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18 Jan 2006 - 14:25
via eduwonk, Boy Trouble (free registration required) I haven't posted the various articles I've read on this subject, but color me concerned. Very concerned. A 60-40 ratio of boys to girls in college strikes me as a very bad idea. I've believed for years — since before I had kids myself — that school is a female-dominated & female-friendly environment. (And btw, this isn't an 'impression'; it's an opinion based in years of data collected by researchers). That's why I jumped on the issue at our middle school, after receiving a negative Interim Report that sounded like your Generic Middle School Boy Report to me. I'm serious about the Generic Middle School Boy Report. If you took Christopher's name off his Interim Report, and handed it out to 10 random people, and asked them, 'Was this report sent to the parents of a girl or a boy?' I'd lay odds most or all of those people would have guessed 'boy.' So I jumped on it. I jumped on it, because I want my own school district officials to be formally on guard against dismissing boys. The fact that our principal told us, and I quote, 'Everyone knows girls do better than boys in middle school,' is, for me, problematic. It would be radically unacceptable to say such a thing about girls or blacks or Hispanics or disadvantaged kids in general. But you can say it openly about boys. I'll add that I dislike political correctness intensely; I appreciate our principal's honesty. But I do want him and his staff to be consciously thinking about what it means that 'everyone knows boys do worse.' Why is that OK? How is that different from holding lower expectations for individuals based on their membership in a low-performing group? In their view, it's OK to say that everyone knows boys do worse than girls, because 'boys catch up in high school.' Our principal said that, too. That doesn't work for me. The data I've seen shows that in fact boys don't catch up. (And how do boys manage this feat, anyway? Closing a gap once a gap has been opened takes hard work. Are 'boys-as-a-group' doing that hard work?) Along with a black-white achievement gap, we have a gender gap. I've seen estimates that boys finish high school 1 1/2 years behind girls in literacy skills. I'll fact-check this and revise if I've remembered incorrectly. From the article:
What's most worrisome are not long-standing gender differences but recent plunges in boys' relative performance. Between 1992 and 2002, the gap by which high school girls outperformed boys on tests in both reading and writing--especially writing--widened significantly. Given the reading and writing demands of today's college curriculum, that means a lot of boys out there are falling well short of being considered "college material." Which is why women now significantly outnumber men on college campuses, a phenomenon familiar enough to any sorority sister seeking a date to the next formal. This June, nearly six out of ten bachelor's degrees awarded will go to women. If the Department of Education's report is any indication, in coming years, this gender gap will grow even larger. The report illustrates a dramatic and unsolved mystery: At some point in the early '80s, boys' relative academic records and aspirations took a downward turn. So far, no one has come up with a good explanation for this trend, but it's a story that affects millions of boys and their families. And yet, according to LexisNexis?, the report was cited by name in only five newspaper and magazine articles. Not only has there been little media attention to this crisis in boys' education, but there has been surprisingly little research. And the conventional wisdom offered up to explain the problem--boys play too many video games and listen to too much hip-hop music--can't explain a gender slide that's affecting not just the United States but much of the developed West. It also can't explain why boys in a few schools manage to duck the gender gap. But promising new answers have begun to surface--and from some very unlikely places.
how hard is it to close a gap this wide?
The state [of Maryland] has been breaking out its test-score data by gender since 1992, which is why Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick is dismayed by the gender gaps she sees--72 percent of girls read at a proficient or advanced level by eighth grade, compared with 61 percent of boys.
Sounds like a pretty big gap to me.
the magical child-rearing skills of the upper-middle class parent The author claims that boys in upper middle class families are doing fine, but I've read elsewhere — specifically in USA Today (I'll find the passage and drop it in later) — that upper middle class boys are affected, too. (I have a CHART! At least, I THINK I have a chart.) I know for a fact this author is wrong that 'elite' colleges have a 50-50 ratio:
If your father reads, it's not viewed as a sissy thing, as it's seen by many blue-collar students. Not only would that explain why the verbal gap doesn't widen for boys in the wealthiest districts, but it would also explain why the Harvards and Princetons and Stanfords have no trouble drawing talented men. Those schools run close to a 50-50 gender balance among undergraduates.
NYU is getting more selective by the moment, and the ratio there is 60/40 girl/boy. My niece is at Emory; same story. My best friend's son is at Occidental; same story. Telling us that the Ivies still have a 50-50 ratio tells us nothing. IMO. We're just back to the idea that the 'upper-middle class' somehow, magically, CONVEYS NECESSARY INFORMATION AND SKILLS TO ITS CHILDREN VIA SUPERB CHILD-REARING SKILLS. On the subject of the Magic Child Rearing Skills of Rich People, that was my one beef with Patricia Clark Kenschaft's article on teaching math to teachers:
It appears that the higher scores in the affluent districts are not due to superior teaching in school but to the supplementary informal “home schooling” of children.
Informal? 3-hour a night Helicopter Parenting isn't informal. While I'm on the subject of Things That Annoy Me, I have a memory of reading some authority saying upper middle class families 'talk about math at the dinner table.' Number one, I've never heard an upper middle class family besides mine talk about math at the dinner table. And I talk about math to complain about the curriculum and lament the general state of Bad Math Knowledge in the U.S. I'm exercising my obsessions, not teaching. And number two, talking about math isn't the same thing as teaching math. You can't learn math 'informally.' You have to be directly taught math, and you have to practice. Reading skills may be different; maybe upper middle class kids pick up more of these skills incidentally, by living in houses where the adults are reading. I don't know. But I'm suspicious of any line of reasoning based in the twin assumptions that a) upper middle class boys haven't been affected by the decline in literacy skills affecting less well-off boys, and b) that's because affluent boys have dads who read.
does your school use this book?
Last spring, Scientific American summed up the best gender and brain research, including a study demonstrating that women have greater neuron density in the temporal lobe cortex, the region of the brain associated with verbal skills. Now we've reached the heart of the mystery. Girls have genetic advantages that make them better readers, especially early in life. And, now, society is favoring verbal skills. Even in math, the emphasis has shifted away from guy-friendly problems involving quick calculations to word and logic problems. Increasingly, teachers ask students to keep written journals, even as early as kindergarten. What gets written isn't polished prose, but it is important training, say teachers, some of whom rely on the book Kid Writing, which advocates the use of writing to teach children basic skills in a host of subjects.
hoo boy I just read the cover I wish I had 100 hands so I kode writ and writ and writ. Speaking as one who does writ and writ and writ, Blecch.
I hope that's not somebody's kid I just dissed. sigh
Just in case it is somebody's kid, I think she's adorable. I do. I just don't think the book is adorable. That's all.
I love it!
Basing grades on turning in homework on time guarantees lower grades for boys. Studies consistently show boys have more trouble than girls turning in homework on time.
I'm gonna be sending copies of this article to the middle school. Heh.
this is interesting
Some educators and parents explain this by saying that many boys simply forget or decline to turn in completed homework. Here's the boy-thinking: If I answered the homework question to my satisfaction, the task is done. Why turn it in? If you're the parent of a girl, that may sound bizarre. It isn't.
Is that true? Is that the way lots of boys think?
wow This article is a lot of fun:
The Education Trust, a Washington-based education reform group that looks after the education interests of less privileged students, scoured the nation for gender success stories and turned up Indian River School District in rural Delaware. Indian River's Frankford Elementary appears to be an unlikely candidate for achieving any sort of academic success, let alone overcoming the gap between boys' and girls' achievement: 76 percent of the students qualify for subsidized lunches, 22 percent land in special education, and 64 percent are either Latino or black. Most of the Latinos are sons and daughters of Mexican agricultural workers who have limited English skills. And, yet, here's Frankford's 2004 state report card for fifth-graders: 100 percent of boys and 95 percent of girls meet state reading standards. When I contacted them, school leaders expressed pride at their success in educating poor and minority students but appeared bewildered when told they had conquered the gender gap. Turns out their education strategy had nothing to do with getting boys in touch with their feelings or eliminating late-homework penalties. Rather, the strategy was a roll-up-your-sleeves effort initially sparked by a state campaign to improve literacy skills. Students whose problems were identified early received extra help from teachers. A special eye was kept on black boys. Most important, no excuses were accepted--when boys fell behind, teachers weren't allowed to consider that the norm.
research on the wealthiest schools
Hilton's research on the wealthiest schools is revealing. Girls still do better in verbal skills in those districts. But Hilton discovered an important distinction. When the wealthy boys enter middle school, they don't lose ground. And that holds steady through high school. Why the smaller verbal gender gaps in upper-income families? Hilton can only feel his way on this one, in part by drawing lessons from his own family, which teems with educators. At nights and on weekends, Hilton saw his father reading, just as the boys hitting puberty in the wealthiest districts see their well-educated fathers reading. If your father reads, it's not viewed as a sissy thing, as it's seen by many blue-collar students.
This, I believe. I haven't posted about this topic at all, but Carolyn and I have been talking about the change we see in both our boys, who are, suddenly, obsessed with their dads. Until just a couple of weeks ago, I had been handling all of the afterschooling. Christopher and I were locked in brutal battles, and Ed's idea of how to handle this was to decree that Christopher would no longer be required to do school work later than 8 pm, because he was tired. This meant all Christopher had to do was play out the clock 'til his dad got home and freed him. Then 2 things happened: 1) brutal battle between Ed & Catherine,* and 2) two Ds on English papers & 1 D on a chapter test in math. Things changed. Now Ed is handling the math. He's handling most of the afterschooling. (Actually, he's doing the direct one-on-one re-teaching. I'm doing the management: knowing what chapter Christopher is in, pulling the worksheets, knowing the schedule, etc.) And Christopher is back on track. I've been thinking a lot about fatherless boys, and what they're up against. (Christian didn't have a dad around when he was in middle school & high school. He had a very tough mom, but no dad.) A tough mom isn't enough. I have the will and stamina to force Christopher to learn math. But he doesn't need a mom forcing him to learn math. He needs a dad forcing him to learn math. He needs a dad who's in charge, who's in a position of authority, and who's telling him: you're learning math, you're learning English, you're learning science, and you're learning history. He's got one.
update from Ken Ken's school uses KID WRITING. He's looked into it:
1. No field testing or research base.
That's about what I'd expect.
Most kids in my son's K class are not reading. Those that are, have been taught at home. They spend a good portion of each 2 hour day doing Kids' Writing. Based on what they've learned in school, I can't see how any kids can be reading yet if they relied solely on what's being taught in school. Now contrast this with the 75 lessons my son has done in the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching reading. He's reading independently already.
