Morning Ed: Education {2016.10.03.M}

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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123 Responses

  1. re: Orwell’s B-….

    I’m all for criticizing the pretensions of Harvard, but I’d need to know a lot more before I pass judgment in this case. Maybe the assignment was one that was poorly answered by the Orwell essay?Report

    • I realize the sun has barely risen and I’m already on my third comment here, but another point to consider is that, maybe Orwell isn’t that good. I personally like Orwell quite a lot–and especially his short non-fiction, although I don’t remember if I read his piece on Gulliver’s Travels. We’re taught to revere certain writers as the gold standard and while Orwell qualifies (for me), maybe we shouldn’t automatically assume they’re the standard.Report

      • It’s not an essay that’s reprinted much, so by that measure not one of Orwell’s best. And Crichton doesn’t say what the assignment was;unless it was as broad as “Write an essay on Gulliver’s Travel’s“, it might have been a poor fit.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      The Orwell thing is silly. One essay — written independently of the actual assignment — got a B- from one professor. That tells us nothing about what Orwell would have done as a student there. If anything it’s encouragibg… without trying –or even attending! — Orwell was an abovr aberage student.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

      I’m surprised Crichton didn’t get his butt busted for plagiarism. (Probably more to the story). In the internet era, plagiarism is easier to do but exponentially easier to catch.

      (I’ve caught perhaps 25 students down through the years. Most often justification given: “Aw, man, I didn’t think you’d check” followed by “I just ran out of time” (I assign review papers and the like a month or more ahead of the due date, so that’s on them))

      I’ve read some Orwell. “Down and Out in Paris and London” is interesting but not nearly as factual as it is presented as being.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I’m more familiar with high school level plagiarism, but many plagiarists are both dumb and lazy.

        They often copy off each other, thinking some how the poor teacher having to grade their work will not actually read or remember their work.

        And then of course there’s a total failure to adjust for style. If Stephen King wrote a book where, for no reason whatsoever, he inserted 6 paragraphs in the style of, oh, Terry Pratchett, readers would notice.

        Teachers notice when Timmy’s writing style veers suddenly into “professional literary analysis” levels and then back.Report

      • heh, I couldn’t make it through Down and Out. Perhaps it’s my attention span, but I find his shorter form nonfiction easier to digest.

        One of the things I hated most about teaching and TA’ing was plagiarism.* I just never figured out a fair way to address it. One way of reading the academic honesty policies of the schools I was at was that any instance of plagiarism deserved an F for the course and a referral to the academic ethics board (its name varied from school to school). “Instance” is hard to define, at least for me. I didn’t think lifting a paragraphs from wikipedia or from the assigned textbook merited the same sort of nuclear option as copying a paper from the internet. And then there are a lot of things in between.

        There seemed something hypocritical about “busting” a student for plagiarism. It wasn’t technically hypocritical. I never plagiarized and I don’t think any of the anti-plagiarism crusaders or the academic ethics board members did, either. But it all seemed to come from the same place from which a hypocritical religious zealot comes when they go after heresies. There was something more primordial going on whenever I or one of my fellow TA’s or (later) instructors went after someone.

        *all at the college level…I can’t speak to Morat’s experiences with high school level plagiarism.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          That (HS level) is mostly time management issues or just not getting why it’s a big deal. As in “what’s the difference between quoting someone else in a research paper and sticking three paragraphs from someone else’s essay into my essay, oh no you’re failing me because I didn’t indent and use a reference, wtf” kind of thing.

          There’s also laziness (“I’ll just copy Bob’s work”) but mostly it’s “Oh crap out of time” or literally not getting what’s wrong with it. (But then again, that’s sort of the age where they learn that sort of thing)Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      Though today that essay would get an A. Short of sending a box of feces in a box to the professor, I don’t think it’s possible to get a B- at Harvard today.Report

  2. About the opportunity cost of college, that article seems to miss something. If I read it right, one of the foils it uses for comparison is a group of people who neither work nor go to college. So should the “same forces should be brought to bear to push young adults to work” as are used to push young adults to college? I suspect there are already enough forces–such as economic necessity–brought to push young adults to work. Maybe along some margin middle-class or higher young adults could/should be encouraged to work in fields that their social class might say is beneath them.

    There’s also a sense in that article that it’s a choice between working OR going to college. There’s nothing said about working AND going to college at the same time. That doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity cost anyway. Working full-time in a field that one intends to stay in probably earns more human capital than working part time in a field that one is trying to escape. It’s probably especially truer for those who don’t complete college.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      So I worked before college (factory work, Navy, customer service, etc.), and during college I was in IT, enough so that while I was in grad school, I was academic staff managing student computer labs.

      My long resume has only ever put me a cut above college grads with very slim work histories (well, except for once, but that was less my work history and more the fact that I never played a sport in High School – very disturbing to have the owner of an aerospace company judging engineering candidates almost exclusively upon their history of athletic participation – that interview still sticks in my craw, 15 years later).Report

      • My resume isn’t as impressive as yours, but working in high school and college probably helped me a lot, if only to hone my work ethic and demonstrate to future employers that I could be responsible.

        ETA: It helped me stay out of debt (until my PHD program, but that was years later), which indirectly helped post-college work in that I could start saving from my fist post-college job without having to pay back loans.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      I feel like, so much depends on one’s individual talents. Who can really know.

      I regret that I didn’t at least get a CompSci bachelor’s degree, which would have helped me a lot getting started. On the other hand, I’m a high school dropout who is now tutoring a friend who is working on her CompSci/Data-Science PhD, cuz I know the material really well.

      So … that’s a curious experience.

      I do job interviews, and honestly, an advanced degree probably has a slightly negative correlation with doing well on the interview. I don’t know why that is, but I’m not the only engineer to observe this.

      I dunno. Maybe the sort of person with a knack for turning ideas into code is not the sort of person who sticks around for the advanced degree.

      Blah. It’s a mess. So much human potential, what are we doing with it?Report

      • Yeah, I know so many anecdotes similar to yours and all I can do is repeat your question.

        In my field (libraries and archives), the degree counts for a lot. That’s kind of unfortunate because there’s a lot of people who could do really well but don’t have the right degree. I don’t have the right degree, either, but I have my PHD, which seems (probably too) impressive to people. But having the degree has opened doors in this field for me (and so far) that wouldn’t be open without it.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          As a programmer, I’d say this: Experience AND education is the best. 🙂

          A lot of people can teach themselves to code (and have) and can become very, very, very good at it. But there’s a lot of background theory that’s kind of important, and it’s often skipped by self-taught coders.

          Experience is what really works when it gets down to solve a problem. It’s like anything else — practice solving coding problems makes you better at…solving coding problems. 🙂

          Education, the CS theory behind it, helps a lot more on the design end or when things get really esoteric.

          To give an example: Virtually anyone can slap together a database, using their experience in Excel and a bit of googling, and said database will probably work for anything they’re doing. However, the instant you get into “really big” databases or “lots of queries at the same time” this falls apart.

          Because they’ll generally think of DB’s like giant spreadsheets, design them like giant spreadsheets, and shoot themselves in the foot that way. (Don’t get me wrong. Spreadsheets are great for what they’re for. But they aren’t databases) Someone with even a single DB class will likely put together something that’st more efficient, flexible, and extensible.

          Mostly because they’ve learned enough of the theory to realize that a DB isn’t a complicated spreadsheet. 🙂Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Ahem. And then there are the people who try to make self-modifying databases…
            (not actually all that bad, but made access very very unhappy)Report

          • So much of that is over my head, although I really like making spreadsheets at work (wouldn’t even know how to begin doing a database because I don’t know how to code). I believe you, though.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              A spreadsheet is a two dimensional table. You take all your data, you define all your columns, each row has it’s own index number, each column has it’s own ID, etc.

