Aegis Questions no more

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Aegis Questions no more

Post by leapfrog314 » Sat May 16, 2009 5:33 am

As some of you may have already heard, Aegis will not be continuing operations as of the end of the 2008-09 season. Our base of writers has grown substantially smaller due to the difficulty of writing Illinois format bonuses, which leaves the directors with a lot of work to do. None of us can handle the amount of work this requires any longer, and so we are ceasing operations. Check out our blog in the near future if you are interested in our closing thoughts about Aegis and writing for Illinois Scholastic Bowl.

Within the next few days, I will be putting all our past sets online for free download. I will keep you updated.

I, in particular, have just posted my thoughts on our blog, at http://www.aegisquestions.com/blog/?p=18. Those thoughts are reproduced below, in my next post. I do not intend that post to be a complete summary of Aegis Questions' history, or of the arguments for or against pyramidality, ACF format, or anything else. I simply summarize those things which most stand out in my mind. I am interested in hearing your reactions.

Thanks for the past three years, and I hope Illinois Scholastic Bowl finds a way to keep improving, despite all the roadblocks.
Carlo Angiuli, Indiana University
Director, Aegis Questions, Inc.

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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by leapfrog314 » Sat May 16, 2009 5:36 am

The following post is reproduced from http://www.aegisquestions.com/blog/?p=18.

I’ve been writing Illinois Scholastic Bowl questions since my junior year of high school, when Nick and I wrote the first New Trier Varsity tournament. Matt started Aegis with us the next year, and we’ve been writing tons of questions ever since.

It’s sad to see the end of this era, but at the same time, I’m glad it’s ending. Lately, whenever I’m not doing long math problem sets, I’m busy trying to juggle friends and research and side jobs. I spent last summer taking classes and doing math research, so I didn’t really get a chance to write any questions until fall semester. And, as I found out, I simply don’t have time in my fall semester to write hundreds of questions on top of everything else.

It’s partly that our writers have never been as invested in the process as Matt, Nick, and I were. That’s somewhat an effect of our business model–people asynchronously submit questions, as we edit them into packets. I can sympathize that it’s hard to get really excited about writing lots of questions when they just disappear into a black hole. I would write to fill quotas–to finish the science in Masonic State, to write the non-computational math for Kickoffs. It would have been much harder to motivate myself if I wasn’t sure how, or if, my questions were going to get used.

But I think the general lack of enthusiasm is understandable from another perspective. I mean, we were the ones who started a company to write questions. Of course, we were the ones most excited by the prospect. And I don’t mean to say that our writers were apathetic–Brad and Kristin in particular stand out in my memory for all the times they would stay up with us finishing tournaments. Greg and Jonah were given specific assignments and kept well-informed of our time tables, and they performed admirably.

In general, though, I associate Aegis with a recurring frustration that I had to pick up the slack so often. I was responsible for a large amount of the infrastructure in Aegis–not only did I put up our website and write the program we relied on for all our question editing, but I was the only person able to assemble the packets when all was said and done. I’m not whining about it–the technology just happened that way. And Matt and Nick certainly did much more than their fair shares as well. But still, I was just always frustrated at how much needed to be done, and how little our writers were, on average, helping.

I’m much more frustrated, however, at the Illinois Scholastic Bowl community. Aegis was formed at a time when I thought it was becoming clear to everyone that pyramidal questions were clearly the way to go, but there was not enough supply to meet the growing demand.

I was half-right. There is, and continues to be, a dearth of good pyramidal questions in IHSA format. NAQT only creates one IHSA set every year, and HSAPQ refuses to include computational math. With Aegis’s departure, there isn’t really any reliable provider of pyramidal questions. Sure, Jonah is around to edit some tournaments, but as he gets further from the current circuit, it will be difficult for him to keep rounding up high schoolers and recent graduates interested in helping out. Coach Reinstein writes Solo every year, but it isn’t extraordinarily pyramidal, and he doesn’t write any other tournaments himself.