*Yet another unsung bonus of the middle school years: way more family blow-ups. Something to look forward to.
USA Today report on 135:100 boys:girls ratio in college
sexism in Everyday Math
boy trouble (New Republic on boys)
slacker boys, middle school, & forbidden positive images of boys in textbooks
throw rocks at them
please remain seated at all times
Ann Althouse thread sums up classroom change
cooperative vs. competitive learning
the girl show (8th grade graduation awards)
the boy show (character ed)
the other boy show
Where the Boys Aren't
letter from Robert Lerner, former commissioner NCES
Tom Mortenson's research
The Boys Project board
for every 100 girls —
-- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006 Back to main page.
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That's the "curriculum" my school is using for K-3. It's not good. I did a little research on it: 1. No field testing or research base.
2. The curriculum is based on the authors' grad school thesis. And, they wrote a book about it.
3. It's out of print.
4. It's "Evidence Based." This means that they looked at the Kids' Writing curriculum and noticed that it teaches phonics (the wrong kind mind you) then they looked at the extant research and noticed that successful ELA programs also taught phonics (nevermind that most of the reseach was based on DI and this program looks nothing like DI). Therefore, this curriculum is based on research. Disturbing.
5. The parents are getting up in arms because aren't learning how to read on schedule.
6. Kids make lots of errors spelling words in this curiculum. That's bad.
7. Almost none of those errors are corrected by the teacher. This is even worse.
Most kids in my son's K class are not reading. Those that are, have been taught at home. They spend a good portion of each 2 hour day doing Kids' Writing. Based on what they've learned in school, I can't see how any kids can be reading yet if they relied solely on what's being taught in school. Now contrast this with the 75 lessons my son has done in the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching reading. He's reading independently already. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
"If I answered the homework question to my satisfaction, the task is done. Why turn it in? "Is that true? "Is that the way lots of boys think?" It sounds right to me; I can remember having that attitude (though I think I managed the behavior, at least) when I was in school. The funny thing for me is that this should be a good attitude to have. If you are more concerned about getting the answer right than being seen to get the answer right, your focus is presumably on learning. That's a good thing. -- DougSundseth - 18 Jan 2006
It sounds right to me; I can remember having that attitude (though I think I managed the behavior, at least) when I was in school. wow! men are Other to women, I mean The funny thing for me is that this should be a good attitude to have. If you are more concerned about getting the answer right than being seen to get the answer right, your focus is presumably on learning. Well, I figured that out back in college. I hated Wellesley. I just couldn't live with only women. Drove me nuts. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Re male female college gap I left this comment on another thread, but it is also relevant here. The discussion I link to is very informative IMO. Witness the difference between female and male performance. In middle high school, females tend to get better grades (I'd say as a result of working harder and being better students), but males outperform females in the SATs (which is just a fancy IQ test), verbal and math. Females are attending college at greater rates than males, but they gravitate toward soft BA degrees whereas males gravitate toward hard BS degrees. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, females graduate with less than 50 percent of degrees in only five areas: agricultural and natural resources (45%), computer information sciences (28%), math (48%), engineering (20%), and physical sciences (41%). Business management is evenly split. Here's a good discussion of the male-female gap where I stole that last paragraph from. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
Kids make lots of errors spelling words in this curiculum. Now that I'm thinking about errorless learning again, I'm strongly opposed to the invented spelling theory. I realize it's supposed to be based on real research somewhere, but I'd have to read all of that research and see research showing that invented spelling is easily reversed later on to believe it's a good idea. At least, that's where I am now. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Females are attending college at greater rates than males, but they gravitate toward soft BA degrees whereas males gravitate toward hard BS degrees. right....my question is: have we seen an absolute decline in the number of men who attend college in relation to their numbers in the population? No one ever addresses this (not that I've seen so far). otoh, Barry told me that when Jim Milgrim was asked what could be done about increasing the number of math majors Milgrim's answer was that the real problem was too few men on campus. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
As for males achieving their potential: I admit to being a real elitist on this question. It doesn't matter much for civilization what most people do; what matters is what the elite do. I disagree with this absolutely. reading on.... -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Our cognitive elites are very achievement-oriented. Having spent my entire adult life in the company of Cognitive Elites....they have their problems. Let's just say. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
You want your spelling research, I got your spelling research.
