Andrew Hacker on the Supposed Superfluousness of Algebra

An Op-Ed titled ‘Is Algebra necessary’ is bound to provoke reaction. So, here I am, reacting to Andrew Hacker’s anti-algebra screed (New York Times, July 29th, 2012). It is a strange argument, one unsure of what it is attacking–mandatory math education, elementary algebra, higher algebra?–and one founded on an extremely dubious premise: that the wayContinue reading “Andrew Hacker on the Supposed Superfluousness of Algebra”

The Copyright Police Catch Up With ‘Hung Up’

Well, I’ve finally run afoul of the copyright police. More precisely, two videos I had uploaded to YouTube–some six years ago–have been taken down. Last night, as I searched for them repeatedly, I wondered what might have happened to them. This morning, as I thought about their content, I realized why they might have gotContinue reading “The Copyright Police Catch Up With ‘Hung Up’”

Final Exams, Testing Regimes, Contd.

Daniel Kaufman left a very interesting comment in response to my post on final exams; it captures a great deal of what is wrong with testing regimes in general. I’d like to offer some brief responses to it. First, testing regimes lay excessive emphasis on memorization and rote recall, which has a questionable connection with what mightContinue reading “Final Exams, Testing Regimes, Contd.”

The Distraction of Distraction

I’ve written on distraction on this blog before (several times: detailing my ‘Net distraction; comparing the distraction attendant when trying to write with a pen as opposed to a word processor or blog editor; describing the effect of changing locales of work on distraction and of persistent online activity on the ‘offline’ world; noting howContinue reading “The Distraction of Distraction”

RIP Sally Ride

Like many other schoolboys in the 1980s, transfixed by the awesome sight of the space shuttle lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center, by the legend of the moon landings, and by the culturally enforced vision of the astronaut as our era’s most intrepid pioneer, I had a thing for those that went into space.Continue reading “RIP Sally Ride”

Why Not A Syrian Mandelian Midwife, Mr. Friedman?

An acute application of gynaecology to international relations, conjuring up visions of revolutionaries being led gently through birthing procedures is on display–again and again, and quite possibly, again–in Tom Friedman’s latest column in the New York Times. Apparently, the Middle East–especially Syria– is pregnant with possibility, fertile with newly planted seeds of political change. ItContinue reading “Why Not A Syrian Mandelian Midwife, Mr. Friedman?”

Final Exams: Who Needs ‘Em?

A good friend once described studying for the bar exam as ‘a Bataan Death March of the mind.’ That description both trivializes the horrors of the Death March and gestures toward what seems to me, from the outside, to be the mind-numbing, anxiety-inducing tedium of bar-exam preparation. Interminably long video lectures, flash cards, memorization ofContinue reading “Final Exams: Who Needs ‘Em?”

Re-Reading What One Has Read

A few days ago, I wrote a post on reading (and re-reading) what one writes. Today, I want to put down a few thoughts on the business of re-reading what one has read, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. Susan Sontag once said, ‘All great books deserve to be read five times at least.’ When asked ifContinue reading “Re-Reading What One Has Read”

Online vs. In-Classroom Education, Contd.

My response yesterday to Mark Edmundson’s ‘online education is not real education’ New York Times Op-Ed sparked a set of interesting comments in response. I’d like to briefly take those on today as I think they help round out the discussion quite nicely. (Please read the comments in full at the original post.) My Brooklyn CollegeContinue reading “Online vs. In-Classroom Education, Contd.”