More importantly, Illinois does not even agree that pyramidal questions are best. Not only are many coaches simply unaware of the argument, but many are indifferent or insist that they know what’s best, rather than the players themselves.

Again and again, the players I have talked to, from all over the state, agree that pyramidal questions are more fun to play on. But I have heard coaches argue that they “know the players don’t want that.” Even when we put out a players’ survey, coaches attacked its validity for a number of silly reasons. (For instance, the survey was put up after the season, so only the “dedicated” players responded to it; the others, apparently, had already forgotten all about Scholastic Bowl.)

Collegiate players’ typical contribution to the pyramidal argument is, “You have to think about this logically, and without ad hominem attacks. But you’re stupid if you don’t think pyramidal questions are the best, and I don’t care to explain why again.”

I am happy to speak with people who honestly are unfamiliar with pyramidal questions, or people who have legitimate concerns about the potential adoption of ACF format in Illinois. But frankly, the discourse on the subject is idiotic. It’s entirely idiotic. The organization in charge of Scholastic Bowl is an athletic organization which doesn’t understand Scholastic Bowl and has no reason to. Fair enough. But why are they still in charge?

And the IHSSBCA is bogged down by combative coaches who refuse to let any change happen to the activity they’ve been coaching for 20 years. The new questions are too hard; they’re too long; nobody likes them. The Sterling Kickoff finished their morning–five 16-question rounds–after 2 PM. A tossup went dead on the Revolutionary War, after mentioning Cornwallis and Yorktown. So did another on Avogadro’s number, after mentioning moles and its value.

You know what? I love quizbowl because it is a true test of cultural literacy. To win at quizbowl, you must be well-versed in everything; you must quickly recall all sorts of non-trivial knowledge from ancient history, English poetry, biochemistry…every subject.

Quizbowl is, inherently, an elitist activity. The express purpose is for the more knowledgeable team to win. Coaches complain that it’s unfair that the Chicagoland teams keep winning. It’s unfair that they have AP classes and their students know more.

Yes, it’s unfair. The better students are better at the game. That’s the point. If you want an unpredictable game where unknowledgeable teams can win just as often, play ping pong. It’s just absurd to me that coaches literally object that the better teams always win. It’s just absurd.

I don’t have the energy to continue this debate. I have been pushing against the tide, and the tide has won. Aegis can’t continue; there are, in my mind, no great question providers left in Illinois. Maybe some day, Illinois Scholastic Bowl will catch up to modern quizbowl standards, but I don’t count on it. I’m not even sure that’s what we want. Only a handful of teams truly want that, and they can always travel to college tournaments. The rest would prefer not to lose all the time, and simply aren’t interested in putting in the time and effort required to become culturally literate on top of all of their schoolwork.

I don’t blame them. I don’t have the time, either.
Carlo Angiuli, Indiana University
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Tegan » Sat May 16, 2009 7:59 am

It is a sad day. When I joined the Advisory Committee, I thought at the time Scholastic Bowl was going in the right direction (we hadn't arrived anywhere yet, but we were in the right direction). Sadly, in that time, on my watch, while there have been some improvements, there have been some of the biggest roadblocks to improvement put up. It has been a frustrating couple of years, and I am glad to say that I am no longer going to have to make a trip once a year to fight an unwinnable fight.

The most frustrating thing .... and this becomes more obvious as you talk to people, is that it is far too acceptable to ignore a strong argument just because it comes from someone younger. A good argument is a good argument. Sometimes, people of good conscience can disagree, but falling back to "he/she is only a kid, what do they know" is not only a personal insult to the player, but an indictment of the educational community they represent. If your players are so truly incapable of listening to an argument and forming an opinion, what does that way about your school system? It reminds me how blessed I am to work in the area where I do. There are teachers/coaches in my area that cling to that 1950s mentality, but they are gratefully the minority. If you got into teaching to control and dominate; to force what you see as a child into learning, while simultaneously shielding them from perspectives in conflict with your own personal views ... I think its easy to finish that sentence.

