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"I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That's like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?" via +John Cook
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Daniel Lemire's profile photoShanthanu Bhardwaj's profile photoMichael Swanson's profile photoAdolfo De Unánue's profile photo
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Using the B grade cutoff, I wonder what would have happened to those great scientists who did poorly in high school because they had odd learning styles or were bored out of their brains. Perhaps we need a way to identify those students and get them out of school. Sounds like gifted ed, but we do poorly at that too.
 
I am completely agree with you +Michael Swanson , at least in the first sentence of your comment. At this moment we don't know how to identify the "full potential" of the students and neither identify the "brain explotion time" (i.e. the time or age when some people grasp everything the first time, this happens maybe for crappy teach systems, or maybe for the maturity of the brain, i don't know), and we dont know (or predict) the next big subject or skill or branch of knowledge. So, put a "cut-off" or "identify" B students is dangerous (forget for the moment the moral problem, but just for the moment, this is a big issue too) is almost as dangerous to cut-off budget to basic or fundmental research...
 
I was a solid C+/B- student in high school. I have a three part blame system:

1) The American public education system and teachers who don't know how to teach on the age level of the students with different learning methods

2) My parents for not enchouraging reading, studying, and scholarly endeavors.

3) Myself... For not doing what I knew needed to be done when I was old enough to know better.

Now, as an adult, I am getting an Associate of Science with a 3.92+ GPA. I may have another straight A semester, so that should go up a few more points.

When I transfer to continue my studies, my major will be Biophysics. I work full time and take 2-3 classes a semester. The trick for me is to not overload what very little study time I have every week with too many classes that all need more attention than I'm able to give them. And, I have to use vacation days to help give me extra study time at the end of the semester...

Just because someone was a B student at one point doesn't mean that they're incapable of doing great things. Perhaps they need to do less to get better results. Taking fewer classes at one time in order to study more is better than taking a full course load and risk not learning the material and sacrificing good grades -- even if it takes a little bit longer to finish. The point is to learn, not necessarily to get the degree as fast as possible.
 
This article isn't saying all B students...it has to call them something to get the point across and, if you read the whole article, it does it well. I agree with what this article is saying. It's trying to set a better path for "B students".
 
Isn't this how pre-enlightenment society was organised with the aristocracy, clergy and tradesmen?

I'm sorry if that comes of as too snarky, but the whole idea of a more or less common curriculum until high school is to demistify the awe associated with "physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature" and instill some sort of humanistic ideas of universal human equality. Any program like this is just asking for widening class inequalities in society.
 
+Shanthanu Bhardwaj (1) Scott Adams talks about college. (2) The enlightenment did not bring about public education, this was a result of the industrial revolution. High school education is free in France only since 1945. (3) The enlightenment was not about helping the common folk. If anything, most of them became worse off.
 
+Daniel Lemire (1) I would argue that to some extent the first year or so of undergrad being common is something I've admired a lot about universities in the US. In India for instance, there is not as much common coursework in colleges, which I think is a bad thing.

(2) & (3) You are right, I shouldn't have posted without checking up on the facts. What I wanted to say was basically the destruction of the multi-tiered class structure corresponds roughly with the introduction of a common curriculum. A very valid argument of course remains as to when exactly educational paths should diverge, and I'm afraid both Adams & I are talking out of our hats without any real data.

Also, I think he is being somewhat dishonest in portraying the situation as a false binary of "scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward" and enterpreneurs. There is however a much larger group who will be neither. So while a rethink on education in college is good it is nowhere near as simple as Adams tries to claim it is.
 
+Shanthanu Bhardwaj I think that Adams is worried about the fact that the bulk of the new college graduates in the USA are either unemployed or underemployed. They take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt, if not more. They end up with dead-end low-pay jobs when they graduate. I read that there are more college students in journalism right now than there are working journalists. What will happen to these college graduates is predictable: no job and large debts. Ok. So we have this problem where we are running out of good jobs in large corporations, the kind that college graduates used to get. Adams' solution is to promote entrepreneurship instead. I think that it might be a good idea, though I am not sure whether the scenario he promotes makes a lot of sense. I'm not American, maybe you aren't American, but we still need to worry about such things because whatever happens in the USA tends to have effects throughout the world. If an entire new generation of Americans ends up in a dead-end... what will that mean?
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