Reading – i.e. the ability to understand and derive meaning from textual information – will always an essential academic skill.
But today we live the age of data, and basic numeric and statistical proficiency are also going to be de regueur throughout the 21st century.
Academic goals and curricula are already changing to reflect this trend. Among the most pressing of these new number-based skills is the ability to understand charts and graphs, to wean pertinent information and draw relevant conclusions from visual information (e.g. ACT science scores depend on this skill).
In partnership with the American Statistical Association, the New York Times is aiming to make its own contribution to the data literacy of America’s collective student body by presenting a new feature throughout the 2018-19 academic year:
Each week, a new professional-grade NYT infographic will be presented with questions to aid in analyzing, understanding, and questioning the information it illustrates. The stated purpose of the educational project is to “teach students how to read, interpret and question graphs, maps and charts,” and is intended to support math and stats teachers across the country.
Information presented graphically is going to become more and more a part of daily life as time marches on. Data visualization, and visual communication generally, are on the rise as essential academic and life skills.
This effort by the NYT and ASA is to be applauded. I look forward to checking out the featured infographics each week, and hope you will do so, as well.
The recent experience of retired English teacher Yvonne Mason echoes the exasperation felt by many of us who spent the entire first two years of high school English doing nothing but arcane grammar exercises out of a workbook.
It may be too much to ask in this age in which English teachers no longer feel the need to teach grammar (and English majors aren't even required to study it), but shouldn't we expect better than this from the office of the highest governmental official in the land?
Until you declare a major, take highly-rated professors, not classes!
Think of ratemyprofessors.com as Yelp for college professors. Search for your school (or prospective schools), and get reviews and ratings by real students of instructors in all departments. Use the site to find life-changing teachers and avoid duds.
As with Yelp, some reviews are more helpful than others, and ratemyprofessors.com doesn’t tell the whole story. But with quantified measures like "Overall Quality" and "Level of Difficulty" (among other indicators) it’s a whole lot better than having no idea at all as to which teachers are likely to be golden and which should probably be avoided like the plague.
Most/all established professors at are listed at each institution, and university-wide averages give you some idea as to the quality and collective personality of various faculties.
Schools are rated by students according to other important factors, as well (e.g. reputation, happiness, food, facilities, location, social life, etc.), providing useful comparative data.
As an example, click here to see data for Wesleyan University.