Broken STEM fruit?

Two day. Science podcast day at gym. The only bit that stuck was one about a Dutch study of cannibanol (marijuana) use by college students. 

Evidently only certain nationalities may purchase marijuana in Holland so student from other countries can’t. Legally. So they studied the differences in the two populations. And discovered something we sorta knew back in the ’60’s. STEM and Mary Jane don’t mix. 

Although not academically affirmed, we still operate on the tenet that STEM and ethanol do mix.

Another study [Link] found that students who doubt their “innate talent” don’t do well at STEM. The article was started with the quote “It’s OK – not everyone can do difficult math.” 

I have some problems with this. Mostly because it’s a confused mess. Last year I saw a couple of studies that showed maths “talent” is not common. That is, less than 0.5 of humans “get” higher maths. Most bogs think roots and algebra are higher maths. I consider things beyond the calculus to be higher maths. 

And I know from experience that believing you can’t do maths is crippling. It’s shameful to have college seniors who can’t pass freshman algebra and may not graduate. Of course, perhaps they shouldn’t. You can’t graduate college if you can’t read so why pass someone who can’t do basic maths, one step up from phalanges enumeration? Of course that runs afoul of the “reward everyone for attendance and ignore performance” correctness crowd.

Who can’t do maths either. 

Let’s remember that STEM is hard. It’s hard for a reason. And if someone can’t do the bits, they can’t do the whole. So quit deluding them that they can. 

I don’t want to give the students – and their parents – a free bail just because they think they’re inept, but once it is demonstrated there is no reason to spare them any wastage. So if we can dispel their delusion then do it but if not, give them a shovel.

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