CHINESE IN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS: Families pay $40,000 to an education consultancy to get their children enrolled in a public high school in Michigan. The ultimate goal is for them to attend a top American university. (NYTIMES)
Roughly 370,000 students from the mainland are enrolled in American high schools and universities, 6x more than a decade ago. Their financial impact — $11.4 billion was contributed to the American economy in 2015. It has turned education into one of America’s top “exports” to China.
83% of China’s millionaires are planning to send their children to school abroad. The average age, according to the poll, has dropped to 16 today from 18 in 2014 — the first time it has reached the high-school level.
In 2005, only 641 Chinese students were enrolled in American high schools. By 2014, that student population approached 40,000 — a 60-fold increase in a single decade — and it now accounts for nearly half of all international high-school students in the United States.
CHINESE IN VEGAS: The first direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, launched Dec. 2 by Hainan Airlines, is viewed as a major step toward the goal the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has set to push international visitation to 30% over the next decade. International visitors currently account for 16% of traffic. (NYTIMES)
FOOTBALL GAME FOOD: Food has been steadily improving in places like airports, movie theaters and concert arenas, where people gather for reasons other than to eat. Although staples like hot dogs, pizza and popcorn still make up about two-thirds of food sales in sports stadiums, baseball menus have matured to include gochujang-glazed eggplant buns, fresh Dungeness crab sandwiches, ceviche, espresso and craft beer. (NYTIMES)
Credit: Dan Chambers for the New York Times
Football has lagged behind baseball largely because the sports are different. Baseball is played at a slower pace, with built-in breaks that allow fans to wander around a stadium sampling food. The crowds are smaller, and stadiums are open for about 80 games a season, which makes it easier to polish and sustain creative concessions.
Football is a different beast. Crowds can top 80,000 fans, most of whom want to be in their seats for every play and visit concession stands only before the game and at halftime. With just eight regular home games a season, it’s hard to create a system that produces consistently great food.
Then there is tailgating, although it’s hard to say whether bad stadium food led to tailgating or tailgating led to less emphasis on food inside the stadium.
KIDS ARE EXPENSIVE: American families will shell out an average of $233,610 from birth through age 17 — or about $13,000 a year. The ballooning price tag, a 3% increase, comes at a time when day-care costs can exceed university tuitions and homes prices have skyrocketed to record highs. (Washington Post)
Families in urban areas in the Northeast, such as New York and Boston, were likely to pay even more — an average of $253,770, or roughly $14,000 a year — because of higher housing and child-care costs.
Lower-income families are likely to spend $212,300 per child through age 17, while higher-income families will spend more than double that, or about $454,770.
Families in rural areas, meanwhile, are likely to spend 24% less than their counterparts in urban areas in the Northeast.
Credit: Washington Post
PERSONALIZED LEARNING FOR 6-12 GRADES: A nationwide pilot program, one that could indicate just how deeply and how quickly the personalized-learning trend will penetrate the average classroom. Indeed, despite the buzz around personalized learning, there’s no simple recipe for success, and the common ingredients — such as adaptive-learning technology and student control over learning — can backfire if poorly implemented. (Wired)
One early November afternoon in an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, a class of ninth-graders sat at computers for a 45-minute session of personalized learning time. Many watched instructional videos or worked with adaptive-learning software that adjusted lessons based on each student’s proficiency. Other than a few murmured conversations and the clicking of keyboards, the only sound was mellow acoustic guitar music played on their teacher’s laptop.
By offloading some rote learning to a computer—such as memorizing the steps of cell division or the formulas for sine, cosine and tangent—we can make the most of the connections between teachers and kids. We want more of those interactions to be about big ideas, deeper learning and the sort of feedback that you can only get from a real, live adult.
“I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” ~Woody Allen
BOREDOM: What if boredom is a meaningful experience—one that propels us to states of deeper thoughtfulness or creativity? Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation.
Bored subjects came up with more ideas than a nonbored control group, and their ideas were often more creative. Subjects who took an “associative thought” word test came up with more answers when they’d been forced to watch a dull screensaver.
The problem is that these days we don’t wrestle with these slow moments. We eliminate them. “We try to extinguish every moment of boredom in our lives with mobile devices.” This might relieve us temporarily, but it shuts down the deeper thinking that can come from staring down the doldrums.
Credit: Wayne Miller/Magnum USA, 1955
SPEED READING: Skilled readers know more about language, including many words and structures that occur in print but not in speech. They also have greater “background knowledge,” familiarity with the structure and content of what is being read. We acquire this information in the act of reading itself—not by training our eyes to rotate in opposite directions, playing brain exercise games, or breathing diaphragmatically. Just reading.
Boustrophedon (Ancient Greek method): Texts were written bidirectionally, left to right on one line, then right to left on the next. This method would seem to allow reading to proceed continuously, uninterrupted by line sweeps. Try it.
Here we have a nice normal first line.
.siht ekil nettirw eb dluoc enil txen ehT
Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP): A text is presented at a single location on a screen, one word (or sometimes a few) at a time. It was developed for research purposes in the 1960s. College students could read with RSVP at up to 700 words per minute with good comprehension, about triple their normal speeds. Alas, the experiments also found that subjects could only sustain reading at high speeds with good comprehension for short bursts.
SMART SEARCH: Ask Google’s search app “What is the fastest bird on Earth?,” and it will tell you, “Peregrine falcon. According to YouTube, the peregrine falcon has a maximum recorded airspeed of 389 kilometers per hour.” Google’s search engine pinpoints a YouTube video describing the five fastest birds on the planet and then extracts just the information you’re looking for. It doesn’t mention those other four birds.
Deep neutral nets are pattern recognition systems that can learn to perform specific tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data. In this case, they’ve learned to take a long sentence or paragraph from a relevant page on the web and extract the upshot—the information you’re looking for.
GAB: Gab is a new social network built like a hybrid of Twitter and Reddit — posts are capped at 300 characters, and the crowd votes to boost or demote posts in the feed. Think of Gab as the Make America Great Again of social sites: It’s a throwback to the freewheeling norms of the old internet, before Twitter started cracking down on harassment and Reddit cleaned out its darkest corners.
Since its debut in August, it has emerged as a digital safe space for the far right, where white nationalists, conspiracy-theorist YouTubers, and minivan majority moms can gather without liberal interference.