kitchen table math, the sequel: Debbie Stier is in The New Yorker & on The Today Show tomorrow!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Debbie Stier is in The New Yorker & on The Today Show tomorrow!

Big Score: When Mom Takes the SAT by Elizabeth Kolbert 

What a day!


SATVerbalTutor. said...

For the record, I already told Debbie (when she called me at 6:30 am) that I think it's phenomenal and amazing and incredible that she got four whole pages devoted to her book in the New Yorker. I mean, it's the friggin' New Yorker!

But that said, I think that Kolbert misses the point of the book rather badly; she seems so consumed with her own anxieties and preconceived notions about the test that she never really discusses what Debbie and Ethan got out of it in the end. It also doesn't help that she ended with the what is quite possibly the biggest SAT cliche of all time (c'mon, say it with me now: the only thing the SAT tests is how well you take the SAT!), and one that has so much traction that it obscures the very real problems with American education that the test highlights.

Quite frankly, I found the piece trite, irritating, and self-involved, and I don't think she comes close to conveying what Debbie and her book are really about.

SATVerbalTutor. said...

Just wanted to add that the fact Kolbert *recognized* one of the CR passages as having been written by Haruki Murakami implies she takes so much knowledge for granted that she isn't even remotely qualified to gauge how good a measure of anything the SAT is for the average high school student. I would wager that most kids don't even realize that SAT passages come from actual books.

Anonymous said...

Boy, did that last line bother me as well. EVERY test is a test of the skills measured by THAT test and nothing more. Seriously, you could say the same about a Driver's ed test -- it tests nothing more than the skills that it tests. But that doesn't mean that those skills don't correlate with other things we may be interested in. Admissions officers sure seem interested (more than they let on, I'd say).

Also, it seems strange to attack the SAT for not measuring curiosity or imagination. Are we certain that those traits don't also correlate with higher scores? Isn't it possible that a more curious student is more likely to have acquired the skills that the SAT tests? Sometimes, curiosity leads to reading. And imagination might help students to engage in their classwork with more enthusiasm as a result of a greater ability to see what's interesting.


SATVerbalTutor. said...

Also, it seems strange to attack the SAT for not measuring curiosity or imagination.

To me, that's the ultimate straw man argument about the SAT. It's not *supposed* to measure curiosity or imagination. The American university admission process, unlike that of virtually every other country in the world, provides ample opportunity for applicants to demonstrate those traits. The SAT is the sole "objective" criterion in the entire process. When people attack the SAT for doing what's supposed to do, the real argument lurking below the surface is that because every applicant is a unique individual, *any* attempt to impose an objective criterion is useless and should therefore be abolished.