Elsewhere on this site, Roberto A. Ferdman notes that the most frequently awarded grade at Harvard College is an A, while the median grade there is an A minus. “That ought to dispel any notion that Harvard is tough on its students,” he wrote. “Grade inflation may be a victimless crime, but what is the point of having a range of grades if half of them are A- or higher?” I think I have an answer.
Ivy League educational institutions attract a disproportionate share of grade-obsessed overachievers. These young people are extremely driven, aren’t in need of external motivators to learn, but often react to the grading system by gaming it: that is to say, they engage in cut-throat competition with classmates rather than helping one another learn; they manipulate teachers; and they choose earning a higher grade rather than learning more when there is a tension between the two. Their compulsion to succeed as others define it and their sheepish failure to prioritize higher-order benefits with their time at college perhaps makes a grading system based on obvious inflation the best option available.
What’s the cost of grade inflation?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
University of California beats Ivy League. Again.
Norwegian Hirden members march through the streets of Oslo. Hirden was Norwegian a paramilitary organization created in German-occupied Norway and modeled after the German Sturmabteilung (SA). It was paramilitary wing of the Norwegian fascist collaborationist Nasjonal Samling government headed by Vidkun Quisling. Oslo, Eastern Norway, Norway. June 1942.
Wallace Neff was considered a “starchitect” in the 1930s, designing homes for the Hollywood elite. But he viewed his “Bubble House” his greatest architectural achievement. At the end of World War Two, the United States was facing a housing shortage. He designed these 1000 square foot “Bubble Houses” to be built entirely in 48 hours using an airform and gunite pressurized cement application process. (See more about how they were made here)
Bubble Houses were ultimately unsuccessful in the United States, because the circular and domed shape made it difficult to find furniture to fit, and wall space wasn’t easy to utilize. However, these low-cost housing units proved quite popular in other countries, especially in Senegal, where a 1,200 unit colony was built and many still stand today.
Top photo: Wallace Neff in front of a bubble house at a construction site.
Bottom photo: A “Double Bubble House”
(This post was inspired by the most recent podcast from 99% Invisible. Many more photos, and a great podcast can be found at their website here)
Today’s challenge: Use “starchitect” in regular conversation.
Bubble Houses seem like the sort of architecture that looks cool from the outside but would present problems for anyone trying to live inside. So much architecture from the 20th century fits into that category.
And from the 21st.
Soviet soldiers on the Leningrad Front fight through neighborhood of Pushkin during the Krasnoye Selo–Ropsha Offensive to lift the two year Axis Siege of Leningrad. Pushkin, Pushkinsky District, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. Soviet Union. 2 January 1944. Image taken by Boris Kudoyarov.