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Required Readings, 13 June 2013

Good morning, teachers and learners! Let’s dig in to today’s required readings.

Senators Condemn For-Profit Colleges’ Use of Military Tuition Aid – Is slick marketing taking advantage of vets?

Schools fail to challenge the brightest, warns British education inspector – He says there’s a culture of low expectations, though some (the politicians) disagree.

A lesson for all students (and teachers): Don’t Text and Drive – From Dr. Steven Novella.

Caffeine Withdrawal and Addiction Earn Clinical Diagnoses as Mental Disorders – Does this mean that me, and my fellow teachers, should have checked in to clinics long ago?

Bail out universities rather than banks? – This is one headline question that I’d prefer to answer with a “Yes.”

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P.E. Robinson

P.E. Robinson

Professor P.E. Robinson teaches astronomy to non-science majors at a 2-year college in the United States. He has a decade of experience teaching science in higher education, and providing professional development experiences to astronomers and other educators. Skepticism and critical thinking are key components of everything he teaches.


  1. June 13, 2013 at 11:07 am —

    The UK story reminds me of Andrew Sullivan’s oft-repeated story of how he came into conservatism: originally given a government scholarship to a school for the gifted after performing well on a stardardised test, the Labour government later decided such programmes were unfair, disbanded the project, and discontinued his aid.

    It certainly is curious that a programme initially developed by the left as a way to find and raise up talented students from diverse class backgrounds eventually came under fire as elitist through a kind of Tall Poppy Syndrome. I’m honestly glad to see that separate tracks are starting to come back into favour with educators now, so long as the boundaries between them stay permeable (i.e. not the ‘test you take at 11 years old determines if you will go to university’ kind).

    • June 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm —

      As a product of the track system in the US, I’m VERY happy that I was able to take “honors” and “college prep” classes in high school. However, the material covered and the rigor of coursework in the other, non-college, tracks was far less. Tracks seem to have a place, but I agree that permeability needs to be an option.

      • June 16, 2013 at 7:04 am —

        I know what you mean. In my last year of high school scheduling conflicts landed me in a (to put it gently) distinctly non-honours English class, and the difference in material and expectations was enormous. I was bored to tears (and mostly used the hour for handwriting practice), but there were definitely students who were appropriately challenged and just managing to meet the course requirements who would have been utterly lost in a more rigorous class.

        Unfortunately the school also had a mandatory drop/fail after 15 absences (excused or not), so about half the class was out by the end of the year from that alone, whether or not they could hack the work. This policy was eventually found to be in contravention of district regulations, but the school went charter immediately afterward and so kept the policy as a means of culling ‘undesirables’ who might lower test scores. Horrific and truly detrimental, but it kept the numbers up and that was all that mattered to the admins.

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