TIME Research

Your Kid’s Gigantic Backpack Is a Health Risk

Child backpack
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Like adorable turtles, their little limbs poking out from under outsized shells, kids shuffle their ways to school bearing on their shoulders ever-heavier backpacks. Even high schoolers have to bend forward beneath books and binders to cart their cargo to and from school. They’re burdensome (and can be goofy-looking), but are they dangerous?

Yes, say many experts.

“Since at least 1998, we’ve noticed backpacks getting bigger and heavier, and not in proportion to the kids’ sizes,” says Dr. Karen Jacobs, a clinical professor at Boston University and spokesperson for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which sponsors a school backpack awareness day. Jacobs says crowded schools and scant locker space appear to be driving the phenomenon.

A 2010 study from the University of California, San Diego, concludes, “backpack loads are responsible for a significant amount of back pain in children.” The same study says a full third of kids aged 11 to 14 report back pain. Other research from 2011 came to a similar conclusion.

“Kids are saying ‘My back hurts, my neck and my shoulders hurt,’” Jacobs says. “A heavy backpack can also contribute to headaches and problems concentrating at school.”

Like the frame of a house, the spine what keeps your child’s body sturdy and upright. Put too much weight on this frame while a young body is still developing, and it could change a kid’s posture, compress his spine, and impair growth, says Rob Danoff, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a certified family physician with Philadelphia’s Aria Health System. “It also might contribute to back problems or injuries when your child’s older,” Danoff says.

How heavy is too heavy? “As a general rule, research shows the backpack should be no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight to avoid pain or potential injury,” Jacobs says. “We like to err on the side of caution and recommend 10 percent.” (Danoff’s recommendation—no more than 15 percent—falls in line with Jacob’s.)

For an elementary school child who weighs just 50 or 60 pounds, a couple textbooks and lunch could push a pack beyond the safe threshold. For that reason, Jacobs says it’s important to check your child’s backpack every day to ensure she’s carrying only what she needs. “We’ve noticed that students are taking lots and lots of water to school with them, which is a lot of unnecessary weight,” Jacobs says. “We’re telling parent to send empty water bottles and have their kids fill them at school.”

She also recommends positioning the heaviest items in the middle of the pack and close to your child’s back.

Danoff says proper fit and design are important to relieve pressure from your little guy or girl’s spine and shoulders. You want a backpack made for someone your child’s size, he says. Padded shoulder straps and a cushioned back will also prevent aches and pains.

Finally, for crafty parents who may be considering non-backpack options—like a small roller bag—Jacobs says some schools have already started banning rollers because they pose tripping hazards, or may litter classroom aisles or hallways in the event of a fire.

If all this is exasperating, take heart: it probably won’t be long before every text or course packet your child needs is digitized, and schools stock tablets in every classroom. At which point, we can start to panic about tech neck instead.


MONEY Education

12 Big Back-to-School Trends Every Parent Should Know

Essential reading for the start of the school year.

The 2015-2016 school year is upon us. Are you ready? To get up to speed, take note of a dozen trends around the country that are having an impact on what students are wearing to school, when your child has to get up in the morning for the start of the school day, how much families must chip in for class supplies and school activities, which kids are most likely to be left behind inside and outside the classroom, and more.

  • Later School Starting Times

    girl in bed sleeping with alarm clock
    Aitor Diago—Getty Images

    The CDC and pediatricians are among the many who recommend later start times for schools in order to assure that kids get enough sleep. And slowly, schools seem to be getting the message. Three-quarters of high schools in the northern-latitude states of North Dakota and Alaska begin the day at 8:30 a.m. or later, and a trickling of schools in places like Yakima, Wash., and Denver, Colo., are joining their ranks this fall. States such as New Jersey have agreed to study the impact of later school start times as well. On the other hand, nationwide, more than 80% of public high schools still start the day before 8:30 a.m.

  • Growing Extracurricular Activity Gap

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    Over the past few decades, researchers have traced a trend they describe as “alarming”: The percentage of upper- and middle-class kids participating in the drama program, hobby clubs, and other non-athletic afterschool activities has steadily increased, while poor students have followed the opposite trajectory. In the early 1980s, participation in such activities was measured at 65% for low-income high school seniors and 73% for their wealthier counterparts. A decade later, the numbers shifted to 61% and 75%, respectively. By 2004, extracurricular participation rates for low-income seniors were down to 56%.

  • BYO Band-Aids

    150831_BTS_Trends_BandAids
    Shutterstock

    It’s not your imagination. Schools really are asking parents to buy more supplies to keep their kids’ classrooms stocked with the basics—everything from tissues to copy paper to Band-Aids. According to the annual Backpack Index from Huntington Bank, a family with three kids (one apiece in elementary, middle, and high school) can expect to pay more than $3,000 this year for school supplies and extracurricular activities. So much for the idea of a free education.

  • More and More Student Fees

    children boarding school bus
    Jamie Grill—Getty Images

    It’s not just increasing school supply lists that are pinching parents. Families are also facing new or significantly higher fees for things like riding the bus or parking a car at school, and participating in sports and other programs. Some schools simply asked students to arrive on the first day with a $50 check to serve as payment for vague “activity fees.” School districts usually cite budget cuts as the reason fees must be instituted.

  • The Lunch Lady Goes Gourmet

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    Forget about Sloppy Joes. Increasingly, parents and school cafeterias are catering to the dietary restrictions and preferences of young people today, with more gluten-free, organic, and vegetarian options. The cuisine at some school cafeterias is growing increasingly sophisticated as well, serving everything from butternut squash ravioli to made-to-order smoothies, and featuring bistro-style breakfasts and carving stations.

  • Free Lunch for More Students

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    Getty Images

    As of the 2012-2013 school year, 21.5 million kids in American schools received free or reduced-price lunch, as part of the federally funded National Lunch Program. In most cases, free or reduced-price lunches are provided based on the student’s household income levels falling within a certain limit. And the number of students eligible for free lunch is on the rise thanks to an increased income threshold, as well as the expansion of communities that can simply forget about the paperwork and provide free lunches to all students. When 40% of the local students qualify for free lunch, the entire school system becomes eligible, allowing vast student populations in parts of Michigan, Massachusetts, Oregon, Idaho, and beyond to get free lunch at school without any stigma, and regardless of their household income.

  • Back-to-School Spending Shrinks

    school supplies
    Getty Images—iStockphoto

    Over the past decade, back-to-school spending has increased 42%, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). So the anticipated decrease in spending this season—estimated at an average of $630 per household, down from $669 last year—is perhaps more than anything else an indication that parents are realizing they’ve gone overboard in the past.

  • More School Uniforms

    Young student; school uniforms
    Getty Images—Getty Images

    One of the more interesting trends cited by the NRF for the 2015-2016 school year is that 28% of surveyed parents say their kids wear uniforms in school. That’s the highest rate ever in the poll’s history.

  • First-Day-of-School Fashion Stress

    school children chatting in hallway
    Nancy Honey—Getty Images

    According to a survey conduced for Ebates.com, a coupon and cash-back shopping site, parents and teenagers are in agreement that the most stressful category of back-to-school shopping is clothing. In the comment section of the survey, parents lamented, “My son is so picky,” and explained that “Having to negotiate what [my daughter] can and cannot wear to school” is what makes shopping for school clothing so stressful. As for what stresses out teens about clothes shopping, the two top factors cited were “My parents can’t afford what I want” and “My parents don’t agree with what I want.” No wonder more schools are resorting to uniforms.

  • Common Core Backlash

    Standerdized test
    Tetra Images—Getty Images

    The Common Core initiative seeks consistent educational standards throughout the country. That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. But the Common Core and the standardized tests that come along with it have come under enormous criticism from conservatives and liberals alike. Many teachers and parents aren’t fans either, largely because the one-size-fits-all approach and the narrow focus on test preparation undermines the teacher’s ability to cater lessons to individual students, potentially leaving some kids in the lurch. Movements to opt out of Common Core tests have gained traction in New York, New Jersey, California, and Colorado, among other states, and according to a recent poll, the majority (54%) of public school parents say they oppose teachers using Common Core standards to set the agenda for what they teach.

  • Bye-Bye Lockers

    150831_BTS_Trends_laptops
    Getty Images Laptops in school

    As more traditional books disappear from schools thanks to e-books and web-based learning, schools are finding that there is less need for the lockers that have lined school hallways for decades. The disappearing locker trend began several years ago and has picked up steam around the country since. And what are schools doing with the extra space once occupied by lockers? Some are installing laptop charging stations.

  • Nobody Knows How to Pay for College

    College student
    Getty Images—Getty Images

    It’s a good thing that many colleges offer heavily discounted tuition via grants, scholarships, and such. After all, the vast majority of Americans say they could not afford the full “sticker price” college tuition. According to a new poll conducted for the financial services firm Edward Jones, a whopping 83% said they couldn’t afford the full cost of college for themselves or a loved one. Even among well-off respondents earning $100,000 or more annually, only 37% said they could cover the entire cost of a college education.

TIME Education

I Didn’t Understand the Need for Pop Culture—Until I Read the Bible

Houghton Mifflin

Brandon Ambrosino is a freelance writer who covers religion.

As a Christian, I think everyone should read Fun Home

Brian Grasso, a freshman at Duke University, started a discussion this week when he published an op-ed in the Washington Post defending his decision to not read Fun Home, a critically acclaimed graphic novel included on the school’s recommended reading list for incoming freshman. One of several students who refused to read the novel, Grasso explains his decision by quoting the Bible:

Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he says in Matthew 5:28-29. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.” This theme is reiterated by Paul who warns, “flee from sexual immorality.”

The problem with this argument is that it equates Fun Home, an award-winning novel written by Alison Bechdel, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, to pornography and seems to suggest that some sexual cartoon drawings are so enticing that readers actually run the risk of committing metaphorical adultery with them. I’d like to know how he would respond if he were shown similar images in biology or health classes.

I don’t mean to dismiss Grasso’s sensitivity. As he rightly points out, if we are truly sincere in our efforts to cultivate diversity, then those efforts need to include dialogue with conservative perspectives. But I do want call out the culture war game at play in this debate, clear in the opening words of his essay: “As a Christian.” Those words frame his entire argument as a defense of his way of seeing the world: Christians v. Everyone Else.

Like Grasso, I grew up conservative Christian, with limited exposure and general sensitivity to mainstream pop culture. I was in college before I bought my first secular rock album. In high school biology class, rather than create an illustrated geological time table, which was the assignment, I illustrated a timeline of the biblical seven-day creation story. (I failed.) I thought that enjoying secular books with questionable themes, like The Catcher in the Rye, was sinful—the book had the f-word in it!

But my fragile sensibilities were challenged when I got to—of all places—a conservative Christian college.

I was shocked when I learned that our English classes required us to read literature that depicted scenes of sexuality and violence, and I went to my professor, Karen Swallow Prior, about it. “As a Christian, aren’t we supposed to separate ourselves from the world, and the world’s art?”

No, she said. Not at all.

Prior read me a story from the Bible that has become the standard Christian defense for full participation in secular pop culture. Paul, on his missionary travels, stopped in Athens, a city full of idols. In perhaps the most rousing speech attributed him, he addressed his philosophical audience:

Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’

He then gave this unknown God a name—for him, it was Jesus—before going on to quote Epimenides and Aratus. This proves that Paul not only read Pagan poetry, but memorized it!

The striking thing about Paul’s visit to Athens is how comfortable he seems interacting with secular audiences and their philosophies and art. He spent time observing, examining, and becoming familiar with the same cultural artifacts that would have been so offensive to his religious sensibilities. (Paul’s cultural background is Pharisaic Judaism, and created idols would have been reprehensible to him.) The moral of this anecdote is that Christians who wish to engage with non-Christians must actually engage them and the cultural artifacts they value.

