I didn't think my mom would ever retire, she spends countless hours coming up with unique lesson plans for the kids - they usually involve games, real world use cases and many ah-ha moments. She lives for those moments when a kid lights up when they understand the value of what their learning.
Now though, over the last 8 years, she told me that parents have ruined the job she loves. Especially now that she has to post everyone's grades online, instantly emails roll in when a student didn't perform as well as the parent expected.
She told me of an email she received that said "X is trying to get into Princeton - an A- isn't going to get her in. What extra credit can she do to make this an A?".
It's endless and my mom, for fear of a lawsuit, doesn't know what to do. The teachers union in Massachusetts made all the teachers sign liability waivers and arbitration waivers if a lawsuit happens. My mom is scared stiff and either bends over, or doesn't and let's the vice principal or principal take the heat, ultimately it leading to an extra credit assignment.
My mom's job sounds miserable and if you were to ask me 15 years ago, what I might do in my retirement - I would have said taught CS at a disadvantaged high school. Now though, I'm seconding guessing that retirement plan.
Teaching is one of those careers where the expectation is on the teacher to endlessly do more and work harder, "For the kids", and if you keep doing it, you'll work more and harder forever, endlessly.
My brother does a fantastic job, and works very hard for his students. What he does though, is walk out at 4pm and NEVER does work at home. He doesn't check his emails, he doesn't grade work and maybe only once or twice in five years has he done a lesson plan outside 8am-4pm.
If parent emails, or meetings, or "school paperwork" or whatever queue up he just makes it infinitely clear that he must choose between doing the best job for his students, or spend time with the parents or at school meetings. He does do thing pro-actively like call parents if need-be, but he does not spend hours of his personal time dealing with "helicopter parents" or stupid school meeting requirements.
It requires the right balance of "push back", but it can work very well when done correctly.
FWIW, he has quickly been promoted to the head of maths and had a real shot at a "leading teacher" position, so obviously he's very good and the entire school-body agrees.
Well sure, he lives in Australia which has much, much better working conditions than the USA.
It sounds like your girlfriend is being taken advantage of and working in a situation that is not to her benefit. In which case she needs to start looking for a new job!
There just isn't work available within a reasonable commute distance. She'd have to move if she wanted better conditions.
There you go. Do what it takes to improve your work-life. I moved from one perfectly good First World country to another, because I wanted a different life. It was difficult and took a long time, but it was absolutely worth it.
This reads a lot like people who make excuses for not having time to exercise. I get that some positions will require you to put in work outside of work hours, but to say 'has zero time' seems like a bit of an excuse.
Their wages are quickly approaching what you would expect at a fry cook position yet Wendy's doesn't give you four hours of extra homework a night.
We are headed for a giant education crisis because we overwork and underpay under-qualified teachers.
Those of us who cannot afford to keep their kids in private or home school will have it rough finding quality education for their kids.
I have known many teachers who were never trained to be efficient or organized, and who did not anticipate the paperwork load that comes with the job. They would struggle under the paperwork load due to this.
But, what do we expect from a system run by government administrators with little or no transparency or accountability. The administrators pile on the paperwork, because that is what means quality to them. That is what they do.
You're describing efficient people. Unfortunately we do not properly train our teachers because we do not want to properly pay them.
My point is that teachers do not become teachers to do paperwork. They become teachers to teach. However, their job is defined by government administrators who measure everything by how much paperwork is done.
Teachers are receiving the wrong training and have the wrong expectations, so they are leaving.
I didn't become a software developer to document every minute action or go to meetings or explain complex concepts to clueless bosses or meet intense deadlines, I became a software developer to program. Yet...
Besides having more realistic expectations about my field due to exhaustive research, which in fact led me to change my mind about becoming a teacher or professor and just focusing on software development, I also trained myself extensively extracurricularly to be prepared for my job.
What motivates all of this is the salary and the control over my life which programming affords me.
Neither of those things are pluses about being a teacher. Their salaries are absolute garbage and get worse every year, and they have little control over how they structure their life. Most of the motivated public school teachers I knew growing up have moved into administrative positions because of this.
What ends up happening is that it's mostly just the inefficient people without foresight who remain in college for 4-6 years to become a teacher. The quality of applicants is directly tied to the quality of life afforded by the position. And in my opinion, public school teaching positions should be some of the highest-paid and highest-qualified jobs in the market, on par with college professors and junior to mid level engineers. At least more on par with what their administrators are already pocketing.
I also always try to leave at 3:20,which is when we're free (7:30-3:20,tho I usually get there early to copy).
Work life is great, and I don't do anything in my breaks, either. But I'm still looking to get out for various other reasons I've documented elsewhere.
Now, I don't have to worry about any of that, get cheaper rent and better internet (it ends up being cheaper even when gas/maintenance is factored in, as well), as well as live in a fairly vibrant college town that has a lot of options on things to do. Plus, I can listen to podcasts and music to learn/unwind on my way to and from work. Just mentally for me it's well worth it.
If a teacher's work email is anything like my email inbox at work, ~90% of emails just go away if ignored. The other ~10% email again if it's actually important.
Once your contacts are "trained" not to expect instant feedback to every email they send you, you can often get some actual work done.
A government school has an enormous advantage over private schools in that it’s free at the point of use. You can be a lot worse than the competition if the competition is expensive and you’re paid for by tax money.
