Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Optional Links

1) In one of our classes, I defended some of the Texas School Board's decisions. I don't doubt that they were added for purely partisan purposes, but some of the things they added should be included in a balanced historical curriculum - kids should learn about economists Hayek and Keynes and should talk about the trade-offs of the social safety net. For another (much more erudite) defense of Hayek, check out this Volokh Blog post.

2) When we talked about Washington's leadership, I contrasted his ability to be decisive even when information was limited and contrasted that with the classic "smart kid disease," informational paralysis. The Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting post about the relationship between chess skill and intelligence and also moves on to the meta-idea of specialization vs. renaissance approaches. I was struck by one commenter's near perfect definition of informational paralysis:

Smart people often have trouble making decisions. They see all sides or possibilities to an issue and can have difficulty choosing among (what they perceive as) very similar options. They over think the problem and get stuck. This is why you have incredibly intelligent people who don’t know what to wear in the morning.

3) Too Much Esteem, Too Little Sleep.

By my man George Will. Do these quotes ring true?

But the theory that praise, self-esteem and accomplishment increase in tandem is false. Children incessantly praised for their intelligence (often by parents who are really praising themselves) often underrate the importance of effort. Children who open their lunchboxes and find mothers' handwritten notes telling them how amazingly bright they are tend to falter when they encounter academic difficulties. Also, Bronson and Merryman say that overpraised children are prone to cheating because they have not developed strategies for coping with failure.

What about this one?

The school day starts too early because that is convenient for parents and teachers. Awakened at dawn, teenage brains are still releasing melatonin, which makes them sleepy. This is one reason young adults are responsible for half of the 100,000 annual "fall asleep" automobile crashes. When Edina, Minn., changed its high school start from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., math/verbal SAT scores rose substantially.

If you are interested, click the link to read the whole article.

4) Chuck Norris calls me out.

Chuck defends the Texas School Board, defends a Bible-based curriculum and oddly uses a Jefferson quote that was made to support the separation of church and state to denounce the spearation of church and state here. In the interest of equal time, you should check it out. Chuck's warning against critics is bone-chilling:

My personal warning to educational tyranny and tyrants is this: best not to test or mess with Texas. If you thought we fought hard for the Alamo, wait until you see what we can do for the right to educate our children. You can hide behind your No. 2 pencils, but our branding irons will find your tail sides.

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