Friday, January 18, 2019

Boys are BORN cavemen.  It's not "culture" or the schools that makes them that way

The article below has a slightly new wrinkle on an old claim that stereotyped masculine behaviour is encouraged in the school environment to the detriment of boys' academic performance.  The wrinkle is that Asian kids seem to be immune from that.  Every bit of evidence that they produce in favour of their various contentions is however in the hopeless old "correlation is causation" mode.  It proves nothing and ignores other explanations for what it observes.

As with most Leftist writing, it fails to consider WHY boys have such a rambunctious character.  They just assume that something in their environment teaches them that. 

But that is rubbish. Little boys are born as apprentice cavemen.  Even before they can walk they will be moving about energetically, climbing on things and generally getting into mischief.  Most mothers of boys will tell you that. And once they have become steady on their feet they will always be running and jumping and climbing.  Most little boys have only one speed -- top speed.  And when they do walk it is often a strut. Observing how masculine their little boys are from an early age, many mothers will lovingly describe their little boy as "My little man".

Little boys are the product of millions of years of primate evolution.  They have evolved to chase and catch juicy animals.  And that means they are born to run, jump, throw and hit.  That is what cavemen did and their descendants have inherited that as deeply inborn, vital characteristics.  It is so deeply embedded that it comes out from their earliest years.

So that is why boys are restless in classrooms and much prefer outdoor activities.  It also explains why men's sports are much more participated in and watched than are women's sports.  There have been great efforts in recent years to promote women's sport but the results are sad.  I was for a few moments watching on TV a major game of women's cricket in Australia recently.  Cricket is BIG in Australia.  But at the women's match I could not help noting all the empty seats in the stadium.

Males and females are both human so inherit all the same traits but they inherit them at different strengths.  There are some women who inherit a stronger weighting of masculine traits than usual -- producing the generally welcome "tomboys". The army never has a shortage of potential female recruits.

Leftists often talk of "culture" as being behind human differences.  They tend not to think about what is behind culture, however.  Very often it is inborn characteristics. So male genes are behind male culture.

In my experience, the most striking cultural difference that is best explained by genetics is the case of Australian Aborigines.  They are a VERY different group -- in good ways and bad.  They are superbly adapted to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that they lived before the white man came along but  do not fit into white society well at all.  They are a generally polite and friendly people but their employability is very low.

But for all their poor fit to white society, it has rather overwhelmed them.  The common language of urban Aborigines is not any native tongue but a broad Australian version of English. And most of their other customs and memories have gone the same way. Yet they still speak firmly of their "culture".  They speak of many important ways in which they differ from whites.  And they do differ. 

They have, as a major instance, an enormous compulsion to be part of a group.  They must always be in the company of other Aborigines.  White jailers sometimes put them into solitary confinement -- whereupon the Aborigine will do his best to commit suicide, sometimes successfully. The same phenomenon is behind the way an Aboriginal tribe will sometimes "sing" an erring member to death.  The singing is a formal way of casting the wrongdoer out of the tribe and into aloneness. No-one thereafter will have anything to do with him. Someone sung does normally die shortly thereafter. The excommunication and disfellowshipping of Christian groups has got nothing on Aboriginal "singing".

So amid their deculturation by white society, Aborigines, even part-Aborigines, retain some unique "cultural" characteristics. But they are not cultural at all.  They are inherited from days when a group was needed for a successful hunt.  So much that is attributed to culture is in fact inborn.  Genetics lie behind much that is glibly dismissed as culture.

So what about the Chinese?  Why do Chinese boys and girls differ very little in their pre-teenage years?  It is probably a combination of inherited and cultural factors.  Three thousand years as agriculturalists has probably reduced to some extent their inherited caveman instincts.  Germanic peoples were hunting much more recently -- and some still do.

But for historic reasons China has long had a great reverence for education, and educational achievement in particular. So, as has often been observed, Chinese children have their noses held to the grindstone from an early age.  Nothing is secondary to education. And if that means that outdoorsy instincts must be suppressed, then so be it.  Only when parental influence begins to wane in the teenage years do Chinese males become a bit more "boyish".

Over all, girls outperform boys in school. It starts as early as kindergarten. By the time students reach college, women graduate at a higher rate than men.

But there’s an exception. Asian-American boys match the grades of Asian-American girls in elementary school, a new study has found. For them, the gender achievement gap doesn’t appear until adolescence — at which point they start doing worse as a group than Asian- American girls.

The study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that boys’ underperformance is not because of anything innate to boys. Instead, it seems, it’s largely because of something external: their school environments and peer influences.

Girls are encouraged to be diligent, cooperative and ambitious — all things that serve them well in school. Boys are more sensitive than girls to environmental influences, according to a variety of research, and they feel pressure to be strong, tough and athletic. They get the message that doing well in school is not masculine, social scientists say. Even in peer groups that prize good grades, it’s considered uncool to seem to try hard to earn them.

Asian-American boys are somehow sheltered from that message in early childhood. The reasons could give parents and teachers information about how to help boys of all races reach their full potential.

“These findings show it doesn’t have to be this way, that boys necessarily have to underachieve,” said Amy Hsin, the paper’s author and a sociologist at Queens College in New York.

“How we parent, how we help children think about their masculinity, and school culture and peer norms have effects on their performance in school.”

Looking at grade point averages of white and Asian-American students, she found that unlike white students, Asian- American boys and girls have no significant grade differences until ninth grade. Then, boys fall behind girls by the equivalent of one-third of a letter grade, about the same as the gender difference in white students’ grades, according to the new study, published last month in the journal Sociological Science.

It used data on about 9,200 white and 1,700 Asian-American students from two national studies that followed the same students over time (the groups were too small to analyze differences among Asian ethnic groups.) The results are not definitive. The sample size is relatively small, and the analysis uses grades, which, unlike test scores, are influenced by teachers’ subjective assessments of students. Yet the results fit with other research that shows the effect of outside influences on academic performance, particularly for boys.

One reason Asian-American children do so well as a group is that Asian immigrant families tend to be very focused on education, as the sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou described in their book, “The Asian American Achievement Paradox.”

One goal of a 1965 U.S. immigration law, which also abolished severe restrictions against immigration from regions such as Asia, was to give preference to professionals with specialized skills. Partly as a result, a little more than half of Chinese immigrants to the United States have a college degree or higher, versus less than 10 percent of adults in China in recent years, Ms. Lee said. They have tended to prioritize that their children earn straight As; attend a good college; and become a doctor, lawyer, scientist or engineer, the authors wrote. They have also shared information about things like SAT tutors and A.P. courses with their less educated Asian- American peers.

Another factor is the so-called model minority stereotype — that Asians as a group are supposed to be smart, successful and hard-working. This image masks high poverty and dropout rates among some Asian ethnic groups, yet as with all stereotypes, it can lead people to act in biased ways. Teachers tend to give Asian-American students higher grades and funnel them into advanced programs, the researchers found. Often, lowerperforming students have risen to meet these expectations of them, an effect social scientists refer to as stereotype promise.

For Asian-American boys, these influences change in adolescence, Ms. Hsin found, a time when children become more aware of their gender identity and are more influenced by peers. They also have to fight a pernicious perception that they are not masculine enough.

“The model minority myth frames Asian boys as being kind of nerdy, caring too much about doing well, so that may cause them to become less academically attached,” Ms. Hsin said.

“It’s not as stigmatizing for Asian girls because if you’re good at school and you really care, that kind of plays along with what you should be doing as a girl anyway.”

The new study offers a clue about how much school environments affect boys’ academic achievement. Ms. Hsin found that the gender gap for Asian- Americans in high school was smaller in schools that were less sports-focused, and where boys did better over all.

Other studies have also pinpointed the importance of the school and social environments, especially for boys.

One working paper found that the best-performing students had a combination of behaviors typically considered male and female. It used nationally representative survey data about gender norms for about 12,000 high school students, linked with their high school transcripts. The most traditionally feminine girls and the most masculine boys had the lowest grades.

The messages boys receive about how to be masculine come from local influences in their schools and communities and are often tied to to socioeconomic status, other research has shown. Boys perform better in school when achievement is considered to be desirable, and when they believe successful men get their power from education versus strength and toughness.

