Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SAT's, Genius, And Smart Pills

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

According to this article which appeared in the August 30, 2006 edition of the Washington Post, SAT scores have recently dropped:
"The first national results from the revamped SAT show the biggest annual drop in reading scores in 31 years..., the College Board reported yesterday.

"The College Board said the average score on the test's critical reading section was down five points and the average math section score was down two points, for a joint score of 1021, the lowest since 2002. The reading decline was the largest since a nine-point drop in 1975 on what was then known as the verbal section.

"On the new writing section, the average score nationwide was 497, for a new total average of 1518 out of a possible 2400 points....."
The article goes on to discuss various opinions as to the possible reasons for the drop in scores: recent changes in the test, including the addition of an essay and a grammar section (though the word grammar is avoided), the length of the test, the reduction in the number of students taking the test multiple times, and the addition of more difficult material in the math portion. The article also places considerable emphasis on the differences between the scores of boys and girls.

What the article doesn't mention, however, is that, over at least the past ten years, both public and private schools have reported making more effort to offer higher-level courses — both AP and IB — and, indeed, to improve courses for average students; much money has been devoted to training teachers, to "improving" the curriculum, and to "maintaining high standards." Nevertheless, scores on various tests, standardized and otherwise, continue to drop, and many employers today complain, "The employee pool doesn't have the basic skills every high-school graduate should have." CEO's often say, "My people can't write, even with master's degrees." Based on the just-released information about scores on the writing section of the SAT, this second complaint appears to be a valid one.

Also not mentioned in the Washington Post article is that many students today are making a Herculean effort to prepare for the SAT's. Every sizeable bookstore has one section devoted to several different guides for taking the SAT's, and various tutoring services — most for a fee, but free services are also available — also offer courses to prepare students for this test which most universities use as an important criterion for determining admissions. I myself offer prep classses and private tutoring for the reading and writing portions of the SAT's, and in my experience, preparing for the test does indeed significantly enhance students' scores. Also in my experience, instead of merely completing a test-prep guide, many students today spend a lot of time preparing well in advance for taking their SAT's. Some students begin their preparation in sixth grade!

From what I've observed over the past ten years, no longer do college-bound students "just take the test," as most of us did when I was in high school. In fact, as I think back to my own preparation for the SAT's, that preparation consisted of buying one guide and of taking two practice tests so as to be sure of the format, to brush up on certain concepts, and to learn how to coordinate the bubble sheet with the test booklet.

Admission to Ivy League schools has traditionally been tough, as was the case with Wilber B. Huston. Of course, Mr. Huston did not have the opportunity to prepare for college admissions the way in which today's students do. Apparently, he was a genius.

Until his lengthy obitutary appeared in the Washington Post, I'd never heard of Wilber B. Huston, nicknamed "the brightest boy of 1929" and "the smartest boy in America." By virtue of his performance in an interview with an illustrious panel, he won a full scholarship to MIT after first having won the Edison Contest in Washington state. Thomas Edison himself sponsored the contest as promotion for the study of science.

Check out the names on the panel which interviewed Huston and, unanimously, found him worthy:
"No contemporary applicant to Harvard, Stanford or Chicago has faced a panel of judges who compare to those who grilled Huston and his rivals the day after their exam. Besides Edison, they included film-and-camera company founder George Eastman, automaker Henry Ford, industrialist Harvey Firestone, aviator Charles Lindbergh, the headmaster of Phillips Exeter Academy and the president of MIT."
After passing both the written and oral exams, Huston enjoyed the privilege of a social occasion with Thomas Edison:
"[I]n that heady first week of August 1929, Edison sent word to Huston that he wished to have dinner with him. Huston arrived at the grand Edison home to a formal family dinner, with servants in attendance.

"'The first course was a soup,' Huston wrote in his family memoir. 'After a few minutes Mr. Edison said something, and everyone laughed. I asked my dinner partner what he had said. "I see he tasted his soup before he salted it" was the reply. Mr. Edison is famous for saying, "I have no use for a man who salts his soup before he tastes it." So I guess I passed both his examinations.'"
Huston originally planned to study chemical engineering but switched to the study of physics. He graduated from MIT in 1933. Some details about his many achievements can be found here.

Due to the Great Depression, Mr. Huston could not afford to attend graduate school. Nevertheless, he managed commendable achievements. Without doubt, this fellow was brilliant, and very likely without certain pharmaceuticals known as "smart pills," recently mentioned in the June 11, 2006 Washington Post article "A Dose of Genius":
"Seen by some ambitious students as the winner's edge -- the difference between a 3.8 average and a 4.0, maybe their ticket to Harvard Law -- these 'brain steroids' can be purchased on many campuses for as little as $3 to $5 per pill, though they are often obtained free from friends with legitimate prescriptions, students report.

"These drugs represent only the first primitive, halting generation of cognitive enhancers. Memory drugs will soon make it to market if human clinical trials continue successfully.

"There are lots of the first-generation drugs around. Total sales have increased by more than 300 percent in only four years, topping $3.6 billion last year, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical information company. They include Adderall, which was originally aimed at people with attention-deficit disorder, and Provigil, which was aimed at narcoleptics, who fall asleep uncontrollably. In the healthy, this class of drugs variously aids concentration, alertness, focus, short-term memory and wakefulness -- useful qualities in students working on complex term papers and pulling all-nighters before exams. Adderall sales are up 3,135.6 percent over the same period. Provigil is up 359.7 percent.

"In May, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America issued its annual attitude-tracking study on drug use. It is a survey of more than 7,300 seventh- through 12th-graders, designed to be representative of the larger U.S. population and with an accuracy of plus or minus 1.5 percent, according to Thomas A. Hedrick Jr., a founding director of the organization. It reported that among kids of middle school and high school age, 2.25 million are using stimulants such as Ritalin without a prescription.

"That's about one in 10 of the 22 million students in those grades, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Education. Half the time, the study reported, the students were using these drugs not so much to get high as 'to help me with my problems' or 'to help me with specific tasks.'"
Chemical enhancement of the brain is nothing new, of course. From the above Washington Post article:
"In the name of altering mood, energy and thinking patterns, we have been marinating our brains in chemicals for a very long time.

"Caffeine is as old as coffee in Arabia, tea in China, and chocolate in the New World. Alcohol, coca leaves, tobacco and peyote go way back.

"Even psychopharmaceuticals have been around for generations. Amphetamines -- which are the active ingredient in Adderall and Ritalin -- were first synthesized in Germany in 1887. Students have been using them for generations, in the form of Benzedrine and Dexedrine.

"Beta blockers have been the dirty little secret of classical musicians since the 1970s. Originally prescribed to treat high blood pressure, they became the 'steroids of the symphony' when it became clear Inderal controlled stage fright. As long ago as 1987, a study of the 51 largest orchestras in the United States found one in four musicians using them to improve their live performances, with 70 percent of those getting their pills illicitly.

"What's new is the range, scope, quantity and quality of substances, old and new, aimed at boosting our brains -- as well as the increase in what's in the pipeline. Current psychopharmaceuticals represent only the beginning of cognitive enhancers aimed at improving attention, reasoning, planning and even social skills.

"The memory compounds being raced to market by four U.S. companies are initially aimed at the severely impaired, such as early-stage Alzheimer's patients. But researchers expect the market for memory drugs to rapidly extend into the aging population we think of as normal, such as the more than 70 million baby boomers who are tired of forgetting what they meant to buy at the shopping mall and then realizing they've forgotten where they parked their cars, too. Or students who think such drugs could gain them hundreds of points on their SATs."
Founder of Memory Pharmaceuticals Eric R. Kandel, an expert in neurological memory and who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in medicine, said the following about students' use of smart pills:
"'That's awful! Why should they be taking drugs? They should just study! I think this is absurd. What's so terrible about having a 3.9? The idea that character and functioning and intelligence is to be judged by a small difference on an exam -- that's absurd. This is just like Barry Bonds and steroids. Exactly what you want to discourage. These kids are very sensitive. Their brains are still developing. Who knows what might happen. I went to Harvard. I like Harvard. It ain't worth it.'"
Do we, as a society, really want to go down the road to such pharmaceutical enhancement of memory? Or is this new trend just another manifestation of scientific improvements?

As I see it, the root of the problem with education today is the widespread belief that everyone must have a college degree, whether it's needed or not. In reality, not all high-school graduates are college material, nor should they be. High schools should be focused on teaching, and they claim that they are. Nevertheless, we continue to see drops in scores on SAT's and on other tests, and even the taking of drugs to enhance academic performance.

156 Comments:

At 8/30/2006 6:08 AM, Anonymous Mustang said...

You conclusions are right on target, AOW. "Social promotion" in schools, beginning at the elementary level, produces high school students who cannot comprehend what they read, cannot construct a cogent paragraph, and who are unable to perform rudimentary math operations. As a result, so-called high stakes tests are dumbed down and the psychometric data is manipulated to produce the desired "pass rates." Our schools are not about teaching; they are day care centers. Few schools offer alternatives to "college track" curriculum, and among those students who have no college ambition, there is a very large number of graduates who aren't even qualified for minimum wage jobs.

Worse, the present system produces young people who know that in spite of their lack of desire to know anything, they will still "graduate" in time. American education is simply this: pathetic. As if we have not already over-medicated a large percentage of students, now we want to give them a smart pill. Great plan, American Educators. Indeed, you are all idiots if you roll over for this . . .

Excellent article, AOW. It is a pity that your words of wisdom will go unheeded in the education community.

 
At 8/30/2006 7:56 AM, Anonymous Seth said...

Really good post.

The Regents Exams kerfuffle in New York two or three years ago pretty much showed us a "now" as opposed to a "then" scene: When an inordinate number of students failed, the teachers whose students had the high rates of failure, and of course the teachers' union, all declared that the tests had been "too hard" and insisted that they made easier.

Among the reasons, I think, are today's lack of enforcement of discipline in the classroom (thank the left), the PC element, (thank the left), teachers, especially in the lower grades, who don't know the value of teaching children "how to learn" or taking the time to work with those children who need a little more time than others, the lack of gravity attached to the very real possibility of being "left back" {oh, no, think of what it might do to little Johnny's self esteem!} that served as yet another good reason to succeed in school back in the day (thank the left) and too many teachers who have become all too complacent knowing that their own failures are impervious to scrutiny thanks to their politically powerful unions (thank the left).

Ask little Johnny after he graduates from high school, he'll tell you: "I love grammar, an' grandpa, too."

 
At 8/30/2006 8:24 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Why do you think I homeschool, rather than throw my 2 into "publik skool" and make more money? Somethings are more important than "stuff"!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!

tmw

 
At 8/30/2006 8:30 AM, Blogger Farmer John said...

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At 8/30/2006 8:43 AM, Blogger Ogre said...

Most people see a college degree as required today. Why? Because the High School diploma has become literally worthless and cost is no longer a barrier to college education. Why? Government.

Because of funding, it is nearly impossible for any student to fail any grade in the public education system. Therefore, you are no longer required to learn AT ALL to obtain a high school diploma. It is not the exception that cannot read, write, or do basic math WITH a high school diploma. Therefore, employers want college degrees.

Unfortunately, the government has made it possible for anyone to get a college degree now -- so the colleges have fallen into the exact same trap -- they get money the more people who attend and graduate, so they do not fail students there, either.

So where do you go for an education? Somewhere else. Government education, whether it's a high-school diploma or a Ph.D., is not worth the paper it's written on.

 
At 8/30/2006 9:10 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Self-taught is, IMHO, the best education of all.

When I was in High school, the 9th and 12th grade proficiencies were just being implemented, and fully one fourth of the year was devoted to getting students ready to pass them, rather than LEARNING anything of value... Then, when I took the joke of a test, I remember thinking, "THIS is what all the hoopla was about?"

The thing was laughably easy. I couldn't believe that some kids couldn't pass it.

Of course, SAT's weren't mandatory until a year after I graduated, to I never took it. HA! I figured it'd just be another waste of time!

Seth: You are SO DEAD ON about lack of discipline in schools! That is 99% of the problem, IMO. It's impossible to learn in such a loud, disorganized environment.

 
At 8/30/2006 9:23 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Ogre: Cost is indeed a barrier to education! If you don't want to be saddled with outrageous student loans for years and years to come, you must apply for aid... And if you aren't a minority, guess what...

Even thought I moved out after high school and supported myself, I was told at the aid office that since I would not qualify for aid because I wasn't a quota minority, I could apply for low income aid... But I had to include my parent's income until I was 26 years old, even though I supported myself! Why? Because those are "the rules", I was told. I could stop using my parent's income if I got married, but then I would have to include my hubby's...

The councilor LITERALLY told me that it was too bad I didn't have any kids (even though I was single), because then I would qualify for single mom aid! When I asked him if that defeated the whole point of going to college BEFORE I was in a bad financial/social situation, he just shrugged his shoulders.

Thanks a lot, Democratic socialist programs, for perpetuating a need for government and a cycle of failure!

College is just another thing you can buy now if you're rich enough, (and welfare if you aren't) and not at all an education. I decided right then and there that I didn't want any part of such an industry.

 
At 8/30/2006 9:25 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

*sigh* I may bite the bullet and go once my kids are in school, maybe for nursing. I don't know.

 
At 8/30/2006 9:34 AM, Blogger nanc said...

and to think i flushed a two hundred pill adderall prescription down the commode when our stepson was staying with us a couple of years ago!

he had been on ritalin or some other drug from the age of five and he spoke of hallucinations. he was extremely underweight and undertall. we took him off "cold turkey" - he grew about five inches and gained 30 pounds within nine months after. he had no ill effects other than he then wanted to smoke pot and drink all the time at the age of 15 and has been in trouble ever since. he wanted to go back to his mother, so we sent him - we did what we could, but i believe he may be doomed to a long, hard road. prayers.

 
At 8/30/2006 10:03 AM, Blogger Farmer John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/30/2006 10:06 AM, Blogger Farmer John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/30/2006 10:35 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

pharmaceutical enhancement of memory..wow...Unreal..as if the cosmetic industry isnt enough AOW!..this is God awful.Ogre's analysis is right on spot as well... Great post!

 
At 8/30/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Great post AoW. I deleted my comments because I didn't want to muddle the message.

 
At 8/30/2006 10:50 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

All this push to educate kids who don't want to be educated, don't see any value in education and still controlling large slices of the culture because we give the little clowns money to spend on Paris Hilton's latest CD.

Seems to me that the kids have figured a few things out and as ignorant as they are they are at the same time smart.

So blame government folks, that's going to solve the problem, right? Victims of comfort. You've been turned into consumption machines that are easily manipulated and you havn't even noticed it.

Education is an INDUSTRY. It is there to make money. Pharmaceuticals is an INDUSTRY. It is there to make money. Government is an INDUSTRY. It is there to ensure that you don't get much of the money.

Welcome to the full Ayn Rand suckers. It's your own damn fault. On one hand you support a winner take all system that simply generates capital and then you whine when you see that you are its inevitable victims.

 
At 8/30/2006 12:07 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

I though K-12 was government? It's an industry? Whodda thunkit!

 
At 8/30/2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

and you're right ducky... our kids really are "victims of comfort".

 
At 8/30/2006 12:13 PM, Blogger nanc said...

education is not an industry, plucky! it's an institution. in case you haven't noticed, teachers aren't paid well at all - where's the profit?

public schools are akin to the prison system - children are sentenced to 12-13 with no time off for good behavior - and then when they HAVEN'T learned their lesson are sent out into the world ill-prepared.

unless parents learn that learning BEGINS at home and send well-prepared children to schools, all we're going to have to look forward to with our children is drone-like behavior.

i'm so thankful to have three of the most brilliant children on the planet. the two things we've given them that keeps them separated from most of the rest is the love of G-d and accountability.

 
At 8/30/2006 12:46 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/30/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger nanc said...

here's something to cheer you up, plucky:

http://jewishworldreview.com/0806/stossel083006.php3

i homeschooled my children a few times in the past - it is very rewarding to turn out honor students!

 
At 8/30/2006 1:10 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

I think mr. ducky just hates money. He's buck-a-phobic!

 
At 8/30/2006 1:16 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i thought he loved money - he's always bragging about how much he has!

 
At 8/30/2006 1:29 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Hmmm...I guess the government hasn't been doing its' job then...

Government is an INDUSTRY. It is there to ensure that you don't get much of the money.

No wonder we need to get rid of Bush! We need someone in the Whitehouse who's going to make sure that government operates efficiently (like an Industry) and does its' job! Take away everyone's money!.

Now, if we could only figure out how to tax Homeschooler's, all our problems would be solved.

 
At 8/30/2006 1:33 PM, Blogger nanc said...

yup - all of them! ;?

of course you realize they'd want access to our brilliant children also...

 
At 8/30/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...but only to dumb 'em down.

