March 4, 2011

The Onion: "Community college overwhelmed by dumb students"

From The Onion:
The City University of New York has long spent much of its energy and resources just teaching new students what they need to begin taking college-level courses. 

But that tide of remedial students has now swelled so large that ... about three-quarters of the 17,500 freshmen at the community colleges this year have needed remedial instruction in reading, writing or math, and nearly a quarter of the freshmen have required such instruction in all three subjects. In the past five years, a subset of students deemed “triple low remedial” — with the most severe deficits in all three subjects — has doubled, to 1,000.

The reasons are familiar but were reinforced last month by startling statistics from state education officials: fewer than half of all New York State students who graduated from high school in 2009 were prepared for college or careers, as measured by state Regents tests in English and math. In New York City, the proportion was 23 percent.

Many of those graduates end up at CUNY, one of the nation’s largest urban higher-education systems, which requires its community colleges to take every applicant with a high school diploma or equivalency degree.

“It takes a lot of our time and energy and money to figure out what to do with all of these students who need remediation,” said Alexandra W. Logue, the university’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “We are doing some really good things, but it’s time that we’re not thinking about our other wonderful students who are very highly prepared. We need to focus on them, too.” ...

“Most students have serious challenges remembering the basic rules of arithmetic,” Dr. Ianni said of his remedial math class. “The course is really a refresher, but they aren’t ready for a refresher. They need to learn how to learn.”

On a recent afternoon, a half-dozen students in that class prepared for a test, called a Compass exam, that would allow those who passed to start studying college-level math. Without college math skills, students cannot graduate. Seventeen others in the class had not even qualified to take the test; they will have to repeat the course until they qualify or they give up, as history shows many have done....

On Monday, the Obama administration began a series of “community college summits” at campuses across the country to gather ideas on how the schools can produce more graduates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged up to $110 million to improve remedial programs at community colleges. ...

The university’s biggest concern is those students who lag furthest behind in the three subjects. “These students have a really low probability of success, and it’s hard to know how to work with them,” said Dr. Logue, the provost. “There’s no question that the more remediation a student needs, the less likely they are ever to graduate.”

Students are often surprised to learn that they still have hurdles to clear before they can begin college-level work. As a freshman at LaGuardia, Angel Payero, 18, took the necessary assessment tests in August and discovered that he was deficient in reading, writing and math.

“Throughout high school, I was a good math student, and to find out that it was my lowest grade of all three was really surprising,” said Mr. Payero, who graduated from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry.

Neither of his parents, who are from the Dominican Republic, attended high school, he said. Yet Mr. Payero yearns for a career in psychology. “I feel like I can really understand people and where they come from,” he said.

Read the whole thing at The Onion.

For more, see here.

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hah. I knew it was going to be a real article.

Anonymous said...

1997, son:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_American_Intercollegiate_Team_Chess_Championship

Anonymous said...

I see what you did there.


BUT.


What exactly are you getting at? Yes, there are students who are unprepared. Right.

What's your point matey?

Chicago said...

Is it April Fools Day yet? They are not overwhelmed but rather they are underwhelmed. The latter is much easier as a teacher only has to be a couple steps ahead of their students, so it's not like they really have to have some great mastery of any of the subjects they are paid to teach. Throw in a little razzmatazz and catchy slogans and they're done. Most teachers in the sixteenth or so year of their career slog at the high school-community college level are just operating on automatic pilot, hoping to avoid any hassles or scrutiny. They're more likely to be popping Prozac than trying to forge some brave new world of education

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Dear God. You're right, Steve. Swift were he still around would be out of a job.

Eteocles said...

You're very droll, Steve.

Anonymous said...

i wonder how hard they had to look to get the two white students in the photo.

Anonymous said...

hahahahahha nice 1

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Speaking of unintentional satire, Tyler Cowen is PERPLEXED. Help him out over here, Steve.

Mr. Anon said...

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged up to $110 million to improve remedial programs at community colleges."

Now, that would make a good headline: "Bill Gates pledges to help educate the kind of people he would never hire"

Ed said...

“The course is really a refresher, but they aren’t ready for a refresher. They need to learn how to learn.”

Can't believe this isn't a parody

Leggs said...

It was obvious towards the end of the article that it wasn't from The Onion at all. Onion writers are too subtle to create an element of parody as ham-handed as "High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry".
My wife started her college career at a junior colleges here in California where any high school graduate can be automatically enrolled. This school found that many students were unable to handle even the existing "bonehead" English and math preparatory classes so the school created pre-bonehead classes to get them to the level where they could take the bonehead classes.
At the beginning of each school year the parking lots started out full but were half-empty by October as the students realized they weren't in a California high school anymore. They would actually have to read and write and couldn't get by on some of their grade coming from classroom discussion.

Anonymous said...

"At CUNY, administrators point out that the academic prowess of students in their four-year colleges has risen: the percentage of freshmen at the five most selective colleges with combined scores of at least 1,200 on the SAT reasoning test has almost tripled in 10 years — to 24 percent this year."

