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Sunday, March 31, 2013

OTP: April 2013: Daily Caller: Baseball and the GOP: To rebrand the party, think like a sports fan

This week’s GOP autopsy report, commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, is a great start in the much-needed task of rebranding the Republican Party. As the chairman acknowledged, “the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough” and “we have to be more inclusive.” The report contains 219 recommendations to “connect people to our principles.” To achieve that goal, the party will need a strategic vision of how voters think about politics, which is something that the report lacks. For that, the GOP can learn a lot from another American passion: baseball.

This year, about 75 million Americans will go to the baseball stadium to watch a ballgame, about the same number as those who will vote in next year’s election. We rarely think about why someone becomes a baseball fan, or why they root for a certain team. Nor do we usually think about why someone chooses to vote for a certain political party. But it’s actually a very useful exercise.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty has almost nothing to do with the brain, and almost everything to do with the heart. In all of history, there’s never been a baseball fan who rooted for his team because it had the lowest ticket prices, or because it had the most taxpayer-friendly stadium deal, or because its players did the most community service. For the vast majority of Americans, rooting for a baseball team — not to mention, voting for a political party — isn’t really a rational choice; it’s more of a statement of personal identity — a statement telling the world, “This is who I am.” And for most people, defining “who I am” starts with family and community, before branching out into areas like race, age, gender, and class.

Family is pretty straightforward. If your mom and dad are Yankee fans, you’re almost certainly a Yankee fan. The same is true in politics. If your mom and dad are Republicans, you’re almost certainly a Republican.

Community is also pretty straightforward. If you grew up in, say, Philadelphia, chances are pretty great you’re a Phillies fan. Likewise, someone who grew up in Republican territory like, say, suburban Dallas or rural Indiana is much more likely to become a Republican than a nearly identical person from Seattle or Santa Fe.

Cities with more than one baseball team, like New York or Chicago, show revealing breakdowns by race and gender. The racial split in Chicago between Cubs fans on the North Side and White Sox fans on the South Side is well-documented. In New York, there’s an intriguing gender gap between Mets and Yankee fans, with women gravitating a lot more to the Yanks. While there’s a few theories out there trying to explain that, one obvious answer leaps out: Yankees heartthrob Derek Jeter.

In sports, as in politics, people’s convictions can’t be conveniently reduced to who their parents are or what they look like. But those things are an important foundation, upon which more rational sentiments come into being. Once you’re attached to your team on an emotional level — seeing them as a personal reflection of who you are and what you care about most — a rational exterior comes into being through phrases like “the Red Sox are the best team because they have the most heart” or “the Republicans are the best party because they know how to create jobs.”

Tripon Posted: March 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM | 6544 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: politics

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   501. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 03, 2013 at 06:20 AM (#4402879)
What I expect is probably the case is that kids are less good at writing and reading comprehension and better at math. Math is what the schools have been pushing, and it's been at the expense of time and effort devoted to writing and to reading texts of a literary nature. Naturally, that causes people in STEM fields to laugh when people in the humanities say that kids are getting less and less prepared. And naturally that causes the engineering kids to get mad at me when I take points off for slovenly grammar, wrong spelling, and incoherent argumentative structure. What do they need those things for to be an engineer, after all? Well, they need to be well-rounded human beings. It's my job to try to convince them of that. I want them to enjoy their lives as much as possible, and I truly, truly believe that the way for them to do that is to be able to appreciate the things in life that require a little more time and contemplation, and constitute a deeper and more fulfilling mental challenge than the latest episode of Two and a Half Men (though it was a pretty funny show in its heyday).

But as I've often said, the humanities have been their own worst enemy over the past thirty years. They've done their best to convince everyone of their lack of importance, by "problemetizing" the idea of greatness and emphasizing the relativity of beauty and sublimity. When you tell people for years that experts don't know any better than anyone else, guess what? They decide they don't need the experts anymore. And then they wonder why people are more depressed, introverted, and pessimistic than they used to be.

(Well, that belonged on page 4. Sorry about that.)
   502. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 06:49 AM (#4402883)
In one case, heterosexuals were being denied marriage. In the other case, homosexuals were being denied marriage. Not the same thing at all, let alone the "exact same" thing.

And so, by your definition of difference above, they don't deserve the same thing heterosexuals are allowed. Damned compelling.
   503. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 07:57 AM (#4402896)
Joe, the link you posted doesn't say what you think it does-- it may even say the opposite! Just for your reference, in case you didn't read before linking:

Does this change the definition of marriage? No. Allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to get married does not change the meaning of marriage. It simply allows same-sex couples to marry the person they love, to establish and protect a family, and to make a lifetime commitment in the same way other couples are able to.
   504. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:11 AM (#4402899)
No, he knows that, it is exactly what he's saying, that "DOES NOT CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE" is one of the pro-gay-marriage talking points, one of their platform statements. It's not. It's a reply to a very frequent anti-gay-marriage talking point. The fact that it's part of a FAQ, key word FREQUENTLY, seems to escape Joe. It's like saying that "we will not cause any spree shootings" is part of the NRA's mission statement.
   505. BDC Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:24 AM (#4402902)
in the Scandinavian countries you mentioned, where marriage rates have declined but cohabitation has increased

This. The vagaries of Scandinavian tax codes mean that quite a few couples don't get married, but have kids, buy homes, and otherwise behave like the most normative households a Republican could wish for. "Illegitimacy" is an outmoded concept in much of the world.
   506. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:25 AM (#4402903)
Thanks for clearing that up. My bad. I guess I"m missing the nature of Joe's "I agree with liberals on this issue, but they're still wrong" charge here. The SSM advocates are generally more aware of marriage's institutional history than the general public, who are prone to moronic and reductive statements like:
"society and culture" have had a fairly specific and consistent definition of the word "marriage" for at least the past two millennia.
   507. Publius Publicola Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:34 AM (#4402904)
Sorry, I don't post links for things that are barely more disputed than "2+2=4."


And thus is explained the dysfunction of the incurious mind.
   508. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:34 AM (#4402905)
FWIW, I'm not a liberal (shocking) but I don't give a rat's ass whether or not marriage is redefined to included partnerships or groupings comprised of something other than a man and a woman.
   509. BDC Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:36 AM (#4402906)
the humanities have been their own worst enemy over the past thirty years. They've done their best to convince everyone of their lack of importance, by "problemetizing" the idea of greatness and emphasizing the relativity of beauty and sublimity

I'd agree and disagree. I mean, beauty and sublimity are relative; different cultures and eras have different aesthetics. If you're saying (and you're probably not saying) that there are works that are universally and eternally beautiful and can always be admired in the same way, then I'd certainly disagree. Tastes change, aesthetics change, and we change with them.