 
At 8/30/2006 1:36 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Aren't the attitudes mr. ducky says our kids have reflective mostly of kids in the public schools? Says a lot about the products they are offering, doesn't it?

 
At 8/30/2006 1:42 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Yeah right Farmer John.... kids in private schools aren't facing the same crap popular culture, dumbed down media and economic system crippling social mobility. Right?

Or is it that the private school kids are too dumb to see it.

Please don't hold these charter school kids up as something of interest. The Department of Education released the stats on their achievment. No statistical difference from public schools.

 
At 8/30/2006 2:00 PM, Blogger nanc said...

they may have the brains of my children when i'm done with them! they won't like what they get.

yesterday, while in deep thought two questions came to my mind:

would i rather be hated for my integrity?

or

loved for my lack of it?

 
At 8/30/2006 2:35 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

They face the same obstacles, mr. ducky... but the difference is that the kids coming out of private/homeschools haven't been "broken" and "de-spirited" by the system. Therefore, there's still hope for it....

 
At 8/30/2006 2:39 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...and let's face it, the public school's are narrowly teaching to the test while the private one's are broadly teaching a body of knowledge and giving them an education.

 
At 8/30/2006 2:41 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

When I was in high school drugs sure were not used to improve the memory. They were illegal then and they should be now. I know of a middle school student that missed most of the past school year due to health problems. She was told that they were going to go ahead and pass her, they didn't want to punish her for being ill. They also told her that she would have to work at least twice as hard as everyone else this year because of all the time she missed. Isn't that punishing her?

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

 
At 8/30/2006 2:45 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...and the focus of the public schools is on the left tail of the bell curve. The kids on the right end are getting shafted...

 
At 8/30/2006 2:50 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

So Little Che Sucky the Cowardly Moron doesn't think that the LEFTARDS educating the next class of UNION teachers in the Universities have nothing to say about the quality and type of education given to the victims in Government schools??

Little Che Sucky the Cowardly Liar thinks the popular culture that is destroying the country has nothing to do with the LEFTARD diversity and PC culture??

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Little Che Sucky the Cowardly Liar still thinks that Government run fiascoes have some kind of relationship to unregulated Buisness??

Why in a overregulated way they do!! Unfortunately the regulation by the LEFTARD courts and Unions are much more at fault than any excess of free enterprise!! The fact that there are privately owned schools which are successful show how poor the Government Schools are.

Who would Pay out of their own pocket for Privately owned education if the so-called FREE education was worth a squat??

The fact that states like Californicators have a government education system and teachers union and court system that is trying every possible trick to completely remove the possibility of home schooling is a good example of how useless they are and how desperate the LEFTARDS are to STOP home schooling!!! The fun part is that they can point to no actual performance loss by students compared to Government schools as a reason to stop them!!

The really best recent example of the Government bias and racism is that a publicly funded school in Southern California teaches the La Raza and MECha propaganda.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Little Che Sucky the Cowardly Liar, go back to viewing the videos you create. They agree with your hallucinations slightly better than reality!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

PS: Statistics from the Department of Education?? You mean the department that is at fault for allowing this stupidity to continue?? The department that allows schools to suppress the failing scores for students that they claim are unfair because the student hasn't had a fair chance to learn because of their home life and the criminal negligence of the School administration and teachers??

Not too hard to raise the average scores for your school district if you exclude a lot of the FAILURES!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You are always a HOOT Little CHe Sucky MORON!!!!

 
At 8/30/2006 3:12 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Kuhncat, go do a couple lines and shut the bleep up.

 
At 8/30/2006 3:12 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

The sad thing about the work on "SMART" pills will be similar to steroids.

Without hard work the body is bulked up with no real improvement in health with the use of steroids, which, if overdone, will also DAMAGE the body!!

Only in repairing damage does steroid use by average people help.

I imagine the "SMART" pill will be the same. Without the person exercising their mind and being TAUGHT logic and reality (all hard work), the pills will do little but add to the library that isn't utilised!!

For those who have types of memory damage it may be very helpfull!!

 
At 8/30/2006 3:26 PM, Blogger nanc said...

hehehehehe - bwaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!

 
At 8/30/2006 3:46 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

kumquart...how do you teach "reality". I'm afraid that statement indicates that not only don't you know the score, you can't even name what game is being played.

Teach "reality". What the hell are you talking about? So what is that? Evolution, Genesis? What is your "reality"?

Is it experience based? Why is your experience sufficient to fully enclose "raelity".

Hell, you didn't even knw that the Medicis subsidised the art of the Renaissance. I think your "reality" is a little lacking yet you feel the countries education needs to be restricted to your pathological point of view. No thanks.

 
At 8/30/2006 3:51 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Just a quick interjection here...

I see that this posting is getting quite a bit of attention.

Back later! I have some "real life" matters to which to attend.

 
At 8/30/2006 5:20 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Ducky's like that song "Monster" by Steppenwolf, without the interesting guitar riff.

 
At 8/30/2006 6:14 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

Sorry Little Che Sucky,

It has been proven conclusively through empirical principles that you can not explain or teach or explain how to teach REALITY to a LEFTARD!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

 
At 8/30/2006 6:21 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

Little Che Sucky whuffed:

"Is it experience based? Why is your experience sufficient to fully enclose "raelity"."

Sorry, I never suggested MY experience was sufficient to fully enclose raelity. Raelity is that guy that runs the cult that claimed to Clone people wasn't he??

I could NEVER fully enclose such an expansive LEFTARD!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Little Che Sucky, just cause I can hold a somewhat intelligent discourse about something in no way means that I think I can TEACH IT!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

 
At 8/30/2006 7:00 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Hell, you didn't even knw that the Medicis subsidised the art of the Renaissance.
The same way as they subsidised their bricklayers, mercenaries, latrine cleaners and court jesters.
It is called - hiring skills and labour. Oh semantics.

 
At 8/30/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

I totally agree with Eric R. Kandel.

And Kuhnkat - LOLLLOLL!

 
At 8/30/2006 10:19 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

Missinglink,

Little Che Sucky apparently missed the fact that it is GOOOD TO BE THE KING or Aristocrat!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

When you and a few aristocratic families own most of the area, giving a few kids the MINIMUM to SURVIVE and go to school is a wealth enhancing mechanism.

When the little dickens get trained, where are they going to be employed?? The peasants certainly aren't going to hire them. The Merchants and Soldiers could pay them a little, but, not enough to survive. The Church might have a few extra Lira.

No. the Medicis and other Oppressors had the riches to pay the artists to do the work THEY wanted. If you were a good artist, or at least one who could flatter the egos of the rich, you did well. If you were a great artist, but not a flatterer, you took it in the talent like Michaelangelo. If you were a poor artist you cleaned up after everyone else just like they should do now!!!

Love that subsidy bidness!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Now Little Sucky, our real difference is that you believe that the artists had it EASIER back then because of all the SUBSIDIES and therefore there were more of them doing better work or something!!

Well, you tiny brained bug eyed avatar, the so called artists now a days, who have no talent and less skill than the ones who starved during the Medici's subsidies, are well fed, can usually get loans, subsidies, grants or GASP scholarships if they have ANY talent and simply have it too easy.

The STARVING or MENTALLY TORTURED artist apparently puts out much better work than the crap that the NEA supports. If throwing crap at a decent religious themed painting is art, then you are a MASTERPIECE Little Sucky!!

Would you like to check the statistics and tell me how many people there are involved in the arts just in the US Little Che Sucky?? Now, compare that to the number of people LIVING IN ITALY at the time of the Renaissance!! Quantity or quality Little Che Sucky??

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Now, I don't know for sure why a few Renaissance artists turned out such GREAT work. What I AM sure of is that those who weren't good enough were STILL excellent artisans because they would have STARVED or been working in the stables or fields... otherwise!! Being beaten when you don't do something right has a way of helping you concentrate that our modern students have never approached!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Wanna keep on discussing your lack of reality Little Che Sucky?!?!?!

 
At 8/30/2006 10:49 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Kuhnkat,

I don't know for sure why a few Renaissance artists turned out such GREAT work.

Because the art critics weren't invented yet (the buyer decided about his taste) and the artists didn't know what true art should be like.
(Just my pet theory)

 
At 8/30/2006 11:31 PM, Blogger Truth-Pain said...

beautiful,... just an extraordinary expose. What a great post. It reminds me of my own qualms about the state of the education in America.
With permission, I will be doing a future posting of great posts I've gathered lately and would like to include yours in my post. Awesome work.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:05 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

Dang I'm late in getting here! Sorry AOW.

Regarding your wonderful post, it all boils down to one thing. In a nutshell: kids can't read because liberals can't teach!

 
At 8/31/2006 5:16 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Gayle,
I'm more than a little late myself! Yesterday was busy: lesson plans, sick cat to tend, vacation preparations.

Many years ago, I read a book called Why Johnny Can't Read. The topic, of course, was the importance of using phonetics to teach decoding.

A new book is needed: Why Teacher Can't Teach. Now, if only I had the time to write that book!

 
At 8/31/2006 5:21 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Gayle,
Addendum: For all the talk about the importance of teacher training, I've seen teacher-training courses absolutely ruin aspiring teachers.

When I was in college, in my very first education course (1970), the professor said, "Students know what they need to learn." He was making the point that students shouldn't be forced to learn basic math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division).

I challenged him (rare for me to do, at the time) and ended by saying, "Professor, if what you say is true, I'll decide what to learn in the course, as I, the student, know what I need to learn." Was he ever angry with me! I didn't get an A in that course, which was the only ed course in which I got a grade lower than an A.

 
At 8/31/2006 5:21 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Truth-Pain,
Thank you. Go ahead.

 
At 8/31/2006 5:42 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
All this push to educate kids who don't want to be educated, don't see any value in education and still controlling large slices of the culture because we give the little clowns money to spend on Paris Hilton's latest CD.

Parents' spoiling their children is a factor which has contribued to the downfall of the public-education system.

But it's not the only factor. For decades, educators (government employees) have told parents to stay out of education, as in "Leave the teaching to us professionals." The tacit understanding there is "You're merely the parents and don't know anything about what's best for your children, so stick to chauffeuring your kids to soccer games and baking cookies. Please stand by to see if we need you to chaperone a field trip."

When parents are shut out of their own children's education, these parents will compensate by giving their children material possessions.

I agree that many students today don't want to learn. Why is that? Because they see that some teachers are just marking time until retirement and/or being forced to fulfill useless and sometimes detrimental administrative requirements. And as Seth mentioned, disciplinary problems become all-consuming, both for teachers, who have been made powerless to deal with those problems and have to hand them over to the pencil-pushers in administration and for students as well.

The problem with education today is not that it is an "industry." The problem is incompetence on the part of professional educators; educators have been taught to be incompetent through the many leftists teaching various courses which educators have to take. Also, many teachers enter the profession for the wrong reasons and don't have the calling to teach.

The SAT-prep "industry" has grown up because both curricula and educators are incompetent. Also, many school systems do not have coordinated curricula--individual schools are often allowed to choose from a list of textbooks, and in an attempt to look good, teachers often design special student projects which have no college-prep value whatsoever, thus skipping material in the core curriculum.

 
At 8/31/2006 5:44 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'd love to see another breakdown of stats on the recent SAT results--a listing of how private-school and homeschooled students performed.

 
At 8/31/2006 5:47 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Monica R,
Good to see you here!

Your children are still young, but taking the SAT will likely be required of them. Get an early start on learning about the test.

 
At 8/31/2006 5:52 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

KuhnKat,
It has been proven conclusively through empirical principles that you can not explain or teach or explain how to teach REALITY to a LEFTARD!!!

LOL.

But leftards don't know that. They're stuck in their fantasy world and busy trying to impose it on the rest of us.

 
At 8/31/2006 6:03 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
and the focus of the public schools is on the left tail of the bell curve. The kids on the right end are getting shafted...

Public schools are trying to "meet all educational needs"--an impossible goal.

As discipline problems increase--and they will--the GT students will become more and more dissatisfied. Those whose parents can afford another option will withdraw their children (Some parents have already taken that step), and the system will be left with problem-students (special ed, at-risk, emotionally disturbed). Teachers with experience are needed to deal with problem-students, but the way the system is run today, for the most part, teachers with experience are chosen to teach "the cream of the crop" or move to the safety of an administrative office. In the past few years, we've seen the development of charter schools; teachers WANT to teach in those schools, and parents are also involved. Watch for "regular students" to be warehoused instead of taught--already happening, but the trend will increase.

 
At 8/31/2006 6:05 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

The government and professional educators yap about solutions. Their solution? Throw more money (the taxpayers' dollars, of course) toward the problems in public education. Not working!

 
At 8/31/2006 6:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mustang,
Thank you for stopping by. This summer you haven't been out and about in the blogosphere, and I've missed you, my friend.

I remember your excellent article in April: "Low Graduation Rates." Commenters here should take a look at that article because it coordinates with what I posted in this blog article.

"Social promotion" in schools, beginning at the elementary level, produces high school students who cannot comprehend what they read, cannot construct a cogent paragraph, and who are unable to perform rudimentary math operations. As a result, so-called high stakes tests are dumbed down and the psychometric data is manipulated to produce the desired "pass rates." Our schools are not about teaching; they are day care centers.

Many students have lost respect for the system. I hear from them all the time!

Social promotion has caused a huge lowering of standards for students on the average track. Dedicated teachers who really care about education have walked away from the system in disgust or, worse, have gone along with the policy so as to collect retirement. I cannot emphasize enough how detrimental this kind of pass-them-along policy has been.

Few schools offer alternatives to "college track" curriculum, and among those students who have no college ambition, there is a very large number of graduates who aren't even qualified for minimum wage jobs.

Worse, the present system produces young people who know that in spite of their lack of desire to know anything, they will still "graduate" in time. American education is simply this: pathetic....


Taxpayers in Fairfax County haven't yet caught onto what's happening with the public-education system, in part because the County has such great pr; also, certain problems within the system are forbidden discussion in public.

Eliminating or greatly reducing vocational-education programs has been a grave error. Not every student is college material! I don't say that in a deprecatory manner. See Howard Gardner's book about mulitiple intelligences.

 
At 8/31/2006 6:39 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Seth,
The Regents Exams kerfuffle in New York two or three years ago pretty much showed us a "now" as opposed to a "then" scene: When an inordinate number of students failed, the teachers whose students had the high rates of failure, and of course the teachers' union, all declared that the tests had been "too hard" and insisted that they made easier.

A little-discussed issue is the dumbing down of the SAT's. I don't mean The New SAT; I refer to the dumbing down which occurred in the 70s and 80s. The test changed from being "scholastic"/"standardized" to "measuring apptitude" to "now the name doesn't mean anthing." I kid you not! SAT itself has published that info. (Sorry, no link at the moment) On the other hand, the ACT promotes itself as a measure of what students have learned. Often, students who don't do well on SAT's do well on the ACT, but not all universities use the ACT as a criterion for admission.

Among the reasons, I think, are today's lack of enforcement of discipline in the classroom (thank the left), the PC element, (thank the left), teachers, especially in the lower grades, who don't know the value of teaching children "how to learn" or taking the time to work with those children who need a little more time than others, the lack of gravity attached to the very real possibility of being "left back" {oh, no, think of what it might do to little Johnny's self esteem!} that served as yet another good reason to succeed in school back in the day (thank the left) and too many teachers who have become all too complacent knowing that their own failures are impervious to scrutiny thanks to their politically powerful unions (thank the left).

Excellent analysis of the situation! Many teachers don't teach the children how to learn because those teachers don't themselves know how to learn.

In my many years in private education, I learned that students benefit from the threat of "being left back." They work up to their potential if the know the consequences.

Discipline now takes up at least 1/3 of class time in our high schools. When I taught in the public system, discipline took up less than 10% of class time. There is no way to make up the loss of instructional time!

 
At 8/31/2006 6:45 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Ogre,
Most people see a college degree as required today. Why? Because the High School diploma has become literally worthless and cost is no longer a barrier to college education. Why? Government.

Because of funding, it is nearly impossible for any student to fail any grade in the public education system. Therefore, you are no longer required to learn AT ALL to obtain a high school diploma. It is not the exception that cannot read, write, or do basic math WITH a high school diploma. Therefore, employers want college degrees.

Unfortunately, the government has made it possible for anyone to get a college degree now -- so the colleges have fallen into the exact same trap -- they get money the more people who attend and graduate, so they do not fail students there, either.

So where do you go for an education? Somewhere else. Government education, whether it's a high-school diploma or a Ph.D., is not worth the paper it's written on.


I reproduced your entire comment because I don't want anyone here to miss what you said. I also added my own emphasis.

 
At 8/31/2006 6:46 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I said, Discipline now takes up at least 1/3 of class time in our high schools. When I taught in the public system, discipline took up less than 10% of class time.

BTW, the educational jargon now for "disciplinary matters" is "administrative matters." Watch for it!

