Finally, I have to question your basic premise that Scholastic Bowl has to be accessible to all students, because that's a premise that no other sport aspires to...
Acctually it wasn't "my" basic premise, I was referencing IHSA's basic premise and I would have to correct you as it relates to the IHSA it does apply to all sports. I do not suggest that the inclusion of Vocational education questions should be made so that they can score points, but your arguement suggests that they should be excluded because others can't answer them.
Your tactic of presuming that I must be wrong since only your stated goal is to be accepted, despite the fact that my points are based on the IHSA stated goal (which is the subject before us),is without value. I acknowledged that the subjects are most likely not going to be accepted by this forum, just as this forum's views are unlikely to change the IHSA's view on the matter. However, my premise was that there was intellectual value to be found in the subjects and that questions could be developed and that I still feel I can support.
I think you may have misunderstood where I was coming from with my post; I certainly didn't intend to misrepresent your opinion using some sort of tactic. Since you said that "IHSA has as a prime objective to provide opportunities for all students" and then made some comments implying that you supported this premise, I acted accordingly; I apologize if I was mistaken.
Anyway, perhaps I should reexplain my argument.
First, I'm coming from the assumption that the purpose of Quiz Bowl (including Scholastic Bowl) is to differentiate which team has better knowledge of important academic subjects. Though my assumption doesn't explicitly say so, it's implied that what is considered "important academic subjects" is based on the high school curriculum because of my second assumption, which is:
Quiz Bowl questions should be answerable (the metric usually used is that 90% of tossups should be converted by the target audience of a tournament with 90-50-10% conversion for easy-medium-hard bonuses).
I think these are assumptions you can agree with me on, though if there's some fundamental flaw in them, please feel free to point that out.
Based on these two assumptions, I believe that home economics and vocational education are generally poor topics to write questions on because such questions generally fail to aspire to the above standards. For example, the tossup you imagined on "calipers" has a number of flaws which I feel are emblematic of the flaws most any tossup on a similar subject might have:
Caliper Tossup wrote:Without spending time in structuring the question, going from harder to easier, I would develop a question concerning "calipers" that might begin with clues that differentate it from other tools in that its measurement is attained through comparitive means as opposed to a thread ratios that are more easily subject to wear. (1) Next clues might be related to its early development as a tool for measuring internal and external dimensions often using a secondary scale for taking final measurements (2) but later models had a built in vernier scale system. (3) Current popular models utilizing dial and electronic readings have improved their accuracy significantly. (4) Name this device most commonly found in a 0 -6" model and commonly associated with lathe work. (5)
At point 1, the tossup fails to provide a clue which points unambiguously at the answer. Not only does that make it fairly unhelpful, but even worse, the clue is a hose because there are any number of instruments that measure using comparative methods, including most obviously a ruler or yardstick. I'd imagine that many tossups on industrial technology would suffer from this issue through the fact that most of the information learned by industrial technology students can't be defined via specific events, works, authors, etc. which define Quiz Bowl.
At point 2, I would still have trouble pinning down what this question is asking for because it remains vague. Not only are many instruments are used to measure internal and external dimensions, but some require second scales, such as inclinometers (which require the use of conversion tables).
Point 3 is more or less the only unambiguous clue before the giveaway of the question; as far as I'm aware, Vernier only names calipers and no other type of device. However, I'm also under the impression that Verner is fairly well known, so I can't help but wonder whether this is too easy for a middle clue.
At point 4, I've heard another ambiguous clue--I can think of half a dozen instruments this could apply to.
Point 5 contains two fairly decent clues, except that I'd question whether calipers are most commonly used in lathe work; we own calipers (and definitely don't do lathe work!) for a variety of precise measurements and we've used them in class for a variety of other tasks.
Now, I hope you don't think by dissecting your question I'm trying to attack you individually--I believe you're knowledgeable about calipers (certainly more than I am!) and aware of how pyramidality works. Rather, I'm just making the point that it seems fairly difficult to write industrial technology questions well.
