Friday, March 3, 2017

Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom, No Excuses

I assigned an essay exam last week, in addition to my regular multiple choice exam. I need the essay to have students fulfill the college's "critical thinking" requirement. Unfortunately, the majority of students weren't ready to do that kind of critical thinking, even after I gave them the basic question (prompts) in advance.

Anyway, I still have to finish grading the essays, but I'm thinking about the age-old problem of promoting academic success among disadvantaged groups, especially racial minorities.

I'm old school. I think all the progressive "equity" initiatives are a bunch of bull more designed to enrich leftist pockets and administrators' curricula vitae. More and more professional development at my college deals less and less with the problem of student academic unpreparedness. There's lots of talk about civil rights and supporting underrepresented groups, but little in the way of beating back stale leftist pedagogy and dogma. (For example, the idea of strong student discipline in the classroom is virtually out the window, as theories of "restorative justice" have taken over administrative regimes; to truly discipline disruptive, even violent, students is deemed "racist.")

In any case, here's a great book about getting back to basics.

At Amazon, Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom, No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning.

BONUS: Don't miss the indispensable, Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life (2nd Edition with an Update a Decade Later).