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Prueba PISA 2015 (fecha de publicación diciembre 6, 2016)

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Written by Fernando Camara

December 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm

The End of the College Essay

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The End of the College Essay

 

An essay.

By Rebecca Schuman

REBECCA SCHUMAN

Rebecca Schuman is a columnist for Slate and the author of Schadenfreude, A Love Story and Kafka and Wittgenstein. She lives in St. Louis.

Everybody in college hates papers. Students hate writing them so much that they buyborrow, or steal them instead. Plagiarism is now so commonplace that if we flunked every kid who did it, we’d have a worse attrition rate than a MOOC. And on those rare occasions undergrads do deign to compose their own essays, said exegetic masterpieces usually take them all of half an hour at 4 a.m. to write, and consist accordingly of “arguments” that are at besttangentially related to the coursework, font-manipulated to meet the minimum required page-count. Oh, “attitudes about cultures have changed over time”? I’m so glad you let me know.

 

Nobody hates writing papers as much as college instructors hate grading papers (and no, having a robot do it is not the answer). Students of the world: You think it wastes 45 minutes of your sexting time to pluck out three quotes from The Sun Also Rises, summarize the same four plot points 50 times until you hit Page 5, and then crap out a two-sentence conclusion? It wastes 15 hours of my time to mark up my students’ flaccid theses and non sequitur textual “evidence,” not to mention abuse of the comma that should be punishable by some sort of law—all so that you can take a cursory glance at the grade and then chuck the paper forever.

 

What’s more, if your average college-goer does manage to read through her professor’s comments, she will likely view them as a grievous insult to her entire person, abject proof of how this cruel, unfeeling instructor hates her. That sliver of the student population that actually reads comments and wants to discuss them? They’re kids whose papers are good to begin with, and often obsessed with their GPAs. I guarantee you that every professor you know has given an A to a B paper just to keep a grade-grubber off her junk. (Not talking to you, current students! You’re all magnificent, and going to be president someday. Please do not email me.)

Oh, “attitudes about cultures have changed over time”? I’m so glad you let me know.

When I was growing up, my mother—who, like me, was a “contingent” professor—would sequester herself for days to grade, emerging Medusa-haired and demanding of sympathy. But the older I got, the more that sympathy dissipated: “If you hate grading papers so much,” I’d say, “there’s an easy solution for that.” My mother, not to be trifled with when righteously indignant (that favored state of the professoriate), would snap: “It’s an English class. I can’t not assign papers.”

Mom, friends, educators, students: We don’t have to assign papers, and we should stop. We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure. The baccalaureate is the new high-school diploma: abjectly necessary for any decent job in the cosmos. As such, students (and their parents) view college as professional training, an unpleasant necessity en route to that all-important “piece of paper.” Today’s vocationally minded students view World Lit 101 as forced labor, an utterwaste of their time that deserves neither engagement nor effort. So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers. It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.

Most students enter college barely able to string three sentences together—and they leave it that way, too. With protracted effort and a rhapsodically engaged instructor, some may learn to craft a clunky but competent essay somewhere along the way. But who cares? My fellow humanists insist valiantly that (among other more elevated reasons) writing humanities papers leads to the crafting of sharp argumentative skills, and thus a lifetime of success in a number of fields in which we have no relevant experience. But my friends who actually work in such fields assure me that most of their colleagues are borderline-illiterate. After all, Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-Facebook Friendster profile bragged “i don’t read” (sic), and look at him.

Of course it would be better for humanity if college in the United States actually required a semblance of adult writing competency. But I have tried everything. I held a workshop dedicated to avoiding vague introductions (“The idea and concept of the duality of sin and righteousness has been at the forefront of our understanding of important concepts since the beginning of time.”) The result was papers that started with two incoherent sentences that had nothing to do with each other. I tried removing the introduction and conclusion altogether, and asking for a three-paragraph miniessay with a specific argument—what I got read like One Direction fan fiction.

The sliver of the student population that actually reads comments and wants to discuss them? They’re kids whose papers are good to begin with, and often obsessed with GPAs.

