Monster in the Closet

Despite the economic recovery, student debtors’ ‘monster in the closet’ has only worsened:

Ten years after the 2008 financial crisis, there are headlines of record low unemployment and a booming economy. Yet one area has only worsened over the decade and threatens that recovery: student debt. Average debt at graduation is currently around $30,000, up from $10,000 in the early 1990s. The country’s outstanding student loan balance is projected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022, and experts say a large portion of it is unlikely to ever be repaid; nearly a quarter of student loan borrowers are currently in a state of delinquency or default. Because of these loans, many Americans are unable to buy houses and cars, start businesses and families, save or invest.

Wall Street gets fat bailouts but not students. Seems totally fair to me.

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Education

Learning from Comics

Over at The New York Times, George Gene Gustines explains how comics educated him growing up and how he parlayed it into a job at The Times:

Growing up as a fan of comics equaled being a nerd. This was long before today’s renaissance when comic book characters, particularly superheroes, dominate television and the box office. My family was poor, so my mother was horrified that I wasted money on comics. I would like to make the argument that this was my way of assimilating — my parents are from Ecuador and moved here in 1966 — but I suspect they would’ve been happier at the time if I had any interest in sports (or girls).

This is point I think a lot of kids today don’t understand and something I’ve been told by friends my age (born in the ’70s) who also started reading comics in the ’80s and ’90s.

Besides shaping a very enjoyable part of my career, comics have also taught me a lot.

When I was in school, comics gave me the first inkling of topics that would be covered in depth by my teachers. I learned about the Cuban missile crisis in 1982 thanks to a Justice League time travel adventure. In 1987, an issue of the Young All-Stars, about World War II heroes, taught me about Japanese internment camps in the United States.

There was also plenty of science. I know the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, thanks to the many “Flash Facts” that were in the adventures of the Flash. I also know that stationary satellites have an altitude of approximately 22,300 miles, thanks to the Justice League’s headquarters in space.

I think there’s still a lot of people who dismiss comic books as ‘kids stuff’ but much like video games — which we all have on our pocket computers — comic books are for everyone.

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Comics, Education

Reading Aloud to Yourself

The production effect is the memory advantage of saying words aloud over simply reading them silently. It has been hypothesised that this advantage stems from production featuring distinctive information that stands out at study relative to reading silently. MacLeod (2011) (I said, you said: The production effect gets personal. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 1197–1202. doi:10.3758/s13423-011-0168-8) found superior memory for reading aloud oneself vs. hearing another person read aloud, which suggests that motor information (speaking), self-referential information (i.e., “I said it”), or both contribute to the production effect. In the present experiment, we dissociated the influence on memory of these two components by including a study condition in which participants heard themselves read words aloud (recorded earlier) – a first for production effect research – along with the more typical study conditions of reading aloud, hearing someone else speak, and reading silently. There was a gradient of memory across these four conditions, with hearing oneself lying between speaking and hearing someone else speak. These results imply that oral production is beneficial because it entails two distinctive components: a motor (speech) act and a unique, self-referential auditory input.

—Noah D. Forrin & Colin M. MacLeod, Memory (via Wired)

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Education, Pyschology

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looking at art and creating it

How to Teach Your Children to Care about Art:

To start, it’s a cornerstone of art education programs to cultivate a symbiotic relationship between looking at art and creating it. In museums, it’s become standard practice for educators to develop art-making programs that engage audiences with the works in a current exhibition or permanent collection.

New York’s Whitney Museum, for example, has developed a vast array of programs to engage children of all ages (beginning with Stroller Tours for newborns and new parents), but one of its most popular programs is Open Studio, an in-house art studio led by graduate students that allows families to visit freely and create art on the weekends. “It’s a drop-in art-making program” says Billie Rae Vinson, coordinator of Family Programs, over the phone. “It’s a way to explore the artwork through some kind of material exploration.”

More of this please.

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Art, Education

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makes people uncomfortable

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Removed From School in Mississippi:

Eighth graders in Biloxi, Miss., will no longer be required to read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about racial inequality and the civil rights movement that has been taught in countless classrooms and influenced generations of readers.

Kenny Holloway, the vice president of the Biloxi School Board, told The Sun Herald there had been complaints about the book.

“There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books,” he said. “It’s still in our library. But they’re going to use another book in the eighth-grade course.”

The book is supposed to make people feel uncomfortable.

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Education, Words

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If you can’t codify your thoughts, you can’t do anything.

Over at The New York Times, Dana Goldstein looks into the reasons why kids can’t write:

There is a notable shortage of high-quality research on the teaching of writing, but studies that do exist point toward a few concrete strategies that help students perform better on writing tests. First, children need to learn how to transcribe both by hand and through typing on a computer. Teachers report that many students who can produce reams of text on their cellphones are unable to work effectively at a laptop, desktop or even in a paper notebook because they’ve become so anchored to the small mobile screen. Quick communication on a smartphone almost requires writers to eschew rules of grammar and punctuation, exactly the opposite of what is wanted on the page.