              That often leads to a lot of repetition and inefficiency. You have to parse the whole row to get any point of data, and you might have a column where 90% of the entries have the same value, that sort of thing.

              So you move to second or third normal form, which is about removing redundancies without losing explicit or implicit data.

              Think of…spreadsheets that contain other spreadsheets. Like if you had a student gradebook, you’d need a name, birthdate, SSN, all possible classes for all possible grading periods, etc.

              That’s a lot of columns and it’d grow bigger with each new semester if you wanted to be able to look at their entire class and grade history.

              But if you instead made each class into it’s own spreadsheet, with each row being a student (SSN number) and each column a semester…..

              Then embedded a link to that spreadsheet into your master one in a column named “Grades”…

              Now there’s still redundancy there (you’d have all those empty columns for semesters students weren’t in a class they took other semesters), which you can get around by dividing up that table more….

              Anyways, it’s all referenced by what’s called “normal forms” that basically means “The higher the normal form, the less repetition in the DB”. It’s generally not worth it to go up past third, because then it gets really inefficient to join 95 tables to formulate a standard query, so most everyday Joes will stick with second, and their design will be driven half by the data to be stored and half by “making the DB queries easy to write”.

              This is important because when you ask a DB “Give me this data” you prefer it to fetch the tiniest amount of data possible, then filter that according to your criteria. If you’re asking for the entire gradebook for English, Spring of 2014 — you don’t WANT the DB to have to fetch all the data covering every class over every grading period from the beginning, then find only the “English, Spring, 2014” set. You’d prefer it to fetch “English grades” then filter out “2014 only”.

              Plus, it’s a lot easier to add new classes without altering any of your queries and such if you can just add a new table (like, say “Spanish”).

              DB’s are pretty awesome, but the math behind proving things like “I want to change my design from X to Y, is this a lossless change?” is just…ugh, breaks my brain.Report

              • I’m not sure I understood all of that. Not that your explanation is bad, just that I’m a little dense.

                At any rate, it rings true, especially the part about spreadsheets being two-dimensional. While I’m not a coder or a statistician or anything like that, I do often find myself faced with the limitations of spreadsheets (and have even thought of them as “2-D” even before reading your comment) and not sure what to do from there. So I end up making a lot of columns that assign “yes”/”no” values or numerical or date values to slightly different, but not very different, types of things. And then I sort them and there’s a kind of beauty to being able to manipulate that information, despite the 2-D limitations of the tool I’m using.

                And it sure beats typing in my research notes onto a word document.Report

              • Or to put it a different way, I see spreadsheets as Khan and databases (as I think you’re describing them) as Captain Kirk.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Free Museums: I’m not particularly well “art educated”. I do know some things about the art I like, but I’ve never found any museum “un-accessible”, except in the sense that I don’t want to see the art they have to show. But free is always better than paying. I went to the Renwick a while back. The art was “interesting” but that was about it, but I’m not sure how much of a difference paying 10 dollars a head vs zero influences a person’s decision making, everything else being equal. But when I see this comment, “You see, there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood.” I think it’s more about the internal working of the person verses the external. That’s their lack of self esteem or self doubt at work.

    Kids and sleep: “Pittsburgh high school students who are being forced to sacrifice 25 minutes of precious sleep time to meet a new 7:11 a.m. opening. ” Horrors! Ever consider going to bed 25 minutes earlier?

    Tennessee: Unless you live there and have kids in school, why would you care? Hasn’t “democracy” spoken?

    Millennials: wait, are millennials have kids? All I hear is that they live in the parents basements and have 6 figure debt loads from art school.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Teenage brain wiring is ill suited for early-to-bed, early-to-rise.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Read the article about sleep again, they explain that it is very difficult for teenagers to fall asleep before 2300, because they aren’t producing the sleep hormone.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        My bed time was 9 or 10 pm. I rarely had a problem. Though I started school at either 7:30 or 8:30 depending on my age.

        But I also walked to school in the snow up hill both ways.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          So was mine, but I’ve always had an early rhythm (after getting up at 0400 to milk cows on a regular basis, basic training was a breeze). Most of my friends couldn’t manage it, or if they did, they were a wreck for the rest of the day.

          Which is the point. It’s not that teens can’t go to bed a little earlier & get up a,little earlier, but when they are already an hour off the ideal time frame, making it worse by another half hour isn’t helping, and it means their early classes are just a complete waste of time because they just are not awake & mentally functional.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          In both junior high and senior high — two different school districts, two different states — first period was set aside for band and some other activities. I was in the band, and that gave me a chance to actually get awake before real school started. Not that band didn’t require thinking from time to time, but a bunch of it was basically auto-pilot (eg, certainly by high school notes on the sheet music went in my eyes and out my fingers without me having to pay much attention).Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Free museums: I am happy to report that I have reached a stage in my life where a $10 admission is small barrier to my visiting a museum. On the other hand, if I am taking the wife and kids, it starts adding up. But really more to the point, free admission opens up the spontaneous short visit. If I am in Baltimore and have an hour or two to spare, I will often go to the Walters Art Museum (which I recommend highly). Yes, museums are only too happy to sell us annual memberships, but they tend to be expensive enough to require being worked into the budget, and then there is the lingering fear of not getting in enough visits to justify the cost.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        The Walters is free now. Sadly, they are renovating their “Hackerman house” and a lot of the asian art is not available.

        Yep, I agree re membership, but museums are doing other stuff. I was at one for a “Rye Whiskey” event. It was housed in a gallery with food and a dozen rye vendors. It was damn fun. Sadly you couldn’t go into many of the galleries…I’m sure that was to prevent tipsy folks from wandering about.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          More likely some outside group rented the space for the event, but didn’t rent the whole museum, which was closed.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Two of NYC’s best museums — the Met and Natural History — are suggested donation. This makes both very accessible with young children: I pay $1/head so whether they last 20 mins or all day, I don’t feel any pressure about the trip. There are also passes available to NYC residents which get them free into lots of places. Last, many public libraries offer free passes to local institutions. The thing is knowing how all that works.Report

        • I wonder* how many people feel they can simply pay less than the “suggested donation” or not pay the donation at all? The (admittedly few) suggested donation places seemed to be set up to make you think that regardless of the “suggested donation” sign, you really had to pay if you wanted to get in.

          Big City has a lot of street festivals in the summer, and most of them require a “suggested donation” of up to $10 to enter. I worked a few of those for a summer and learned that if someone says “I’m just walking through” or “I need to go through to get home” we can let them in. For others, though, we had to be more forceful, “asking” three times before letting them in. Not to mention that it’s set up so it looks like you have stand in line for a cash box for the privilege to walk down a public street.

          *mostly in the sense of “I don’t really know but am curious,” but also in the sense of “I suspect it works pretty much the way I’m ‘wondering’ about but am saying ‘I wonder’ to avoid responsibility for actually voicing the suspicion.”Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      On one hand, museums in Chicago are much more than $10 a person; the Chicago Art Institute is $25 per adult, and $19 for children ages, and that’s without purchasing the fast-pass option.

      Which gets to the other point, which I didn’t see mentioned in the article: congestion. Some of the best museums in the largest cities can easily get too crowded to enjoy the pieces and displays. D.C. probably has more free museums than any place in the country, but unless you can time it right (and I have children so I can’t), you’ll find yourself buffeted by long lines of children on field trips from schools or summer camps walking aimlessly and noisily through the exhibits not looking at anything because its the third time they’ve been there in three years.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      @damon
      But when I see this comment, “You see, there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood.” I think it’s more about the internal working of the person verses the external. That’s their lack of self esteem or self doubt at work.