It has given rise to a bargaining mentality.
I think I see your point of view, but IMO that is too narrow a definition of "stakeholder".
One of the more commonly-accepted definitions of "stakeholder", at least from a project-management standpoint, would be:
"an individual, group, or organization, who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project"
Even in my work, I tend to think of stakeholders as those who stand to lose or gain based on the outcome -- literally, those who have a stake in the outcome. Many of them are active participants, but not always.
Just my 2 cents... I might be far from typical in this viewpoint.
That said, the teachers do have a responsibility to respond to parents. But they should never give in to helicopter parent special requests for extra credit.
Are you sure about that?
In my opinion the teachers have a responsibility to do the best damn job they can teaching their students.
Meetings, parent emails and "admin paperwork", etc. are all a distant second.
I know my brother pushes back against it, and just says there are not enough hours in the day to respond to the requests of the hundreds of parents of all of his students.
It does. If the matter is actually important/urgent he will call a parent to speak to them directly, or the matter can be discussed at the next parent/teacher interview.
The unimportant ones go away.
That parent is an ass. Having grown up in a family where my parents deferred to teachers over me, even when the former was wrong to the point of harassment, however, it’s an understandable instinct.
Administrators don’t protect children. Boards don’t protect children. That only leaves parents, unchecked. If students had proper means through which to pursue grievances against teachers, I’d hope these parental impulses would recede.
"She can't, because that's the grade she earned in the time alloted. The moving finger, having writ, has moved on.
"However, I'm confident that, with Janie's capabilities, a little more effort from her and help from you, she can easily demonstrate a higher level of mastery and the consequent benefits from longer-term retention.
"Princeton will NOT be a picnic, and developing excellent habits at this time will pay back many-fold. This A- is a vote of confidence that there is room and talent for improvement."
The parents escalate to the adminstrators, who either involve the student counsellors or talk to the teacher directly. One of these two tell the teacher how they need to better support the student because they need a "little extra help" or can't handle the stress required to turn in homework assignments.
I wish this stuff worked, but these parents typically don't want an answer that requires their student to work harder (or differently). They want the curriculum, assignments, or grading scheme to change until their child gets an A - and they don't care about mastery.
Now, if even the administrators can't do that then someone in the city government, state government or federal government should be able to draw the fundamental line whether the purpose of schools is to give students A's or grade them based on their actual knowledge and make the student responsible for his/her own grades.
This is one of the big advantages of national standardised testing. There is literally nothing the school can do to alter the grade.
And stop at that.
Otherwise you start on a losing discussion.
So all in all, students who ask for that end up with better grades and better chances where grades matter.
By indicating a personal and subjective intent to be ungenerous, parents will feel (perhaps rightly) that they want to take this further.
Edited to add, my approach would be more like:
"I have graded 8bitsrule as generously as I could under the circumstances, and the grade is final.
8bitsrule will need to show a better understanding of communicating diplomatically in order to succeed in next semester's courses. 8bitsrule could try the following specific tasks over the break:"
But if everyone graduates and gets a honors degree, the only thing that degree means is that you were able to get in (either through skill or money).
I’m sure it still has value. But it places all the value at the entrance and selection process instead of the teaching.
This is an interesting interview about it: http://www.econtalk.org/bryan-caplan-on-the-case-against-edu...
Why are we blaming the victims for the oppressive irrational grading system?
But on the A- and extra credit issue, I never understood the point of rigid grading schemes. I've taught at a college level, and I always give students the chance to improve their grades if they want to put in additional work. To do otherwise seems like saying "nope, even if you learn more and improve to the point of A-level knowledge, you're still getting a lower grade".
My wife is a college psychology professor and is fairly strict with her grading scheme. She makes this clear on the first day of class and spells it out directly, in bold, on the syllabus.
Her rationale is this: The likelihood of you asking for extra credit, or excuses, or various "grade grubbing" activities is largely influenced by your socioeconomic background. Students who make special grading requests overwhelmingly skew white and female and are more likely to take place at institutions that take students from more affluent backgrounds. She doesn't want her grading inadvertently biased against males, non-whites, or less affluent students so her grades are final. Despite this inflexibility, her student evaluations are sky-high.
In any case, I get around the whole "grade grubbing" issue by having my policy of "extra" work spelled out, also up front on the syllabus. No one gets anything extra just for bugging me about it. Basically it amounts to allowing homework assignments to be re-done (once). A single quiz grade can be replaced by doing some fairly difficult extra problems. No makeups on the midterm and final, but a research project can be done to get up to 5 points on their final grade. Beyond that I hold office hours and happily spend them further helping students with anything they're stuck on.
Short of (provable) extenuating circumstances, that's about it. I even ask for a police report for students claiming "car accident" for things like missing a quiz. (In one case, a student told me there wasn't one because it was just a minor accident that scratched the side view mirror... I pointed out that an accident like that wouldn't have prevented them showing up to class, even if it was a few minutes late.)
You also say that a student who does poorly didn't put in the time. In some cases yes, but broadly it's simply not true. I've analyzed LMS data at large scales: Students who get F's don't put in much time on average. But students who get D's, on average, are putting in just as much time as the students getting A's and B's. The F students I can't do much about, with some notable exceptions, they mostly don't want to help themselves. But the rest are teachable.