I think back to the 50s and 60s and earlier (and forgive me for transcending drama here to make a point that is absolutely non-equivalent in standing) ... when even the concept of basic civil rights was greatly resisted in certain parts of the country. It still is in certain instances, yet over the course of the last 50 years, things did markedly improve. It improved faster in some areas, and slower in others. Illinois is somewhat unique in that a majority of its population is more urbane in thinking, and tends to be more open to change. Others need to be dragged, often times kicking and screaming, into the light of a new idea. But, they are eventually dragged. To continue .... one of the "arguments" given against the format change was that there were "three hall of famers" who would oppose these changes. Wonderful! There must have been at least a dozen or so Baseball Hall of Famers who were opposed to the integration of Major League Baseball. Fortunately, they were ignored, if they ever spoke up.

The good news is that history is replete with examples of good ideas that get roadblocked, but inevitably a good idea will take hold, and it will win the day. The people so often standing against those ideas are either demonized, or forgotten in the dust of history. I know some otherwise good people who are going to be the latter, and some others who may deservedly end up being the former.

While many teams continue to wallow, we will have to content ourselves for the moment in seeing teams like Carbondale and Auburn and others too numerous to list consistently enjoy the fruits of their labors by winning a lot of matches over teams that are not as prepared as they are while simultaneously tuning out the moaning of those choosing not to spend the time preparing, or those who sit in awe saying "how did they get so good?" While I would much rather see more teams get better, its not the worst tradeoff in life.

Aegis made a great effort to push this change. The time will come when it is successful.

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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat May 16, 2009 9:22 am

leapfrog314 wrote:And the IHSSBCA is bogged down by combative coaches who refuse to let any change happen to the activity they’ve been coaching for 20 years. The new questions are too hard; they’re too long; nobody likes them. The Sterling Kickoff finished their morning–five 16-question rounds–after 2 PM. A tossup went dead on the Revolutionary War, after mentioning Cornwallis and Yorktown. So did another on Avogadro’s number, after mentioning moles and its value.
Hate to be the guy who zeros in on one specific thing, but that's what I'm going to do. Just because kids don't get a question on a basic subject doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the question writer. This can realistically happen because kids are either not paying attention, poorly prepared or just too intimidated (and this happens; I've seen it a lot in WV tournaments).

They can't all be Auburn vs. Carbondale or equivalencies.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by leapfrog314 » Sat May 16, 2009 5:03 pm

FredMorlan wrote:Just because kids don't get a question on a basic subject doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the question writer. This can realistically happen because kids are either not paying attention, poorly prepared or just too intimidated (and this happens; I've seen it a lot in WV tournaments).
Fred, I don't quite understand your point. My point was that coaches complain that our questions are too hard, but I find it hard to take them seriously when their own teams are unable to convert a tossup on the Revolutionary War. If Avogadro's number is too hard for high schoolers, then I honestly don't know what they want me to do about it. Quizbowl is about knowing stuff, and if you don't know stuff, you're just not going to like quizbowl.

Likewise, they complain that our questions are too long, after we make a concerted effort to keep them short. But when a tournament takes five hours to read five rounds of 16 (short) questions -- without any administrative delays whatsoever -- then I don't know how short they want our questions.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Tegan » Sat May 16, 2009 5:22 pm

I think Fred thought you were being hard on yourself ..... clearly if you are writing questions where the give away clue is something like "name this number equal to 6.02 times 10 to the 23rd power" .... and the players aren't getting it, the fault can lie anywhere, except with the question writer.

Having done some work with you all, I know that you were exceptionally conscientious about answer space, difficulty, clarity, etc.

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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by at your pleasure » Sat May 16, 2009 9:37 pm

My point was that coaches complain that our questions are too hard, but I find it hard to take them seriously when their own teams are unable to convert a tossup on the Revolutionary War.
Are these the same coaches that drill their students on number-crunching parlor tricks? And did someone tell the coaches how easy it is to learn stuff if you take the trouble?
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by rjaguar3 » Sat May 16, 2009 10:30 pm

leapfrog314 wrote:My point was that coaches complain that our questions are too hard, but I find it hard to take them seriously when their own teams are unable to convert a tossup on the Revolutionary War.
I find it shocking that among the ten smartest students at two high schools, not one of them can identify major battles of the Revolutionary War as being from the Revolution. This speaks a lot about the school systems, where middle school students, according to the curriculum, should be able to "explain how and why the colonies fought for their independence and how the colonists’ ideas are reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution." (State Goal 16.B.3b).

As long as schools that clearly are lacking in motivation to teach have the same say as schools that encourage learning through active participation in programs like Scholastic Bowl in deciding whether the activity will penalize learned players or reward them, I feel that we are stuck at an impasse.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by rylltraka » Sat May 16, 2009 11:01 pm

Just a comment on Greg's comment -

What do you mean, the "ten smartest students" at two high schools? The schools didn't send their smartest students, they each sent a quizbowl team.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by rjaguar3 » Sat May 16, 2009 11:16 pm

rylltraka wrote:Just a comment on Greg's comment -

What do you mean, the "ten smartest students" at two high schools? The schools didn't send their smartest students, they each sent a quizbowl team.
Yes, but the quizbowl team, suffice it to say, should be better than a random cross-section of students because they decided to play/were recruited because they were among the smartest at their school.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by rylltraka » Sat May 16, 2009 11:25 pm

Fair.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by David Riley » Mon May 18, 2009 8:37 am

They should be better, but I've seen a number of teams over the years where the Scholastic Bowl team is a group of individuals who like to play Trivial Pursuit, not necessarily the smartest kids in the school, and in other cases they appeared to be a random group of students. I agree with Greg that we're at an impasse until a majority of coaches accept Carlo's premise.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by cvdwightw » Mon May 18, 2009 1:58 pm

David Riley wrote:They should be better, but I've seen a number of teams over the years where the Scholastic Bowl team is a group of individuals who like to play Trivial Pursuit, not necessarily the smartest kids in the school, and in other cases they appeared to be a random group of students. I agree with Greg that we're at an impasse until a majority of coaches accept Carlo's premise.
The validity of the statement that "the Scholastic Bowl team should be a group of five of the X smartest individuals at a school" aside, there is clearly a problem when whoever is on the team cannot convert questions that we would expect an average middle schooler to convert, or cannot convert a chemistry tossup where the giveaway is a definition they should have encountered in chemistry class. We're not asking them to identify Saint-Saens or L'Hopital's Rule (two eminently tossupable answers that might be out of the realm of the "below average" team) - we're asking them basic things they should have learned in class.

I agree entirely with Carlo, Greg, and everyone else who finds it impossible to take coaches seriously when they claim that tossups whose giveaways are lifted directly from basic history/science classes are too hard. I mean, what do these coaches want? "Tossup. Math Calculation. Compute 2+2. Bonus: Spelling. Spell the following animals. A. Cat B. Dog C. Bird D. Rabbit?"
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon May 18, 2009 2:13 pm

It's too bad things ended this way. Carlo and Company did a lot of good work, and I would have loved to see it have more of an impact than it did. At least a lot of teams were exposed to good questions because of them.

There is no impasse, however. There were at least three new good tournaments in Illinois last year (Harvard Mirror, Loyburn, and NIU), and there are at least two tournaments next year that should be significantly better (Turnabouts and Ultima). Combining last year and next year, the only tournament that might take a step backwards is Masonics, and we're still not sure where that is headed. I am not waiting for complete agreement on anything, because complete agreement will never be here.

Right now is a bit of a frustrating time because it is increasingly obvious that a lot of coaches are not interested in changing some of the problematic aspects of Illinois Scholastic Bowl. (I myself am uninterested in changing some aspects that many people on this board consider problematic but am very interested in changing some of those aspects.) Whereas before we thought that coaches would want to change once they saw the type of game that many of us like, we now know that some coaches have seen it and not liked it.

Some of the discussions in Illinois Scholastic Bowl are idiotic. To some extent, that is inevitable--we live in a nation where there are many idiotic discussions on a lot of topics, and I'm not going to predict that there will be a point in the future in which all Illinois Scholastic Bowl discussions will be filled with wisdom and insight. To some extent, it is my failing as IHSSBCA Chair--not enough has been done to move discussions forward and focus on what is good, what is bad, and how to move the bad towards the good.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Mon May 18, 2009 2:17 pm

cvdwightw wrote:"Bonus: Spelling. Spell the following animals. A. Cat B. Dog C. Bird D. Rabbit?"
That last part is twice as hard as A and B!

In all seriousness, it is a shame to see Aegis go. Partially because I wrote for them, and now lack an outlet for such things, but primarily for the reasons already being discussed. Question quality/style has taken great leaps forward in the past couple of years with the help of Aegis, and I just hope that there isn't a loss of momentum with their departure. Hopefully tournament organizers will switch to NAQT or another reputable packet writer, and keep Illinois moving in the right direction.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by jonah » Mon May 18, 2009 3:09 pm

Dresden The Moderator wrote:I wrote for them, and now lack an outlet for such things
If you want to continue writing, you could certainly contact me or Matt. Depending on what you can write, I could probably put you to use on New Trier Varsity, and I bet Matt would love some freelanced questions for the Turnabouts.
Dresden The Moderator wrote:Hopefully tournament organizers will switch to NAQT or another reputable packet writer, and keep Illinois moving in the right direction.
I agree; however, all available NAQT IS sets are taken in Illinois, and I don't think there's much demand for A sets. I have little doubt that HSAPQ will be similarly saturated next year. We need more good question providers! I am hoping that we will see more mirrors of high-quality house-written tournaments from elsewhere, as was done with HFT.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by leapfrog314 » Mon May 18, 2009 6:09 pm

cvdwightw wrote:I agree entirely with Carlo, Greg, and everyone else who finds it impossible to take coaches seriously when they claim that tossups whose giveaways are lifted directly from basic history/science classes are too hard.
I think this is precisely my main point. I think the default difficulty of high school questions (i.e., for statewide tournaments, not just the most competitive teams) ought to be primarily things learned throughout a somewhat-rigorous high school curriculum, reaching into extensions of those topics for the harder questions. (For example, basic organic chemistry is a hard topic; gas laws are an average topic.)

I don't think it's credible to claim that it's too difficult to ask high school students about things one ought to learn in high school. It reflects poorly on a coach's own school, and on their conception of Scholastic Bowl. (If it's not about showing what you've learned, and learning new things, what could it possibly be about?)
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by rjaguar3 » Mon May 18, 2009 7:08 pm

leapfrog314 wrote:(If it's not about showing what you've learned, and learning new things, what could it possibly be about?)
Solving popsicle stick riddles and having math team people do elementary-school level calculations! It's :chip: approved!
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed May 20, 2009 10:06 am

With the new Masonics announcement, this loss potentially hurts much more...
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by mlaird » Thu May 28, 2009 6:57 pm

The following post is reproduced from http://www.aegisquestions.com/blog/?p=25.

Aegis was a good time, and I am glad to have gotten to work with all of the people who were involved, especially Nick and Carlo.

In a way I feel like Aegis was ahead of its time. We were a group of current and very recently graduated players who felt like more needed to be done for question quality in Illinois. Some coaches felt that it was inappropriate that players were writing the questions, and others heralded it. The power of players and former players is going to tell where the future of quizbowl in Illinois is going to go.

So much of quiz bowl is “student centered” in other parts of the country, but the idea that players should have any say in how Scholastic Bowl is run is still quite a revolutionary concept in some parts of the state. I use the words “student centered” not only because it is true, but also because it is one of the biggest educational buzz-words of the past few years. I think that if we want quizbowl to become something more than what it is (though I guess some of us don’t want that), then I think it is paramount that students get more of a say.

Just this past weekend, I attended the PACE NSC (arguably the nations premiere quizbowl tournament) for the first time. The amount of autonomy among the best teams was astonishing. Most went without a coach, and even when a coach was present, it didn’t seem like they bothered to do anything. The players knew where they were and what they had to do. There are only a few teams in Illinois that can operate that way, and most do it out of necessity. There is, however, no reason why this could not be more of an accepted practice for teams in Illinois. I think it is largely a case of coaches who think they know what is best for students, even when they are painfully out of touch.

Illinois still has a long way to go to, but I think that if the right people get involved, and they stay involved, it can rise up out of the murky swamp of Scholastic Bowl that we’re currently bogged down in. Either quizbowl is going to have to integrate with Scholastic Bowl, or the two will become further separated. Integration would have to involve most teams recognizing that pyramidal questions (and maybe ACF-style bonuses) are for the better, and separation would involve a diaspora of quizbowl oriented teams creating a completely different circuit. It’s a big task, and I think that big changes are going to happen one way or another.

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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by David Riley » Fri May 29, 2009 8:35 am

Matt, you know I agree with what you say, but I would offer several caveats/devil's advocates:

1) We are probably the only state with a "frosh/soph" circuit (though that's fast disappearing among the so-called elite teams). I think you need a coach in that case to at least provide a transition from "funn" bowl to quiz bowl. if that's your intent. I think the time will eventually come (or occasionally happens now) when a strong captain or other varsity players could mentor younger players--I'm assuming that this is what the top teams do, in large part--but this is a long way form happening in Illinois, at this point.

2) There are exceptions. Julie Gittings of State College is one of the country's most respected coaches. I don't know how hands-on or hands-off she is, but she must be doing something right!

3) Don't assume that Illinois' lethargy in more teams adopting good quiz bowl is a coaches' only thing. For example, virtually all of the proponents of computational math that I know of are students [right, Jeff? :grin: ]. Student-centered teams are a laudable goal but it could easily backfire in certain quarters.

4) Also, don't assume that "student-centered" learning, classrooms, etc. are the norm..not just yet. Yes, it's taught in schools of education and the practices are certainly adopted in more enlightened schools, but it is by no means universal. Remember the remark Coach Kidd made at our recent IHSSBCA meeting?

4) Until large parts of this state (read: mainly the principals) respect academics, good quiz bowl and student-centered teams are a small minority. From a vantage point of 16 years, there have already been a number of changes; you, from a vantage point of 9 years as a player and coach, should recognize. I know it's not happening fast enoough for many people [ahem], and we should keep fighting for it, but it won't happen overnight.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by jonah » Fri May 29, 2009 9:06 am

David Riley wrote:For example, virtually all of the proponents of computational math that I know of are students [right, Jeff? :grin: ].
Wait, was that entire sentence a poke at Jeff, or are you serious? Because if the latter, I don't think you're right, and the player survey Matt and I took suggests that most players oppose computation's inclusion. (We didn't ask about it specifically, but a lot of people mentioned it in the comments.)
David Riley wrote:Remember the remark Coach Kidd made at our recent IHSSBCA meeting?
Uh oh. Please refresh my memory.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by David Riley » Fri May 29, 2009 9:37 am

re survey: But what were the demographics of the survey?

re Coack Kidd's remark: Matt said something to the effect of "they can always go online and . . ." and Coach Kidd replied that he should spend some time in a school tthat isn't on the North Shore....


With some notable exceptions (e.g. Bloomington-Normal, Carbondale) the schools south of I-80, and especially south of I-72 have very limited resources compared to those of us in the Chicago area. And lack of resources often promotes an "only practical" attitude, which eschews the arts and social sciences in favor of computational math, etc. The survey was only a random sample, if we received a considerably larger response, would the results be similar?
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by the return of AHAN » Fri May 29, 2009 10:10 am

David Riley wrote:re survey: But what were the demographics of the survey?

re Coack Kidd's remark: Matt said something to the effect of "they can always go online and . . ." and Coach Kidd replied that he should spend some time in a school tthat isn't on the North Shore....


