Month: July 2014

The Affordable, Effective University: Indiana and Mitch Daniels

University of Indiana - logo

University of Indiana – logo

Reason‘s Robby Soave writes about Mitch Daniel’s efforts to reduce administrative bloat at the University of Indiana:

The bottom line is this: Universities can’t have it both ways. They can’t provide an affordable education to middle class and low-income families while also hiring a bajillion more residential advisors, vice presidents of sustainability, diversity coordinators, and other paper pushers who never set foot near a classroom.

Many Democratic politicians who claim to sympathize with the suffering students, such as President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, believe the best way keep college affordable is to loan students a bunch of money on the taxpayer’s dime and then forgive their debts—so long as they find their way into government service. But that doesn’t actually keep costs down; it merely tricks students into thinking they can manage.

The best method for preventing tuition increases is actually much simpler: University presidents and regents need to stop raising tuition to cover non-educational nonsense. Kudos to Daniels for understanding that, daunting though the challenge may be.

More on education and child development :

Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
Early Child Development: The High Cost of Abuse and Neglect
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
Free Range Kids vs Paranoid Child Welfare Authorities
“Crying It Out” – Parental Malpractice!
Brazilian For-Profit Universities Bring Quality With Quantity
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
“Attachment Parenting” – Good Idea Taken Too Far?
Real Self-Esteem: Trophies for Everyone?
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Steven Pinker on Harvard and Meritocracy
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities

Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Hara Estroff Marano has written a good post at Psychology Today with a handy list of rules for happy relationships. If you are still seeking, read the whole post, but I’ve excerpted some of the best points:

• Choose a partner wisely and well. We are attracted to people for all kinds of reasons. They remind us of someone from our past. They shower us with gifts and make us feel important. Evaluate a potential partner as you would a friend: Look at their character, personality, values, their generosity of spirit, the relationship between their words and actions, their relationships with others.

• Know your needs and speak up for them clearly. A relationship is not a guessing game. Many people fear stating their needs and, as a result, camouflage them. The result is disappointment at not getting what they want and anger at a partner for not having met their (unspoken) needs. Closeness cannot occur without honesty. Your partner is not a mind reader.

• Respect, respect, respect. Inside and outside the relationship, act in ways so that your partner always maintains respect for you. Mutual respect is essential to a good and fair relationship.

• View yourselves as a team, which means you are two unique individuals bringing different perspectives and strengths. That is the value of a team—your differences.

• Know how to manage differences; it’s the key to success in a relationship. Disagreements don’t sink relationships. Name-calling does. Learn how to handle the negative feelings that are the unavoidable byproduct of the differences between two people. Stonewalling or avoiding conflicts is NOT managing them.

• If you don’t understand or like something your partner is doing, ask about it and why he or she is doing it. Talk and explore, don’t assume or accuse.

• Solve problems as they arise. Don’t let resentments simmer. Most of what goes wrong in relationships can be traced to hurt feelings, leading partners to erect defenses against one another and to become strangers. Or enemies.

• Listen, truly listen, to your partner’s concerns and complaints without judgment. Much of the time, just having someone listen is all we need for solving problems. Plus it opens the door to confiding. And empathy is crucial. Look at things from your partner’s perspective as well as your own.

• Take a long-range view. A marriage is an agreement to spend a future together. Check out your dreams with each other regularly to make sure you’re both on the same path.

• Sex is good. Pillow talk is better. Sex is easy, intimacy is difficult. It requires honesty, openness, self-disclosure, confiding concerns, fears, sadnesses as well as hopes and dreams.

• Apologize, apologize, apologize. Anyone can make a mistake. Repair attempts are crucial—highly predictive of marital happiness. They can be clumsy or funny, even sarcastic—but willingness to make up after an argument is central to every long-term relationship.

• Some dependency is good, but complete dependency on a partner for all one’s needs is an invitation to resentment at the burden and unhappiness for both partners. We’re all dependent to a degree—on friends, mentors, spouses. This is true of men as well as women.

• Maintain self-respect and self-esteem. It’s easier for someone to like you and to be around you when you like yourself. Research has shown that the more roles people fill, the more sources of self-esteem they have. Meaningful work—paid or volunteer—has long been one of the most important ways to build and exercise a sense of self.