For me and my like minded colleagues, it's not that we expect ourselves or others to do more work. It's that our vision of what the job's baseline work requirements entail goes beyond a rigid grading process that implicitly assumes that learning takes place in discrete bits of time, uniformly for all students.
I don't think anyone is suggesting that teachers can't dynamically adjust their attention across students as the class progresses based on grades. But at the same time teachers should not just be the pawns of parents. A parent shouldn't be able to just demand extra credit work for their child. This sort of special exception is something that should only be made by the teacher, at the teacher's complete discretion, if they legitimately think there's a truly good reason for treating that student differently.
Giving students the chance to learn is important. Expecting them to actually master some skills within a given timeframe is also important. I have a relative in a European system in which changes have been made to allow students to take tests on a class for the next two years. The students are not better off -- it sounds miserable for all.
I'm not suggesting that the vast majority of teachers would be tempted or give in to bribery. But it sets up perverse incentives and the optics are terrible. It's also unfair to students who didn't do well and whose families can't afford to pay the teacher to grade their extra credit assignments.
My third daughter played in the band, and we decided that we could finally afford $20 a week lessons from one of the instructors. She's in the top band and got to play in the county competitions. She's had alot more opportunity.
I don't personally think she's significantly better, even though the lessons have helped her notice certain shortcomings more quickly. I do think she's noticed more by the band leaders.
If little Jimmy wants to get into Princeton, he should study.
Donations and connections work much more reliably. Work gets you into les Grandes écoles in France, their model is different.
A+ Student has demonstrated that they have exceeded a firm grasp of the subject. (How do you measure to 11 on a scale of 1-10?)
A Student has demonstrated that they have a firm grasp of the subject. (makes sense, this means they know their stuff.)
A- Student kinda has a firm grasp of the subject. (WTF?)
Now apply that silliness to B, C, and D. A,B,C,D,F is enough. Excellent understanding, Good understanding, General understanding, Poor understanding, Does not understand.
I saw once a 2+!
In life there are things you won't always get second chances for.
The problem is the absurd college process that way overemphasizes clearly inflated grades in a ridiculous race to get into college. It's a shame what kids have to go through these days.
Why should students be coddled instead of being prepared for the real world? I have a high school student who is always getting better grades because of “extra credit” and “make up tests”. I cringe every time he does it.
Often times there is homework, multiple tests, projects, etc.
If you fail your job multiple times I highly doubt you will be progressing in your career. Just because you aren't fired doesn't mean you aren't losing out in some way.
What I find interesting is that people like to talk about how much harder the real world is than school... but that just isn't my experience.
At work? as far as I can tell, 70% means I get a pretty good raise. A really good raise if one of the things I got done was really impressive.
(that is one of the weird things about school for me; At work? if you really hit one out of the park, that matters. In school? you have to be within 10% of maximum all the time if you want to do well academically... and going above that maximum doesn't really help you.)
At work? If you aren't good at something, but are really good at other things? they give the things you are terrible at to other people. In school? they make you spend all your time on that thing you are terrible at.
(I mean, I totally understand that people have different experiences of school and of work, and I also understand that I have an unusually good experience of work... but all this "real world" stuff makes me laugh, just 'cause it is soo much easier for me to keep a job where I work with people that got good grades at good schools than it is for me to... get into good schools at all.)
That’s very true. My last four jobs were supposedly for a “full stack developer”, but it didn’t take long for managers to realize that when I told them up front, my weakness was on the front end and any pages I design look like something you would see on Geocities was not an exaggeration. Once they realized I was telling the truth, they stopped assigning me front end work.
In high school, I was forced to take Art classes - hilarity ensued. I’ve never been in favor of participation trophies but the B I got was definitely a “participation grade”.
There were at least 3 classes I recall from university where I really didn't learn anything of substance past the midterm. I managed to pull a B+ or an A- by turning in every single assignment on time, doing a decent job on the project, and applying test-taking tactics on the final. For at least one of those classes I wish I could slow the pace and spread it out into the next semester. But the way it was structured at my university, it as "all-or-nothing" on the curriculum within an artificial period of time.
In most of these cases you can't really scale back; you're either ready by the deadline or you're not, with catastrophic consequences for not being ready.
I’m honestly unsure whether extra credit is even a thing outside the US and it’s near abroad in Canada. I don’t think there’s a single country in Eurasia without a school leaving exam with summative assessment, some of which have a coursework component.
A better way to handle this case is to drop the student's lowest grade, or maybe even the lowest couple of grades.
You should learn more but doing it for extra grades misses the point. These kids learn you only learn for rewards.
Isn't it 'rigid' to give only a limited amount of time( end of yr or whatever) for that chance. Seems like saying "nope, even if you learn more and improve to the point of A-level knowledge, you're still getting a lower grade".
The parents make similar demands regarding grades - if their kid does poorly on an exam, it doesn't even enter into their mind that they didn't study or are super lazy, it's automatically the teacher's fault for making the test too hard or teaching the material poorly. Same goes for kids failing a class because they never turn in assignments - the teacher is failing to sufficiently motivate their student.
