Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: LynnG, gasstationwithoutpumps, ChemProf, and Barry Garelick

On Buzzwords for Jobs

LynnG said...

It's hard to generalize from anything going on at a place like Olin to what K-12 schools should be doing. I've been to Olin several times on college visits -- it is a fascinating and unique college and I don't doubt for a minute that they are getting spectacular results. . . but.

But Olin is highly, highly selective -- it admits less than 10% of all applicants. Students entering Olin are the absolute cream of the cream -- they are highly motivated and extremely bright. Their project-based learning works because of several things - highly motivated, very bright, extremely well-prepared students working in very small classes on state of the art equipment with a world-class faculty on problems that actually are "real world" not make-believe real world.

For example, one project that students worked on was designing a consumer grill cover that stayed cool during use. Many of the engineering projects created at Olin have been commercially successful.

What drives me crazy about people like Tony Wagner is his very selective use of facts to serve his own purpose. Olin wouldn't be able to do what it does if it took all comers regardless of their preparation or motivation.
I don't think that there is any question that the MIT Media Lab is highly innovative. But they start with a very select group (MIT students) and select even further for the most innovative. It isn't clear whether they *teach* how to be innovative, even if they succeed at *being* innovative.

ChemProf said...
Yeah, my college (Harvey Mudd) had clinic for engineering and a research requirement for science majors. They were great experiences, but we were really well prepared, highly qualified students who were juniors and seniors (so had already done two years of more typical classroom work). Trying to expand that to everyone without the classroom work isn't going to do it.
Domain knowledge plays a big role as the above comments point out. WHen domain knowledge is limited as is typical with novices, then the success of programs like these are apt to be in the imaginations of the people running them.

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