JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2008/10/obama-youth-vote.html (18 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1224646238-598001  Sarah at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 03:30:38 +0000

Try being on the other side of the podium. I recently gave what I considered to be an easy exam to my astronomy class (material straight out of the textbook), and half the class tanked it. I went out of my way to help these kids, bent over backwards to provide a study guide, tutorial session, office hours, my cell phone number, and they bitched to me that I didn't do enough to help them pass the exam. This is the Obama generation. Lord help us.

jsid-1224681805-598015  jason at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 13:23:25 +0000

eh. i bet some of those students were conservatives. i've had poor students of all political persuasion, just as i've had good students from both sides. maybe we'll call the conservative whiners the golden parachute generation or the bail out generation or the chickenhawk generation.

jsid-1224683918-598016  Rich at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 13:58:38 +0000

I teach in a large college and find that the students who come straight from high school are like that. The ones who are working, even part time are way better. They actually appreciate being there.

Maybe we should have people work for two years before they can enter college. Then they ones that come will does so because they want it.

Oh wait, can't do that college has become a way of extending the student's childhood four more years.

My cousin in Scotland has two sons both of whom at 16 went into 'trade' schools. Basically a career oriented school. The one is a Captain of an oil tanker in the middle east the other runs a hotel. Both schools were sort of junior college with actual work during the summer. Towards the end it was half classes, half year work.

Seems to work well. Better that what we are doing here I'd say.

jsid-1224687725-598021  jason at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 15:02:05 +0000

you're probably right, rich. i've always said that everybody should be required to go to boot camp. most student complainers need perspective.

jsid-1224691384-598028  Sarah at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 16:03:04 +0000


Times have definitely changed WRT students' attitudes -- my dad has been a high school teacher for 30+ years and noticed the gradual shift toward entitlementitis -- and that correlates with the political shift to the left. You can decide if there's any causation there.

jsid-1224697283-598036  jason at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 17:41:23 +0000

maybe--there's this whole warning about correlation not always equaling causation. a lot has changed in thirty years. i was just stating what i've noticed teaching at the college level. bad examples come in all political flavors.

jsid-1224697792-598038  Bill at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 17:49:52 +0000

I agree 100%, try to find a high schooler willing to work for minimum wage!! And Washington has the highest in the country!!

BUT....the only people to blame are the parents, they are us, and we aren't teaching our kids a thing about WORK! Of course it doesn't help that the government has decided that 16 year olds can't actually work at anything with responsibility and can't work during the school year to any great extent!

jsid-1224707865-598046  Phelps at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 20:37:45 +0000

The good news is, they aren't responsible enough to actually go and vote in any significant numbers.

That is why any plan based on the "youth vote" (like Obama's) is made of FAIL.

jsid-1224716721-598058  Dr_Mike at Wed, 22 Oct 2008 23:05:21 +0000

A girl I went to high school with was in a few classes with me first quarter in college. She spent the second quarter repeating many of them, as her GPA was a whopping 0.23 after her first quarter. A "B" in the unflunkable intro comp sci lab, and straight "F"s in the rest of her courses. I bumped into her halfway through the second quarter, she had a programming assignment due tomorrow, hadn't started it yet, might do it might not. Flunked an English test "because the teacher is an a$$hole" and flunked a US History midterm for the same reason.

Her family decided two quarters was enough money flushed down the drain.

Sarah #1: One of my astronomy profs had a student ask him if he should take "Moon & Planets" the cake astronomy course, or "The Geography of National Parks" for his science course. "But I'm really bad at math, is there any math in this course?" Dr. Bishop said about the most math you'd need to do would be a simple parallax problem, say x/3=10. The student said, "I may not know much math, but I do know you can't divide a letter by a number." He was gently pointed towards the geography department.

All this was circa 1990, I doubt it's gotten any better.

jsid-1224770052-598078  Sarah at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 13:54:12 +0000


I once had a student tell me that y=mx+b was "graduate level math." (I should have shown her the tensor analysis I was working on at the time.) It's a mystery how these kids get past the SAT math requirement. And don't they have to pass algebra to graduate from high school?

Some people just don't belong in university. Or, like Rich said, many would benefit from some real-world experience first.

jsid-1224770966-598080  BobG at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 14:09:26 +0000

Sarah: As far as I'm concerned mathematics doesn't even start until calculus; everything leading up to that point is just arithmetic. I would love to see that student being exposed to partial differential equations, vector and tensor analysis, or combinatorial topology.

jsid-1224773199-598081  GrumpyOldFart at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 14:46:39 +0000

y=mx+b *IS* graduate level math... if you go to a good JUNIOR high school.


jsid-1224776093-598085  Sarah at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 15:34:53 +0000

Grumpy -- LOL!