Are they talking a 1,200 SAT for all three tests or just math and reading? I'm assuming for math, reading and the essay. If that's the case, you're talking about an 800 SAT for math and reading. That's about a 94 IQ. Pretty smart for a black or Hispanic student, but not an IQ that's capable of college level work - ever - regardless of how much effort the student or teacher puts in.

And that's their best students!

Seriously, can somebody please tell me a place in the world that people act like adults. I just want out of this bad dream we call the United States.

Geoff Matthews said...

Called it after the 2nd paragraph.

I work at an open-enrollment university, and 2/3rds of our students (overwhelmingly white) need some remediation (mostly math). Couldn't see why NY would be that different.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why being deficient in reading, writing, and math should keep you from getting a college degree. Hell, the adult illiterates I used to tutor often had high-school diplomas, despite the fact that they couldn't read at a first-grade level.

George said...

But you would think that this definitely Onion material

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQfp-W9S2A0

Anonymous said...

Isn't the need to have all citizens attend college and attain a certain level of expertise in all fields a leftover from the cold war era? It just strikes me as stupid that the government floods us with new immigrants at both ends of the IQ scale, then acts as if it hadn't. The approach is as if we were some static population who must be brought up to some standard in comparison to some other static population in India or the USSR. And that instead of basic literacy and numeracy, the typical high school grad needs advanced math skills that will never, ever be used in any kind of job that that average person will attain.

Why do these students need to attend college at all? We all know that years of indoctrination telling these kids that they could and should get college degrees along with grade inflation is part of the problem. If these statistics are from this year, lack of jobs may be another reason the majority of these remedial students opted for higher education.

The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Learn how to blog. You put the link on top, spoiling the joke.

Truth said...

"i wonder how hard they had to look to get the two white students in the photo."

Looking through the viewfinder isn't tha hard, I've done it tons of times.

Sideways said...

That school you linked to can't even score at the median level on Spanish.

And Jesus, 0% could get a B on a basic algebra test and 15% got a D or better on trig.

We are so screwed.

Sideways said...

And a bargain at only $17k per student

Anonymous said...

I was in a cuny college and noticed a lot of hispanics and blacks proud of how they barely passed remedial math classes.

Sean said...

And the punchline is that most of these illiterate students are black and brown. Diane Ravitch admitted as much last night to Jon Stewart, of course she used the euphemism "poor."

Truth said...

Hey SailerHeads:

Good News, your people are getting tired of the AA, Interracial relationships and all that and are FIGHTING BACK!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33mRKpQ4ajM&feature=related&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1

not a hacker said...

In 2003, I met a nice kid, native of Egypt, who was a high school junior in El Cerrito, CA, near Berkeley. He told me math was his favorite subject. I got out a piece of paper and asked him to calculate 60% of 38. He couldn't do it.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a teacher with LAUSD. I believe education is not unidirectional. Going ever more complex. K to 1 to 2 to high school to college to grad school. It is possible to education to go the other direction. From complex to simpler to simpler. If you offer courses in remedial education, you can then offer courses in spelling, then the alphabet, then simple pronunciation, then even simpler things. Where there is a demand and money given, the educational bureaucracy will expand the curriculum to justify the acceptance of the money. Greed. It is as simple as that. It starts at the top with Microsoft, the greediest corporation and just keeps trickling down.

Anonymous said...

Is "triple low remedial" better or worse than "double secret probation"?

CJ said...

As a teenager I got a technical certificate in electronics and telecommunications from a community college and went to work for a telephone company. Later I decided I wanted to go to university; I earned two years of transfer credits at another community college and then transferred to a university. Much later, I was a contract employee for a community college computer-based/online learning agency. So, I know something about community colleges.

Community colleges aren't the craziest part of education. Yes, they're flunk-out academies. In states like Washington and California, politicians mandate that every high school graduate gets admitted to the state university system. Cal State and Washington State understand perfectly well that lots of these students are not college material, so they put them in "pre-entry" courses in English and math that have names like Communications 078 and are taught by "contract faculty" making a fraction of university professor wages. They stay there until their English and math skills get up to college entry level. If that happens, then they can start at the 101 or 102 level -- that is, real college. In most cases, this never happens because the students just don't have the talent; they usually drop out after a few semesters.

Some state universities have enormous numbers of these sub-students taking sub-courses. This would all be better and more cheaply done at community colleges, which unlike universities often have trade and professional certificate programs that some of these students might actually be suited for. Actually, in the college described in the NYT article, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many of the students are actually trying to get the prerequisites to enter programs like nursing, rather than trying to enter four-year academic university.

I knew pretty much immediately that this wasn't really satire, but how wonderful it would be if "The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry" existed only in The Onion.

Rebelyell said...

The most telling two paragraphs of the story:

“Throughout high school, I was a good math student, and to find out that it was my lowest grade of all three was really surprising,” said Mr. Payero, who graduated from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry.

... Yet Mr. Payero yearns for a career in psychology. “I feel like I can really understand people and where they come from,” he said.

Somehow as a society there is a total disconnect between matching people with jobs that fit their abilities. Mr. Pavero attended a high school that led him to believe he was a math whiz, when in fact his math skills are quite poor. He years for a career in psychology, a field that I would think requires an IQ of 115 or higher. Why not give this man an IQ test and tell him whether his yearnings are achievable or not?

Anonymous said...

I don't see why being deficient in reading, writing, and math should keep you from getting a college degree
since NAMS are disproportionally effected by deficient reading writing and math skills, if we don't allow them to get a college degree we are preventing them from access to better paying jobs. That's racism.

Kylie said...

And a little further along the continuum:

'Just a Normal Girl'

Unlike writers at The Onion, those at the NYT don't need to make stuff up. They can achieve the same hilarious effect just by reporting the facts with no sense of irony or absurdity.

Carol said...

"Why do these students need to attend college at all? "

To get a high school education, silly.

They probably won't ever need that, either.

CJ said...

As a teenager I got a technical certificate in electronics and telecommunications from a community college and went to work for a telephone company. Later I decided I wanted to go to university; I earned two years of transfer credits at another community college and then transferred to a university. Much later, I was a contract employee for a community college computer-based/online learning agency. So, I know something about community colleges.

Community colleges aren't the craziest part of education. Yes, they're flunk-out academies. In states like Washington and California, politicians mandate that every high school graduate gets admitted to the state university system. Cal State and Washington State understand perfectly well that lots of these students are not college material, so they put them in "pre-entry" courses in English and math that have names like Communications 078 and are taught by "contract faculty" making a fraction of university professor wages. They stay there until their English and math skills get up to college entry level. If that happens, then they can start at the 101 or 102 level -- that is, real college. In most cases, this never happens because the students just don't have the talent; they usually drop out after a few semesters.

Some state universities have enormous numbers of these sub-students taking sub-courses. This would all be better and more cheaply done at community colleges, which unlike universities often have trade and professional certificate programs that some of these students might actually be suited for. Actually, in the college described in the NYT article, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many of the students are actually trying to get the prerequisites to enter programs like nursing, rather than trying to enter four-year academic university.

I knew pretty much immediately that this wasn't really satire, but how wonderful it would be if "The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry" existed only in The Onion.

ATBOTL said...

Welcome to America, the third world country. It's just going to keep getting worse unless we cut off third world immigration and repatriate the ones who are here.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was: okay, this is gonna be a real article - Steve's pulled this one before.

But then I saw the phrase "triple low remedial" and I was like, oh, okay, this time it really is from The Onion.

Kept reading... hmmm... The Onion's humor has definitely gotten a lot drier since I last read it. Er, wait a second...

Anonymous said...

They should consider majoring in "Education".

Back in college I took courses one summer trying to get my degree early. One was a class in "Group Theory" which had many Ed majors. They were the stupidest people I have ever met - in or out of college, and had to spent many evenings memorizing a few formulas without actually understanding any of the underlying concepts.

I think I studied for 3 hours total and scored 100% for that course.

SouthernAnonyia said...

"Asked why he is attending college, Mr. Mc- Cormack says it is because his sister “went there.” He hopes to get a good job when he gets out. His ambition is to be a singer."

---Kylie, thank you for the link which led me to this couple of sentences. Real life truly is more absurd than satire.

Carrot man said...

Its becoming increasingly clear that the whole society is becoming overwhelmed by stupidity. Entertainment nowadays is focused on how many cats Justin Timberlake owns, rather than reading or engaging in a hobby. Popular comedy is the crude, vulgar, lowest denominator sort, rather than displays of wit.

Anonymous said...

A friend who English taught at a community college in NYC said that the school was just overwhelmed by blacks and mestizos (and more recently Indians, who in many ways are just as bad as the blacks and mestizos). He quickly became a race realist.

Anonymous said...

A chain email from tea party chain email:


--------Forwarded Message--------

From a chain email:

Russell K. Nieli recently brought to light a new study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and his colleague Alexandria Radford that shows that lower-income European Americans (poor whites) are the most discriminated against group of people in college admissions.

Nieli writes: "When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed."

Get that? Not African Americans, not Mestizo Americans --- but European Americans are the most discriminated against group in college admissions.

This widespread discrimination against European Americans should be unsurprising. And immigration is making it worse, as more non-whites immigrate here their "disparate impact" status makes them prime affirmative action candidates.

All other racial groups have powers lobbying on their behalf. Blacks have the NAACP, mestizos have La Raza, Asians have the 80-20 Initiative, Indians have USINPAC, etc. What do European Americans have?

When other groups lobby on behalf of their ethnic interests and whites do nothing, whites are bound to receive the short end of the stick. And all the while this is taking place, many whites pursue the “ostrich strategy”. They stick their heads in the sand and wish it were otherwise.

Time to take your heads out of the sand, white people.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Is "triple low remedial" better or worse than "double secret probation"?"

I was waiting for that reference. Thanks. Isteve's readers do not disappoint.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the need to have all citizens attend college and attain a certain level of expertise in all fields a leftover from the cold war era? It just strikes me as stupid that the government floods us with new immigrants at both ends of the IQ scale, then acts as if it hadn't.

