Field Notes 1/7/18: On Mars, Moby-Dick, and a Mastery Transcript

A crewed mission to Mars will demand expertise from a wide range of disciplines, including physics, engineering, psychology and geology. Less obvious, it will also require us to scrutinise any antecedents that could help us to prepare for one of the most difficult undertakings in history.

Perhaps nothing better prefigures this most daunting and ambitious of quests than the whaling industry of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bruen, Matthew. Aeon. How the whalers of Moby-Dick could help put humans on Mars.

Under pressure from an unprecedented constellation of forces—from state lawmakers to prestigious private schools and college admissions offices—the ubiquitous one-page high school transcript lined with A–F letter grades may soon be a relic of the past…

“We are accustomed to academic reports from around the world, including those from students who have been privately instructed and even self-taught,” said Marlyn McGrath, Harvard University’s director of admissions, replying via email about the transcripts. “In cases where we need additional information, we typically ask for it. So we are not concerned that students presenting alternative transcripts will be disadvantaged because of format.”

McKenna, Laura. Edutopia. Will Letter Grades Survive?