Weekly Roundup 7/23/2012

Mark Edmundson, The New York Times, July 19, 2012
Synopsis: Online education doesn't allow the kind of teacher-student or student-student interaction that makes learning come alive, argues a University of Virginia professor of English.

Takeaway: "We tend to think that the spellbinding lecturers we had in college survey classes were gifted actors.... But I think that the best of those lecturers are highly adept at reading their audiences...They feel it when the class is engaged, and when it slips off. And they do something about it....The Internet teacher, even one who responds to students via e-mail, can never have the immediacy of contact that the teacher on the scene can.”

For more, see our reports on Digital Education (Dec. 2, 2011) and Career Colleges (Jan. 7, 2011).

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer

By Scott Anderson, The New York Times Magazine, July 22, 2012

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Greg Ousley shot and killed his parents at home in Indiana. He has been in an adult prison for 19 years and says he is sorry for the crime and rehabilitated. He wants his freedom.

Takeaway: Does it make sense to keep Greg in prison? Many people who know Greg, including the warden and his caseworker, say he is a changed person, and some but not all his family members favor his release. “Greg’s case is a telling one in the national debate over just what is accomplished by sentencing juveniles to long prison sentences. In the case of juvenile parricide, there is an added paradox. Because it is among the most target-specific of crimes, criminologists believe that an abused juvenile who killed a parent is likely to be at low risk of future criminality if he gets treatment and has a strong social support system when he is released.”

For background see Youth Violence, March 5, 2010 and Downsizing Prisons, March 11, 2011.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor