Quick Links – Obama on education; stereotyping boys; chimps have better working memories than those of humans

by Grace

◊◊◊  Obama on education in State of Union address (Washington Post)

Universal ‘high-quality’ preschool

Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.  Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.  In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.  So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.  Let’s give our kids that chance.

High-tech curriculum for high schools

…  Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy.  We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.

Link higher education federal aid with ‘affordability and value’

Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid….

College Scorecard

…  And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.


◊◊◊  “..the study found that stereotypes seemed to be holding boys back.” (Dr. Helen at PJ Media)

Boys may be suffering from stereotype threat.

The belief that girls are brainier and better behaved is holding boys back at school, research suggests.

A study of British pupils found that, from a young age, children think girls are academically superior.

And, what’s more, they believe that adults think so too….

And by the age of seven, boys shared the belief that they were naughtier and did less well at school. Follow-up questions showed the children thought that adults had similar expectations.

The second part of the study found that stereotypes seemed to be holding boys back…

Study co-author Dr Robbie Sutton said: ‘Our study suggests that by counteracting the stereotypes in the classroom – wherever they might have come from originally – we can help boys do better.’

Noncognitive skills come into play in boys’ poor school performance.

This reminds me of the study I found on girls taking over at college. In it the researchers state:

One source of the persistent female advantage in K–12 school performance and the new female lead in college attainment is the higher incidence of behavioral problems (or lower level of noncognitive skills) among boys. Boys have a much higher incidence than do girls of school disciplinary and behavior problems, and spend far fewer hours doing homework (Jacob, 2002).

Are boys’ poor behavior and low academic performance partly due to low expectations?  Dr. Helen wonders if teachers tend to use grades to punish boys since other discipline options are more limited.  A related aspect is that much of early academic success may hinge on noncognitive and literacy skills, which boys tend to develop later than girls.


◊◊◊
  Working memory of chimpanzees is ‘far better’ than that of humans

Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers, Japanese scientists have shown.

A good working memory is needed to survive in the wild.

Prof Matsuzawa, who combines the study of wild chimpanzees in west Africa with research using the captive colony in Kyoto, said such a good working memory – the ability to take in an accurate, detailed image of a complex scene or pattern – was an important survival tool in the wild.

For example, the apes can quickly assess and remember the distribution of edible fruit in a forest canopy. Or, when two rival bands of chimpanzees encounter one another, they can assess the strength of the rival group and decide whether to fight or flee.

Memory of chimps ‘far better than human’ (Financial Times)

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