With some notable exceptions (e.g. Bloomington-Normal, Carbondale) the schools south of I-80, and especially south of I-72 have very limited resources compared to those of us in the Chicago area. And lack of resources often promotes an "only practical" attitude, which eschews the arts and social sciences in favor of computational math, etc. The survey was only a random sample, if we received a considerably larger response, would the results be similar?
Oh, come on. I taught in Cahokia, ILand we had computers with Internet access over 10 years ago.

Or is Cahokia one of those notable exceptionsthat mirrors New Trier? [/oozing sarcasm]
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Fri May 29, 2009 11:04 am

David Riley wrote: 1) We are probably the only state with a "frosh/soph" circuit (though that's fast disappearing among the so-called elite teams).
Georgia has a large JV circuit that's played by only freshmen and sophomores, including a JV State Championship sponsored by GATA.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by jonah » Fri May 29, 2009 11:43 am

David Riley wrote:re survey: But what were the demographics of the survey?
The results are still up. We didn't take school names, but we got very regionally diverse results. Remember that we sent out an email to all IHSSBCA member coaches.
David Riley wrote:The survey was only a random sample, if we received a considerably larger response, would the results be similar?
If it was a truly random sample, and I'm necessarily making the claim that it is, then statistically one would expect the results to be approximately the same as if the entire population were surveyed. Part of the problem is that this type of survey seems likely to attract extreme views in both directions. The extreme pro-status-quo views were not, it seems, very well-represented in the player survey, though they were in the coach survey. Perhaps the little representation in the player survey is because players understand good quizbowl better than coaches, or perhaps it's because certain coaches forbade their students to take part because "I know what's best for them".
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by David Riley » Fri May 29, 2009 12:59 pm

But what was the computer/student ratio? [let's have Cahokia play New Trier and see! :twisted: ]

Seriously, though, I think this has to be taken into account. Downstate [which I'm defining as IHSA region 7, and to some extent 6] does not have the resources of the Chicago suburbs because of how property values are assessed. This does not excuse the bad attitude toward good quizbowl, but I think it exists.

And I was not aware GA had a f/s circuit, good to know.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Tegan » Fri May 29, 2009 2:28 pm

jonah wrote:If it was a truly random sample, and I'm necessarily making the claim that it is, then statistically one would expect the results to be approximately the same as if the entire population were surveyed.
In perhaps something that is very showing of the gulf between north and south (I know, an instance of one does not a trend make ....), was when one of the downstate reps claimed that the student poll was flawed, because there was no guarantee that only one student from each school voted, whereas the coaches poll was more valid because it assured a one school, one vote approach.

The whole "one school-one vote" is what has kept the IHSA firmly in the clutches of the minority since its inception ..... while downstate Illinois has vastly fewer students, it does have more schools. Thus, there is a need for many downstate people to embrace this philosophy because it keeps their minority in rule over the majority ....

Thus, while I agree with your random sample idea, there are a lot of people who won't believe it is truly representative until roughly 70% of those polled are from southern and central Illinois, because that is the type of representation they are used to.

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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri May 29, 2009 5:03 pm

When you look at the national picture, Illinois is not unusual. The DC Area is unusual, and it's generally better than the rest of the country. In many ways, it is much better. When you compare Illinois to Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, and other states that, like us, have a lot of teams, you generally see a lot of similarities. Most things are run by coaches, there are a lot of teams and tournaments that prefer bad questions to good questions, there are a lot of coaches and students that place a low priority on quizbowl, there is computational math, etc. I'm not saying that to justify doing things the wrong way but to clarify the big picture. We should do what is best, which of course means that we should change what is not good.

I do not think that positive change in Illinois will come from students or coaches alone--it will come from students and coaches together. By the current set up, adults will continue to be in charge of pretty much all teams, most tournaments, all conferences, IHSSBCA, and IHSA, and I don't see that changing. However, students are learning how to influence those adults as well as which adults can be influenced, and improvement is happening. My team attended more tournaments with good questions and formats this year than any previous year, and they were run by people like Riley and Greene who are older than I am but are interested in making things better and whose students have made a positive impact.

Aegis is at least the third company of its type in Illinois to be formed from high school senior/college freshmen, write good questions for a few years, and then dissolve when the writers got frustrated with Illinois Scholastic Bowl and/or interested in other things. They follow in the tradition of Triad and Illinois Questions. To some extent, Aegis is the most important one because it wrote for some of the largest tournaments in Illinois, and some of its writers will continue to play a role after the company is gone.

As to computational math, nobody has made an issue of it outside of this board. Math has been 20% of the IHSA distribution since it was written in the 1980s, and I don't know of anybody every raising the issue with the IHSA. I do not think that there is a big difference in the opinions of students and coaches on the issue and that most are in favor of it, though I don't think general opinion matters all that much on unexamined issues and I don't have any data to back up my general sense. We could collect data on this issue or any other by putting out a survey at Kickoffs if some people think it would be helpful.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by First Chairman » Sat May 30, 2009 9:20 am

Matt,

I just speak for me here, but I'm glad you got a chance to go to NSC last weekend, and I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to talk to you and other coaches longer.

I will state that the divergence in the level of play for elite quizbowl (aka good quiz bowl here) and the regular group of teams who don't play so much on the circuit or are not aware of the resources here might not be so impressed with the atmosphere that we try to promote at the NSC. While I cannot say I can have every person experience the collegiality, the opportunities for students to meet others do exist, and we hope that teams really do become inspired to improve and promote to other teams that another level really exists to aspire to.

I do think there are some things that cannot be removed from the equation. Teachers and coaches are needed to mediate interpersonal conflicts among team members, and while it may not be so evident at competition level, we all know from practice purposes that sometimes conflicts and cliques among students arise. Certainly there is the issue of liability and since legally some guardian must be responsible for the actions of those less than 18 years old, coaches must be present. Coaches and advisors are essential for any sustainability plan for a program, and keeping the bar high for those teams. Thus it is with agreement that I concur that any sustainable long-term change must come from both students and coaches driving the bus. As long as we do not split the two, the growth of quality quiz bowl can only continue.

I am concerned about quiz bowl disparities reflecting educational disparities of resources, and that a big factor that will work against the quality of quiz bowl is any appearance or belief that elite quiz bowl is only for elite teams. I guess to use a political analogy, Republicans have to find a way to be more diverse or enlarge the tent. So a challenge I know you recognize is whether those who advocate elite quiz bowl can really reach out to programs that do not have the resources the advocates grew up with. It's not just about broadband internet access; it is about getting the time set aside for students to really practice over the long haul. It's about getting the money for teams to get buzzer systems and go to tournaments. It's about addressing the educational and financial constraints a team has at a specific school or system. These are the more complex problems that will take some courage to address and change, but if left unresolved, will further create the chasm between teams who like and those who will avoid good quiz bowl.
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Re: Aegis Questions no more

Post by mlaird » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:03 pm

I'm glad that there's a good deal of interest in this topic. I guess that when I focused on so-called "student centered" quizbowl, I might have been embellishing what needs to happen a little too much. Here in Illinois one of the big issues that has come up this year is the fact that there are a lot of coaches who arguably ignore the wants and needs of their players/students in favor of making decisions for them, since the coaches "know what is good for them". When Jonah and I ran our player survey, this is the number one objection that we came upon. Some coaches felt that we were going around the coaches' backs because we didn't like the results of the coaches' poll (we didn't), and others felt that players simply don't know enough/deserve to have a voice. This is extremely frustrating from someone who is all about advocating for players' rights (if I can call it that). Has there been anything like this that other states have run into?

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