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Education on dialogue imperative

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


In human societies there will always be differences of views and interests. But the reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist…. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue. – Dalai Lama

Many people find it challenging to converse about subjects that matter deeply to them without getting into a dispute. As a result, public discourse about divisive issues is often characterized by destructive debate that eventually leads to division and violence.

Social media seems to have exacerbated this problem. Before the era of electronic profiles and discussions, communication was face to face, by phone, via email, or in writing. People could select written materials of interest to them and most people were careful to communicate their political and/or social views in ways that were not offensive to those around them.

Now many people log their societal and political viewpoints in social media posts without the normal inhibitions that control they way they communicate in person. Many times the comments are personal attacks rather than ideas. In addition, the caustic comments are continually linked to a person in a visual way that tends to alienate friends and acquaintances that have different views.

While it is comforting to have supporters, it is also important to have outside input. As a result, it is imperative that we find ways to encourage dialogue. For this to happen, people need the freedom to express their viewpoints, regardless of how unconventional or radical, the wisdom and skill to present those ideas in diplomatic ways, and a willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints.

Unfortunately, these skills cannot be learned by osmosis, but must be honed over many years. With the increased focus on standardized tests, many of the classes where students learned to participate in dialog through the discussion on complex topics like firearms, law enforcement, war, race, controlled substances, social programs, gender, corruption, religion, incarceration, media and money, etc. have been removed from school offerings.

Even though these classes are challenging to teach and require government entities to turn a blind eye, students need exposure to topics that have a variety of viewpoints and so they can learn how to effectively communicate with others for the collective good.

If we allow freedom of speech and provide education on effective dialogue, perhaps we can limit the division and violence that is prevalent in the U.S. today.

How kids can benefit from boredom

Medical X-Press – Teresa Belton

“From books, arts and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development? I began to think about boredom and children when I was researching the influence of television on children’s storytelling in the 1990s. Surprised at the lack of imagination in many of the hundreds of stories I read by ten to 12 year-old children in five different Norfolk schools, I wondered if this might partly be an effect of TV viewing. Findings of earlier research had revealed that television does indeed reduce children’s imaginative capacities.”(more)

How to sharpen students’ critical thinking skills online

E-School News – Ian Jamison

“With smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, students have 24/7 access to news, information, and opinions—not all of which are well-informed or well-intentioned. In truth, we are flooded with a constant stream of information online, from legitimate news and facts to websites and social media posts taking sides in intense political debates. In an age when students get the majority of their information from the internet, how can we make sure they know that not everything they find online is reputable? How can we help students become critical thinkers and smart consumers of information who also have empathy for others?.”(more)

Preparing Students for the Computational Future

Ed Surge – Stephen Wolfram

“Pick any field “X,” from archaeology to zoology. There either is now a “computational X”, or there soon will be. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers, whatever—the future of all these professions will be full of computational thinking. Whether it’s sensor-based medicine, computational contracts, education analytics or agriculture—success is going to rely on being able to do computational thinking well. Computational thinking is going to be a defining feature of the future, and it’s an incredibly important thing to be teaching to kids today. But where does it fit into the standard educational curriculum? The answer, I think, is simple: everywhere! One might think that computational thinking is somehow only relevant to STEM education. But it’s not true. Computational thinking is relevant across the whole curriculum.”(more)

Schools aren’t teaching the most important subject for kids

Business Insider – Chris Weller

“Not too long ago, Jana Mohr Lone was at an education workshop in her hometown of Seattle when someone gave her a note. The note was written by a fifth-grade girl. As Mohr Lone read it, the girl’s words began to fill her with joy. “Ever since you left, I’ve been looking at my surroundings more and being careful about who I’m talking to and what I’m saying,” Mohr Lone later recalled, reading the note over the phone. “I’m thankful because you made me think deeper about things and care more about life.” Mohr Lone isn’t a guidance counselor or a therapist. She’s a philosophy teacher, the founding director of the University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children, and the 20-year president of PLATO, a nonprofit focused on bringing philosophy to schools.”(more)

6 Things Science Says Kids Need To Succeed In Education And Business

Forbes – Jordan Shapiro

“In their new book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek ask what it would take “take to help all children be happy, healthy, thinking, caring, and sociable children who enjoy learning and who move toward becoming collaborative, creative, competent, and responsible citizens of tomorrow?” The answer they provide is tailored specifically to a 21st century global economy. They offer a science-based framework, neatly packaged as “the 6Cs”—collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creativity, and confidence. These are “the key skills that will help all children become the thinkers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.” They argue that these are the skills that kids need to become “contributing members of their communities and good citizens as they forge a fulfilling personal life.” The 6Cs are as applicable to business as they are to education.”(more)