Boys in high-income communities are more likely to get those messages, research has shown.

Teachers’ expectations of students — and the biases behind them — also influence children’s performance. For example, white teachers are less likely than black teachers to refer black students to gifted programs, or to have high expectations for their potential. Yet as with Asian-American students, research shows that when teachers have high expectations for black students, they rise to meet them.

The fact that boys’ achievement varies in different school environments is a hopeful sign for parents and educators, Ms.

Hsin said, because it suggests ways to help all students.

Encourage academic achievement, she said, and talk about how it leads to success.

Researchers have other suggestions. Show them role models who got where they are by doing well in school. Emphasize the importance of hard work and daily practice, not innate skill.

Encourage both boys and girls to embrace a full range of character traits, and not to feel limited by stereotypical gender roles. Place high expectations on children, and give them opportunities to meet them — regardless of skin color.


UK: Schools will be marked down if pupils misbehave under new Ofsted inspection regime

About time

Schools will be marked down if pupils misbehave and are discourteous to each other, under Ofsted’s new inspection regime. The proposed framework, which will be published today, includes “behaviour and attitudes” as a stand-alone category for the first time. 

The move follows research by Ofsted which revealed a rise in “low level” disruption such as children playing on their mobile phones and other electronic devices in the classroom. 

Schools will be judged on whether there is a “safe, calm, orderly and positive environment”, the draft framework says.

Inspectors should observe pupils during break times and lunch as well as during lessons, and take note of “pupils’ respect for and courtesy and good manners towards each other and adults”. 

A school that has “deliberately" removed pupils from the school or “arranged for them to be absent” on the day of an inspection in an attempt to boost their Ofsted rating will likely be handed an instant “inadequate” grade for the category.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for education, said that new category was bought in to recognise the fact that low-level disruption is on the rise in classrooms, adding: “If every child behaved at school the standards would rocket up”.

The education watchdog published a report in 2014 which found that low-level disruption is an everyday part of school life, with pupils routinely using mobile phones, humming and swinging on chairs.

Children are losing up to an hour a day of teaching because of a damaging culture of disrespect in schools, the report concluded.

Mr Halford said that the research informed the new framework, explaining: "The problem now is more one about low level disruption - swinging on chairs, tapping when the teacher is talking, passing notes, whispering, mobile phones, you know getting distracted by electronic devices etc. That kind of thing is what has been on the rise, and is the bane of teachers' lives."

In the new framework, the “personal development” category will examine what schools do to build young people's resilience and confidence. This could include running a debating society, sports teams, drama clubs of cadet forces.

Inspections in England will no longer focus on exam results and grades, and instead will concentrate on whether pupils are being taught a broad curriculum, the framework says.

It also seeks to mark down schools that are guilty of “off-rolling”, where pupils are unjustifiably expelled because the school fears their exam results will drag the average down. 

Launching the consultation in a speech to the Sixth Form Colleges Association on Wednesday, the chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman will say: "The new quality of education judgment will look at how providers are deciding what to teach and why, how well they are doing it and whether it is leading to strong outcomes for young people.

"This will reward those who are ambitious and make sure that young people accumulate rich, well-connected knowledge and develop strong skills using this knowledge.

"This is all about raising true standards. Nothing is more pernicious to these than a culture of curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test."

The proposals will go out to consultation today [WEDS], with a view to implementing the new inspection framework from September.


Needed: A Revival of For-Profit Higher Education

The Obama Administration intensely disliked for-profit higher education. Political appointees in the U.S. Department of Education (Robert Shireman particularly stands out) as well as Democrats in Congress (e.g., former Senator Tom Harkin, current Senator Dick Durbin) constantly attacked the sector.

Most of them probably thought that businesses should not make profits from education, which they consider primarily a public good appropriately only provided by nonprofit schools.

All sorts of regulations were imposed: state certification requirements (forcing online companies to get state bureaucratic approval in every state in which they operated), gainful employment rules, etc.

These restrictions were ostensibly designed to protect student consumers from fraud, but since in most cases they did not apply to public not-for-profit institutions, they were highly discriminatory—clearly an attempt to stamp out the schools.

The effects of this are still being felt, as evidenced by the recent decision by the Education Corporation of America to close dozens of campuses with thousands of students. To be sure, there were a number of “bad apples” engaging in deceptive practices, although a non-discriminatory policy would have closed down some public institutions as well with very poor academic and employment outcomes.

I thought the unfortunately largely successful regulatory attack was a mistake for four reasons.

First, markets impose disciplines on all institutions charging a price for their services, including schools. In the case of the for-profits, however, that discipline is far greater, because tuition fees are virtually the only source of revenues, unlike nonprofit institutions dependent on government subsidies, endowment income or private gifts. At for-profits, satisfying the customer is critical to survival, and hence teaching is Job One—more so than at other institutions also promoting research, saving the earth (“sustainability”), achieving progressive objectives (“diversity”), providing entertainment (e.g., football), etc.

Second, that market discipline makes colleges more efficient. Resources are more intensely used. Most proprietary institutions rent pleasant but highly functional space with good parking on the outskirts of town or operate on-line—having no real campus. Instructors each teach several sections of needed core courses, not one or two sections of classes covering obscure tangential topics that the instructor favors.

Third, while traditional higher education talks about serving low-income persons, racial minorities and first-generation college students, the for-profits do it—without hiring an army of diversity coordinators to demonstrate institutional support for equal educational opportunity. Critics of proprietary education bash the schools for poor performance, a phenomenon largely a consequence of accepting large numbers of at-risk students. The elite private schools that heavily influence the culture of most American universities want it both ways—they want to sound like they love the poor and minorities, but they also want high academic standards, first-rate students and the like. These goals sometimes conflict, particularly given the abysmal circumstances at home and school facing many poor inner city kids prior to college.

Fourth, the proprietary schools emphasize preparing students for specific vocational objectives. Many are two-year or even nondegree schools offering certificates denoting competency in some needed vocation, such as welding, plumbing, or driving eighteen-wheel trucks over long distances. We need truck drivers and welders just as we need engineers and accountants, and Americans have neglected public vocational education, viewing it as second-rate, inferior training. The for-profit schools include many “career colleges” that often train students with limited interest or skills in traditional book-based learning who are capable of learning other very useful skills in a short period for less money than traditional four-year bachelor’s degree-granting institutions cost.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study suggests that on average the for-profits do less well in terms of academic performance than traditional schools. There are variations, however, around that average. I recently spoke at a CEO summit of leaders of scores of these institutions, and generally was impressed with their diligence, intelligence and, as far as I could see, integrity. I would buy a used car from a randomly selected president of one of those schools as eagerly as I would from presidents of traditional not-for-profit institutions. American higher education benefits from competition and diversity of its schools. Let’s preserve that, welcoming a vibrant network of proprietary schools.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Swedish Journalist: Teachers Have ‘Surrendered’ to Rising School Violence

Swedish journalist Joakim Lamotte has spent time lecturing in schools across Sweden and claims that violence is on the rise because many teachers have simply given up on attempting to deal with the problem.

Mr Lamotte made his comments in a post on Facebook following a series of articles from Swedish broadcaster SVT that highlighted the problem of violence in schools.

“I saw a lot of schools in crisis in the years I went around and lectured. I often met teachers who surrendered, while pupils did exactly what they wanted,” Lamotte said, and gave an example of a school where he had lectured saying that pupils felt free to shout at him while at least eight teachers were present and did not act.

Lamotte claims he asked the teachers later why they had not kicked out the troublemakers.

“Their answer is completely bizarre. The teachers say that the guys in question are violent and have been suspended during periods from school. No one in the faculty has the desire to risk threats and abuse.”

“Other incidents I have encountered in my work are pupils who became violent at a school in Bohuslän because one day they were only served pork in the dining room,” he noted, and claimed in several schools teachers would not walk by themselves out of safety concerns.

“Threats, beatings, and stabbings now occur every day in Swedish schools and it increases dramatically. At the same time, teachers are getting less power while authorities and politicians are completely paralysed,” he noted.

In a recent article on school violence, SVT revealed that within the last five years Sweden had seen 224 incidents involving various kinds of weapons including knives. In the last year alone, there were 54 incidents with weapons, the highest of the past five years.

