Education

  • Khamenei Cracks Down on Iran's University Students

    For almost the first time since June's contested election, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemed confidently at the helm last week when nearly all his cabinet picks were approved by Parliament. He even signaled a willingness to restart nuclear talks. But the regime's hardliners haven't backed down from their persecution of political rivals and are now turning their attention to a potent new threat: the start of the school year. Throughout history, universities from Beijing to Berkeley have served as petri dishes for dissent, and with classes beginning this month in Iran, a widespread crackdown is likely. At a gathering of university professors last week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched an attack against academia when he claimed that "many of the liberal arts and humanities are based on philosophies whose foundations are materialism" and can "lead to the loss of belief in godly and Islamic knowledge." He asked the government to pay ...
  • The Red-Herring Solution for Redshirting Kindergartners

    A follow-up to yesterday's post on redshirting.Looking at Bedard and Dhuey's study, both Malcolm Gladwell and Elizabeth Weil highlighted a particular quirk in the scholars' findings. On average, in Denmark and Finland, kids born earlier in the year performed no differently from those born later. And in both nations, kids don't start primary school until the age of 7.Both reports sort of left you with the impression that the best way to level the playing field in America was to follow Denmark and Finland’s model─keep kids out of any schooling until they are 7 or older. As if kids in Northern Europe spend their early years just dancing through some sort of Rousseauian frozen tundra─and that American kids' development is cruelly slowed because of all this kindergarten.The reality is that the Finnish and Danish kids don't wait to begin school. They actually begin their education much earlier.The year before they start primary school, 98 percent of Danish...
  • Should Children Redshirt Kindergarten?

    Every September, the class of incoming American kindergartners is ever slightly older.In the U.S., kids who start kindergarten must be at least 5 years old. In theory, that seems like a clear-cut, easy enough rule─like the "You must be this tall to go on this ride" sign at an amusement park. But what’s driving the trend toward an older kindergarten class is the increasing number of 6-year-old “redshirted” kids whose parents have delayed their entry.In 1980, about 10 percent of kindergartners were redshirted. Since then, the proportion has doubled.It seems that fewer parents are comfortable with their child being one of the youngest in the class, the runts of the litter. By simply holding them back, parents can ensure their child begins the rat race as one of the oldest, most mature kids in class.It’s not surprising that the older kindergartners, on average, are slightly better students when they begin school. The real question is, does that initial age advantage last, or...
  • Does Being Older Help Your Child Win a Gifted Slot?

    Last week, The New York Times noticed that we’d singled out New York City’s gifted-and-talented testing and placement process for flouting the science and being the No. 1 worst offender. We’d surveyed the 20 largest school districts in the country; all of them anoint kids as gifted before third grade, but New York fills the vast majority of its slots in kindergarten, allowing scant room for late bloomers. And once in the gifted system, children never have their intelligence retested. As we noted in NurtureShock, late bloomers are extremely common─fully one third of the highest-achieving third graders scored below average on kindergarten entrance tests. It’s important to note we’re not the only ones singling out New York. At the American Psychological Association’s annual conference in Toronto last month, a special panel was convened to discuss the problems with testing for giftedness so young. City University of New York’s Frances Horowitz, editor of a handbook on giftedness, took...
  • Too Dangerous for College

    By Christopher FlavelleOn Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that beer maker Anheuser-Busch has scaled back a promotion called “Fan Cans” in which the company targeted college students by painting cans of Bud Light in school colors. Anheuser-Busch got a push from the Federal Trade Commission, which was “concerned that cans will be marketed to fans under the legal age of 21.” In response, the company agreed to stop selling the special-edition cans where colleges objected....
  • Are Jocks Jerks? Kids, Sports and Life Lessons

     A three-part series on the role sports play in childhood development.  Depending on one’s high-school experience, there are two distinct philosophies about the role sports plays in a child’s development. There’s the idea that youth sports teaches kids discipline and respect, keeps them off the street, and helps them mature into adults: it’s sports that turned athletically gifted but insecure Daniel Larusso into The Karate Kid. But just as pervasive is the opinion that jocks are jerks, and kids who play sports are mean bullies who will do anything to win, who need to dominate their opponents and who carry that aggressiveness streak off the field. Kids who play sports, this line of thinking goes, are more like Johnny Lawrence, star athlete (and big-time bully) from the Cobra-Kai dojo. A recent study in the journal Developmental Psychology suggest that jocks really are jerks—if they focus exclusively on sports at the expense of other more-well rounded programs. But kids who both play...
  • Men on TV Are Such Wimps

    We TV is rolling out the fifth batch of its docuseries The Secret Lives of Women, which rummages through the dirty laundry of the fairer sex. Munchausen moms, phone-sex operators, and Wiccan priestesses reveal their unorthodox lives and the lengths to which they go to maintain them. There's no equivalent show for men, and if there were, even the title The Secret Lives of Men would sound silly. Men, it seems, don't have interesting secrets, and as TV fodder, they're worthless.There's no better evidence than Fox Reality's new series Househusbands of Hollywood. It's a gender-flipped version of Bravo's eminently bloggable Real Housewives franchise, and on paper, Househusbands sounds like it could be compelling. How do these men reconcile their domestic roles with the societal pressure to be the breadwinners? I had those questions going in, but as I watched the husbands—former baseball player Billy, ex-Marine Grant, sometime actor Danny, etc.—I found myself wondering what their wives...
  • Rosen: Think Backward About Your College Choice

    Everyone's college goal is not the same. For some students it's about experiencing college life—football games, intellectual conversations, living on campus, being away from home for the first time. For others, it's about the desire to learn about a particular area—be it art history or advanced mathematics. And for others still, it's a means to an end—a path toward a career. Many students give too little thought to what it is they really want out of college, and what kind of university can best meet their needs. And few consider whether colleges are able to meet their end of the bargain.Basing your college choice on a desired outcome can be a constructive way to approach the college-applications process. At some schools, curriculum developers actually use a process known as "backward design" to create courses by starting from the desired outcome. In other words, the curriculum is shaped and coursework selected on the basis of how well it permits a student to achieve their desired...
  • A Guide to the 2010 Newsweek-Kaplan College Guide

    By the time you reach the point of applying to college, you may feel that you've heard way too much advice from your parents, your teachers, your guidance counselors, your neighbors—even that guy who graduated from your high school three years ago whom you ran into at the movies last week. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about where you should apply, what you should study, and even what you should write in your essay. If you can stand it, here's one more piece of advice: forget everything you've heard, at least for a moment, and think about the most important person in this process: you. What do you want out of college?It's a simple question with a very complicated answer. In fact, it's the theme of this 14th annual edition of the NEWSWEEK-Kaplan College Guide. Instead of focusing on different types of schools, we began by imagining different types of students and finding an environment that would work best for each one. Veteran education reporter Jay Mathews has assembled a...
  • Bennett: Who Should You Be in College?

    Where should you go to college? you have nearly 1,500 colleges and universities to choose among—and that counts just the accredited four-year institutions. The list gets longer still (much longer) if you include community colleges and other accredited institutions that offer two-year associate's degrees. How do you choose when the choice seems to matter so much?"Is it really my choice?" you may ask yourself. "Don't I have to get in first? And isn't it hard to get into the best colleges?" True, of the 1,500 there are 100 or so that are highly selective—that have so many applicants clamoring to get in, only a lucky minority gain admission. But is one of these the best college for you just because many, many others want to go there, too? There is very little evidence that these highly selective colleges provide a more effective education to the students who do gain admission than these same students would have received elsewhere. You need to make a right choice for you, not a choice...
  • How to Develop a Strategy for Taking the SATs

    Let's recap the good news—you now have more flexibility when it comes to your SAT scores and what colleges will actually use to evaluate your application. Ideally, this takes some of the anxiety out of the test-day experience and helps ensure you get a chance to showcase your best performance to the admissions committee.But with this new set of choices, many students are reporting anxiety over how to think through this decision—should they send one score? All scores? Some scores? Which scores?The first thing to keep in mind is that most colleges genuinely want to use your highest test score. In fact, most colleges have adopted the College Board's Score Choice policy, which allows students to selectively submit their score(s). Even many schools that have "opted out" of Score Choice have suggested that they will continue to "super score" students' test scores (i.e., take the highest sectional score from each test and combine them). This means that if you're applying to a school that...
  • Why I Let Go of My Ivy League Dream

    Reaching is great, but be careful not to overlook a less-well-known winner. The more pragmatic choice might just turn out to be your ideal one, too.

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