 
At 8/31/2006 6:49 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
I don't know for sure why a few Renaissance artists turned out such GREAT work.

Because the art critics weren't invented yet (the buyer decided about his taste) and the artists didn't know what true art should be like.
(Just my pet theory)


Sounds right to me.

And of course, any stray critics couldn't get the word out with the limited communications of the time. ;)

 
At 8/31/2006 7:02 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

KuhnKat,
The STARVING or MENTALLY TORTURED artist apparently puts out much better work than the crap that the NEA supports.

Some artists were, of course, under the patronage of certain aristocrats. Otherwise, those artists might have not been able to pursue their calling. But patronage back then bore no resemblance to the NEA.

Many artists were mentally tortured; in fact, many were bipolar and had creative frenzies, followed by torpor. I also believe that many artists today follow that same pattern.

PS: I've found something of use from the NEA--two literary programs, one on Shakespeare and one on To Kill A Mockingbird. These programs are graciously (**snerk**) made available to homeschoolers, whereas most of NEA's educational material is available only to the public schools.

 
At 8/31/2006 7:04 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
I deleted my comments because I didn't want to muddle the message.

You didn't have to delete them, you know. Any comments you make are welcome here!

 
At 8/31/2006 7:23 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
The same way as they subsidised their bricklayers, mercenaries, latrine cleaners and court jesters.
It is called - hiring skills and labour. Oh semantics.


The Renaissance was a different era. Patronage extended to all sorts of activities, as you just pointed out.

 
At 8/31/2006 7:39 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

David,
I know of a middle school student that missed most of the past school year due to health problems. She was told that they were going to go ahead and pass her, they didn't want to punish her for being ill. They also told her that she would have to work at least twice as hard as everyone else this year because of all the time she missed. Isn't that punishing her?

Cases of student illness such as the case describe are difficult to handle. I feel for such students, but sometimes the best step is to repeat the grade or, if possible, specific courses which are inherently cumulative--math and foreign language, as two examples. Being passed along in those two subjects leads only to trouble down the line. Furthermore, if the student's health is still fragile, the stress of trying to keep up might have bad consequences for the student's health.

Homeschooling such a student for at least one year might be the solution. I've known parents who homeschool because their children have chronic health problems. Several good curricula are available to homeschool parents. One such program is available from A Beka.

 
At 8/31/2006 8:10 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mr. Beamish,
Ducky's like that song "Monster" by Steppenwolf, without the interesting guitar riff.

Is that on The Best of Steppenwolf CD?

My favorite Steppenwolf is "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Born to Be Wild."

I confess that I know only their big hits.

 
At 8/31/2006 8:19 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
Please don't hold these charter school kids up as something of interest. The Department of Education released the stats on their achievment. No statistical difference from public schools.

Charter schools aren't quite the same as private schools. Also, charter schools need time to take care of the deficits which are passed along to them. By "deficits" I mean "gaps in students' learning."

Private schools require all students to take SAT's even if students are not college bound so as to have another measure of how teachers are doing. In contrast, not all students in public schools take SAT's, but more students are taking the test than should be.

I also agree with Farmer's comments:

They face the same obstacles, mr. ducky... but the difference is that the kids coming out of private/homeschools haven't been "broken" and "de-spirited" by the system. Therefore, there's still hope for it....

...and let's face it, the public school's are narrowly teaching to the test while the private one's are broadly teaching a body of knowledge and giving them an education.


And teachers in private schools work for a much lower salary, too. But the vast majority of the teachers there have "the calling."

 
At 8/31/2006 8:32 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

KuhnKat,
The sad thing about the work on "SMART" pills will be similar to steroids.

Ask my husband about steroids, and he'll tell you just how tough they are to withdraw from. Previous to and following his brain surgery, he was on massive doses of steroids--a lifesaving drug in that situation. But following the weaning off, he sank into a deep depression, from which it took him years (nearly 10!) to recover completely. Those were the toughest years of our marriage. Had we not already been married for over 20 years, I'm not sure our marriage would have survived.

Furthermore, steroids, as does cocaine, can permanently alter the balance of dopamine receptors within the brain.

 
At 8/31/2006 8:35 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

KuhnKat,
Like you, I don't trust the stats from the Department of Education. Gotta make the public system look good, or the taxpayers might revolt.

a publicly funded school in Southern California teaches the La Raza and MECha propaganda.

Just lovely. Teaching blatant racism and treason on the taxpayers' dime.

 
At 8/31/2006 8:51 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
they may have the brains of my children when i'm done with them! they won't like what they get.

Good parenting prevents brain pollution!

 
At 8/31/2006 9:02 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
i thought he loved money - he's always bragging about how much he has!

Duck is a capitalistic socialist.

 
At 8/31/2006 9:03 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

a really great post AOW. One thing that I haven't seen mentioned is that the percentage of students taking the SAT has also increased. At one time, the test was mainly taken by those who aspired to go to college. Now, almost everyone takes the test. Still the drop in scores doesn't speak well to the "No Child Left Behind" program. With all the new emphasis on core subjects, I would have expected different results.
When I was still teaching in Miami in the late eighties/early nineties, there was a lot of pressure put on teachers to pass students to the next grade regardless of their academic achievement. This caused many of the best teachers to take up a pay drop and teach at private schools...further reducing the talent in the teaching pool.

 
At 8/31/2006 9:13 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Crusader,
Glad that you learned something from this posting. The teacher in me LOVES that, especially coming from an educational colleague.

When I was still teaching in Miami in the late eighties/early nineties, there was a lot of pressure put on teachers to pass students to the next grade regardless of their academic achievement. This caused many of the best teachers to take up a pay drop and teach at private schools...further reducing the talent in the teaching pool.

I can relate to that! I left my job in a public school--I was basically forced out--because the principal ordered me to pass the star football-player. I couldn't do it! The student has approximately a 20% average and skipped class on the day of midterms. Except for substituting, I took a year off. In fact, I was so soured that I decided never to teach again in any role other than substitute. Then along came an offer from a private school; the money wasn't good, but other "benefits" were. I stayed with that school until it closed 18 years later. The next private school for which I worked had administrative problems, such that the entire faculty walked at the end of the term. After that, I moved to teaching groups of homeschoolers, where grading isn't such an issue.

This term, one of my dearest friends has been promoted to principal. She's had a terrible time finding good teachers from the hiring pool. Each individual in that pool is state-certified, but some are obviously incompetent. Ugh!

 
At 8/31/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

A MUST-READ!!! If you're interested in trends in education, make time to read it.

The entire article from an excellent link which Nanc left:

Schools need competition now

By John Stossel

This week's back-to-school ads offer amazing bargains on lightweight backpacks and nifty school supplies. All those businesses scramble to offer us good stuff at low prices. It's amazing what competition does for consumers. The power to say no to one business and yes to another is awesome.

Too bad we don't apply that idea to schools themselves.

Education bureaucrats and teachers unions are against it. They insist they must dictate where kids go to school, what they study, and when. When I went on TV to say that it's a myth that a government monopoly can educate kids effectively, hundreds of union teachers demonstrated outside my office demanding that I apologize and "re-educate" myself by teaching for a week. (I'll show you the demonstration and what happened next this Friday night, when ABC updates my "Stupid in America" TV special.)

The teachers union didn't like my "government monopoly" comment, but even the late Albert Shanker, once president of the American Federation of Teachers, admitted that our schools are virtual monopolies of the state — run pretty much like Cuban and North Korean schools. He said, "It's time to admit that the public education system operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve. It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy."

When a government monopoly limits competition, we can't know what ideas would bloom if competition were allowed. Surveys show that most American parents are satisfied with their kids' public schools, but that's only because they don't know what their kids might have had!

As Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek wrote, "[C]ompetition is valuable only because, and so far as, its results are unpredictable and on the whole different from those which anyone has, or could have, deliberately aimed at."

What Hayek means is that no mortal being can imagine what improvements a competitive market would bring.

But I'll try anyway: I bet we'd see cheap and efficient Costco-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what?

Every economics textbook says monopolies are bad because they charge high prices for shoddy goods. But it's government that gives us monopolies. So why do we entrust something as important as our children's education to a government monopoly?

The monopoly fails so many kids that more than a million parents now make big sacrifices to homeschool their kids. Two percent of school-aged kids are homeschooled now. If parents weren't taxed to pay for lousy government schools, more might teach their kids at home.

Some parents choose to homeschool for religious reasons, but homeschooling has been increasing by 10 percent a year because so many parents are just fed up with the government's schools.

