Some Other Stuff I Want to Share, Volume II

What would happen if you gave a homeless person a pre-paid debit card? That’s what a writer for the Toronto Star explored in 2010Related: NPR has a story about a charity which gives money to impoverished people in developing countries, with no strings attached. The results are similar.

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If you’re not following CGP Grey’s videos on YouTube, you should be. He creates great, incredibly informative videos on topics you’d not think to explore. I asked him which one was his favorite, and he said it was this one, below, explaining the difference between Holland and the Netherlands. If you’re a long-time Now I Know reader, you may have seen this before, as I mention it in the bonus fact of this issue of the newsletter.

While we’re on the topic of CGP Grey, you should probably follow him on Twitter, as he makes other interesting observations such as this one. And if you’re a redditor, he has a subreddit which he’s active on, here.

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Two long-ish quotes about the education system: I found both of the mind-boggling, and am passing them along without further comment:


Anne Ruggles Gere, a professor at the University of Michigan, serves as director of the Sweetland Center for Writing, which oversees first-year writing at the university. She speaks with SAT essay-graders often. “What they tell me is that they go through a very regimented scoring process, and the goal of that process is to produce so many units of work in a very short period of time,” she says. “So if they take more than about three minutes to read and score these essays, they are eliminated from the job of scoring.” According to Perelman, especially speedy graders are rewarded for their efforts. “They expect readers to read a minimum of 20 essays an hour,” he says. “But readers get a bonus if they read 30 essays an hour, which is two minutes per essay.”


Back in California, when I raised the issue of too much homework on that e?mail chain, about half the parents were pleased that someone had brought this up, and many had already spoken to the math teacher about it. Others were eager to approach school officials. But at least one parent didn’t agree, and forwarded the whole exchange to the teacher in question.

As the person who instigated the conversation, I was called in to the vice principal’s office and accused of cyberbullying. I suggested that parents’ meeting to discuss their children’s education was generally a positive thing; we merely chose to have our meeting in cyberspace instead of the school cafeteria.

He disagreed, saying the teacher felt threatened. And he added that students weren’t allowed to cyberbully, so parents should be held to the same standard.

I explained that we never intended for the teacher to read those notes. This was a forum where we were airing our concerns.

What was frustrating me was that the underlying issue of ridiculous amounts of busywork was getting buried beneath the supposed method we had used to discuss the issue.

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Quick Hits: 

Originally published on October 29, 2013