Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by pygmalion, Dec 21, 2010.
I don't monitor DS's cell phone at all. I suppose I would if there were signs of trouble at school or at home. When my cell was missing, I borrowed his a few times and accidentally saw a few of his texts. It was the usual teenage boy nonsense -- sophomoric humor with an occasional curse word for shock value. Pretty much what I expected. He's a good kid. No need to chip him yet. lol.
I want to check in re: DS's summer internship, since I've asked for advice so many times.
He's leaning toward a no, for three reasons.
1) Conflict with his father (I won't add details to this since their relationship is up to them, now.)
2) Fear of taking on the additional responsibility of leading his own project and
3) "Mom. I don't feel good about taking this opportunity when there are so many other kids out there who are smarter/more deserving than I am and who won't get the chance just because they don't have a Dad who can go to bat for them and get them a foot in the door.
#3 blew me away and led to a discussion about using connections and another one about what "smart" is. Then we had a doubly mind-blowing conversation.
"Mom. I keep getting all these bad grades** and it makes me feel like a failure, but, I know in the larger sense, that it's not because I'm not smart. The way that the educational system is set up, it measures whether you can regurgitate facts, but it doesn't measure whether you can apply the information and succeed in the real world. Why doesn't the educational system measure intelligence that really matters? If it did, I would be considered a genius."
** To DS, all As and Bs = bad grades. Just sayin.
Oh.I suppose I should add that I am not asking anything. I'm closing the loop because y'all have been with me through thick and thin with DS and his internship drama.
Feel free to share or discuss (or criticize) though, if you wish.
ETA: I should also say that I told DS [a bunch of personal stuff then] "Sweetie. It's three more years of BS, then pick a college that does understand that there are different types of intelligence. And while you're at it, go into education or philosophy or psychology. You're good at engineering and science. In philosophy or education, you could change the world. "
Did you take the opportunity to inquire how he would propose to "measure intelligence that really matters"?
I wrote a long response ad then flubbed it up by hitting the wrong thing on my new laptop.
Short answer: I didn't have to ask; he gave examples. Longer answer later, when I have time.
Okay. I have about half an hour before I have to get my nose to the grindstone.
re: Measuring intelligence that really matters.
First, DS defines intelligence as being able to use what you know get things done effectively. IMO, that's not bad as a working definition. (Aside:We also talked about Sheldon types,of whom we know a few, and how, however "smart" they are in one sense, it's very difficult for them to function in the world of real human beings because they're socially inept.)
Examples he gave: His AP geography cumulative exam, which doesn't have the usual multiple choice trick questions. Instead, it poses scenarios and asks you to come up with creative solutions. This s a very different approach from his usual exams.
As a counter example, he mentioned an exam in another subject, which is multiple choice and in which, according to him, "Any thinking person would be able to see that every answer is both true and false. The people giving the test want you to accept their idea of what's true."
He also talked about things like figuring out how to build stuff and fix stuff, how to interact with other people, etc.
He's a pretty smart kid. Who the heck thinks about this kind of stuff at fifteen?
Post 2: DS and I also talked about using your connections to get ahead.
We came to no agreement. He's naive and very idealistic. I told him that, in the US, an average-at-best student can go to an Ivy League school and later become President of the United States, by using connections. I told him that, if he doesn't take this opportunity, that's no guarantee that a "more deserving" kid will. More likely, another kid with connections will. I challenged him to think about what he means by "deserving." I told him that, in the "real world," there are going to be times wen HE is "deserving" of an opportunity that he will not get for random or totally unfair reasons.
He nodded and mmm hmmm'd and didn't buy it one bit.
Yay for idealism. The world needs more of that.
Post 3: Alternatives for DS.
SMU, a local university, has one of the highest rated summer youth programs in the US. I am so glad that they have started offering summer programs for high school kids. If DS opts out of the internship, he'll be doing a one-week mechanical engineering project, a two-week "Advanced Game Design" program (SMU's college level program is pretty well-known. This is not a kiddie camp) and a week of academic enrichment workshops (SAT test-taking prep, geometry, writing for the SAT, etc,) and he may do a three-week summer school stint to get an advance half-credit toward HS graduation.
He'll be fine, no matter what he decides. This year, it almost 100% his decision.
As far as the importance of Ivy connections, I just read an article about Ivy League admissions and their historical development (by Malcom Gladwell, in the New Yorker). Interesting in a number of ways, but the relevant point here is a study he cited that compared students who went to Penn (private, Ivy) with students who got into Penn but went to Penn State. The study found no difference in the post-college success of the groups of students (measured in terms of income, I think, which is another issue, but still). So the oft-quoted difference in average incomes for graduates from the most elite schools as compared to respectable non-elite schools happens because of the selection process, not mostly because of what education they get in college or what advantages they get from connections. (Exception: there do seem to be differences for students from the lowest economic levels, who graduate at higher rates and do better afterwards if at the top tier schools.) Nothing against the pleasures of an Ivy League education, but it's a nice meritocratic result, and something that a lot of college applicants and their parents could stand to be aware of.
That sounds like an interesting study, bia.
Right at the moment, my biggest concerns are (1) allowing DS to make decisions while holding him accountable for outcomes and (2) guiding him to build a resume that will support the college admissions process.
He cannot be allowed to veg the summer away, regardless.
I have dealt with such topics at a number of levels.
1) School testing will always be an artificial and non-representative environment. That's just the way it is. The only effective test of what you know is the workplace, and it isn't always the knowledge that you think is important that matters most. This is just one reason why successful scientists aren't necessarily the ones that got the best grades in college.
2) Connections: If he wants to help "more deserving" kids, the best thing he can do is take full advantage of the opportunities he is presented, and get himself into a position where *he* can give those deserving kids opportunities. Never, ever pass up an opportunity because you think someone else deserves it more, unless you are in a position to choose who gets that opportunity. Because someone else with less scruples, and less deserving even than you, won't hesitate. Use every advantage you have and then use that position to help others if that is what you want to do.
3) Importance of school. For all that certain presidents presented a unintellectual image, they could never have gotten to be president without being preeminent in certain skill sets. I agree that a high quality education can be gotten outside of the Ivies. But an Ivy league degree does lubricate things.
I have a very book-smart cousin in southern Europe, in a country where the *only* way to get a job is through connections. Yet, he insists that he wants to be hired based on his merits, not on his connections. Even in the supposedly meritocratic US, an endorsement from someone I trust can't help but carry a lot more weight than yet another resume on a pile of a thousand. I love him dearly, but he's got a family to support, and I've asked him repeatedly, how can someone so smart be so stupid.
1) Exactly. That's why I told DS, "Just three more years of BS." That is what it is. Three more years NCLB-induced madness to get into college, then it's up to him to prove to me his claim of genius. (No modesty whatsoever, that boy. ) I think he's right about the testing, insightful to identify something that he thinks works better, and really different from most kids his age, to think about it from a systemic point of view.
2) Amen and amen. Use your advantages. DS's Dad is a (I forget what his title is) lead scientist for the Fed, in his area of expertise. If DS doesn't take the opportunity, some other, less idealistic kid, will.
3) There are skill sets and skill sets. DS claims he's not book smart (untrue) and thinks he's people smart (also not true lol.) An almost 4.0 GPA sure ain't dumb. And believing that you're going to get through life without help, support and connections sure ain't smart. lol. But's he's only fifteen. *shrug*
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twentyone, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”
Very wise words.
There is also an interesting study which posits that lifetime earnings are most heavily dependent on one's elementary school experience. The authors are extremely well regarded in the economic field (well, Chetty, Saez, and Friedman are...don't know about the others). I saw them present this a few years ago; t'was fascinating.
This is related to the Freakonomics findings that parenting style makes much less difference than the economic status of the parents on the long term economic success of the children. By and large, parents with money find the best school district or private school that they can afford. It starts with the battle for a slot in the best preschools, and just goes on from there, right through high school.
It ends up being about allowing children to fulfill their full genetic potential, which is often not the case for children in poor families.
Perhaps that's because on average, the Penn students owed more in loans than the Penn State students.
I see and acknowledge your cleverness, but I'm not sure that it's true. The stats are out there somewhere, so if I really cared, I'd go look it up. Yes, sticker price for Ivies is way more than sticker price for state schools, but they also have these big endowments and give out more financial aid. For students from the lowest income levels, the most elite school will probably end up the cheapest. Maybe not for middle-income students, though.
When someone (NYT?) recently came out with average debt stats for graduating students, I compared the Ivy where I went to undergrad with the state school where I now teach. Sticker price is hugely different; average debt is very much the same. Some combination of the economic makeup of the student population and the difference in financial aid.
ETA: Yeah, it was the NYT and easy to find, so I looked it up (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...t-colleges-and-universities.html?ref=business). For 2010 graduates, average debt at Penn was about $17,000, and at Penn State was about $31,000. Awful either way, but significantly different.
Tangent alert (But what the heck. It's dancers anonymous, right?)
I wish that there was a mechanism to help kids pick a degree program that they can use in the way they want, wen they want. That doesn't make sense, so I'll explain.
I have a young GF/protege who interned with me/in our department several times during undergrad.She'll get her BA in May. Her degree will be in marketing, so, during the last couple of breaks, she interned with the marketing department of my company aqnd headed up a couple of highly visible projects. She'd love to work for my company. Problems? One. My company only hires people with MA's for the marketing department. No exceptions. Two. My GF has two younger brothers and her family can't afford to send her to grad school right now. So bottom line: As a college grad, she'll be "underqualified" to get the job she's already been doing successfully.
Obviously she doesn't have to work for any particular company. But what if, during her freshman or sophomore years, there'd been somebody to tell her what employers are looking for, in a marketing new hire? Maybe she could have made different choices, for example target her classes more, do a five-year BA/MA program, etc.
I dunno. There are so many pitfalls out there for younguns. *sigh*
if your company was smart, they'd hire her contingent upon her completing her MA and they'd pay for the MA
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