Total reports of threats, robberies, and physical violence in both primary schools and secondary schools have doubled within the same five year period according to the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

Mr Lamotte also sounded the alarm regarding sexual abuse in Swedish schools in 2017, saying there had been a wave of sexual assaults by newly arrived migrants and that teachers were too afraid to speak out on the issue in case they were branded racists.


A Glimmer of Hope in Black Education

Walter E. Williams

In reference to efforts to teach black children, the president of the St. Petersburg, Florida, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Maria Scruggs, said: “The (school) district has shown they just can’t do it. … Now it’s time for the community to step in.”

That’s a recognition that politicians and the education establishment, after decades of promises, cannot do much to narrow the huge educational achievement gap between Asians and whites on the one hand, and blacks on the other.

The most crucial input for a child’s education cannot be provided by schools or politicians. Continued calls for higher education budgets will produce disappointing results, as they have in the past.

There are certain minimum requirements that must be met for any child, regardless of race, to do well in school. Someone must make the youngster do his homework–and possibly help him with it. Someone must ensure that he gets eight hours of sleep. Someone must feed him wholesome meals, including breakfast. Finally, someone must ensure that he gets to school on time, behaves in school, and respects the teachers.

If these minimum requirements are not met–and they can be met even if a family is poor–all else is for naught.

Scruggs says that it’s time for the black community to accept part of the blame. Part of the problem is the lack of parents’ involvement in their children’s education–for example, they’re not attending parent-teacher nights.

Having children’s books around the house and reading to preschoolers is vitally important. According to Mariah Evans, who headed a 20-year worldwide study that found “the presence of books in the home” to be the top predictor of whether a child will attain a high level of education, “one of the things that is most striking … about it is that the book’s effect appears to be even larger and more important for children from very disadvantaged homes.”

By the way, one doesn’t have to be rich to have books around the house. Plus, there are libraries.

One vital measure for community involvement in black education is that of preventing youngsters who are alien and hostile to the educational process from making education impossible for everybody else. That can be accomplished by ignoring politicians and the liberal vision that restricts schools from removing students who pose severe disciplinary problems.

The problem goes beyond simple misbehavior. An article in Education Week last year, titled “When Students Assault Teachers, Effects Can Be Lasting,” reported: “In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data.”

Given the huge educational achievement gap between blacks and whites, one might ask whether black people can afford to allow students who have little interest in being educated to make education impossible for others. Students who assault teachers ought to be summarily removed from the school.

One might ask, “Williams, what are we going to do with those expelled students?” I do not know, but I do know one thing for sure: Black people cannot afford to allow them to remain in school and sabotage the educational chances of everyone else.

The educational achievement gap between blacks and whites is hidden from black students and their families. All too often, a black student with a high school diploma cannot read, write, or compute at a sixth- or seventh-grade level. This tends to make high school diplomas held by blacks less valuable in the eyes of employers.

As such, it sparks racial division where it otherwise would not exist. There have been complaints that police and fire departments and other civil service jobs don’t have many black employees. The problem is that to get hired in the first place–and get promoted if hired–one needs to pass a civil service exam. If one’s high school diploma is fraudulent–meaning he has not mastered the 12th-grade levels of all subjects–he is seriously handicapped.

I say hats off to the vision being promoted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s  Maria Scruggs. She and her supporters have their work cut out for them, but it’s doable.


Are Universities Ruining Students? These Authors Say ‘Yes’

One of the more interesting books I read in 2018 was Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. It’s a book-length treatment of the ideas they discussed in their provocative and controversial 2015 article in The Atlantic, which blew up in part because of the infamous protests that happened at the University of Missouri, Yale University, and elsewhere a few weeks later.

Lukianoff is President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—a campus free speech advocacy organization originally established by Alan Charles Kors—and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (2012) and Freedom From Speech (2014). Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012).

They argue that we are treating students precisely the way we shouldn’t if we are trying to help them become resilient, functioning, and free people and exactly the way we should if we are intent on creating an army of neurotics. They focus on what they call “Three Great Untruths,” which they call “The Untruth of Fragility,” “The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning,” and “The Untruth of Us Versus Them.”

So how do these work and how are they Untruths? The first, “The Untruth of Fragility,” mangles Nietzsche’s maxim “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” into “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker.” It counsels avoidance of the unpleasant, the uncomfortable, and the inconvenient and accomplishes precisely the opposite of what real learning should do. Learning is supposed to be uncomfortable: we are, in the university, supposedly fixing our ignorance, strengthening our moral fiber, and exchanging falsehood for truth.

The authors of the book Make It Stick offer a series of insights that have informed my own teaching: students may not feel like they are learning through (for example) things like what is called “retrieval practice.” It’s like going to the gym: it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, and you will be sore afterward. But you are tearing down in order to build up. Of course, “if you are learning, you will be uncomfortable” is not the same thing as “if you are uncomfortable, then you are learning,” but constant affirmations of orthodoxy and fear of challenge is a great way to create mental and emotional weakness.

Think back to college. You probably have a friend or two or three who came from extremely sheltered Christian backgrounds who, upon encountering freedom and license in college went absolutely nuts. By carefully crafting their kids’ worldviews and insulating them from challenges, parents had actually created emotional and intellectual weaklings who could not stand up to challenges.

Progressives have done the same if they have brought up children who have gone into college without seriously encountering and considering the idea that (for example) abortion might be wrong—and in this case it is compounded by the fact that they are extremely unlikely to encounter that argument on campus unless they encounter some activists who have a table set up on campus—and even then they aren’t likely to spend sustained time entertaining the possibility that a view they probably don’t question is wrong.

The second untruth, The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning, says “Always Trust Your Feelings.” One of my pet peeves (especially in the classroom) is when people begin sentences with “I feel.” I don’t trust feeling as a way of knowing, and while it’s not strictly true in all cases feeling can be the opposite of thinking. This is especially dangerous given what we now know about the makeup of the human psyche, which is rife with biases and cognitive distortions documented and discussed in books like Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of Thinking Clearly and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.

When we are confronted with something we want to believe, for example, our minds implicitly ask “can I believe this?” When we are confronted with something we don’t want to believe, our minds implicitly ask “must I believe this?” The first embraces what we want to believe and gives it a subtle cognitive pass while the second rejects what we don’t want to believe and gives it a subtle cognitive push.

The third untruth, The Untruth of Us Versus Them, posits that life is a battle between Good People and Evil People. We are the Good People, of course, and They are the Evil People. You see this played out every day in the cesspools that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on can become. But, as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn reminded us, “The line dividing good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Given our tendencies toward bias and cognitive distortion, we probably shouldn’t be as confident as we usually are about which side of the line we’re on.

Lukianoff and Haidt argue that in combination, these Great Untruths are a recipe for failure in life and everything.

The prophets of the Three Great Untruths mean us no ill. Note the subtitle again: “How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” People mean well, but their good intentions and bad ideas about what we need to protect kids have created a toxic cognitive stew. Children, they argue, are actually antifragile, which is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term for systems like bones and immune systems that get stronger when they are tested.

By doing things like removing free play, scheduling every minute of every day for every kid, and stepping in to resolve every conflict instead of letting the kids work it out for themselves, we have actually done them a disservice by preventing them from using (and testing, and strengthening) the antifragile emotional, physical, and intellectual systems they should be developing. As they point out, our misled-but-good intentions are a recipe for creating neurosis as kids don’t learn how to navigate a complex and difficult (but, paradoxically, much safer) world.

So what do we do about it? First, they suggest taking a hard look at how we over-schedule and over-protect our kids. The world is a dangerous place, but it’s not nearly as dangerous a place as TV crime drama and the evening news would have us believe. Remember: “if it bleeds, it leads”—but what makes something newsworthy is that it is out of the ordinary.

Second, drawing on Lukianoff’s experience using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to combat depression, they suggest identifying cognitive distortions—“catastrophizing,” for example, by thinking that everything will fall apart in the event that (say) Donald Trump is reelected in 2020 and using CBT techniques like writing out what caused a certain feeling of distress, how strongly we feel certain emotions, and the cognitive distortions that produced them. Instead of trying to shield people from fearful ideas and words, we do them a service by teaching them effective ways to identify where they are blowing things out of proportion and take action.