This would be manageable but for the fact that the administration always takes the side of the parents. If a kid cheats on a test, it's a "coping mechanism" or a "useful real world skill - there's no black and white" - this for a kid who literally broke into a filing cabinet to get the answer key. When kids fail tests, the administration or counsellors pressure the teachers to make easier versions of the test, extend the time limits, or give credit for test corrections. Several time teachers have resisted, because this totally undermines the information content of grades and takes a massive amount of extra teacher time (grading, writing, proctoring), and it's gone over poorly for the teacher.
The end result of all this is that the most entitled children or those with the most "engaged" parents get As, even if they earn a C,D, or F on the baseline system, while students who earn Bs but don't squeak get As.
I've been trying to convince her to just give the whole class As for years.
It's a pretty awful experience - I'm surprised anyone still teaches and would have quit years ago.
That's probably what I would do, at least if this became a problem. I'd still maintain an unofficial parallel "rank" that more corresponds to what I think a grade should be, purely for mine and my students' own benefit in knowing about information gaps, but on their official transcripts it'd be very hard not to get an A just so I don't have to deal with parents/admins as much. (Having a reputation for 'easy A' can also help in keeping the classes full.)
Wait what? I thought the union was supposed to at least pretend to look out for the teachers' interests.
Given stuff like 'contractually they are bound to lay off multiple newer teachers before they lay off the one a year from retirement'.
While screwing over your loyal members isn't good treating the new ones like dirt is also a death spiral move - I know that everyone in High School who worked a job with a union hated it - the consensus was that they were paying a cut and openly screwed over in favor of everyone else.
As such, there are people within unions that may not benefit at a certain point in time. For example, someone who has seniority will benefit from being there a long time-perhaps at the expense of a younger member, that may possibly be more talented. When that younger member grows old, it will benefit that member. A lot in silicon valley may scoff at that idea - but we've all seen ageism in our workplace, probably more so than others.
It's similar to insurance - just because you don't need it RIGHT NOW doesn't mean you won't in the future. So everyone who doesn't need it pays for the people that do. When you need it, it is there.
The same can be said for any form of democracy, though.
Here's how these exchanges SHOULD go ...
Kid: Could I do extra credit to bring my grade up?
Teacher: No, I'm sorry, the grade won't change.
Kid: Okay. (thinks to himself, "Well, it was worth a shot")
Kid: Could I do extra credit to bring my grade up?
Teacher: No, I'm sorry, the grade won't change.
Kid: How dare you. You'll be hearing from my parents.
Parent: Could my kid do extra credit to bring his grade up?
Teacher: No, I'm sorry, the grade won't change.
Parent: How dare you. I'm going over your head.
Not to take away from your point, which I think has merit, from the other side of the spectrum as a parent that has a child that struggled mightily to not fail for the first couple years of high school, the amount that teachers screw up the online grading is incredible. As teachers, if you're getting regular requests from parents worried about assignments showing online with zero/empty values for them that cause the grades to show F and it's just because you haven't finished entering all the work in, maybe find a workflow process that eliminates or reduces the amount of time the system shows that?
Seeing multiple F's show online for days at a time leads to tense discussions and arguments with kids, and if it's all resolved with the teacher saying "I haven't finished entering grades yet" you start to really resent the system from the other side too.
One can create 'fake' assignment-like pages with the assignment details and then enter an event into the calendar that's not linked to the assignment-info-that's-not-the-assignment-so-it-won't-show-in-the-gradebook, but then you can't have the rubric for grading built onto it because only assignments can have the grading built in, and then you need to turn the assignment itself on at some point and make sure students know to submit there since it'll be a different link than the assignment-thats-not-an-assignment so you'll still have blank grades until the thing's graded, because you can't submit files through not-an-assignment pages.
I've tried this and several other iterations.
What I don't understand is why, given that they must see the problems this creates as they eventually roll downhill to the teachers.
I made it clear to students that if they felt the grade was wrong, or they wanted more detailed feedback, I’d be happy to read it again. I grade quickly and mistakes do happen, I’d tell them.
I’m not gonna grade 100 papers over three days for $2/hour. I am happy to do it for two students for free.
Most of the time students don’t even look at the feedback anyway, so I’d rather let the ones who care ask proactively.
What would have happened if you gave the amount of work that would have reflected on you a normal amount to grade, assuming an 8 hour day/5 day week?
Simply put: why do you punish students, and then complain (and not do your work) when you assign too much, by your very own standards?
More simply put, if I had only given out enough work as to keep me at 40 hr/wk, there would have only been end of unit tests with no retakes that were only multiple choice (still would have gone over the 40 hr, but it would still have to happen) and any disruptive students would have been walking around campus (because I was not allowed to send them to the VP or detention as there was no room) where I would face liability if they came to harm (which was a real possibility - we had a kid murdered 5 feet off campus once, stabbed to death).
Man, I am so thankful for my career in development.
I remember being drowned in homework. And after getting out, I heard my former teachers complain just how much work they had to put in to keep up. (I did a stint substituting not long after.)
My question fell on deaf ears: why assign so much homework, if it reflects back on you x $number_of_students ? And homework also tends to select for families that can help with the homework load (moderately high income, free time, stable family, 9-5 jobs). If your kids and their parents fall outside that, they're probably going to do badly.
But still, there's technological ways to reduce your own personal load. Every hour past 40/week is billable free time. And unless it's a significantly rare event, you probably shouldn't be doing this, or negotiate for more money reflecting your higher workload.