      Yes.

      As someone in charge of marketing for a non-profit community theatre, there is some sort of block people have in going to see the performing arts, for basically the same reason…they think it’s not for their kind of people.

      Now, I’m not sure it’s exactly the *same* ‘their kind of people’ in their head. In cities, I suspect what the article described is a lot more to do with race, whereas here, in Whitey McWhiteland, the barrier is some sort of imaginary class divide or, I dunno, some sort of vague-ish homophobia(1), the idea that men don’t go and see musical theatre. (The exact same men, mind you, that will watch those dumb live theaterical events on TV, and Glee and Galavant and stuff.)

      The thing is, I’m not sure it’s internal working of the person, but if it *is* external, it’s not coming from the *arts*. What it’s coming from, I don’t know. Old, wore-out gags about poor people going to see opera and being out of place?

      I’m suspecting it *is* internal, but not quite the way you think. It’s not self esteem, it’s not that they think they don’t *deserve* art, it’s that they (correctly) think they are, for example, a low-income Hispanic worker. But they *incorrectly* think that museums and the performing arts *aren’t* for low-income Hispanic workers, that they would not be welcome.

      A lot of classism and racism (and sexism too, although that’s not relevant here) isn’t keeping people out of things…it’s *making sure they know they’re not welcome so they never show up in the first place*. Throwing people out in front of everyone is so rude, and causes talk.

      And the thing is, when those sort of hints are in play, it’s pretty easy for them to float around decades after they are not long true, or in fact *never* have been true…it could have been other people putting them out there, or even weird misunderstandings. There *have* been classist performing arts, like ballet and opera. But normal theatre? No…although admittedly it’s sometimes too expensive.

      And, slightly related: I’m reminded of reading about a school, in an inner city, that took students and parents to a *restaurant* and taught them how to order and deal with wait staff and leave a tip and everything, because that is something the students and their parents literally had no experience doing. (And thus wouldn’t teach their kids, who thus couldn’t teach *their* kids, etc, etc.) Note that there are plenty of sit-down restaurant that are no more expensive than, for example, a movie ticket, and these weren’t homeless kids or anything…they couldn’t have gone *often*, sure, but they could have gone on special occasions and stuff. It wasn’t money that stopped them. It was in invisible barrier at the door that they saw and no one else did. Not one the restaurant put up…but one put up *decades* ago by restaurants and society, and it just sorta stayed in place because no one bothered to actually dismantle it after it was outlawed.

      I think people need to realize there are a lot more invisible barriers in this society than we know about.

      1) Please note I’m talking about what stops them setting foot in the theatre *the first time*. People who dislike theatre because of actually disliking, or at least not enjoying, the experience are something else.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Good points all.

        I’m sorry to see basic life skills no longer taught in schools. We had home ec when I was growing up..and some boys did take it. We also had economics in high school. Now, I got a co-worker who graduated with a BA in art (and >100k in loans) and he has no financial skills, can’t file his own taxes, cannot manage his money, cannot budget, etc. MOST of that is due to his parents, but neither did the school teach him anything on how to live. Hell, even living off campus he still had no clue. Now schools don’t need to be teaching kids how to go to a restaurant and order and tip, but the parents should…and if they don’t…someone needs to help them out…

        Shesh….WFT is happening…?Report

        • Avatar Lyle says:

          Other than the issue of finding the time in the schools, I think a combined shop and home ec class for all makes sense. Teach folks how gasoline engines work, and other machines so at least they won’t be bamboozled by repair persons. also at least an introduction to hvac and plumbing and electrical systems in a house.
          As well as how to use some of them, (probably not much beyond repair sewing now however).
          I did take shop in 9th grade and one interesting project was to build the framing of a house at 1/20 th scale which taught how a house is actually framed.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            Other than the issue of finding the time in the schools, I think a combined shop and home ec class for all makes sense. Teach folks how gasoline engines work, and other machines so at least they won’t be bamboozled by repair persons. also at least an introduction to hvac and plumbing and electrical systems in a house.

            This, a thousand times over. You don’t need to know how to *change* your car’s oil, but you do need to know what the oil is *for*…and what the radiator is for, and the alternator, and all the other basic system of a car. And how home wiring works, and how to use a volt meter to see if things are sane, and what amps are.

            Additionally, I have no idea what is *actually* taught in home ec, but the cooking that should be taught to high schoolers is: ‘Can you brown ground beef? Can you scramble an egg? Can you boil an egg? Can you make a grilled cheese sandwich? Can you heat up refried beans and make a burrito?’.

            Not even, really actual education in *how* to do it, it’s not like any of that is complicated, just ‘Here are some options for turning raw materials into food. Do it once so you’re comfortable with it.’

            School need some sort of *extreme broad* class that covers all sorts of general knowledge people need in the real world.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        One of the programs my wife participates in at her school is aimed at first-generation college students. They get identified early (students can join later, but the schools seek out kids likely to go onto college by 7th and 8th grade) and are offered entry into the program.

        They teach them everything — from how to fill out college applications, how to rank colleges and apply their personal criteria, how to handle financial aid (acquiring and paying for), how to apply for scholarships, how to FIND scholarships to apply for, what classes, extracurricular activities, etc that colleges like to look for, how to write application essays (what are they looking for exactly), how to take notes, how to study, how to estimate the budgets required for books, classes, even for outfitting their dorm rooms (complete with having them put together dorm rooms and see the costs involved).

        All stuff that someone with a college degree might teach their kids, but first generation college bound students? (You’d be surprised at how many don’t apply to schools that would LOVE them and work hard to make it affordable, because they don’t think those schools are for ‘kids like them’).

        It’s a fantastic program. Their college graduation rate is very, very good and the vast bulk of those kids go off to college needing very little in the way of student loans. Many of them need none at all.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “Note that there are plenty of sit-down restaurant that are no more expensive than, for example, a movie ticket, and these weren’t homeless kids or anything…they couldn’t have gone *often*, sure, but they could have gone on special occasions and stuff. It wasn’t money that stopped them. It was in invisible barrier at the door that they saw and no one else did. Not one the restaurant put up…but one put up *decades* ago by restaurants and society, and it just sorta stayed in place because no one bothered to actually dismantle it after it was outlawed.”

        I think it bears emphasis that the “barrier” in question is “there’s a procedure and everyone assumes you know it”, not “poor people are dumb and not welcome here”.

        It’s what The Onion is joking about here.Report

        • There are a couple of scenes in The Wire that show this: one where D’Angelo takes his girlfriend to a fancy restaurant and one where Bunny Colvin takes the kids he’s teaching to one. In both cases you see how out of place they feel.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            I am entirely on board, by the way, with the idea that “American adulting”, as the kids put it, is really not taught nearly as much as it needs to be.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC says:

          I think it bears emphasis that the “barrier” in question is “there’s a procedure and everyone assumes you know it”, not “poor people are dumb and not welcome here”.

          I’m not sure who thought that second thing, but okay.

          I’m not sure the barrier was ever against ‘poor people’…I think it was racism. We got a few generations that weren’t allowed to participate, and now people are locked out of the knowledge.

          And, worse, the knowledge *seems* so obvious that it is something I literally never would have thought of this stuff if I hadn’t read that article.

          I wonder if live theatre has the same sort of barrier. There is literally nothing about seeing live theatre that isn’t also true about visiting movie theaters except they often have assigned seating, and that’s how both music concerts and sporting events work so isn’t that weird. There’s no real skill or knowledge needed at all…well, actually, I take that back, coat and hat checks are not obvious if you don’t know how they work, and theatres sometimes have those.

          …but do people *think* there is? Like, there’s going to be some sort of quiz?(1)

          And the same question, of course, about museums.

          1) Hilariously, if there was some sort of theatre quiz, our current patrons would actually fail it. They seem determined to line up at the ticket window when they already have purchased online tickets, usually under the mistaken impression they need to get a paper ticket.

          Front of house has to keep wandering the line and asking ‘Who here has already paid?’, and saying, politely: You probably already have a ticket, you either printed it and it’s in your hands, it’s on your phone, or you had it sent to will call, which is either at the door or the table that says ‘will call’. You do not need to go to the ticket booth, that is where we *sell* tickets to people who have not purchased them yet, unless you have misplaced all physical and electronic evidence you already purchased a ticket, at which point, yeah, the ticket window will have to track you down in the system and give you another copy.

          That’s the one weird theatre test *we* have (We have no coat check), and considering that people seem determined to keep failing it, I make a promise to people who’ve never been to live theatre: We won’t even *notice* you don’t know what you’re doing, because no one seems to know! (I keep trying to get us to put up a sign, but I am not in charge of the front of house.)Report

          • Avatar Lyle says:

            Note that the hat and coat check very much depends on where you live, in S Calif and in Tx at least they are rare and I could very likley include Fl in the picture.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              Here in So. Cal., if you’re wearing a jacket and a hat, these are fashion statements, articles of clothing you want to be seen wearing. So the very last thing you’re going to want to do is be parted from them when you go in to the venue where you’re to be seen.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              I’ve never seen a hat or coat check here in Georgia theatres. When I went to Broadway, though, they had one.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Re access / belonging in museums – ” I think it’s more about the internal working of the person verses the external. That’s their lack of self esteem or self doubt at work.

      I partially disagree with you there (1), and to the extent I agree with that statement, I still disagree with your conclusion (2).

      (1): 21% of children in the US live below the poverty line. In Canada, where the writer appears to be based, it’s about 14%. And the poverty line is typically set very low – a family could have income significantly above that level, and still find that (multiple family members) X (museum admission + transit fare to the museum and back) is still a significant barrier to access. That’s a whole lot of people in both countries for whom free museum admission could be removing a very meaningful barrier to access

      (2): To the extent that it is in fact a barrier in the child’s self perception, should museums not do what they can to reach out, bring the kids into the museum, alllow the kid an opportunity to dispel the barrier and redefine their self-evaluation?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        For the record, I don’t have a problem with a museum deciding to stop taking entry fees. That’s their call. Of course, if I was a member and my membership fees went up to offset the cost of walk ins not paying, I’d be more than a little annoyed. Regardless, if the museum wants to attract lower income kids and thinks being free to get in will do it, by all means. Wanna reach out to those groups with a marketing campaign? By all means.

        But the point about thinking that the museum is not for me because because of how I look or where I am from? that’s Bogus. The museum wouldn’t be trying to attract you if they didn’t want you.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          Well, sure it’s bogus. It’s quite possible though that it’s a bogus impression that is present in a lot of people’s minds – both people on the ‘out’ group, and people on the ‘in’ group. And why there’s probably a good case for outreach and promotion intended to reach ‘out’ group communities.

          Among the ‘in’ group, hopefully that view is not held as an articulated idea “This is a museum for white people of at least lower-middle class urban backgrounds.” But just because the idea isn’t articulated or thought through doesn’t mean it’s not real, and won’t be reflected in the way a holder of the attitude views and treats those they perceive as being of one group or another.Report

          • Avatar J_A says:

            “It’s quite possible though that it’s a bogus impression that is present in a lot of people’s minds – both people on the ‘out’ group, and people on the ‘in’ group. And why there’s probably a good case for outreach and promotion intended to reach ‘out’ group communities.”

            I think there’s something more in play.

            Since the Romantic era (1830s or so) we as a society have developed this concept that there is high culture, that requires a special sensibility and development to appreciate, and the rest. It’s not supposed to be a matter of money, but a matter of being able, through training, to appreciate beauty, And those untrained, can’t, and shouldn’t even try.

            This concept was totally alien to previous centuries. People understood poor people didn’t have the money to experience life finer things, but it was assumed that they would appreciate them the same as rich people.

            Rich Romans from the Republic and the Empire built monuments in the best taste for people to enjoy. The Versailles palace and gardens, for instance, were open to the public, and fishmongers and bakers are recorded going inm admiring the rooms, paintings, and gardens, and watching the King eat.

            Churches were made as beautiful as possible (at least Catholic ones) and the best painters of the time would decorate the altars. Artisans would themselves participate in the creation of magnificent decorative works.

            Same with music and literature. We now treat Mozart as an icon, to be handled with extreme care. But Mozart was a modern musician, and it was supposed to be enjoyed by all classes. It is now that we have live musicians that self segregate between classical (for the sensitive elite) -and popular, for the rest. That division would have shocked pre romantic musicians

            Same with literature: Shakespeare and Cervantes were enjoyed by all classes. Now, even rich people find them a chore. It’s only self segregated sensible people, attuned to the beauty of the word, that can enjoy them, or Joyce, or Cheever.

            I’m not even sure I’m explaining myself properly. I was raised in a family that appreciated reading, movies, and all kind of artistic endevour.s. It was never described as something “special”. It was just something that you enjoyed because it was pleasant. But I know so many people, even high class successful people, that have been high class and successful for generations, that would rather die that read a Shakespeare play now (I read all of them as a teenager, for fun)

            Its less bad in Europe, perhaps because you are constantly surrounded by art, but this elitism is pretty bad in AmericaReport

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              J_A: Since the Romantic era (1830s or so) we as a society have developed this concept that there is high culture, that requires a special sensibility and development to appreciate, and the rest. It’s not supposed to be a matter of money, but a matter of being able, through training, to appreciate beauty, And those untrained, can’t, and shouldn’t even try.

              This concept was totally alien to previous centuries

              The Roman Catholic Church, from the early Middle Ages to Vatican II, believed very much that the Bible was not something that the ordinary person could appreciate or really understand, but that it required a specially trained and dedicated professional to tell everyone what God and Jesus (but I repeat myself) were actually saying.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                I don’t think it’s the same thing.

                Today you need a trained person to wire electricity to your house, but yo don’t need a specially trained sensibility to enjoy light at night.

                In the Mozart days, you needed special training to play or compose, but you were expected to enjoy it without the need to train your senses to distinguish pure refined music from base noise like that of Queen o Belle and SebastienReport

              • Avatar Lyle says:

                Back before sound recording and broadcasting only the elite heard much music beyond that in church services and communal singing.
                Art music such as most of Mozart’s works were heard only by those who could afford a ticket and could look presentable at a concert. Consider the life of Franz Joseph Hayden who worked most of his life for the Esterhazies as an example. I have heard speculation that unless you were directly involved in music you would be lucky to hear a piece of music more that a few times in your life (Thought from Vaclav Smil in Creating the 20th Century)
                Back in that time if you were a member of the class that could afford concerts you likley got training in music appreciation or more likley even at least piano playing while growing up.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Popular festivals (of which there were plenty in Catholic countries) always included music and dance, performed most of the time by the locals, so peasants were not as deprived of music as you might imply

                And there was a not unsubstantial middle class in provincial cities that were able to buy buy music sheets and play them at home. In an age with no options for entertainment at home, playing music in family was a typical thing to do in the evenings.

                In Protestant countries, though, the attitude towards music and dance was quite different, and people learning to play musical instruments might have been disencouraged.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              Same with literature: Shakespeare and Cervantes were enjoyed by all classes.

              But I know so many people, even high class successful people, that have been high class and successful for generations, that would rather die that read a Shakespeare play now (I read all of them as a teenager, for fun)

              Rant mode:

              Goddammit, Shakespeare did not create literature! (Unless you’re talking about his sonets.)

              Shakespeare created *performing art*.

              Performing. Art.

              The only people *reading* his scripts it should be people putting on a production, or someone pretty deep in theatrical studies. (And his scripts aren’t even that *good* as examples of scripts…his stage directions are, uh, crap.)

              ‘Gee, I thought I would like the newest Avengers movie, but the script was just pages and pages of effect directions.’

              ‘Gee, I thought I’d like the newest Steven King, but it was really hard to keep track of the plot in the middle of the formatting instructions.’

              ‘Gee, I thought I’d like the new Mountain Dew flavors, but I’m not sure I’m making them correctly, and it’s hard to find the artificial flavors to mix in.’

              ‘Gee, I thought I’d like the house the real estate agent showed me, but despite me trying to hold up the lumber where the house is going to be, it was really hard to figure out if I liked it.’

              ‘Gee, I thought I’d like Shakespeare, but I inexplicably READ THE SCRIPT instead of seeing the show.’Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Oh, and, once again, I find myself having to defend Shakespeare, when in reality we should just let his stuff vanish into the sunset, because people actually need a fair amount of research and knowledge to enjoy anymore, as there are so many pop culture references and puns modern audiences miss. And frankly nothing but his comedies, and maybe Hamlet and Macbeth, are worth doing that for.

                The world could do with a lot more *actually very funny* and still understandable productions of The Importance of being Earnest, and a lot less memorize-and-say-the-lines-no-one-understands productions of Taming of the Shrew.

                But, anyway, forcing teenagers to read the script of his plays, as ‘literature’, is, quite possibly, currently the single most harmful thing for theatre. On stage, assuming a good director, you’ll at least understand there were *jokes*, even if they didn’t make much sense to you. On the page, it’s just people yammering nonsense.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                The better high school English teachers have understood this since John Keating invented that pedagogical style.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                John Keating.

                Is that the beauty is truth, truth beauty, guy?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                He’s the late great Nanu Nanu guy.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                I’m already ranting about Shakespeare, you don’t want me to start ranting about Dead Poets Society too, a movie supposedly about poetry but has no idea what is going in poetry at the time the movie is set.

                I’ll do it, I will.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Well, because it was about rich dude bros trying to get laid.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Thanks for this.
                Even as a precocious nerdy student, I never liked reading Shakespeare, and found myself surprised by the movie adaptations- Branagh’s Henry V, Titus Andronicus with Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson’s Hamlet, and so on.
                So I picked up a copy of Shakespeare thinking I might enjoy it as an adult.

                I didn’t.
                I think it really does work better in action than print.Report

              • Ditto this, and ditto DavidTC. I’m not saying the old bard was bad, but he’s just not my thing. I did/do kind of like Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and Othello, but even that’s partially because I think I should like them.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Recently, it’s been interesting watching non-theatre people trying to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and finding it…odd. There was even an interesting discussion at Dragon Con about it, where people in the panel sorta noticed that people unfamiliar with scripts in general had slightly different problems with it.

                Mostly because they aren’t used to reading scripts, and mentally translating a script into stage action is pretty hard. It’s so hard directors usually don’t even try to do it until *well* into the rehearsal process, where they can use actors as, uh, props (Well, that’s a confusing analogy!) to see how the blocking works.

                If you’ve never been involved in the process of turning a script into a play, if you think of it like a book with weird formatting, you’ll find Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a strange read. Characters don’t seem to be *doing* anything most of the time, just standing around and talking…both because that’s actually how plays *work* (You just don’t notice), and because deciding what characters are actually doing (called ‘business’) at any point in time is the job of the actor and the director (Generally the director does the large-scale placement of people, and the actor decide things like what they’re touching, where they’re looking, etc.), unless it’s specifically in the script.

                So, to make something up, the script will say, at the start of a scene, that it’s a hallway at Hogwarts, and Scorpius and Albus are standing near each other, talking…and that’s it. That’s all the description we get of anything, or anyone doing anything, the entire scene. When the play *actually* happens, Scorpius might lean against the wall, Albus might tap his wand against his leg, they might look at each other or might not…but that’s not up to the *script*, it’s up to the actors and director.

                It was sorta interesting to see a lot of people who have no theatre experience *voluntarily* read a script, and that a lot of the ‘weaknesses’ they noticed that were really just things not supposed to be in a script.

                And also, of course, plays do not have a viewpoint character that we can see inside the head of, and the writing can’t point out important facts as the show goes along. Both of which are common in books.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                I fully stipulate I am not very normal

                I love reading plays: I enjoy the give and take of the dialogue. I can feel the characters better and closer

                Descriptions bore me. Unless it’s a detective novel, I don’t care much about what they are doing while they are talking, or when they stand in silence, of how the place they are standing in looks like. I tend to skip long narration or descriptions. I jump to the next bit of dialogue, like a man drowning grasping a floating plank.

                I read most famous classical playwrights as a teenager: Shakespeare, Moliere, Racine, Sophocles, Euripides. Fishing hours of fishing fun, if you excuse my teenager self’s French.

                Excuse me, I’ll now go back to being not very normalReport

              • Avatar CJColucci says:

                I find that reading Shakespeare aloud, or even aloud in my head, makes a big difference to me.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              Since the Romantic era (1830s or so) we as a society have developed this concept that there is high culture, that requires a special sensibility and development to appreciate, and the rest. It’s not supposed to be a matter of money, but a matter of being able, through training, to appreciate beauty, And those untrained, can’t, and shouldn’t even try.

              Oh, and to get off my Shakespeare rant, yes. This is an incredibly stupid and recent idea, a very classist idea, that art should require *work* to enjoy. (Which thus meant that the working class were excluded, because they don’t have *time* to spend learning how to enjoy art.)

              Now, some art does, indeed, require work. Oddly, Shakespeare is one of those *now*, simply because all his references got outdated so if you want to know what he’s talking about, you have to do some research. Or ballet, for example, has certain inherent limitations in telling a story entirely by music and dance…if you want to know, for example, what the name of someone is, you’re going to have to learn it outside the performance itself, although usually they provide a summary *at* the ballet.

              And this is, in a way, true of all sorts of art. A painting might clearly be a violent and chaotic landscape, but even if you guess it’s representative of a war, you might not have any idea *which* war unless you read something about it. Heck, we can include serialized TV in that…to enjoy a current episode of Game of Thrones, you need to do a lot of research. (Which would probably consist of watching all previous episodes.)

              But, generally, requiring work before appreciating art should be regarded as a *limitation*, not some sort of damn status symbol. It’s not *better* because it’s hard to understand immediately.

              Or, to get back to where I always end up in art discussions: If someone does not understand the concept your art is trying to get across, you have failed at ‘arting’. And thus, logically, having to explain it is…not a failure, but it’s a hack you had to do to *keep* the art from being a failure. It might be needed, but glorifying the sort of art that needs it, solely because it needs it, is insane.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                If someone does not understand the concept your art is trying to get across, you have failed at ‘arting’.

                And this, needs to be tattooed onto every art professor and critic’s forehead.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                +100!

                This is why I never got the fascination with artists like Gehry. I don’t know what he’s going for in his designs, but appealing & enjoyable to be in must not be on that list.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think the important word in the quoted passage is the word “your”. For some reason people now think that understanding what the artist is arting about is more important than just the experience of art as a form of arting.

                In modern times art has been reduced to (or: elevated to??) a form of individual catharsis.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Well, now we’re back dangerously close to my Dead Poet’s Society rant, where someone *being an actor* is shown as some big artistic thing.

