Saturday, December 31, 2016

Favorite comments of '16: Niels Henrik Abel and Anonymouses

On Going on automatic: should word processing supplant penmanship?

Niels Henrik Abel said...
I admit that I am firmly in the handwriting camp. To me it seems much easier to write with pen/pencil and paper than to stare at a blinking cursor, suffering from writer's block. I don't know whether this is a result of the generation in which I was raised, or if it's due to any actual neurological/psychological difference between writing longhand and pecking away at the keyboard. For what it's worth, I am a pretty decent typist, despite having learned late in life (after graduate school), but I suspect that's largely due to my skills as a piano player. Nonetheless, I much prefer writing a rough draft on paper and then typing it using a word processing program, even though some may view the handwritten rough draft as a "waste of time." The way I view it, however, is that it's not as much a waste of time as it would be if I just sat staring at a blank computer screen.
Anonymous said...
I read this article and it made me want to gag. I have seen so much horrific writing because the subject has been completely removed from the curriculum. Whatever is taught now the students only write in print. Nothing riles me more than seeing 12 year olds printing.

Bookish Babe
Anonymous said...
It's true that students do need to know how to type, and at an earlier age. But that doesn't mean they don't need to know how to write in cursive, for the reasons you indicate. But it's strange to me that so many think that keyboarding should actually replace handwriting. We did not propose to eliminate Algebra from secondary school curriculums when we introduced basic Computer Science; we made room for both.
Anonymous said...
5 second google search came up with these articles:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201303/why-writing-hand-could-make-you-smarter
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=0

Friday, December 30, 2016

Favorite comments of '15: Rob Chametzky

On News flash: how interesting and curious you are also matters!

Rob Chametzky said...
Those interested in a "third-way": something that isn't either standard IQ-type intelligence (testing) or the 'non-cognitive skills' mentioned in your post should look at the work of Keith Stanovich and his collaborators on (evaluating) "rational thought". References (ones which I have electronic versions of) include

"Education for rational thought", M.Topiak, R.West, K.Stanovich, in Kirby, John R., and Lawson, Michael J., eds. Enhancing the Quality of Learning. West Nyack, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Rationality & the reflective mind,Stanovich, Oxford UP, 2011, especially Chapter 10, "The assessment of rational thought", Stanovich, West, Topiak.

"Intelligence and rationality," Stanovich, West, & Toplak, (2012).
In R. Sternberg and S. B. Kaufman (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of intelligence
(3rd Edition) (pp. 784-826). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

"On the Distinction Between Rationality and Intelligence: Implications for Understanding Individual Differences in Reasoning," Stanovich, in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking & Reasoning, Holyoak & Morrison, eds., 2012.

What Intelligence Tests Miss: The psychology of rational thought, Stanovich, Yale UP, 2009.

Favorite comments of '16: Auntie Ann and momof4

On Social emotional learning for everyone, or special interventions for disruptors:

Auntie Ann said...
One "non-academic" measure...how about personal attractiveness? That's been shown to have a long-term effect on employment, earnings, etc., so why not that?
momof4 said...
Perseverance has been taught/encouraged through appropriately-challenging academic work and assignments requiring appropriately-challenging executive function performance - for multiple decades, until the last few. SEL, as currently defined/implemented, seems to be just another in a long line of edworld fads that take time away from academics and it isn't as if it is doing so well at teaching basic literacy, numeracy and general knowledge that time should be spent elsewhere. I just read that the Chancellor (think that's the title) of DC Public Schools is making it a priority for all second-graders to be taught how to ride a bike - in a school district where many (if not most) kids can't read or add!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Favorite comments of '16: Anonymouses, Aunti Ann, and momof4

On Classroom grammar instruction, fallacy II: teaching grammar rules to native speakers

Anonymous said...
"people who read enough high-quality prose"

That isn't very many people these days.

Auntie Ann said...
Anon: having two teenagers around and seeing what books sell to kids, it's hard for them to even find high-quality prose. Most of the stuff out today is dreck.