One of the smartest things I've read on this blog. Why with 9 percent Unemployment and a dearth of unskilled jobs or jobs that require no education why are letting millions of immigrants in? And why are we shafting our own kids by making them compete against super IQ immigrants for middle management and Government jobs that DON'T require super-IQs - just above average ones.

I'd love for Steve to look at these pro-immigration arguments and slice and dice them, including the need for everyone to go to college.

Anonymous said...

From a tea party chain email:


Russell K. Nieli recently brought to light a new study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and his colleague Alexandria Radford that shows that lower-income European Americans (poor whites) are the most discriminated against group of people in college admissions.

Nieli writes: "When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed."

Get that? Not African Americans, not Mestizo Americans --- but European Americans are the most discriminated against group in college admissions.

This widespread discrimination against European Americans should be unsurprising. And immigration is making it worse, as more non-whites immigrate here their "disparate impact" status makes them prime affirmative action candidates.

All other racial groups have powers lobbying on their behalf. Blacks have the NAACP, mestizos have La Raza, Asians have the 80-20 Initiative, Indians have USINPAC, etc. What do European Americans have?

When other groups lobby on behalf of their ethnic interests and whites do nothing, whites are bound to receive the short end of the stick. And all the while this is taking place, many whites pursue the “ostrich strategy”. They stick their heads in the sand and wish it were otherwise.

Time to take your heads out of the sand, white people.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't entirely bash CC's. I took a year at CC before transferring to university. The social sciences/humanities courses were The Suck. Dropped out of my psych and history classes the first week because the teachers were so loopy. The math/science courses had some excellent (and accent-free) instructors, however, who loved their subjects and taught well, but couldn't teach at university due to lack of a PhD.

Yeah, it's hit or miss with the instructors, and even more so with your fellow students.

And, yes, I knew it wasn't really an Onion piece just from the title.


"Welcome to America, the third world country. It's just going to keep getting worse unless we cut off third world immigration and repatriate the ones who are here."

And what's sad is that it's happening so fast, without people being willing to acknowledge the fact that race plays a role. The demographic profile of this country is changing even faster than it was when we were conquering it from the Indians.

Dennis Dale said...

Can't you just hear Dean Wormer's grave baritone: "triple low remedial"?

Bantam said...

I was deeply impressed by The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry's mission statement, quite a powerful symbol.

Whiskey said...

Why is the demographic profile changing so fast? It has broad support among White women, who find it useful to bash their chief competitors, beta males.

fbj said...

@Bantam

lol! Steve isn't the only comedian on this blog...

Frank Crittendam said...

When I was an undergrad about 15 years ago, there were core curriculum classes across many disciplines that students were required to take in addition to whatever classes they needed to take for their major, ostensibly to make students well-rounded. To fulfill the Culture and Society requirements, I went with taking a couple of music appreciation classes. I was pretty disillusioned with religion by that point, and no way I was going to sit through hours of being spoonfed pseudo-scientific, 'white man is the devil' nonsense in minority studies classes pretending they were legitimate academic courses and not warmed-over Marxist propaganda.

The music appreciation classes were far and away the easiest classes I had taken at the University, perhaps the easiest that I had taken since elementary school. Honestly, I could have Aced the classes when I was 10. There were two components to each of these classes, a relatively basic history of what was going on in the world in relation to the music at that time, and listening to a few songs- perhaps 5 or so a week, and having to take quizzes and tests on the history and on recognizing which song was being played when you heard them played through in their entirety. Both the songs and the history were interesting, but the workload was extremely light, and the professor gave tons of extra credit opportunities, both on the tests and for doing optional extra credit assignments. To give you an idea of just how easy it was, the professor used the last class of the semester to go over about 30 or 40 important facts/songs that he thought were the most important, and the final exam a day or two later turned out to be comprised of mostly those.

What got me was that there were actually some students complaining that this was too hard, and doing poorly! Steve's contentions in some of his articles that there are too many students going to college who don't belong there, and that some classes are being dumbed down to account for it, are right on the money.

Jack Quinn said...

@ Bantam

On "mission statement": like in 'we ain't got one'.

But this will do in the meantime;

"Vapidity, Voracity, Venality"

Kylie said...

"I was deeply impressed by The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry's mission statement, quite a powerful symbol."

Just what I'd expect from those who believe in the "blank slate" theory.

David said...

>The approach is as if we were some static population who must be brought up to some standard in comparison to some other static population in India or the USSR.<

That blind approach is based on the doctrine of egalitarianism ("everyone is equal") plus that of industrial standardization ("everyone must be interchangeable"). Accepting these doctrines a priori, as quasi-religious principles, leads to many societal train wrecks, but evidence shakes not the true believer.

Anonymous said...

"I was deeply impressed by The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry's mission statement, quite a powerful symbol."

You have to admit though, Bantam, there's no criticizing it. Maybe there motto is 'The school for kids who don't read so good."

Anonymous said...

I taught calculus and statistics in community colleges just about the time that pocket calculators were revolutionizing people's handling of daily math.

At the first class meeting I would tell them that some people were better at math than others. Then I would ask for a volunteer from one who imagined that he was good at math. I then asked him to give me the eleventh root of forty three (or some such).

When he admitted failure I held up my pocket calculator and gave the answer instantaneously. A calculator has far less intellect than a cockroach - more like a paramecium.

My point was that no human is any good at math - it's just not wired into our brains. Then I told them the common crow has a better sense of essential cardinality than any human. The crow can't count but it can understand how many eggs it has in its nest as a gestalt. It looks and knows.

People are just not good at math. Before computers were machines they were physicists and other similar scientists. Feynman was a computer. He was one of those people at Los Alamos who calculated sums thought to be important - like would the atmosphere ignite from the bomb.

They used to organize rooms full of math whizzes in rows of desks who would invert a matrix or some other tedious calculation. The best of these - like Feynman - came to be called computers.

Human beings doing math brings to my mind those film clips of early flying pioneers trying to flap their way into the sky. Wrong approach.

We don't need math remediation we need new hardware in our skulls. I'm sure that's coming and probably faster than conventional educational reformers who will still be "Waiting for Superman".

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

There is nothing surprising here. Dump millions of unprepared students, many from third-world countries into the nationwide CC system and watch it sink.

Please keep in mind the next time that you read a NYT/WaPo article about the DREAM Act showcasing a 4.0 graduate with a 4-year degree that the typical DREAM Act beneficiary is more likely to resemble the students in this article than the 4.0 BA/BS. It borders on reportorial perjury.

The really sad thing is that CC's used to be a great way for bright but poor students to pick up the first 2 years of college cheaply and then transfer into a 4-year. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine had a student who had taken 2 years at a local Virginia CC, transferred to VT, graduated near the top of her class in chemistry - yes, that's correct HER, a beautiful leggy redhead - then skip a MA and go straight into a PhD in some branch of chemistry having to do with the oil industry.

She was the first in her family to attend college.

So what happens to students like her as CC's implode and affirmative action shifts scholarships, entrance, etc to non-white applicants? They - and we, meaning the US - get screwed royally.....

Black_Rose said...

I taught calculus and statistics in community colleges just about the time that pocket calculators were revolutionizing people's handling of daily math.

At the first class meeting I would tell them that some people were better at math than others. Then I would ask for a volunteer from one who imagined that he was good at math. I then asked him to give me the eleventh root of forty three (or some such).

Albertosaurus



I was able to figure out that in my head (only to two significant figures though: 1.4) although I did not have an expectation of actually getting a "reasonable answer" during the process.

Of course, the answer had to be less than two, so first I just did 2^11 power for the heck of it.

I remembered that 2^5 is 32 and that squared (2^5)^2 is 1024. 2^11 is 2^10 * 2 which is 2048. I also remembered that 45 * 45 = 2025 (close enough to 2048). 45 is close to 43.

So in my head I have 45^2 ~=~ 2^11.

Then I square-rooted both sides:
45 = (2^11)^(1/2) = (2^1/2)^11

So, it seems that the answer would be a little less than the square root of 2. I remembered the square-root of was a little greater than 1.4. So, I said 1.4 would the answer. I checked my calculator and 1.4^11 ==40.4956 (close enough so I would not be humiliated if I was in the situation in class.)

I sometimes multiply two * two digit in my head without a calculator (of course a calculator is more reliable and faster than me) but I remember certain things. My memory helped me to get the imprecise answer of 1.4. While I arrived at that conclusion, I kept saying "I remember" during the process so arriving at that answer was not entirely a feat of calculation, but involved recollection (which is faster than calculation for me.)

And no, I don't consider myself good at math.
----------------------------------
Yes, I agree people are not naturally good at math since there is no "calculator module" in the brain because there were no recurrent problems that our ancestors encountered that required quantitatively rigorous solutions. Most of the variation in math ability is due to the general intelligence factor (which is strongly associated with working memory) and it is useful in multiple domains besides math. More working memory resources (variation in working memory accounts for much of the variation in g) enables one to grasp more complex concepts that one would encounter in higher math.

Anonymous said...

Black Rose is quite right about what she writes. Approximate answers are very important. Indeed Feynman had a wager at school that he could solve any math-like problem in three minutes that could be stated in under one minute. He was good at clever schemes that yielded approximations.

The point was why do we need approximations at all? I only used roots example because no one is taught how to derive them past the cubic. I also told my students that the twelfth root of two was - B Flat.

Feynman also demonstrated that he could detect by smell which book a person had touched. Yet every time I walk my dog I'm reminded that humans have almost no sense of smell. And smell is useful today as it was to our ancestors in more brutal times.

Literal brain amplification seems close. Every house and business in California now has Wi-Fi and/or 3G. Right now you see people with Wi-Fi or Blue Tooth devices sitting on their ears, next they get smaller and they sit in the ear canal, and then they get smaller yet and are implanted in the mastoid bone.

When there is an analog-digital interface to your brain built into your head, which other services is likely? I think a simple four function calculator will come first but soon thereafter higher math.

It will take more than just a calculator chip in your skull to enable people to be able to do symbolic math or even to understand that that their problem demands calculus not just arithmetic, but soon long division will hold no terrors for those with implants.

All this may seem far fetched but is it any more so than waiting for a superman who will come along and fix education? If we do come upon a source of supermen I wouldn't want to waste them on education. How about Home Repair? Everyone I know has a horror story about some contractor they hired. When these supermen finally show up let's reserve the first batch for repairing decks and retaining walls. Maybe in the second batch we could spare some from real pressing problems for public school education.

Albertosaurus

ATBOTL said...

"And what's sad is that it's happening so fast, without people being willing to acknowledge the fact that race plays a role. The demographic profile of this country is changing even faster than it was when we were conquering it from the Indians."

It's been happening for several generations now. People had plenty of time to notice what was going on and do something.

Hector Grey said...

There's a solution right here!
http://irishsavant.blogspot.com/2011/03/another-brilliant-plan.html

Michael L said...

AA is definitely growing in leaps and bounds in science. As a grad student, the university I went to began to receive "PREP" students- basically a program to hold the hands of minority undergrads who aren't competitive enough to enter grad schools through a year of a watered-down graduate curriculum to beef up their resume. The students take a reduced workload of classes, get weekly science and career counseling sessions from both their "graduate" professor as well as several other professors who carefully assessed their needs, coached them, gave them detailed advice on careers, enthusiastic recommendation letters, etc. As a normal (meritocratic)grad student, good luck getting to talk most of the time with the professor I worked under about my project, much less get any career assistance, etc. The PREP students were labeled as 'faculty' by the University, with a suite of perks normally reserved for professors, research scientists and other faculty (faculty health plan, faculty parking, faculty vacation time etc ). The PREP students were expected to work only 20 hrs/ week, and their professors specifically were instructed not to give them a heavier load. [How this prepared them for grad school, I will never know- most grad students, at least those who were serious about making it through, were putting in around 60-70 hrs/week]. People who had to work in the lab with PREP students were encouraged to hold their hands, and the professors were pushed to try and get them on a scholarly publication, even if they accomplished little or nothing. The cherry on top of all of this, was that the PREP students were paid for gracing us with their presence, and paid about 20% more than graduate students on research stipends. Of course all of it, through NIH, was courtesy of the taxpayer.

I worked with two in my graduate school lab and one in the lab I did post doc work with, and knew 5 others, through affiliations with other labs and lab workers. While a couple did about an average job, and one did very well, its no exaggeration to say that most performed more poorly than would be expected from an average student. One I had the misfortune of having to work with on a collaborative project actually told me with a straight face, that she couldn't possibly come in to collect samples at 9:30 in the morning (I had only asked her to come in 1 day a week at this time, and I was covering the more difficult collection at 4 am that same day each week) because she couldn't possibly wake up before 8:30 in the morning. This after lying to me three previous times when she simply didn't show up at all at 9:30 when she had agreed to. Over the entire year, she managed to produce no data that could be used in a publication, and I had to put in extra work time and again to pick up her slack to make the project succeed. She routinely was too lazy to plan or take care of her cell cultures (a basic but necessary task that took about 1/2 hour per day, but needed to be done every day), and as a result they died quite regularly and she would have to start over again. I finally managed to get some use out of her by getting her to assist about 1-2 hrs/day with basic jobs that a HS student could do, like washing lab dishes, etc (in the afternoon, of course, no waking up at 8:30).

Another grad student told me that the PREP student in her lab kept breaking lab equipment and setting back progress on everyone's projects in that lab for weeks at a time, while waiting for the equipment to be repaired.

If all of this was to prepare students who should not have entered grad school for succeeding in grad school, then it was a failure by most standards. I think only two of the eight I knew actually managed to make it through with a PhD despite the fact that they were given a major helping hand.

Silver said...

Bantam, lol.

Whether that [the blank page] was intentional or not, in either case it's a powerful testimony to the age.

Anyway, it's becoming clear, I think, that the doyens of the HBD-denier left -- the sort of people who bring you "anti-racist mathematics" -- are actually more honest with themselves (ie in the confines of their own thoughts) about human potential than their HBD-denying minions. They know very well that students at the bottom of the academic pile are never really going to amount to anything. But rather than have them go through life meekly accepting their station the "commie-progressive" left (as opposed to an actually progressive left) would rather have them be revolutionaries. So, for them, if the students who are going to sit in math class aren't going to learn or remember any math anyway, may as well teach them something they will remember -- that there are "oppressors" out there who make their lives so difficult and who they need to be on the lookout for and on the offensive against.

Anonymous said...

America is turning into the movie "Idiocracy". Maybe even the world is turning into it as well.

Anonymous said...

America is turning into the movie "Idiocracy".

Mr. Anon said...

"Bantam said...

I was deeply impressed by The High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry's mission statement, quite a powerful symbol."

Yes, indeed.

Bantam said...

Among the depressing news of the week, this ray of hope may give you solace.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

"America is turning into the movie "Idiocracy". Maybe even the world is turning into it as well."

