Texas Standard: April 3, 2020

Jammed phone lines, websites overloaded, for thousands of Texans seeking unemployment help and hitting walls. So what’s next? Our conversation with the Texas Workforce Commission about efforts to get relief out to Texas’ newly unemployed. Also, legal pushback on paid sick leave ordinances, where do we stand? And when does lots of space mean you’re really cooped up? Survival tips from someone who’s been there. Plus the week in Texas politics with the Texas Tribune and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 1, 2020

The governor issues new orders on social distancing. Just don’t call em shelter in place. We’ll take a closer look at the packaging of a statewide pandemic response. And religious gathers now considered essential in the Lone Star State. Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune with more on the Governor’s latest guidelines. Also rapid turnaround deportations. How the Coronavirus crisis has changed the rules at the U.S. Mexico border. And stay at home-schooling tips from homeschooling veterans. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:


The Texas Legislature is considering changes to school standards. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.

Higher Ed: Confronting Gender-Based Academic Bias

The author of a summer op-ed in the New York Times (no, not that op-ed!)  believes girls would benefit from more drilling on math to “break the cycle of dislike-avoidance-further dislike” and help them build confidence in their math skills (which research has shown are pretty similar to boys’ math skills).  In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton  discuss the op-ed’s call for gender-based additional academic practice and how to undo lingering biases about gender and academic performance.

We hope the days are long gone in which girls were considered less skilled at math and the sciences, and boys were considered under-achievers in reading and language arts. The data don’t bear those differences out, but lingerings biases may still lead some students to be treated as if they are true – or to act as if they are true.  In this episode, Ed discusses social science research that shows any effort that amplifies the bias – even by calling it out – can actually reinforce it. He also believes students should always be encouraged to improve their understanding and performance, regardless of their gender or the academic subject.

Listen on for our discussion as well as for the solution to last episode’s puzzler about the mysterious stamp switch.

This episode was recorded on Aug. 9, 2018.

Math, Music, and The Brain

There are some things that just feel like they’re true. For example, the idea that people who are gifted musicians are also good at learning math, or vice versa.

However, there isn’t any data that suggests that there are any links in the brain between these proclivities. As Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about in this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, we underestimate the role emotions play in what we believe to be true.

Higher Ed: Navigating a Math-y Career Pivot

A listener wrote in to “Higher Ed” about his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in pure mathematics after studying classical piano performance and working as a pianist. In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss becoming a mathematician later in life and the joys and challenges of making a career shift. Focus, passion and commitment. Those are some of the qualities Ed says are necessary to successfully pull off a career pivot to mathematician – or to pursuing any new field. As a matter of fact, Ed says “talent is secondary to commitment” when making this kind of change. Preparing for a job interview for a new job? This week’s puzzler could help. It’s a “classic” that actually gets asked in some job interviews.

This episode was recorded Aug. 10, 2017.

Higher Ed: How I Learned to Love Calculus

Was there a subject in school that seemed so hard and unsatisfying to study that even to this day the thought of it makes you cringe? For many students, that subject was Math. And perhaps more specifically, Calculus. Maybe it was the confusing terminology or seemingly abstract concepts. Can Calculus ever redeem itself? Is it ever useful? In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger give Calculus a second chance. In a previous episode, Ed promised Jennifer he could clearly explain Calculus in just a few easy steps. Jennifer now takes him up on that challenge. Can Ed make Calculus accessible and maybe even fun? Listen on to find out, and to hear the solution to the puzzler about the Road to Truth.

This episode was recorded on October 4, 2016.

Texas Standard: June 30, 2016

How hot is it? In a Texas prison, it’s hot enough to kill, and there’s reason to doubt it’ll change anytime soon. Plus- at least 28 cases of flesh eating bacteria confirmed in Texas. Is it safe to go to the Gulf, or a case of media hype? And one unintended consequence of the Texas border surge? More troopers who identify as Hispanic. The latest in the changing of the guard. Also you’ve heard about the petroleum reserve…but why do we need a helium reserve, and why in Texas? Plus what’s behind the two sinkholes in Wink. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Higher Ed: Math vs. Arithmetic

Arithmetic is just a fancy word for Math, right? Actually, they mean two different things. In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explain what “arithmetic” means; what “math” means; and why it matters to our learning and lives. You’ve heard us say a lot on “Higher Ed’ that Ed is a math guy. Find out what it means to be a “math” guy (compared to an “arithmetic” guy). Ed and Jennifer also discuss whether you have to be born good at math, or whether math prowess can be taught. Test that prowess with a stab at the new puzzler; you’ll actually need arithmetic and math to think this one through.

This episode was recorded May 16, 2016.

Higher Ed: Making Math Fascinating

A podcast listener and fan recently wrote in with a question: How does one teach (or force) current and future Math teachers to make Mathematics fascinating? (By the way, that podcast listener is studying Mathematics education.) Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger is a mathematician, so who better to tackle that! He and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explore that question in this episode of Higher Ed.

It can make us squirm, sweat, and stress out. Math is a frightening school subject for some, but does it have to be? Ed and Jennifer talk about ways teachers can lessen the sting of Math and make it something that engages rather than turns off students. You’ll also get the solution to the most recent puzzler. Remember the one that required a little Algebra to get the solution?

This episode was recorded on March 28, 2016.

Higher Ed: Should Math Be a College Requirement?

Math: we love it; we hate it; we cannot live without it. A Higher Ed podcast listener had read a National Public Radio piece on a book that argues against requiring advanced Math in school. That listener – who’s studying Mathematics education – was inspired to write in and ask: Should Math be a college requirement? Does Math add significant value to a college curriculum? Can students become lifelong learners without taking Math? KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore those questions in this episode of Higher Ed. Ed’s a mathematician, so you know it’s going to be a lively discussion about the role and utility of Math in college curricula. But you might be surprised to hear whether or not he thinks it ought to be required. Be warned: you may need a little of that algebra you learned in school to solve the newest puzzler; it’s unveiled in this episode.

This episode was recorded on March 28, 2016.

Higher Ed: Conquering Math “Phobia”

“I was told there would be no math!” It’s a line people sometimes say in mock frustration when faced with a situation involving arithmetic.  For some people, the thought of doing addition or subtraction causes their hearts to race and their palms to sweat. Why is that? Why do so many of us fear numbers? In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger confront the concept of math phobia and explore ways to conquer it. Ed and Jennifer delve into the reasons why some people are math averse and discuss if it’s really math, or arithmetic, that people don’t like. Whether you love it or can leave it, listen on to hear a celebration of the “nerdiness” of math and to hear Ed issue a heartfelt apology. What for? You’ll only know by checking out this episode.

Higher Ed: The Meaning and Nuance of Numbers

From pre-K and all the way through graduate studies in math, we learn about numbers. But think about it – what is a number, really? What does the concept of  “four” or a “million” of something actually mean? In this week’s episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed,  KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger try to define what numbers really are. Hear some stories about first graders’ take on the meaning of numbers. And it turns out humans aren’t the only species that uses the concept of numbers. Ever heard of the “limit of four?” Listen on to find out what it means, and what is tells us about how humans and other species make meaning and learn.