Ask the grumpies: We need your questions!

On Fridays we tend to alternate between answering questions that have led Google to point to our blog and answering questions from You, the Readers.  We aim to have the Google questions answered somewhere around the 15th and the 30th of each month, give or take.

We only have one Ask the Grumpies question left, and it is one that will require me to reread a scholarly article in my field and give insightful commentary on it, and since I haven’t had a weekend off from work since December, that’s just not going to happen this week.  (If I had that brain power I would already be done with this referee report hanging over my head!)

And so, dear readers, we must again ask you to give us your questions.

What do you want to know?  What insights can we illuminate for you?  What brilliance can we rain down from the heavens surrounding Mount Grumpy?  What inspired or silly questions can we address for you in our vaguely humorous way?

Let us know in the comments!  Or, if you prefer to be extra anonymous, shoot us an email at grumpyrumblings at gmail.

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20 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: We need your questions!”

  1. Leah Says:

    you may have covered all of these, but education is on my mind:
    – how do you feel about educational kids TV programming?
    – what is your preferred way to use a video in your class?
    – I assume you prefer tracking students based on ability in K-12 or at least 6-12/7-12. maybe yes? Have you seen any good evidence for that, or is there better evidence for having lumped classes where assignments/projects are differentiated to ability?

    ooh, a more generic one: When did you first realize you were an adult? And what were some of the major growing pains in becoming an adult?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      *Nod Nod*

      All good questions.
      we’ve discussed some of the ability tracking stuff… Basically the evidence suggests cutting off the tails of the distribution and tracking them, but not tracking folks in the middle. We pay more attention to that top X% research than we do what’s good for other kids, so can’t really go into much more detail than that.

      (#1 first realized she was an adult in 3rd grade…)

      • Debbie M Says:

        In my family, you’re not an adult until you have kids. Which means I get to sit at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving!

        On the other extreme, at age 10 I told myself that I would always remember how much 10-year-olds can do–basically everything adults can do except things where you have to be tall, things that require decades of experience, and some complex/grey-area thinking sorts of things. I could totally have balanced a checkbook, for example, by the third grade. (I also told myself at that time that I wouldn’t be “old” until at least age 80, and I still agree with that at age 49. I’ve gotten data that age 70 can still seem very young compared to 80, for at least the people I know about.)

        In the middle, there’s always turning 18, turning 21, moving out of your parents house, moving out of your parents house for the last time, not getting carded, opening a checking account, etc. I think I most felt like an adult when I got my first real job (full-time benefits eligible) and no longer needed obvious handouts (such as from my parents and student loans, although I still happily accept tax breaks, libraries, etc.).

  2. femmefrugality Says:

    What are the qualities in your ideal student? Where’s the line between being a good student and being a kiss-ass?

  3. mom2boy Says:

    Why can’t I find a montessori school that has a lot of playground time during the day? In the alternative, will spending the summer at the preschool with a lot of playground time but no counting chains (or any counting really) stunt my addition obsessed child’s development?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s really weird– all three of the Montessoris here in town have good amounts of running around time. (One of them just added an additional 2 hours after the academic school time for working parents.) Perhaps it’s what the parents demand in your area– they want their preschool time to be academic… that’s pretty common with preschools with part-time options. The playing part is extra on top of the academic. (Our Montessori was only full-time, so had playground- and nap-time built in, but the other two in town are more geared towards SAHM and moms who work part-time but want the academic prep before K. Presumably those moms don’t want to pay for something they provide themselves.)

      Re: academics, that’s a good question that deserves a longer answer. The main thing is “no, it will not stunt your child’s development” but also, “your child may be happier (and in our case, better behaved) with some academics.” It may be a matter of if you’d rather do the academics at home or go to the playground at home, if there aren’t schools that offer both.

      Look forward to future ask the grumpies posts!

