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Speed Reading for Drunks? December 15, 2009

USA Today reports that almost half of college freshmen spend more time drinking (10.2 hours per week) than studying (8.4 hours per week).

Perhaps a reason for the disappointing college freshmen failure-rate. One solution might be to train students to drink faster so they can spend less time in getting plastered. Of course, the other solution may be to train these students to read and study faster so they can get more studying done in the available time between booze-binges. But it's a race against time - to fill the brain with knowledge before it gets too pickled to absorb anything.

So, if you're a college lush hoping to get a degree, try Speed Reading for Drunks!

Grade-Inflation? Is this good for our kids? December 15, 2009

My very intelligent (but sometimes smart-ass) son comes home with a 4.2GPA. "Any homework to do?" I ask him. "No, it's simple stuff and I did it on the bus" he tells me. "Anyway, I got a 4.2 so stop hassling me."

Each year the average GP seems to be on the increase and yet our kids seem to be spending less time on homework. Is this increase in GPA the result of a lowering of the academic bar and resultant grade-inflation? If so, are we not deluding ourselves that our kids are performing well at school? And are we not praising mediocrity?

I read somewhere that at private colleges, the average is now better than a 3.3GPA which means that the average student is getting a B or a B+ grade, so an A is hardly great shakes. And at some universities, 2/3rds of the students get As.

Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the team-sport playbook where only so many players get onto the team and the rest get 'cut'? How about restricting the number of A's to only 20% of the students in any class? Would this not encourage our students to do more than simply meet the ridiculously low 'dumbed-down' academic standards, but also to do better than the other students in that class who are also doing just the minimum amout of work to get an A?

After all, where's the benefit in getting an A when A means Average?  When F means Fine? And what motivation is there to put in some extra effort when you're already getting full-marks with your eyes closed? You can't really give an exceptionally hard-working and dilligent student 150% for a test, can you?