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Katie Ramos "Extroverted Editor" RSS Feed (Madison, WI)

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The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality
The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not as offensive as the title would suggest, July 3, 2012
Mooney makes an achingly thorough study of psychological, neurological, and genetic studies of political preference, bias, and reasoning. While the title correctly suggests his personal bias, Mooney not only looks at the psychology of conservative thinking, but also discusses the psychology and neuroscience behind liberal thinking. According to Mooney both have their usefulness and pitfalls, though ultimately he implies that liberal thinking is more useful and conservative thinking has more pitfalls.

The writing is very accessible, and Mooney does an excellent job explaining the science and social science behind the studies. He also works hard to make the linkages between his evidence and conclusions clear.

My main concern is what we're to do with this information. Mooney makes some very general suggestions about how to deal with the psychology of reasoning but offers nothing concrete. That would be the next step for the project.

Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality
Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight without solutions, July 3, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's slightly alarming to agree with Murray, but there it is.

Real Education outlines why our educational system doesn't work and how we can fix it. However, it's not your usual "schools are underfunded" or "teachers are not trained well" or "teachers' unions prevent real change" (the list could go on).

Murray says what has become far too taboo in our culture: not every child should go to college, not every child can do well academically, and, most horrifying to our national narrative of education, about half of children are below average in academic intelligence.


I say, "YES!" I've thought this for a long time--since President Clinton said, "Everyone should go to college" without any caveats as to what kind or with what kind of goals.

Murray argues for the value of different kinds of intelligence (spatial, physical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical) aside from academic (logical and linguistic). He rightly asserts that pushing children who are "below average" in academic intelligence to read and do math at "grade level" actually does them a disservice. All children should be given the opportunity to learn in academic areas, but they should also be given educational opportunities in other areas where they may excel--with the hope that they can harness those talents and skills for their career, rather than going to college to struggle through a liberal arts degree that doesn't mean that much for them.

He makes a number of valuable points:

--The BA (he uses this as shorthand for all Bachelor's degrees) should not be prerequisite for the majority of jobs as it currently is;
--The quality of our schools should not be measured by all students performing at "grade level"; instead there needs to be a better understanding of what "average" means and what that means for test scores;
--Schools should work to help all children find areas in which they do well, including assessing students for different types of intelligence;
--All students should have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment with good teachers, but aside from the most troubled urban schools the differences between schools are not as huge as we think (I would include the most troubled rural schools with the urban);
--The aims of a "liberal education" that we receive in college should be given in K-12, particularly in grades K-8, so that all individuals are exposed to other cultures and ideas;
--Certification tests should be used as entrance to a variety of careers.

I find his assertions about the role of the academically gifted in society compelling, but I can't overcome the sense that it's a veiled kind of elitism. I imagine this is ultimate the difference in rhetoric that arises between a libertarian and a liberal-progressive.

My main problem with the book, however, is how Murray suggests we achieve this kind of system. He asserts that the change can come by making the research on the subject public, expand choice (vouchers, charter schools, home schooling), rely on the decisions of parents, rely on the recognition of the problem by educators....

Basically, leave government out of it. Obviously this comes down to, again, libertarian vs. liberal-progressive. But Murray has so many AMAZING goals in this book, ideas that made me think, "OOOOH! Let's make that happen!" But he's talking about massive societal change. If he thinks that's going to come by some parents and educators changing how they do things, he's dreaming. It's going to come from those parents and educators advocating for larger change and policy that will bring it. Maybe it will happen locally or regionally, especially at first, but it will ultimately have to be policy from the government.

Real Education is an excellent read and provides really revolutionary ideas for education reform. I highly recommend it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 25, 2012 10:46 AM PDT

McGraw-Hill's Conquering GRE/GMAT Math
McGraw-Hill's Conquering GRE/GMAT Math
by Robert E. Moyer
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from $4.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, but riddled with errors, September 19, 2007
This book is great if you need an intensive review of high school math after immersing yourself in the humanities for four years. It provides a general review chapter on numbers, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, then it proceeds to get into the GRE and GMAT question types.

The problem? Test Prep books are known for being rife with errors, but this one leads the rest. The amount of errors seemed to be getting exponentially greater as I proceeded through the book. I am in the algebra chapter now, and I feel like 1/3 of the problems are wrong. I am not so confident in my computational skills that I just accept "the book is wrong" based on my assessment, so I am constantly messaging friends to ask their opinion. If it gets any worse, I feel like it will render the book useless.

I hope they make some serious revisions for the next edition. Until then, if you don't think you can handle the high number of discrepancies between problems and the answer keys, you may want to look elsewhere for a refresher.

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