Anonymous said...
@Auntie Ann
"Anon: having two teenagers around and seeing what books sell to kids, it's hard for them to even find high-quality prose. Most of the stuff out today is dreck"

Then they should read classics. I was doing that as a kid over 40 years ago: Mark Twain, Conan Doyle, Jules Verne. Stuff that was old even then.

- Anon

momof4 said...
Agree. The classics are the way to go - and I deliberately seek out old versions, from the used sellers linked to Barnes and Noble or Amazon, because the newer ones have been watered down, both in vocab and in sentence structure. Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels (young adult) and version of classic legends (juvenile) are great. I was reading Agatha Christie early in ES and later discovered Josephine Tey, Patricia Wentworth, Patricia Moyne, Dorothy Sayers and Ellis Peters - all mysteries and far better-written than most of the modern stuff. Good HS readers can easily handle Tom Clancy - many of my 12yo's teammates were reading his books.

Auntie Ann said...
That's good advice on a family level, and at the moment I'm trying to get the 14 year old into classic science fiction. But on a society level, we need to see better quality writing aimed at our kids. They're not going to pass by Mockingjay or Maze Runner just because the writing is bad, when everyone else is reading them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorite comments of '16: Anonymouses, Auntie Ann, treehousekeeper, Maya Thiagarajan, Barry Garelick& Jeff Boulier

On Classroom grammar instruction, fallacy I:

Anonymous said...
Are you familiar with David Mulroy's "The Way Against Grammar"?

Mulroy is a now-retired professor of Classics who found the biggest obstacle to teaching undergrads Latin or Greek was that they knew nothing of English grammar.

He's certainly big on knowing parts of speech. He also strongly recommends good old-fashioned sentence diagramming to learn how languages work.

Auntie Ann said...
Foreign language class is where a lot of English grammar ends up being taught. You can't figure out the grammar of another language until you figure out your own.
 
treehousekeeper said...
The people who minimize the importance of grammar are the ones who have no clue about grammar themselves. These are the same people who think that we can teach children to be "little scientists" and "little historians" simply by having them do things that, on the surface, look like the things scientists and historians do. It seems to me that most of the high level education folk are experts at being education folk, which means that they have no expertise in grammar, science, history, or anything else that is actually being taught in schools.

Anonymous said...
In first grade (no k),in the 50s, we were explicitly taught capitalization, punctuation,nouns/pronouns and verbs (action/state-of-being) and components of a sentence before we composed a sentence independently. We were started with copywork from the board, then teacher dictation, before that happened. And, all work was corrected for grammar, as well as content (through HS). We had grammar every year, through HS, with sentence diagramming starting in 7th, and spelling/vocab every week. By the end of 8th grade, almost all kids were able to write correct English - reports,notices, personal and business letters etc. i never remember seeing misspelled or grammatically incorrect notices or signs, as I do today. (Celebrate and festive with us - on a church, signup for spring now - on a CC etc)

Maya Thiagarajan said...
As an English teacher myself, I've thought a lot about grammar instruction. With a few exceptions, most progressive American/International schools don't teach grammar anymore, and if they do, it's taught in such a haphazard way that it's mostly a waste of time. Grammar, I think, is a bit like math. It only works if schools have a systematic and rigorous grammar/writing program with the goal of mastery. Teaching in a haphazard way with the goal of mere exposure is totally futile.
I recently wrote a blog post about this -- Does It Matter if Students Can't Identify a Verb? http://mayathiagarajan.blogspot.sg/2016/03/does-it-matter-if-kids-cant-identify.html
Anonymous said...
Yes! That's what we - anonymous above - had. I don't remember the book/books we used 1-6, but assume we had something by 3rd grade or so. For 7-12, we had the same hardback series; one for each year. Despite my 1-4 teachers not having college degrees (3 Normal School, 1 with 1-2 years of college), they put together a solid curriculum; phonics, grammar, spelling,composition, geography, literature (including classics and good poetry - some as read-alouds- government,history, science and art/music history/appreciation.