Curious as to the bases for such opinions about the instruction of spelling, I reviewed the literature about invented spelling up to 1986 (Groff, 1986) to determine if there was experimental evidence as to whether or not students who invented spelling without any formal instruction later were found to be more accurate conventional spellers than were students who had received direct, systematic, and intensive instruction in spelling. I could find no experimental evidence that invented spelling had this effect. The relevant empirical evidence actually was to the contrary. That is, direct and systematic spelling programs always were found to be more productive of conventional spelling ability than otherwise is possible.-- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
hmmmm I just scanned his article; doesn't seem like he answers my question — I gather he's not interested in it. Also, he doesn't seem to have a sense that 'Cognitive Elites' aren't bullet-proof. A brainy boy can get mulched by a bad school. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
HEY WOW YOU ARE AMAZING!!!! (re: spelling research) -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
A brainy boy can get mulched by a bad school. No doubt. But those that make it through, along with the brainy girls, are the ones doing all the inventing and scientific breakthroughs that advance civilization. Not every one of them, of course. But this is the pool of talent that is being drawn from primarily. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
Here's Engelmann's book:
Funny thing is, about 5 years ago this was the ONE book I chose to help me teach Christopher to read if I needed to (I may have been thinking about Jimmy, too.) I had no idea who Siegfried Engelmann was. The book just looked good. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
No, I just did some googling a few months ago on this very topic and knew exactly what I was looking for. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
No doubt. But those that make it through, along with the brainy girls, are the ones doing all the inventing and scientific breakthroughs that advance civilization. Man does not live by inventions and scientific breakthroughs alone! -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
I'm serious about this. I'm a big fan of Street Smarts, not that I have any......I want these kids taught and taught well. All kids. Every last one. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
oh that's the Simplified Spelling Society! I love those folks! They are a HOOT! -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
I'm always fond of hopeless causes that make a lot of sense when you think about it. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
I wish I had gotten that book. I bought the readers for the DI Fast Cycle reading curriculum. And I really like the orthography Engelmann invented to help beginning readers learn how to read. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
yeah, they're a little fanatical. But, they did find the best spelling research. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
Man does not live by inventions and scientific breakthroughs alone! No, but it does get us lots of modern conveniences, makes things affordable, and has managed to raise our standard of living higher than at any other time in human history. They also make it easier for us to do all those other things that we also need to live by. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
No, but it does get us lots of modern conveniences, makes things affordable, and has managed to raise our standard of living higher than at any other time in human history. They also make it easier for us to do all those other things that we also need to live by. I question that! This is the thought-line I see in your Brainy Cognitive Elite types all the time — the assumption that they're running things, or, if they aren't, they should be. (I know whereof I speak.) There are all kinds of Boy Geniuses out there inventing stuff in their basements; my own great granddad invented a vacuum cleaner for his personal use. But how do these inventions get out to the masses? It ain't easy. As I understand it, the list of Great Inventions That Didn't Take Off is long. (Maybe I'm wrong, but I bet not. My grandfather's vacuum cleaner didn't benefit anyone but him.) I don't attribute our high standard of living to Cognitive Elites. Half the time they're the problem, not the answer. I want well-educated Middles. Also well-educated Bottoms. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Everyone has a role to play in modern society, but the cognitive elites are doing most of heavy lifting. The rest of us benefit enormously from this. Most people, including the well-educated middles, have no idea how 90% of their stuff at home works. Ask the average person how his vcr or dvd player works. Or something easier, like his air-conditioner or toaster. This is simple stuff, yet most people couldn't expalin it let alone build one themselves. Now ask them about something more complex, like biotech drugs or integrated circuit design. Blank stares. Yet last month anyone could have bought a dvd player that took a lot of very smart engineers and scientists a long time to invent for about $25 online. The amount of technology that goes into a $25 dvd player is staggering. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
It's also been my experience teaching eighth grade math that there is a HUGE gender gap. With few exceptions, the high performers were all girls. Conventional wisdom always had it that boys are generally good in math and girls are more language oriented. But girls are outperforming boys in all areas. Something major is happening. I'll have to finally read Sommers' War Against Boys to see if I can get a clearer picture. Things are not helped by the move to turn math into a form of language arts. Boys would do better with "naked" math. The war against worksheets could be part of the war against boys. Things are getting worse as the fuzzy math plague spreads across the country. For those who love worksheets, there is a rich source of worksheets, a veritable worksheet heaven: http://www.edhelper.com/math.htm -- CharlesH - 18 Jan 2006
but the cognitive elites are doing most of heavy lifting 1. if they haven't been made stupid by bad instruction in their childhood, and 2. if they like to lift what they are lifting. There's a slippery slope from appreciating the scientists and engineers whose work benefits humanity, to allocating educational resources to the development of only the elites from as early an age as possible, because, after all, the rest of us can just take out the trash. The IQ movement gained momentum when its advocates decided we could better allocate scarce educational resources to developing our cognitive elites from an early an age as possible. Sort them early and often. Innate ability matters more than effort. To paraphrase them, it just makes stupid people unhappy to have to learn Latin and Algebra. (is that the sound of my chain rattling?) -- BeckyC - 18 Jan 2006
To refer back to the topic of ability vs. effort, Perhaps Americans privately believe in fixed ability and publicly assign grades based on effort because we take an incident of academic failure in school to signify fixed low ability in a child, and then in our "compassion" we avoid future failures by structuring our schools to give the child an A for effort always. Whereas we could structure our schools to publicly believe in effort and publicly assign grades based on frequent tests of ability because academic failure in school cannot be taken to mean a child is ineducable? Subhuman, second-class citizen. -- BeckyC - 18 Jan 2006
OT (mostly): Did you know that the Chicago Tribune was a hotbed of "simplified spelling" for decades? The owner, Robert McCormick, usually referred to as Col. McCormick or simply "The Colonel" required the newspaper to use his version of simplified spelling, "iland" for "island", for example. -- DougSundseth - 18 Jan 2006
the cognitive elites are doing most of heavy lifting evidence, please! -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Ask the average person how his vcr or dvd player works. Or something easier, like his air-conditioner or toaster. Right, but the only reason you or I have these things is that The Average Person figured out a way to manufacture them in bulk and then persuade us to buy them! -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
has managed to raise our standard of living higher than at any other time in human history Unfortunately, I know nothing about economic history (next to nothing) but I suspect this isn't true. (Calling Dan K) I suspect that the folks who raised our standard of living are the middlemen. (Literally and figuratively, I guess....) -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
The thing about inventions.......which I think may be true, at least in some cases, is that people aren't sitting around WAITING FOR THE NEW INVENTION. People resist change; they resist change they shouldn't resist. Gladwell's article on early adopters is fun that way.....there's something like a 13 to 20 year lag time between the appearance of a great new invention and the last group of people to adopt it. The people who really make things go, possibly, aren't the people who come up with new ideas & new inventions, but the people who hang in there with the new ideas & new inventions for years. I guess my Theory of World Civilization, at the moment is: Obsessives & Early Adopters If you don't have obsessives & early adopters, forget invention & innovation. People are just going to tell you, 'Why do I need a toaster? I've already got an oven.' -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Part Two of my Grand Theory of World Civilization is: I would like my Obsessives & Early Adopters to know how to do long division, thank you very much. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
It's also been my experience teaching eighth grade math that there is a HUGE gender gap. With few exceptions, the high performers were all girls. Ed is finally going to take this issue seriously, I think, now that he's read the NEW REPUBLIC article. He just started his semester, and so far the only students who have contacted him are girls. They're assertive & confident. One contacted him to tell him the bookstore was out of books; another asked about something else — these are the things I remember boys doing 'back in the day,' not girls. (Not that I think boys should do them instead of girls; it bothered me that I was less self-confident than the boys I knew.) -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
The idea that 'it evens out in high school' or 'boys catch up' or even 'boys dominate the numbers in engineering school' tends to rest on the assumption that teaching & accumulated knowledge & expertise aren't at the heart of things. What's at the heart of things is your core nature & talent, and talent will out. I don't know that there's any way to resolve such questions, or to offer evidence......but I think talent doesn't 'out.' I think talent will out only when the circumstances permit. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Actually, I think there is some decent evidence on talent & environment in the gifted. Back when I taught for CTY, their thinking was that all 'world geniuses' (Mozart-level geniuses) had had environments that encouraged, sustained, & supported genius — environments that made it possible for genius to shine. A major part of these environments is a parent who puts full-time into the child prodigy. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
I reason that if you need a very precise and intense set of circumstances for genius at the level of Mozart's to develop, we shouldn't be screwing around with boys' achievement in the schools and assuming that it will all even out in high school. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Becky you just reminded me I have to read your ability & effort post!!!! These are the things that concern me: 1. if they haven't been made stupid by bad instruction in their childhood, and 2. if they like to lift what they are lifting. My understanding of genetics, which is sketchy but not hideously wrong, is that intelligence must be developed in and by an environment — and by environment I mean a physical environment (nutrition, 'gene expression factors,' etc.) as well as social, emotional, and educaitonal. We have almost no genes that express NO MATTER WHAT. There are a couple of diseases, like Huntington's, that express NO MATTER WHAT. Everything else expresses in relation to an environment. I don't know if everyone here saw the demonstration in which people took the exact same tree — I think this was a clone or simply a 'twin' — planted the seeds in different places, and ended up with completely different-looking trees. If a bad or non-optimal environment can stunt a tree's growth, I don't see any reason why a bad or non-optimal environment can't stunt a child's intellectual growth, including a super-brainy child. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
The action these days, as far as I can tell, is in epigenetics: Biologists have long known that having a particular gene is no guarantee you will express the associated trait, any more than having a collection of CDs will fill your home with music. Like CDs, genes are silent unless they are activated. Because activating and silencing doesn't alter the sequence of the gene, such changes are called epigenetic. Here's more: The baby mice looked as different as night and day. Those in one litter were dirty blondes, while those in the other were, well, mousy brown. Yet the mice's genes for coat color were identical, down to the last A, T, C and G that make up the twisting strands of DNA. The reason some animals were yellow and some were brown lay deep in their fetal past, biologists at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., reported this month: Some of the mothers consumed supplements high in very simple molecular compounds that zip around the genome turning off genes. One silenced gene was for yellow fur; when it is turned off, the mouse's fur color defaults to brown. For the mice, it wasn't just that "you are what you eat," but that you are what your mother ate, too. The ink on the final draft of the complete human genome sequence is hardly dry, but scientists are seeing more and more instances in which the sequence of those celebrated A's, T's, C's and G's constituting the genome is only part of the story. Chubby Blonde? Slim and Dark? Lab Mice Take After Mom's Diet (WSJ - subscription only) There's a big second wave of brain development in middle school, at the age when everyone's telling us 'Boys always do worse in middle school than girls.' If the brain is physically developing at that very moment, and we're assuming boys don't do as well as girls.....how is that environment interacting with the genes controlling brain development at that age? I don't think anyone knows. I don't know, but it doesn't sound good to me. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