But I agree that the humanities have had problems establishing the special value of their work, and the particular qualities that make up field of material they work with. Literary study has put theory before primary texts (and I've played my own tiny part in encouraging that development, sometimes to my own chagrin). As a result, students don't read a lot of primary texts anymore, the idea being that if you master theory you are always equipped to deal with any text that comes your way. And more troubling, literary study now almost universally approaches literature as rhetoric, and responds to it with rhetoric. So every play or poem or novel is an "argument" in political terms, and to write about literature means "arguing" a claim in an adversarial way that responds to other such "arguments." (And to argue that there are artworks that aren't arguments is seen as a reactionary move: "art for art's sake" is disingenuous at best and repressive at worst.)

Perhaps I am just becoming conservative as I age (a natural development?) but I really do sense that more appreciation and admiration needs to go on. I've been trying to convince students of that WRT Dante's Commedia this week, and next fall I'll try to take that line with The Walking Dead – one of the reasons I love both high and popular culture is the energy and skill that can infuse both.
   510. bunyon Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4402907)
What I expect is probably the case is that kids are less good at writing and reading comprehension and better at math. Math is what the schools have been pushing, and it's been at the expense of time and effort devoted to writing and to reading texts of a literary nature. Naturally, that causes people in STEM fields to laugh when people in the humanities say that kids are getting less and less prepared. And naturally that causes the engineering kids to get mad at me when I take points off for slovenly grammar, wrong spelling, and incoherent argumentative structure. What do they need those things for to be an engineer, after all? Well, they need to be well-rounded human beings. It's my job to try to convince them of that. I want them to enjoy their lives as much as possible, and I truly, truly believe that the way for them to do that is to be able to appreciate the things in life that require a little more time and contemplation, and constitute a deeper and more fulfilling mental challenge than the latest episode of Two and a Half Men (though it was a pretty funny show in its heyday).

If math is what schools have been pushing, they need to stop. Today's (American) students are awful at math. They don't know basic principles and they can't, without a lot of help, perform basic calculations. Ask a group of honors chemistry students to provide a decimal equivalent of 2/5 and you get about 50% correct answers, with the remaining being things like "3", "0.3", ".25", "25", "2.5" and "I don't know u wont let us use calculators". That is a real life example at a school that is relatively selective.

I completely agree with you on the importance of being a well rounded human being but stuff like grammar is also important for communication. If you can't read and write clearly, you can't do any technical job. I don't know many STEM teachers (at the college level) who disagree with this. Unfortunately, I know a lot of humanities teachers at the college level (though a minority and certainly not all) who think that students should have had that before college and, therefore, it isn't up to them to teach it.

Which is probably fair; a student who hasn't picked up basic arithmetic and grammar by college should probably develop back muscles.

But, to the extent that STEM teachers have crapped on the humanities, I apologize. It doesn't seem like its any more than humanities teachers have crapped on us, but it isn't becoming either way.


EDIT: also important in technical jobs is reading literature (that is, scientific literature) and holding several papers in one's head simultaneously so that one can compare, contrast and synthesize from them. Hell, to be able to do that with different sections of the same paper. My personal feeling, unsupported by much of anything that I know of, is that attention span decline is the primary problem. Students multi-task too much and have been discouraged from "memorization" so that they have trouble putting lots of ideas in their heads at once. Being instructed in critical thought doesn't help much if one can't put a set of observations in one's head to critically think about.

I'm also being too hard. The very best students are probably better than the best when I was a student. It just seems to me, again anecdotally, that the spread of students is greater today and older colleagues tell me that is a trend going back longer than I've been around.
   511. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:50 AM (#4402912)
I teach art history and this semester have been tasked with teaching both the historiography of art history and art criticism and, for the first time, aesthetics, so I am kind of straddling the divide between theory and practice. I certainly teach postmodern approaches (in fact, that has been our topic the last couple of weeks), but I also try to discuss the limitations of that approach. I myself am a rara avis, a logical positivist, although postmodernism in general has had much less impact on classical art and archaeology than on contemporary theory.

Unfortunately, I know a lot of humanities teachers at the college level (though a minority and certainly not all) who think that students should have had that before college and, therefore, it isn't up to them to teach it.


Well, it's a point of emphasis in our program (at least among us art historians, not so much among the studio folk).

I think at present there is a lot of disagreement in the humanities in general about what sort of justification we should be making.

1. I believe that studying the humanities will help someone in their career in many ways, from the ability to think critically to the ability to communicate, as bunyon has mentioned. However I, and many of my colleagues, are not happy with the transformation of colleges to vocational training centers, and many think making this argument will only hasten that process.

2. There is also the old-fashioned approach, which I also strongly sympathize with, that argues that the study of the humanities creates better people and better citizens. A lot of people seem reluctant to make this argument also. After all, classically-trained people gave us World Wars I and II, among other things.

3. My colleague here shies away from utilitarian arguments for the humanities and generally favors an attitude that the humanities allows for intellectual development and exploration, which is desirable even divorced from any tangible, measurable variable. And I can see their point, but I think that sells the discipline short.
   512. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4402915)
For those of you teaching in the humanities, especially if you've got a couple of decades on the job, do you have an opinion on Baurlein's The Dumbest Generation argument? I pretty vehemently disagree with him, but I'm curious to hear if what he writes resonates with you, based on your observations of generational change.
   513. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4402916)
507. Publius Publicola Posted: April 03, 2013 at 08:34 AM (#4402904)

Sorry, I don't post links for things that are barely more disputed than "2+2=4."

And thus is explained the dysfunction of the incurious mind.


I'm completely with Joe on this. Wood comes from trees - do you want a cite for that too?
   514. bunyon Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:02 AM (#4402923)
However I, and many of my colleagues, are not happy with the transformation of colleges to vocational training centers,

...

My colleague here shies away from utilitarian arguments for the humanities and generally favors an attitude that the humanities allows for intellectual development and exploration, which is desirable even divorced from any tangible, measurable variable. And I can see their point, but I think that sells the discipline short.


Well, I think it is silly to ask people to pay a lot of money (and, let's face it, none of us profs are quite as willing to be starving teachers anymore) for something that isn't tangible and meaningful. It says a lot, I think, that an increasng number of people seem to think that being educated and well rounded aren't either tangible or meaningful.
   515. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:03 AM (#4402924)
#511: I appreciate that summary-- it pretty nicely encapsulates a lot of the debates where I'm at too. I think students appreciate knowing that the conversation is being had among the faculty; the more curious ones want to know why their curriculum's structured the way it is, the rationale for prereqs, and, more generally, how program design expresses pedagogical philosophies/orientations.
   516. zonk Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4402925)
What I expect is probably the case is that kids are less good at writing and reading comprehension and better at math. Math is what the schools have been pushing, and it's been at the expense of time and effort devoted to writing and to reading texts of a literary nature. Naturally, that causes people in STEM fields to laugh when people in the humanities say that kids are getting less and less prepared. And naturally that causes the engineering kids to get mad at me when I take points off for slovenly grammar, wrong spelling, and incoherent argumentative structure. What do they need those things for to be an engineer, after all? Well, they need to be well-rounded human beings. It's my job to try to convince them of that. I want them to enjoy their lives as much as possible, and I truly, truly believe that the way for them to do that is to be able to appreciate the things in life that require a little more time and contemplation, and constitute a deeper and more fulfilling mental challenge than the latest episode of Two and a Half Men (though it was a pretty funny show in its heyday).

