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A Lesson that has to be taught incessantly

As can be seen in the sidebar of this article from Wired Magazine, the idea that kids (and adults!) can learn pretty much on their own has to be repeated ad nauseum in order for them to sink in at all. They haven't as yet, but as formal schooling, in the U.S. especially, continues to be increasing both in expense and in failure, this lesson may finally have to be learned. This isn't the world of the past, where students were for the most part being treated as standardized parts, in order to produce standardized parts.

Grading on the Howdy Doody Curve

  1. In which 75% of students are above average
  2. The Bell Curve began its life as way for the Engineers to keep track of machine performance in producing standardized parts, was formalized by Mathematicians, and then hammered every nail within reach.
    1. In the Industrial Engineering application, the median result is the optimum performance to be had. 
    2. In use as a Grading curve, the median could be anything... anything at all.
    3. Is there one proven and objectively superior use of the normal distribution in grading? 
    4. Is any body of students statistically large enough to have such a curve applied to it? 
    5. Why shouldn't we use a more informative analysis, like perhaps chi-squared?
      1. Ways of looking at chi-squared curves:
        1. Blame the student
        2. Blame the material
        3. Blame the test
        4. Blame the teacher
        5. Blame the school
        6. Blame the parents
        7. Blame the neighborhood
        8. Accept that the questions are better not to be asked, at least not without an essay
  3. The modern homework grind and high-stakes standardized testing are these same methodologies applied without generosity or remorse

Dead Trees and Shelf Space

...or How Many Theories on One Subject can Dance on a Two Terabyte Hard Drive?

  • Everyone's theory on a given subject can be recorded for posterity, no matter how silly

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