BobG -- The truth is, that stuff is so far beyond them they couldn't even begin to understand that it's beyond them. I remember one time in my sophomore year in college I was on my way to math class and a friend of mine who was a humanities student saw my textbook and said, "You're in physics and you're taking elementary math?" She had seen the book I was carrying, which was called "Elementary Linear Algebra." It's ironic, but it takes knowledge to know what you don't know. Unix Jedi made a brilliant (and depressing) observation about this in the Markadelphia discussion a few posts down.

jsid-1224776298-598086  DJ at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 15:38:18 +0000

"Unix Jedi made a brilliant (and depressing) observation about this in the Markadelphia discussion a few posts down."

Yup, he did. My analogy is that Markadoofus tries to fake his way through an intelligent discussion of calculus when he cannot honestly count on his fingers.

jsid-1224782531-598094  Mike W. at Thu, 23 Oct 2008 17:22:11 +0000

My parents paid my way through school and I can't really say I "held up my end of the bargain." Sure I got my degree, but I really didn't do as well as I should have.

That said, I think the entitlement mentality is a huge problem. I knew college students who were getting weekly allowances from their parents, on top of the parents paying for school, and these kids complained that it wasn't enough. I couldn't imagine having a kid in college with an attitude like that.

My parents have always been good to me, but I've also always been grateful and made sure I constantly let them know it.

jsid-1224810062-598108  Dr_Mike at Fri, 24 Oct 2008 01:01:02 +0000

My folks helped greatly with undergrad. I got half ride, free room and board and use of a car (Dad paid insurance, I paid gas) (room was in the basement, board was Mom's cooking) and they paid half my tuition. If I went to the state school 4 miles away. If I could show that another school was better, they would have paid the dollar equivalent; the rest would have been up to me. A part time job covered tuition and gas; I wasn't exactly rich, but I had a job in the physics department that taught me how to survive in a machine shop...perhaps my most important lesson in school.

Hey, I got into (and out of) a Big 10 grad school, and today I make the radioactive bits in a group that makes radioactive drugs and injects them into people for research purposes. (Hey, everyone needs a hobby...)

Turns out my thesis advisor saw "Have used a lathe, mill, drill press, band saw; still have 10 fingers" and started drooling; he recruited with common sense as a goal. When I interviewed with him he said to get a degree in his group I really only needed two things: good mechanical skills, and a deep working knowledge of Monty Python. I pulled out my Leatherman (butterfly pliers) and said "Look you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!"

But the single best realization in undergrad was: Math and Comp Sci needed Calc 4; engineers needed Calc 1-3. So Calc 4 was where they put multivariable calc. Which is a cakewalk: Z = 3xy. If you're doing dz/dx, y=constant. If dz/dy, x=constant. Yeah, they spent five whole weeks making sure we got the point. And the engineering students never saw a minute of that course.

The worst? Taking Calc 3 from the guy who wrote the book, 5 days a week at 8 AM. Jolt cola and twinkies make for a very bad breakfast.

The most amusing? Doing derivatives of quadratic functions in Calc 3 near Easter. All you do is do what you must to make it look like a formula on the inside front cover of the book, and integrate by looking up the formula. If you had (X^2 + b)^1/2, make it (b( (X/b)^2 - 1))^1/2, the point being make the part to the square root be (x^2/a^2 -1) or as the prof kept saying "Make it a one!" So, the week after Easter the public schools have the week off. Dixie, a delightful young mother, brings her kid to class with her, and he plays with crayons in Calc 3, Assembler programming, etc. Until friday, when she's running late. Can't make the 8 AM calc course. So she sits in on the 9 AM course, same room, same prof, class of 25-30, yeah he noticed she was late but didn't care. Had there been a test, and no evidence of cheating he still would have noticed and not cared. But he's going through a problem, gets to the punchline, and says "And what do we do?" And as the class sits silent, the nine year old they've never seen before pipes up, "Make it a ONE!"

I am assured one could have heard a pin drop.

jsid-1224902150-598208  juris_imprudent at Sat, 25 Oct 2008 02:35:50 +0000

Ok, so as I figure it, none of you have kids in the Jr high/HS cohort. If you did you would be astonished at the 'concepts' of math that they are "teaching". And this even at a good Catholic HS. Fortunately, at my rapidly advancing age I've already forgotten what insipid thing it was my son asked for help with, but I kept wondering "what ARE they trying to teach here"?

He's now struggling through Calculus at college, and speaking of that - since when did that become a single semester course? I remember at least 2 semesters (or where I went, 3 quarters).

jsid-1224984811-598273  John Hardin at Sun, 26 Oct 2008 01:33:31 +0000

Re calculus at 0800: Gah! Please don't remind me!

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