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Schools need freedom to make our kids intelligent

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In the late 1990s Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist working at Harvard University, broke intelligence into eight areas: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Even though many psychologists disagree with Gardner’s views on intelligence, the categories he created provide a good base for the abilities people need in the modern workplace.

It is nearly impossible for someone to succeed if he/she is only intelligent in one area. Artistic products require technical and financial support and the most technical products require beauty and a strong user interface. It is pointless for a scientist to conduct amazing research unless he/she can effectively communicate his/her findings to his/her colleagues; and it makes no sense for a musician to create beautiful songs, unless he/she can execute successful contracts so the songs make him/her money.

In short, all kids need strong visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal abilities. Sadly, few children graduate from high school with strong abilities in all these areas. Perhaps it is because we have tasked our K-12 schools with so many things (teaching, coaching, parenting, counseling, etc.) that it is impossible for them to succeed.

Maybe we should encourage schools to return to their primary mission. Then they can focus all their energies on maximizing visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligence.

This limited focus would give schools time to rethink their approach to building intelligence and encourage them to find ways of identifying learning gaps early. They would have time to implement third party curriculum based testing (teachers have not seen the test ahead of time) at least once a quarter. Then teachers could identify deficiencies within a few weeks of when a student has missed a concept and could take corrective action quickly,

Some people worry that returning the focus of K-12 schools to academic areas would impact students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal development. In fact, the opposite might be true. Instead of relying on schools to offer sports, leadership, and other pursuits, schools could contract with community organizations to handle these activities. These organizations have lower overhead, so they could offer these activities at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, the students would have a wider range of options available to them.

Technology has changed the world. Now it is time for us to set aside preconceived ideas and think about how we can change education to prepare children for this new world.

Teach your children to THINK

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Efforts to control the minds of children are at an all-time high. Most kids spend a lot of time learning “what to think” and very little time learning “how to think”. As a result, parents need to take a proactive role to make sure their children are not manipulated.

Mind control has been an issue since the beginning of human existence. The difference today is a new communication medium, the Internet. At first it was a relatively unbiased source of information. As it has matured, governments and companies have learned to control it.

Now Internet searches are based on the preferences of the owners and employees of the search engine companies and paid advertisers. In addition, social media companies have started censoring dialog. Twitter and Facebook recently deleted accounts from people who were promoting ideas that were not popular with company management. While most people do not agree with the viewpoints presented in these accounts, it does not mean it is wise to remove these dissenting voices. If companies can cut these accounts, what prevents them from cutting other accounts when it is political expedient?

History is written by the winners and is often sanitized to support specific political agendas. As a result, school history is generally far from reality. The problem is compounded because standard textbooks are rarely complemented with materials that include opposing viewpoints.

In addition, journalists and writers have prejudices that are based on upbringing, education, and access to information which means most news stories have a significant slant.

In higher education, professors tend to promote similar perspectives, because the tenure and publication system discourages alternative thought. This uniformity of ideas is dangerous, because it can lead to myopia. Some people argue that theories having to do with manmade climate change, technical capabilities of ancient civilizations, and brain differences between genders have not been properly vetted because of this bias.

Fortunately, it is possible for parents to circumvent the mind control efforts. First kids need to learn discipline. Then they need to be taught how to research, respectfully question conventional thinking, and present alternative viewpoints. After that it is important for parents to make sure schools are using textbooks and supporting materials that cover subjects from a variety of perspectives.

Finally, it is imperative for families to discuss classroom topics at home. This way parents can expose their children to viewpoints they may not be hearing at school.

Opportunity follows kids who know how to negotiate

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Negotiation is a part of the human experience whether someone is trying to come to common ground with a family member on who cleans the kitchen or an employer on salary. As a result, it is imperative for everyone to learn how to negotiate effectively.

 

It is impossible to become a good negotiator without practice. This means children need age appropriate opportunities to negotiate with siblings, peers, buyers and sellers, and people in positions of authority.

 

Early in life, most negotiations are related to peer and sibling interactions – who gets the ball first, who gets the colored pencils, etc. Fortunately, family structure and the early education system in the U.S. provide many opportunities for kids to practice these peer-to-peer and sibling negotiations.

 

By the time children enter middle school, they are ready to learn how to negotiate with buyers and sellers and people in positions of authority. Most U.S. children do not have many opportunities to practice these types of negotiations.

 

U.S. tweens and teens aren’t involved in many business transactions that require negotiation, however, they have plenty of opportunities to negotiate with people in positions of authority about issues with classroom assignments and grades, sports team and drama and music group tryouts, etc. The issue is parents handle most these negotiations for them.

 

There is some uncertainty about why parents handle these negotiations for their kids. Some people argue that college has become so expensive that parents want to ensure scholarship money is available. Others believe parents are living through their children.

 

I heard a story that adds perspective.

 

A girl wanted to join an advanced sports team that was well beyond her abilities. The girl and her mom discussed the requirements and the possible outcomes. Then the girl trained diligently, asked her current coach for a recommendation, arranged a tryout at the new team, practiced what she would say to the new coach, and went to the tryout by herself. She worked hard and improved at every practice. When the coach told her he was adding national level players to the team rather than her, she asked if she could stay and train.

 

He was so shocked with her work ethic and ability to advocate for herself that he agreed. Months later when she asked if she might be able to join the team, the coach agreed.

 

Perhaps parents should reconsider their approach. “Letting go” teaches more and often provides greater opportunity.

 

Universities to introduce quotas for first-time applicants

The Helsinki Times – Jussi Niemeläinen

“IN the future, universities and other higher education institutions must reserve study places for applicants who have not accepted a study place in a degree programme or completed a degree in a Finnish higher education institution.
The obligation is set forth in a proposal presented for parliamentary consideration on 14 November by the Government as part of its structural policy programme.
The objective of the proposal is to increase the share of first-time applicants who receive a study place and, thereby, to expedite the transition of young people from secondary to tertiary education, says Immo Aakkula, a counsellor at the Ministry of Science and Education. Higher education institutions will also be obliged to accept transfer students – that is, students transferring from one institution or degree programme to another – and to grant them credits for their previous studies. Transfer students, in turn, will be obliged to forgo their previous study place upon their transfer to another institution or degree programme.”(more)

A long history runs through it

China Daily Africa- Andrew Moody

“Heilongjiang River is the backdrop for author’s exploration of the Sino-Russian relationship over the centuries.
Dominic Ziegler believes major geographical features can be as responsible as people for shaping history.
This is one of the themes of his new book, Black Dragon River, about the 4,500-kilometer Heilonjiang River, which forms a large part of the border between Russia and China.
He believes it had a major role in defining the relationship between two neighbors that are culturally different.
“Before I began research on the book I hadn’t been aware just how seminal the river and its terrain was in shaping the relationship between these two countries. Without being too deterministic about it, it was a case of how geography shaped geopolitics.”
Ziegler, who was speaking at the central London offices of The Economist, where he is Asia editor, says despite being the ninth largest river in the world, few pay it much attention.”(more)

Innovate or perish: What Turnbull’s statement means for Australian research

OPINION- Alan Duffy

“In science, there is a motto, “publish or perish”, which is a reflection of how we define success – simply the number of papers you publish in high quality journals. If you don’t publish enough, then you will struggle to find research funds.After today, perhaps science has a new one, “innovate or perish”, a motto that could be shared with the nation as a whole.As announced in the Turnbull Government’s innovation statement, the metrics by which researchers will be judged (and ultimately universities funded) are to be broadened to include engagement impact, where research activities will also take into account those efforts to work with industry and ultimately commercialise discoveries.”(more)