You could also potentially get rid of homework completely. The students are already spending 8 hours in classes. And if 5 teachers add their hour in, that's a 13 hour day for students. Pretty sure that's not deemed as healthy with regards to sleep. But from the article, it appears the 'better' answer is that teachers and instructors are leaving in droves.
I'd love to see a shift to top rated lectures viewed at home, and classroom time as a time for "homework" where students work to practice the topics of the lecture with the assistance of the teacher to patch up holes in understanding. Leveraging this methodology with some automatic grading, and I think teaching would be a better experience. Granted, this requires the students to do the lectures at home which has a whole slew of problems.
Sounds like millennials have taken their need for instant gratification and the system is coddling them.
If the official way to check grades is online (and it is, by school policy and pointed out in every teachers's take-home documentation and in the open house nights where you meet your child's teachers), then I would rank accuracy first with timeliness a distant second.
Programmers are held in higher regard because they do the actual work, if you know what I mean. Everyone else is in a support role.
And yet in school administrators are paid higher and have it easier, because they don't have to deal with parents directly.
I've found that to be the case in very few of the organizations I've worked at.
I remember reading an article of Michelle Rhee when she was head of Washington DC School district. At beginning of her term, she got lost in the district HQ and walked into a room where a lady was sitting in front of a computer. Rhee asked what her job was, and she couldn't answer. And soon enough, a purge of the HQ district office was implemented.
You can agree with her or not, but no doubt there is a lot of unnecessary people on payroll in places like school district HQ.
That's a horrible thing to say ... except I could even say from bitter experience that Princeton vs whatever-public-college is indeed a jump in *perceived( quality of education (there has been discussion of 150K vs 80K programming here and while they shouldn't revolve around Princeton or not, often they do. Appearances matter, sadly).
And that's the thing right, when everyone is pushing to get to those small number of nice jobs, nice houses for rent or buy, nice etc., sure the nastiness is terrible but it's part of the fabric of it all. Hate the fabric, not the player, so to speak.
What it provides is a circle of friends for your son or daughter that come from a different socioeconomic class. Which will allow your kids to operate smoothly in that class when they get out of college.
If the teacher wants to give out opportunities for extra credit (maybe because they feel the class is particularly challenging in general), they can do so. But students and parents are not entitled to extra credit, particularly those who already received a very respectable grade.
(I realize that for certain colleges, an A- isn't enough, but inflating everyone's grade doesn't help the situation.)
Allowing someone to continue trying and learning seems much better method rather than "whoops you had test anxiety or had insomnia and flunked your singular test". And if this is what's needed and is being forced on US's teachers, so be it.
We still need good teachers as a species.
What does this mean exactly?
One of our guests for Christmas was telling us stories about this, she teaches art, and says it’s normal for her to check her work email on Monday morning and find that parents have sent a series of increasingly angry emails over the weekend demanding an instant response. This is in the UK.
And my SO, with a PhD and therefore 'top' level seniority in the union pay-scale, made ~40k in a large, expensive US city with median houses at ~0.5 million. The benefits were, otherwise, ok-ish. No dental, no vision. The pension (yes, they still have one!) has been gutted since 2008 and is massively underfunded, so a total-write off.
Now my SO works in the field that the PhD was/is in and pulls ~80k with amazing benefits/401k. Teaching, like my SO had to do, was in no way worth any of it. My SO did time in 'service' to the local community and now considers the dues paid.
 Actually, restorative justice models are pretty brilliant, if implemented properly. I think they should be the norm.
The teacher refused my request to give him extra credit, saying my physical fitness was not his responsibility so he deserved no credit for my sake. Not saying that was right or wrong, just backing up your statement of "my high school and university had no such thing" as extra credit.
Sometimes doing exactly what's required is the most you're going to get credit for.
One kid getting into Princeton means another misses out.
Very little of it results in actual useful learning or eventual public benefit.
Your skills are more important than the prestige of your school.
I'd disagree slightly. All of Mark Zuckerberg's college roommates are billionaires or half-billionaires - mostly because they were his roommates. Obviously they brought their own skills to the table but there existed other people in the world at that time with those skills too. These specific people got to be in the rocket ship when it was on the ground, because they were at Harvard. Otherwise, they'd (probably) only have very successful careers, instead of their current wealth and status.
I think having a "prestige" school on your resume opens some doors far more easily.
I personally don't think it's worth encouraging people to try to be billionaires. If you do, most of them will end up highly disappointed. It's more worthwhile to encourage people to be the best they can be, the majority of which will fall vastly short of a billion dollars. That's okay.
I don't think society cares who fills the position but said individuals care.
> A noisy but pointless rearrangement of positions on the socio-economic ladder.
Not pointless to the people on that ladder.
Get off your kids ass, for starters, lady
And it’s hard to argue with working harder / smarter / longer to achieve better outcomes as an option.
The parent may genuinely be writing at the students request.
It’s seems reasonable there may be at least some students who genuinely want to do more work to improve their chances of being accepted in to their preferred choice at the next level.
I guess it's not impossible that a parent would intercede on behalf of their child, with the child's knowledge and permission, it just seems unlikely to me. Any student who is actually contemplating Princeton is almost by definition extremely self-motivated and independent.
