Crapping in your drawers at the *merest mention* of no football

Ranking schools tends to be both hideously subjective and biased, and therefore, bull crap, at just about any level you choose to do it. But a writer with the WashPo decided to start looking at some of the top-ranking programs in their index of high school at what they might all find in common, and on a whim, he asked if they had an 11-person football team. 67 of the top 100 didn’t.

Before I start I should say that I agree he doesn’t show a trend; I agree he hasn’t eliminated lots of other possible explanations. I would also point out that journalists don’t. That’s why they are journalists and not social scientists. The howls from the comments are, however, over the top, as the Big Brainz of the internet hand out lectures on research design to this guy/crap in their panties at the *MERE MENTION* that football isn’t the greatest thing that was ever great in the greatest greatest great thing for students to do list.

Um yeah. No intellectual problems there. One of the first rules of research might be to examine yourself when you have that reaction (hello, transit) to the suggestion that something isn’t as wonderful as you think it is. “OMG YOU CAN TOTES HAVE A GREAT ATHLETIC PROGRAM AND ACADEMICS” they howl. Of course, it’s possible. But it’s also possible that, for schools of limited size and resources, they really can’t invest in football and are better off with sport programs that require fewer resources than football. It may be the exalted position of football in American society leads school management to begin to emphasize those programs disproportionately; the parents and students become overly focussed on the sport instead of on health and play when they invest in football, whereas nobody really cares of your water polo team sucks as long as the kids get exercise and have fun and everybody is merely pleasantly surprised if your girls volleyball team has a fabulous season. It may be the male-worshipping culture of football isn’t all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips for creating more supportive (since this high school, read “less sociopathic”) peer relationships in school where female physical activity and male physical activity are treated like…activities….instead of male physical activity being treated as The Most Important Thing Ever.

It strikes me as perfectly reasonable to ask what a small school might gain by eliminating an activity where they will always be at a disadvantage in favor of pursuing things that might matter to them more.

Phi Beta Kappa on education versus training

Phi Beta Kappa’s Arts and Sciences initiative has put out an infographic on education versus training. I’ve been looking about for the surveys and the methods so I could see what’s what, but I haven’t located anything yet. According to this survey, employers get it: they want smart people they can train themselves, people who think and write and with the resource to analyze and solve problems. There’s no apparent tradeoff between arts and science education, as scientists note that arts training helped them with their careers in science by ‘boosting innovation.’ Particularly telling is the 11 different jobs statistic, which has always been my shibboleth. So I teach you how to read a site map–bully for us–and how does that help you envision or move into jobs other than that? (That said, people are always learning and teaching: people learn being in the world, not just a classroom. But I hope a classroom is a place where you have a group of people ready to discuss what you are learning, which may or may not happen outside the classroom.)

Where is the drive to pursue training instead of education coming from? Perhaps it is something we have imagined. Or, perhaps, the complaints we get from industry come down to the fact that education is not sufficiently broad, nor are we teaching critical thought, writing, analysis or problem-solving.