Filtering by Tag: learning

More Impressions After Sending My Son To Nerd Camp

Added on by C. Maoxian.

I wrote about this last year, but it bears repeating ... my son's fourteen classmates at nerd camp (electrical engineering this year) are all boys and here are their last names: 

  1. Chan
  2. Duan
  3. Huang
  4. Liang
  5. Liang
  6. Wang
  7. Xu
  8. Yang
  9. Zhao;
  10. Baskowsky
  11. Decker
  12. Kovacs
  13. "Wilson" (first name Ze'ev);
  14. Gupta

So 60% of the class is Chinese, 27% Jewish, 7% Indian, 7% WASP/Chinese mix. This doesn't mirror American society as a whole very well. It's clear to me that the Chinese will become an even more market-dominant minority, and the Jews will begin to get crowded out, though they're obviously doing their best to stay competitive. 

I expect there will be a backlash at some point ... I suppose it's already occurring given T___p's election win, though how public policy might change is a good question. Will there be quotas put in place, a sort of reverse Affirmative Action campaign, to keep certain ethnic/religious groups out of the top schools? It's something to keep an eye out for....

Impressions After Sending My Son To Nerd Camp

Added on by C. Maoxian.

My son is doing a three-week-long robotics camp this summer in Maryland, organized by Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth. I just sent him to the camp yesterday and wanted to record my impressions before I forget them.

I estimate that 90 out of 100 campers are ethnically Chinese. Another 5% are Indian ("subcontinent, not Injun," as my friend Carl likes to say) and 4% are Jewish. This leaves a sad and beleaguered 1% of WASP attendees. The lopsidedness was shocking.

It makes me suspect that the Center for Talented Youth isn't interested in identifying exceptionally smart kids from all backgrounds, but instead is filled with bright kids who happen to have pushy parents who are trying to get their little darlings an edge, at any cost. Anybody with money can sign their kids up for prep courses or get their kids tutors who can help them pass "above grade level" tests. I thought CTY was all about finding weirdly brilliant kids, untutored, of any race, from all over the country, and all kinds of different circumstances. Looking around the campus on drop-off day, I was wrong.

I think Chinese parents must see CTY as some kind of backdoor into the Ivy League, and they might be right that it is, for now. But the overwhelming number of ethnically Chinese kids in the program makes me think that Hopkins is going to have to start limiting them in some way, a quota system perhaps, not far in the future. Striking a balance is going to be a very tricky thing. 

Money Follows Math

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Selected excerpts from Peg Tyre's post, The Math Revolution

"Parents have enrolled their children in ... programs to supplement or replace what they see as the shallow and often confused math instruction offered by public schools, especially during the late-elementary and middle-school years ... The roots of [weak math skills] can usually be traced back to second or third grade ... In those grades, many education experts lament, instruction—even at the best schools—is provided by poorly trained teachers who are themselves uncomfortable with math. [ed. Is the problem the teachers or the texts?] Children were being taught to solve problems by memorizing rules and then following them like steps in a recipe, without understanding the bigger picture. Learning math earlier is better than later: The subject is relentlessly sequential and hierarchical. Latecomers find themselves missing too much foundational thinking and struggle.

Students are being produced by a new pedagogical ecosystem—almost entirely extracurricular—that has developed online and in the country’s rich coastal cities and tech meccas ... lately, dozens of new math-enrichment camps with names like MathPath, AwesomeMath, MathILy, Idea Math, sparc, Math Zoom, and Epsilon Camp have popped up, opening the gates more widely to kids who have aptitude and enthusiasm for math ... Math Kangaroo, an international contest for first- through 12th-graders came to American shores in 1998 ... advanced-math learners’ Web site the Art of Problem Solving [is popular] ... Freewheeling collaboration across age, gender, and geography is a baseline value. [ed. baseline value?]

Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics provides  a three-week residential math camp the summer before eighth grade, enhanced instruction after school, help with applying to math circles, and coaching for math competitions, as well as basic advice on high-school selection and college applications."