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Top article I want to share today: students think school is too easy! I’m hardly surprised, what else can you expect from a system that caters to the lowest common denominator? Also, although my experience was very different, I know a lot of folks who went to a typical high school and practically got straight As without doing very much homework or even showing up most of the time–anecdotal, but the idea that that’s even possible is sad.

The rest of the day’s links:

Based on the headline, I thought this article from The Guardian would delve more into the idea of paternity leave. Although it is true that men don’t have to deal with, say, physically recovering from pregnancy and labor, they are still parents. Not only would having two people at home take some of the burden off of the mother, but it would allow men that do want to fully embrace the parenting role to do so. We no longer live in the age of female caretakers and male breadwinners, so why is family leave policy structured that way? Anyway, the article actually touches on the broader idea that family leave is an essential policy to have in place for everyone in society. Zoe Williams also points out, however briefly, that family leave policies affect non-parents too. I wish there was more discussion on this topic, because I feel like childfree and childless folks are left out of the conversation, but they still have lives outside of the workplace.

In parenting/child development news, this blog talks about a new study that shows that watching nine minutes of Spongebob Squarepants, the worst show ever created, ” can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds.” The most salient point for me? “Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob” shouldn’t be singled out. [The psychology professor in charge of the study] found similar problems in kids who watched other fast-paced cartoon programming.” Still going to use it as another reason to hate on Spongebob, though.

Apparently the latest attempt by Republicans to repeal the ACA have cost $50 million. How fiscally conservative of them!

In another ~shocking~ DC-related post, men don’t think there’s as much sexism in the workplace as women do. Who here is surprised? The obvious corollary, in my experience, is that if you don’t see/experience a lot of something, it’s not really a problem–which is, of course, a serious problem.

I really enjoyed this blog post about the “flipped classroom” concept. The basic idea is that instead of instruction at school and then practice (homework) at home, the students will watch lectures at home and then do “homework” at school, where the teacher is available to act as a guide and individualize instruction, focusing on what each student needs help with. Sounds pretty good in theory, but the author offers a few excellent critiques (particularly lack of access to appropriate technology for some students and the troubling idea of a lot of time spent in front of a screen), which are a breath of fresh air in the current “let’s jump on every tech bandwagon!” education climate.

Speaking of integrating (or in some cases, completely replacing the regular classroom with) digital learning, this article discusses the antiquated mass lecture and how this model needs to change if universities want to stay competitive…or something…I don’t even know. As a student of a private university, a community college, and now a small public liberal arts college, I’ve never had the experience of a really huge lecture hall (maximum has been about 100 people; the article mentions crowds of “1000 or so”), which I’m actually thankful for. However, I don’t know that I agree that the solution is to have many basic courses (particularly their example of “maths”) digitized. A lot of people just don’t do well in the online learning environment: not only because learning through a screen can be more difficult, but also due to the self-paced nature of many online courses.  Although the option of an online class would be helpful (I definitely took advantage of it for a lot of my courses), completely replacing physical classroom interaction, even for basic courses, will do more harm than good.

Speaking of online education, this article discusses University Now, a for-profit online school that only charges $199 a month for unlimited courses. I wouldn’t go so far as this quote: ““You get what you pay for, and if you’re paying a tenth of what you’re paying at another college, you’re probably getting a tenth of the quality of education.” Plenty of cheaper (assuming you’re in-state!) state schools offer a stellar education, and so do community colleges in terms of the vocational training that’s typical of a lot of for-profits. However, I also would re-assert that there’s a lot you just can’t learn from an online course, and I would like to see the work students enrolled in these courses are doing. Being able to pass an exam doesn’t mean you’ve actually learned all that much (after all, lots of people graduate with business degrees!…kidding. Mostly).

Here is a pretty neat, short round-up of quotes on “character” and personality. Interesting to see the intersection of perspectives between, for instance, psychologists and literary figures.

Yet another in the endless responses to the Daniel Tosh rape joke thing, this time pointing out that 1)just because you have a right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it, and 2)maybe it’s not about a joke being funny, but human decency overall.

Not entirely sure of the scientific accuracy, but this article is a cool (har har) explanation of why the heat is so hard to handle. Apparently optimal temperature for human function is 70 (which seems too cold to me, but hey) degrees Fahrenheit.

On a more serious note, this post on the jailing of trade union activists in Turkey is a bit long (and somewhat dry, unfortunately), but could be worth reading for anyone interested in international labor concerns, women’s rights, etc. Because of its location and, for now, secular government, Turkey is often held up as an example of what other Islamic countries should be like. We shouldn’t let some “good behavior” (as defined by current mainstream American hopes for that region) eclipse the harmful actions of the governments of other nations.

Finally, I thought this was an interesting opinion piece from a British conservative, on how hatred and vitriol is as much of a problem on the Left as the Right. On the one hand, he’s right that ad hominem attacks and the like shouldn’t really have a place in civil discourse. On the other hand, conservatives around the world are a bunch of wankers. *rimshot* Seriously though, I have to disagree with him on a main point. People don’t choose skin color or sexual orientation or economic circumstances (mostly), but they DO choose their political affiliation and how they choose to treat other people, and they should expect to be judged accordingly. If your policy ideas are based on greed, selfishness, and yes, hatred, I don’t think you should be surprised when people consider you to be a greedy, selfish, hateful person.

Going to wrap it up for today, please leave thoughts in the comments if you’re so inclined.

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