• Don’t just run away from a bad relationship; you’ll only repeat it with the next partner. Use it as a mirror to look at yourself, to understand what in you is creating the relationship. Change yourself before you change your partner.

More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

While my book Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner is primarily about attachment types, I also try to help readers recognize the more troublesome personality disorders (abusive narcissists, sadists, psychopaths, and histrionic personality.) Here’s an excerpt about the histrionic personality type:

From the Latin for actor, histrionicus, the histrionic personality is characterized by excessive drama, display, and acting out of emotions. At about 2% of the population and usually associated with women (80% of those diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder are female), these characters can be engaging and attractive but exhausting in their need to be the center of attention. Often flirtation and seduction are used as tools to gain attention, and histrionic women can run into trouble being seen as pass-around party girls or “teases.” Examples of the type in fiction include Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Marilyn Monroe’s seductive film persona. Manipulative and vulnerable by turns, a histrionic type is easy to feel sympathy for and tempts one to try to “rescue” them, but as an extreme form of the anxious-preoccupied attachment type, the histrionic woman (or man) is, like the narcissist, typically unable to achieve a secure, equal intimacy with others—the pressure of her need for attention is too great.

PRAISE ME is a useful mnemonic for the signs of histrionic personality disorder (HPD):

• Provocative (or seductive) behavior
• Relationships are considered more intimate than they actually are
• Attention-seeking
• Influenced easily
• Speech (style) wants to impress; lacks detail
• Emotional lability; shallowness
• Make-up; physical appearance is used to draw attention to self
• Exaggerated emotions; theatrical[1]

In less extreme forms, where the woman is seen as overly dramatic or hysterical but not so extreme as to be unable to function in a relationship, this can be charming to those who don’t know her well:

The live wire. Seductive and engaging, she can often make people feel there’s no one on earth they’d rather be with. Often diagnosed as a hysterical character, she is scattered, charmingly incompetent, and easily thrown into a tizzy by schedules, details, and responsibilities. Her dramatic flair makes her popular. Male neighbors delight in meeting her in the hall, and they wonder: “Why is she married to him?” But she flees from intimacy, and like the ambivalent child, she tends to be demanding or clingy, immature, and easily overwhelmed by her own emotions.[2]

It’s emotionally draining to maintain a relationship with such a needy person, and it’s often a caretaking arrangement, with the stable partner smoothing out the difficulties of the real world for the histrionic partner and accepting all her drama and unreliability for the sake of the relationship. Unless that’s something that sounds appealing to you, steer clear.

[1] Pinkofsky, H B. “Mnemonics for DSM-IV Personality Disorders.” Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.) 48, no. 9 (September 1997): 1197–1198.
[2] Karen, p. 392

More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
nxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic: Subpersonalities
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management

Brazilian For-Profit Universities Bring Quality With Quantity

Bloated Administration, Starved Teachers

Bloated Administration, Starved Teachers

In the United States, for-profit colleges and universities have a bad reputation, since many of them became corrupted by the easy money of government backed student loans and ended up marketing dreams of glamourous careers to the less sophisticated, who often instead became dropouts with big debts.

The future of higher education will see many less prestigious, smaller institutions shut down. Only the prestigious A schools can survive with only minor changes, while the rest will have to modify their cost structures, eliminating administrative overhead and cutting costs using the reverse model (“flipping the classroom”: lectures and online study at home, supplemented by face-to-face counseling and teaching sessions.) People of all ages need a practical way to learn and get new educational credentials as job opportunities ebb and flow, and this new model, minus the expensive campus life and sports programs, fills that need.

Two soon-to-merge for-profit universities in Brazil are leading the way, in a country where public universities are “free” but unavailable to most. The Economist has a good writeup on their successful model:

IN THE United States worries about private, for-profit universities’ high cost and dubious quality abound. A congressional inquiry in 2012 acknowledged that the sector, which trebled enrolment during the previous decade, gave students who were older, poorer and often less well-prepared for further study than those at public or non-profit institutions their best chance of a degree. But it concluded that soaring fees and drop-out rates meant that a majority left with nothing more than extra debt.

Elsewhere in the Americas, though, the story is far more positive. After equally hectic expansion, Brazil’s for-profit institutions have three-quarters of the country’s higher-education market—and fees are low and quality is rising fast. And since a degree boosts wages by a bigger multiple in Brazil than in any other country tracked by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, graduates can make back their tuition fees in just a few years.