Doug Did you know that the Chicago Tribune was a hotbed of "simplified spelling" for decades? The owner, Robert McCormick?, usually referred to as Col. McCormick? or simply "The Colonel" required the newspaper to use his version of simplified spelling, "iland" for "island", for example. I had no idea! That's hilarious! Plus I've never noticed, which kind of creeps me out. (Or has it changed?) My mom subscribes to the Tribune. -- CatherineJohnson - 18 Jan 2006
They stopped that silliness when McCormick? died. He was one of those people who were too "prominent" to be popularly described as "insane". The idiom, I believe, is "eccentric". -- DougSundseth - 18 Jan 2006
Right, but the only reason you or I have these things is that The Average Person figured out a way to manufacture them in bulk and then persuade us to buy them! That job would have fallen to the cognitive elite engineers and businessmen. I suspect that the folks who raised our standard of living are the middlemen. The cognitively elite middlemen. There has always been middlemen. And, the best middlemen are cogntive elites, often from minority groups - like the chinese or jews, that dominate the industry. Hence, the resentment from the non-elite native masses. has managed to raise our standard of living higher than at any other time in human history Unfortunately, I know nothing about economic history (next to nothing) but I suspect this isn't true. Anesthesia, washing machines, cheap cotton, effective drugs. To name but a few. none were around 100 years ago. -- KDeRosa - 18 Jan 2006
umm.....I think we're getting circular here.... -- CatherineJohnson - 19 Jan 2006
we started out talking IQ, right? I'm talking about average-IQ middlemen -- CatherineJohnson - 19 Jan 2006
middleman is not a necessarily a low IQ job. -- KDeRosa - 19 Jan 2006
I'm tearing my hair out 11 year old boys are a different species so today Christopher has flunked another math test, BECAUSE we studied the Lesson in the textbook WHEN IN FACT he was supposed to study THE REVIEW SHEET that he had, but forgot to tell us he had.....and WE FORGOT TO CHECK THE BINDER.....and THE TEACHER DIDN'T BOTHER TO MENTION ANY OF THIS ON THE EXPENSIVE WEB SITE WE'RE PAYING FOR..... So, another D-slash-F Meanwhile the girls are soaring. I talked to the mom I always talk to at tennis, the one with twin girls in Phase 4 math. "They're not having any problem" she said, wonderingly. She couldn't imagine why a child would have a problem, although one of her twins did get an 81 on a test, and 'felt terrible' about it, because 'they've set their own goals.' Not only has Christopher NOT 'set his own goals,' he can't even remember he's supposed to study a review sheet, and not the chapter. The review sheet, naturally, was 2 to 3 times harder than the material in the chapter, which is what we studied. AND he got a B on his social studies test, BECAUSE HE FORGOT TO BRING THE BOOK HOME THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TEST. At this moment, I can see while boys fail. I'm exasperated. I don't see why he can't bring home a textbook the night before the test. I'm sick of watching his eyes roll every single time I broach the issue school/grades/achievement/you-had-a-review-sheet? And I SEVERELY don't want to have another conversation with a parent who tells me his/her 6th grader has 'set her own goals.' -- CatherineJohnson - 19 Jan 2006
middleman is not a necessarily a low IQ job Here's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about dysfunctional and nonfunctional high-IQ people. There are a lot of them. A zillion. I'm related to a few of them. And I'm talking about average-IQ highly functional, highly successful, highly innovative people. They're out there. In large numbers as far as I can tell. IQ, per se, isn't 'it.' -- CatherineJohnson - 19 Jan 2006
I like 100 EZ Lessons. It's a good jump-start manual and excels at teaching blending. I used it two years ago with my 6yo, who is now in 2nd grade. We got to about lesson 40 and took a break for Christmas. Meanwhile, the light went on in her head and reading just... happened. We never got back to the book. BUT 100 EZ only gets the student reading at about a 2nd grade level, IIRC. I still ended up needing to use Ordinary Parent's Guide to teach advanced things like multisyllable words. My kid was having trouble sounding out words like "initiate", where the vowel makes up the entire syllable. So with my current 4yo, we're just using OPGTR. It's coming more slowly, but we'll still get there. And it's all in one book. -- BrendaM - 19 Jan 2006
I'm talking about dysfunctional and nonfunctional high-IQ people. These people are excluded from the pool. The high IQ people that remain are the people we're concerned with. And I'm talking about average-IQ highly functional, highly successful, highly innovative people. If you define average IQ as being about 1.5 - 2 sigma above the average, then I agree. -- KDeRosa - 19 Jan 2006
OPGTR has about twice the number of lessons as 100EZL so it definitely covers more ground. I think slower readers will learn easier with 100EZL because OPGTR covers a lot of maerial very quickly, maybe too quickly for slower kids. -- KDeRosa - 19 Jan 2006
Catherine, You need to get extra copies of major textbooks at your house every year. I have two, including the algebra one my son uses, and it just peels off one extra layer of Things They Need to Remember. Some kids do have IEPs for nothing but "organization," which I believe is code for undiagnosed ADHD. Still, even without an official IEP, I've found that teachers will hunt down a spare copy for me. I also found out that some libraries stock all of the texts from neighboring schools for kids who forget their books. Of course, that doesn't solve the much-harder-than-the-book review sheet. I do check my son's assignment notebook every night and even have him rewrite it if it is a mess. I've also started making him put it beside him as he does his work so that he will mark off each one when he finishes. Then, I check that. It's like the military, but it's the only thing that seems to work. It does seem to be working....for now. -- SusanS - 19 Jan 2006
