Small World Research
Could It Be A Big World After All?
The "Six Degrees of Separation" Myth
The idea that people are connected through just "six degrees of separation," based on Stanley Milgram's "small world study," has become part of the intellectual furniture of educated people. New evidence discovered in the Milgram papers in the Yale archives, together with a review of the literature on the "small world problem," reveals that this widely-accepted idea rests on scanty evidence. Indeed, the empirical evidence suggests that we actually live in a world deeply divided by social barriers such as race and class. An explosion of interest is occurring in the small world problem because mathematicians have developed computer models of how the small world phenomenon could logically work. But mathematical modeling is not a substitute for empirical evidence. At the core of the small world problem are fascinating psychological mysteries
Six Degrees of Separation: An Urban Myth?
The idea that people are connected through just "six degrees of separation," based on Stanley Milgram's'small world study' has become part of the intellectual furniture of educated people. New evidence discovered in the Milgram papers in the Yale archives, together with a review of the literature on the 'small world problem,' reveals that this widely-accepted idea rests on scanty evidence.
Gender Issues Research
The Morella Bill, My Daughter Rachel, and the Advancement of Women in
The advancement of women in science and mathematics has
become something of a cottage industry fueled by federal dollars. The Morella
Bill, passed in the fall of 1998 by the 105th Congress, is the latest effort.
This bill established yet another commission to figure out why women are
underrepresented in scientific and technical fields. The commission, in turn,
is apt to recommend more of the same science programs for young women that we
already have. Many of these special programs, as a practical matter, are closed
to boys. Leaving aside the questions of the ethics and the legality of such
sex-segregated federal programs, let us ask if these kinds of programs are even
in the interests of women themselves? My own experience in trying to get my
daughter Rachel interested in mathematics and science suggests the risks of
such social engineering.
Student performance: males versus females
Women's advocacy groups have waged an intense media
campaign to promote the idea that "schools shortchange girls." Their
goal has been to convince the public that women are "victims" of an
unfair educational system and that they deserve special treatment, extra
funding, and heightened policy attention. Their sophisticated public-relations
campaign has succeeded. The idea that girls are shortchanged by schools has
become the common wisdom-what people take for granted, without a thought
concerning whether or not it is true.
What's the Point?
Few Women Do Reach the Top in the Natural Sciences:
Why Publish a Report That Does Not Advance the Interests of Women in the
Sciences? Acceptance Speech for Women's Freedom Network Gender
The State of American Boyhood
The existence of a "boy crisis" in the United States is a topic of educational policy debate. While the problems of girls in schools have been
addressed for many years, should boys now become the forcus of
educational reform? To clarify this issue, this study reviews national
statistics on the well-being of American boys and young men, examining not
only the usual school indicators but also such issues as mental health,
premature deaths, juvenile delinquency and arrest rates. Boys are in trouble
in many areas: low rates of literacy, low grades and engagement in school,
high dropout rates, placement in special education, especially in the more
subjective areas of emotional disturbance and learning disabilities, more
suspension and expulsions form school, and lower rates of postsecondary
entrance and completion.
'No Map To Manhood
This study explores the basis of the gender gap in postsecondary enrollment through qualitative interviews with 99 high school seniors who are making
decisions about college. While individual differences occurred, female high
school seniors were far more apt to have well-developed plans to attend
college based on their views that education is a vital educational investment,
that the occupations they seek require a college education, and that they
want to make a difference to society. Male high school students evidenced
two different mindsets. Those from families whose parents had graduated
from college saw higher education just as the expected path. Those from
working class families had little knowledge of the labor market, the
likelihood of obtaining "dream jobs," and the income they would need to
live comfortable adult lives.
Learning Styles and Culture
The notion that people from different cultural backgrounds
have different styles of learning seems so reasonable, so intuitively sensible,
that it is hard to believe that it is just not true. But after more than 25
years of research on cultural differences in learning styles, psychologists
have been unable to show that one method of teaching works better for children
of one cultural group while a different method of teaching works better for
children of a different cultural group.
Alaska's Small Rural High Schools: Are They Working?
In 1976, Alaska chose an approach to providing
secondary education in remote rural villages that was at once very unusual and
very conventional. Rather than sending students, mostly Eskimo and Indian, to
boarding programs far from their homes, the state agreed to provide a high school
in every village that wanted one. Today, nearly a decade later, many people in the state
are asking: Are the students in these small and expensive high schools
receiving a high quality education? Do the advantages that these schools
offer‹proximity to family and community, tutorials, travel and other special
programs‹constitute a triumph for rural education? Or do the
disadvantages‹limited variety in teachers and courses, lack of teachers with
specialized subject-matter knowledge, isolation, inadequate vocational or
college preparation‹condemn rural students to second-rate schooling?
Visual Memory in Village Eskimo and Urban Caucasian
ABSTRACT. The hypothesis that the ecological and cultural
characteristics of Eskimo society lead to village Eskimo children having
greater ability in visual memory than urban Caucasian children has been
studied. A test of visual memory was given to 501 urban Caucasian and 125
village Eskimo children. Village Eskimo children demonstrated significantly
higher levels of visual memory. Visual memory was also found to increase significantly
with age. A follow-up questionnaire study indicated that about 65 per cent of
teachers in Eskimo villages noted the unusually high ability of Eskimo students
in recalling visual detail or mentioned their high performance in tasks
depending partly upon this ability.
Judith Kleinfeld writes columns on psychology and education for the Anchorage Daily News and Fairbanks Daily News Miner. The most recent column can be found here.
The Anchorage Daily News maintains an archive of Judith Kleinfeld's columns, availalbe here.