inclusion of state/local history

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Awehrman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:36 am

Sigh. I had a long post ready that got erased. I'll try to recreate the highlights.
Okay, again (and if I could write this in OVER 9000 point font, I would) saying of a topic "it's important" and leaving it at that does not constitute a valid claim that something should come up. I believe you that the I&M Canal is historically important. It doesn't follow at all that we can (must less ought to) ask good questions on it. You just keep coming back to this argument; it remains under the same (seemingly damning) criticisms because you don't answer them. In addition to something being important, a topic has to have a wide variety of interesting, important clues about it that people know at differing levels in order to be an answer; that's really just how it is.
I think arguing for the academic importance is the first step. My first post in response to complaints calling for local history to be thrown out along with driver's ed and such. I think I successfully argued that local history has academic merit beyond those subjects. Removing local history from the IHSA distribution would likely be much more difficult than getting rid of the seemingly immovable driver's ed. So, I am suggesting that local history can be improved to better satisfy both sides.

Let's look at that last sentence. You say that a question needs a wide variety of interesting and important (there's that word again) clues. I agree. Importance is no problem. I think I've shown that these things are important. Interesting is rather subjective. I can't say that I find all quizbowl questions interesting, but if broad history questions can be interesting, so can local ones. I have given a handful of potential clues for many of the topics above, and have related those topics to other topics already asked (an I&M canal question can be written in the same way as an Erie Canal question). Your real issue seems to be that you don't think people know local history with enough depth to merit pyramidal questions. That's the rub, right?

I didn't think that I needed to argue that people obtain knowledge locally. There's a higher probability that someone from Illinois will know multiple things about the Illini, for instance than a certain painting or novel. They may have learned about it in class, written a paper on it, gone to a local museum, read a historical marker, or looked it up after the recent Illini mascot issues. It's tough to prove that people know these things without seeing such questions in action, so writing about clues, importance, and accessibility seems to be what we're stuck with at this point. But I do plan on writing these question up and getting feedback on them.

To further prove the point. Lots of clues can be written about the Illini. It's not just a giveaway like it may seem to you. The Illini do not have a lot of famous leaders because they were mostly gone by the time Americans moved into the region in large numbers. The question would mostly have to be written based on their associations. A question might start by noting that a member of this confederation killed Pontiac in 1769. I haven't looked, but I'm sure I could find a primary source clue or two about that. French explorers interacted with them, so there are likely some clues there. Middle clues might have more to do with relative geography. "They traded with the Ojibwa or Chippewa to the north and the Quapaw to the south." From there you might mention the constituent tribes "Consisting of the Michigamea, Tamaroa, Cahokia, and Kaskaskia, what is this loose confederation of Algonquin tribes the mascot of the University of Illinois?" Now I have not done the research or thought much about the ordering of clues, but there is a lot to write clues about and multiple places to buzz. I seem to recall an NAQT question (possibly many years ago) about the Utes that was probably written in a similar way with a similar giveaway.

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:40 am

Do you still not understand what we're saying? These clues are not going to be actually helpful for people to buzz in, for the most part, because the majority of them are just way too hard for high schoolers to be expected to know at all, and if a question creates a steep difficulty drop and then in all likelyhood tons of buzzer races, that's a poor question, especially at lower levels when you are trying to appeal to a wide audience.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by scquizbowl » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:52 am

Well, in SC, there are several tournaments which include questions on our local leaders, which would never be asked outside of the Charleston area.

At my QUEST tournament before, there's been questions on the new basketball (NBDL) team in our area, a bridge called the Clyde Moultrie Dangerfield Highway, and dozens of questions on stuff like the "Mayor of North Charleston (who is Keith Summey)." The questions have gotten better over the years, and they just ask mostly straight-up questions now with no local stuff.

Also, when something from SC pops up, our state teams get it faster, but they have only been asked a few times (can't tell you any details).

We do have lots of important history, as I can see Fort Sumter almost from my house, Fort Moultrie can be seen easily from parts of the island, and everything else that happened in our city. They have been documented in questions before, and with F. Sumter being such an important part of American history, it should be.