I’ve graded drafts and assigned rewrites, and that helps the good students get better, but the bad students, the ones I’m trying to help, just fail to turn in any drafts at all. Meanwhile, I come up for air and realize that with all this extra grading, I’m making 75 cents an hour.

I’m not calling for the end of all papers—just the end of papers in required courses. Some students actually like writing, and let those blessed young souls be English majors, and expound on George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to their hearts’ content, and grow up to become writers, huzzah. But for the common good, leave everyone else out of it.

Instead of essays, required humanities courses (which I support, for all the reasonsWilliam CrononMartha Nussbaum, and Paulo Freire give) should return to old-school, hardcore exams, written and oral. You cannot bullshit a line-ID. Nor can you get away with only having read one page of the book when your professor is staring you down with a serious question. And best of all, oral exams barely need grading: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it is immediately and readily manifest (not to mention, it’s profoundly schadenfroh when a student has to look me in the face and admit he’s done no work).

 

Students hate writing papers, and professors hate grading them. Should we stop assigning them? Listen to the debate on Slate Plus.

Plus, replacing papers with rigorous, old-school, St. John’s-style tribulations also addresses an issue humanities-haters love to belabor: Paper-grading is so subjective, and paper-writing so easy to fake, that this gives the humanities their unfortunate reputation as imprecise, feelings-centered disciplines where there are “no right answers.” So let’s start requiring some right answers.

Sure, this quashes the shallow pretense of expecting undergraduates to engage in thoughtful analysis, but they have already proven that they will go to any lengths to avoid doing this. Call me a defeatist, but honestly I’d be happy if a plurality of American college students could discern even the skeletal plot of anything they were assigned. With more exams and no papers, they’ll at least have a shot at retaining, just for a short while, the basic facts of some of the greatest stories ever recorded. In that short while, they may even develop the tiniest inkling of what Martha Nussbaum calls “sympathetic imagination”—the cultivation of our own humanity, and something that unfolds when we’re touched by stories of people who are very much unlike us. And that, frankly, is more than any essay will ever do for them.

A SLATE PLUS SPECIAL FEATURE:

Slate Voice: “The End of the College Essay”

Written by Fernando Camara

May 31, 2016 at 2:36 pm

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El poder del consumidor

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No dejen de visitar http://www.elpoderdelconsumidor.org encontrarán un sitio de crítica muy interesante.

Written by Fernando Camara

May 31, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Vale más saber alguna cosa de todo, que saberlo todo de una sola cosa.
B. Pascal.
O como lo explicó alguna vez Pancho de Anda: saber cada vez más acerca de cada vez menos hasta saberlo casi todo sobre casi nada.
Lo que creo que se debe ser, en el sentido de Pascal es un Generalista.

Written by Fernando Camara

May 31, 2016 at 1:12 pm

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Dime y lo olvido, enséñame y lo recuerdo, involúcrame y lo aprendo.
Benjamin Franklin
¿Cómo involucras a quien quiere estudiar? ¿Cómo involucras a quien cree que estudiar es sentarse a recibir información? ¿Cómo involucras a quien navega en su computadora, teléfono, Tablet o cualquier otro aparato?
Con creatividad.
Diría Tierno Galván; La buena didáctica es aquella que deja que el pensamiento del otro no se interrumpa y que le permite, sin notarlo, ir tomando buena dirección.

Written by Fernando Camara

May 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm

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Comunicación Social en el gobierno de EPN: las finanzas y el humo de las cortinas

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Hace un rato leí la siguiente nota de Felix Cortés Camarillo y es suficientemente obvia e importante como para reproducirla en este Blog. Espero que disfruten de su lectura y los haga meditar acerca del oportunismo de algunos políticos, que aprovechando la disteracción de la ciudadnía hacen y toman decisiones que afectan al país.

