just going to work out the algebra by hand. But of corse said algebra is just a system of linear equations. There's also a way to do it with determinants as coefficients, isn't there? But that's surely more work for a 2x2 even if it's efficient at larger values. Man. I'm blaming this on the whisky.

Then again given your name I shouldn't be surprised you're better at linear algebra.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-19-14 7:13 PM
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