This is how you get kids with parents who go to job interviews with them. I actually had to teach a kid I went to undergrad with how to grocery shop because "I never had to do it myself"
Kids need to learn how to be their own advocates.
I am assuming kid will struggle in the top school anyways because of parents not being able to control as much anymore and since self-motivation was never trained it will be hard to do things on your own.
You might say that parents will use same approach in top school as well, but if they had that kind of power I guess they would not need to put their kid into a public school in the first place.
The tests the parents in such wealthy schools get upset about are the teacher assigned ones.
But again, I only have deep knowledge of two schools, so am happy to be corrected if I'm on off this.
Teaching calculus? Been there; done that, as a math grad student. Easy to teach -- off the back of my hand. Zero time for preparation.
Now with D. Knuth's TeX, it would be easy to pass out very nicely polished class notes, examples, exercises, applications, etc.
Here's an application that might interest the students. At one time it literally saved FedEx from going out of business.
The BoD wanted some revenue projections for the full, planned fleet and business. So, we knew what the revenue was then and what the revenue should be for the full planned fleet. So, the projections were essentially an interpolation.
So, there would be growth, and what would drive that growth? Okay, assume the rate of growth is proportional to (1) the number of current customers talking about FedEx and (2) the number of the rest of the target customers hearing the talking.
So, for time t, with t = 0 being the present, let y(t) be the revenue per day at time t. So, we know y(0), the current revenue. Let b be the revenue per day of the full, planned fleet and business.
Then at time t, the number of customers talking is proportional to y(t) and the number of the rest of the customers listening is proportional to (b - y(t)).
So, for some constant of proportionality k, we have that the growth rate in revenue per day is
d/dt y(t) = y'(t) = k y(t) (b - y(t))
where we have y(0) and b.
So, this is an initial value problem for a first order, linear, ordinary differential equation, but just freshman calculus is plenty to solve it in closed form. Sure, the solution has some exponentials. I'll post the solution later on request!
So, one day Senior VP Planning Mike Basch and I picked a value of k that yielded a reasonable graph, and I drew the graph. That was Friday. The BoD meeting was the morning, Saturday, with Mike traveling. At noon I got a call from Senior VP Roger Frock asking if I knew about the revenue projections and could I come to the BoD meeting? I did and did. When I got there, the graph was on a table, and our two representatives of BoD member General Dynamics were standing in the hall with their bags packed. No one was happy. Roger pointed to a few places on the graph, and I used my HP calculator to reproduce the points. Everyone got happy.
Later I learned that the graph had been presented to the BoD early in the meeting; the General Dynamics guys asked how the graph was calculated; all the FedEx people at the meeting tried to learn how; near noon the Dynamics guys gave up on FedEx, got plane tickets back to Texas, went to their rented rooms and packed, and as a last resort returned to the BoD meeting and were standing in the hall when I arrived. With my results, they unpacked and stayed. Had they left, FedEx would have ended.
So, just a little calculus saved FedEx, and since I was the only one around who knew still knew calculus I was the only one who understood the solution.
The projections were a smooth curve that rose slowly, rose more quickly, had an inflection point, rose less quickly, and became asymptotic from below at b. So, the curve was a lazy S.
I suspect that the curve is the famous logistic curve also important in, say, the elements in neural networks and has long been seen as a good, first cut description of the growth of new products, e.g., TV sets when they were new.
With the way I derived the curve, it is an axiomatic approach to viral growth or word of mouth market growth.
There is lots of nice stuff that can be done with calculus.
For more with calculus, I would recommend famous texts by Apostol, Rudin, Royden, and Rudin again, through measure theory and then texts by Loeve, Breiman, Neveu, and Chung for the connections with probability. The third edition of Rudin's Priciples does very well with the modern Stokes theorem, exterior algebra of differential forms, and the inverse and implicit function theorems. The first half of Rudin's Real and Complex Analysis does well with measure theory and introductions to functional analysis. The Apostol text is Mathematical Analysis:
A Modern Approach to Advanced Calculus -- it's NOT very "modern" but gives a lot of what need to know to read mathematical physics, especially Maxwell's equations. For stochastic processes, Doob, Karatsas and Shreve. For Princeton and its department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, the more elementary parts of stochastic optimal control via, say, Nemhauser, Dreyfus and Law, Bertsekas and Shreve, Dynkin and Yushkevich, etc.
For the girl whose mother wants her daughter to go to Princeton, I mentioned some more in calculus that might be impressive for Princeton and make moot the student's A-.
Indeed, there was long Harvard's Math 55 where the three texts were Halmos, Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces, Rudin, Principles of Mathematical Analysis, and Spivak, Calculus on Manifolds. The course was something of a math boot camp and aimed at freshmen. There was an article on the course at
maybe no longer available. For a high school student to have done well in that material might be impressive at Princeton. Linear algebra is perfectly accessible to high school students, basically easier than calculus, although the classic by Halmos may be regarded as better for a second course. The Rudin text I mentioned. And the third edition of that Rudin text contains the core of what is in the Spivak text.
If that girl and her mother want to pursue such things, then I'd recommend that the two of them chat with a good college math prof once each three months or so, maybe once a month. Working in a small group that also chats with a college math prof occasionally would also be good.
I also mentioned some introductions to stochastic optimal control that are accessible to high school students.
For the more advanced material, the students might regard that as a destination on the horizon.