Haven't read all of the thread yet....but Susan, yes, absolutely. My problem this year was that I didn't realize I needed ALL the books. I started out with the math book & the English book; then added the Spanish book. Today the social studies book arrived. But from now on I'll have all the books before school starts. The practice at the school, actually, is to have the kids leave their books home, probably for exactly this reason. But every once in awhile the teacher asks kids to bring their books in, and then we're in trouble. -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
Ken - I'm talking about average IQ meaning average. If average is still 100 these days, that's what I'm talking about. As far as I can tell, IQ and executive function aren't related....that may be a too-strong form of the claim; I don't know. My sense is that frontal lobe function trumps IQ. I also suspect that some kind of social savvy trumps IQ. Temple was talking about that today - she was talking about how much harder it is to get a good technology adopted than it is to invent the good technology in the first place. I wonder if Temple knows her IQ score? I assume her IQ score wouldn't be sky-high, and she's created hugely important technological innovation and change in social practices as well. I'll have to check around on executive function & IQ...and I'll get my Famous Executive Function story posted... -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
We're going to need an IEP for organization deficits for the whole family. The latest D-slash-F happened because not one of us managed to look in Christopher's binder and find the REVIEW SHEET FOR THE TEST. Of course, none of us also suspected that Ms. Kahl would write a test with problems 3 to 4 times longer and harder than the ones in the book & the homework - or that she would send home a 'REVIEW SHEET' filled with never-before-seen extremely long, hard PROBLEMS FOR THE TEST. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to keep up with Ms. Kahl. -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
here's something good: Dr. Martha Denckla, Director of the Developmental Cognitive Neurology Clinic at the Kennedy Kreiger Institute, a featured speaker at the IECA conference, described some ke ol, effortful and flexible organization and strategic planning, or, anticipatory goal-directed preparedness to act. She also includes “working memory,” which involves maintaining internal representations to guide one’s actions.” When there is dysfunction in the executive function, she claims it occurs within the “infrastructure” she refers to as “ISIS”; actions that require a person to: “Initiate, Sustain, Inhibit, Shift.” Those of us who work with troubled adolescents would probably agree that when these skills are deficient, students definitely struggle. According to Dr. Stixrud, there is ‘a low correlation between IQ and executive functioning; patients with frontal lobe damage can do well on IQ tests.” He shares an opinion that frequently appears in current academic literature: “traditional IQ tests are weak predictions of academic success and very poor predictors of success in careers and relationships.” Difficulties in executive function are associated with several conditions including: ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Obesessive-Compulsive Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Depression, Learning Disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. [see Bradshaw JL (2001).] Denckla is huge; she's one of the originators of the concept of executive function. She was on our SAB at NAAR. A great gal. My guess is that, to the extent that working memory is part of EF, IQ and EF have to correlated to some degree. (For awhile there it was looking as if working memory might almost be 'general fluid intelligence,' but that moment seems to have passed. I love the ISIS acronym - Initiate, Sustain, Inhibit, Shift - hadn't heard it before. -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
Initiate Sustain Inhibit Shift cool -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
yes, it's a Science Fair IQ project! -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
It is possible that firstborn children are more intelligent than their siblings. However, there are several reasons why this finding, if true, may not be very important. First, growing body of research suggests that intelligence is not the most important factor in the achievement of eminence (Simonton, 1984/1999, 1999; Sulloway, 1996). Several studies have demonstrated that specific personality traits such as conscientiousness and openness to experience are up to 10 times more important than IQ (Sulloway, 1996). Simonton, D.K. (1984/1999). Genius, creativity and leadership: Historiometric inquiries. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Simonton, D.K. (1999). Origins of genius: Darwinian perspectives on creativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sulloway, F.J. (1996). Born to rebel: Birth order, family dynamics and creative lives. New York: Pantheon Books. Sulloway, F.J. (1999). Birth order. In M.A. Runco (Ed.). Encyclopedia of creativity (pp 189- 202). San Diego: Academic Press. I have both Sulloway's & Simonton's books, but unfortunately both are part of my Great Unread. birth order & IQ Indiana U. -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
This is interesting too - conclusions of an APA task force on intelligence: Unanswered Questions The report concludes with a summary, which in turn concludes with a list of "unanswered questions" about intelligence (these questions are taken verbatim from a Web-based version of the report): 1. Differences in genetic endowment contribute substantially to individual differences in (psychometric) intelligence, but the pathway by which genes produce their effects is still unknown. The impact of genetic differences appears to increase with age, but we do not know why. 2. Environmental factors also contribute substantially to the development of intelligence, but we do not clearly understand what those factors are or how they work. Attendance at school is certainly important, for example, but we do not know what aspects of schooling are critical. 3. The role of nutrition in intelligence remains obscure. Severe childhood malnutrition has clear negative effects, but the hypothesis that particular "micro-nutrients" may affect intelligence in otherwise adequately-fed populations has not yet been convincingly demonstrated. 4. There are significant correlations between measures of information processing speed and psychometric intelligence, but the overall pattern of these findings yields no easy theoretical interpretation. 5. Mean scores on intelligence tests are rising steadily. They have gone up a full standard deviation in the last fifty years or so, and the rate of gain may be increasing. No one is sure why these gains are happening or what they mean. 6. The differential between the mean intelligence test scores of Blacks and Whites (about one standard deviation, although it may be diminishing) does not result from any obvious biases in test construction and administration, nor does it simply reflect differences in socio-economic status. Explanations based on factors of caste and culture may be appropriate, but so far have little direct empirical support. There is certainly no such support for a genetic interpretation. At present, no one knows what causes this differential. 7. It is widely agreed that standardized tests do not sample all forms of intelligence. Obvious examples include creativity, wisdom, practical sense and social sensitivity; there are surely others. Despite the importance of these abilities we know very little about them: how they develop, what factors influence that development, how they are related to more traditional measures. -- CatherineJohnson - 20 Jan 2006
