We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, January 1. 2012
If you're like, well, almost everybody, you're not saving enough.
MIT’s new learning platform points to future of higher ed
Are cashiers obsolete?
Krauthammer on Why We’re Alone in the Universe
Mitt Romney's humor problem
The Moral Foundations of Occupy Wall Street - An illustrated guide to the signs at Zuccotti Park
Obama Will Govern Without Congress
The concept of "Guilt by Association"
Ten 2011 Examples of Major Media Malfeasance - It will get even worse in 2012.
On a $4M Vacation, Michelle Seeks $3 From Backers
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If you think an online education is the same as the old fashioned on the campus education--you are seriously misinformed! An essential component of a good education is the ability to stand and defend verbally. That requirement and thus that ability is dramatically eliminated in this technology.
Swindle on Krauthammer
"Just because we do not yet know how to perceive other forms of life it does not mean they are not perhaps out there watching us."
Starfleet's General Order #1, aka The Prime Directive, dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense and if a writer from a 1966 TV show can think that up, you would have to believe that any advanced civilization would also think of it and follow it.
I have no idea how this happened, but it was meant as a separate comment and not a comment on your comment or something like that.
Typical start to a New Years Day.
Some blog (half sigma?) has reviewed what employers want in a candidate. The chief criterion seems to be acceptance by an elite school. That is because the admissions committees of these schools do a thorough job of screening out everyone who lacks a high IQ.
Beyond that, completion of a degree at an elite school counts even if the program of study was full of PC inanities. That is because the student survived competition with other gifted scholars.
Online education provides none of this, and HR departments will ignore it, even MIT's. Online education only works if there is a requirement that students submit work to knowledgeable experts for evaluation, and that rigorous criteria are imposed to pass or fail students.
In 37 years of teaching, I came to believe that my real function was to provide structure, deadlines and rewards/punishments (grades). Very few students can learn without these things. My best/worst teacher was a little weasel of a guy who never once finished a lecture. But he assigned every problem in Thomas' "Calculus and Analytical Geometry," including the supplementary problems, and he graded them and returned them the next day. I did almost nothing but calculus for a quarter.
With due credit to the excellent points made by previous posters, I feel the opportunties offered through self-directed learning or life-long education have become invaluable for future progress.
In my experience, one was only curtailed by lack of access to a library and a person with more knowledge in the field than the student. The potential was, and still is, endless.
Prior to his much-to-early death, my father had suggested a project similar to The Teaching Company that focused on selecting the outstanding minds in a myriad of subjects who also had exceptional teaching skills (not all geniuses possess both) and making them available through various media. While he didn't live to see such ideas put into place, we only benefit from the Kahn Academy, TED and other Internet projects.
Bricks-and-mortar-based education bothers me as it's like that boat one buys "for relaxing hours on the sea" that only serves as an endless hole where money disappears. Politics should no more control one's access to knowledge than the property taxing body that governs dollars available to buy books or -- don't get me started -- the cost of higher education.
To that regard, kudos to the crew at Maggie's Farm for affording an excellent menu of topics backed by some skilled minds and an equally interesting community of contributors. Our family looks forward to your daily dish of food for thought. The best to you all in 2012.
jma ...I like your point that "the opportunities offered through self-directed learning or lifelong education have become invaluable for future progress." I've always contended that a good university not only teaches the facts of a specific area of knowledge, the most valuable thing it gives you is training in how to learn complex disciplines. You may lose specific facts about an area of learning over a lifetime, but that's not as important as the training you've received in where and how to find out data, and how to integrate that data in ways that will help you develop a higher understanding of the subject you are addressing. In actual fact, it's a lifelong process of learning where to go to get specific facts and how to integrate them into a bigger picture.
Once you know how to do this, you know how and where to go to reassemble or enhance your knowledge of a specific area.
This is the reason I have grown so impatient with the various groups of OWS-ers. Sure, they maybe didn't pay enough attention to choosing a skill-set which would have value in the free market. But they could still remedy that if they would stop making unpleasant fools of themselves, get to a library, outline an area of knowledge which has some commercial value, and get busy researching.
I'd have some respect for them if they did that, stopped inventing finger games [Twinklies] and buckled down to learning something real and valuable.
SO much fraud--I have seen so much criminal evil in academia over the years. To want to continue learning is essential to being a successful person (not the only quality, but one of the most important). However, if we could clean up the old system, we could still provide the best there is learning experience. I have seen so many be given grades they had not earned--might as well have been online. I have seen so many curriculums designed to avert confronting the tough challenges--might as well be online. I have seen so many . . .but it is not an education. It is a somewhat guided tour through a reading list--mostly of the student's choosing and certainly not at college level. We all know that. I think it behooves us to require that degrees earned in a brick/mortar school include "en situ" on the diploma and transcripts.
faculty wife ... back before the Fall of Rome, when I got my baccalaureate, Harvard/Radcliffe was insisting on oral exams in addition to written ones before B.A.s were granted. I've always regretted that I transferred from Radcliffe to Columbia at the end of my sophomore year because of problems with a stalker. The Brits have always insisted on some forms of oral exams for university degrees [and, no, I don't know what they are and I hope someone here will enlighten me]. But in today's crazy-quilt of requirements for baccalaureates, surely there must be some educational institutions which do require them.
Still the best educators in my opinion, but unfortunately the Jesuits have also dropped their day long essay final and oral exams. Although it does appear that maybe they are recovering slightly from the academic slide of the 1990's.
Very sad program on "60 Minutes" suggesting how distorted our vision of and the intergrity of our educational system has become. When CBS covers the problem, we are 20 years behind.
Sorry, y'all. I do know the difference between "to" and "too" -- just a bit lazy about proofreading.
Regarding Jonathan Haidt's "Moral Foundation" article over at Reason. I love his stuff. It is very refreshing to read a liberal who more than partly gets it about what conservatives and libertarians actually think. I think his basic formulation of the components of morality is good, also.
But he has had a major blind spot about pieces of this since the day he started on it, and it isn't getting better. One component, sanctity/degradation, he claims is little-used by liberals but is an important part of conservative morality. He uses religious and flag/patriotism to get at his answers, and so misses the places where liberals use that same sacredness-disgust measure. Environmentalism and vegetarianism (neither exclusively liberal, but tending that way) trade heavily on the disgust with meat or pollution (even mostly aesthetic pollution) to persuade. There are also objects, such as photos of favored liberals, which they would also disapprove of being treated in a disgusting way. There is also disgust with obesity, or hunting, or big noisy vehicles that shows up, with the implied sacredness of the body, charismatic mammals, or wilderness being their opposite numbers.