Now, that's not to be said that a nominally pyramidal question on calipers couldn't be written, for example:
Caliper Tossup, Version Two wrote:An early example of this instrument was found in the wreck of a Greek ship off the Tuscan island of Giglio. The modern version was invented by Joseph R. Brown, it has been described as the first affordable tool for precision measurement. (1) Versions of this instrument include the oddleg as well as the inside and outside versions designed to measure the namesake versions of the quantity these instruments are meant to measure, though the best known version was designed by its namesake French scientist Pierre Vernier. For 10 points, name this instrument which uses a fixed and a moving jaw to measure an object's length, generally along a six inch ruler.
ANSWER: Vernier _Caliper_
Now, I don't have any delusions that this tossups is perfect (the wording could definitely use work, for starters), but it's at least reasonably pyramidal, at least as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, it only suffices to demonstrate the issues with home economics questions because:
1/ The lead in (the clues before 1) is more or less impossible to answer, since it comes from a report on a Greek shipwreck and a 90 year old book on American and British toolbuilders. Certainly, it's not realistic to expect high schoolers to know these clues. More importantly, though, these clues are also not important to the kinds of people who use calipers; whereas math or science history might be important to understand the derivation of formulas, etc., I don't think anyone would argue that knowing that the Greeks had calipers helps anyone to use or understand one.
2/ After point 1, we have a massive difficulty cliff. Not being an expert on the subject, I can't say for sure, but I imagine inside and outside calipers are fairly well known (since even I've seen them and recognize them). However, I don't really have any other clues to work with. As a result, all this question manages to differentiate is people who know things about calipers and people who don't, since most everyone who knows about calipers probably knows about both the inside & outside as well as the Vernier version, while everyone else will know that it's the thing that measures length (if they know it at all).
More importantly, though, I don't feel that this tossup really rewards industrial arts students for their knowledge of their topics; there's much more to using a caliper, I'd imagine, then knowing just a few names. Similarly, though as an electrical engineering student, I regularly have to use multimeters, I don't really see any value in being able to name historical multimeter designers or models, etc. In essence, such knowledge is trivial
. In contrast, I think the knowledge tested on the liberal arts canon, including topics not normally covered in school, is important because it serves as the foundation of our society, and deep knowledge in those topics genuinely reflects a deeper understanding of those subjects (or at least is intended to), which does have genuine value.
mrgsmath wrote:However as a coach and teacher in a small rural community that depends on agriculture and manufacuring, I also see the value of some knowledge outside the traditional fields cited . I only offer this to illustrate that different people consider different things to be of intellectual value and our words often can be misinterpreted as condesending to some. In the end wouldn't you prefer the driver on the interstate to have at least as good an understanding of the rules of the road as he does of the works of Walt Whitman, even if IHSA doesn't require that knowledge in a round.
I certainly understand where you're coming from; however, because of the reasons I mentioned above, I simply don't think a preponderance of Home Economics and Industrial Technology questions (never mind about Driver's Education) is consistent with the purpose of Quiz Bowl. That doesn't mean that knowledge isn't important, rather, just as I would prefer that driver to know how to drive as well as how to swing a tennis racket but don't think that Driver's Ed should earn points in tennis, I don't think the ability to know driving rules should be tested in Quiz Bowl if it's not possible to write good questions on the topic.
Edit: I know you don't support Driver's Education questions either, but I think the above paragraph would work as well with "Home Economics" or "Industrial Technology" in lieu of Driver's Education.
Thus, in summation, I don't think that Home Economics and Vocational Education constitute valid topics for Quiz Bowl because not only is it nearly impossible to write good questions on them, but even pyramidal questions on the those topics largely ask about trivial knowledge of them. While I cannot say that such topics are never legitimate topics for questions, as it stands, such questions are disproportionately bad as written and thus should be reduced in number or folded into some sort of miscellaneous category.