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Awehrman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:55 am

I think you are still discounting local knowledge. Let's work backwards. Everyone should know the mascot bit. Just about everyone in Illinois would recognize the names Cahokia and Kaskaskia (I forgot to throw in the Peoria tribe too; a Peoria tribe member killed Pontiac). Those with a knowledge of Native American geography know that the Chippewa are found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada and that the Quapaw are in southern Illinois, Arkansas, etc. around the Ohio and Mississippi rivers (perhaps I should mention the Quapaw first). From that you could narrow geographically. Prior to that the dates help place the tribes we're talking about. We've mentioned that people in Illinois should know French explorers were in the area. Marquette and Joliet interacted with them, and named the region because of them. I think students in Illinois might be expected to know that. The Pontiac clue is a perhaps difficult, but interesting leadin. Pontiac is well known, so his assassination should merit a leadin. I'm not arguing that this would necessarily be an easy tossup (nor that all of this would be in one tossup), but I think it would be (once written) an huge improvement over what is asked. It should be converted by all teams and rewards teams with a deep knowledge of Native American history, early American history and geography.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:00 pm

Awehrman wrote:I think arguing for the academic importance is the first step. My first post in response to complaints calling for local history to be thrown out along with driver's ed and such. I think I successfully argued that local history has academic merit beyond those subjects. Removing local history from the IHSA distribution would likely be much more difficult than getting rid of the seemingly immovable driver's ed. So, I am suggesting that local history can be improved to better satisfy both sides.
Perhaps you need to learn more about the IHSA State Series before suggesting improvements whose benefits are dubious at best. Two things: first, last I checked, there was no mandated "Illinois-centric" history in the distribution. Second, based on the questions from the past few state tournaments, the subjects that are actually required to be represented need improvement. After that happens, then we can talk about tweaking the subdistributions.

Also, Charlie's right. Any such question that would fit in the subdistribution will have a ginormous difficulty cliff, which is not good at any level, even more so in a tournament that, like it or not, is the only one for a significant number of teams.

EDIT: just saw your most recent post. The players with the "deep knowledge" required for the questions you're proposing are few and far between.

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:08 pm

Awehrman wrote:I seem to recall an NAQT question (possibly many years ago) about the Utes that was probably written in a similar way with a similar giveaway.
I can't find any trace of this in the NAQT database.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by the return of AHAN » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:44 pm

Awehrman wrote:I think you are still discounting local knowledge. Let's work backwards. Everyone should know the mascot bit. Just about everyone in Illinois would recognize the names Cahokia and Kaskaskia (I forgot to throw in the Peoria tribe too; a Peoria tribe member killed Pontiac). Those with a knowledge of Native American geography know that the Chippewa are found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada and that the Quapaw are in southern Illinois, Arkansas, etc. around the Ohio and Mississippi rivers (perhaps I should mention the Quapaw first). From that you could narrow geographically. Prior to that the dates help place the tribes we're talking about. We've mentioned that people in Illinois should know French explorers were in the area. Marquette and Joliet interacted with them, and named the region because of them. I think students in Illinois might be expected to know that. The Pontiac clue is a perhaps difficult, but interesting leadin. Pontiac is well known, so his assassination should merit a leadin. I'm not arguing that this would necessarily be an easy tossup (nor that all of this would be in one tossup), but I think it would be (once written) an huge improvement over what is asked. It should be converted by all teams and rewards teams with a deep knowledge of Native American history, early American history and geography.
Throw this question into the Junior Wildcat II and check the conversion rate. I bet it's 80%+. As one who's currently teaching middle school kids, I think some here underestimate what younger students know. Of course, I suppose you could argue back that they're buzzing with Illini once they understand they're dealing with Illinois natives...
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Tegan » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:52 pm

When it comes to non-national local/state history, unless things have changed, I learned these in some disconnected units in elementary school. As I got older, I tended to forget them because I focused more on national and world history.