Barry Garelick said...
I think the series for 7-12 was Warriner's English Grammar. We had those in high school.


Anonymous said...
I think you are right. I just looked online and the 1958 cover looks familiar.


Anonymous said...
In grade school, in the '50's, we did not have a separate grammar text. Instead, our basal readers (can't remember the publisher) included grammar lessons along with the stories and comprehension exercizes. Spelling was separate for the first few years.

Jeff Boulier said...
My cousin had a (near as I could tell from cursory perusal) grammarless first year Latin textbook. O tempora o mores!

Favorite comments of '16: gasstationwithoutpumps and TerriW

On Engineering the writing requirement:

gasstationwithoutpumps said...
When choices are severely constrained, there may be no good choices, so one makes the least-bad one. Most students will not have as many constraints on college choice as J, so looking for engineering writing courses in college is good advice for most would-be engineers.

Incidentally, it is probably not a matter of letting professors in other disciplines teach writing, but of forcing professors in other disciplines to teach writing. Teaching writing is hard work, and most faculty happily leave it for someone else to do.

TerriW said...
One of the writing programs we use -- IEW -- was originally born out of the African History department at Dalhousie University. Dr. Webster found that his students were coming in unable to turn in a decent paper, so he began to spend the first ten minutes of every class on how to write and slowly developed a fairly sophisticated rubric for research papers. Enrollment in his classes began to rise because word got around that if you wanted to learn how to actually write, you wouldn't take classes from the English department, but instead: African History.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Favorite comments of '16: One of the more animated comment threads of the year

On Autism in America: gratuitous barriers to productive employment

TerriW said...
Surely if we can have Physics for Poets, we can have Poets for Physicists.

lgm said...
It is possible to use one's SAT, ACT, or AP scores to test out of college english in many colleges if one did not dual enroll senior year.


Katharine Beals said...
Interesting. Can you list specific examples of colleges for which this is the case, and what the minimum scores for this are?

Katharine Beals said...
Well put!

Anonymous said...
Of these barriers, I think the thorniest one is the college-for-all trend. Not just because of the breadth requirements, but because college (and especially larger universities) require students to negotiate such a myriad of other personalities, ranging from faculty to other students to staff to financial aid people, etc etc. And because colleges, in the guise of "student life," are so eager to get all the students mixing and appreciating each other and so on. And then there is the growing trend towards internships, where students have to form and sustain relationships that will only end in 3 or 6 months.

lgm said...
Uss a search term such as ' test out college english + college name'....

http://www.english.umd.edu/academics/academicwriting/exemptions/testscore
http://www.buffalo.edu/cas/english/composition/for-students-and-advisors/sat--act--and-ap-exams.html

That doesnt mean other humanities classes will be paper free, especially if ethics or multiculturalism is in the curriculum.

Katharine Beals said...
What's relevant are the score cutoffs, which, using these and other obvious search terms, are rather high--higher than what many autistic spectrum students achieve. Indeed, if a student achieves scores at or about these cutoffs, the English requirements wouldn't be prohibitive in the first place.

In other words, the possibility at some institutions of placing out of some of the problematic humanities courses doesn't address the issue I'm raising here.

lgm said...
You want a degree with no proficiency in communication required?


Katharine Beals said...
Nope.

Anonymous said...
But, for real, the communications demands made on students with autism need to be very different from the ones made on typical students. And that is why I think that a very high level trade school -- equivalent to degree-granting institutions -- is a better fit for students with autism. There, the communcations skills that are expected (and taught, very explicitly) would be entirely discipline-related. I believe this not only because it would allow students with autism to flourish, but also because they need for constant intervention and brokering of the student's academic life would be removed or at least greatly lessened. It's the mark of transition to adulthood to get to the point where this brokering and coaching and "managing" by others can be left behind.