                If someone wants to be an actor, yes, they should be an actor. And if someone wants to be a NASCAR driver, or a fisherman, or whatever, be that thing. That’s a fine thing to hang a plot on, someone doing what they want for a living over their parent’s objections.

                But DPS seems to treat it (And admittedly it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it) as some magical *art* thing. Oooo, it’s so…artistic being Puck for the eighth billionth performance of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. We really needed that capital-A capital-R capital-T ART to exist! It was vitally important! Just like some students writing some poetry no one will ever see or hear! It’s AAAAAARRRRTTTT.

                The joke is, art actually is pretty important in society. But it’s not the no-audience self-expression nonsense art that’s important.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                To be fair though, that kid does wind up becoming a doctor eventually.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It’s good when young artists grow up and get real jobs.

                {duck}

                More seriously, though, what’s this about acting not being an art?WTF?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                More seriously, though, what’s this about acting not being an art?WTF?

                That’s not what I said. I was just pointing out that that the movie ascribed to art the status of the most important thing in the world, and that was stupid. Feel free to follow your dreams *even if they have nothing whatsoever to do with art production*, people.

                However…confusingly, you’re right. Acting is not an art in the sense we’re talking about art, which was *fine art*.

                Acting is an art in the sense that any activity that requires skill, but isn’t an exact science, can be called an art. Like playing chess, or Toyko-drifting, or cooking.

                I.e., you can say ‘The art of acting’ in the same way you can say ‘The art of war’. But acting is not a *fine art* that is done for aesthetic purposes and judged for beauty. Acting is a practical, skilled activity, judged for *realism*, that is somewhat hard to explain how to do. Which means it can be called an art in addition to a science, but that’s not the *same* meaning of ‘art’ as what we’re talking about, which was fine art.

                In fact, a good deal of effort has been put into making acting *less* of an art and more of a science. The better the actor, the *less* they’re ‘winging it’, and the more they know exactly what they’re doing.

                And that use of the skill of acting, along with a bunch of *other* people doing that same skill, along with various technical things, and a script and director, results in a piece of *performance art*. (A form of fine art.)Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It’s not an art the same way that chess an art or medicine is an art (as physicians are inclined to say) where since it’s not purely craft so I guess it’s art. It’s an art the same way that comic book illustration is an art.

                Realism can be one metric by which it is judged, but it’s not the only one. In theatre in particular, it’s often specifically about providing an illusion.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                It’s not an art the same way that chess an art or medicine is an art (as physicians are inclined to say)

                Yes, it is. It is exactly an art in exactly that way, in that it is a skilled process that is not completely an exact science.

                It’s an art the same way that comic book illustration is an art.

                You keep conflating two different meanings of the word. There is doing something with *artistry* (vs. doing it with science), which is often called ‘an art’.

                That is not the same thing as *fine* art (An entity that exists for mostly aesthetic reasons, like a painting or a theatrical performance), or even *applied* art. (An entity that exists for mostly practical reasons, but has aesthetic concerns, like a cell phone or a car, or the entire field of architecture.)

                Comic book illustration, as with all drawing, even purely technical drawing, can be *an* art. The *result* of that is *also* art, in the sense of a fine art.

                The fact that two different meanings of the word ‘art’ are applicable does not make those two meanings the same thing.

                Realism can be one metric by which it is judged, but it’s not the only one. In theatre in particular, it’s often specifically about providing an illusion.

                Acting is not about providing an illusion in any way except providing the illusion of a character.

                Acting is merely an activity of telling a story via a character. (Vs. telling a story via…just telling someone the story. Or writing it down and letting them read it.)

                It’s *performance art* that is (sometimes) about providing an illusion.

                Acting and performance art are not synonyms. Acting is one of the tools you use to *build* an entity of performance art (Called a performance.), along with various technical aspects, and usually a director and script.

                Or, to put it another way: Fine art is an abstract entity that exists (However brief in the case of performance art.) for aesthetic reasons. Acting is an *activity* with a *purpose*, and thus can’t be a fine art. The purpose, confusingly, is to *build a piece of fine art*, but that doesn’t make *it* fine art.

                Acting is no more a fine art than a stagehand moving a set piece is a fine art. Fine art, in the form of performance art, is the *result* of all the bits of theatre.

                And note you can have performance art without any acting at all. You can have just straight dance (vs. a ballet with a plot and characters), for example, or dramatic readings. (Which is, as I said earlier, sorta the opposite of acting.) But the most obvious, of course, is music performances.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                There’s potentially room for agreement if we’re talking about what qualifies as a work of art, and whether an actor can on his own make one. But I go back to the comment that set it off and it’s whether an actor should be considered an artist. Comparisons have been made, but let’s delineate:

                Chess Player: There is a fair amount of creativity in this endeavor (at least, I am given to understand), which makes their pursuit more than just technical. However, as with most competitions (thinking of potential exceptions like ice skating, where choreography and subjective rating matters) one is gauged on whether they win or lose according to the set of rules provided. Everything else is secondary. While I wouldn’t object to a chess player calling it an art or themselves an artist, I’d think of it in terms of “Art for lack of a better term.” I’d go with “Strategist.”

                “Sandwich Artist” – Well, any sort of chef or food preparer. The distinction between those two is kind of important. If someone is a chef, and they are “designing” the sensory experience, then I’d certainly be cool with them referring to themselves as an artist. If they work from a carefully crafted recipe and they are expected not to deviate from the careful instructions, then they’re a technician.

                Stagehand – A stagehand’s performance is based largely on whether he simply moves the chair as required. It doesn’t really matter very much how he does it, just that it gets done. This makes him much more of a technician than any sort of artist.

                Set Designer – While a set designer does not create the work of art herself, usually, the amount of creative input here is pretty intense. There aren’t enough directions in the world take this out of the land of being artistic work (and therefore the practitioner an artist) into technical work. So, artist.

                Comic Book Illustrator – They do not single-handedly produce the work of art (unless they also write it, which I’m not including here), but their contribution to the final product is gauged not on a technical basis, but how the audience responds to it. It can look realistic or very abstract and/or stylistic. A different artist can make the same script give an extremely different feel. So even if we didn’t commonly refer to them as “artists” I believe the term applies here. (Would also apply for technical manuals, logo-designers, etc.)

                Actor – This falls mostly into the same category as the previous. Acting isn’t about reading from a script and following stage instructions (or a director’s instructions). Two people can do all of that and still have wildly different results. Two people can perform the same one-man play from the same script, neither missing a word or a note, and do very differently. One may be great and the other terrible. Both may be great, just in different ways. Success is achieved based on how well it manipulates the audience in thinking and feeling. Whether they are thinking or feeling, and sometimes what precisely they’re thinking or feeling. This makes it an incredibly artistic enterprise, and gives anyone who pursues this and plays Puck over and over again the right to call themselves an artist. Capital A, Capital R, Capital T.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                But I go back to the comment that set it off and it’s whether an actor should be considered an artist

                I at no point said an actor isn’t an artist. They have creative choices involved in creating a joint work of art, therefore, they are an artist. I said ‘acting’ isn’t *art*, in the same what that physically moving a paintbrush across a canvas isn’t art…you’re just going to get art at the end.

                I think you misunderstood my emphasis on what DPS did wrong. I thought I had clarified that in my first response. It’s not that they treated acting as an artistic endeavor, which it is. (Not ‘art’, but part of how art is created.)

                It’s that they treated art as literally the most important thing in the universe, so that someone doing an artistic endeavor is the greatest thing humanly possible. And also *everyone* secretly had a bunch of ART inside them that needed to get out, and only that could make you true to yourself.

                It was really damn stupid. Everyone is not secretly a poet or great writer or actor or interpretive dancer or whatever nonsense they thought, and the important art isn’t the masturbatory tiny-audience poetry readings. The important art is the art that interacts with *culture*, which, you know, requires more that someone standing on a desk making up a poem, or doing yet another generic production of a Midsummer’s Night Dream.

                For a movie about how self expression is important, and how self expression is art, it utterly failed by not having *any important art* made by anyone in it.

                There were two damn episode of *Daria* about artistic expression that made better points, mostly without even trying!

                Additionally, a stagehand *is* an artist, assuming there is any choices made by them. In a large and controlled enough production, where the stage manager controls everything, or if they merely push a button based on command, okay, maybe they aren’t artists. (In theory, it might actually be possible to have *actors* controlled to this level, and thus not have any artistic input and not be artists, but that seems absurd in practice.)

                But in a small production where the crew decide where they enter, how fast they move, what order they do things in…yes, that’s all part of the artistic process.

                The artistic goal of the crew is usually, but not always, to make as little disruption as possible, while keeping things moving forward…which is an easily overlooked artistic goal, but it *is* one.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Are we really on the internet arguing over what the word “art” means?

                Hey everyone, 1995 Usenet alt.philosophy just called and it wants its pointless arguments back!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I think we had a similar discussion on this. Something along the lines of the meaning of a blue curtain in a story that readers were trying to ascribe meaning to when the author had no meaning to assign it.

                I can enjoy art because it’s enjoyable to look at it/participate with, without having to discern any deeper meaning, and that doesn’t have to make me a lesser person for it.

                I occasionally take pictures of things I find attractive. Such things usually evoke an emotional response, but if I share such an image, it’s because I found it attractive, not because I’m trying to convey some deeper meaning. If you find some meaning in it, that’s awesome, but that is personal to you, and your meaning is not the only meaning to be found.

                Back to DavidTC, if an artist does intended a deeper meaning, and most people miss it, they suck at arting (especially if people don’t enjoy it on other levels). If they intend nothing so specific, and people still enjoy it, then they succeed at arting.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Back to DavidTC, if an artist does intended a deeper meaning, and most people miss it, they suck at arting (especially if people don’t enjoy it on other levels). If they intend nothing so specific, and people still enjoy it, then they succeed at arting.

                All art has a ‘deeper’ meaning, or rather a _second_ meaning(1), or it’s just random stuff people did. (As I’ve said before, some of the pictures on my phone are art, and some are not. The picture of a serial number I took so I’d have it later…not art. The picture of some posed friends…art, although not particularly *good* art.)

                It’s just that second meaning can be ‘this will entertain people’, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s not just a video of a cat, it’s an *entertaining* video of a cat. That’s art.

                Or ‘this will entertain people and some people might also get a message about social injustice’, which is even…more arty? (Not really.)

                But when the only second meaning is ‘some people might also get a message about social injustice’, and thus not only is not entertaining (Because they didn’t even try for that)…but a lot of people don’t actually get the intended message…then the art has failed. And now children will be forced to read it over and over in literature class, you monster.

                Or if the deeper meaning is just ‘this will entertain people’, but it *doesn’t*…the art has also failed, in a different way.

                1) Technically, as I’ve said before, most art has three levels of meaning, but we just sorta automatically glaze past the topmost level….we automatically turn blobs of ink into meaningful sentences and interpret a flat video screen as a three dimensional view of events, without us having to think about it. And we do that for non-art too.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                @davidtc
                Thank you for clarifying the point I was trying to make.

                ProTip – Don’t try to make thoughtful comments when a 4 year old is trying to discuss the finer points of Paw Patrol with you.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The homework thing is going on in the United States too, but as far as I can tell, centered in well heeled suburban school districts.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Before high school age, evidence shows that homework has very little efficacy. Makes sense to minimize it in favor of more effective uses of time.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    To be honest, as someone who went to school in a well heeled suburban school district, the entire ‘History of Islam’ we got was something like “Mohammed was born in modern day Saudi Arabia in the 600s, got a vision from Allah (God), kicked of lot of ass, made Mecca and Medina really important for Islam, then the Moors took over Spain in 711, and the Islamic people were the antagonists (but not really the bad guys) during the Crusades,” and that was basically it.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      It varies. My wife teaches AP World History. Islam gets considerably more than what you describe. On the other hand, what you describe is about right for what I had in high school.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I’m sure it’s different today. I don’t recall having AP World History at my high school (even though we were AP heavy for the time), the Juniors generally took American History, Seniors took Government. But I see that there’s been nearly an order of magnitude(PDF) increase in the number of students since the time I was one of those students.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I imagine that, prior to 9/11, Islam was seen as one of those quaint little backwards religions that merely happened to find itself with money somehow. No need to treat it any differently than, oh, Shinto.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Free Museums: I am all for Free Museums (or at least lower cost museums) but I think there is probably more going on than cost that explains the end of the field trip. The article covers transportation. Another thing that is different than when I was a kid is the current all-testing, all the time regime.

    School District Quality and Zip Code: San Francisco has a school lottery where parents can enter and hope for their chance to get their kid into a good school. The issue then becomes angst when Parent X lives in a neighborhood with a good school but their kid ends up getting sent to a bad school because of a lottery. I will repeat my observation that large urban school districts seem okay with creating a lot of good elementary schools and maybe middle schools but everything falls to shit with high school. Urban school districts can seemingly only have one or a small handful of good high schools. “Good” means an overwhelmingly number of students are college-bound.

    Opportunity Costs: I wish this article went into more details. Yes going to college costs a lot of money and those years can be spent earning money. The article did not cover what kinds of jobs people with high school educations generally get (really low paying) and what kind of room for advancement exists in these jobs (generally none). I agree that the current system is untenable but just talking about the opportunity costs of going to college isn’t going to change it.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “The article did not cover what kinds of jobs people with high school educations generally get (really low paying) and what kind of room for advancement exists in these jobs (generally none).”

      Oh hey, turns out college is about the money after all!

      So I guess all those articles about how it’s just so awful that college kids care more about “how to code in Java” than “the intellectual roots of the proletarian movements in mid-1960s Europe” are full of beans, then.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I don’t know what you are getting at besides being cranky for the point of being cranky.

        I have always had this thought about opportunity costs.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      The article did not cover what kinds of jobs people with high school educations generally get (really low paying) and what kind of room for advancement exists in these jobs (generally none). I agree that the current system is untenable but just talking about the opportunity costs of going to college isn’t going to change it.

      Seems like it might for some people. The jobs people get aren’t randomly assigned for college graduates and no-college. That’s what it looks like when we aggregate statistics, but the place to look is at the margins. The people with similarly mediocre academic profiles who go to college and don’t. My guess is that advancement opportunities is an issue. Available jobs? That varies by region, skillset, etc. And when we’re not looking at the margins, just controlling for academic profile (or IQ if we could) might be helpful.

      I know some folks who never went to college. They’re… doing well, for the most part. I think of my friend Tony whose parents just didn’t have the money for college and so never went for a day. Doing remarkably well. Our ex-girlfriend (not at the same time, obviously) did go to college but flamed out in spectacular fashion. She did end up getting a degree from one of those fake schools that Obama is trying to shut down, but was doing well prior to that.

      Of course, one can look at this and say “But they are totally not representative!” And they aren’t! Which is actually sort of my point. The controlling factor is not whether or not they went to college, but whether or not they are the kinds of people who are friends with Trumwill. (FTR, both Tony and Julia had mothers who went to college and fathers who didn’t.)