“What is wrong with colleges and universities” is a venerable literary genre, and The Coddling of the American Mind is an important contribution. Haidt and Lukianoff are dedicated to recapturing and reinforcing the telos of the university, which is the search for truth. In the wake of a few years of high-profile campus unrest over ideas students find uncomfortable, we do well to heed their words.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

California’s Push for ‘Free’ Community College Is Misguided

Just when you thought California couldn’t ask any more of its taxpayers, the state Legislature is pushing for two years of “free” community college for all residents, regardless of income.

California already has several existing programs to subsidize students who attend community college. Almost half of California’s community college student population has taken advantage of the state’s California College Promise Grant since 1985, which covers all application fees.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill making the first year of community college free. This latest proposal would put taxpayers on the hook to cover the second year, subsidizing all students—even the sons and daughters of the Hollywood elite—to attend community college in the state tuition-free.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, inaugurated Jan. 7, campaigned on the promise of “free” tuition and claims that removing the burden of tuition will encourage students to stay enrolled and finish faster.

Unfortunately, California’s plan to make it possible for students to attend community college tuition-free is riddled with problems that would be a great disservice to the residents of the state.

The most glaring problem with California’s free community college plan is clearly the cost.

California is already a high-tax state, with the highest income tax rate in the country at 13.3 percent. Currently, the state has appropriated $46 million to cover just one year of community college and roughly the same amount is expected to cover the second year.

Second, subsidizing all students, regardless of income level, who attend community college will simply serve to extend the K-12 education system into a K-14 system.

The education system once successfully equipped students with the skills necessary to enter the workforce, and particularly gifted or those interested in an academic track continued on to college. However, now that college attendance has become more commonplace—even expected—high schools no longer make workforce preparation their top priority.

The guarantee of two more years of education will simply spark further degree inflation. A community college degree will become the new baseline, much like the high school diploma once was.

Finally, public spending on community college has been shown to be a risky investment at best.

For low-income students, Pell Grants almost entirely cover the cost of community college tuition. Yet, graduation rates remain remarkably low. Only 45 percent of students obtain any degree or certificate six years after starting their two-year program.

While some have argued that community college graduation rates are low because many students transfer to four-year schools, only 17 percent do so and complete their degree.

More and more Americans are calling for solutions to the astronomical $1.5 trillion student debt crisis. Reforming the outdated accreditation system that stifles innovation or reducing reliance on federal aid would go a long way in achieving meaningful reform.

However, “free” college will do nothing to address the causes of rising costs, and simply leave Americans with more paper credentials.

Simply obtaining a degree—assuming students graduate—does not necessarily translate to increased job preparedness. It can, however, directly translate to more public debt.

Americans deserve more thoughtful policy solutions to the cost crisis in higher education than faux “free” college. California’s proposal to transfer the community college tuition bill to taxpayers will do nothing to address the root causes of both tuition and degree inflation.

Instead, policymakers should encourage competition and innovation by reducing regulatory burdens for streamlined educational alternatives, such as vocational/career and technical training and apprenticeship programs.


UK: Oxford ends women-only fellowship after university rules that it breaches equality law

Oxford has ended its women-only fellowship after the university’s administrators said it breached equality law.

The Joanna Randall-MacIver junior research fellowship, established in the 1930s for women studying fine arts, music or literature, was deemed to be “discriminatory on the grounds of gender” by Oxford’s Council.

This is the first time that the university has opened up a historically female-only fellowship to male applicants, and the move has prompted a backlash from previous recipients.

The decision means that other research fellowships could be under threat, including those run by Cambridge's female-only college Newnham. The College say that its women-only appointments comply with the Equality Act.

Professor Elizabeth Cullingford, a Randall-MacIver fellow in the 1970s who is now chair of English at Texas University, said: “I feel pretty strongly that having one or two things that are special to woman aren’t going to threaten any great power structure at Oxford.

“The history there is totally male – for years women couldn’t even be in the university and couldn’t be fellow of a college.”

She said that women do still have some “catching up” to do with men, adding: “We may have parity in numbers but do we have parity on power? I doubt that. I am the first female chair of the English department and Texas University has been around since the 19th century.”

The fellowship is funded by the estate of British-born archaeologist and Oxford graduate David Randall-MacIver, who set it up in his wife Joanna's name after her death in 1932 and stipulated that it should only be awarded to female academics.

Former recipients include Jennifer Mundy, The Tate's head of Art Historical Research, and Georgina Herrmann OBE, an eminent archaeologist and the first woman to discover the Afghanistan’s Lapis Lazuli mines in the 1960s.

Alexandra Wilson, a professor of music and cultural history at Oxford Brookes, said that her Randall-MacIver fellowship in 2004 transformed her career in academia. 

“These posts are like gold dust, they are highly competitive. When I was applying it was very common to find music departments that were entirely male. Things have improved, but possibly not to full equality,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

“I do think it’s a rather regrettable consequence of a well-intended law that this opportunity for women should be removed.”

Another former recipient, now in her 80s, said: "I would like to see it continuing as women only because I think it is sometimes quite tough for women - less tough than it used to be, but it’s nice to have one or two things that are women only.

 “On the other hand I am not sure it has swung rather far the other way. I don’t really like positive discrimination, I think that’s insulting. We can stand on our own feet and fight our corner.”

Under the Employment Equality Act 2010, employers are not permitted to advertise or recruit to posts open to one gender only.

There are exceptions to this which allow for “positive action” to be taken in favour of a particular group if they are underrepresented in the relevant field of work.

Catherine Casserley, a barrister at Cloisters Chambers and one of the country’s leading experts in discrimination law, said that any institutions which have women-only fellowships will now have to reconsider. She said: "What universities are going to have to do is look at their scholarships and fellowships see whether legally, in light of the Equality Act, they can offer them to only one gender and see whether exceptions or positive action provisions applies.”

A spokesman for Oxford University said: “As a consequence of the [Employment Equality] Act, Oxford University has changed the terms of a number of historically-created trusts so they are no longer gender-specific. The Randall-MacIver Fellowship is the most recent example. “The University is very much aware of the lack of women in academic roles at many levels and is working to end the imbalance as a priority.

“Several initiatives to promote equality, including strengthened recruitment processes and professional development programmes for female academics, are now well-established and beginning to show an impact at all levels, including professorial posts.” 


Australia: Teachers won't be allowed to take classes if they fail English and maths exams

Teachers will soon have to pass a literacy and numeracy test to prove they can read, write and solve maths problems before they're allowed in the classroom.

All aspiring teachers in Australia will have to take the formal exam from next year and must pass it within three attempts.

In Victoria, about five per cent of working teachers failed or were yet to sit the test, but were allowed to remain in the classroom provided they passed within two years.

But the state government announced this week that from this month, all aspiring teachers who don't pass the test won't be registered.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Britain's Grammar schools send more ethnic minority students to Cambridge than all comprehensives combined

Of course they do.  They are academically selective schools. A breakdown of WHICH minorities get into Cambridge would be amusing, though.  Mostly Indians and a few Chinese, one imagines.  Or maybe Australians are classified as minorities.  If not, why not? It couldn't be because of their race, could it?  Any Australian will tell you that Australians are different culturally from the English

Grammar schools are sending more black and minority ethnic (BME) students to Cambridge University than all the other state schools in the country combined, a new analysis reveals.

Children from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge if they live in an area with grammar schools, according to the report.

The paper, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), examines  the impact of selective schooling on state educated pupils’ progression to top universities.

Iain Mansfield, a former senior civil servant who wrote the report, said the figures are a "shocking indictment" on the country's 1,849 comprehensive schools.

His analysis found that BME pupils are more than five times as likely to progress to Oxford or Cambridge if they live in a selective area rather than a non-selective area. Other data shows that more than a third (39 per cent) of pupils in grammar school areas progress to prestigious universities, compared to just 23 per cent in comprehensive areas.

The report analysed the background of Cambridge students who took up places at the university in the past three years and found that grammars sent 486 students to Cambridge  over the three years, compared to 362 from comprehensives.

“Astonishingly, 163 grammar schools sent over 30 per cent more BME entrants to Cambridge  than the nearly 2,000 non-selective schools combined,” it says.

“With more than three quarters of the country having no grammar schools, these figures represent a shocking indictment of the comprehensive system.”

  Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, warned that the debate on grammar schools has become “very one sided”
 Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, warned that the debate on grammar schools has become “very one sided”
The data is not available for Oxford as the university does not collect information on whether students went to selective schools, but the report says that the analysis is likely to be “broadly applicable”  to both universities given the similar patterns of undergraduate intake.

Mr Mansfield describes how much of the previous social mobility research into grammar schools has focused on eligibility for free school meals (FSM) as a measure of disadvantage.

A report published last year by the campaign group Comprehensive Future claimed that just 4.5 per cent of grammar school places went to FSM children.

But the Hepi paper says that using the FSM measure obscures large differences within the remaining 85 per cent of the population. In fact, Mr Mansfield argues that grammar schools have a “socially diverse range of pupils”, with 45 per cent coming from families with income levels below the median income for families with children”.

Mr Mansfield said that the figures clearly undermine the claim that grammar schools are “just for the rich”, saying this “simply isn’t true”.

“A narrow focus on eligibility for Free School Meals has ignored many other measures of disadvantage, including ethnicity, parental education and broader income disparities,” he said.

"My report shows that, for many disadvantaged children, selective education makes a vital contribution to social mobility.”

However, Dr Lindsey Macmillan, reader in economics at University College London, and Dr Matt Dickson from Bath University, urge caution when comparing children from grammar school areas to their peers from areas with only non-selective secondaries. 

“The areas that chose to keep grammar schools have specific characteristics – they are generally more affluent with a higher proportion of degree educated people,” the researchers said.

“These are precisely the characteristics that support access to elite universities, and so we would naturally expect to see more pupils in those regions attending [them].”

 Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, warned that the debate on grammar schools has become “very one sided”.

 “Researchers line up to condemn them for inhibiting social mobility, and the schools do not perform well on every single measure,” he said. “But the full evidence is more nuanced and shows some pupils benefit a great deal.” 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Selective schools are some of the highest performing schools in the country and an important part of our diverse education system. Almost all of them are rated Good or Outstanding, and they are popular with parents.

“That is why we continue to support their expansion, through the Selective School Expansion Fund, where they meet the high bar we have set for working to increase the admission of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.”


UK: WhatsApp groups for parents become overrun with 'vitriolic tirades',  leading headmaster warns

WhatsApp groups for parents create a "forum for negativity" full of "vitriolic tirades", a leading headmaster has warned, as he urges schools to return to face-to-face communication.

Dominic Floyd, head of Mount Kelly’s £24,000-a-year preparatory school in Devon, said there is a “worrying” trend towards schools setting up mass email chains or large group conversations on social media platforms for parents.

He said that these can undermine the “delicate and critical” relationship between parents and their child’s school.

Writing in the Spring edition of Attain magazine, he explained that this relationship has been “eroded” in recent years as a result of “messages posted through WhatsApp groups or round-robin emails to all parents in a particular year”.

While these can be a useful way for teachers to communicate with mothers and fathers of pupils in a particular form or year group, he warned that they also have a downside. 

“The rise of these form or year group gatherings demonstrate a worrying state of affairs for some parents,” Mr Floyd wrote.

“While these groups can be helpful, and really positive, they can also fuel misunderstanding and become a forum for negativity.”

He told how WhatsApp groups or email chains often end up being “dominated by a few key players” and become "home to vitriolic tirades”. 

“Minor complaints become amplified to an unintelligible degree: one lost sock takes on a proportion never intended and, far from being constructive, perspective can quickly be lost,” he said.

Mr Floyd described how the fall-out from these group communications can spiral out of control, and even have knock-on consequences for the parents or even pupils, especially when issues are “left to fester”.

Schools should encourage as much dialogue as possible with parents but rather than becoming over-reliant on online forums, they should return to old fashioned face-to-face conversations.

“We all know that email is a poor method of communicating as tone, nuance and language become subjective,” he said.

“Even punctuation can be left open to interpretation. Of course, it is possible to argue that these groups are just a digital version of the 'school gate' culture of old.

“But people talked at the school gate, face-to-face, and issues didn't take on such a life of their own.”

Mount Kelly, a co-educational school for children aged three to 18, charges up to £30,000-a-year for full boarders in the senior school. Teachers have previously complained about parents bombarding them late at night with emails.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which is now part of the National Education Union, have raised concerns about the increase in angry emails from parents demanding details about their child’s day at school.


The Diversity Miracle


Today’s world of higher education is not especially notable for miracles. But I am happy to report of one such miracle—the transformation of diversity from an academic liability to an asset of near incalculable benefit. That this transformation occurred in the space of a few decades and cost only a few million, makes it especially notable and gives hope that other miracles may soon appear.

Life Before the Miracle

When I began my university teaching career at an elite university in the late 1960’s the push for racial diversity was just beginning. This meant recruiting African American youngsters from the inner-city, providing extra tutoring during the summer, paying all their expenses and hiring black bureaucrats to oversee progress.

I cannot say how the experiment worked elsewhere, but for myself and department colleagues, it was an academic disaster. These recruits lagged far behind their classmates on every measure of intellectual proficiency, and those who passed the course usually did thanks to instructor generosity. Their written work was especially abysmal, and many proved troublesome students—skipping class with lame excuses, a penchant for plagiarism, and similar burdensome behaviors.

Matters did not improve over the next few decades where I spent twenty-eight years at a major state university. Despite the administration tinkering with recruitment strategies and investing yet more in remedial tutoring schemes, I saw no academic improvement. Rare exceptions aside, the “diversity students” struggled and, as before, I suspect that most survived thanks to more generous grading curves and dumbed down course requirements.

Particularly exasperating was recruiting and retaining African American graduate students. Courses requiring some mastery of statistics and research methods could be especially tough obstacles and many of these admittees thrashed about when it came time to write Ph.D. dissertations. In more than a few cases I can personally attest that overcoming this dissertation hurdle required an “unusual” level of faculty intervention.

Such under-performance could hardly be hidden from other students. I could sometimes see how their classmates smirked when these diversity admittees asked a particularly dumb question or tried to interject race-related nonsensical points into class discussion. In one large lecture class a black student adamantly insisted that the Black Panthers were a non-violent do-gooder specializing in breakfast programs for school kids. Non-minority students would also hear all the official campus talk about the latest outreach initiative or upping retention of these students by offering majors in Black Studies or permitting “blacks only” student housing.

Whether regularly admitted students seriously interacted with diversity admittees is an unanswerable question but I suspect that intellectual back-and-forth was constrained. Campus self-imposed segregation was everywhere, and I cannot recall seeing any animated discussions among mixed race groups before or after class. I suspect that if this interaction did exist, it has dwindled with time given the dangers that now can result from race-related misunderstandings. Today’s white students know all about unintentional micro-aggressions and how such conversations can accidentally bring accusations of offensiveness. Better to keep chit-chat bland.

If the problems of dealing with struggling black students were bad enough, the administrative-mandated faculty diversification was far worse. These were top-down pushes to make numbers and often included “free money” if the right candidate were hired. The emphasis was strictly on race, never program needs so zero attention was paid to what a black job candidate might teach. Who cares if the department already offers two courses on black politics if a black job candidate could only offer a third while the position in, say, Asian politics went unfilled.? Nor did anybody express reservations about the lack of traditional scholarly qualifications, notably publications in major disciplinary journals. It was just assumed that affirmative action hires could not be held to high standards. Similarly, given the intense competition for decent candidates, an attractive black candidate might be enticed with a well-above market salary, zero teaching load for his first two years on the job, a generous research and travel budget and other lures that a white male could never demand.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this diversification was how it promoted political correctness. Savvy instructors learned to avoid all sensitive topics lest minority students were offended and claimed that they could not survive in such a poisonous environment. Don’t even mention The Bell Curve or hint that racial groups differ in criminality, illegitimacy etc. etc. Almost overnight, the range of what could be expressed in the classroom (and pursued in research) drastically narrowed. Science that produced the “wrong” results automatically became “bad” science. The very idea of debating the role of culture in economic attainment became unthinkable thanks to newly arrived diversity.

