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Leslie Harris

Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares - The New York Times - 0 views

    Interesting infographics demonstrating that sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts.
Todd Suomela

Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That's OK. (For Now.) - - 0 views

  • Video games, like work, are basically a series of quests comprised of mundane and repetitive tasks: Receive an assignment, travel to a location, overcome some obstacles, perform some sort of search, pick up an item, and then deliver it in exchange for a reward—and, usually, another quest, which starts the cycle all over again. You are not playing the game so much as following its orders. The game is your boss; to succeed, you have to do what it says.
  • Instead of working, they are playing video games. About three quarters of the increase in leisure time among men since 2000 has gone to gaming. Total time spent on computers, including game consoles, has nearly doubled. You might think that this would be demoralizing. A life spent unemployed, living at home, without romantic prospects, playing digital time wasters does not sound particularly appealing on its face. Yet this group reports far higher levels of overall happiness than low-skilled young men from the turn of the 21st century. In contrast, self-reported happiness for older workers without college degrees fell during the same period. For low-skilled young women and men with college degrees, it stayed basically the same. A significant part of the difference comes down to what Hurst has called "innovations in leisure computer activities for young men." The problems come later. A young life spent playing video games can lead to a middle age without marketable skills or connections. "There is some evidence," Hurst pointed out, "that these young, lower-skilled men who are happy in their 20s become much less happy in their 30s or 40s." So are these guys just wasting their lives, frittering away their time on anti-social activities? Hurst describes his figures as "staggering" and "shocking"—a seismic shift in the relationship of young men to work. "Men in their 20s historically are a group with a strong attachment to the labor force," he writes. "The decline in employment rates for low-skilled men in their 20s was larger than it was for all other sex, age, and skill groups during this same time period." But there's another way to think about the change: as a shift in their relationship to unemployment. Research has consistently found that long-term unemployment is one of the most dispiriting things that can happen to a person. Happiness levels tank and never recover. One 2010 study by a group of German researchers suggests that it's worse, over time, for life satisfaction than even the death of a spouse. What video games appear to do is ease the psychic pain of joblessness—and to do it in a way that is, if not permanent, at least long-lasting. For low-skilled young men, what is the alternative to playing games? We might like to imagine that they would all become sociable and highly productive members of society, but that is not necessarily the case.
  • A military shooter might offer a simulation of being a crack special forces soldier. A racing game might simulate learning to handle a performance sports car. A sci-fi role-playing game might simulate becoming an effective leader of a massive space colonization effort. But what you're really doing is training yourself to effectively identify on-screen visual cues and twitch your thumb at the right moment. You're learning to handle a controller, not a gun or a race car. You're learning to manage a game's hidden stats system, not a space station. A game provides the sensation of mastery without the actual ability. "It's a simulation of being an expert," Wolpaw says. "It's a way to fulfill a fantasy." That fantasy, ultimately, is one of work, purpose, and social and professional success.
Leslie Harris

Are College Lectures Unfair? - The New York Times - 0 views

    This article summarizes various studies that show that active learning if more effective than the traditional lecture, particularly for women and students of color.
Leslie Harris

Map of 73 Years of Lynchings - - 0 views

    An effective but somewhat disheartening use of GIS to map the frequency of lynchings in the Southern U.S. by county from 1877 to 1950.
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