A careful study of Fun Home would have been the thing to do “as a Christian.” Only then, like Paul, would Duke students have been able to respond critically to the work. “Test all things,” writes Paul, “and hold fast to what is good.”

This is a point that John Milton makes in “Aeropagitica,” his famous essay arguing against the Licensing Order of 1643, which censored works pre-publication. For Milton, free speech was of utmost importance. He argued that shutting down free inquiry wouldn’t safeguard orthodox doctrine.

A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the Assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.

The Fun Home debate highlights many Christians’ problematic relationship with pop culture. Some of them make a regular habit of avoiding good art out of fear that it will somehow ruin them. But they’re doing themselves—and public Christianity—more harm than good. Given that so many Christians make it a point to keep themselves from participating in secular culture, it’s no wonder my faith tradition’s contribution to the contemporary world of art has been severely and noticeably lacking.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

Teacher Says He Was Late 111 Times Because He Was Eating Breakfast

He says that when he comes back to work, he'll "be early"

A New Jersey elementary school teacher who will keep his job after he was late to school 111 times says eating breakfast caused him to be late.

“I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time,” Arnold Anderson told the Associated Press, noting that he planned to break the habit.

Anderson was allowed to keep his $90,000 a year job after an arbiter ruled Aug. 19 that Roosevelt Elementary school could not fire Anderson without offering him progressive discipline. He had been late at least 46 times so far this year and 65 times last year. Anderson said he was at most a minute or two late each time.

The arbiter ruled that the school couldn’t fire Anderson without giving him proper notice of his failings and giving him 90 days to correct them. While not fired, Anderson is suspended without pay until Jan 1. He says that when he comes back to work, he’ll “be early.”

[AP]

 

 

TIME New Jersey

Teacher Who Was Late to Work 111 Times in 2 Years Will Keep His Job

Teachers Desk in a Classroom
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The teacher claimed that the quality of his teaching outweighed his tardiness

(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) — An elementary school teacher has been allowed to keep his job even though he was late for work 111 times over a two-year period.

In a decision filed Aug. 19, an arbitrator rejected an attempt by the Roosevelt Elementary School to fire 15-year veteran Arnold Anderson from his $90,000-a-year job, saying he was entitled to progressive discipline.

Anderson was late 46 times in the most recent school year through March 20 and 65 times in the previous school year, the arbitrator said. But the arbitrator criticized Anderson’s claim that the quality of his teaching outweighed his tardiness.

He relied on “micro-quibbles of a few unpersuasive explanations, with a macro-default position that even when he is late he nevertheless delivers a superb educational experience to his grateful students,” the arbitrator wrote.

The arbitrator found that the district failed to provide Anderson with due process by providing him with a formal notice of inefficiency or by giving him 90 days to correct his failings before terminating his employment.

The district has withheld raises for his tardiness and Anderson will remain suspended without pay until Jan. 1.

New state regulations that cover the filing of tenure charges require rulings by state-appointed arbitrators that once took years to occur within 90 days, making it easier to accuse teachers of inefficiency.

TIME psychology

Understanding Prisoner’s Dilemma Can Help Bridge Liberal and Conservative Differences

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Despite political differences, there are ways to build common ground by drawing on their respective moral concerns

In my social psychology class, I pose an extra credit question where students choose between having two points or six points added onto their final term paper grade, with the stipulation that if more than 10% of the class chooses six points, no one gets any points.

This exercise is a classroom demonstration of the commons dilemma, and similar to the prisoner’s dilemma. Essentially, people are forced to choose between what would maximize their personal outcomes (more points) and what would be best for the group as a whole (fewer points).

It’s worth noting that this exercise was developed 25 years ago. I first learned it from my college psychology professor Steve Drigotas over a decade ago. I have been using it since 2008.