      Anyway, to get back to the point, for a lot of people the opportunity costs aren’t that high because they will completely be able to make it up later. For others, I’m not sure. But we talk about college in terms of the dollar costs. For some folks, four years of work experience and a foot on the ladder may be worth quite a bit more.

      My main hesitation on this is the second part of your equation, advancement opportunities. Which is why Julia did get that worthless degree. Tony is sufficiently skilled that he doesn’t need to get into management, and probably doesn’t especially care to.Report

  7. Avatar veronica d says:

    On the Vocational Schools this, as much as Boston has become education/tech/bio-tech/etc. hub, the “cultural myths” of a strong working class remain, with associations to the “Boston accent” and the working-class Irish. But anyway, it doesn’t surprise me that vocational training would be respected here in ways it is not elsewhere. It’s just, Boston is that kind of town.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      That’s kind of an interesting thing about Boston. From far away, it seems like the toniest major city there is. I’d certainly always thought of it that way. But then I’d watch The Practice and see how rough-and-tumble and blue collar their self-perception is.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        “Toniest” — wow. I just a learned a new word!

        But yeah. Boston is, well, Boston.

        Honestly, I think it’s largely the shadow of NYC. Like, we’re podunk cowtown compared to NYC, but we kinda really wish so very hard we were a real city — and through shear cantankerousness we kinda achieve that. So yeah. Add to that one or two above-average colleges and lots of smart people, and it’s kind of a thriving little place.

        But we’re ornery. Myself, I appreciate that.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Yeah, you think you’re cowtown? Lookit Pittsburgh (we’re a rough and tumble bunch too out here).

          It could be worse… you could be Providence.Report

      • Or read (or, I guess, watch) Mystic River. Really, almost anything by Dennis Lehane.Report

  8. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    The consolidation of school districts / expansion of school choice is one thing I totally can get with ‘education reformers’ about. Maybe they should focus on this instead of trying to make teachers as unsecure as every other American worker.Report

  9. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    You can make all the museums in the world free, but if the kids’ parents can’t get time off to take them (and a way to get them there) then it won’t make a bit of difference.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      I agree that the museum administrations are somewhat limited in what they can achieve without broader support from the city – if there isn’t decent transit from the part of town you’re trying to reach, or decent cycling infrastructure safe enough for older kids to bike to the museum independently, free admission will only do so much.

      There seemed to be a fair bit of interest from school groups in taking advantage of the free admissions, which would free up kids to go without their parents having the time and transportation resources. My elementary school in Canada did a few museum visits over the years, and the year we lived in France (my 6th grade) I think there were two museum trips.

      FWIW older kids might be able to go by themselves. I occasionally went to art galleries on my own or with friends when I was in high school. I could have gone by myself by later elementary school, but I don’t know that I did, at least not more than once or twice.Report

  10. Avatar notme says:

    US university offers course for men to ‘deconstruct toxic masculinities’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/01/us-university-offers-course-for-men-to-deconstruct-toxic-masculi/

    Those crazy Dookies. Pay to be brainwashed.Report

  11. Avatar notme says:

    Gun-Show Customers’ License Plates Come Under Scrutiny. Federal agents enlisted local police to scan cars’ plates at shows’ parking lots

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/gun-show-customers-license-plates-come-under-scrutiny-1475451302

    And liberals wonder why gun owners don’t trust the gov’t.Report

    • Gun shows are a prime location for felons to buy guns with no background check. I honestly don’t see how you can support stop and frisk but not this.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Gun shows are a prime location for felons to buy guns with no background check.

        Except there is very little (practically anecdotal) evidence that this actually happens. Felons tend to get guns from family/friends/known associates or by theft. They very rarely directly acquire them from sellers at gun shows.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          @oscar-gordon

          You say “directly acquire”. Did any of these guns originate via a gun show deal?Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            From what was traceable, not many. Gun trafficking happens either fully within the black market, or it happens via straw purchasing from licensed dealers (with the straw buyers then moving the guns to the black market).

            Very few traced firearms trace back to a legal owner who sold it at a gun show without doing a background check. Not that it never happens, only that it is a small enough percentage that spending LE resources chasing it sounds more like politics than actual crime prevention.

            Now, as to the article, the stated goal of the license plate scanning was to see how many of the scanned plates subsequently went south into Mexico. If LE was just noting plates and then comparing them to plates crossing the border, and that was the extent of the data retention and usage (i.e. owner information was not queried and retained, plate information was not kept past the operation timeframe, etc.), I could see it as an interesting experiment to see if people were trying to run guns into Mexico soon after sourcing them from gun shows.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              The only guns that get “run” to Mexico are the ones from “fast and furious” or real military crap.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              “Gun trafficking happens either fully within the black market, or it happens via straw purchasing from licensed dealers (with the straw buyers then moving the guns to the black market).”

              Thanks, @oscar-gordon .

              Are straw purchases the main avenue for guns to enter the black market? What other avenues are there?
              What exactly is a straw purchase? Any reasonable ideas* for ways to curtail them?

              * For the record, I consider pretty much everything you have to say regarding gun issues to be reasonable. Even if I disagree. So, as always, thanks for the education and patience.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Theft is the another primary vector by which guns enter the black market, (with, recently, LE incompetence being a third).

                Getting a gun from a friend/family/acquaintance is, as I said, a way for felons to acquire a gun, but I don’t know how often those guns then enter the black market.

                I think straw purchases are the largest vector, and really, the best tool LE has to go after straw purchasers is purchasing records, which runs up against the Gun Control Act, which made it illegal for the government to maintain a record of gun purchases so as to avoid the creation of a defacto registry.

                Crooked dealers also act as straw purchasers when they allow stock to flow to gun runners, and generally LE knows which dealers are crooked. I’m not sure why such dealers don’t get their FFLs pulled, since it’s insanely easy for the BATFE to suspend or revoke an FFL for something as simple as paperwork violations.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Those police are heroes. HEROES!Report

  12. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Consider: These folks are comfortable with using public transit to trek across high-density cities in search of various private and public goods.

    *These* folks, as singles and young couples may be ok with spending the time necessary to schlep across the city and back – but do they want their kids to spend all that time? Opposition to busing was pretty much straight up racism, *but* they also had a point of not wanting their kids to spend a couple hours a day just in transportation to and from school.

    Open enrollment district wide with larger unified districts still handwaves at a few other problems. Everyone is still going to try for the ‘good’ schools – there needs to be a plan to make more ‘good’ schools. Which is a tough nut to crack, because most studies show that it’s the kids (and their parent’s SES) that make good schools, not the teachers nor any other input variable.

    But let’s say you do make more ‘good’ schools. Then you have to worry about intra-school segregation, where the gifted&talented/Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate/Honors, etc programs are just not merely filled with students with high SES parents anyway.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      The thing is, all the studies show that students from low SES areas get gains from being in high SES schools with no damage to the high SES students.

      So, my plan with probably some obvious holes would be simple – unify districts and guarantee placements for x% of students under y income level at high performing schools. Now, you’d pitch this as universal, but in reality, it’d be a form of affirmative action on the down low. Obviously, somebody much smarter than me could work out the kinks.

      The reason I think this could work beyond the statistics is ancedotal – it worked for me. My family was poverty level to lower middle class depending on the year. But, I tested into the gifted program, plus we lucked into being in the district for the brand new high school that opened in our town instead of the older “more urban” school.

      Now, it was all marginal stuff, since I was a geek anyway, but there was something to the fact that I was around a bunch of middle class and upper middle class kids, both due to the gifted program and because of being in the new school.

      Now, would this be perfect? No. But, until we’re OK with a much larger welfare state distributing the wealth (which allows for the larger social mobility and lesser amount of child poverty in OECD countries), this is the best work around I can think of for the moment.Report