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November 18, 2013

Online education is terrible at teaching people

Roughly 5% of the people who take massive online courses actually learn what the course is teaching. That is really not very many. MOOCed - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
It is a good story, as well manicured as a college quad during homecoming weekend. But there’s a problem: The man who started this revolution no longer believes the hype. “I’d aspired to give people a profound education–to teach them something substantial,” Professor Sebastian Thrun tells me when I visit his company, Udacity, in its Mountain View, California, headquarters this past October. “But the data was at odds with this idea.” As Thrun was being praised by Friedman, and pretty much everyone else, for having attracted a stunning number of students–1.6 million to date–he was obsessing over a data point that was rarely mentioned in the breathless accounts about the power of new forms of free online education: the shockingly low number of students who actually finish the classes, which is fewer than 10%. Not all of those people received a passing grade, either, meaning that for every 100 pupils who enrolled in a free course, something like five actually learned the topic. If this was an education revolution, it was a disturbingly uneven one. “We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product,” Thrun tells me. “It was a painful moment.” Turns out he doesn’t even like the term MOOC.

November 17, 2013

Common Core was designed to foll people into thinking public school was awful

The problem is that most charter schools do *worse* than public schools. Arne Duncan to White Suburban Moms: Your Kids Are Not As Smart As You Thought | Diane Ravitch's blog
According to blogger Rick Hess, the appalling results of the Common Core tests were supposed to set off a suburban uprising against their public schools and unleash a demand for vouchers and charters. Hess thought it was unlikely, and he was right. Suburban moms and dads of all races–not just whites–are angry at the Common Core, angry at the tests, angry at the state officials who seem determined to hurt their children and destroy their community public schools. Duncan apparently thinks American students are mostly dumb, and US schools are awful. Other supporters of the Common Core share his low opinion of our youth. In July 2012, Jeb Bush–one of the strongest proponents of the Common Core–warned that when the states begin to release the Common Core test results, there would be a “train wreck” and “a rude awakening.” Since Bush is an avid proponent of charters, vouchers, and e-schooling, one may safely assume that he anticipated a flight from public schools to those alternatives, as failure rates were released. In New York, the fly in the ointment was that with only a few exceptions, the charter schools fared even worse on the Common Core tests than the public schools. Up until now, Duncan had been blaming the pushback to the Common Core on the Tea Party and extremists. He really doesn’t get it.

November 07, 2013

Dave-o's story "The New Guys Always Work Overtime" Dominates StarShipSofa Podcast No. 312

My story "The New Guys Always Work Overtime" (which debuted...

November 05, 2013

Famous business books explained in a sentence

Here's the secret: business books are one simple--often wrong--idea surrounded by 125 pages of puffery and wheel-spinning. Famous Business Books... for real

50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers

I've read 20 of these tough books but--tellingly--I think I own about 45 of them. I disagree that some of these are tough (BATTLE ROYALE, for example, is a rollicking hoot of murder and drama.) Pop by our Facebook page and let us know how many you've read. Or tell us on twitter. Or in person, if you happen to see us about. Just shout the number. we'll know what you mean. 50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers – Flavorwire
Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response to years of schooling, or that the brisk weather affords more hours inside, or something else entirely, but the fact is this: November seems like the time to take on the heftiest reading on your list. And let’s face the facts: some books are only for the toughest readers on the block, your Sylvester Stallones of literature, as it were. So for those of you who count yourself tough, here’s a list of books for you: some absurdly long, some notoriously difficult, some with intense or upsetting subject matter but blindingly brilliant prose, some packed into formations that require extra effort or mind expansion, and some that fit into none of those categories, but are definitely for tough girls (or guys) only. This list is limited to works of fiction, so straightforward philosophy is out, and a single book per author, so you’ll see Finnegans Wake (obviously) but not Ulysses. Don’t worry, the Ulysses is implied. Check out the list after the jump, and tell everyone just how tough you really are, you bookworm you, in the comments.