Surf on over to Majikthise and scroll down to her January 18 post on "Gender Gaps!" http://majikthise.typepad.com/ -- SusanJ - 20 Jan 2006
“traditional IQ tests are weak predictions of academic success and very poor predictors of success in careers and relationships.” This is so wrong, it's not even wrong. Lots of things are required for success. Frontal lobe capacity and working memory are most likely two factors. But, one thing is for sure, line up all the successful engineers and scientists and you can be sure of one thing, none of them will be dopey or have average IQs. -- KDeRosa - 20 Jan 2006
I think what Ken is saying is that IQ is necessary, but not sufficient, for success. -- GoogleMaster - 20 Jan 2006
I know a bit about economic history. Basically wealth is caused by a market economy and allowing people to share in some of the wealth they create for others, thus creating incentives for them to create more wealth. The market economy gives the information about what actually does create wealth for others. Most people are fairly useful in the running of the economy. Yep, Alexander Flemning and the guys who figured out how to make antibiotics on a grand scale were smart, but I'm alive today not just because of them, but because of the guys who actually made the antibiotics and the guys who did the quality control testing and the doctor who picked the right medicine and the doctors who trained her and the guy who drove the truck carrying the medicine to the chemists, and the chemist who gave me the prescribed medicine and not a cough syrup and etc. What a market economy does is create incentives for everyone to reveal what they do know and can do. The USSR had plenty of smart people and they had access to most of the West's scientific knowledge, but they couldn't create the wealth of the West because they didn't have the right incentives. Meanwhile NZ, who has much fewer smart people than the USA or Europe (because we have much fewer people Full Stop), has good living standards, because we have a market economy. Another piece of evidence - slaveowners in the American South, despite having the power of life and death over their slaves, often resorted to rewards to get the slaves to increase production. Of course, the next big question, and the exciting one in economics, is how on earth you get a government to adopt and keep to a market economy. -- TracyW - 23 Jan 2006
oh Tracy — thank you! I sort-of semi- know this stuff.....but I can't put it in words..... I started teaching myself economics a couple of years ago, and then had to stop so I could concentrate on BASIC ARITHMETIC. It frustrates me that I don't have a better sense of how society & cultures work, which of course interferes with being able to think well about policy; another source of frustration. Here's an analogy I was thinking about, which, again, comes from my years in LA. In Los Angeles, everyone had a great idea for a screenplay. This was a cliche. The difference between a great idea for a screenplay and a screenplay is huge. After that, the distance between a screenplay and a movie is almost unfathomable. It's not that people's 'great idea for a screenplay' weren't great ideas. There are about 5 ideas out there, and they're all pretty good. (Wild exaggeration, but it's possible there are only a finite number of 'narrative templates' or types....) In Hollywood, the brains and/or creativity to come up with an idea are almost the least part of productivity & innovation... -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Ken Assuming I'm following the research right (I think I am on this point) working memory is incredibly close to IQ. My sense was that for awhile there people were verging on saying that working memory IS IQ. (This is why people are talking a lot about people's 'digit spans' — I think that's it — how many digits you can remember & recite backwards, etc.) Apparently people now feel it's been shown that working memory and IQ aren't identical, but they're still very, very close. I'm probably losing IQ points by the minute. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
This looks useful: intelligence testing This is a blog about intelligence testing; this particular post is about what I assume is the June issue of PSYCHOLOGY, PUBLIC POLICY, AND LAW. Here's what he has to say: Regardless of one’s conclusions/beliefs regarding this issue, I found the lead Rushton and Jensen article to be the most succinct, lucid and well-organized synthesis of the historical and contemporary research in this domain. The framework provided by Rushton and Jensen is an excellent organizational heuristic for integrating the vast literature in this domain. The organizational framework provided by Rushton and Jensen is worth the reading……regardless of one’s degree of agreement with their research and conclusions. I recommend that faculty members who cover the IQ/race/genetics topic in their intelligence theory and/or assessment courses use this special journal issue as a core reading. I would also recommend that all scholars and applied practitioners, who study and/or engage in applied intelligence testing, seriously consider purchasing a copy of this journal issue for reading and reference. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Google Master I'm (probably) saying something more radical, which would be just like me: I don't think intelligence is necessary to success in all cases. I have no idea what the distribution would be.....I also think that high intelligence is at times (perhaps often) an obstacle to succes. Obviously, I'm one of those 'school brains' who would have preferred being a cheerleader! Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Tracy slaveowners in the American South, despite having the power of life and death over their slaves, often resorted to rewards to get the slaves to increase production Interesting. I didn't know that. -- CatherineJohnson - 23 Jan 2006
Catherine-- Here is a link to an article that I saw posted on msn today titled, "Do Teachers Dislike Boys?" I thought you might want to read it. http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/Departments/Elementary/?article=teachersandboysmain -- KarenA - 23 Jan 2006
Catherine - I suggest adding Frederick Douglas's autobiography to your reading list at some point. His account of being a slave is quite interesting. At some points he was working as a tradesman and much like an independent contractor, while paying his master some of his earnings. -- TracyW - 23 Jan 2006