But recently, after a student of mine tweeted the dilemma of the extra credit question, it went viral in a way that I had never expected. So why is it only now starting to resonate with so many people worldwide? And why are people connecting this exercise to concerns about greed or selfishness?

The prisoner’s dilemma

Let’s analyze this class exercise. At first glance, it would seem that the obvious choice would be to pick two points – for then, everyone is sure to get the points.

But this requires a great deal of social trust. And that is not always apparent between strangers.

Thus, some students choose six points (greater than 10% of students in all of my classes have done so, except one class which hit 10% exactly). In fact, I would argue, picking six is a “rational” choice, because the likelihood of your own choice directly affecting the group is very small.

Now let’s look at the big picture.

Imagine if everyone in a group uses this line of “rational” reasoning. Then everyone would proceed to behave in a way that maximizes their own lot. The point here is that choosing six is “rational,” but only when we consider how individual actions impact the group.

In the aggregate, when thousands (or millions) of people behave this way, the consequences are disastrous.

This exercise is analogous to real-world behavior involving consumption of public resources (water, food, oil, electricity, etc). The “rational” mindset is how we end up with overharvesting, water or food shortages, pollution, climate change, etc.

What the exercise revealed

It’s important to note that most students in my class (around 80% each semester) end up choosing two points. While many students choose the “rational” six-point option, they are still in the minority.

I believe this is because most people do understand the importance of being communal. In other words, most people are happy to behave in a way that benefits others around them.

Here’s a real-world example at work: Honest Tea gave people the opportunity to pay for tea using the “honor system.” People can choose to take a bottle of tea without paying (the selfish option), or voluntarily pay for their tea by putting money into a jar (the communal option).

Again, the “rational” choice is to take the tea without paying. But a majority of people pay for their tea, even if they don’t have to.

Why is it so? Humans are prosocial creatures – which means they like to help each other.

That most students chose the prosocial option in my class is notable. It inspires me and gives me hope for the future. However, the fight is not over, and we still need to reduce excessive consumption.

People crave reciprocity

So, learning from this exercise, how can we increase cooperation on a mass scale?

Psychological science may provide some potential solutions.

One of the biggest theoretical developments in moral psychology in recent years has been Moral Foundations Theory, which suggests that there are several intuitive systems that feed into our judgments of right and wrong.

One of these is a concern about fairness/cheating.

People crave reciprocity with others. If someone does us a favor, we feel compelled to repay the kindness: or if they hurt us, we crave revenge.

Fairness manifests in justice and equality (eg, right to a fair trial), and in principles like the “Golden Rule” (treating people the same way you want them to treat you).

Another moral virtue is in-group loyalty.

Every community and nation has important symbols of unity (eg, the national flag), songs, pledges of allegiance, legends and monuments to its founders, sacred documents (eg, the Constitution), and institutions designed for the group’s protection (eg, the military).

In recent history, liberals have tended to strongly emphasize the importance of fairness and justice in building a strong society.

Consider the equal rights movements for African Americans, women, and LGBTQ folks, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. Liberals are fighting to close wage gaps, end discrimination, and promote equal rights.

In contrast, conservatives have tended to emphasize the importance of group loyalty. Consider the emphasis on keeping America strong, protecting the homeland from foreign threats, bolstering the military and respecting national symbols like the flag.

Challenges outside the classroom

So how do these moral virtues apply to the commons dilemma game?

Well, if you want the extra points, you’re relying on other people to cooperate. So, think about the ethic of fairness.

Pick the same choice that you would want others to take. Let your own desires for others’ behavior guide your own personal decisions – if you want others to choose two points, you should do the same.

Additionally, if you want your group (eg, your school, your community) to thrive, you must personally contribute. If you care about the health and the spirit of your culture, that sentiment must be reflected in your own actions.

If we consider the ethic of group loyalty, then choosing two points is not only cooperative, it’s patriotic. Making a conscious effort to limit one’s consumption of resources (by using less water, for example) is a duty to the flags, symbols and pledges of allegiance that unite us.

Outside of the classroom setting, there are environmental problems that must be solved, and there are moral virtues that can help bridge across the ideological aisle.

While liberals and conservatives may differ in their perspectives on political issues, there are ways to build common ground by drawing on their respective moral concerns.

Solving the world’s problems

Fairness and loyalty are two different paths toward reining in selfishness and making cooperation more possible.

If we can harness the power of these moral virtues together, we just might have a shot at solving some of the world’s toughest ecological problems.

A case in point is the Pentagon. Usually in charge of military matter, it now considers climate change a national security threat.

In order to combat climate change, we need to use all the tools available in our moral toolkit. Everyone must sacrifice for the common good of preserving our great nation, and it is essential that we view our neighbors as equal partners in this endeavor.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

11 Bizarre College Courses We Actually Want to Take

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing Hack
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

See which schools have offered courses on Harry Potter, YouTube and more

With the school year starting up again, NewsFeed looks back at some of the most unusual courses that have been offered at colleges and universities nationwide in recent years.

“United Kingdom: To Hogwarts, Harry: An Intensive Study of Harry Potter Through the British Isles”
Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, M.I.
Department: English/Study Abroad

In the class, students read the J.K. Rowling series and went to the U.K. for 10 days to visit historical places that inspired the books or that can be seen in the films, such as Edinburgh Castle, the Bodleian Library and Christ’s Church at Oxford University and the Tower of London.

“Wasting Time on the Internet”
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, P.A.
Department: English

No textbooks necessary, just laptops and WiFi. Creative writing students could only interact via social networks, chat rooms and listservs. As the professor Kenneth Goldsmith wrote in a New Yorker article, “We’re reading and writing more than we have in a generation, but we are reading and writing differently—skimming, parsing, grazing, bookmarking, forwarding, retweeting, reblogging, and spamming language—in ways that aren’t yet recognized as literary.”

“#SelfieClass”
University of Southern California in Los Angeles, C.A.
Department: Writing

The formal name was actually “Writing 150: Writing and Critical Reasoning: Identity and Diversity.” One assignment asked students to take five selfies of themselves and write an essay answering the prompt, “How do your selfies produce or obscure a sense of your identity?”

“Learning from YouTube”
Pitzer College in Claremont, C.A.
Department: Media Studies

Started in 2007, the course was designed to ponder what YouTube can teach us. Students watched video, posted comments and were encouraged to post their own clips. Professor Alexandra Juhasz described the video-sharing site as “postmodern television,” noting its “architecture and ownership undermine the fundamentals of academic inquiry.”

“Politicizing Beyoncé”
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Department: Women & Gender Studies

The course would attempt to position Beyoncé “as a progressive, feminist, and even queer figure” by analyzing her songs and music videos “alongside readings on the history of black feminist struggle in the U.S.” in order to try and answer the question, “Can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?”

“’California Here We Come’ The O.C. & Self-Aware Culture of 21st Century America”
Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Department: English

A pun-filled course description billed the 2012 class as an exploration of “the ‘hyper self-awareness’ unique to The O.C. and analyze Californian exceptionalism and singularity in history and popular culture, girl culture, 21st century suburban revivalism, the indie music scene . . . We’ll also travel south to Laguna Beach, behind the gates of Orange County’s private neighborhoods of the Real Housewives, up to The Hills of LA, to get like, really real, and finally to New York City for a serene(a) ride to get out of the bla(i)ring sun. You know you’ll love it, xoxo Your Instructors.”

“The Sociology of Miley Cyrus”
Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Department: Sociology

The child star turned pop diva has been used to study “the interplay among race, class, and gender, as well as taking a feminist critique of media and sociology of media approach to the Miley ‘problem.’” When the course made headlines in 2014, TIME pointed out to critics that “primary sources — material produced by the person being studied or in the time period under consideration, rather than by someone thinking about the subject later — are a cornerstone of good academic practice. Cyrus’ impact on society is only a few years old, and most of it has been documented online, so pretty much every primary source is easily available to study and interpret.”

“The Art of Walking”
Centre College in Danville, K.Y.
Department: Environmental Studies

Students have read works by Wordsworth, Dickens, Tolstoy, Kant and embarked on “historical” and “philosophical” walking tours through parks, gardens, museums and even cemeteries to get students to “stop focusing on constantly doing and concentrate more on simply experiencing” — a message that resonates in the smartphone era. It has also been taught in France and Germany as part of study abroad programs.

“The Physics of Star Trek”
Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, C.A.
Department: Physics

The class has used the show to discuss “Newton’s and Einstein’s physics, the Standard Model of particle physics, and the physics that underlies inertial dampers, transporter beams, warp drive, and time travel.”

“Jay Z and Kanye West”
University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.
Department: English

One question this course on the rappers’ relationship aimed to discuss: “How is what they do similar to and different from what poets do?”

“Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble”
Princeton University in Princeton, N.J.
Department: Freshman Seminar

Wordsmiths have played Boggle, Scrabble and shared their favorite examples of wordplay in other languages with the goal of cultivating a better understanding of how language works. As the professor Joshua Katz told a Princeton alumni publication, “I’m making things up because I’ve never taken a class on these things.”

 

MONEY

Trump University Was A Scam, Say Former Students

Donald Trump Announces Trump University
Tama, Mario—Getty Images Donald Trump speaks during the establishment of Trump University in New York on May 23, 2005,

People say they paid $35,000 for next to nothing.

Do you remember Trump University? Probably not — it didn’t really catch on.

And one big reason it didn’t catch on is because it was a total scam, say a slew of former students in complaints that were filed to the Federal Trade Commission and were recently unearthed by a Freedom of Information Act recently requested by Gizmodo.

“For my $35,000+ all I got was books that I could have gotten from the library that could guide me better then Trump’s class did. I just want my $35,000+ money back. I feel embarrass[ed],” reads one complaint.

Another grievance describes a level-unlocking strategy reminiscent of Scientology. After paying $1,495 for a three-day seminar, which provided information freely available on Zillow, “attendees were told that unless they purchased additional products (software; individual coaching) they would not succeed,” the complaint states.

Another former “student,” who purchased the $34,995 “Gold Elite” package after the $1,495 seminar under the promise of mentorship, calls the program “an absolute, utter waste.”

It is not only former students who have called into question the legitimacy of Trump University, which was founded in 2005. The New York Department of Education sent Trump a letter in 2010, accusing the operation of misleading students and misuse of the word “university.” Soon thereafter, the operation was renamed the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

In 2013, the New York Attorney General’s office filed a $40 million lawsuit against the former reality star and current Republican presidential candidate for failing to impart the promised real estate education on 5,000 students and subjecting prospective students to high-pressure sales tactics. Naturally, Trump responded with his own complaint, accusing the attorney general of extorting him for campaign contributions. In April 2015, a judge ruled that Trump was indeed personally responsible and that the matter would go to trial. A class-action suit against Trump related to Trump University is also pending.

Nevertheless, Team Trump is still loudly trumpeting the legitimacy of the “university.” In a recent interview with National Review, Alan Garten, a Trump spokesperson said the New York Department of Education and prospective students “knew exactly what we were doing…and they were fine with it.”

Trump University aside, The Donald doesn’t always charge for his business insights. On Monday Trump offered free—albeit extremely obvious—advice about how to weather turmoil in the stock market.

TIME Education

Colleges Find New Ways to Tackle Sexual Assault as Students Return

New state and federal laws require different approaches

Correction appended, Aug. 24, 2015

For the first time this year, students attending orientation at Moraine Park Technical College in Wisconsin will receive training on sexual assault.

Unlike freshmen at many four-year colleges, incoming students at Moraine Park, a school of about 15,000 commuters in Fond du Lac, Wis., hadn’t previously been taught about healthy sexual relationships during orientation.

But with increased public attention on college sexual assaults, and as new state federal laws have pushed schools to improve their handling of the problem, administrators at Moraine Park decided they needed to do more to address the issue. In addition to showing a short video about sexual assault to students, the school has also trained six employees on how to investigate sexual assault and harassment complaints.

“It’s a hot topic,” said Scott Lieburn, the dean of students and Title IX coordinator at the college, which offers more than 50 programs including accounting, carpentry and animation design. “I think it’s been part of the culture. Now with the [federal] mandates, it is something we want to really take seriously. We want to add that level of investment.”

It’s not just at Moraine Park. This fall, students across the country will see many changes on campus in response to new state and federal regulations that have recently gone into effect, governing how schools respond to sexual assault. The new laws, paired with high-profile media coverage—from a girl carrying around her mattress at Columbia as a protest to the disintegration of a controversial story about an alleged rape at the University of Virginia in Rolling Stone—have shone a continual light on the problem of sexual assault on campus. Colleges that have not done much to tackle the problem will be doing so for the first time, and colleges that already have programs in place will be working hard to improve their response.

“Given the tumultuousness of last year—from the increase in reporting to the wearing of the mattress—I think what students and faculty will see this year more than last year is the absolute focus on this issue,” says W. Scott Lewis, a higher education risk management consultant who focuses on sexual assault.

The federal Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which went into effect this summer, includes new guidelines for the kinds of training that colleges and universities will be required to give students. Under the new law, training must include discussion of what bystanders can do when they see fellow students in a situation that might lead to an assault, like a student at a fraternity party who sees an inebriated girl being taken upstairs. The training must also include a definition of what constitutes consent in the state where the college is located. That definition has recently shifted in some parts of the country: while college students have long been taught that “no means no,” new state laws in California and New York have redefined consent to sexual advances as requiring a “yes.”

At Daemen College, a small private school in Amherst, N.Y., the new “yes means yes” standard will be explained this fall to student leaders—including athletes, orientation organizers and college club presidents—through a mandatory training program. The program, which is new this year, will include bystander intervention training and a humorous video from Blue Seat Studios that compares a sexual encounter to offering someone a cup of tea, highlighting the ridiculousness of forcing someone to drink a cup of tea just because they said earlier that they might want one. “Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it,” the video says.

This kind of education on healthy sex, which focuses specifically on what consent looks like rather than what a “no” looks like, is the new emphasis of sexual assault prevention education.

“We are teaching consent in a way that has shifted dramatically,” said Lewis, the higher education consultant. “We’ve gotten a more academic focus on what consent is.”

The shift in how students are educated about sexual assault isn’t the only way colleges and universities are stepping up their game. The University of Texas is about to launch a massive, $1.7 million study that will search for in-depth answers on sexual assault across 13 of the system’s campuses, which serve more than 200,000 students.

As part of the research, 600 students on UT-Austin’s campus, mostly freshman, and including victims and non-victims of sexual violence, will be asked to participate in a study that will follow them for four years. Collecting data from students through surveys is one of the ways that the White House has suggested colleges tackle the problem of sexual assault, but it is not required by law.

The idea for this particular study at the University of Texas came from the new chancellor, William McRaven, a retired four-star admiral who commanded the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden. He had experienced firsthand the importance of gathering data about the scope of sexual assault within institutions when he commissioned a survey on the experiences of those within his command.

“Frankly, I was surprised by the results,” he said of the survey he did as an admiral, which led to changes in the way sexual assault reporting was handled within his command. When he took the job as chancellor of the UT system, he thought the same approach of collecting data to address the problem could work equally well in higher education.

“I began to see the media and the growing concern nationwide and the high-profile events, and I came back to my staff and I asked ‘What are we doing?’ [$1.7] million is a lot of money, but my hope and my expectation is that we’ll have a better understanding of the problem and take direct actions to improve the conditions,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is to be responding, when you could have gotten ahead of the problem.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated William McRaven’s former position. He was an admiral.

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