  4. bogart Says:

    Here’s one I’ve been mulling: what are the pros and cons (from all of the employer’s, employee’s, and society’s perspective, because, hey, you are the all-knowing Grumpies) of “lumpy” benefits. By “lumpy” I basically mean something that’s a step function with a long time-horizon; for example, at 30 years of service my DH’s pension got MUCH more valuable than it had been at 29 years, 364 days; if I work where I am now until DS is a college student (and the system doesn’t get tweaked, or tweaks are grandfathered), we’ll qualify for a great tuition benefit (provided, basically, that he goes to an expensive school — it’s structured as a % of tuition with a noticeable but not huge deductible). Actually I could debate that latter from all sorts of angles (fairness, value, moral hazard on the part of the student), but for now I’m just asking about the employer/employee relationship.

  5. Rumpus Says:

    Why can’t my students do their own scheduling? I understand why they need advising (no, you shouldn’t take those four classes together because your head would explode), and I’m even somewhat ok with that job being spread out among the professors (in a recession we should not only ignore teaching but also advising while we try to maximize time spent on grantwriting), but scheduling is a mechanical job that takes me half an hour per student that can’t figure out prerequisites. Or today’s joy, “wait, you mean I have to take those classes too?” We can foursquare our friends who are busy kittenwar’ing at an airbnb, but we don’t have a GUI that can implement a prerequisite structure. Is there something wrong with that or should I just expect to be a decade or two behind modern-day technology?

    Second part, is there a kittenwar champion? A Genghis Khan of kittens who drives all others screaming from the field?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Those are questions, I am afraid, that we are unable to answer.

    • Leah Says:

      Do you mean that you don’t have a GUI that automagically goes “um, no, student, you can’t take that class because you don’t have the right pre-reqs”? That would be a college issue. I’m in grad school, and my school definitely has this. I couldn’t sign up for introductory college physics (a gap in my grad program I had to rectify) without bringing in a HS transcript to show that I had some basic physics knowledge and didn’t have to take physics 101. And most of that took place via computer interaction — my only human interaction was visiting the physics department secretary to have her approve my transcript.

      • Rumpus Says:

        That’s close to what I mean. We have a system that prevents them from signing up for classes unless they meet the prereqs. What we further need is a system that shows them they need to take a class this semester to satisfy the prereqs for some class they want to take next semester…a planning tool. It’s a rhetorical question though, because I know it’s relatively straightforward (for 95% of cases). Heck, if I thought I’d make any money off it I would code something up myself.

  6. jacqjolie Says:

    Write about trickle down consumption please.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You mean like Reaganomics? What specifically about trickle down?

      • jacqjolie Says:

        Oops sorry (not very verbose on a phone) – I had read this article and the one paper referenced that I could access:

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/chrystia-freeland/the-harmful-effects-of-trickle-down-consumption/article2378065/

        Initially I had thought that if there’s more wealthy people in a given area, of course they would drive up prices of things like housing, recreational properties, etc. But it didn’t occur to me that they would also drive the consumption of high end, far more discretionary purchases – like purses, sunglasses… stuff like that. But I’ve known quite a number of people that will spend 1/2 a months pay for a pair of “name” sunglasses or wallet with the “right” logo – that really is kind of beyond their means. I have an in-debt friend that seems to buy whatever I buy – even though I make 4 times as much as they do. Logic seems to be left behind somewhere back at the mall door. And I can’t comprehend why they want that status symbol so badly.

        But is it just that “conscious spending” that PF bloggers know and love? Spend more on things that you really value and skimp on things you don’t? I just don’t see them skimping on anything to offset. Well, except funding retirement accounts.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Ah, I had not seen that or that phrase. (Though Bob Frank’s textbook was what attracted me to economics! I’m totally a groupie. And I know one of the authors on the other study… sadly I bet she’ll be giving a talk on that paper this summer that I’ll have to miss.)

        That’s a really good article you linked to. I’m going to throw it up in this week’s link-love. I’m not sure I have much commentary on it other than what the author in the link wrote, but that it may explain some of the health and happiness differences that we see with widening income inequality, and also fits into the literature of the negative effects of neighborhood gentrification. (The negative consequences of income inequality might make a good post, but it’s hard for me to do the econ posts during the school year because when the crazies come I have a hard time being patient with them– I keep feeling like they should be paying me for dispensing my wisdom.)

  7. First Gen American Says:

    I want a steampunk room in my soon to be new/old fixer house. I humbly request another steampunk article specifically around home decor. I was thinking an office space or guest room to be steampunkalicious.


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