All in all, other than for the most zealous egalitarians, this was a failed experiment.

The Miracle

Outside of teaching a few graduate seminars here in New York, I left the academy in 2002 though I have tried to keep up with events. It thus came as a great surprise to me that between my departure and today, the campus has witnessed a Miracle—diversity has been transformed from a tolerable burden, a rocky initial step in the march toward racial equality into an immense, widely celebrated benefit.

Skeptics need only search Google to see the evidence. It would be impossible to summarize this literature so only a few examples must suffice. According to the research highlighted at the website Everfi, diversity enriches a student’s educational experience, improves his or her communication skills, challenges stereotypes, allows students to see themselves as leaders and better prepares them for today’s diverse workforce. To quote, “Ultimately, studies show that diversity on campus improves ‘intellectual engagement, self-motivation, citizenship and cultural engagement, and academic skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and writing – for students of all races. Interacting with diverse peers outside a classroom setting directly benefits students, making them better scholars, thinkers, and citizens.’”

Meanwhile the Center for American Progress (a non-partisan progressive thinktank) provides ten reasons why diversity is necessary on today’s campus. Among these are that a diverse campus will reflect America’s shifting demography, help to close race-related educational gaps, promote a more innovative and competitive workforce (vital for our global economy), make American firms more profitable, enhances national security and, lastly because the American public wants campus diversity.

Hardly surprising, the research on hiring a diverse faculty is likewise upbeat on its benefits. Typical is one academic study that argues that a diverse faculty may be especially valuable for minority students thanks to having role models who look and sound like them. In addition, all students will learn how to live in an increasingly diverse world while a diverse faculty will offer more diverse courses and thus expose all students to a wider range of ideas, teaching methods and scholarship. A different study demonstrates that upping faculty diversity will benefit college students since such faculty interacts more frequently with students than their white counterparts and use a broader range and more effective mix of pedagogical techniques.

A survey-based study at two medical schools reported that students believed that having diverse classmates greatly enhanced the quality of their education and thus supported current policies of affirmative action. At the risk of beating a dead horse, one highly scholarly, citation-rich review conclude that an ethnically diverse campus offer more varied educational experiences that both enhance learning and prepare these youngster for participation in a democratic society. And on and on.

These examples illustrate an overwhelming, uncontested consensus that diversity enhances education. Conceivably, contrary views exist, but I have yet to encounter a single example in “respectable” scholarly literature (the only possible exception are the writing of the non-academic Heather MacDonald).

It is impossible to exaggerate this alleged transformation—prior to this “miracle” an ill-prepared black student would likely be judged a liability since he could add little useful to classroom discussion and often had to be accommodated by lowering academic standards. Today, by contrast, his very presence helps classmates prepare for a more heterogeneous world, helps diminish negative race-related stereotypies all the while boosting US global economic competitiveness. Likewise, while a black Ph.D. might have once been hired despite his weak academic record, he or she now too, has become an educational asset by broadening the horizons of his white colleagues. What is remarkable about these studies is that they derive from institutions of higher learning and totally, absolutely and categorically avoid measuring any indicator of intellectual attainment.

This lopsided focus is hardly inevitable. It would not take much, for example, to assess whether ill-prepared black students thanks to a new critical mass of fellow students of color demonstrated higher levels of academic proficiency or now major in tougher subjects. Unfortunately, in today’s diversity-obsessed world it is more important that a black instructor convinces other blacks that they, too, can be professors versus helping them pass Organic Chemistry. No doubt, those searching for proof regarding the marvelous diversity miracle know full well that diversity hardly guarantees academic progress, no small matter given the academic accomplishment is the university’s pre-eminent mission.

Why this dramatic shift? Let me suggest that this abrupt change can only be explained by the a few-found ideological orthodoxy, what the Marxist would call the zigs and zags of history–the Party Line, so to speak.

Stripped of mendacious rhetoric, college admission with its promise of providing the magical diploma has become a tool to keep the peace and “promoting diversity” is the least embarrassing way to acquiesce to these political demands. Further justifying all those well-paid diversity bureaucrats—surely all their salaries must be accomplishing something. Yes, diversity admittees may have middling SAT scores and dreadful high school grades, gravitate to empty-calorie majors and stifle campus intellectual life, but their very presence on campus, regardless of classroom or disciplinary accomplishments or fields of study, contributes to our multicultural society and so they must be admitted. As for all those talented white (and Asian) males who will never be admitted or hired in a university, don’t fret—your willingness to step aside for members of historically under-represented groups is most gracious, and who knows, in a hundred years there may be campus statutes commemorating your sacrifice.

Today’s diversity mania with its dumbing down of the humanities and social sciences (and perhaps even the hard sciences) is, as they say, putting lipstick on a pig. And who cannot adore such a pig?

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Your parenting style could decide how successful your kid will be

The difference in parenting styles between rich and poor families account for a huge chunk of the inequality gap -- or does it?

This is a very sad article below.  It accurately reports that kids are being denied the carefree childhood that was once taken as the ideal.  Instead they are dragooned into a constant round of activities that they may or may not enjoy.  And the parents are getting frazzled by doing the dragooning.  But what if it is all for naught?  Are we sure it helps? Might it even be disadvantageous?

Before I say what the basic problem is, let me give an anecdote.  I grew up in a very permissive family and my son did too. My son was allowed to play computer games to his heart's content -- which meant most of the time. So I am obviously a BAD parent, No?

The pesky thing about it, however, is that he is now a highly paid systems engineer.  He still spends most of his day in front of a computer screen.  It is his natural habitat. But he is now paid well above average money for doing so.  So is he a hopelessly anti-social nerd?  He has recently married a bright, friendly and pretty girl and has a close group of friends -- so clearly not.

And my permissive background did not stop me from becoming a  much published academic, even though my father was a lifelong manual worker and my mother was a maid.

So what is going on?  The answer is that people are misled by the politically correct dogma that all men are equal and therefore it is only hard work that can give you an edge in getting ahead.  As a psychometrician, I knew differently.  I knew that your genetically given ability was all -- or nearly all -- in educational attainment and much else.  Both my son and I got good attainment reports back from our schools but we both just cruised. We had no need to do otherwise and no-one to push us.  So we had that carefree childhood that people talk about.

The upshot?  If you are born bright, you will do well in any system.  But can hard work make up the difference for the less bright? By far the major predictor of educational attainment is IQ.  Nothing else comes close.  There are probably a few cases at the margins where pushing a kid can lead to a small degree of advantage but is it worth the stresses and strains on all involved?  Might you not do better by SHIELDING your child from most stresses and strains? Might the kindest thing you could do for your child be to give them a happy childhood?

It is true that the children of middle class parents do better at school but that is because of genetics.  As Charles Murray pointed out decades ago, the rich tend to be smarter.  Being smart is how they got rich.  And IQ is genetically inherited so rich parents tend do have smart kids.  And smart kids do well at school with not much else helping

“We are creating a miniature version of our own lives for our kid, wanting him to be productive, keeping him busy all the time.” Abigail is talking about her two-year-old son, Joshua. She has a well-paid job with an investment bank in Dallas, Texas, which she finds stressful but exciting. Now pregnant with another child, she has every intention of resuming work after the second birth. She will keep on her Mexican-American nanny, and her writer husband will help with the child care.

But combining work with a larger family will not be easy, not just because of Abigail’s demanding job but because she and her husband, like many other prosperous parents in America, pursue a form of child-rearing that makes huge demands on their time and resources. It includes filling the child’s day with round-the-clock activities, from music and sports to sleepovers; going to great lengths to get him or her into the right schools; and strictly supervising homework. The parents may not like it, but they feel they have no choice because all their friends are doing the same thing.

This is colloquially known as “helicopter parenting” (because the parents are always hovering), or “concerted cultivation”, a term coined by Annette Lareau, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. In her book “Unequal Childhoods”, based on in-depth studies conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s, she looked at the child-rearing habits of American families from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds and found a yawning gap. Whereas better-off, better-educated parents (black as well as white) overwhelmingly adopted this intensive method, working-class and poor families followed a different model which she calls “the accomplishment of natural growth”. They saw their role as providing shelter, food, comfort and other basic support but lacked the time, the money and the nous for such intensive management, so their kids were often left to their own devices, and the extended family played a much greater part in their children’s lives than among Ms Lareau’s middle-class subjects.

