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The Answer Sheet: October 4, 2009 - October 10, 2009

College Pays Students NOT to Attend ... (And More Things I Learned This Week)

A college in New York is paying students NOT to attend the school. Babies and animals have mathematical capability. The sun affects our electricity bills. The Boy Scouts of America are trying to branch out--in Spanish ... and more Things I Learned This Week.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 10, 2009; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  Things I Learned This Week  
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What's So Great About Harvard?

Harvard University is known for providing its undergraduates with an unexpectedly high number of graduate assistants as teachers rather than professors because, apparently, the profs are too busy with more important things than teaching. Now those poor kids can’t get a hot breakfast. Why, at a school where tuition is $33,696 for undergraduates this year and the total package including room, board and student services fee is $48,868? Isn't it time to stop viewing Harvard as standing alone as the platinum standard for higher education?

By Valerie Strauss  | October 9, 2009; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  Harvard University  
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A New World Ranking Of Top Universities--And Why Such Lists Are Nonsense

There is sure to be angst in some education quarters now that a new list of top universities around the world has just been published in Britain--and American schools did not do as well as they did last year. Since Friday is the day for lists on The Answer Sheet, read on for a list of the top universities that were ranked--and a list of reasons why such lists have no merit. That's a lot of lists.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 9, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  international university rankings, university rankings  
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Teachers, Scientists and The Dalai Lama Hold a Different Kind of Education Conference

An education conference began in the nation’s capital today but it was not about standardized tests, national content standards, merit pay for teachers, or charter schools. Educators, scientists, the Dalai Lama and others came together to discuss how to cultivate in students the qualities not normally given much attention in most schools: social responsibility, self-control, compassion.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 8, 2009; 2:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Civics Education, Intelligence, National Standards, Teachers  | Tags:  Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond, Marian Wright Edelman, The Dalai Lama, school reform  
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The Group: Our Kids' Teachers, Good and Bad

It is October and by now we have formed opinions about our children's teachers. The Answer Sheet's Group of Moms talks about what makes a good teacher and a poor one. Should you request teachers? What do you do if you have a bad teacher? And what should we, as parents, expect from the school principal?

By Valerie Strauss  | October 8, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags:  The Group, teachers  
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Is It Tougher Being a Kid Today?

It isn’t exactly scientific, but a trove of letters and emails written by children each year reveals important information about their concerns. Kids worry about everything, especially tests and homework, but don’t want to tell their parents about it....

By Valerie Strauss  | October 7, 2009; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Homework, Parents, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  Highlights magazine, homework, standardized tests, what children worry about  
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SPOTLIGHT: U-Richmond President Edward Ayers Is On a Civil War Mission

There is, it turns out, a “great untold story” of the Civil War and Edward Ayers is determined to teach it to you and your children.Ayers is one of the nation’s leading Civil War scholars, who, two years ago, serendipitously became president of the University of Richmond in the capital of the Confederacy. He is intent on using the gift of location and the approaching 150th anniversary of the Civil War (in 2011-2015) to spark a public discussion on the Civil War that sounds very different than past conversations.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 7, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Civics Education, Higher Education  | Tags:  Civil War, President Edward Ayers, University of Richmond  
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Homework Assignments--The Useful and The Ridiculous

What makes homework useful--or a waste of time? Students speak up about their best and worst assignments and the Sheet recalls her own homework, good and bad.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 6, 2009; 12:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Homework  | Tags:  homework  
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Checking It Out: Why Teens Stay Up Late--and School Starts Early

It’s 10:45 p.m. and the light is still on in your teenager’s bedroom. Your child is not the slightest bit tired--but you know that waking him or her early for school the next morning will be torture. It may be tempting to blame this behavior on computers, cell phones and coffee. But, researchers say, this is the way teens are biologically programmed--even though most school systems gloss over this when setting high school start times.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 6, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Tags:  teens and sleep  
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Should Shakespeare Be Required Reading?

A veteran educator gives a list of what she thinks students should learn. Shakeapeare and other great writers aren't on it.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 5, 2009; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  Deborah Meier, literature, what students should learn  
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Willingham: What Should Students Be Required to Read?

What should students be required to read? ... It is not controversial to specify desirable knowledge in other subjects. In science, for example, we expect that students will acquire certain skills-- methods of scientific analysis--but we also believe that there is a body of scientific knowledge that students will learn. The same is true of history and mathematics. What makes literature different? Why don’t standards specify what students ought to read?

By Valerie Strauss  | October 5, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Learning, National Standards, Reading  | Tags:  Content Standards, Daniel Willingham, Literature, Reading  
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Responding to Readers: Print vs. Screen, Who Should Pack School Lunches, College for the Retired, Getting Kids to Talk

A reading researcher is asked to defend her study on reading from screen vs. print, readers discuss how kids should pack their own school lunches and offer suggestions for how to get your child to talk to you about school. And more.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 5, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Higher Education, Parents, Reading  | Tags:  Reading research, higher education for the elderly, packing school lunches, parenting  
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