The Right Brain Initiative

Many of us have been talking about the right brain and the whole brain and the urgent need to nurture both hemispheres in our young people. Our kids need to have the new thinking skills so in demand in an economy crying out for creativity...

Art and Physics at the Lux

Lux sees its mission, primarily, to "support artists in the development of new projects through a residency program, and share their discoveries with scholars, art patrons and a regional and national audience," and to "educate and engage the community to foster an appreciation of the...

Measuring Creativity in California and the Nation

The Conference Board and experts in the field say creativity is what the workplace will be demanding. California's proposed Senate Bill 789 establishing such a committee, similar to the one already signed by the Governor of Massachusetts, will develop an Index to measure and inspire...

Redefining “Local” Government

 John M. Eger – Huffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy, San Diego State University

Posted:  04/ 7/11 03:41

The new global knowledge based economy, not to mention our current fiscal crisis, demands that government rethink how to organize itself to be most competitive. That might mean cutting out a city council or two, a few mayors of other top administrative posts in the name of efficiency.

The idea of stimulating economic prosperity by reorganizing government, as Neil Pierce syndicated columnist has been writing for years, is that regions, or “citistates” as he calls them, should be looking to develop synergies with nearby cities or counties. “Cities and towns that have a shared identification,” he argues, “function as a single zone for trade commerce and communication and are characterized by social, economic and environmental inter-dependence.”

Most people already live in one jurisdiction, work in other, and play or dine in a third. They have no idea that this is so and that the cost to them is enormous because of the duplication and waste. Moreover, they do not realize that the new creative economy demands consolidation to save money of course. But more is at stake than simply, dollars, or even turf or power.

According to Bruce Katz, a founding director of the Metropolitan Economy Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., “There is a fundamental disconnect between how we live and work in large portions all over America and how we govern.”

There Is a Serious Flaw in College Admissions – John M. Eger

John M. Eger – Huffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State University

Posted: 03/28/11 10:42 AM ET

 

Is who gets admitted to one of America’s coveted universities each year mostly a numbers process that is badly flawed? You are more likely to have success at LOTTO.

Depending on the college, admissions people like to think that they have set the bar at the right level to screen out only those applicants that meet the colleges’ requirements. Some look closely at the personal letter, if required, to find the young man or woman who offers the creativity the college demands, or the empathy or the passion. But this only comes after the combined scores are tailed and the cut offs are applied.

The truth is that most schools, particularly given the sheer number of applications, rely on GPA and SAT scores. According to the New York Times, Harvard received a record 27,278 applicants “for its next freshman class, a 19 percent increase over last year. Other campuses reporting double-digit increases included the University of Chicago (18 percent), Amherst College (17 percent), Northwestern (14 percent) and Dartmouth (10 percent).”

The problem is that GPAs vary school to school. The SAT, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. It doesn’t vary as much, but is increasingly being discounted by colleges because, many critics have accused, has a cultural bias toward the white and wealthy kids.

Science Teachers Love Art

John M. EgerHuffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 21, 2011 02:14 PM

There is a growing debate in America about art and science.

Explaining the Universe: Why Arts Education and Science Education Need Each Other author, scientist, and educator, Alan Friedman, says, “I am a science educator who finds this story (of the Universe) deeply fascinating and profound.” But most children do not know this story. ‘The solution is not just finding more good science teachers and developing good science curricula, but also encouraging more and better arts education.”

Recently, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), issued a paper called “Reaching Students Through STEM and the Arts.”

The paper states, “Teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are discovering that by adding an “A” — the arts — to STEM, learning will pick up STEAM.”

They are of course talking about former president George W. Bush’s initiative called the America Competes Act, also known as the STEM initiative for Science Technology Engineering and Math.

That bill authorized $151 million to help students earn a bachelor’s degree, math and science teachers to get teaching credentials, and provide additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college.

Now, three years later, more and more people are asking why just math and science? Why not the arts, too?

Merging C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures

John M. EgerHuffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 17, 2011 12:12 PM

Fifty years ago, physicist-turned-novelist C.P. Snow talked about “two cultures” of physicists and writers and the “hostility and dislike” that divided the world’s “natural scientists — its chemists, engineers, physicists and biologists — from its literary intellectuals.”

He found it strange that more scientists weren’t artists and musicians and more artists lacked a similar interest in the sciences. What happened to the classically trained person? he mused. In his day (turn of the 20th century), all these subjects were “branches of the same tree.”

Yet for the last 100 years or so, it seems, things have not changed. Society rarely blurs the lines between the disciplines of art and science. You are either going to grow up an artist or musician or a scientist or mathematician — as Snow said, two distinct cultures.

That cultural divide, Natalie Angier of the New York Times reported, “continues to this day, particularly in the United States, as educators, policymakers and other observers bemoan the Balkanization of knowledge, the scientific illiteracy of the general public and the chronic academic turf wars that are all too easily lampooned.”

Can we change this divide? Can we eliminate the silos in our curriculum? Can we reinvent our systems of education to give our young people what they need to be a productive member of our society and economy?

The International PISA Tests Are Leading America Astray

John M. EgerHuffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 15, 2011 05:07 PM

Yes, we need to change the education system.

Not because we tested so poorly — again — on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. Rather, because the world has changed and we are witnessing a new, global, technology-driven, knowledge economy.

Yet, every three years when the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tests 15-year-olds around the world in math, science and reading, we go crazy with angst and despair and promise to fix the current education system.

Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, an otherwise trustworthy spokesperson, exclaimed: “Our students scored in the middle of the pack! We are not No. 1! Shanghai is No. 1! We are doomed unless we overtake Shanghai!

The New York Times, also writing about the PISA tests, interviewed U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who said: “We have to see this as a wake-up call … I know skeptics will want to argue with the results, but we consider them to be accurate and reliable, and we have to see them as a challenge to get better,” he added. “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.”

I guess we need more tests to get our students ready for the next PISA?

First Eliminate All the Majors and Degree Programs

John M. Eger – Huffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State

Posted: March 11, 2011 10:49 AM

Just look at the college catalog — any college — and you will soon discover that more than half of the courses added in the last twenty years boast how “cutting edge” they are. But often, they don’t replace anything. In other words we keep adding to the curriculum making it even more confusing for the student, and making it even more difficult to get out in four years.

In fact, in the CSU — Californian State University — system, the average stay is about six years.

We need to seriously rethink the university curriculum, and literally reinvent it. For starters, we should eliminate all the colleges, all majors and degree programs, and rethink the entire curriculum.

Call it zero-based (education) budgeting.

What do our graduates need to know and why in this new global technology driven world?

The Chronicle of Higher Education, an academic journal covering post-secondary education in the United States, recently raised the question of whether university majors are “silos” inhibiting learning.

I believe that silos are one of the reasons that administrators and faculty have such a difficult time making changes that count. Further, the university majors that exist today are not necessarily job related. Indeed, we all know, a degree of any kind is no guarantee of a job.

What is important is that young people “learn how to learn” (acquire genuine thinking skills) in college and, if possible, find out what they can be passionate about.