It would not at all surprise me that local/state history has a much higher conversion in IESA competition. As a matter of fact, I will go as far as to say that it might be argued that state history could even be considered a part of MS cannon (I cannot speak beyond Illinois, but if there is a pattern to what I am seeing/hearing, then it seems more appropriae for middle school quizbowl).

Even if it is cannon in middle school, there is still a fairness issue which concerns me. Of course the same things come up whenever there is a question on Catholicism, and a public school plays a Catholic school, etc.

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Sir Thopas » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:52 pm

Yeah, I still fail to see your case here. Stuff like "they traded with etc." isn't a very good clue; any clue that has the express purpose of narrowing it down geographically, while keeping it entirely unbuzzable, is wasted space, and you're kind of mandating fraud here, which is never a good way to go since people probably won't be buzzing on it anyway, especially in high school.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by cvdwightw » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:08 pm

Andy seems to be arguing for the inclusion of local history using the assumption that Illinois kids are more likely to know local (e.g. Illinois) history than non-Illinois history. Everyone else's argument comes directly from this "national canon." That is, the assumption that (because there are lots of tournaments played across the country and a general national consensus on what is and isn't canonical) things worth asking at any local level are (entirely) things that are accessible to high school players throughout the nation.

As I've posted, the assumption of a national canon necessarily requires the absence of any "local history" mandate; rather, the requirement to vary subjects by geographical and time period ensures that "local" questions will be asked relatively proportionally to those localities' importance in American history and not proportionally to the number of questions being produced by the region.

I'd like to see Andy respond to this part of my post:
cvdwightw wrote:The other likely scenario is that there becomes another dichotomy between regions that like local history and regions that don't. I highly suspect that, with Illinois, the worse teams from the Chicago and Springfield areas will be highly in favor of these "local history" questions because they will bring an even greater concentration of Chicago/Springfield-centric tossups (and thus they will look better without really getting better), while the more rural teams and the more nationally elite teams will be opposed to it (for different reasons; the rural teams because they're at an even greater disadvantage and the elite teams because they could have spent that question on something that is more likely to come up nationally).
Essentially, I think I have a good reason why the elite teams would be largely against any sort of local history mandate (because local history is not in the national canon, they are disadvantaged compared to elite teams in regions that focus on national history); furthermore, they would likely be joined in their opposition by schools in "less-historically-important" regions of the state, who would be at the greatest disadvantage (national history advantages the teams that learn it somewhat equally, but "local history" most advantages the players who are a short walk/ride/drive away from the sites where that stuff happened).
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Awehrman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:55 pm

First to Jeff, over lunch I thought about where I heard the Ute question. I'm pretty sure it was at the first HSNCT in 1999 (I know I'm old and old questions have to suck). I buzzed and answered "Utah" and was at first ruled incorrect (I think) since the answer was "Utes". It might have been a bad question; I don't remember, and I don't know if it's worth anything beyond the fact that this sort of question has been asked before.