In his book “Our Kids”, Robert Putnam, a political scientist at Harvard, used a mixture of interviews and data analysis to argue that different child-raising conventions are reinforcing a growing divide in American society. The privileged top third is pulling ever further ahead of the disadvantaged bottom third, whose families are often fractured and whose lives tend to be precarious. That shows up as a growing divergence in income, education, single-parenthood, friendship networks and other indicators.

The power of words

Upper-middle-class children are far better placed even before their parents make any special effort, simply because of the sort of homes they are born into. Educated parents tend to respond readily to their children’s endless questions, talk to them over the dinner table and take them to new and exciting places. In a famous study in the 1990s, Betty Hart and Todd Risley from the University of Kansas found that in the poorest families children heard about 600 words an hour, whereas in professional families they heard 2,100. By the time they were three, the children from the well-off homes had heard around 30m more words than the poorer ones.

“Parenting”, in the sense that it is now understood, is a relatively new term; it first popped up in 1958, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, and came into widespread use only in the 1970s. Experts see it as an important factor in successful childrearing, along with things such as genetic predisposition and external circumstances. To find out how much it mattered, Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University and Liz Washbrook of the University of Bristol separated out the effects of different parenting styles and home learning environments on the cognitive performance of three- to five-year-olds from different income groups in America and Britain. They found that they accounted for between a third and half of the income-related gap.

Studies show that even poorer and less well-educated parents on both sides of the Atlantic (except, oddly, in France) spent far more time with their children every day in the 2000s than they did in 1965. They also spent more money on them, both in dollars and as a proportion of their income. Sabino Kornrich of Emory University and Frank Furstenberg of the University of Pennsylvania found that between 1972-73 and 2006-07 total spending per child in constant dollars increased somewhat for all income groups (see chart), but far faster for the richest 10% of parents than for the rest. Because incomes in this group had gone up rapidly, their spending as a proportion of income did not rise much. Yet by this measure the poorest 10% of parents vastly increased their spending on their children because their incomes had barely budged.

America is not the only place to practise helicopter parenting.

The British do it too, calling it “hothousing” ; continental Europe less so, especially in the Nordic countries, where social hierarchies are flatter and parents more relaxed. But globalisation has cranked up competition for the best jobs, and academic standards in different countries have become easier to compare thanks to the OECD’s PISA scores, which measure the reading, maths and science performance of 15-year-olds. Such comparisons have highlighted the effectiveness of a kind of concerted cultivation that is ubiquitous in East Asia. It is somewhat different from the Western sort, being directed more single-mindedly towards academic success, and works particularly well in maths and science. In the PISA rankings for these subjects in 2015 Singapore tops the bill, and Japan, China (currently measured only in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong) and South Korea are all well ahead of America.

Such comparisons have made some Americans wonder whether they are being too soft on their kids. For all the hovering they do, they tend to let them off lightly on things like discipline and helping around the house, preferring to build up their self-esteem and keep them happy. But parents have noticed that some of the country’s recent immigrants, particularly those from East Asia, use sterner methods to great effect. In her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, Amy Chua, a first-generation Chinese-American married to an American academic, describes the tough love she meted out to her two daughters. She unapologetically made the girls do many hours of homework a day, pushed them into becoming musical prodigies and allowed them next to no time to have fun. Though one of them eventually rebelled, both achieved brilliant academic results and seem to have grown into accomplished adults.

Another Chinese-American mother, Lenora Chu, and her journalist husband tried a different variant of blended cultures. Having moved to Shanghai, the couple decided to send their three-year-old son to a top-notch state-run Chinese kindergarten. Ms Chu’s book about their experience is called “Little Soldiers”, after a song often recited in the kindergarten that started: “I am a little soldier, I practise every day.” It summed up the educational philosophy prevailing there and across China: anyone can succeed at anything if they work at it hard enough, whether or not they have a talent for it. Effort is all.

The Chinese kindergarten, Ms Chu found, had little trouble securing co-operation and compliance from the children and their parents. The authoritarian structure of the education system and powerful administrators keeps parents and students in check. In turn, the kindergarten proved responsive to parental pressure to offer some formal teaching even to these very young children, despite consistent guidance from the ministry of education that this age group should be spending most of the day playing. Even at kindergarten level, the parents are already thinking about getting the child through the gaokao, the all-important university entrance exam. As one mother explains, this is not just about the child itself. The Chinese have long been obsessed with education, and academic success for the child brings honour to the entire family.

If life at school is not much fun for Chinese kids, it is even worse for South Korean ones. Though both countries put much store by rote learning, in South Korea this takes on extreme forms. Jang Hyung-shim, an educational psychologist at Seoul’s Hanyang University, likens children’s experience at school to military service and says it stifles their creativity.


I’m a Conservative Female College Student. Here’s How I Overcame Fear and Became Confident

Brianna Mirabile is an honors student at George Washington University double-majoring in economics and political science. She is the president of the George Washington University chapter of the Network of enlightened Women. She is also the director of the George Washington Undergraduate Law Review and the president of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi.

“I’m not usually friends with Republicans, but I guess I’ll make an exception for you.”

The words were said in jest to me, but I knew there was truth in them. They confirmed my biggest fear, going into my freshman year of college—that my conservatism would create a barrier to forming true and lasting friendships.

When I arrived on campus, I danced around the topic of politics in conversation, but it was difficult.

For students at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., politics is the driving force behind a lot of social engagement.

Making matters worse, my first year in college came as animosity and division over the election of President Donald Trump was palpable not only on campus, but across the nation.

With that, I stayed silent as disparaging jokes were made about Republicans. I didn’t raise my hand in class during political discussions for fear of being ostracized by my peers and penalized by my professors.

When peers asked me about myself, I avoided talking about politics. I was so careful, I didn’t find out one of my roommates was conservative until mid-October.

But the situation more than nagged at me. As time wore on, I realized my behavior was unsustainable. I knew I was not being my true self. Politics is infused into the social atmosphere at my college, and all too often I was forced to bite my tongue or keep new friends at arm’s length.

I decided I was not going to let a hostile political environment control my college experience.

I started to make some changes. First and foremost, I sought out and connected with groups I knew shared my beliefs, including the College Republicans and the Network of enlightened Women.

Over time, I came to understand that I let my fears mislead me, hold me back, and stop me from engaging with other students in the way I wanted. I began to speak up. I started to defend my beliefs.

By the end of my freshman year and throughout my sophomore year, I grew and evolved by engaging in courageous conversations with peers and professors.

It was a personal decision, but an important one, to decide to stand up for unpopular opinions on campus. I became unwilling to be cowed into silence by those who use personal attacks instead of facts to defend their positions.

As a conservative woman, I am confident, sure of who I am and what I believe—and why.

Speaking up against the tide of political correctness and emotion-based rhetoric on campus is a hurdle—especially for freshmen—in a world where defending the Constitution, free markets, and individual liberty is no longer considered an intellectually honest position on campus, but instead one that brands someone as “heartless.”

Taking conservative political positions has been transformed into a sign of moral depravation by the left.

That’s why freshmen are so fearful to speak up. They arrive on campus to make new and possibly lifelong friends, and instead are cowed into silence for fear of being “othered” and bullied. It’s something I faced, and I know many others do, too.

One of the most harmful narratives pushed by the campus left is that conservatives are morally bankrupt. That is why so-called “social justice warriors” don’t try to get to know who we are and why we support certain positions.

On campus and beyond, conservatives need to stand up to this poisonous narrative. We need to be open about our beliefs and show how proud we are that our ideas have been proven to help people.

As a leader of my campus chapter of the Network of enlightened Women, I encourage my conservative female friends who face the same battles I did to stand strong, be brave, and resist the temptation to temper our beliefs out of fear of social rejection.

That’s easier for me today as a junior with a solid base of friends, which is why connecting with other like-minded friends is a key component of standing one’s ground in college.