But as I've often said, the humanities have been their own worst enemy over the past thirty years. They've done their best to convince everyone of their lack of importance, by "problemetizing" the idea of greatness and emphasizing the relativity of beauty and sublimity. When you tell people for years that experts don't know any better than anyone else, guess what? They decide they don't need the experts anymore. And then they wonder why people are more depressed, introverted, and pessimistic than they used to be.


As an exiled English BA now working in technology, I'm with Vaux... and for more than just reasons of life enjoyment. To some extent, I sometimes feel like the 'art' of analysis has been sacrificed on the altar of the 'science' of analysis. I have a pretty fair mix of both BA/humanities degreed types and BS/STEM degreed types on my team. They all have areas where they excel - but I tend to have to pair a humanities major with a STEM major on new product development efforts (regardless of whether we have fully formed product requirements to implement, or, have to work with a PM to develop them) in order to get the best results because there's generally a rush from the technical-oriented to just accept the requirements or even ideas-that-become requirements as the rule of law and begin building around them. Where the humanities major - with appropriate technical background and understanding - adds real value is applying the same sort of upfront analysis to the product idea that an English major might apply to reading, analyzing, and discussing a Conrad novel or (I imagine) an Art history major might apply to a sculpture or painting. You recognize symbolism, you see tropes and archetypes, you muse on character motivation, etc.

   517. BDC Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:10 AM (#4402929)
If you can't read and write clearly, you can't do any technical job. I don't know many STEM teachers (at the college level) who disagree with this. Unfortunately, I know a lot of humanities teachers at the college level (though a minority and certainly not all) who think that students should have had that before college and, therefore, it isn't up to them to teach it.

One problem in teaching humanities skills is that they can't be taught once and then remembered forever, like swimming or riding a bike :) You have to use, say, a language, or verbal skills, constantly. And too much teaching in all disciplines is conducted via multiple-choice tests. No fault of the instructors, who are hugely overburdened. But if writing were integral to every university subject (the "writing across the curriculum" dream), students would emerge as better writers.

Imagine a world where somebody was taught algebra once in the tenth grade and then, after doing no math at all, expected to return to high-order mathematical skills years later as if nothing had happened. (Well, we live in a world where most people are taught algebra once in the tenth grade and then forget it forever, but they don't become engineers, either.)
   518. BDC Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4402932)
do you have an opinion on Baurlein's The Dumbest Generation argument?

My half-baked opinion is that we have such arguments always with us. It's Newton Minow ("TV is a vast wasteland") for the 21st century.
   519. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:12 AM (#4402933)
Students People multi-task too much
It's not the student's fault, though-- they learn by watching, and adults have the same sorts of issues. How could we not? Our lives pretty much demand multitasking on a lot of levels. It's a condition of many modern workplaces. To push this off as a generational problem is, I think, a mistake. Here's technology critic Evgeny Morozov on what he needs to do in order to avoid distractions when he reads/writes (Morozov has published 2 books and is in his mid 30s-- productive and sort of in the liminal space between generations):

I have bought myself a type of laptop from which it was very easy to remove the Wi-Fi card – so when I go to a coffee shop or the library I have no way to get online. However, at home I have cable connection. So I bought a safe with a timed combination lock. It is basically the most useful artefact in my life. I lock my phone and my router cable in my safe so I’m completely free from any interruption and I can spend the entire day, weekend or week reading and writing. … To circumvent my safe I have to open a panel with a screwdriver, so I have to hide all my screwdrivers in the safe as well. So I would have to leave home to buy a screwdriver – the time and cost of doing this is what stops me.
   520. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:14 AM (#4402934)
Yes, and "society and culture" have had a fairly specific and consistent definition of the word "marriage" for at least the past two millennia.


Cool. I didn't realize that my wife and her assets were my legal property. I thought that went out a couple of hundred years ago. Does this mean I can call J P Morgan and demand they fork over her 401k to me?
   521. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4402935)
I didn't realize that my wife and her assets were my legal property. I thought that went out a couple of hundred years ago.


My province did not introduce legislation protecting/affirming a wife's right to the marital property until 1982. I don't think our situation was atypical.
   522. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4402936)
My half-baked opinion is that we have such arguments always with us.
The weird thing is that Baurlein recognizes this generational tendency in the argument ("older generations have always criticized the younger ones") and then proceeds with a criticism anyway...strange book...
   523. bunyon Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4402941)
One problem in teaching humanities skills is that they can't be taught once and then remembered forever, like swimming or riding a bike :)

Technical skills are the same way. What we have now, though, is very much as you describe: we'll teach them X in 1st semester, then Y in second semester, then Z in third semester and they never come back to X again. That goes for concepts and actual physical technical skills. It's maddening.

Agreed that it isn't the students' fault (attention span).
   524. zonk Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4402969)
My colleague here shies away from utilitarian arguments for the humanities and generally favors an attitude that the humanities allows for intellectual development and exploration, which is desirable even divorced from any tangible, measurable variable. And I can see their point, but I think that sells the discipline short.

Well, I think it is silly to ask people to pay a lot of money (and, let's face it, none of us profs are quite as willing to be starving teachers anymore) for something that isn't tangible and meaningful. It says a lot, I think, that an increasng number of people seem to think that being educated and well rounded aren't either tangible or meaningful.


The thing is - the value is tangible... it's just not easily measurable.

I had this very argument - or a flavor of it - with my own boss and HR manager regarding how we post for positions and screen applicants... their argument is that for these particular positions, which are technology based, there's a limited set of degree/work experience requirements... I wholly and totally disagree.

Someone that can accurately regurgitate, say, the Third Manifesto or go off in a room and correct a js problem is valuable, sure... but it's a lot more valuable to have someone that can play in multiple arenas and apply a higher level of analysis that spans beyond 'apply this template, write code in this base specifically to do this, etc'.

Strictly for, say, an entry level candidate for a position - my ideal candidate would have both a humanities and STEM component, and I really don't care which is the minor and which is the major. A Philosophy major that has built his or her own webpage (beyond just using say, blogger templates)? Works for me.... A CS major that spends more of the interview talking about how he relates to Pierre Bezukhov? Great... Perfect, even.
   525. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4403002)

Well, I think it is silly to ask people to pay a lot of money (and, let's face it, none of us profs are quite as willing to be starving teachers anymore) for something that isn't tangible and meaningful. It says a lot, I think, that an increasng number of people seem to think that being educated and well rounded aren't either tangible or meaningful.


By "tangible and measurable" I was trying to explain the current jargon "assessable" in layman's terms.

The current fad in education is to try and measure every educational outcome in numeric form, in an attempt to ensure the school is actually doing what it is supposed to be doing.

As for the cost of higher education, the ever-increasing price of tuition certainly isn't going to my salary.
   526. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4403006)
A CS major that spends more of the interview talking about how he relates to Pierre Bezukhov? Great... Perfect, even.


You can major in Counter Stike now? That really does explain a lot.
   527. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4403012)
As for the cost of higher education, the ever-increasing price of tuition certainly isn't going to my salary.

This isn't helping.
   528. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4403013)
Rice just got the axe at Rutgers. The PC police win again...
   529. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4403019)
Rice just got the axe at Rutgers. The PC police win again...

Yes, PC warriors like Wilbon and Kornheiser.
   530. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4403024)
Rice just got the axe at Rutgers. The PC police win again...


Personally I think he should have gotten the axe for throwing balls at the heads of people not looking at him, I don't really care that he called some players "fags" in particular.

Basically the dude is a bully and he has no business being put in a position of authority over others, especially students
   531. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4403025)
Rice just got the axe at Rutgers. The PC police win again...

Have you actually seen those videos of him? I'm usually tolerant of over-the-top coaches, even Bobby Knight, but Rice goes way beyond anything else I've ever seen on the college level, at least in the video age. (That last qualifier is an homage to Woody Hayes and Bear "Junction Boys" Bryant.)
   532. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4403032)
Personally I think he should have gotten the axe for throwing balls at the heads of people not looking at him

This was actually a favorite trick of our elementary school gym teacher. Who eventually (after a LONG run) got fired - in like 1984 - for locking a kid in a closet for an hour and a half as a punishment. He also had the unnerving habit of watching us all shower and making a point to say "soap up down there, clean yourself off".
   533. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4403033)
Presumably, the AD & I suppose the Rutgers president won't be far behind.
   534. Blastin Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4403037)
Speaking of brutal bullies, I just finished "Going Clear," by Lawrence Wright, which is essentially an historical account of LRH and Scientology, and, much as I've long laughed at Cruise and Travolta and the like, they're a lot more "violent, dangerous and unhinged" than "silly and misguided."
   535. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4403041)
FWIW, I'm not a liberal (shocking) but I don't give a rat's ass whether or not marriage is redefined to included partnerships or groupings comprised of something other than a man and a woman.


This "rat's-ass" view is my position as well, boiled down.

But for our liberal friends here, in order to be Enlightened on this issue [read: not a bigot], you not only have to support same-sex marriage, you have to swallow whole every BS argument liberals make on this issue and parrot them yourself.
   536. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4403044)
Site really needs a sarcasm tag.

Not only should Rice have gotten the axe, the AD and university president that signed off on a three day suspension should be gone too.
   537. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4403046)
Speaking of brutal bullies, I just finished "Going Clear," by Lawrence Wright, which is essentially an historical account of LRH and Scientology, and, much as I've long laughed at Cruise and Travolta and the like, they're a lot more "violent, dangerous and unhinged" than "silly and misguided."


Ever hear of Sea Org.?

LRH was basically a James Bond villain come to real life.

   538. bunyon Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4403047)
@524 and 525, I'm not sure if you think I was disagreeing with you. It reads like you do think that. I wasn't. At all. Education is tangible and meaningful. If I didn't believe it, I wouldn't be in my job. My point is, if you don't think it is tangible, why would you charge people money for it.

The "system" seems to think they have to come up with reasons for people to get educated. They seem to think it isn't tangible and, yet, they want folks to pay big bucks for it. Odd.

   539. tshipman Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4403048)
But for our liberal friends here, in order to be Enlightened on this issue [read: not a bigot], you not only have to support same-sex marriage, you have to swallow whole every BS argument liberals make on this issue and parrot them yourself.


In order to not be a bigot all you have to do is not make arguments saying that gay people should be treated differently from straight people. That's really it. I dunno why you feel so persecuted over this issue.
   540. Blastin Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4403051)
Ever hear of Sea Org.?

LRH was basically a James Bond villain come to real life.


Oh the book goes deep into that, yes. It's absurd. Billion-year contracts. Now that's worse than A-Rod.
   541. zonk Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4403052)
Rice just got the axe at Rutgers. The PC police win again...

Yes, PC warriors like Wilbon and Kornheiser.


It continues to amuse me to no end that we get this endless bemoaning of the "PC Police" when the "PC Police" -- to the best of my knowledge, really have just the ability to get you canned from a job, kicked out of elected office, or otherwise cause certain programs, people, or whatnot to wish NOT to associate with you.

It's just so silly: it's astounding the number of people that confuse 'freedom of speech' with freedom from non-governmental consequences of that speech.

You want to avoid trouble with the PC Police?

It's quite easy... don't be a #########, don't use any class of people as a slur, and you'll never be bothered by them.
   542. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4403054)
I read an embarrassing amount of Hubbard's sci fi when I was a kid. Like Card, the more I learned about him, the less I liked his writing.
   543. Ron J2 Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4403055)
#424 The contents of the course will rarely matter. I know that nothing I learned in school covered anything to do with my job. Except how to learn.

I've rarely entered a major project fully qualified to do the work (I've been doing systems admin work for three decades. Endless flavors of hardware, operating systems and products to be installed/supported)
   544. Blastin Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4403058)
I read an embarrassing amount of Hubbard's sci fi when I was a kid. Like Card, the more I learned about him, the less I liked his writing.


Yeah. Card's an asshat, but Hubbard was basically a very opportunistic sociopath. It seems unlikely that he had compassion for anyone. And that's not even to mention David Miscavige.
   545. Tilden Katz Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4403061)
It continues to amuse me to no end that we get this endless bemoaning of the "PC Police" when the "PC Police" -- to the best of my knowledge, really have just the ability to get you canned from a job, kicked out of elected office, or otherwise cause certain programs, people, or whatnot to wish NOT to associate with you.


This. And that the same people who complain about the "PC Police" are the same ones who whine that Google didn't put Jesus on their website on Sunday.
   546. Delorians Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4403063)
Rice was justifiably fired, no question. That being said, he was originally suspended, and upon this story breaking he was fired within 24 hours. I don't see this as inaction that would warrant the firing of the AD or, especially, the president.
   547. Spahn Insane Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4403066)
It's quite easy... don't be a #########, don't use any class of people as a slur, and you'll never be bothered by them.

But...but...they're tryin' to change who I am, man!

And that the same people who complain about the "PC Police" are the same ones who whine that Google didn't put Jesus on their website on Sunday.

Or more specifically, that they DID put Cesar Chavez up there. If that's not trying to police a privately run website for political reasons, I have no idea what is.
   548. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4403067)
But for our liberal friends here, in order to be Enlightened on this issue [read: not a bigot], you not only have to support same-sex marriage, you have to swallow whole every BS argument liberals make on this issue and parrot them yourself.

Unlike you, I'll be happy to say anyone who is against gay marriage is a bigot. I'll even give your "I don't care" as fast and easy a pass as humanly possible, even with the sad "definition of words!" argument.

However, find me one person here who has stated that Joe - or anyone else - who supports gay marriage is a bigot due to the reasons for their support or I'm going to have to conclude that you are a liar. I freely acknowledged Joe's support. (I probably should have thanked him, though. Thanks, Joe.) Half-assed and passive-aggressive do not a bigot make.
   549. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4403068)
What more did the Rutgers president & AD know this week (when Rice's offenses were deemed unforgivable) that they didn't know last fall (when his actions merited a mere wrist-slap)?

That's not a rhetorical question, btw. I'm truly curious.
   550. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4403070)
But for our liberal friends here, in order to be Enlightened on this issue [read: not a bigot], you not only have to support same-sex marriage, you have to swallow whole every BS argument liberals make on this issue and parrot them yourself.


No, Ray, you just have to not be a shitty person. Which is something you clearly have no grasp on how to do.
   551. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4403071)
he was originally suspended, and upon this story breaking he was fired within 24 hours.

So nothing but the matter becoming public warrants a different punishment? They had this evidence all along - if it merited firing, it did so in December as well as April, and some penalty for poor judgement on behalf of Rutgers' leadership that didn't fire him initially should attach.

//coke to gef@549
   552. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4403072)
Rice was justifiably fired, no question. That being said, he was originally suspended, and upon this story breaking he was fired within 24 hours. I don't see this as inaction that would warrant the firing of the AD or, especially, the president.

I'm more than happy to agree with this. The suspension was simply out-of-touch, but not fireable.


I read an embarrassing amount of Hubbard's sci fi when I was a kid. Like Card, the more I learned about him, the less I liked his writing.

I always planned on reading the 10-volume Mission Earth series. Thankfully, I never got around to it.
   553. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4403074)

If true, then Mormons and Muslims, et al., would have a clear legal right to practice polygamy in the U.S., wouldn't they?

Probably, as long as it's between consenting adults, although that's often the problem, isn't it?

Getting back to the point, there are no doubt people living polygamously today (Lifetime or Bravo even had a show about one of them) and again, we understand what they mean when they say they're "married". Allowing those folks to have the legal benefits of marriage would change the law, but it wouldn't redefine the word.
   554. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4403076)
Rice is an asshat who was justifiably fired, but I thought it was widely accepted that many of these coaches are asshats who justifiably deserve to be fired. The difference here is the video, but if you showed videos of all the coaches in the country, what percentage of them would need to be fired on the basis thereof?

This controversy is also a bit overblown. He's a jackass; he didn't do anything Evil.
   555. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4403078)
I dunno why you feel so persecuted over this issue.


because he's vastly outnumbered here?

How would you feel if it was 6-7 posters against you and your only ally (sometimes) is Joe K.? You'd develop a persecution complex too...

and next thing you know when 2-3 posters agree with eachother (and against you) you start then accuisng them of taunting you (High Fives!)
   556. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4403079)
The suspension was simply out-of-touch, but not fireable.

Considering they had no trouble firing the whistleblower, it seems a shade more than out of touch. Watching the AD going on and on about "first offenses" was just sick, as well as dancing around the fact he had been advised about Rice's behavior much earlier, but gosh darn it, just couldn't find anything to support the accusation during their internal "investigation".
   557. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4403080)
Speaking of brutal bullies, I just finished "Going Clear," by Lawrence Wright, which is essentially an historical account of LRH and Scientology, and, much as I've long laughed at Cruise and Travolta and the like, they're a lot more "violent, dangerous and unhinged" than "silly and misguided."


Ever hear of Sea Org.?

LRH was basically a James Bond villain come to real life
.


Shame on you bigots, insulting the devout who seek only to enlighten mankind and uplift the downtrodden and maybe collect a few freely-offered dollars. Shameful bigotry. Shame!
   558. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4403082)
I always planned on reading the 10-volume Mission Earth series. Thankfully, I never got around to it.
I think I made it to the sixth or seventh book. It was actually a lot of fun to read, didn't take itself seriously like Battlefield Earth did.
   559. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4403083)
Site really needs a sarcasm tag.

My bad for taking your first comment about "PC police" literally, but not being robinred I didn't associate your name with any particular social/political POV. If it'd been Ray or Lassus I would have had a better read on how to interpret it.
   560. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4403084)
I've read, I believe, 3 of Hubbard's pulp works -- Slaves of Sleep, Fear & Typewriter in the Sky. Pretty solid.

I guess it's true: He was good at first, but then he went too far.
   561. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4403087)
I didn't associate your name with any particular social/political POV.

That is probably the nicest thing that can be said about someone here. Thanks! (no sarcasm)
   562. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4403089)
I dunno why you feel so persecuted over this issue.

because he's vastly outnumbered here?

How would you feel if it was 6-7 posters against you and your only ally (sometimes) is Joe K.? You'd develop a persecution complex too...


Oh boo hoo. Nobody here is more outnumbered than I am when I merely speak the plain truth about Bolshevik Bud and his shameful anti-Yankee machinations, all designed to hobble competition, punish players, and lavish annual windfalls on his oligarch cronies. To even mention the obvious brings down the weepy disapprobation of the Baseball Pink Factory torturing logic like it was Dick Cheney's swarthy pool boy to defend their jealous hatred of America's most beloved sports franchise. I don't feel persecuted, it's my duty as a baseball fan to speak the truth about baseball and it's repugnant administrators whether you pumpkins want to admit the obvious or not.
   563. Ron J2 Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4403090)
Good God you guys had strong stomachs. I didn't make it all of the way through Battlefield Earth (and I read some real dreck at that time. Pretty sure that was about the same time I made it through a couple of John Norman books. Quite an achievement to put out something worse than Norman)

   564. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4403093)
No interest in reading Battlefield Earth, no matter who wrote it, but weren't those books supposedly produced by what amounted to a committee of writers, rather than Hubbard himself?
   565. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4403094)
Good God you guys had strong stomachs. I didn't make it all of the way through Battlefield Earth


The really scary thing about that is this:

The book is much better than the movie.
   566. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:47 AM (#4403095)
I didn't make it all of the way through Battlefield Earth
It ninth grade, and I lived in the pre-internet sticks-- pretty much read whatever science fiction they had at the local library, including those terrible novels William Shattner wrote.
   567. CrosbyBird Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:47 AM (#4403096)
What I expect is probably the case is that kids are less good at writing and reading comprehension and better at math.

As someone who teaches math as a significant part of my job, I doubt this very much. What appears to be the case is that kids are less good at anything that requires repetition or rote memorization. Our technology-driven lifestyle just doesn't value that any more.

What kids appear to be better at, at least than when I was growing up, is social competence. There appear to be far fewer people that can't find any place to fit in; it's a lot easier with the internet to find tons of people like you, which means that even if you don't have a local community, you can find emotional connections and acceptance in an online community.

