Posts categorized “lecture”.

Diane Ravitch

Heard Diane Ravitch speak at Vanderbilt yesterday. As usual, I was impressed with her work and found myself agreeing with most everything she discussed. The format was less inspiring, however—mostly a “preaching to the choir” series of 15-second conclusions followed by clapping and cheering from the audience. In a discussion with some of my classmates afterward, I found myself defending her work with reference to the one or two books I’ve read, because the talk never went into details and evidence. Much of what is inspiring to me about Diane Ravitch is that she has changed her views in the face of data, and certainly it is difficult to give a popular talk purely on the presentation of data. Considering the audience’s reaction, however, it would seem she catered her talk perfectly. My only objection to the content was a flippant comment about the teaching of creationism in religious schools, which is certainly an issue, but not an across-the-board policy, as she made it sound.

Mastering Self-Control

Went to see Roy Baumeister and John Tierney give a brief talk about willpower (based on their book “Willpower”) at Town Hall last night. It was a cursory talk, though Baumeister’s observations of “decision fatigue” were intriguing, as were his claims that similar phenomena illustrate that willpower acts as a muscle. Unfortunately for me, follow-up questions about ADD and other specifics about the potential applications of his theory were barely addressed. In particular, I wonder what Baumeister would say about notions of self-efficacy, which are (for me) a more compelling explanation, at least of the data presented in this 30 minute talk.