The world has always been "Idiocracy." The difference with America, Europe, Japan, and a few other places is that for brief periods of time we have been able to pull the world out of that mess and into something higher. High civilization, self-determination, and liberty do not come easily or naturally. But we have been raised and taught to believe that it does, so long as one has an ample supply of well-paid, unionized teachers and social workers to create it.

I blame, among other things, the idiotic concept of "one man, one vote" - the idea that every person should have an exactly equal vote in their democracy - and the income and interest gaps that assure that massive political contributions flow from vested business interests to their preferred pols.

We need some form of government match for campaign contributions to encourage more of the middle class to contribute to political candidates at all levels of government, while we need an equity-based voting system that grants a proportionately greater say to those people who are better informed, self-sufficient, contribute more to society, and have deeper ties to the country (or community in which they reside). A recent naturalized immigrant who can't read English should be able to vote, be he should not have a vote equal to that of a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran.

Kylie said...

"Anyway, it's becoming clear, I think, that the doyens of the HBD-denier left -- the sort of people who bring you 'anti-racist mathematics' -- are actually more honest with themselves (ie in the confines of their own thoughts) about human potential than their HBD-denying minions. They know very well that students at the bottom of the academic pile are never really going to amount to anything."

With all due respect, I couldn't disagree more strongly. Far from being more honest about human potential, HBD deniers are actually so firmly in denial that nothing will jolt them out of it. When confronted with the limitted potential of some groups to do specific tasks, the deniers simply water down the tasks beyond recognition or change the essential nature of the tasks altogether. Thus, NAMs who can't remember how to multiply 35x5 can still parrot tenets of "social justice mathematics" such as "it's not fair that John has more money than Juan". Or parents can proclaim with complete honesty that their child who has Down syndrome is a college student.

It's similar to the mindset of an alcoholic who drinks half a case of beer every night but claims not to be an alcoholic because s/he never touches hard liquor.

If the deniers were [able to be] honest with themselves, there'd be a hope in hell that we could get them to reverse or abandon their stupid and harmful policies. As it is, there's no chance of that happening. They won't stop, they'll have to be stopped. And I don't see that happening any time soon.

Bantam said...

fbj, Jack Quinn, Kylie, Anonymous, Silver, Mr.Anon

Terima kasih!

Baloo said...

I don't think 'honest with themselves' is what was meant. I think you meant they practice doublethink, and the HBD-aware half never rises above reflexive behavior, but it's always there, because if it's not, the individual in question wouldn't have survived.

Anonymous said...

What does NAM? stand for? Trust me, you can't google for it.

none of the above said...

Michael L:

The weird thing is, it's not like a career in science is some kind of golden road to riches or power or anything. You wouldn't tell your kids "go do a PhD in a science field, so you can have an easy life, reasonable hours, and a reliable career path."

Those programs are for someone's benefit, but it's not the not-bright-or-dedicated-enough grad students' benefit. They're getting screwed.

Silver said...

With all due respect, I couldn't disagree more strongly. Far from being more honest about human potential, HBD deniers are actually so firmly in denial that nothing will jolt them out of it.

That's true of the average denier, sure. But I'm talking about the upper crust. The ones who pen the bullshit that gets passed on to operatives. I think they know damn well what they're doing. It's just that for them the desire for revolution, the desire to overturn capitalism, is so strong it overpowers every other consideration. I suppose that there are some that can operate at the level of abstraction necessary to competently critique HBD views who actually believe what they spout. But they tend to be on board with the political objectives of the liars anyway, so there's no functional difference between the two.

When confronted with the limitted potential of some groups to do specific tasks, the deniers simply water down the tasks beyond recognition or change the essential nature of the tasks altogether. Thus, NAMs who can't remember how to multiply 35x5 can still parrot tenets of "social justice mathematics" such as "it's not fair that John has more money than Juan". Or parents can proclaim with complete honesty that their child who has Down syndrome is a college student.

You say that occurs incidentally. I say it's done knowingly. Not by the poor teacher who gets stuck with it, of course. But certainly by those who cook up the "social justice" curriculum.

Mind you, it needn't have begun this way. But over time these people realized they were given lemons -- the basic facts of HBD appear to check out -- so they decided to make lemonade: revolutionary "social justice" voters out of kids that were never going to learn anything anyway.

Jack Quinn said...

@ Anon.:

...I've seen this acronym used on many conservative blogs and couldn't find it either on google...their thought police are really on the job.

NAM = Non Asian Minority

Kylie said...

"What does NAM? stand for? Trust me, you can't google for it."

Jeez, you're right. That's creepy. I also tried googling "NAMs" and the first hit was "North American Menopause Society", even though I deliberately used a lower case "s" and enclosed the whole phrase in quotation marks. I couldn't even find it in the Urban Dictionary.

NAM=non-Asian minority.

Lenny Kravitz said...

"the HBD-denier left... are actually more honest with themselves (ie in the confines of their own thoughts)"

Far from being more honest about human potential, HBD deniers are actually so firmly in denial that nothing will jolt them out of it.