Before writing paragraphs — which is often now part of the kindergarten curriculum — children do need to practice writing great sentences. At every level, students benefit from clear feedback on their writing, and from seeing and trying to imitate what successful writing looks like, the so-called text models. Some of the touchy-feel stuff matters, too. Students with higher confidence in their writing ability perform better.

I believe writing is one of the foundational tools for many fields, whether you’re building a car or designing a mobile application. As a graphic designer I’ve come to value writing skills more and more each year and it’s one of the goals I’ve had maintaining this blog for over 11 years. If you can’t codify your thoughts, you can’t do anything.

I’d like to think there’s multiple approaches to improving kids’ writing skills (I’ve taught students at the university level but I’m in no way trained in the methods to teach writing).

If I had teach kids how to write tomorrow (hypothetically), I’d probably start with a recontexualized version of Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers.

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Education

Learning to Learn

Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain:

Dr. Oakley is not the only person teaching students how to use tools drawn from neuroscience to enhance learning. But her popularity is a testament to her skill at presenting the material, and also to the course’s message of hope. Many of her online students are 25 to 44 years old, likely to be facing career changes in an unforgiving economy and seeking better ways to climb new learning curves.

Dr. Oakley’s lessons are rich in metaphor, which she knows helps get complex ideas across. The practice is rooted in the theory of neural reuse, which states that metaphors use the same neural circuits in the brain as the underlying concept does, so the metaphor brings difficult concepts “more rapidly on board,” as she puts it.

I live by metaphors. Metaphors are not only one of the best ways at conveying complex ideas, but sometimes they’re the only way.

Richard Feynman famously thought if you couldn’t explain it simply, then you didn’t understand it. Metaphors, analogies, and similies are the primary devices for this complex-to-simple idea conversion.

I love Mark Bao’s analogy for analogies:

Analogies are like lossy compression for complex ideas

I went down an even deeper rabbit hole a few years ago when I read ‘I is An Other’ and learned individual words themselves are metaphors for other things.

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Education, Words

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Martin Scorsese, Rejected

Cardinal Hayes is a high school in the Bronx, and after a year of minor seminary — a tryout for the priesthood; once a regular stop for bright Catholic boys of limited means — Scorsese went there. (Don DeLillo, the novelist, was a few years ahead.) Rejected by Fordham University because of poor grades, Scorsese enrolled at N.Y.U.’s Washington Square College and its film program. From there, he plunged into the ’60s: a concertgoer at the Fillmore East, an expatriate in England and Holland, an assistant director at Woodstock (he became an editor on the concert film) and then a maker of his own movies — “Who’s That Knocking at My Door,” about a young man in the suddenly liberated ’60s whose Catholic principles keep him out of bed with his girlfriend, and “Boxcar Bertha,” a film about a female rabble-rouser “free’er than most.”

The Passion of Martin Scorsese, The New York Times Magazine, 21 Nov 2016

I always find it interesting (and validating) how many successful people were crappy students.

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Education

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My Newsletter: Mikey Likes It

Imagine if, when you checked your email, it wasn’t all junk. Imagine if there was a message you looked forward to getting every week. This the goal with my new newsletter, Mikey Likes It. It goes out every Tuesday morning. Here’s the first one that went out this past Tuesday.

What motivated me to start it was looking at all the different things I have my hands in: this site, my podcast, what I’m reading, what I’m listening to, movies I’ve seen, and all personal projects I’m creating.

Sign up here and I guarantee you’ll have at least one thing in your inbox that doesn’t suck.

Students Rethink iTunes

[… ] when one of your flagship software applications is assigned in schools as a case in feature bloat, it’s crossed some threshold for acceptability.

Khoi Vinh on the rethinking of iTunes by the students of Fachhochschule Potsdam

The student redesigns can be seen here. It’s student work, so they’re not all winning designs but I agree with Khoi: Apple needs to fix iTunes.

As someone who has taught design at the college level, I love having students redesign existing websites/services. It’s a great exercise in problem solving.

“The argument that art or culture is valuable only when it is monetised is a dangerous one.”

Art schools are at the forefront of the sustained attack on humanities that Marina Warner has written so brilliantly about. One of the slogans of those occupying Central Saint Martins is simply this: “We’re an art school not a business.” Languages, humanities, social sciences and particularly arts are subject to huge losses in funding and are expected to do just this: become businesses. This is the only model that our politicians understand. Hence we keep being told that the creative industries do employ lots of people. Every film made here requires carpenters and electricians and so on. The argument that art or culture is valuable only when it is monetised is a dangerous one. A false dichotomy between science and art has been set up – first by Labour with the Browne review, and now amplified by the Tories. So Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are seen to be financially viable. Which of our ministers has a degree in maths or science I wonder?

—Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

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Art, Education

They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.*

THE best escalator to opportunity in America is education. But a new study underscores that the escalator is broken.

We expect each generation to do better, but, currently, more young American men have less education (29 percent) than their parents than have more education (20 percent).

Among young Americans whose parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5 percent make it through college themselves. In other rich countries, the figure is 23 percent.
—Nicholas Kristof, The American Dream Is Leaving America
[*title is a quote from George Carlin]

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Education

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