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October 13, 2009 1 min read


What’s in a Name?

The U.S. Department of Education did us all a favor by nicknaming the Investing in Innovation grants “i3” from the start. We’re all clear on that.

But the education policy, blog, and Twitter communities don’t seem to have a common style for the stimulus program’s other big discretionary-grant program, Race to the Top. The department hasn’t given it a shorter name either. Should we abbreviate it RTTT? Or RTT? Or RttT? Or RTTTF? How about R2T?

Let’s bring some order to the alphabet soup: Vote now for your preference. —Michele McNeil


The Stuff Dreams—and Memories—Are Made Of

It’s a dream come true for students: A team of German scientists, in a newly published study, have found that a nasal spray containing a molecule from the body’s immune system can boost memory.

Researchers asked 17 healthy young men to read either an emotionally neutral text or one aimed at eliciting an emotional reaction. After the reading, the men were given either a placebo fluid or interleukin-6, a molecule best known for playing a role in the body’s immunoregulatory system. After a night’s sleep, the subjects were asked to write down as many words as they could from the previous night’s reading. The upshot: Those who had been given a snoot full of interleukin-6 recalled many more words, regardless of which text they had read.

Imagine the market for this sort of thing on high school and college campuses. Ka-ching! —Debra Viadero


Lessons From China

One of the voices to weigh in recently on where U.S. schools stand internationally is that of Yong Zhao, a professor at Michigan State University College of Education, who was born and raised in China. In a new book, Zhao draws upon his own experiences in the Chinese education system, arguing that much of the U.S. angst over “competitiveness” on the global stage is misplaced.

American policymakers, he says, are drawing the wrong lessons from the growing economic might of nations like China—and becoming overly enamored with high-stakes testing. “Clearly, American education has been moving toward authoritarianism,” he writes, “letting the government dictate what and how students should learn and what schools should teach.” Zhao is by no means the first scholar to caution that fears of the United States falling behind educationally are overblown. —Sean Cavanagh

A version of this article appeared in the October 14, 2009 edition of Education Week