I did the high school calculus teachers and their students and that mother and her daughter a favor, possibly valuable for them and not easy to find elsewhere.
Moreover, I know what I'm talking about: I studied calculus, advanced calculus, measure theory, and probability theory based on measure theory, and much more, hold a Ph.D. in pure and applied math from a world class research university, and have published peer-reviewed original research using advanced calculus, measure theory, and probability theory based on measure theory. My Ph.D. dissertation was in stochastic optimal control. Did I mention I know what I'm talking about? I did them a favor.
There’s no corruption on my part because I don’t keep the money.
If you care about your children, you teach them to work and study, or at least approach the teacher on their own for things like extra credit.
The teacher probably has 20+ students. How much extra time per student do you expect him or her to suck up so that everyone's special child can make it into Princeton?
Plus, isn't the point of grades a measure of ability? If we can just erase any bad grade at a parent's discretion, what's the point in having grades at all?
The whole system in my opinion is rotting. We seem to be increasingly reluctant in the U.S. to measure merit - but in this case, if nobody loses, then nobody wins. Sometimes that's life. Princeton only has prestige because it is selective, and that selectiveness depends on some kind of measure of entrant ability.
This is just wasting the teacher's time with whining and grumbling.
Now from the other side, my wife is a model of efficiency. She receives lots of emails from students disappointed with their grades (even today she got some; we are in post-exam period). She's very calm about it. She knows she did her job well, so she simply doesn't care about whiners. She never had to deal with an escalation though (i.e. lawsuit, arbitration, etc).
I guess my point is that teachers have to simply get more thick-skinned. Just do your job, and let the whiners whine all they want. They are scared stiff themselves after all.
I'm not sure if it's just about the whiners but also when the whiners permeate the entire institution you're working in.
The "lazy" teacher trope is a thing because the floor for teaching is so low and the ceiling can be so high while pay stays the same.
I guess I'm privileged enough(or type A enough) to want more. Sometimes I wish I could just do my job. That way, I'd be happy with being a bus driver or a cop or something(they both have really good pensions).
I went from private tutoring CS to teaching in an afterschool program to this because I really enjoyed helping students break through conceptual blocks and mental ones.
The work is emotionally exhausting but satisfying. Only recently have I wondered whether or not this was the right thing to do instead of going to industry(maybe it's because a lot of my interviewers have been asking me that exact question) but it seems blatant now that my friends are senior engineers who have almost infinite job opportunities.
The real crux of it is that teachers get put into this triangle of pressures between students, administration, and their parents which almost takes away all agency from the job. I got so tired of getting put into difficult situations that were almost always juggling acts.
At the end of the day, if you want to fix anything as a teacher it's almost like going against an institution. You risk your pension, your 401k, or maybe just your potential future in industry for what?
I wasn't in it for the money and I would imagine most teachers aren't either... but what happens when your hands are too tied to actually teach?
sigh maybe I could've done everyone justice if I had some tech money to fall back on.
I think that is also happening today with medical doctors and it is an absolute travesty; the opposite of progress.
Obviously I'm only considering the extremes here, but those extremes are...very common.
Society can't go very far if the ONLY thing people do is write keywords in a text editor all day. We need to properly value other professions too.
TL; DR - New college CS grads are mostly children who know very little and expect huge paychecks immediately because they watched Mr. Robot and maybe opened a browser on an RPi. Once.
I've been here 4 years, and some of the new-hires that came on my first year are now able to support mutliple projects and getting their sea-legs, but the burden on the senior programmers is still heavy, and I'm doing my best to retain those saints! Perhaps there will be an inflection point that doesn't involve customers and managers freaking out.
Or, heh, perhaps I'M the weak link.
Yeah, the person who barely has the skill to pump gas probably won't make it (they probably have some bigger problems, too), but...
Compared to the post dotcom crash (where it was a buyer's market) where you could pick the best and brightest and make super teams, there's a stark contrast in 2018, and it shows in the quality of the products.
Sure a professional would have made that in a week, but their next site will take half as long, and then half as long... until they are within striking distance of someone who does still know all those fundamentals. They will mostly be limited in what they can do, but most people don't really need developers that can do anything even if they pay for them without realizing that.
Programming is being commoditized. In the same way you don't see a doctor first thing when you go to one; you see a nurse, tech, or assistant. Not everything requires the most expensive learning investment. Most programming jobs don't require you to be able to write a proof of the code you copy paste from Stack Overflow.
By the same token, if you want an app that will still be maintainable in 5 years, you need a professional. An amateur can build most requirements, but the architecture will seize up if it’s just layers of hacks.
It’s sort of an interesting situation for startups, because their business requirements for newly acquired users are often changing on <5 year timeframes. So actually throwing away the whole system every few years turns out to be an OK strategy.
The problem is previously acquired customers, who won’t generally deal well if you tell them half of your products features are going away for 18 months, or maybe forever.
You can sometimes hack around this by basically ditching all of your old customers and taking a high turnover strategy.
That can work well for the middle of your growth curve. You burn a chunk of your addressable market in the long term. Also most companies don’t have the nerve to do it.
And it can cause cash problems.
But there are viable strategies that way.
That's part of the issue. People have been making teams who CANT build apps still maintainable in 5 years. Everyone has and only a select few remember/know that it's possible.