With regard to fraud and difficulty cliffs, those criticisms are almost compliments compared to some of the stuff I was dealing with up-thread. I think some of those problems could be mitigated by good transitions between clues as well as clue placement. I think if you broke down lots of questions into a list of their clues alone it would look as if there were greater difficulty cliffs than there might be once the question is written up in full. It's a fair criticism to be sure, but not one that I think automatically negates the asking of the question. Fraud is a concern but I think it would be mitigated if there were questions or clues on other Native American groups in the tournament as well as other subjects of local interest. It might be more of a distribution balancing act than a problem with the individual question.
Throw this question into the Junior Wildcat II and check the conversion rate. I bet it's 80%+. As one who's currently teaching middle school kids, I think some here underestimate what younger students know. Of course, I suppose you could argue back that they're buzzing with Illini once they understand they're dealing with Illinois natives...
I'm glad to see someone closer to the ground of these arguments post. The Junior Wildcat tournament that I wrote really rejuvenated my interest in quizbowl and about the possibility for questions that reach out to broad audiences but also reward the best teams. Many people didn't think that such a tournament could be done and told me that I would receive lots of complaints from coaches and players alike about the length, difficulty, and style of questions. I didn't know what to expect either, but the response from all parties was exceptional. I wrote this question on "Longhouses" for the Jr. Wildcat. I would think that many of you would think that question similarly bad for many of the above reasons. I wasn't so sure about it myself, but it was answered in my room by a 7th grader after the word Senaca.
7. These buildings held up to twenty families all related through the mother’s side. The Five Civilized Nations were said to inhabit a symbolic one of these with the Senacas guarding the western door and the Mohawks at the east. Constructed from a series of posts covered in bark, they differed in length from 30 to several hundred feet. Not to be confused with smaller teepees or wigwams, what are these large dwellings made by the Iroquois and other Native American tribes?
Answer: Longhouses
You might think I should stick to middle school writing ( and maybe I should; the middle school level badly needs good questions), but I think some are underselling what students know. It sort of echoes one of my earlier points that if it is important enough to be taught to elementary school children, why isn't it important for older students? That's not our concern here, though. I've only been in Illinois for a few years, but I know that you can learn about the Illini all over the place (the Sears Tower, state capitol, Field Museum, Newberry Library, Chicago history musuem, UIUC, state parks, as well as local museums and sites). This question in particular shouldn't favor any team from Illinois, I don't think.

On Dwight's points, I'm not saying that Illinois kids are more likely to know local history than non-local on all subjects (More might know about the Navajo or Cherokee than the Illini, and more might know details about George Washington than Abe Lincoln), but that they very well might know an awful lot about local subjects too.
I'd like to see Andy respond to this part of my post:

cvdwightw wrote:The other likely scenario is that there becomes another dichotomy between regions that like local history and regions that don't. I highly suspect that, with Illinois, the worse teams from the Chicago and Springfield areas will be highly in favor of these "local history" questions because they will bring an even greater concentration of Chicago/Springfield-centric tossups (and thus they will look better without really getting better), while the more rural teams and the more nationally elite teams will be opposed to it (for different reasons; the rural teams because they're at an even greater disadvantage and the elite teams because they could have spent that question on something that is more likely to come up nationally).

Essentially, I think I have a good reason why the elite teams would be largely against any sort of local history mandate (because local history is not in the national canon, they are disadvantaged compared to elite teams in regions that focus on national history); furthermore, they would likely be joined in their opposition by schools in "less-historically-important" regions of the state, who would be at the greatest disadvantage (national history advantages the teams that learn it somewhat equally, but "local history" most advantages the players who are a short walk/ride/drive away from the sites where that stuff happened).


Yeah, it seems that way especially from what I'm hearing from Illinois people. As I mentioned way back, I think it's more of a cultural issue than an academic one in these cases. I don't think you would have to argue as hard to someone from South Carolina that South Carolina history is important and should come up in quizbowl on occasion. I think a tossup on the Illinois equivalent of Fort Moultrie would receive a chorus of "boos," like some of my above examples did. You're probably right that the poorer and perhaps less urban teams might encourage local history questions because they think they don't have to study for them and that they can answer them against the power programs. I think if the questions are written well, applicable to broad areas of the state, and are spread across geographic lines (and urban/rural lines) when possible, it will cut down on some of those concerns. Poorer teams may still think those things, but I don't think they necessarily have to be true. There's a positive side too, though. It might help weaker programs get more interested in the game and better understand the need for pyramidal questions on all subjects.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by at your pleasure » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:25 pm

Of course the same things come up whenever there is a question on Catholicism, and a public school plays a Catholic school, etc.
For me , tossups on religious stuff are safer than tossups on local history since you can reasonably expect that there are more people who have deep(or at least middling/basic) knowledge about religion that they are not a member of than there are people who are knowledgable about local history not pertaining to their region.
Anyhow, I think that this has something to do with differences between Illinois midde school quizbowl and east cost high school quizbowl. In Illinois, local history would seem fine(since everyone there presumably has a basic or greater amount of knowledge about their region). However, on the eastern seaboard a) local history is already fairly well represented in the national canon and b) a concious attempt to produce Maryland-centric or New York-centric or what-have- you questions would probably result in disaster as all the many non-local teams would experience a propitious difficulty cliff or fail to convert the question.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:29 pm

Awehrman wrote:Let's look at that last sentence. You say that a question needs a wide variety of interesting and important (there's that word again) clues. I agree. Importance is no problem. I think I've shown that these things are important.
You've missed an important distinction: you have to establish not that the answers themselves are important, but that the (large number of) clues that people know about them are important (laying to one side the problem of establishing that people know anything, important or not.)
Awehrman wrote:(an I&M canal question can be written in the same way as an Erie Canal question).
It can be, but it won't play the same because people don't know as much about the I&M Canal. I mean, look, I've studied the local history of the state I've lived my whole life in in some depth and my mom's house is more or less on the I&M Canal. I don't think you could write a tossup on it that I'd get before a trite clue (like, I might guess off "two namesake states" or maybe if you happen to name a place it is that I've seen and I'm feeling particularly bold I might guess.) Perhaps my generalization is hasty here, but I think I'm justified in claiming that there aren't that many things that many people know about the I&M Canal. Largely the same argument applies for the other answers you're positing and I'm disagreeing with.
Awehrman wrote:...you don't think people know local history with enough depth to merit pyramidal questions.
That's almost right. I think the number of properly local history topics that people know a large number of important clues about is small, so the number of those that come up should be proportionally small.
Awehrman wrote:There's a higher probability that someone from Illinois will know multiple things about the Illini, for instance than a certain painting or novel.
I don't follow this argument. As a life-long resident of Illinois, there are probably thousands if not tens of thousands of paintings and novels that I know more about than I do about the Illini. If you're saying "You can't expect people to know about a random painting or novel," well, that's fair; I don't. The paintings and novels I write questions on are rather particularly selected as things that I expect people will know about. I'm saying it is imperative that you apply that same metric to local history answers.
So, the fact that Benjamin Constant's Adolphe is important in the current and historical field of literature (for example The Second Sex discusses it at great length) doesn't mean I can write a good high school tossup on it. I wouldn't do so because I expect that high schoolers won't know anything about it. The fact that I can add a "Title character shares his name with Hitler" giveaway to ensure 100% conversion doesn't do anything to make it a non-terrible tossup.
The same argument applies to :
Awehrman wrote:Lots of clues can be written about the Illini. etc.
Of course lots of clues can be written about them. I just sincerely doubt they're clues lots of people will know; the ones people do know (and I acknowledge that people do know one or two clues here, so this tossup will be converted at a very high rate) will be trite: namesake Chief dances controversially; namesake of THE STATE YOU'RE IN RIGHT NOW! Even if I happen to be wrong about that, the point still stands: it is paramount to consider whether players know some of the clues you're using, in addition to whether they're important (by any measure) and whether they're on an important topic (again, by any measure.) This question seems to fail on the first account: the Illini are important and you can find relevant clues about them, but I don't think they're clues people are likely to know (and, conversely, the couple clues people are likely to know are trite: semi-trash and really obvious semi-geography.)

Also, to address this:
Awehrman wrote:I seem to recall an NAQT question (possibly many years ago) about the Utes that was probably written in a similar way with a similar giveaway.
I recall a question on the Utes, but I don't remember if it was an NAQT one. Anyway, the question I recall failed in exactly the way that I'm saying I think your Illini question would fail. I'd bet that in the vast majority of rooms, it went to the end and eight buzzers went off because people don't know much about the Utes and the one thing they are likely to know is at least somewhat trivial and they're all likely to know about equally well. That's a bad question.

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:49 pm

Awehrman wrote:I wrote this question on "Longhouses" for the Jr. Wildcat. I would think that many of you would think that question similarly bad for many of the above reasons.
That question looks okay for middle school (albeit not great: it takes a while to get into unique clues and has a lot of soft, guessable stuff before that.) If you'd sent it to a high school-or-above tournament, I'd have a problem with it for a variety of reasons, mainly that it seems like it would be pretty obvious/transparent on those levels ("this large Native American building...") That's my reply to it.
I'd like to underscore an important implicit point in that reply: the quality of a question depends sensitively on the field that it's intended for. Different fields will know different things and call for different kinds of questions. Actually, you must already know this, because your thesis is that local history is okay for locals whom we can expect to know it*.
Awehrman wrote:With regard to fraud and difficulty cliffs, those criticisms are almost compliments compared to some of the stuff I was dealing with up-thread.
See, I really don't think they are. Saying "these questions will have huge difficulty cliffs" is the same as what I've been saying all along: people know little about some of these answers and, a lot of times, what they'll know they'll all know very well and about equally well (e.g. "the confederation that's the namesake of the state you're in right now.")
If you mean that people were lumping local history in with drivers ed and home ec and stuff, well, they do share a lot of important features: they're pecular (or nearly) to Illinois, they're very likely to be terrible in IHSA questions, they're very often not properly academic+. I acknowledge that local history doesn't necessarily have to share those features (as per se drivers ed and per se home ec and stuff probably do) but I think it's likely to, especially produced in volume, given the way IHSA questions are produced and given that there aren't a whole lot of conventional local history answers.

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*We obviously disagree regarding what precisely we can expect them to know: I don't think that's a crucially important disagreement, really, since it's just both of our best guesses as you noted. I'd argue that I think my best guess in this area has a little more merit than yours, given that I did grow up here and that I've been more involved in quizbowl over the recent past than you have, but, as I've called what we're making a guess, I obviously think I could be wrong. If you're reasonable, you must be willing to acknowledge the same.
+As e.g. my vision of your "Illini" question would be: a purported history question in which the only buzzable clues are semi-trash (namesake Illinois sports ex-mascot) and really obvious geography (state you're sitting in.)
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:30 pm

I'm glad to see someone closer to the ground of these arguments post.
I am most interested in knowing what this means.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:53 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
I'm glad to see someone closer to the ground of these arguments post.
I am most interested in knowing what this means.
I'll go out on a limb and say "someone involved principally in middle school quizbowl," which is what he's most concerned with.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:25 am

But then we aren't discussing middle school writing really in this thread - most of it has to do with local history in the Illinois high school set.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:53 am

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:But then we aren't discussing middle school writing really in this thread - most of it has to do with local history in the Illinois high school set.
Yeah, I don't deny that him saying that Price constitutes a prime source in this situation is a little off-base, but I don't really know where the goalposts have been shifted to at this point. Because we're simultaneously criticizing high school local history and hearing defenses of middle school local history... my brain hurts. I think some of the arguments apply to both fields equally, though, perhaps even most arguments.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Awehrman » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:45 am

Of all the points made by people in this thread, I'm not sure why you are so interested in that one line, Charlie. But perhaps it was a little confusing. I was thankful to have Mr Price's comment, becuase he has taught in both suburban Chicago and downstate in Cahokia, has worked closely with both high school and middle school quizbowl in Illinois, knows what is taught in Illinois, and knows better than most of us the kinds of things that novice high school students can be reasonably expected to know. Of course, I should apologize to Mr. Egan who also posted his thoughts and who certainly is another excellent source for this sort of thing. I don't mean to slight anyone in this thread (expect for perhaps Charlie whose comments have been low on substance and high on annoyance), but I think it is difficult for many of us to think about the sorts of things that we might have known when we were just starting out in quizbowl or what average or below average players can be expected to know.

I agree that this thread is a mess. I am thankful for the conversation. It has certainly given me things to think about, and I hope that others who have managed to get through all of it have profited from it as well even if we continue to disagree.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Tegan » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:07 am

Andy,

Thanks for the props. I am a bit skewed in my thinking from a particular perspective. A few years ago when I attended the NAC, I sat in on rounds where very particular questions came up about a city or state (call it local history, local geography, local trivia in some cases) that (coinicidentally????) happened to be about the home state/city of one of the competing teams (the Latin school got a question about Peoria and Illinois government that used our (then) Lt. Governor as the lead in clue .... a team from Texas got two questions about Texas geography in the same round. Had it been a local tournament with my team involved, I would have gotten the TD asked how this was possible. Chip reminded the fans that "these questions are written months in advance" (though he didn't mention when a decision was made on how these particular sets of questions are selected for a particular round). It made me aware to try to avoid situations where the questions necessarily favored one team over the other. Whether Chip actually cheats or not, his lack of transparency keeps to much of the specter of cheating hanging around him.

