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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?

iCivics: How Games Can Teach Kids to be Better Citizens

“We’re hoping to create forums on our site for discussion around those activities, for recognition of particularly successful activities, and for organization of students around particular public policy issues and ways to tie the games to those issues that kids care about.”...

UCSD Extension: Teens At FabLab San Diego Experiment with Creative Computing

At FabLab San Diego, students and community members are invited to come “make almost anything.” The space is a digital design and fabrication laboratory that invites the public to experiment with high-tech tools. At Hackasaurus Jam, Mozilla Encourages Young Programmers to Change the Web Tinkering the...

Hands-On Hacking: Young Programmers at FabLab San Diego Use Math and Science to Dissect Technology and Make it Their Own

UCSD Extension is proud to partner with FabLab San Diego to implement the STE[+a]M approach to learning in a hands on environment. FabLab’s Katie Rast has been instrumental in taking this concept from just an idea into reality.

-Edward Abeyta, Ph.D.
Director of K-16 Programs at UC San Diego
k12.ucsd.edu

StudentSpeak Webisode 21 from Spotlight on Vimeo.

StudentSpeak Webisode 21 from Spotlight on Vimeo.

This week’s StudentSpeak webisode goes behind the scenes at FabLab San Diego, where teens are learning to experiment with technology in a hands-on programming course.

“We give them the chance to hack,” said FabLab Program Director Katie Rast.

FabLab San Diego is a digital design and fabrication laboratory that invites the public to experiment with high-tech tools. This year, FabLab offered a creative computing course to local middle and high school students through a partnership with University of California San Diego Extension, Media Arts Center San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

“We want the students to understand how things that they see in their physical environment can be translated, using code, into a virtual environment,” Rast told Spotlight.

UC San Diego TV – Arts and Music

Musicians and Middle Schools: What Creativity Means" is a series of television presentations designed for classroom use in middle schools to foster direct engagement with creativity by students in all curricular areas through relaxed, personal encounters with some of the major musical creators of our...

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.

Ballot measure vital for arts programs – San Diego UT

Thank you for highlighting the incredible number of students introduced every week to the power of music making by elementary music teachers in the San Diego Unified School District (“School music, arts programs on chopping block,” SignOn San Diego, March 6)....