And naturally that causes the engineering kids to get mad at me when I take points off for slovenly grammar, wrong spelling, and incoherent argumentative structure. What do they need those things for to be an engineer, after all?

I also think that while kids communicate in a way that is less regimented, that they actually communicate very effectively. The emphasis has shifted from "did I follow the rules?" to "could you understand me?"

Well, they need to be well-rounded human beings. It's my job to try to convince them of that. I want them to enjoy their lives as much as possible, and I truly, truly believe that the way for them to do that is to be able to appreciate the things in life that require a little more time and contemplation, and constitute a deeper and more fulfilling mental challenge than the latest episode of Two and a Half Men (though it was a pretty funny show in its heyday).

I think this is true. There's a certain level of appreciation that you can only have if you have built a foundation, and part of that foundation is developing and understanding the common conventions that people use to discuss things at a high level. I consider myself to be fairly well-rounded except for the appreciation of fine art (painting, sculpture, etc.); I'm not educated enough to do much beyond say "that's nice" or "that does nothing for me." I recognize that my lack of education in this area makes it hard for me to appreciate great art.

I see this same sort of thing with math and reading among my students. They don't learn enough foundations to really enjoy the exploration; math and reading are merely means to an end, when in my opinion, both are entirely legitimate ends in themselves.

But as I've often said, the humanities have been their own worst enemy over the past thirty years. They've done their best to convince everyone of their lack of importance, by "problemetizing" the idea of greatness and emphasizing the relativity of beauty and sublimity. When you tell people for years that experts don't know any better than anyone else, guess what? They decide they don't need the experts anymore. And then they wonder why people are more depressed, introverted, and pessimistic than they used to be.

I think the emphasis on "right" and "wrong" is more of a problem. That's the one place where STEM has an advantage; there's almost always one right answer and a world of wrong answers, so our educational system does that a little better. (The main issue being the emphasis in the wrong place: for learning, process is much more important than accuracy, I think.)
   568. formerly dp Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4403099)
The book is much better than the movie.
QFT. Orders of magnitude. And still, I sat through the whole thing.
   569. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4403100)
but I thought it was widely accepted that many of these coaches are asshats who justifiably deserve to be fired.

This is a good point. High five! No, seriously, I agree.


The difference here is the video, but if you showed videos of all the coaches in the country, what percentage of them would need to be fired on the basis thereof?

I dunno, maybe I'm an idealist, but I really don't think a lot of coaches are throwing basketballs at unsuspecting skulls. Plus the other stuff he did.
   570. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4403104)
but I thought it was widely accepted that many of these coaches are asshats who justifiably deserve to be fired.


Asshats who go 44-51 at Rutgers, including 16-38 in conference play, most certainly deserve to be fired. Hell, even non-asshats; it can be argued that Mahatma Gandhi would deserve to be fired if he ran up that record.


   571. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4403107)
The book is much better than the movie.


QFT. Orders of magnitude. And still, I sat through the whole thing.


Silly man animals!

Battlefield Earth is the 1st DVD I ever bought, it's a masterpiece of WTF? on so, so many levels ...
   572. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4403109)
What appears to be the case is that kids are less good at anything that requires repetition or rote memorization.


I am amazed at the number of students who struggle with learning basic information like artists and dates for artworks. The thing is that it is not memorization for the hell of it, it's so that you can begin to make connections between works of art and between art and history on one's own. The art is embedded in a particular time and place, it doesn't just float around. In effect, they need to construct their own world-wide-web of hyperlinks, but inside their heads.

It gets so bad that even when I give them lists of works of art we have covered with the dates of each and allow them to consult the lists, many students will inevitably think that if we talked about work of art A before work of art B, that A was made before B.
   573. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4403113)
It gets so bad that even when I give them lists of works of art we have covered with the dates of each and allow them to consult the lists, many students will inevitably think that if we talked about work of art A before work of art B, that A was made before B.

No need for lists. I'm almost positive the great artists were born in alphabetical order.
   574. zonk Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4403117)
Battlefield Earth is the 1st DVD I ever bought, it's a masterpiece of WTF? on so, so many levels ...


Heh... I don't own the DVD, but I do admit that I've probably watched BE -- in its entirety -- more than just a few times... I cannot explain why... Maybe it's the sheer hilarity of a bunch of hunter gatherers learning in days to fly a Harrier type jet and battle the alien baddies more effectively than the original, actually trained and presumably astute pilots that got wiped out... Maybe it's watching Travolta and Barry Pepper try to outdo each other with comic earnestness... I don't know... all I know is that I absolutely love coming home late from a bar, flipping through channels, and seeing that BE is about to start on Cinemax17 or whatever.
   575. BDC Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4403121)
they need to construct their own world-wide-web of hyperlinks, but inside their heads

What La Dernière (also an English professor) calls "velcro in the mind."

It's another skill that needs constant reinforcement. (I'm always drawing timelines on the chalkboard, and I hope it's sinking in, but I find many of the same problems SdeB does.) When I think back to my own childhood, I remember being fanatical about the term dates of US Presidents, the reigns of kings and queens, the dates of wars and battles, and (imagine this) the winners of World Series. So when I needed to remember that Ulysses was published in 1922, I could associate it with Warren G Harding, George V, a few years after the Armistice, and the Giants beating the Yankees for the second year in a row. This sounds unsystematic, but it's effective. I'm not sure a lot of students have parallel knowledge bases like that: popular culture really does present a kind of eternal present. Not a new problem, mind you. I think a lot of cultures have folk-timelines that consist basically of three dates: now, recently, and way-back. My Irish ex-in-laws, at the age of 12 or 13, once asked their grandmother if she knew Brian Boru.
   576. bunyon Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4403158)
572,573 and 575 make good points and it is the same in STEM. Again, I have not researched what is going on but students tell me they've been taught that memorization is "bad", that it inhibits critical thought. Whether it is the goal of early educators to get kids to not memorize stuff or if it is misinterpretation on the part of the kids, I don't know. And it doesn't really matter. Pretty much everything, including the academic system is engineered at minimizing memorization of simple facts.

I totally get that memorization is not sufficient to be educated. But it is necessary and somewhere along the lines, that fact is getting lost.
   577. The District Attorney Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4403171)
Battlefield Earth is the 1st DVD I ever bought
You've made me happier than a baby Psychlo on a straight diet of kerbango.
   578. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4403175)
Asshats who go 44-51 at Rutgers, including 16-38 in conference play, most certainly deserve to be fired. Hell, even non-asshats; it can be argued that Mahatma Gandhi would deserve to be fired if he ran up that record.
Seriously. It's not like he's racking up championships or anything that gets him any leeway. Good will is earned, and Rice didn't earn any.
   579. Poulanc Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4403186)
I totally get that memorization is not sufficient to be educated. But it is necessary and somewhere along the lines, that fact is getting lost.



Why do you feel it is necessary? Would you rather concentrate on critical thinking skills, or rote memorization?
   580. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4403194)
The book is much better than the movie.

