Thursday, July 22, 2010

Humans Are Not Vulcans

This is a fascinating presentation by Dan Ariely.

This also brought to mind one of my favorite new blogs, You Are Not So Smart, which sets about debunking common knowledge that we take for granted.

The more we learn about ourselves, the more interesting we become. Stuff like this makes me think about how easily we can be manipulated in all sorts of subtle ways. I also found myself thinking about how I wasn't like this. I'm rational. I'm not like the mindless sheeple. And then I had to tell myself that, unfortunately, I'm human, too, and prone to this as much as anyone else. The important thing, of course, is to be cognizant of it, to do what we can to recognize our weaknesses and our failings and take steps to mitigate them.

If you are, you know, one of those weak-willed suckers that is.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pathfinder Giveaway

Let's see...

1) I like Pathfinder.
2) I like free stuff.

So, when I found out that Troll in a Corner was doing a drawing for three Pathfinder rulebooks, I had to sign up. For those not in the know, Pathfinder is the spiritual successor to the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set. I have a pdf of the core rulebook and I love it (even though I haven't had a chance to play it).

My current group is playing Dark Heresy, but I'm hoping that when the current campaign wraps up, we can get some Pathfinder action going. Perhaps some shiny new books (*crossesfingers*) would be added incentive.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quote of the Day

"We are more far more afraid of being racist than we are of being good human beings. And that is fucking cowardly." -Adam Serwer

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Differences in Educating Girls vs. Educating Boys

These are two fascinating studies.

He found that students who attended high school with high-achieving peers performed better at graduation, passing more of their final exams than students who went to the same school in a different year, when the crop of classmates was weaker. Intriguingly, the effect of high-achieving peers was much more positive for girls than for boys. Jackson's results suggest that boys may, in fact, pass fewer exams when surrounded by high-achievers, while girls' graduation exam pass rates are helped by having bookish classmates.

Essentially, it is very good for girls to be surrounded by smart classmates. It is good for boys, too, as long as their classmates aren't too much smarter than they are. Being surrounded by poor performers has a negative effect on both genders.

Studies like these are crucial for education and a way to guide educators in how to make their programs more effective. I read stuff like this and think about the possibility of separating boys and girls into different classrooms. Girls can be thrown together for the most part regardless of level. Boys, however, should be grouped with other boys on a close scale of ability so that no one of them is that much better than the others cutting down the gap between the "best" and the "worst."

Unfortunately the trends seems to be more toward teaching for tests in reading and math and not worrying about anything else. I'm curious to see if Race to the Top will produce anything good, but I'm skeptical that it actually will. For as much money as we spend on education and for as important as it is, you would think that there would be more willingness for bold experimentation especially as we see our country falling behind other developing nations in terms of student achievement.

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