Acquired Taste

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Archive for the ‘work’ Category

The presidential race is getting verrry interesting…

Posted by unbeelievable on August 29, 2008

So in case the 2 people that read my blog forgot, I am a former academic nerd, trying to break out into the “real world.” It’s not working so well. The corporations that I apply to see the Ph.D. at the end of my name and run. I think they are afraid of nerd-taint. This is perhaps why we Ph.D.’s stay in academia making wages that have a ridiculously low wage:years of schooling ratio.

Anyway, as part of my academic life, I worked on a study of kids’ understanding about the gender and race of the U.S. Presidents. It went something like this: We asked kids how many black/female/latino presidents there had been and recorded their answers (a common answer was “two”, which is adorable to me. Like, there must be at least TWO back there SOMEWHERE…)

Then we burst their bubbles. “No, there has never been a black/woman/latino president. All of the presidents have been white men.” And we show them a picture, like the ones you might remember from school, of all the presidents lined up, as evidence.

Most kids believed us, although one kid told us that Abraham Lincoln looked “sort of Mexican.” Then we asked why. Why have there been no women, black, or latino presidents? And the answers we got were very interesting. Many kids used discrimination as a reason. “White people hate black people,” one elementary student stated matter-of-factly. Others used internal characteristics. “Men are smarter than women,” said one little girl. Very, very sad stuff. A full 25% of kids said that it was against the law for women, African Americans, and Latinos to be president. Yes. In 2008. Against the law.

We collected our data way before Barack Obama had even thought about being president. But, thanks to the slow peer-review process for publishing academic stuff, we were never able to publish it until now. We found out yesterday that the study will be published very soon!

Could we have picked a better time to publish? How exciting is it that Sarah Palin is running for VP? Now, she may make some of my liberal colleagues want to run far, far away due to her views on teaching creationism in schools and her “feminist pro-life” stance, but I couldn’t be more happy. It makes our little study incredibly relevant.

And, our conclusion to the study is that simplest way to fix kids’ attitudes about women and minorities in public office is to PUT MORE WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN PUBLIC OFFICE! So hooray to the Democratic party, and yes, hooray to John McCain, too, for making that happen for at least one group this year. This election truly will be historic.

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Grading papers fast and fairly : Tips for teachers

Posted by unbeelievable on February 21, 2008

After my rant the other day on grading papers, I thought I’d actually give some helpful advice on how to grade papers.

Grade in a pleasant place, free from distraction. I like to take the morning off and grade sitting on my couch sipping coffee or alone at a laid-back cafe. I do not like to grade in my office, on Saturdays at home, in meetings, or anywhere else. Why? Because even one, tiny distraction will force me to re-read at least part of the paper, which will make it take longer and be more frustrating. Additionally, if you make grading a semi-pleasant thing to do, it won’t be quite as painful.

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