What’s wrong with America– in two pictures

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miss usa, educationSelf-esteem gone bananas 

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30 Responses to What’s wrong with America– in two pictures

  1. Minerva says:

    About the picture with the test, they do that in Germany too, it drives me nuts.

  2. penultimatepsychiatrist says:

    Ah, so thelastpsychiatrist reads The Atlantic.

  3. Hypocrisy Illustrated says:

    TLP perhaps is assuming too much from us readers by just showing something interesting letting us draw our own conclusions. But I suppose that’s the whole point.

    Why is it more satisfying “discovering” something that has been laid out so plainly like this than getting beat over the head with whatever “message” is hoped to be conveyed. However on many occasions like these, I still can’t help wondering if I got it. I’m that dull fellow who only hours later realises the sarcasm of some earlier point. Frequently while discussing certain literature I’ve been enlightened with quite a wallop that I had only grasped the text on the most superficial level – missing the main point. Dull innocence has its advantages, but not that.

    My interpretation:

    It’s strange that people take numbers so seriously even when they have so little sound basis (see left) while they lack the numeracy to make any sense out of numbers at even the most basic level. When I first saw it, I thought it was a a new bit from the competition, where they test the candidates in maths skills while wearing an evening gown. From a look at the grading of the test, I’m not sure whom we should fail, the poor hopeless pupil, or the teacher who doesn’t seem to mind having been terribly ineffective. On the other hand I don’t envy any of those teachers trying to press anything into the unwilling heads of the little animals who come with little motivation or interest to learn.

    I’m not sure I know what you mean by “in Germany…” Please spell it out. While OECD PISA shocked the Germans about their poor education expectations, my familiarity with the academic Gymnasium track is that it is much more demanding and clear headed than the American high school programmes I’ve experienced.

    About the lady pictured left, is there anybody else who doesn’t quite get her? While taste is famously variable, I can’t quite get turned on by the picture of such an allegedly beautiful lady and can’t figure out why. Obviously she’s “hot.” I can only appreciate her partially, (as an object of course). But isn’t that the point of the presentation of most babes in modern western media? But for me her erotic potential is about equivalent to that of a “hot” car or beautiful scenery. Somehow I’m not inspired, you know, in that way…

    But I don’t suppose that was the point TLP / Alone was try to make.

    • Pastabagel says:

      There is no way that picture of the test is real. Where is it from?

      • Jerboa says:

        Why can’t it not only be real, but reasonable as well? For all we know, a teacher gave his or her students a test way over their proficiency level just to see how they would handle it. That exam may actually represent the best performance in the class. There’s no way to judge how appropriate the grading was without the context.

        What’s wrong with America is that we feel comfortable making sweeping judgments about all sorts of shit, with only the bare minimum of information.

        • HP says:

          It doesn’t matter if that particular picture is true or not.

          We’ve had actual, verified examples of “partial credit for 2+2=5″ before, and plenty of other examples of grade inflation and such in the school systems where “self esteem” has come to mean more than anything.

          This particular picture is an example of that, an icon to represent the larger idea. Given that it’s merely a placeholder for far more pictures and stories, it doesn’t matter whether it’s actually a real one or not.

          • Francis says:

            Hey, how about this interpretation: the real problem is that there are people (possibly people w/ self esteem problems) online who will judge/criticize without knowing enough information to do so/having the right/privilege to do so… (Isn’t this kind of similar to the people who gave the ratings for the model up there?) Or maybe I should just shut up

          • mattwan says:

            We’ve had actual, verified examples of “partial credit for 2+2=5″ before

            I haven’t, actually. Could you provide a couple of links?

          • kiitos_paljon says:

            Link to state exams giving partial credit for wrong answers:

            NY passes students who get wrong answers on tests

            Don’t know if mattwan is still following the thread, but others might be interested.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          Boom, true that.

          Yea , when I saw these pics immediately I thought the one on the right was either a joke, OR there was information missing. Maybe the children were handicapped and incapable of completing a mathematics test and getting most answers right? In that case the good thing to do WOULD BE to tell the child “make a good effort”. If a child is not cognitively normal, all he can do is try. If you don’t have the brain to perform simple addition, making the child feel like a failure is not helpful – that IS HIS BEST.