At a previous job, I was in a meeting where we pointed out an app had become unmaintainable to the point of requiring a rewrite. One of the engineers who built it pointed out "Well, we built this app a year and a half ago, of course it's unmaintainable, what do you expect?". I choked on my drink.
When I say the architecture “seizes up” I mean it gets to the point where
1) a refactor that would shave 100 points off your annual planned work costs more than 100 points
and 2) hacks are slowing your pace to the point that a realistic estimate for your annual planned work is growing faster than your team is working it down.
Note that in such a situation you will still be “getting things done” but your costs are rising while your output is decreasing. Eventually that grinds to a halt and your team will demand a costly and often fatal 2.0 cycle.
A good developer can refactor as they work, and say no to unworkable plans, such that your cost per point grows only linearly, so you can maintain stable feature output while growing your staff linearly.
You need a team of experienced professionals, which virtually no longer exists. You could work at 10 different companies back to back and not come across a team that can do it. That's the industry now.
That's a very small part of software development.
They've, in my experience, struggled with highly distributed and scalable applications/systems.
However, we software engineers (as well as computer scientists and devs) tend to underestimate how much we've already learned and internalized. It becomes painfully obvious when you try to teach someone, and realize that you need to start at a much earlier point than you expected.
> even if they pay for them without realizing that
In health care, you have doctors, physician assistants, nurses, administrators, etc. They have very different background, schooling and certifications as well as salaries.
In software, you have some differences (individual contributors, tech leads, managers, etc), but it's not granular at all within the categories. While the self taught html dev is making 90-100k, the MIT graduate builting complex systems with 5 years of experience is making 150k (Using round numbers here, don't read too much into it), when the difference is significantly bigger.
People are quick to point out at flukes: there's totally exceptions, the CMU grad who can't code themselves out of paper bag, and the random highschool dropout who has been coding since they were 7 who are now world famous geniuses...but they're exceptions yet treated as the rule.
It's easy for those small problems. It's hard when you're designing products that need to get to market quickly and solve a difficult problem without product sinking bugs. That's why developers and engineers get paid a lot more.
Also, as rationale people will be happy to tell you, buying my employees lunch is a screaming deal.
An employee going to lunch takes at least an hour: walk to takeout, wait in line (everyone gets hungry at the same time), walk back and eat. I can recover at least 30 minutes by paying to have lunch delivered every day. Plus, for better or for worse, it costs me roughly $16 pp per day but it would cost me probably $25 to pay an employee $16. I didn't write the tax rules, but I can optimize within them.
Note there is also not a single person in my company who makes less than $32 (16*2) per hour. So I'm very happy to pay $16 to recover, on average, 30 minutes of their time.
Unfortunately this particular company had a penchant for saving every possible penny, so the quality of the food wasn't too good either.
Those are very loose upper bounds, too.
The freebies, on call outrage, etc is inherent to the tech industry with venture capitalist money or otherwise insane net profits... the longer term sustainability is questionable, but fresh college grads or others early in their careers having unreasonable expectations of reality are not so different than your average political science or psychology major taking on egregious levels of debt only to struggle with making student loan payments.
Again, I agree with valuing other disciplines. I think there’s also something to be said about supply and demand. The Googles and Amazons of the world typically hire people at least somewhat competent in CS. Sure you could pick up pick up Ruby on Rails or whatever framework to join the gig economy, but your chances won’t be great at becoming a engineer at a Google caliber company.
The issue with teacher pay isn’t just about what society values but is more nuanced. My conservative friends don’t see the value in public education and insist on sending their kids to private schools. I don’t know how those teachers are paid, but for the public school system that I participated in, the argument becomes well my kid doesn’t attend so why should I pay for it?
In my opinion, it’s very short sighted and destructive for the country in the long term. It’s not only teachers we are devaluing but an entire generation of children whose parents are not able to absorb the exorbant costs of private schools.
Sorry, I probably made my point poorly. It wasn't about attitude in software engineering. It was how insanely overvalued the field is, with a completely out of wack investment to reward ratio. Few to no other fields come even close, and its siphoning people from all other fields as well as creating unreasonable expectations from them. That's obviously not the root cause, but it's something to ponder.
Essentially, all I was saying is that the article made me think about how crazy the contrast between those 2 professions is.
Software is eating the world in almost all regards. Being able to perform that act - the eating part - makes you way more valuable than the effort required. But so long as characters can translate into dollars for someone the one making the characters will remain very valuable.
Don't for a second be "ashamed" if someone is offering to pay you large sums of money for what you think isn't worth it - the ugly fact of reality is that we don't get to set the value of our time, those with the money to buy it do. Society is offering little money to teachers and that sucks, but that has nothing to do with code being so valuable as to justify abnormal incomes relative to the average of the rest of the working class.
If you choose to dedicate the bulk of your waking life to creating wealth for your employer, you should be compensated, at a minimum, well enough to feed, clothe and house yourself.
or there should be something like UBI in place to allow employers to decouple the cost of keeping their employees alive from the cost of doing business.
A bit of an unrealistic scenario, but my city has a very low vacancy rate, and you can't live there on minimum wage / just above. There are just too many people making more money.
If having someone make paper hats 40 hours a week is a bad business model, that's not the employee's concern. Why should the person running the paper hat making business expect to make a living at it, but not the person making the hats?