20 September 2010

Quick Notes for a Friday #3

The fact that Quick Notes was delayed from Friday to Monday means that I have even more links to pass along.

The theme of the day is education.

A MetaFilter posting on a McKinsey report about the success of education systems that hire from the top third. There are two problems that come to mind. First, just being in the top third does not mean that someone can teach (or run a business). Second, shouldn't McKinsey be at least a little bit worried about increased competition for the top third?

The annual September complaints have started coming out of universities about students. See also the yearly complaint about declining quality of education. Or the unfortunate low rankings of Canada's universities. Not to mention the dated news that lectures are ineffective teaching methods, or that good study habits might not be what we've been told we were supposed to think (Isaac blogged about this topic earlier this month). Not to be outdone, there is clamouring over teacher evaluation at the high school level in the United States.

Of course there is a yearly defence of academia from within the Ivory Tower, this year it's the suggestion that universities are just one part of a deeper problem.

In happier news, we should see less complaints from universities about having to be the first ones to enforce deadlines. This is seriously good news as the past few years of trying to enforce deadlines on students who had never seen this before has been tough. However, after 20 years of rigorous deadline adherence I have developed some sort of deadline avoidance that seems a lot like post-traumatic stress, so maybe there is something to be said about relaxing deadlines for elementary school students and starting at the high school level.

To boost PR, universities are looking to capitalize on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Although apparently Facebook is for people with low self esteem and/or narcissists. Coincidentally, narcissists are more likely to cheat (and brag about it on Facebook???).

Medical schools are increasingly looking to non-pre-med students (or at least, they're making a story of it). Many years ago I'd heard that the stats indicated that those coming out of the humanities had the highest percentage of acceptances to medical schools, which was likely the result of only the best and the brightest taking time to apply.

Isaac made a couple of great posts last week about writing and reading for university. I particularly like his links in the reading blog (and not just because he references me), and wish that I'd read the advice about effective power-skimming much earlier in my academic career. Like many other historians, I learned the reading technique over the course of an undergraduate and graduate career and had mastered it in time to survive the specialist/comprehensives exam.

Coming up this week is the third installment of Teaching Tip, this week I'll talk about teaching students how to conduct research for history papers. I should also get around to posting a dissertation update, and the rest of the week's posts are yet to be determined.

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