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Death of Traditional Books? Kids Prefer Reading Via Screen

For the first time in history, more kids are reading digitally than they are reading print texts. Is this a good thing?


You've probably seen those doom and gloom headlines along the vein of "The Death of Print Books Is Nigh." Indeed, the Borders nearest to my house, which surely killed a couple mom and pop bookstores, is now a massive Walgreens. Barnes and Noble keeps Legos and educational games in stock, but if I want to pick up the five-novel box set of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain for my 9-year-old, it's not on the shelves. "You should order that online," the associate told me. Still, it's not too tough to shrug off those death of print stories because traditional books are the norm for me and I'm always buying them.

That's most decidedly not the case for kids born in the digital age. A recent survey of nearly 35,000 eight to 16-year-olds by the U.K.'s National Literacy Trust found that for the first time, more kids are reading via electronic devices than traditional books. A full 52 percent preferred reading books on a tablet or other electronic device, while in comparison, only 32 percent preferred traditional books. The remaining 16 percent had no preference or said they don't like to read.

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Surprise, Surprise: 'Tiger Mom' Tactics Don't Boost GPAs or Happiness

Tiger parenting is associated with lower GPA and educational attainment, as well as personal unhappiness.


Back in 2011, American parents went nuts after the release of Amy Chua's controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir that advocated a pretty narrow road map to professional success. Forget letting your kid chill at the beach on Saturday afternoon—strict, so-called "Chinese" parenting, complete with pressuring kids to enroll in every AP class available (and get all A's) and ensuring they become master pianists, gymnasts, or chess champions—gets results. The Wall Street Journal even published an excerpt with a sure-to-start-a-firestorm-in-the-comments-section headline, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior." Way to reinforce those model minority Asian stereotypes, right?

Well, surprise, surprise: A new study published in the March 2013 Asian American Journal of Psychology, found that the answer to the Journal's question, "Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids?" is a resounding no. And it's not producing stellar academic results, either.

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We Should Probably Turn Textbooks Into Comic Books

Kids stay up all night reading comics and graphic novels. Bringing that style to textbooks could make them as excited about academics.


Much of the recent textbook debate has been over whether a physical or digital format is best—should students lug around 20-pound backpacks full of hardcover textbooks or should they simply download them onto a sleek e-reader? Well, a new study from researchers at the University of Oklahoma suggests that we'd be better off focusing on something else: ensuring the academic content within the book is in a format that's going to help students retain more information. That might mean ditching traditional textbooks and replacing them with graphic novels and comics.

The lead author of the study, Jeremy Short, a professor at Oklahoma's business school who also co-authored the first Harvard Business Case in graphic novel format, had one group of seniors read passages on management and entrepreneurship from a traditional business textbook while a second group read about the same topics from a graphic novel. Short then gave the students a quiz on the material and found that those who read the graphic novel retained more information and could even recognize direct quotes. In a corresponding study, Short found that 80 percent of students were more engaged by and preferred the format of a graphic novel.

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Maybe We'll Meet That 2020 Goal: Graduation Rates Are at Record Highs

Pew Research Center's latest analysis of U.S. Census Data reveals we might be on track for our national higher education goals.


There's been plenty of hand wringing over whether our education system's on track to reach President Obama's goal of producing 8 million more college degree holders by 2020. According to the Pew Research Center's latest analysis of 2000-2012 U.S. Census data for young adults, there's reason to think we might get there. The number of 25 to 29-year-olds graduating from high school, attending college, and actually completing their degrees are all at record highs.

Indeed, 90 percent have at least finished high school, 63 percent have completed at least some college and 33 percent have graduated from college. What's also encouraging is that the numbers are up across racial and ethnic lines. In 2011 39 percent of white students, 20 percent of black students, and 13 percent of Hispanic students had completed at least a bachelor's degree. In 2012, that was up to 40 percent, 23 percent, and 15 percent respectively.

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American Students Are Paying More Than Ever For College (Again)

Over the past five years, the average published price at a four-year university has increased by 27 percent.


We've all heard the saying that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. Well, here's another truism: Every year the cost of college goes up. Over the past five years, the average published price at a four-year university has increased by 27 percent. According to the College Board's annual Trends in College Pricing report, costs at these "institutions rose more rapidly between 2002-03 and 2012-13 than over either of the two preceding decades."

It's not that schools are trying to gouge students. Instead, the report notes that revenue shortages—think of all the reports you hear of state budget cuts to higher education—instead of wild spending on campus are behind the rapid rise in public college prices. And yes, prices are up again for the 2012-2013 school year, too. The average published tuition and fees for in-state students attending four-year public colleges and universities jumped 4.8 percent—increasing an average of $399 dollars to $8,655 in 2012‐2012, and the costs of room and board rose 3.7 percent—up $399 dollars to $9,205. Combined with the cost of books, supplies, and other expenses the sticker price to attend an in-state public college is up 3.8 percent to a new record $22,261.

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What Do Americans Say Is the Biggest Problem Facing Public Schools?

Hint: it's not ineffective teachers or campus violence.


Is the biggest problem facing public schools ineffective teachers? The media's fascination with tales of failing schools, rubber rooms, and kids waiting for 'Superman', would certainly have you think that's the case. According to the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, Americans actually see a lack of financial support as the biggest problem facing their community schools.

Indeed, for a third year in a row, 71% of poll respondents say they have trust and confidence in the nation's teachers. But 43% of parents and 35% of Americans in general say money is the biggest issue. A decade ago in 2002, just 17% of poll respondents cited a lack of funds for schools as a problem. Back then Americans felt the biggest problems facing schools were overcrowding and discipline issues like fighting, gangs, and drugs. Now only 14% of Americans think those things are big problems.

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