My advice to freshmen? First, recognize your political beliefs are nothing to be ashamed of, and anyone who thinks otherwise is not worth your investment.

Second, join campus groups that can back you up. For me, the Network of enlightened Women has provided a great social base of women who share my beliefs, and much of my confidence in owning my conservatism came from the friendship and mentorship I received from the network’s president my freshman year.

Finally, engage in dialogue with others who don’t share your beliefs, especially those who have been manipulated into believing exaggerated or false claims about conservative ideology.

I’m grateful for my journey from fear to confidence, and I know my footsteps can and should be followed by others.


Lawsuit: Sorority Punished for ‘Hazing’ for Requiring Members to Study 25 Hours per Week

A  predominantly Latina sorority is suing the University of Virginia on the grounds that it was wrongfully punished for hazing.

According to an article in The Daily Progress, Sigma Lambda Upsilon — also known as Senoritas Latinas Unidas — was punished for “hazing” because of a policy that required its members to study 25 hours per week. The sorority was suspended last March and filed the lawsuit in September, but the situation made news only when The Progress reported on it earlier this month.

According to the news source, the sorority got in trouble when one of its recruits went to a professor to complain about the requirement. The professor then contacted the student affairs office and the police. (Yes — the police.) UVa conducted an investigation and found that the forced studying did in fact violate the school’s anti-hazing policy.

The sorority argues that this determination was unfair because other classes and athletic programs on campus require a similar amount of studying, and claims that the school’s ruling amounts to discrimination.

UVa defines “hazing” as any situation that occurs either on campus property or during a campus event “that is designed to or produces mental or physical harassment, discomfort, or ridicule.”

“Such activities and situations include, but are not limited to, creation of excessive physical or psychological shock, fatigue, stress, injury, or harm,” the hazing policy states.

This, to me, is completely ridiculous. When you think of sorority or fraternity hazing, “studying” is definitely not what comes to mind. Instead, it’s stuff like making new members drink copious amounts of alcohol, or get naked and drink copious amounts of alcohol, or be blindfolded and drink copious amounts of alcohol.

Can studying create “fatigue”? Yes, sure, but so can literally anything. A mandatory sorority meeting, for example — which is something that many sororities do have — could also make members experience “fatigue.” Should an organization requiring meetings be deemed hazing, too? I think only an insane person would say so.

Is 25 hours per week a lot of studying? I suppose for some people it might be, but I know for a fact that I voluntarily studied that much or even more when I was in college — and that that was a good thing for me. I don’t regret any of the time I spent learning, and if I could go back, I would probably study even more.

Sororities and fraternities often get a bad rap for being nothing more than glorified, booze-soaked party factories. Clearly, this sorority enacted a policy that was intended to set itself apart, to show that its purpose was not to provide just social activities, but also tools for academic success. Seeing as academic learning is supposed to be the entire purpose of college, it’s kind of hard to see how this sorority wound up suspended over demanding that its members do just that.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Three middle school girls were unlawfully arrested to 'prove a point.' San Bernardino County just paid them $390,000

Something like this had to happen given the present reliance on the police for school discipline.  The police are not trained  for it

Three San Bernardino County middle school girls who were unlawfully arrested “to teach them a lesson” were awarded $390,000 this week to settle their case, their lawyer said.

The 2013 incident began when Balbina Kendall, then assistant principal at Etiwanda Intermediate School, asked the school resource officer, sheriff’s Deputy Luis Ortiz, for help with a group of girls who were involved in an “ongoing feud” with another group, according to court documents.

The girls, two of whom were age 12 and the other 13 at the time, had gone to the school office that morning to complain to administrators that they were being bullied and physically attacked by four other girls at the school.

An audio tape of Ortiz’s encounter with the girls reflects some whispering and quiet giggling in response to his questioning, according to court documents. Ortiz told the girls he was arresting them because he was not “playing around” and that he was taking them to jail to “prove a point.”

The girls eventually sued the county and deputy for violating their constitutional rights.

“The people they have as school resource officers are not well trained,” said Jerry Steering, the girls’ lawyer. “This guy was a bad egg.”

Steering said his clients were the victims of bullying. He said the school did not discipline any of the seven girls involved, and no criminal charges were filed.

The settlement follows a decision issued in September by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that the special needs doctrine, an exception to the 4th Amendment that permits police to make searches and seizures that would otherwise be deemed unconstitutional, doesn’t apply to the arrests of students.

“The summary arrest, handcuffing, and police transport to the station of the middle school girls was a disproportionate response to the school’s need,” Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote in the opinion for the three-judge panel. “No reasonable officer could have reasonably believed that the law authorizes the arrest of a group of middle schoolers in order to teach them a lesson or to prove a point.”


Girls’ self-confidence falls below that of boys from around age of six – but not if they go to a single-sex school, Australian study finds

Girls at risk of becoming less confident than boys may hold on to their self-esteem if they attend single-sex schools.

Evidence shows some girls start to believe they cannot be a clever or brilliant as boys from the age of six. But a study has found girls who go to single-sex schools do not have this crisis of confidence.

Researchers looked at more than 100,000 students aged 12 to 17 in single-sex schools and found no significant difference between the self-confidence of boys and girls.

Numerous previous studies have found girls are less confident in their own abilities than boys, which has been blamed for the lack of women in science and technology careers.

But the latest results suggests girls who are kept separate from the opposite sex may not start to believe they are inferior.

Dr Terry Fitzsimmons, who led the study from the University of Queensland, said: ‘We hope our research will empower caregivers and teachers to inspire confidence and purpose in young adults, especially when they are deciding on their subjects and careers, which can be as early as 13 years of age.’

The study’s authors state that parents and teachers can influence children at a young age on ‘what boys are good at’ and ‘what girls are good at’.

A previous study from the University of Illinois found females are less likely to believe other girls can be ‘intelligent’ or ‘brilliant’ from the age of six.

But the study of students at single-sex schools found, if anything, girls are slightly more confident than boys in every year except year 10 of school.

It concludes that travel, sport and leadership roles are most likely to build schoolchildren’s confidence.

However girls are still less likely to be allowed to be left to their own devices, with the Hands Up for Gender Equality study finding 82.2 per cent of boys reported doing activities unsupervised, compared to 79.2 per cent of girls.

Following the study, Dr Fitzsimmons said: ‘Key recommendations include urging parents to assign and pay chores equally, encouraging schools to prioritise excursions to help develop self-confidence, and urging industries traditionally dominated by one gender to send diverse role models to schools to talk about careers.

‘Correcting the gender imbalance in the workforce and creating a more equal and fair society is everyone’s responsibility and it’s important we start now.’


Australia: The number of graduates in full-time jobs edges higher

The proportion of Australians who landed full-time jobs within a few months of graduating university in 2017 was slightly higher than the year before, but remains significantly lower than a decade ago.

A new government-funded survey has found 72.9 per cent of graduates in 2017 found full-time work within four months, compared to 71.8 per cent the year before.

The 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey puts the gradually improving result reflects down to broader strengthening of the jobs market.

But the figure is still down from the 85.2 per cent of 2008 graduates who found full-time work within four months.

"Since the global financial crisis, graduates have taken longer to gain a foothold in the labour market," the report released on Friday states.

Ultimately 92 per cent of 2017 graduates were in some kind of employment, with 37.9 per cent working part-time, slightly down on 37.3 per cent the previous year.

The median salary for undergraduates in full-time employment is $61,000, up from $60,000 the year before.

Education Minister Dan Tehan says the results reflect the government's sound economic management, with newly-created jobs meaning more opportunities for graduates.

The figures are also "great news" for about 260,000 prospective university students set to receive offers to study on Friday, he said.

"In this country, if you have a go, you get a go," he said. "Those Australians making the commitment to improve themselves and improve their job prospects through higher education should be congratulated."

Maintaining a trend in last year's survey, 2017 graduates from regional or remote areas were more likely to secure full-time work within months than those from cities.

Their full-time employment rate was 76.7 per cent, compared with 71.8 per cent for metropolitan graduates.

Women graduates continues to earn less than men in their first year, with a median gap of $3000 or 4.8 per cent.

The gap had narrowed to $1100 last year, but had been $3600 for those who graduated in 2015.