Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Amen, I say unto you, the edufad hucksters will always be among you

Not much time to say anything substantive about it, but I appreciate this article on the self-esteem fad of the eighties and nineties. It bears more than a passing resemblance to grit, growth mindset, and even values affirmation interventions.
Salerno said that these ideas totally transformed education in many parts of the country. It wasn’t just Koosh balls and cheesy mirror exercises — in many schools, prevailing assumptions about academic rigor and feedback changed too. The thinking went, “Don’t make kids feel bad about everything, because if they feel bad they’ll perform poorly,” as Salerno put it. Self-esteem also became centered in the long-running national conversation about societal inequality. “There was this sense of the inner city falling behind — specifically black kids in the inner city are not performing as well as other kids,” said Salerno. “And there was this assumption that it was because they lacked self-esteem.” If you can boost your self-esteem, you can close the achievement gap. The nice thing about this theory, Salerno noted, is it doesn’t require much of a fundamental reworking of the educational system — it’s something of an easy way out. In many cases, advocates focused on self-esteem “rather than hiring better teachers, spending more money on actual schools and instruction. It became a surrogate for the stuff that might actually have done some good.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Political correctness flatters the elite

I am too tired to comment on this, but I very much enjoyed this National Review article (did I really just type that?) about class, political correctness, and college.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Don't fall for the hype

Yesterday I attended another university's graduation ceremony, for a friend's son.  While walking across the campus I passed by this:
(The street and trees are not on the other side of the window; they're reflected in the window.)

It's the Hyperstruction Studio.  As near as I can tell, it's a special classroom for interactive teaching.  That's nice as far as it goes, but another page suggests that it's a single room with a lot of staff and technology support.  That's going to be a hard thing to scale up to some sort of "Systemic Transformation" or whatever, seeing as how you can't set up every room in every building to have a special layout and intense support.

The fact that academics feel a need for such special things, with buzzword names, talking about transformation and change in the context of something that is way too expensive to scale, it all speaks to the restlessness that seems to have gripped academia.  It's sad that we are so restless when we have the treasures of ages of knowledge, the tools to double that knowledge in short time, and a generation of students to pass those things along to.  Why so restless?

Incidentally, the home page for the Hyperstruction Studio has no links to the pages I linked above.  I found all of those links via Google.  There is something richly amusing about techno-hype types having such useless home pages.