Reading backwards: the true hallmark of a complete education

Thank you, Shanghaiist for letting us know what's going on in certain Chinese education circles.

The principal of the 150-student Henan Child Prodigy School (河南神童学校), Zhang Xuexin (张学新) says he has devised a revolutionary method of training the right brain of children to make them child prodigies. His students can not only memorise their textbooks and ancient poetry, they can actually recite them backwards. Throughout the school and around classrooms, one sees banners such as "China's first school that teaches education of the total brain" (中国第一所全脑教育学校), "Today's child prodigy, tomorrow's talent" (今日东方神童,明日世纪天才) and "I am a child prodigy, I am a memory expert" (我是神童,我是记忆天才).

My only question is--recited backwards phoenetically, or just sequentially? I was always of the phonetically school: being backwards at the most elemental level seemed superior. If only this had been my school growing up; my backwards recitations and signatures ("Ykceb") were always greeted with barely contained annoyance. And encouragements to try out for whatever regional poor man's Star Search happening to be begging for talent. Doing things backwards seemed like just another fun supplement (e.g. Opposite Day) to an intensely regimented schooling. Anyone else go through a retrograde phase?

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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