U.S. kids lag in belittling skills, vocabulary

Most U.S. students lack the language skills and vocabulary necessary to belittle classmates effectively, according to the National Center for Education Research, reports The Onion.

“Unfortunately, most of our students are finishing high school with only a fifth-grade ability to shame and deride their peers,” said report co-author and educational psychologist Joyce Marrone. “While they know how to identify a loser, they lack the semantic tools to articulate exactly why that person is so lame, ugly, or stupid.”

The average eighth-grader knows only two synonyms for “slut,” the study found.

It’s critical for students to master the ability “to subtly question a female’s competence or snidely remark on a male’s perceived lack of masculinity,” notes The Onion.

Said Marrone, “If they don’t achieve linguistic proficiency while in school, they’ll never develop the gossiping, bad-mouthing, or shit-talking skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce.”

US tells foreign kids: Don’t study STEM

The U.S. Department of Education’s new STEM initiative  is “designed to discourage students in other countries from choosing careers in science and math,” reports The Onion.

“U.S students have lagged behind in STEM fields for far too long, so now we’re taking steps to persuade kids in other countries that a degree in physics or biology or robotics just isn’t worth it,” said Education Secretary John King Jr., conceding the new measure is the only way our nation’s children can possibly keep pace with the rest of the world.

“Less Science, More Fun,” a multi-million-dollar ad campaign will debut in Singapore this week, The Onion reports. It will show “side-by-side footage of a haggard-looking mathematician toiling away in a windowless office and a group of young, attractive paralegals laughing together over happy-hour drinks.”

Moreover, the initiative’s chief strategists relayed plans for a “highly addictive” new gaming app to be made available in foreign countries that will require absolutely no logic or reasoning skills, instead awarding points based on a player’s ability to perform simple repetitive tasks in a virtual factory that assembles vacuum cleaners.

In Scandinavia, the campaign will focus on preschoolers.

“We’re already seeing positive effects from a children’s TV series we recently launched in Finland called Iggo, which follows the adventures of Iggo the foxhound as he explores the many wonderful facets of the service sector,” said Lillian Winslow, a senior advisor at the Education Department. “Kids really love it when Iggo plays tricks on his surly next-door neighbor, a loveless and chronically dissatisfied biochemist named Dulf.”“

European and East Asian engineering majors will be offered college scholarships if they change their majors to the humanities.

Job fairs and a lecture series will feature “speakers who quit school entirely to pursue artistic passions ranging from dance to homemade jewelry-making.”

Most U.S. students can recognize math

In a dramatic breakthrough, the majority of U.S. students can recognize math, the U.S. Education Department announced proudly yesterday, reports The Onion.

“When presented with a series of numbers, mathematical symbols, or even fairly complex equations, more than half of our young people were able to correctly identify math as the academic subject before them,” said Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell.

In another encouraging study, adds The Onion,  “a majority of American eighth-graders are now able to look at a map of the earth and point to where the world is.”

Maybe school’s just not our nation’s thing

“After years of watching it struggle to perform academically in nearly every area of study, U.S. education officials told reporters Wednesday they have begun to think maybe school just isn’t the nation’s thing,” reports The Onion.

“When it comes down to it, school isn’t for everyone,” said Education Secretary John King Jr. “Every country learns in its own way,” he continued. “And that’s okay.”

Critics hurt U.S. schools’ self-esteem

Criticizing the U.S. education system “lowers its confidence and causes it to perform even more poorly,” concludes a Stanford study reported in The Onion.

OK, Finnish students ace the international tests. Who cares?

OK, Finnish students ace the international tests. Talking about it just makes us feel bad.

Harping on U.S. students’ substandard math and science skills is correlated with steady declines in math and science test scores on international exams, researchers said.

“We should focus on what our institutions of learning are doing well, provide them with positive support, and let them know that we care about their future and that we know they can succeed,” said lead author Julie Ostel.

Marketers still trying to reach inner-city child

Nation’s Marketers Only People Still Trying To Reach Inner-City Child, reports The Onion. Marketers hope to understand Derek Crawford of  Kansas City, Missouri, so they can influence his decisions as he grows older.

(They have) demonstrated more interest in Crawford than any teacher, social worker, policymaker, nonprofit organization, or government agency has during his entire life.

. . . marketing firms have reportedly devoted enough resources to know precisely which area of the city he inhabits, his favorite music, how he spends his free time, which athletes he looks up to, his preferred soda flavors, the TV shows he watches, and the websites he visits. Similarly, sources said, the marketers have access to far more data than educators do on where Crawford is and what he is doing on the days when he is absent from school.

TapSource Partners, a small marketing group in Los Angeles representing major soft drink and snack clients, confirmed that it had “spent 10 times as much money as every after-school program, outreach organization, and social service provider in the young teenager’s community.”

Onion: Teacher fired for learning more from students than vice versa

From the Onion: A teacher is fired for “gross incompetence” after declaring, “I just love being around the students—I honestly think I get more out of these classes than the kids do.” She adds, “I learn something new from them each and every day. They teach me so much—far more than I could ever teach them.”

This brings to mind a (real) quote from Michael John Demiashkevich’s Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1935):

An old schoolmaster dedicated his book to all his old pupils, at whose expense, he said, he had learned everything he knew about education. This is either a case of exaggerated modesty or it is a belated confession of incompetence. It is necessary to distinguish strictly between broadmindedness and ignorance.

I suspect, though, that the Onion teacher was really fired for her use of fluffy phrases like “so much,” “honestly think,” and “each and every day.” If she had said, simply, “I enjoy learning from the students as well as teaching them,” she might still have her imaginary job, and she could still learn “something,” or even “a lot.”

Parents euthanize brain-dead teen

From The Onion: The parents of a brain-dead 13-year old have decided on euthanasia, saying their daughter is only capable of rolling her eyes, texting and whining about things being “gay.”

“She’s totally unresponsive when we talk to her,” says Caitlin Teagart’s mother. “Her eyes just roll back in her head.”

Grad: My parents can’t pay my debt

Man Doesn’t Know How Parents Ever Going To Pay Off Massive Student Loan Debt, reports The Onion. The parents of Wesleyan graduate Zach Wallace owe $40,000 for his film studies degree, the 23-year-old unpaid intern told reporters. “My God, they’ll be lucky if they’re able to pay this off while they’re still in their 70s,” said Wallace.

“The student loan system takes advantage of a lot of parents who simply don’t realize what they’re getting into. Then four years later it’s like, ‘Welcome to the real world, Mom and Dad!’” Citing the present trend of tuition hikes and stagnant wages, Wallace added that his parents might well be forced into bankruptcy by the time he has completed a decent Ph.D. program.

Meanwhile, they’re struggling to make minimum monthly payments and pay his rent.


All parenting produces unhappy adults

Every parenting style produces disturbed, miserable adults, according to a new study reported by The Onion.

“Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood,” lead researcher Daniel Porter said. “And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation.”

However, “adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery.”