Katharine Beals said...
Absolutely--a very high level trade school would be a much better fit for many on the spectrum. I suspect one could find that sort of thing in other countries, but am not aware of anything like this here in America.

And very good point, too, about the benefits of getting beyond the need for constant brokering and coaching. It stifles the child's independence, and is exhausting for his or her parents.

Auntie Ann said...
Might want to check out coding boot camps. In 12 weeks, they prep students for jobs in programming, and help get them hired.

You'd have to really check them out first, though. They're essentially crash-course tech schools.

Katharine Beals said...
Thanks, Auntie Ann! The big question I have about these is how much of an emphasis there is on collaborative team work--and how much of a social dimension there is to these camps more generally.

lgm said...
Well, I was asking seriously, but since it makes you uncomfortable to detail your ideas, other than a continual calling for a dumbdown for nonautistic classmates, I will bow out. My son's autistic friend just graduated Ivy League in science and is running his own company. I am very grateful his parents advocated for opportunity for all students in public school.

Katharine Beals said...
"since it makes you uncomfortable to detail your ideas." I detailed them in the post above, and elsewhere. Re-read the post above and see how a follow-up question like "You want a degree with no proficiency in communication required?" does not warrant more than a "Nope."

" other than a continual calling for a dumbdown for non autistic classmates" Re-read the various blog posts on this, and notice how there is not a single call for this.

"My son's autistic friend just graduated Ivy League in science and is running his own company." Congratulations to your son's autistic friend, and to his advocating parents. It's nice to hear about people who have positive suggestions for all students in public schools.

Most autistic students, of course, don't get into the Ivies, and don't run their own companies, no matter how much their parents advocate for them. Some of the reasons for this are discussed in various posts on this blog, and, of course, all over the Internet and beyond.

GoogleMaster said...
I thought I had mentioned coding boot camps in comments on a previous OILF comment, but the only other post I can find that mentions coding boot camps is this one: http://oilf.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-transition-to-college-ii-what-if.html and it's not my comment!

However, my comments on that post are still relevant. To advance as a software engineer, it's not enough to be a great coder. You have to be able to communicate with people who speak business language, both receiving and transmitting. On the other hand, if J just wants to code, there are probably positions for that, as long as he's okay not advancing up the career path.

Re coding boot camps: I swear I thought I posted this before. A younger relative of mine cut their grad schooling (pure science, not CS or engineering) short at a Master's degree, entered and completed a boot camp about a year and a half ago, and had three job offers when they finished the boot camp. They are currently working at a ~50-person company in the Bay Area.

Boot camps aren't cheap, but they are cheaper than college: my relative's was about $18K. They are a lot of work in a short amount of time: 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for 11 weeks. OTOH, the better ones have nearly 100% job placement rates.

GoogleMaster said...
Also in that previous post, I had posted a link to a story about a company that hires people with autism.

DK said...
Hi, I came across this article and have some info to add: To answer an earlier comment, my daughter's school, UIC, requires 2 English courses, both writing courses. They waive the first english class if ACT is 27+ in English. The 2nd course is described as "Writing for Inquiry" and is described as an independent research-based course with collaboration for peer-reviewing and possibly for research. A point worth noting is that there are sections covering a huge range of topics. There is even one called "The Scope and Impact of Mathematics." For my daughter with mild Asperger's, writing a research paper on a topic that she is interested in is not a challenge at all. She can write research papers all day long because she is not trying to interpret someone's ambiguity and evaluate it as a reading class would require. So, there are schools out there with such offerings!

Additionally, as a software developer and very left-brained person, I understand the wish to sit in my corner and code. That being said, there's a big difference between 1)meeting/communicating with users in order to understand their requests/problems and relay the features of your programs and 2)sitting around discussing ideas/goals/mission statements etc. I can collaborate on technical details all day long. Neurotypical people tend to mistake lack of small-talk and missing of social cues as an indicator of poor communication skills. I can communicate very well about the things in which I am knowledgeable and interested :)