QFT. Orders of magnitude. And still, I sat through the whole thing.

Silly man animals!


You know, if Travolta's character actually used the dialogue (and inner dialogue) from the book, not the abbreviated/bowdlerized script they went with, this could have been a great sci-fi comedy (up there with Space Balls), Turl on Economics, Turl on Leadership, Turl on Military Strategy and best of all Turl on Psychology*
It could kind of be like an alien Blackadder...


*Really LRH on psychology, or LRH thinking that he's concocted a viciously cutting Swiftian satire of Psychology- of course to effectively satire something you need to have some understanding of what it is you are making fun of - and WRT Psychology, LRH had none, zip, nada,
   581. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4403196)
Why do you feel it is necessary?

Because you can't "critical think" your way into knowing who was President during the Civil War.
   582. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4403204)
Because you can't "critical think" your way into knowing who was President during the Civil War.


or somethings you can work your way to, like 3 x 6 = 18

but it makes things so much easier if you just remember that 3 x 6 = 18


   583. Blastin Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4403215)
Right. At certain points, you just have to sit down and remember some things. Even if critical thinking is more important - and it is - some things, you just have to remember.
   584. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4403217)
My father, who went to school in the 30s, said that his Catholic school history lessons consisted of memorizing a page from the text each class. A student would be asked to recite the page word for word, and if they made a mistake, would get their knuckles rapped. Needless to say, nobody is advocating that kind of teaching style today.
   585. Jay Z Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4403219)
Education is all going two tier anyway. Mid range will wither and die.

My Republican wife had an issue with someone on the school board of a neighboring town, since his kids no longer attend the school but now attend an $18,000 per child per year private kindergarten. I don't know what you get for your 18K, gold plated toilets maybe. I'm sure it doesn't go to teacher salaries.

The left will hate it because the public option will be lousy and underfunded. The right will hate it because most of them can't afford to fund their religious based schools any more and have no choice but public. Something for everybody.
   586. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4403220)
My father, who went to school in the 30s, said that his Catholic school history lessons consisted of memorizing a page from the text each class. A student would be asked to recite the page word for word, and if they made a mistake, would get their knuckles rapped. Needless to say, nobody is advocating that kind of teaching style today.


Though with snapper, you never know ...
   587. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4403228)
Heh... I don't own the DVD, but I do admit that I've probably watched BE -- in its entirety -- more than just a few times... I cannot explain why... Maybe it's the sheer hilarity of a bunch of hunter gatherers learning in days to fly a Harrier type jet and battle the alien baddies more effectively than the original, actually trained and presumably astute pilots that got wiped out... Maybe it's watching Travolta and Barry Pepper try to outdo each other with comic earnestness... I don't know... all I know is that I absolutely love coming home late from a bar, flipping through channels, and seeing that BE is about to start on Cinemax17 or whatever.


The wigs ... the boots ... the Dutch Angles ... the acting ... poor Forrest Whitaker ... scene after scene of Psychlo board meetings ... the fact that anything, let alone something as complex as a Harrier jet still worked after a 1,000 years of sitting in storage ... it's pure catnip ...

Speaking of cults and unfilmable (or at least best left unfilmed) projects ... anybody see either of the Atlas Shrugged films from the last couple of years?

Are they Fiascos, or just Failures?
   588. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4403235)
My father, who went to school in the 30s, said that his Catholic school history lessons consisted of memorizing a page from the text each class. A student would be asked to recite the page word for word, and if they made a mistake, would get their knuckles rapped. Needless to say, nobody is advocating that kind of teaching style today.

My former book shop manager was married to an older man who attended St. John's High School in DC back in the 40's, when it was located downtown rather than on Utah Avenue. He said that their prize punishment used to consist of forced half hour marches on the asphalt roof of the building, rain or shine, and no matter whether the temperature was 10 or 100. I'm glad I was brought up as an agnostic.
   589. BDC Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4403236)
critical thinking skills, or rote memorization?

Memorization can be a critical skill, though. If you were to set out to learn a list of anatomical terms, you could take the Catholic-school knuckle-rapping route of somehow burning the stuff word for word into your brain, or you could map the list into smaller lists of similar terms, analyze the elements of those terms, and try to figure out the logic of the nomenclature – which would help you think critically about it and memorize it. (Even the multiplication table presents analogies: what makes the digits of multiples of 9 always add up to 9, for instance?)

And indeed, at some point you just have to register a "lexical" item that can't be further analyzed, as in just "having to know" that osteo- means "bone-related." Though even there, lots of people who know no Greek and no anatomy know that "osteoporosis" has something to do with bones becoming porous, so there's almost always a jumping-off point in everyday language.
   590. BrianBrianson Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4403243)
From a practical standpoint, almost everything I need to memorize I memorized by having to look it up a bunch of times. Not that you shouldn't memorize anything, but the best way to know what to memorize is to do it organically. Any time I spend memorizing when painting X was painted is wasted time.
   591. Poulanc Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4403249)
Because you can't "critical think" your way into knowing who was President during the Civil War.



Sure, but what's more important - knowing who the President during the Civil War was, or being able to discuss why the Civil War took place and what impact it may have had on American society for the next century?


Memorization can be a critical skill, though.


I don't disagree. There are certainly fields where someone NEEDS to memorize. But that certainly shouldn't be the entirety of education, should it?
   592. Blastin Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4403250)
I don't disagree. There are certainly fields where someone NEEDS to memorize. But that certainly shouldn't be the entirety of education, should it?


You're right. My point is that it is one skill, among many, that is needed.
   593. Lassus Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4403252)
The interesting thing about performance of written music is that it's BETTER when memorized. When you have it in your bones and brain, you can then focus on interpretive aspects. And the conductor. This is easier for singers because words are involved to assist, as opposed to a string quartet, say.

And to be fair, it isn't taken as a given, there is a reasonably active debate on this, especially for ensemble singing. I fall on the "no music" side. It also doesn't mean a "kinda knowing pretty sure mostly" type of memorization, which will basically panic anyone, even the best pros. You have to take the memorization to a place where there isn't a question and nothing short of an unplanned off-stage gunshot will send you off course. That kind of memorization is not easy.
   594. Srul Itza Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4403267)
But that certainly shouldn't be the entirety of education, should it?


Remind who, precisely, said that it was.
   595. OCF Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4403268)
or somethings you can work your way to, like 3 x 6 = 18

but it makes things so much easier if you just remember that 3 x 6 = 18


Checking in from the "M" wing of "STEM":

Among other things, I coach math competition teams for high school students, and I know and have known some of the very brightest and most creative mathematical problem solvers imaginable. These people live in a world in which nothing is ever a routine exercise and problems are often not what they seem to be at first glance. The best of them have a fabulous ability to find cross-connections, and to link a problem to some apparently quite remote field of mathematics which most people wouldn't expect to be brought to bear. But to be able to cross-connect like that, there has to be something to connect to. These students, who are the most creative of all, have more things memorized then nearly everyone. But not just memorized: mentally accessible.

