Sunday, January 31

Single-sex public school

Across America, the trend is moving toward a single-sex education. The Supreme Court has even decided that separate but equal is okay in this case. Now, America's first girls-only public school is about to open: the Girls Athletic Leadership School. (Did they really have to pick the acronym GALS?)

Wednesday, January 27

In the age of texting...

It turns out that handwriting still matters. This study suggests that kids with better handwriting are better writers. Surprising, but thought provoking (given that I have terrible handwriting, and consider myself a not-bad writer).

Tuesday, January 26

When Bill Gates Talks...

...people listen. Now the full-time chairman of his family charitable foundation, he has given billions in charity. In his annual letter, he speaks of improving teaching and on pushing online learning. I'm not sure if he has said anything new, but he has put his money where his mouth is.

He also links to "Academicearth" - a new website that provides free online university lectures for download. Seems small and thin at the moment, but it has enormous potential.

Have Your Students Write the Test

Everybody knows that you can do well on a test if you don't really understand the material, and that you can understand the material and still do poorly on a test. In short, tests are not terribly accurate. One teacher suggests having the kids write the tests - perhaps they will make a better exam than we will, and will learn something in the process.

Sunday, January 24

Nowhere To Go But Up

Researchers assumed that teens (and pre-teens) couldn't possibly spend any more time on the internet or using other media. They were wrong!

Thursday, January 21

Orthodox Jewish Marital Satisfaction

The full research has not yet been released which might provide more information on how the data was gathered, but the OU is happy to report that Orthodox Jewish marriages tend to be happier than the national average.

Monday, January 18

Beyond Crack Square

I had just posted a link to an article from the Jewish Week about kids involved in dangerous behavior during their year in Israel. I thought that the article was a bit overstated, but then I saw a follow-up on the Jewish Week's blog. Yes, there is a problem when students have trouble finding places to stay for shabbat, and it can be awkward to be a guest often. But these unqualified accusations get plenty of facts wrong and are just irresponsible.

Sunday, January 17

How much has enrollment decreased?

The conventional wisdom has been that the economic problems would it take a big bite out of day-school enrollment. The most recent numbers suggest that it could have been much worse.

Thursday, January 14

Crack Square

The author of this article in the Jewish Weeks states explicitly that not all of the kids in Israel for a year are getting drunk and high. But the article implies that a great many are. Like other discussions of this topic, this one too seems to assume that the fault lies with the administrations of the schools, but I would prefer a richer attempt at contextualizing this within larger question of post-high school drinking, drugs, and sex.

Snoozing in Class

Easy sollution: have kids sleep more. (The article doesn't explain how to convince your fifteen year old to get into bed by 9:00, but you can't have everything.)

Tuesday, January 12

How to Prevent Cheating

Just buy your students designer sunglasses. It's that simple. Well, no, not really. But, thinking that your sunglasses are knock-offs does increase the odds of cheating, in at least one creative experiment.

Sunday, January 10

Their Whole Lives Ahead Of Them

Young twentysomethings have their whole lives ahead of them. Why, then, do they drop out of college in such high numbers. Public Agenda went out and asked them.

Wednesday, January 6

Irrelevant majors in college

The New York Times reports on the collapse of "lishmah" majors, and their replacement by things that are a bit more "practical." In tough economic times, everybody wants to make sure they will get a job.

Wake up and smell the bad education...

What kind of a moron parent would want their gifted preteen to appear on national television to answer trivia questions for cash? You will only have to spend the winnings on psychological counseling for your kid. Hardly seems worth it, after all, gifted kids have enough social and emotional challenges to begin with.

Monday, January 4

The subtext...

Is that there is something inherently wrong with settler ideology, something wrong that does not even have to be articulated. It's enough to suggest that kids are learning settler ideology to condemn a program. The Forward attacks YU's high school exchange program in Israel.

Saturday, January 2

The Economics of Edutainment

Over the past few months, several educators involved in one-year Israel programs that educate students from the Diaspora have approached members of the ATID faculty to raise issues about the world of yeshivas and seminaries. After asking those educators to put pen to paper and articulate their concerns, we received two short essays, one on a proclaimed decline in the rigor of the education and the other on the deplorable employment conditions of staff. One need not agree with each and every one of their concerns to agree that the issues are worth discussing seriously.

Normally, we are utterly opposed to anonymous writing particularly when criticizing others. If one has something critical to say, one should stand by it openly. This case, we believe, is an exception, since publicizing the authors' names could hurt their job prospects.

The essays appear here, together with several other of ATID's "Op-Jed" pieces.

It's Smart to Marry a Smart Woman

Men who marry smart women, or at least educated ones, tend to live longer. (Hey, that's not why I married Nava, but it's nice to know in retrospect).