School’s Starting…

and I’ve still got a dissertation to finish!

See you when it’s done.

Give me a child until he is seven…

I’m a little leery of this new study:

Personality Set for Life By 1st Grade, Study Suggests

On the other hand, maybe this is nothing new. As Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Jesuits, said in the 16th century:

Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.

Putting a Value on a College Degree

There are two seemingly-contradictory conversations going on right now about kids graduating from college.

One conversation focuses on the importance of a college degree.

Bob Herbert for instance– his NYT op-ed column last week—bemoaned the fact that the U.S.—once the world leader in college graduation rates—now lags 12th behind other industrialized countries. We should quit spending our time thinking about Lady Gaga and her ilk, he says, and pay attention instead to a situation that has consequences for our global competitiveness.

The ranking is based on the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with a postsecondary—including associates– degree. Canada came in first place with 55.8%. The U.S. has 40.4%.

Newser talks about it here.

The numbers are part of an educators’ report headed for Capitol Hill in an effort to hit a 55% graduation rate by 2025, reports the Washington Post. President Obama is spearheading a similar initiative aimed at 2020.

According to the Washington Post:

…the report focuses more heavily on younger adults, who are feared to be the first generation in the modern era that will be less well-educated than their parents.

Others– participating in the same conversation– offer suggestions for turning things around.

Continue reading Putting a Value on a College Degree →

Atheist Multi-Millionaire Believes in Catholic Schools

Bloomberg reports today that Robert Wilson – known as one of the great stock investors of the last 50 years, the now-retired peer of Warren Buffet and George Soros—gave $5.6 million to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York this summer to set up fundraising programs for Catholic schools.

“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” said Wilson, 83, in a phone interview, referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

Continue reading Atheist Multi-Millionaire Believes in Catholic Schools

Triceratops, Saved by the ICZN

We almost lost our favorite dinosaur last week. But then the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) came to the rescue.

As Megan Gibson reported at Time’s News Feed:

It all started when two scientists in Montana, John Scannella and Jack Horner, argued that triceratops (arguably the best of the dinosaurs) was actually just a young version of another, lesser-known dinosaur. They say that the young triceratops would shape-shift as they grew, developing into the dinosaurs known as torosaurus. Known by scientists that is, because no one else has ever heard of the torosaurus.

The news, as you can imagine, caused a great deal of distress—and a FaceBook page– because early reports implied that Triceratops was no more. But it was all a misunderstanding.

Continue reading Triceratops, Saved by the ICZN →

Bringing Down the Cost of College Textbooks

The cost of textbooks is high and getting higher–a 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported an increase in the cost of textbooks that was twice the inflation rate– but there’s some relief in sight.

The AP reports that textbook rental programs and online-shopping for textbook bargains are replacing the more traditional and expense practice of shopping at the campus book store.

These days, sites such as BIGWORDS and BestBookBuys let students search several online stores at once. The 13th edition of the seminal textbook “Marketing Management,” which lists for $190 new, can be had for as little as $19.99 used.

More recently, textbook rental sites such as Chegg, BookRenter and CollegeBookRenter have arrived, offering rentals at roughly half the cost of buying. Their business model – Netflix goes to college – has prompted college bookstores and publishers to play catch up and offer rentals themselves.

Textbook rentals benefit book publishers too:

Behind the scenes, publishers get a share of the rental revenue – something they can’t say about used book sales.

School’s Sting Operation Leads to Student’s Rape

Paula Reed Ward at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a plan by a school principal to catch students having sex at school went terribly wrong:

A former Upper St. Clair High School student who already claimed she had been raped once was raped again on school property after school officials used her as bait in a failed attempt to catch students they believed were having sex in the building, her attorneys claim.

Upper St. Clair —rated one of the 10 Best Places to Live by U.S. News & World Report—is a mostly-residential suburb whose schools score above the state average in reading and math. It made the U.S. News list because—while the average income is high—crime and cost of living are low. Almost 67% of the population are college educated, compared to a 52% average nationwide.

According to the school website, Upper St. Clair High School had been awarded the must-prized Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education—three times—had has a strong college-prep curriculum.

The rape occurred in 2008. After a student—identified in the Post-Gazette only as Jane Doe—told her teacher that a boy had forced her to have sex, the teacher took the matter to the principal and offered to walk the girl to her school bus to make sure she got home without incident.

Continue reading School’s Sting Operation Leads to Student’s Rape →

Good Babies

Lisa Guernsey at Early Ed Watch cites a new study that says preschoolers might not be as self-centered as we’d thought:

… researchers like Ross A. Thompson, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, have been discovering that empathy and perspective-taking are not just developmental milestones that we have to wait for children to reach.

They can be developed with the help of an engaged and skilled parent or teacher using language and story-telling.

This reminds me of Paul Bloom’s NYT piece last spring on “The Moral Lives of Babies,” which implied that there’s an innate universal moral code.

Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz.

A panagram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. You probably learned where the keyboard letters are by typing this one: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

According to Robert Quigley at Geek O System, linguists and puzzle-solvers like to see just how few letters they can use in a sentence that makes sense.

My favorites:

”Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs”: According to Wikipedia, this one is used on NASA’s Space Shuttle. (32 letters)

And this one, which should win a prize for brevity:

”Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz”: Amazingly, this 26-word-long sentence uses every letter only once, though it uses some pretty archaic words; translates to “Carved symbols in a mountain hollow on the bank of an inlet irritated an eccentric person.”

Beethoven’s Fifth

The Animated Score of Beethoven’s Fifth.

Crank up your speakers and sit back.

H/T: First Thoughts