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Gov. Jeb Bush — What Florida Can Teach America About Empowering Families Through Education Freedom

The 74 Million – Jeb Bush

“Without aspiration, our great country becomes just another country. And so it is disturbing when current surveys show that young people believe they will be worse off than their parents, and their parents agree with them. And when statistics reveal that those born into poverty are likely to remain stuck there, more so than at any time in our recent history.”(more)

What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Social And Emotional Skills’?

KQED News Mind/Shift – Anya Kamenetz

“More and more, people in education agree on the importance of schools’ paying attention to stuff other than academics. But still, no one agrees on what to call that “stuff.” I originally published a story on this topic two years ago. As I reported back then, there were a bunch of overlapping terms in play, from “character” to “grit” to “noncognitive skills.” This bagginess bugged me, as a member of the education media. It bugged researchers and policymakers too. It still does.”(more)

Together, technology and teachers can revamp schools

The Economist – Staff Writer

“IN 1953 B.F. Skinner visited his daughter’s maths class. The Harvard psychologist found every pupil learning the same topic in the same way at the same speed. A few days later he built his first “teaching machine”, which let children tackle questions at their own pace. By the mid-1960s similar gizmos were being flogged by door-to-door salesmen. Within a few years, though, enthusiasm for them had fizzled out. Since then education technology (edtech) has repeated the cycle of hype and flop, even as computers have reshaped almost every other part of life. One reason is the conservatism of teachers and their unions. But another is that the brain-stretching potential of edtech has remained unproven.”(more)

Education on dialogue imperative

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

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.

Want happy, successful kids? Teach them empathy

Today – Dr. Michele Borba

“”What do kids really need to be happy and successful?” Hundreds of parents have asked me the question, and my response surprises most. “Empathy” is my answer. The trait that allows us to feel with others has the reputation of being “touchy-feely,” but new research reveals that empathy is far from “soft,” and it plays a surprising role in predicting kids’ happiness and success…Empathy is also a positive predictor of children’s reading and math test scores and critical thinking skills, prepares kids for the global world…what many researchers are starting to realize is that empathy is not an inborn trait. Though our children are hardwired to care, they don’t come out of the womb empathetic…Empathy is a quality that can be taught — in fact, it’s a quality that must be taught, by parents, by educators, and by those in a child’s community. And what’s more, it’s a talent that kids can cultivate and improve, like riding a bike or learning a foreign language…The best news is there are dozens of simple and no cost ways to help us raise more empathetic kids…here are a few parent favorites to get you started.”(more)

Astronaut Alvin Drew Calls for More Arts Education

Inverse – Sam Blum

“A oft-used acronym in the world of education and politics, STEM stand for science, technology, education, and math — but today in Washington, a former NASA astronaut proposed adding arts & humanities to those core subject areas. This proposal for so-called “STEAM” — the “A” is for “arts” — education was made by Alvin Drew, who traveled to space twice, once aboard the space shuttle Endeavour and once to the International Space Station…“I see STEM evolving into STEAM, the A being for arts and humanities,” Drew said. He noted that the public often shies away from meaningful engagement with hard science, because it’s easy to get lost while navigating equations and ethereal concepts…The former astronaut and Air Force pilot implored students in the crowd to “go out there and put ideas on paper” in ways that are compelling.”(more)