On a mundane level, I also teach college students and have for a long time. I won't dispute that the typical college student is intellectually lazy, has very little interest in the very things about my subject that excite me, wants only to pass the course, and will dump the knowledge gained immediately after the final exam. But they were always like that. I don't think it has really changed all that much in 30 years. I remember a lot of very good students from long ago, but one must also account for the filter of memory. I remember the best students for a very long time; the mediocre students fade from memory quickly.

If you're teaching optimization (max/min) problems in calculus, you're paying a lot of attention to how to set the problem up. There are some problem solving skills involved there. Then you have to take some derivatives and do some algebra. You can't at that point be starting all over with how to take derivatives; you can't be devoting all of your time to deciding how the chain rule works, If you're sucked down into that, you have nothing left for solving the problem of how to set the problem up. The question - and it's always the question in applications - is usually what to compute, not how to compute. But you'd better have how to compute under control, or you're never going to make it through a problem.

Edit: I just now read Lassus's post #593. As a not-very-good amateur musician (who doesn't memorize orchestral parts), I understand exactly what he's saying. And it's really very similar to what I've been saying in this post. Those very-best students with the prodigious cross-connecting abilities have more in common with the very best musicians than you might imagine.
   596. spike Posted: April 03, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4403279)
Sure, but what's more important - knowing who the President during the Civil War was, or being able to discuss why the Civil War took place and what impact it may have had on American society for the next century?

But you can only "critically think" about it after memorizing some pertinent details. No one thinks critical thinking isn't more important than memorization, but the fact is, as my good pal Mingus used to say, "you can't improvise on nothing, you've gotta improvise on something”. It's necessary.
   597. Poulanc Posted: April 03, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4403291)
Remind who, precisely, said that it was.


No one. However, I never said that critical thinking was the entirety of education either.


But you can only "critically think" about it after memorizing some pertinent details.


I don't know if that's true. Or, I guess what I'm trying to say is that teaching someone how to think critically may be more important that just throwing facts at them.

If you want to have a specific argument about the causes of the Civil War, you are going to have to have some background knowledge of the events that happened. However, if you want someone to be able to critically read a news story or a scientific study, they don't need to have much background in the subject.

I'm not trying to make an argument that learning facts is bad. Just that understanding practical application of Avogadro's constant (well, as practical as that can be) is more important than knowing what the value actually is.
   598. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 03, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4403295)
Because you can't "critical think" your way into knowing who was President during the Civil War.


Sure, but what's more important - knowing who the President during the Civil War was, or being able to discuss why the Civil War took place and what impact it may have had on American society for the next century?

Obviously the latter, but I'd like to find the person who could ever discuss the Civil War intelligently without knowing that Lincoln was the president during the war, not to mention a few hundred other related facts that make any coherent interpretation of the Civil War and its impact even possible. For example, how can you really understand the reconstruction period without knowing its specific chronology and the names and actions of at least the key principal players? You can only wing it up to a certain point before you start sounding like a damn fool.

--------------------------------------

The interesting thing about performance of written music is that it's BETTER when memorized. When you have it in your bones and brain, you can then focus on interpretive aspects. And the conductor. This is easier for singers because words are involved to assist, as opposed to a string quartet, say.

I don't think it's any accident that many of our greatest jazz artists were seriously trained classical musicians before they made a name for themselves in jazz. The idiot savant factor in jazz is severely overrated.

--------------------------------------

On a mundane level, I also teach college students and have for a long time. I won't dispute that the typical college student is intellectually lazy, has very little interest in the very things about my subject that excite me, wants only to pass the course, and will dump the knowledge gained immediately after the final exam. But they were always like that.

Were they ever. It took me about six months to draw a complete blank in overhearing a conversation between two typically animated Frenchmen, even after six years of French from 8th grade through freshman year in college. OTOH I can still remember nearly everything I learned in freshman PoliSci, because I was interested in the subject and it was taught by a terrific grad student who should have been the head of the entire department. A lot of it simply has to do with an individual's motivation, or lack of it.
   599. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: April 03, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4403305)
I don't know if that's true. Or, I guess what I'm trying to say is that teaching someone how to think critically may be more important that just throwing facts at them.


Which the more impressive part of the Sistine Capel: the ceiling or the foundation? Sure, the ceiling is one of the most impressive feats of skill in all of human history, but without the foundation, a mere slab of concrete (or whatever those unskilled Medieval builders used), there is no ceiling.
   600. bigglou115 Posted: April 03, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4403316)
I think I made it to the sixth or seventh book. It was actually a lot of fun to read, didn't take itself seriously like Battlefield Earth did.


Respectfully disagree, the first several were fun. AFter that they devolved into what can only be called a mess reflecting the author's slow decent into madness. We stopped reading around the same book apparently, but the series had really lost its way and ceased being fun well before that. In addition, the further you go the more hateful the books really appeared to be. The psychiatrists are created by a corporate tycoon to ensure his economic empire? Psychiatrists forced a young girl to perform oral sex on young boys? Psychiatrists create gays and lesbians in order to slow down Earth's population growth?

My Republican wife had an issue with someone on the school board of a neighboring town, since his kids no longer attend the school but now attend an $18,000 per child per year private kindergarten. I don't know what you get for your 18K, gold plated toilets maybe. I'm sure it doesn't go to teacher salaries.


The movement towards high priced kindergarden and preschool baffles me. This idea that there's some unbroken chain from 3 year old day care to Harvard is astounding. You guys have all been critical of the modern education system, and largely focused on solid ideas that have legitimate merit, but I think your all missing the biggest problem. The skills that are honed to get you into college are simply the wrong skills to allow you to flourish there.

For starters, high schools are rigidly organized places where you learn what's in the text book and move on. The biggest obstacle I've seen in my classmates to success in college was the lack of rigidity. This goes beyond the fact that mommy isn't there to wake you up in the morning. For one thing, college is less concerned with making you memorize a specific correct answer and more concerned with the process. You can argue that Universities are veering too far from the process if you want, but you can't argue that universities have moved so far in that direction that they compete with high schools. Incidentally, this is also what I think is largely responsible for the lack of interest and success of the humanities. Even in Literature classes in high school, your asked to provide the correct answer the teacher read to you. This doesn't even take into account the social sciences which are becoming vanishingly rare all together in high school. The result is that when you step into a college World Lit class room and are asked to provide original analysis, your basically being asked to do something you've never done before. We're basically creating a nation of concrete thinkers and memorizers, and while concrete thinkers have their place the world is better for diversity.

Universities are also doing a terrible job of prioritizing. I know far too many people who made it to college on the overall strength of their applications (extracurriculars and the like) who could barely read well enough to function in society. Now part of that may be a skewed perspective on my part, I've often said my only real skill is the ability to read both stupidly fast and for a high rate of retention. But if your in college, your lips shouldn't move as you read.
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