Friday, January 20, 2006

Education Failure - What Boys Need

Yesterday, I wrote about the speculation regarding why fewer males are enrolling in universities than females. There seems to be a performance malfunction for young males these days. The solution is not taking a pill.

Males just seem to be more hands-on learners. They generally do not do well sitting for hours in class, followed by sitting for hours doing homework. There is a tactile, spatial element of male learning that is missing. I would guess that the ratio of avid video game players is roughly 9:1 male versus female. Oh sure, call it a macho thing. Sure the games are macho themes for the most part... war, racing alien-invasion... but guys love the interactive, hands-on aspect of the games. It's just a whole lot different from Jeopardy.

Perhaps that's why so many guys gravitate to computer and high-tech stuff. It's a hands-on challenge. They guy who daydreams during English literature is a prodigy when it comes to wireless interconnectivity. Jane Eyre doesn't have that mixture of visual-tactile that really intrigues and interests so many young males. Years ago, the high school day was a combination of math, science, language and literature, punctuated with wood-working or automotive or metal shop. A sedate environment all day just puts boys to sleep. At least that's my opinion.

The local high school website had an interesting section on scheduling classes which include the following:

What Have We Learned from the Farmington High Experience?

  • The majority of students and staff believe that block scheduling is beneficial.
  • A calmer teaching and learning atmosphere has been achieved.
  • Teachers report increasing use of varied instructional strategies based on best practice research.
  • Increased community involvement has been achieved through the use of SMART and extended classroom time.
  • More students are successfully taking AP courses.
  • Students have access to broader curriculum offerings.
  • ACT scores remain stable.
  • Percentage of students with A's and B's has remained stable.
  • Teachers are growing more confident in adjusting curriculum, instructional and assessment strategies.
  • Students report higher satisfaction with school atmosphere and delivery of services.

What are the Concerns?

  • Slight decrease in grade point averages has occurred.
  • There is some concern over a one-year drop in SAT math scores.
  • Freshman transition to the high school appears to be challenging.
  • Lower achieving students appear to need stronger guidance in their use of SMART time.
  • In general, lower achieving students have not done better in a block schedule.
  • The community needs continuous education on the appropriate use of data and the reasons for block scheduling.
I know their intention was not to connect their latest education approach to failure... well, maybe it was... but it does reinforce my own perception that maybe schools are now focusing on female learning approaches to the detriment of the males. The way classes are scheduled is a red herring to me. It might reside more in those "varied instructional strategies based on best practice research."

Or maybe mothers really are dumber this generation.

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)