          No sane teacher would take a cognitively normal child and tell them “GOOD EFFORT” for saying 3+4=6. Either the child is handicapped or the test is a joke.
          Or the teacher is insane.

    • Minerva says:

      Germany apes the US with a 10 -20 year lag, depending where you live.

      While schooling can be stringent in parts of Southern Germany, the North is a lot more lax. Maybe not as bad as the test in the picture but “close enough”.

    • ragmo says:

      Pretty sure the point is that our culture coddles when it comes to education/the mind and crushes when it comes to body image. Hence the self-esteem caption.

  4. CarbonCopy says:

    Grading something says as much about what is being judged as the person making the judgment.

    If that chick is a 5.5 out of 10 what the hell does a 10 look like, or even an 8 for that matter? And where does that put me? 0.2?

    Imagine 20 years from now when kids currently in grade school have to fend for themselves. I’m getting a job with the government.

  5. Myrrun says:

    I’m not going to lie, I’m really missing the connection here. I get the obviously presented narrative comparing relative societal value placed on beauty v. intellectualism, but beyond that, what exactly is meant to be read into these two images?

  6. Comus says:

    ..and this is how you breed overachieving narcissists. This also tells, or at least I read from it, something about values. You can be unrealistically critical (jealous) about someones innate abilities, like their looks (excluding plastic surgery etc. – only the bulk beaty) while at the same time you have to boost self-esteem uncritically in issues demanding more acquired qualities. You can be criticised, your actions not.

  7. kimota says:

    “Okay, look. I know you got a crocodile in spelling, but this has gone too far.”

  8. Dirk Anger says:

    Only one voter gives her more than 7? that is SO wrong

    I think I might be onto something:
    For a kid that says 8+7 is 17 and leaves half the answes blank it’s “good effort! well done!”, but for that girl it’s “oh no, she’s so far from perfect, she should [*]”

    *I honestly don’t know what to fill this with, I don’t see anything wrong with her, but they clearly do since almost all of them they give her under 7 and one of them almost fails her “.

    So, in short: people (us) are extremely perfectionist for things that don’t matter much (looks), but we don’t give a crap about things that do, like making an effort at school, because we don’t want to pressure our cute little thing.

    This doesn’t fit in with the whole “my kid would rather play Call of Duty than memorize a list of rivers and mountains, please give him some drugs for his ADHD, but both types exist

  9. heysherri says:

    I know exactly what this post is about because I also don’t know what 3+4 is, but I can judge beauty to one tenth of a point. This is a post about precision verses accuracy.

    • Francis says:

      “The point was how critical we are of women, yet easy on grades. And the result to the self esteem of each…..”
      -TLP, from his twitter, through which, I found this post

      I’m still sticking with the “the real problem is that there are people (possibly people w/ self esteem problems) online who will judge/criticize without knowing enough information to do so/having the right/privilege to do so… (Isn’t this kind of similar to the people who gave the ratings for the model up there?)” thing, though

  10. Zo says:

    Only two?

  11. Guy Fox says:

    TL;DR. :)

    Rudd-O and Comus nailed it.

    Here’s a thought to keep you up at night, clenching your sheets in a cold sweat: Perhaps the teacher was so encouraging in the face of utter incompetence because she (and it seems uncontroversial that we’re talking about a she, no?) was grading on a curve. One of my 8th grade teachers failed our entire class but two out of spite (after moderate provocation), but she was fired because the school board had a rule against >50% of any class failing. In the end, the class was arbitrarily curved, with scores pretty much randomly assigned, which is slightly less shocking than it sounds because it wasn’t a class in the core curriculum. This teacher was dealing with math. Maybe she was saving her skin, and maybe the student exemplifies the distribution’s central tendency.

  12. BluegrassJack says:

    That maths exercise: the “teacher” put more ink on the page (that’s including the star) than the “kid” did with pencil. That’s scary!

    If that example occurred in any grade higher than “first”, that’s even scarier.

  13. inarticulateinthecity says:

    And the sad part?

    The people voting on the gorgeous lady whose abs I envy? Mostly women, since mostly women watch Miss USA pageants.

    The teacher grading the kid? Also a woman, if I judge correctly from the handwriting and the pen color.

  14. Oothoon says:

    two sides of the coin

    side a: your opinion matters
    side b: reality doesn’t

    this is a recipe for creating people with out-of-control levels of self-esteem and a permanent grudge against reality.