I wrote the Wrigley/Bahai/Atherton/Starved Rock bonus, though had I suspected that there were going to be anywhere near this amount of Illinois questions, I would have never submitted it. In crafting the question, I tried to balance the state geographically (the Chicago area is still underrepresented, but I decided to live with that).

A scan of the Illinois questions in play gives a decided advantage to teams outside the Chicago area. Coming from my perspective, I couldn't help but compare it to what I saw at the NAC.

In truth, this has little effect on the tournament as a whole, because there are really only two sectionals that mix Chicago area and non-Chicago area teams (this is the far southern suburban sectional in Class AA, and the single Class A sectional near Chicago), however for those teams, I am concerned that some of those teams could have a disadvantage.

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by the return of AHAN » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:48 am

So, if I may summarize, it sounds like the people opposed to local history in quizbowl do so on the basis that it may be;
1.) difficult to write a sound pyramidal toss-up on
2.) too limited in answer space before you cross into trivial, non-academic clues and answers
3.) prone to create disadvantages to teams based on geography, as opposed to finances or socioeconomics

I can't argue that those aren't good reasons to avoid it, but I don't think a distribution of 1 once in a great while is harmful*. To be sure, if and when my team attends the hypothetical Jr. Wildcat II, I'd be disappointed if there was 2/2 or even 1/1 Illinois topics, especially since it's drawing teams from out of state. Andy did a great job with the distribution of that tourney, and I look forward to the day that it's clear of potential mirrors and is released to the QB community.


* - (I don't consider getting a tattoo as an indirect result of an unanswered local history toss-up to be harmful)
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:15 pm

I was thankful to have Mr Price's comment, becuase he has taught in both suburban Chicago and downstate in Cahokia, has worked closely with both high school and middle school quizbowl in Illinois, knows what is taught in Illinois, and knows better than most of us the kinds of things that novice high school students can be reasonably expected to know.
The reason I was most interested in that quote was exactly because it appears you are willing to skew some perceptions in order to back up your argument. To say that somehow Jeff Price has a better gauge inherently of what high school quizbowl players know than Mike Sorice or even myself because we aren't from quite the same background as him seems suspiciously in character with that JR Barry post about how coaches don't like that people who aren't "high school people" are continuing to involve themselves with the game. This year alone I've directed two high school tournaments in Missouri, which had fields that would consist of lots of what I would call novice players, and in addition to reading at both of those I have read at 2 other events at Rolla, not to mention just a year ago I was playing against a wide spectrum of high school teams at all different events. Also I've written for multiple high school tournaments that seem to have good reputations, and in many cases hit their conversion targets well. Mike Sorice has a similar pedigree - helping write and run many Earlybird tournaments, dedicating his time to staffing lots of other high school events, and writing for many other events like PACE nationals, in addition to having played IHSA quizbowl and witnessing it change over the last decade. We may not teach in middle school, but I would most undoubtedly contend that our exposure to all kinds of teams at all kinds of different levels and our experience learning how to write sets for high school that work well at accommodating both great, midlevel, and poor quality teams (and learning to change things around if they don't work) should put us overwhelmingly in positions where we can say "our ears are to the ground on what people playing this game know," I would contend as much as Coach Price. And we aren't the only two people in this thread who fit the definition of having done lots of work observing the high school circuit, and thus in positions to judge how things will play out if they show up in matches - Jonah, Donald, Coach Riley, and Matt Weiner to name a few. Just because we are not actively educators at lower levels does not make us suddenly less capable of judging these matters (at least for those of us who don't coach, obviously though all of the educators who are on this side of the argument like Riley do have that part covered). If we are all saying it seems very difficult to create a worthwhile local history distribution because of the fact that these things should have to be important AND have the quality of containing a tossup's worth of clues that we could reasonably expect to do a good job of distinguishing knowledge in a broad range of high school players, perhaps we actually have good reason to say this and it's not just some anti-"important" history crusade. Whether I annoy you or not, I still don't see how that changes my arguments for this (which have in fact been posted in this thread by me and others, just more compactly by me, doesn't make my posts devoid of content). Prove these assertions wrong, I challenge you, and if you can demonstrate that local history is a subject that can combine import and what I will call "writeability" (and define as something that you could expect a few high schoolers to buzz in on off the leadins a notably larger number who can buzz in around the middle, and then a much larger group nearing, say, 90% that can buzz in at the end - notably not something that people can only buzz in on at the end, or that creates lots of lateral thinking problems, or that is far too vague to actually write well on) then I will consider our side as having lost the argument and change my mind. That's how these things work, and the ball is in your court.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Awehrman » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:13 pm

Ok, Charlie. I hope you realize that a compliment to one person doesn't necessarily mean an insult to the rest. I'm not sure how I could have been more gracious in this thread for everyone's thoughts. I know your contributions to quizbowl in Missouri and nationally. I'm not just appreciative of them, I'm proud of them. You've brought our high school back on the quizbowl map, given Mr. Allen another run at national success which is very deserved for his continued dedication, and you've done many great things already in your college career. Your work in Missouri over the past couple years is without rival. I don't think I'm alone in the quizbowl community in saying that I am anxiously waiting to see the great heights that you and others of the young guard will take quizbowl in the future. That said, your online persona is not always fitting with these things. You were very quick to regard my admittedly contrarian ideas with posts calling them "dumb" and saying, "all of it sucks," without offering any argument or statement deserving of such respect. Compare your posts with others, and I think you'll see what I mean. As an open forum for the discussion of quizbowl, you would think that I would be allowed to make a full argument before garnering these sorts of comments. A reply that said something like this: "If you can pull this off it might be an ok idea, but others have tried and the results have been uneven at best. Here's what I mean..." I'm not a fragile flower, but it might serve your purposes better in the future to begin discussions this way rather than the way you did it this time. Feel free to email me if there's anything else that you'd like to discuss with me.

Now back to the state and local debate!

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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:54 pm

Here's the reality - yes, the idea that local history should be specificlally mandated is one I have no problem labeling dumb, for the exact reasons I then proceeded to outline. Yes, I do feel like I am not out of line in saying not only are spelling questions, etc. problems, but writing questions that are impossible for anyone at the high school level, especially for a tournament attempting to appeal to all ranges of teams, and that all of these problems suck. Having questions that are unbuzzable for 2/3 of the space at the high school level is bad for a multitude of reasons, such as the fact it severely restricts chances to distinguish knowledge (you've effectively made the usable space like 2 lines long). Having what amounts to a 2 line tossup sucks. There should not even need to be any extended discussion of this fact beyond a simple sentence.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by MikeWormdog » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:40 pm

User was tempbanned for three days due to backseat modding.
Is this for real?
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:20 am

MikeWormdog wrote:
User was tempbanned for three days due to backseat modding.
Is this for real?
Yeah i don't really get this one... he was just suggesting to Dees how he would have liked the argument presented to him, etc.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by jonah » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:25 am

MikeWormdog wrote:
User was tempbanned for three days due to backseat modding.
Is this for real?
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by at your pleasure » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:51 am

Anyhow, Andy, if you are still interested in this, you might want to consider restricting local history to bonus parts. That way, you don't really have to worry about stretching 2 line's worth of clues into a 6 line tossup. Just a thought.
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Re: inclusion of state/local history

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:59 pm

Awehrman wrote:User was tempbanned for three days due to backseat modding.
In re-reading the post, I've removed the ban. We should get rid of whoever put that in place.
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