Don't listen to what people say, watch what they do. Where do they choose to buy a home and send their kids to school?

The ultimate litmus test is intermarriage. What is the intermarriage rates are between high-IQ and low-IQ groups and subgroups?

Like school selection, HBD-denying elites very selectively mate withing their own or other high-IQ groups with very few but often highly publicized exceptions.

Of the high IQ groups, high-IQ WASPs seem to be the most likely to cross the IQ gap for marriage.

Anonymous said...

basic algebra is not racist.
Calculus is racist.

English lit. is not racist.
Quantum mechanics is racist.

PHD in education is not racist.
PHD in engineering is very racist.

Truth said...

"Jeez, you're right. That's creepy. I also tried googling "NAMs" and the first hit was "North American Menopause Society"

You see Kylie, there is a club for all of us.

Kylie said...

"You say that [dumbing down curricula to accomodate less intelligent students] occurs incidentally. I say it's done knowingly. Not by the poor teacher who gets stuck with it, of course. But certainly by those who cook up the 'social justice' curriculum."

Did I say that occurs incidentally? If so, sorry, that was a typo. No, I've always thought it was deliberate.

Anyway, thanks for a very thoughtful and insightful response to my post. I think you're quite right about the different levels of honesty in the different levels of the left. I hadn't really considered in the way you presented it but it makes perfect sense. In a horrid kind of way, of course.

Kylie said...

"'Jeez, you're right. That's creepy. I also tried googling 'NAMs' and the first hit was 'North American Menopause Society'

You see Kylie, there is a club for all of us."


OK, now that was really funny.

dores said...

A massive survey of 440,000 high school students done in 1960,(Project TALENT) learned from its longitudinal surveys 5-10 years later, that most of the students had ideas about careers that were not commensurate with their abilities. At that time, there was a push to find talented science and technology majors, so probably more kids listed those as their "dream careers." One of the conclusions from studying the follow-ups, was that students needed to be made more aware of the requisites for any career they might think of. Maybe some progress was made, because by 1972 most students were more realistic about their abilities and goals, and understood better what would be required of them. At least the boys did. Interestingly, the girls in the 1972 survey were (unlike those of 1960 who mostly wanted to be secretaries or interior designers if they were of a creative bent) likely to aspire to "non-traditional" careers but had an unrealistic attitude considering their curriculum and abilities. Girls nowadays are more realistic, but also more likely to have had access to a "technical" curriculum if that's what they wanted -- or their parents wanted. As opportunities become available, people do learn from those who have tried before.
Currently, the school population with the most unrealistic goals are likely to be "NAMS" of both genders. The whole world tells them they are just as capable as non-NAMS, but doesn't tell them they are also just as responsible for getting the grades and the prerequisites necessary to actually be equal. Of course a lot of them don't have to be. They get into medical school with credentials that would maybe get a white person into nursing school. Yet medicine is one profession where such concessions probably do need to be made. Hispanics and blacks feel better going to their own kind of doctor, and so they should. Most people feel that way--just don't force me to go to one unless I have researched the matter. OTOH, please, please, don't give me an affirmative action air controller.

malthus said...

"The world has always been "Idiocracy." The difference with America, Europe, Japan, and a few other places is that for brief periods of time we have been able to pull the world out of that mess and into something higher. "

I don't know about that--stupid people were not taken care of as they are today. They had to fend for themselves, or were taken advantage of, and it wasn't pretty. Child mortality among the POOR in England in 1840 was 40%. That's unimaginable today, almost anywhere. Not long before that, in England, child mortality was pretty similar for all classes. By the 1840s, survival was better for the educated and better off, and by 1870 (in England, earlier in France), the drop in birthrates was on. Drastically. By 1900, the average birth rate among the educated was half what it had been in 1800. The poor, even in Africa, are benefiting from "western" -- medicine and infrastructure. Otherwise their population would be static, not growing exponentially. Even a few babies saved means hundreds more people a few decades later...because they'll all grow up and have ten children who will have ten children--just like my New England ancestors in the 17th and 18th centuries. Personally, I say no aid to foreign countries unless you control the population.

JSM said...

"Personally, I say no aid to foreign countries unless you control the population."

Aye to that. I'll go one further:

No aid, at all, to foreign countries EXCEPT for forms of birth control.

Anonymous said...

Truly imaginative and inquisitive young people can make it on their own without benefit of any school or college, and often excel without the crippling traumas inflicted by such institutions.

Anonymous said...

dores:

OTOH, please, please, don't give me an affirmative action air controller.

In my lack of sleep, I read that as "affirmative action air conditioner". LOL!

Anonymous said...

Please, racists, losers, bottom-feeders, whatever you call yourselves, shut up about black people being stupid. I teach at a community college, and at the moment, I have only a handful of black students. The rest of them, are white, and many of them struggle. I am black, I have been reading since I was a toddler,
I have three degrees, two advanced, and am considering a PhD. There are no PhD programs that I am interested in in my city. Keep deluding yourself that ALL black people do (fill in the blank) and you'll keep being wrong.