This spring the Massachusetts Institute of Technology celebrates its 150th anniversary with a series of events and exhibits honoring the Institute's past and envisioning its future. The School of Architecture + Planning — the first architecture department in the country, now 145 years old — will play a central role in the festivities.
One of the first things I noticed when I came to the United States for my graduate education was the ubiquity of online resources. The Internet back home in India was still a novelty and its potential for educational resources was extremely limited.
Questia Online Library is an example of one such online library that gives you access to a large collection of books and journal articles in the fields of humanities and social sciences. The database also includes magazines and newspaper articles and is searchable by title, author, subject, and keyword.
One of the impressive options in Questia is the availability of online tools that enable users to create footnotes, bibliographical references, and hyperlinking across titles. I cannot overemphasize the importance of such tools that not only recreate the way you would use physical resources but also enhance your experience in using online tools in order to help you maintain a list of resources you accessed. One more additional feature that impressed me was the availability of more than 5000 books in online format. These books are public domain books whose copyright has expired hence are available to read for free in their entirety. No more buying expensive books or looking them up in libraries. You can use all the above mentioned reference tools in these books as well.
Seems unlikely, eh? The Case against Homework, a book by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish explores the myth of importance of homework towards your child’s educational outcomes. I remember being piled with homework after school and threatened with completing it before going out to play so as to “stay ahead of my classmates”. I bet they were told the same in a classic game of pitting one kid against the other and watching them slowly rot away in the rat race. But does homework have any other external effect apart from harming an individual’s outlook toward life (as if that isn’t dire enough)?
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing mentions the effect of No Child Left Behind on neighborhoods and property prices:
No Child Left Behind and standardized testing not only turns your child into a slave to her test-scores, but they can even affect your property values: a school with low test-scores brings down the neighborhood property values. That means that whatever your approach to your kids, the chances are that the other parents in your neighborhood are busting their asses to get their kids great test scores, drilling them, sending them to tutors, helping them with assignments that they were meant to complete themselves. If you don’t do the same, your kids will suffer by comparison [emphases mine].
So it isn’t enough just getting in but also more important to keep fighting hard by keeping at it and how? By doing homework that in all probability is not going to make much difference in your education anyway. But it is like the rolling juggernaut that no one wishes to jump off in fear of being crushed under.