Wednesday, September 27

The Debunker: Was Stanford University Really Founded After Harvard Snobs Blew Off a Millionaire?

by Ken Jennings

It's September and parents are rejoicing, because kids are (finally!) heading back to school! Crayons and binders and graphing calculators are flying off store shelves; beanbag chairs for dorm rooms are getting stuffed into the backs of station wagons. But maybe we all need to be taken to school, because a lot of the stuff we think we know about education would get us an 'F' on the final exam. Ken Jennings, that Jeopardy! guy, will be standing in front of the class all month with his red marker at the ready, to correct all that academic misinformation.

The Debunker: Was Stanford University Really Founded After Harvard Snobs Blew Off a Millionaire?

A popular viral e-mail from the late 1990s tells a colorful moral tale about the founding of Stanford University. A timid country couple steps off a train in Boston and tries to get in to see the president of Harvard University. When he finally agrees to see them, just to get them out of his office, they explain that they want to arrange a memorial to their son, a Harvard student who had recently died in an accident. They'd like to build a building on campus. The fed-up president explains that Harvard's campus cost several million dollars, and is probably out of their price range. The couple, after hearing that number, returns to California and starts up their own university in Palo Alto—because they were Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford! And that's…the rest of the story.

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Wednesday, September 20

The Debunker: Will You Get Straight A's If Your College Roommate Commits Suicide?

by Ken Jennings

It's September and parents are rejoicing, because kids are (finally!) heading back to school! Crayons and binders and graphing calculators are flying off store shelves; beanbag chairs for dorm rooms are getting stuffed into the backs of station wagons. But maybe we all need to be taken to school, because a lot of the stuff we think we know about education would get us an 'F' on the final exam. Ken Jennings, that Jeopardy! guy, will be standing in front of the class all month with his red marker at the ready, to correct all that academic misinformation.

The Debunker: Will You Get Straight A's If Your College Roommate Commits Suicide?

Short answer: YES! But only if you already had straight A's before the tragedy as well.

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Wednesday, September 13

The Debunker: What Is a "Steep" Learning Curve?

by Ken Jennings

It's September and parents are rejoicing, because kids are (finally!) heading back to school! Crayons and binders and graphing calculators are flying off store shelves; beanbag chairs for dorm rooms are getting stuffed into the backs of station wagons. But maybe we all need to be taken to school, because a lot of the stuff we think we know about education would get us an 'F' on the final exam. Ken Jennings, that Jeopardy! guy, will be standing in front of the class all month with his red marker at the ready, to correct all that academic misinformation.

The Debunker: What Is a "Steep" Learning Curve?

Colloquially speaking, lots of things have a steep learning curve. The French horn. Arabic, Mandarin, and Hungarian. Adobe Photoshop. Those insanely complicated World War II board games that your weirdest college roommate liked to play. We understand the phrase "steep learning curve" to refer to difficulty, like the steepness of climbing a hill: it takes a lot of effort to make gains in proficiency when learning a daunting new skill set.

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Wednesday, September 06

The Debunker: Did Albert Einstein Fail Math?

by Ken Jennings

It's September and parents are rejoicing, because kids are (finally!) heading back to school! Crayons and binders and graphing calculators are flying off store shelves; beanbag chairs for dorm rooms are getting stuffed into the backs of station wagons. But maybe we all need to be taken to school, because a lot of the stuff we think we know about education would get us an 'F' on the final exam. Ken Jennings, that Jeopardy! guy, will be standing in front of the class all month with his red marker at the ready, to correct all that academic misinformation.

The Debunker: Did Albert Einstein Fail Math?

Poor Einstein. You spend your whole life revolutionizing the human race's vision of the universe, and when you die your bad report card still gets used as a cautionary tale/motivational speech for misfit youngsters. I guess that's what they mean by "This will go down on your permanent record."

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Friday, August 30

Watch This First: First Day of School, 1985

by Jason Toon

My kids start school next week, and it's not hard for me to remember that ambivalent first-day-of-school mixture of excitement and dread - especially when I watch this 1985 news report about the first day of school in Minot, North Dakota.

 
 

Watch Watch This First first, every weekday morning. Because the best way to start the day is to start it a few minutes later.

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