Homeschooled students blow past their public-school counterparts in terms of achievement. Brian Ray, who taught in both public and private schools before becoming president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says, "In study after study, children who learn at home consistently score 15-30 percentile points above the national averages," he says. Homeschooled kids also score almost 10 percent higher than the average American high school student on the ACT.

I don't know how these homeschooling parents do it. I couldn't do it. I'd get impatient and fight with my kids too much.

But it works for lots of kids and parents. So do private schools. It's time to give parents more options.

Instead of pouring more money into the failed government monopoly, let's free parents to control their own education money. Competition is a lot smarter than bureaucrats.


Thanks, Nanc!

 
At 8/31/2006 9:46 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

My late and I both had bad experiences in school, so we decided before we even married that any children would be home schooled! I started in preschool and have continued! My son is ADHD, but he was on minimal ritalin for less than 4 yrs., once a day, no weekends, holidays or summers! After that it was totally learned by self-control! It works and the results are good for him, his family, friends, youth group and eventually society! He is not addicted to anything and is a help and encouragement to other parents of ADD or ADHD children! And he can help those teens who have it! It's not the easy way, but it is sure and won't "wear off" down the road!

tmw
P.S.- Stossel is only partially right about the fighting, not all parents want to develope or can develope the patience, but unconditional love and family intimacy sure covers a lot of rough spots!

 
At 8/31/2006 10:51 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
he was on minimal ritalin for less than 4 yrs., once a day, no weekends, holidays or summers! After that it was totally learned by self-control!

That is the way to manage ADHD meds, if they are required.

All to often, meds of ADD/ADHD are prescribed for discipline problems and/or as a substitute for good parenting. I've seen that scenario so many times!

 
At 8/31/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger cube said...

I know it's a simplistic answer, but too few kids today read books, and math is taught by repetition, not by thinking. I've fought these trends with my own girls.

 
At 8/31/2006 11:48 AM, Blogger nanc said...

cube - if you give a child music, math will come naturally to them. however, the opposite is not true.

our children play piano, organ, trombone, clarinet, trumpet, violin, flute, saxophone, percussion, guitar (between all) and they all have a strange love of math of all sorts. my husband has had our two thinking trig is fun since they were about seven and eight.

 
At 8/31/2006 11:52 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Cube,
The lack of enough reading is the root cause for poor performance on most verbal tests. Also, lack of enough reading severely impacts writing skills; Stephen King addressed that issue in his book On Writing.

IMO, teaching math requires a combination of repetition and extensive problem-solving. Yes, the dreaded "word problems." I'm not of mathematical bent, but I'm certainly competent in almost any business-math skills you can name.

The problems with our educational system are so complex and knotted up as to defy description!

Nanc,
Music didn't solve my difficulties with math. I regard music as a language.

But you are correct that math skills and music skills are usually connected. Right brain!

 
At 8/31/2006 11:54 AM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...as Plato said in "Republic"...start w/music & gymnastics... which eventually turned into the quadrivium and the trivium...

 
At 8/31/2006 12:10 PM, Blogger cube said...

nanc: there is some connection between music and math, however, have you ever seen a smart musician?

aow: of course some repetition is required in math education, however, I didn't see enough teaching of the skills on how to solve a problem. Consequently, the kid can only solve stuff if they're familiar with the problem, but as soon as you introduce something new, they don't know what to do.

This is my pet peeve with how my daughters were taught. I ended up having to go over lessons at home to make sure they weren't just memorizing what the teacher did on the board.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:10 PM, Blogger nanc said...

farmer, are you saying aow is using TOO much of her brain?

 
At 8/31/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger nanc said...

our musicians are not always smart in the ways of the world, but they have all been in honors classes. they aren't smart enough to know to set the table if i'm cooking supper, but have cleared their place settings FROM the table since they were old enough to walk.

the funny thing i have noticed about musicians and math is they're always tapping their fingers on something and counting movements. our daughter memorizes bar codes on everything and remembers them after seeing them one time. it is aggravating.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:25 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

I wouldn't say that. The left hemisphere of the brain specializes in processing auditory functions, the right visual. They need to tie together with neurons across the corpus callosum and mylineate through repetition and use (acts as insulator to improve conductance and minimize signal loss).

Now this is mere speculation on my part, but numbers were, to the Pythagoreans, were representative of lengths of strings. Two was a length twice as long as one.... etc. Now when you put these lengths of string together on a piece of wood, they happened to make pure harmonic tones that "sounded" pleasant when vibrated (a harp or lyre). Thus a musical instrument follows a mathematical model representative of numbers. How this ties to the right hemisphere visuals and numbers escapes me...I can only suspect that it does and in some way helps explain why certain idiot savants are able to perform the feats of mathematics and music that they do.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
the funny thing i have noticed about musicians and math is they're always tapping their fingers on something and counting movements. our daughter memorizes bar codes on everything and remembers them after seeing them one time.

I don't tap my fingers or count movements. The aspect of music which gave me the greatest difficulty was timing.

Here's my quirky brain in action....I have a supremely difficult time memorizing anything exactly--except for math facts, all of which I memorized by age 6; in order to master my math facts, my mother had me use a vinyl record which had me chant the facts in rhythm. I'll know the MEANING but not the exact words or numbers, particularly for long-term. The same applies to instrumental music. I can't memorize it! But when it comes to vocal music--both words and pitches--I have no trouble whatsoever with memorization.

I don't think that I'm using too much of my brain, but I do think that I have an unusual neurological quirk. No head injury accounts for this quirk, which has gotten more pronounced as I've gotten older. But the quirk was there, from age 10 and on. About that time, in order to memorize something exactly, I had to hear it over and over again.

Note 1: I have managed to memorize absolutely exactly The Lord's Prayer, Psalm 23, and the Pledge of Allegiance. But I memorized those words when I was quite young (age 5 or younger). My visual memory was never so compromised as to cause trouble with spelling, but I spell by the rules and memorize only the words violating the rules.

Note 2: My visual memory has improved since I started using the computer so much. A benefit of blogging!

 
At 8/31/2006 12:30 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

I guess when you add and subtract diffent combinations of notes representing sound numbers, it's like adding and subtracting on a calculator... but then not everybody has perfect pitch or an ear for these notes...

 
At 8/31/2006 12:30 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Here we go with the brain discussion. LOL.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:34 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
pure harmonic tones that "sounded" pleasant when vibrated

Another musical quirk I have...I have a hard time harmonizing, particularly by ear (I'm decent by interval), but I can tell without fail if someone else's harmonizing is off. So, I CAN hear the pitches just fine, and I can reproduce random pitches in isolation.

I think I might listen too much to the others who are not singing the same part as I.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
The left hemisphere of the brain specializes in processing auditory functions, the right visual.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:43 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Well, perhaps that wasn't very precise... the left is "dominant" for processing the differences and sums derived from auditory signals from both ears (Stereo)... and the right does visuals for depth perception (3-D)...

...and yep, here we go with the brain again. Isn't this how we met? LOL!

 
At 8/31/2006 12:47 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Meanwhile...attention is cued and fused through a sneak circuit within the "limbic system" (I forget which specific part) so that when you hear a noise...your eyes go immediately to that visual spot...

 
At 8/31/2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Kinda like overlaying a 3-D sound map on top a visual one (and of course, our smell sense and perhaps taste used to do the same).

 
At 8/31/2006 12:56 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Compare, compare, compare. Differences and sums. That's what our brain does.

 
At 8/31/2006 12:58 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Hence our innate preference for order, symmetry and equality... beauty of form... pi and phi and natural harmonics

 
At 8/31/2006 1:04 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Did I mention proportion and measure in ratio's? That's why I love Plato. He's able to put it all in words.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:14 PM, Blogger nanc said...

ODL - what have i gone and done?

aow - i hope you know i was just kidding with the "using TOO much" of your brain?

as i'm neither a musician nor a mathmetician - i do know when i hear a pleasant musical sound as opposed to a wretched one and i'm able to balance my checkbook and am great in the common sense department - although don't always use it to the best of my ability...

'splain that farmer! oh, and i love order and regiment.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:22 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Sorry nanc. Bad habit of mine... as soon as somebody says "brain" I get this urge to start 'splainin' how I think it works (part of that philosophical "Know Yourself" thing). And so I can't 'splain nothin. I can only paint.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:25 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

In other words... the visuals and the verbal linguistic don't quite map exactly...

 
At 8/31/2006 1:26 PM, Blogger nanc said...

the dots aren't connecting? the gears aren't meshing?

 
At 8/31/2006 1:29 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Derzackly!

 
At 8/31/2006 1:36 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Women tend to have a rather symmetrically balanced brain... men tend to have a slightly larger right hemisphere (comes from millions of years of aiming rocks at rabbits). We don't make all the logical connections 'yall do. We're more "estimicatory"....

 
At 8/31/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Give me a few minutes. I was trying to get some images from my digital camera to sharpen. No success!

Back in just a sec.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:41 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Cube,
of course some repetition is required in math education, however, I didn't see enough teaching of the skills on how to solve a problem. Consequently, the kid can only solve stuff if they're familiar with the problem, but as soon as you introduce something new, they don't know what to do.

This is my pet peeve with how my daughters were taught. I ended up having to go over lessons at home to make sure they weren't just memorizing what the teacher did on the board.


What you've described ia a common complaint from parents who understand that their children are not being taught what the essence of mathematics really is. Unfortunately, many parents simply don't know about their children's deficits in math until standardized tests or SAT's are administered. Often, teachers give a grade which doesn't allow parents to know--until very late in the game.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Yes, this is how we met--over at Neptune's gazette.

the left is "dominant" for processing the differences and sums derived from auditory signals from both ears (Stereo)... and the right does visuals for depth perception (3-D)...

I've had problems with depth perception for years, even worse since my cataract surgery (one eye only) in 1984. And since that time, my memory has gotten worse. Of course, that deterioration could be age. LOL.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:44 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Women tend to have a rather symmetrically balanced brain... men tend to have a slightly larger right hemisphere (comes from millions of years of aiming rocks at rabbits). We don't make all the logical connections 'yall do. We're more "estimicatory"....

We women are BALANCED. The need for us dates back to the Garden of Eden. Hehehe.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
the visuals and the verbal linguistic don't quite map exactly

But crossing the corpus collosum does coordinate various "skills."

I believe that I once mentioned that I had a student who had had a tumor of the corpus collusum excised when she was about 8 years old. Forget the math! And writing essays was a struggle. Long-term storage of memorized material was, to all appearances, impossible.

But her singing? Just fine, and she had the voice of an ange.

Such a tumor is very rare, thank God!

 
At 8/31/2006 1:50 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Due to myelination, I'm afraid memory is use it or lose it... and of course there's the opposite problem of demyelination and plaque (as w/multiple sclerosis).

 
At 8/31/2006 1:51 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
ODL - what have i gone and done?

Farmer and I are long overdue for a brain chat.

aow - i hope you know i was just kidding with the "using TOO much" of your brain?

No worries, either regarding your kidding or the actual usage of too much of my brain. None of us ever begin to use too much of our gray matter.

 
At 8/31/2006 1:56 PM, Blogger nanc said...

yeah - i've thought of having some of mine removed! the extra weight is killin' me!

 
At 8/31/2006 1:59 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Funny about the singer... I always suspected that the right hemisphere was also dominant for emotion processing... hence the song started in the limbic system, went over to the right hemisphere to translate the emotions (vowels), and then over to the left to catch the right words (consonants).... whereas listening kinda went from left, to right (for emotion translation) and then to limbic....

 
At 8/31/2006 2:04 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Specific types of learning therapy address myelination, though I've heard the term "neural pathways" instead; I think that myelination is a more exact term. While it's really never too late to work on those pathways, certain "windows" close by a certain age, and opening them again is a Herculean task.

As to demyelination, certain illnesses (as you mentioned) and even accidents/trauma can cause that nasty process to occur.

Compare, compare, compare. Differences and sums. That's what our brain does.

Well, that's what the brain is supposed to do, and it does so all day and all night. But with regard to academics, after a time, if those comparisons are not worked on by means of specific learning tasks, the brain butts up against closed (or nearly closed) windows.

Pardon all the metaphors!

I always suspected that the right hemisphere was also dominant for emotion processing...

The girl with the damaged corpus collosum frequently had emotional outbursts--for no apparent reason. Her singing was lovely, but I'm not sure she was very good at interpreting the correct emotion for a particular set of lyrics.

the song started in the limbic system

For good vocal musicians, the limbic system must be involved. And early in the singing process (not to be confused with voice lessons themselves).

Nanc,
I've thought of having some of mine [gray matter] removed! the extra weight is killin' me!

Yikes! Don't do that! Brain cell atrophy soon enough. LOL.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger nanc said...

in that case it's getting fat and needs to go!

 
At 8/31/2006 2:10 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
I've found myself angrier and angrier with my "fatness." It's not sooooo bad, but this time of life, the pounds find a way to pack on. Ugh!

 
At 8/31/2006 2:12 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
attention is cued and fused through a sneak circuit within the "limbic system"

The reptilian brain? That's the portion which is addressed during treatment for drug addiction. Probably not the exact portion you were thinking of.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:13 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

And some difference calculations are perfomed within hemispheres (but they are not stereo...more mono single eye or ear)... in the folds of the neo-cortex... so there is always the possibility that some things can re-wire themselves and form the proper connections. It would take a while to figure out which, and I'm not qualified to try and figure out what's goin' on since no two brains are alike...

 
At 8/31/2006 2:14 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
no two brains are alike

I was going to mention that, but forgot! The uniqueness of each brain makes neurology so fascinating.

Of course, similarities exists among all brains.

We need Cubed of Sixth Column here. She is a neurologist.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:16 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

But if she visited, she might expose our ignorance!

 
At 8/31/2006 2:18 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Gotta run out to accomplish a brief errand. Back in about 45 minutes.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:27 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

mid-brain between superior (visual) and inferior (auditory) colliculus are where the cuing maps reside...w/connections to the Thalmus (reptilian) on one side and neo-cortex on the other...I think...just about everything goes through the Thalamus.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:28 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

You got that right... ignorance is my middle name.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:50 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

The neuronal pathways develop and mature progressively as the neo-cortex link and myelinate first to the amygdala (Eros/desire - sucking and oral phase 0-1 years old) and eventually work there ways backwards towards the septal nuclei (Thanatos/disgust - for discrimination and the anal phase 1-2 years old). Eventaully they start working batk and forth... filling themselves out and evolving w/environmental experiences.... at least, that's my guess.

 
At 8/31/2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

So yep, I agree... there are definitely some "windows of opportunity" for learning that open and close and must be coordinated with a maturing child...

 
At 8/31/2006 3:00 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...but I suspect that most attentive mothers figure all this out kinda "instinctively"....

 
At 8/31/2006 3:01 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...us Dad's don't know what the heck we're doin'. All we know is that we like....quiet!

 
At 8/31/2006 3:05 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

The myeliunating comes w/repitition and practice. It increases signal transmission speed by a factor of 10... Hence your reactions are slow at first... but after sleeping on it get faster. And once the right motor neurons are myelinated, like riding a bike... it's hard to fall down (forget).

 
At 8/31/2006 3:07 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

...that's the problem with us elephants (Republicans), we never forget. The donkey Dem's are just plain stubborn (they never learn).

 
At 8/31/2006 3:57 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

My late used to get confused by what he called my tendency to "step thinking", I would hear or read something that reminded me of something else, about 10 "steps" later I'm laughing at what I'm thinking(or remembering)! I walked him through one episode of it(takes about 3-5 secs.) and all he could do was shake his head! I "stepped" very fast, all he could say was that I obviously had more connections between my hemispheres then he did! Plus when a woman is about 23-26 weeks pregnant, she has a literal flood of estrogen, a female child is not affected, but a male's left hemisphere swells up and pulls away from the right. This breaks connections and affects dominance!

tmw

 
At 8/31/2006 4:06 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
You got that right... ignorance is my middle name.

Not exactly what I meant. ;)

Cubed once corrected me over at another blog, when I was commenting about Bill Gates and his way of thinking. He does not have Asperger's, but I thought he might. Lots of computer nerds do.

once the right motor neurons are myelinated, like riding a bike... it's hard to fall down (forget).

The same with a musical instrument.

The neuronal pathways develop and mature progressively as the neo-cortex link and myelinate first to the amygdala (Eros/desire - sucking and oral phase 0-1 years old) and eventually work there ways backwards towards the septal nuclei (Thanatos/disgust - for discrimination and the anal phase 1-2 years old). Eventaully they start working batk and forth... filling themselves out and evolving w/environmental experiences.... at least, that's my guess.

In the normal brain--not really a satisfactory term, I know. But in those with dysfunction (i.e., deficit areas), the progression gets blocked and/or interrupted.

Superior and lower brain--those are the terms I was trying to think of. Guess I didn't practice them enough to recall them.

BTW, most elementary students of psychology learn about the importance of sleeping as it relates to recall and to performance. Still, sleep specialists don't yet know as much as they'd like to about the importance and the function of sleep. In fact, some specialists debate the very meaning of the term "sleep."

Just think! The difference between Dems and Reps might be neurologically based. Does that mean we should pity Dems?

TMW,
I "stepped" very fast, all he could say was that I obviously had more connections between my hemispheres then he did!

Making newly acquired information fit into "a system" is part of crossing the corpus callosum. In my experience, females do that better than males, and I suspect that the reason is hormonal.

Plus when a woman is about 23-26 weeks pregnant, she has a literal flood of estrogen, a female child is not affected, but a male's left hemisphere swells up and pulls away from the right. This breaks connections and affects dominance!

I've read that somewhere before. Where? Maybe you know?

 
At 8/31/2006 4:15 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Quite a party here!

 
At 8/31/2006 4:17 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Brooke,
When Farmer and I start discussing "brain stuff," we get carried away. I love it!

 
At 8/31/2006 4:42 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

FJ- It was a Dr. Dobson tape with Dr.D. Love, it was discussing the differences between men and women, Dr. Love's closing comment was that men were born brain damaged! He was also talking about going shopping with his wife and "conquering" the blouse! It was a riot!

tmw

 
At 8/31/2006 6:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
Dr. Love's closing comment was that men were born brain damaged!

LOL!!!

 
At 8/31/2006 7:51 PM, Blogger nanc said...

a little ditty i wrote in college:

when G-d plucked a rib from adam

to make eve

he robbed him of any chance

to feel like a woman

 
At 8/31/2006 7:52 PM, Blogger nanc said...

no applause please - it was a hundred or so years ago - i've given up poetry since then.

 
At 8/31/2006 8:14 PM, Anonymous Debbie said...

Really good article, AOW. And OH NO, not more pills on the market. Say it's not so. Part of the problem with kids now is some parents and some doctors want to push a pill for everything. Let the poor kids grow up and get OLD before they have to start taking medication every day, ha.

Seriously, medication can be good when really necessary, but it is being pushed way too much.

 
At 9/01/2006 7:13 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
And robbed him on any chance to THINK like a woman. Hehehe.

Debbie,
Thanks for the compliment.

Medications certainly have proper applications. But young people seem prone to finding a way to abuse those medications.

Let the poor kids grow up and get OLD before they have to start taking medication every day

You should see the fistful my husband has to take every day! Meds for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, along with various supplements and vitamins. Gives credence to the saying "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself"!

Part of the problem with kids now is some parents and some doctors want to push a pill for everything.

Recently, the WaPo ran an article showing the connection between the pharmaceutical companies and various doctors, particularly psychiatrists. Popping pills should never become a solution, unless all other options have been tried. And taking pills to enhance memory, except in cases of specific ailments such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc., is an abomination!

 
At 9/01/2006 7:26 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
Writing poetry keeps the brain young. Maybe you should start writing poetry again?

 
At 9/01/2006 7:44 AM, Blogger nanc said...

funny thing this morning about the brain - just a few minutes ago upon rising - i never leave the bed unmade - well i half made it and went into the kitchen for my coffee. a couple of minutes after that i went back to iron my daughter's CULOTTES and my husband was finishing making the bed. i said, "i forgot." he said, "i know." i said, "what are you going to do with me?" he said, "you'll never remember!" oh boo.

 
At 9/01/2006 8:01 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Nanc- The pressing question, will your daughter wear kitten-heeled sandals with the CULOTTES? I have a pair to wear with jeans. My daughter loves them, actually she prefers really high heels cause she is shorter than me and wayyyyy shorter than her brother! She can even run in the darn things! I have visions of permanent ankle damage, but no she's good, her words. shudder

tmw

 
At 9/01/2006 8:11 AM, Blogger nanc said...

our little girl is a tomboy, so even getting her into culottes is a chore. she's wearing a pair of cute leather, tennie-type slides - white with chartreuse velcro strap and a matching striped shirt.

 
At 9/01/2006 8:12 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
I'm a bit older than you, and I have bad news....You'll be having more and more "oh boo" moments. Watch for them!

I do stuff like forgetting to complete a task all the time.

TMW,
I'm only 5'1" tall. Until I had knee surgery, I wore high heels most of the time. I had only one accident--I fell off my platform shoe back in 1974.

BTW, the shoe accident I had in 2000 occurred when I was wearing jogging shoes, not heels. I twisted my leg and snapped the cartilage in my right knee. All better now! But I don't risk wearing high heels unless I have to for a formal function.

 
At 9/01/2006 8:14 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
cute leather, tennie-type slides - white with chartreuse velcro strap and a matching striped shirt

Very fashionable tomboy!

 
At 9/01/2006 9:50 AM, Blogger nanc said...

you're not that much older than i. now, where was i? oh yeah - you know that cocked head look a dog will give you when its puzzled? that is a look i'm quite familiar with with my family. one of their favorite movies is "the notebook" - wonder if they're prepping up?

 
At 9/01/2006 10:04 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Sadly, every year can make a difference--and not for the better.

I haven't seen The Notebook.

 
At 9/01/2006 10:09 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

My girl is only 5'2", I'm 5'6" and Phoenix is 6', poor thing she feels really small when she wears heels and I'm still taller! She went from tomboy to girlie-girl right after her Dad died! Puberty hit at the same time! AoW- being so short she can pour on the pouty little girl face and get away with it! I laugh so hard when she does it! You know the one, finger touching the lower lip, peeking up through the curls(natural) and batting the eyes! It's a killer.

tmw

 
At 9/01/2006 10:21 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
being so short she can pour on the pouty little girl face and get away with it! I laugh so hard when she does it! You know the one, finger touching the lower lip, peeking up through the curls(natural) and batting the eyes! It's a killer.

I've been called a lot things but never "pouty little girl." Hehehe. My students can vouch for that. And so can my husband.

 
At 9/01/2006 11:15 AM, Blogger nanc said...

you must see "the notebook" - it is a killer movie with james garner and gena rowlands. your heart will melt.

 
At 9/01/2006 11:26 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
I just found this info about the movie. Once you said "James Garner," you had my interest. I've liked him ever since I was a little girl.

Have you ever seen Heartsounds? It stars James Garner and Mary Tyler Moore. Made for TV, I think. A gem!

Maybe I'll rent The Notebook while we're at the beach. My cousin's house has a DVD player.

 
At 9/01/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I "fell in love with" James Garner when he starred in the TV Western Maverick. He gets better with age!

 
At 9/01/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i don't recall seeing that movie. but yes, maverick was a classic - the movie with mel gibson is also very good.

you'll not be the same after you see "the notebook" - my husband and son would watch it two or three times a week if i'd let them! our daughter is a reader and prefers the book. i've heard nothing but good things about both.

 
At 9/01/2006 3:00 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

Some possible (reasonable) insight into autism...

 
At 9/01/2006 3:33 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
Thanks for that link! I don't have time right now to explore it thoroughly, but I'll store it in my "brain stuff" folder.

I'm always interested in information about autism. Still so many questions about it.

 
At 9/01/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
Maverick as a television series was broadcast very early in James Garner's career. I can still sing the entire theme song! Catchy tune.

The movie version with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster is good, but somehow Jim Garner, a very early TV-star crush I had, "does more for" me. ;)

 
At 9/01/2006 6:16 PM, Blogger nanc said...

he is a hunk.

 
At 9/07/2006 10:41 AM, Anonymous Purple Avenger said...

I never took the SAT -- didn't have to. SUNY waived it if you managed to get a regents scholarship.

I did have to take the GRE though to get into grad school. I never studied for that or looked at any prep materiels. Score was good enough to get me into UC San Diego (my first choice) so I never pondered it any further.

My own suspicion about the declining scores phenomenon is the flood of immigrants with poor english language skills combined with the general decline of public schools as a source of actual learning.

 
At 9/08/2006 11:02 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

James Garner, kind of under rated. Too bad he didn't get a few more good film roles. If you haven't seen The Americanization of Emily you should give it a look, probably his best work.

He was in a good WW II combat film, "Darby's Rangers" but it's tough to come by.

 
At 9/08/2006 9:57 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Purple Avenger,
The immigrant influx and the overall decline in public education are two major causes. But rarely do we hear mention of either as causes.

SAT's are rarely waived today and are used for more than determining college admission.

Duck,
I saw The Americanization of Emily. If I remember correctly, Julie Andrews was also in that film.

I may have seen Darby's Rangers too. The title is familiar. But it's been ages.

 

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