A continuación la columna:

Cancionero

FÉLIX CORTÉS CAMARILLO

Se me olvidó que te olvidé

Los dos protagonistas de la política hacendaria y monetaria del país, Luis Videgaray y Agustín Carstens, por arte de birlibirloque sacaron de sus chisteras las dos más importantes noticias económicas del año.

18 de Febrero de 2016

Nadie que se ocupe de la cosa pública ignora que la administración actual tiene, entre sus múltiples deficiencias, la de la llamada comunicación social, que antes se llamaba oficina de prensa. Lejanos los tiempos del chino Humberto Romero, jefe de prensa de Ruiz Cortines y casi vicepresidente virtual durante los males agónicos de López Mateos, de Rodolfo Landeros con López Portillo o de don Pancho Galindo Ochoa, quien desde su mesa de la esquina del Champs Elysées maquinaba opiniones, actitudes y decisiones.

Los que vinieron después tenían otras metas; las de Marta Sahagún quedaron evidenciadas y plenamente satisfechas. Otto Granados, Manuel Alonso, Carlos Salomón, José Carreño Carlón o Rubén Aguilar llegaron a las costas de sus ínsulas ansiadas, si no es que tuvieron la mala ocurrencia de morirse a destiempo. David López, el más reciente destetado del cargo, habría fracasado en su intención de ser gobernador de Sinaloa.

Me vino todo eso a la memoria ayer, en que los dos protagonistas de la política hacendaria y monetaria del país, Luis Videgaray y Agustín Carstens, por arte de birlibirloque sacaron de sus chisteras las dos más importantes noticias económicas del año. Como si siguieran la disciplina de don Pancho Galindo Ochoa, aprovecharon que todos los mexicanos estábamos embrujados por la magia de Francisco papa seduciendo a los presos del Cereso 3 de Ciudad Juárez, para enterarnos de que el gasto público de México se reduce 132 mil millones de pesos —un poco menos de 1% del Producto Interno Bruto—, mientras que la tasa interbancaria en México se eleva 50 puntos para llegar a 3.75 por ciento. Ni cuenta nos dimos. La magia de los medios: el arte del birlibirloque.

Del recorte al gasto público, cien mil millones de pesos le tocan a Pemex. Pero sea de un lado o sea de otro, este recorte se va a traducir en recorte de personal. Por obvias razones, los que se van a la calle serán trabajadores de los llamados eventuales; estos son, en todos lados, los que no están protegidos por la seguridad social, los fondos de indemnización y otros privilegios. De otra manera, el ahorro en correr a estos trabajadores y funcionarios sería yermo y se gastaría en pagar sus liquidaciones.

De cualquier manera, un trabajador que pierde su chamba, cobre por honorarios o por la nómina, es una familia más que carece de recursos y es echada a la calle. Y eso no solamente es ingrato: es peligroso.

La segunda medida va al parejo. Las tasas de interés en México suben. Eso quiere decir dos cosas. Primero, que la intención es retener los capitales que se están yendo a otros países —Estados Unidos, por ejemplo— que ofrecen mejores rendimientos que antes y atraer nuevos golondrinos. Por el lado contrario, que el dinero en México se encarece. Si los bancos me van a cobrar más intereses por el dinero que me prestan, difícilmente voy a buscar capital para invertir, mejorar mi empresa, crear otra o desarrollar el capital. Al mismo tiempo, si la tarjeta de crédito me va a costar más cara cada mes, voy a reducir mis compras.

La crisis económica mexicana se había podido paliar porque el gasto interno no había disminuido. Los mexicanos —porque nos fían— somos propensos a firmar el voucher con gran presteza. Ahora esa firma va a ser motivo de mayor meditación. Vamos a gastar menos, la economía se va a estancar y la inflación se hará mayor.

El lucro y el capital, dijo Francisco papa ayer a los empresarios, no debe estar por encima del bien común.

¿Será que los mensajes papales solamente duran cinco días para luego caer en el olvido? ¿Se nos va a olvidar que ya olvidamos?

Written by Fernando Camara

May 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm

El estudio: Disney

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Mercedes Pria Villa

Written by Fernando Camara

May 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm

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