“Quality [in education] is easy,” says Rodrigo Galindo, Kroton’s energetic young boss. “And so is quantity. What’s difficult is combining the two.” The trick, he explains, is to abandon “handcrafted” teaching methods for scalable ones: online course materials and tutors; star teachers’ lessons broadcast by satellite; tightly specified franchise agreements with hundreds of local teaching centres staffed by moderators. The company has invested heavily in “adaptive” learning materials—computerised courses that react to users’ progress by offering further explanation and examples where answers suggest they are struggling, and moving on swiftly where they are not.

Unopar, a university in Londrina, a foggy city in the south-eastern state of Paraná, was bought by Kroton in 2011 and is one of its best-known brands. A decade ago it became the first institution in Brazil to get federal accreditation for the distance-training of teachers. It soon realised that other degrees could be offered with the same combination of high-quality online materials and weekly attendance at seminars at a local centre. It is now Brazil’s biggest provider of distance higher-education, with 150,000 students registered at nearly 500 centres nationwide. The most remote, with 300 students, is in Oriximiná in the Amazonian state of Pará, accessible only by light plane or a 12-hour boat ride from Manaus, the region’s main city.

“These courses aren’t easy,” says Elisa Assis, Unopar’s director for distance education. “What they are is flexible.” Web-only courses often have high drop-out rates, she explains. One reason for the weekly get-togethers, during which students watch a class broadcast from headquarters followed by a moderated discussion, is to keep students engaged and on track. Their questions give the university instant feedback on how each lesson went, allowing it to improve the course.

Anhanguera is better known for on-campus tuition, generally in the evenings to fit around students’ work. At its campus in Vila Mariana, a middle-class district of São Paulo, it has a media centre with a dozen studios, from which hour-long lessons are broadcast to other university centres across Brazil. Teachers who could work well on screen are talent-spotted and given media training. “It’s like running a pay-TV network with 39 channels,” says Luciano Possani, the company’s chief information officer, who used to work for the Brazilian arm of America’s DirecTV.

Huge purchasing power means big discounts for learning materials. Anhanguera negotiates with publishers to provide textbooks for as little as a fifth of the standard price. Its customers, like Kroton’s, are mostly first-time buyers: from working-class families with parents who never finished, or in some cases even started, school. Monthly fees are around 400 reais for courses taught on campus; 250-300 reais for those taught at a distance.

Public institutions are constitutionally barred from charging fees; they are therefore harder to get into and largely colonised by the well-off. But in the future even those who currently turn up their noses at the private sector may turn to it, argues Mr Possani. Lecturers at Brazil’s public universities are often on strike and courses rarely have much to do with the world of work. With no need to serve the customer, quality is hit-and-miss. “Traditional lectures can be good or bad, depending on the lecturer, or the day,” he says. “It’s like the difference between live television and film.”

Most of those studying for a degree in Brazil take a standard exam set by the federal education ministry, which publishes the average grade for each course. Good evaluations feature prominently in marketing materials. And, crucially, students are only eligible for subsidised government loans to study on courses that come out well. That gives firms a big incentive not to admit those who are likely to struggle. A separate government scheme offers tax breaks for institutions that admit around a tenth of their students on scholarships. Since only school-leavers with good grades are eligible, that pushes standards up too.

Neither Kroton nor Anhanguera is thinking about expanding abroad, at least for now. That all their teaching materials are in Portuguese is one reason; another is that the pickings at home are still so juicy. Of every 100 Brazilian children who start primary school, only 57 go on to finish secondary school—and just 14 enroll in higher education. More than 12m of those aged 25 to 34 finished secondary school but neither possess nor are studying for a higher-level qualification. With so much room left to grow, Brazil seems to have hit on for-profit education’s winning recipe.

More on education and child development :

Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
Early Child Development: The High Cost of Abuse and Neglect
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
Free Range Kids vs Paranoid Child Welfare Authorities
“Crying It Out” – Parental Malpractice!
The Affordable, Effective University: Indiana and Mitch Daniels
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
“Attachment Parenting” – Good Idea Taken Too Far?
Real Self-Esteem: Trophies for Everyone?
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Steven Pinker on Harvard and Meritocracy
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities