The Human Race Will Come To An End. What’s Next?

The Human Race Will Come To An End. What’s Next?
Given evolution’s trajectory, we will almost certainly transform into augmented versions of our current selves. The big question now is, can we survive long enough to become the next humans?

By Chip Walter

Can humans survive themselves?

What does the future have in store for the human race?
Evolution, as the past 4 billion years have repeatedly illustrated, holds an endless supply of tricks up its long and ancient sleeve. Anything is possible, given enough millennia. Inevitably the forces of natural selection will require us to branch out into differentiated versions of our current selves, like so many Galápagos finches… assuming, that is, that we have enough time to leave our evolution to our genes.

We won’t, though. Instead, we will come to an end, and rather soon. We may be the last apes standing, but we won’t be standing for long.

A startling thought, this, but all of the gears and levers of evolution indicate that when we became the symbolic creature, an animal capable of ardently transforming fired synapses into decisions, choices, art, and invention, we simultaneously caught ourselves in our own crosshairs. Because with these deft and purposeful powers, we also devised a new kind of evolution, the cultural variety, driven by creativity and invention. So began a long string of social, cultural, and technological leaps unencumbered by old biological apparatuses such as proteins and molecules.

At first glance you might think that this would be a boon to our kind. How better to better our lot than with fire and wheels, steam engines, automobiles, fast food, satellites, computers, cell phones, and robots, not to mention mathematics, money, art, and literature, each conspicuously designed to reduce work and improve the quality of our lives. But it turns out not to be that simple. Improvements sometimes have unintended consequences. With the execution of every bright new idea it seems we find ourselves instantly in need of still newer solutions that only seem to make the world more complicated. We are ginning up so much change, fashioning thingamabobs, weaponry, pollutants, and complexity in general, so swiftly, that as creatures genetically bred to a planet quite recently bereft of technical and cultural convolutions, we are having an exceedingly difficult time keeping up, even though we are the agents of the very change that is throttling us. The consequence of our incessant innovating is that it has led us inevitably, paradoxically, irrevocably, to invent a world for which we are altogether ill fit. In ourselves we may finally have met our match: an evolutionary force to which even we cannot adapt.

We are undoing ourselves because the old baggage of our evolution impels us to. We already know that every animal wants power over its environment and does its level best to gain it. Our DNA demands survival. It is just that the neoteny (youthfulness) that has made us the Swiss Army knife of creatures, and the last ape standing, has only amplified, not replaced, the primal drives of the animals we once were. Fear, rage, and appetites that cry for instant gratification are still very much with us. That combination of our powers of invention and our ancient needs will, I suspect, soon carry us off from the grand emporium of living things.

The best evidence that we are growing ragged at the hands of the Brave New World we have busily been rolling off the assembly line is that growing numbers of us freely admit to being thoroughly stressed. A recent study reported that the United States is “a nation at a critical crossroads when it comes to stress and health.”* Americans are caught in a vicious cycle: managing stress in unhealthy ways while assembling insurmountable barriers that prevent them from revising their behavior to undo the damage they are inflecting on themselves. As a result, 68 percent of the population is overweight. Almost 34 percent are obese. (This is rarely a problem in hunter-gatherer cultures.) Three in ten Americans say they are depressed, with depression most prevalent between the ages of forty-five and sixty-five. Forty-two percent report being irritable or angry, and 39 percent nervous or anxious. Gen Xers and so-called Millenniums admit to being more stressed about personal relationships than even their baby-boomer parents. It’s so bad that the results of our anxieties have found their way into dental offices, where dentists now spend far more of their time treating patients for jaw pain, receding gums, and worn teeth than they did thirty years ago. Why? Because we are tense and anxious, grinding our teeth down to nubs as we sleep.

Stress, as the experience of lab rats everywhere has repeatedly testified, is a sign that a living thing is growing increasingly unfit for the world in which it lives, and as Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace astutely observed more than 150 years ago, when a living thing and its environment are no longer a good match, something has to give, and it is always the living thing.

How are we handling our stress? Not too well. Rather than relaxing or getting more exercise when pressures mount, studies show that we instead skip meals, spend more time online or in front of the TV, then overeat and lie awake at night perfectly prepared to enter the next day bleary-eyed, short-tempered, and exhausted. What triggers this behavior? Those old primal drives and appetites we struggle so mightily to ignore.

Which returns us to the question, what next?

Our demise doesn’t have to be a Terminator-style annihilation that leaves the world emptied of all humans, postapocalyptic cities stark and decaying with the smashed remains of our cultural accomplishments. It may be more of a butterfly-like metamorphosis, a transformation in which we step over the Rubicon of our old selves and emerge as a new creature built on our own backs without ever realizing, at least early on, that we are no longer the species we thought we were. Did the first Neanderthal know that he, or she, was no longer Homo heidelbergensis? Those passages are made gradually.

Perhaps we will simply morph into Cyber sapiens,* a new human, infinitely more intelligent than you or I are, perhaps more socially adept, or at least able to juggle large tribes of friends, acquaintances, and business associates with the skill of a circus performer. A creature more capable of keeping up with the change it generates. To handle the challenges of time shortages and long distances, Cyber sapiens may even be able to bilocate or split off multiple, digital versions of themselves, each of whom can blithely live separate lives and then periodically rejoin their various digital selves so that they become a supersize version of a single person. Imagine being able, unlike Robert Frost’s traveler in his poem “The Road Not Taken,” to choose both paths, each with a separate version of yourself. It makes you wonder if something essential in us might disappear should such possibilities come to pass. But then, perhaps, that is what will make the new species new.

A whole group of Homo sapiens are already contemplating what the next version of us might be like. They call themselves transhumanists, anticipating a time when future anthropologists will have looked back on us as a species that had a nice run, but didn’t make it all the way to the future present.

Transhumanists foresee a time when beings will emerge who will literally be part biology and part machine. In this I suspect they are right, the logical next step in a long trend. We are already part and parcel of our technologies after all. When was the last time you checked your cell phone or simply walked to work, hunter-gatherer style? We have long been coevolving with our tools. It’s just that now the lines between humans and machines, reality and virtuality, biology and technology, seem to have become especially blurry and will soon twitch and blink away.

Transhumanists predict that by melding molecule-size nanomachines with old-fashioned, carbon-made DNA the next humans might not only speed up their minds and multiply their “selves,” but boost their speed, strength, and creativity, conceiving and inventing hyper-intelligently while they range the world, the solar system, and, in time, the galaxy. In the not-distant future we may trade in the blood that biological evolution has so cunningly crafted over hundreds of millions of years for artificial hemoglobin. We may exchange our current brand of neurons for nanomanufactured digital varieties, find ways to remake our bodies so that we are forever fresh and beautiful, and do away with disease so that death itself finally takes a holiday. The terms male and female may even become passé. To put it simply, a lack of biological constraint may become the defining trait of the next human.

There could be a downside to these sorts of alterations, I suppose, should we find ourselves with what amounts to superhuman powers, but still burdened by our primal luggage. Our newfound capabilities might become more than we can handle. Will we evolve into some version of comic-book heroes and villains, clashing mythically and with terrible consequences? Powers like these give the term cutting edge a new and lethal meaning. And what of those who don’t have access to all of the fresh, amplifying technologies? Should we guard against a world of super-haves and super-have-nots? It is these sides of the equation I wonder about most.

Given evolution’s trajectory, short of another asteroid collision or global cataclysm, we will almost certainly become augmented versions of our current selves. That has been the trend for seven million years. Apes increasingly endowed with more intelligence, and more tools, becoming simultaneously wiser and more lethal. The question now is, can we survive… ourselves? Can we even manage to become the next human? It’s a close question.

I’m counting on the child in us to bail us out, the part that loves to meander and play, go down blind alleys, fancy the impossible, and wonder why. It is the impractical, flexible part we can’t afford to lose in the transition because it makes us free in ways that no other animal can be–fallible and supple and inventive. It’s the part that has gotten us this far. Maybe it will work for the next human, too.

Undermining Public Higher Education

Undermining Public Higher Education

by Richard D Wolff

Let’s talk about the serious crisis that effects public higher education in the United States. First let’s be clear what that is. In the United States in the year two thousand thirteen, approximately fifteen million of our citizens attend colleges and universities. Over twelve million out of those fifteen million attend a public college or university. That means that the overwhelming bulk of the highly trained, highly skilled workforce we produce in this country is created by the public sector by public universities sustained by public funds.

The future of the american economy depends as much on the quality and quantity of these well-trained college and university graduates as it depends on anything. Our future as an economy and as a society is in many senses dependent on public higher education.

How strange it is that our current economic crisis which the public education system had nothing to do with producing, is forcing many of the fifty states in our country, almost all of them, to cutback on the support they give to public higher education; to fire teachers, to cut back on programs, to close whole departments or to demand more money out of students and their families at a time when they can least afford it.

We are damaging the most important institution that trains up our work force and that will shape our economy. That’s a response to the current crisis that amounts to shooting yourself in the foot. It means long-term suffering is the solution to a short term suffering and that makes no sense at all. Let’s be real clear that something deep and dangerous is happening here. Because there are other reasons beside the crisis for taking out the problems of our states on the backs of public higher education.

American corporations have been deciding for decades now to move manufacturing jobs across the world and out of the United States. To provide work in China and India, in Asia, Africa and Latin America instead of to Americans. Over recent years, there is now a flood of moving jobs that are not manufacturing, that our supervisory, that are technical and professional. These are the kinds of jobs for which university education is required and American corporations have decided it’s cheaper to hire an engineer,
drafts-person, a technically equipment graduate from a cheaper university system in India then from one here in the United States.

Well if you’re getting your jobs and trained workers outside the country more and more, then business calculates who needs higher education here in the United States for millions. We’re not gonna hire them, we’re going to hire their cheaper counterparts abroad. So what’s beginning to happen is a collapse of the support of the dominant social group in America, “business” for public higher education.

They don’t need it for their profits so we don’t get it for the education of our children.
To allow this situation to continue is to become part of a process that is driving the United States to a lower and lower standard, not only in economic well being but of culture, of education and all the things that make a civilized society.

It is long past due for the people of this country to recognize that so long as what governs business decisions on the bottom line of profits; not only are the jobs disappearing, but the educational system of the United States is being deconstructed.

Only if the people of America became their own boards of directors, if the wealth and the enterprises really were responsive to the needs of the people would this process stop. It is a self-destructive act to undermine public higher education in the name of a crisis when the same economic system “capitalism” is driving both of those crises upon us.

Teachers opposed to tests get a warning

Teachers opposed to tests get a warning
Seattle Public Schools officials have told teachers boycotting the
MAP tests that they must administer the tests or face suspension.

By Linda Shaw

Seattle school officials sent a letter Wednesday asking principals to inform all their teachers by day’s end that they will be disciplined if they refuse to give district-required tests.

But at a rally Wednesday afternoon at Seattle Public Schools headquarters, teachers boycotting the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, said they would not back down because the tests are an unreliable measure that hurts students.

The boycott, which started at Garfield High, now includes a handful of teachers at ORCA K-8 and 32 staff members at Chief Sealth. Teachers at many other schools have sent letters of support, as have parents and students.

Seattle School Superintendent José Banda, at a news conference held shortly before the rally, said he did not intend the letter to be a threat, preferring to meet with the protesting teachers to find solutions to their concerns. He said he’s received emails from many other teachers who find the MAP reading and math exams valuable.

The district sent the letter, he said, because it has a responsibility to let teachers know what consequences they could face. In the past, the letter said, teachers who have refused to give tests have been suspended for 10 days without pay.

The letter set a Feb. 22 deadline for when teachers must administer the tests.

“They’re playing hardball, so game on,” said Matt Carter, one of the protesting teachers from ORCA K-8.

Quantify This!

Quantify This!
by Robert J. Cabin

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein

A first-generation college student stays after class to talk with his professor about something he found particularly interesting, even though this topic will not be on the test. An introverted student slowly gains enough confidence to start raising her hand and speaking her mind. A group of formerly disengaged and apathetic students are outraged over the injustice of a particular policy and become personally and professionally committed to righting this wrong.

Many of us teachers live for such moments, when for whatever usually intractable combination of factors, we help inspire our students to open their eyes a bit wider, take ownership of their education, and connect their academic learning to the larger world outside their hermetic bubble of tests and grades and program requirements. Yet we have created an educational system that increasingly evaluates and even prides itself on the basis of that which can ostensibly be “objectively and rigorously” standardized and quantified. Consequently, we often ignore or discount some of our greatest achievements, and design our courses and programs around a series of assessment goals whose main attributes are that they can be measured. Thus after the relevant academic committees and outside accrediting agencies have spoken, our initial passion to, say, increase our students’ general interest in and knowledge and enjoyment of music and the fine arts has been transformed and codified into a series of trite bullets such as “students will attend three approved and verifiable concerts and two art exhibits by the end of the semester.”

The desire to quantify and assess educational effectiveness is often paved with good intentions. Because there are poor teachers, pointless classes, and unsuccessful programs out there, we need some way of evaluating what we are doing, rewarding and expanding the best approaches, and weeding out or improving the worst. Moreover, because we are already too busy and too stressed trying to get our “real” work done, the last thing most of us want is to have to devote even more precious time and energy towards onerous and potentially divisive new assessment procedures. Hence we accept standardized tests and guidelines that are quick, easy, and statistically comparable across grade levels, disciplines, and institutions.

This mentality increasingly permeates our assessment procedures even when we are evaluating “alternative” assignments such as capstone projects and applied internships. We dutifully develop universal grading rubrics capable of magically transforming any product or activity into a series of numbers that can be efficiently analyzed and compared. Thus in place of a more personalized and nuanced “subjective” assessment of, say, the actual quality of a thesis project, we subject it to a checklist of objectively quantifiable criteria: “The student produced a paper (double-spaced, 12 point font, one-inch margins at the top, bottom and sides) between 25 and 30 pages long;” “The student followed the approved bibliographic format and cited at least 15 peer-reviewed papers;” “The student dressed appropriately, maintained eye contact with the audience, spoke clearly, and finished within the allotted time period.”

Inevitably, we encounter the student whose work is dreadful, yet somehow manages to fulfill 94% of the items on the checklist and thus has technically earned an “A.” Or conversely, if we are lucky, we get the oddball student who produces a brilliantly original, creative, and insightful project that the spreadsheet says is a “C-.” So we groan and revise the rubric one more time. After too many hours of mind-numbing meetings, we decide to add some additional criteria such as “The student’s work was original, creative, and insightful.” Then we appoint a task force to articulate the official definition of each of these qualities to facilitate their subsequent objective quantification.

The net result of this process is that we wind up with either
1) complex and time-consuming rubrics that generate results at least as variable as the more holistic, subjective assessments they replaced, or
2) rubrics comprised of the kinds of concrete yet meaningless criteria that can be consistently assessed and quantified by any half-functional idiot or semi-intelligent machine.

Whether it bubbles up from within academe or is shoved down our throat from without, our increasingly fervent worship of the god of standardized assessment is leading us astray. It is not making the good in education better, or weeding out or improving the bad. On the contrary, it is cheapening our work and suppressing our students’ and our own individuality and passion, and causing us to at least implicitly design our programs around the checklists and teach to the rubrics. Consequently, despite our best intentions, we wind up devoting too little time and energy towards cultivating the kinds of skills and attributes we like to claim education is all about, such as critical thinking, integrity, curiosity, tolerance, creativity, and service.

The pursuit of objectivity in educational assessment was a subjective decision that biased our subsequent thinking and activities towards that which could be standardized and quantified. The time has come to deliberately begin replacing the present high-stakes, big bucks standardized assessment landscape with a more organic cottage industry of wonderfully diverse, qualitative, and subjective approaches tailored to the specific institutions and situations they will serve. For example, some might choose to assess the effectiveness of their courses and programs by conducting qualitative interviews of their students, alumni, and relevant local community and business leaders. Others might invite outside assessment teams to sit in on their classes, hold candid discussions with their faculty, staff, and students, and simply wander around getting the feel of the campus and its educational culture. The “deliverables” from such activities would undoubtedly provide poor fodder for rigorous quantification, standardization, and competitive ranking systems. However, they just might turn out to actually be highly informative, useful, and even inspiring.

GOP Lawmaker, Wants To Tie Welfare Benefits To Children’s Grades

Stacey Campfield, Tennessee GOP Lawmaker,
Wants To Tie Welfare Benefits To Children’s Grades
by Nick Wing

Tennessee state Rep. Stacey Campfield (R) introduced a bill this week seeking to make welfare benefits contingent upon the grades of a would-be recipient’s children.

Campfield’s legislation, filed Thursday, would “require the reduction of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments for parents or caretakers of TANF recipients whose children fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school.” TANF is more commonly referred to as welfare.

Under Campfield’s bill, welfare recipients would face a loss of benefits if their children showed poor academic performance. It’s unclear how these factors would be tied to one another, or how the children’s performance would be assessed.

In a blog addressing his proposal, Campfield calls his bill a measure to “break the cycle of poverty.” According to Campfield, education is a “three legged stool” comprised of schools, teachers and parents. He claims the state has adequately held the first two legs of the school accountable, but argues that it should apply more pressure on the third.

“The third leg of the stool (probably the most important leg) is the parents,” Campfield writes. “We have done little to hold them accountable for their child’s performance. What my bill would do is put some responsibility on parents for their child’s performance.”

Campfield has been a pioneer of creative ways to target beneficiaries of entitlement programs in the past. He was a driving force behind failed efforts to require Tennesseeans seeking government benefits to first pass drug tests.

He was also the legislator behind Tennessee’s controversial and ill-fated “don’t say gay bill” in early 2012.

Media Profits off Manti Te’o’s Public Humiliation

Media Profits off Manti Te’o’s Public Humiliation

Many college sports fans by now have heard about the mystery surrounding the fake girlfriend of Notre Dame’s star linebacker Manti Te’o. After reading several articles and conflicting statements from numerous sources and alleged eyewitnesses, I discovered that I truly do not care what actually happened, or if Te’o’s “girlfriend” even existed. However, I find the “news” coverage of this soap opera from media outlets like ESPN ridiculous, absurd, and hypocritical. In fact, it would have been better if this whole circus had never been brought up in the first place. This scandal reveals that just as the NCAA exploits student athletes’ abilities for money, media groups like ESPN exploit the fame or shame in what can be gleaned from the personal lives of these college athletes for ratings and profit.

Along with being known for his skill on the gridiron, star player for the University of Notre Dame, Manti Te’o was known for his perseverance during personal tragedy. According to news sources, Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day. For the remainder of the season the NCAA, the Notre Dame athletic department, ESPN, and other sports news outlets used the amazing tale to create an inspirational narrative surrounding the former Heisman hopeful. Thus, Manti Te’o became an inspiring young hero on the quest for a national championship, his name becoming commonplace on radio, television and the internet

In the process, ESPN, a major partner with the NCAA, used Te’o among many other players to promote the National BCS Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama in an attempt to boost ratings because the more people who watch, the more revenue that comes in for the media. But as others began to further explore Te’o’s personal life, it was discovered that this “girlfriend” may have never existed. Whether he intended to or not, it was then that Manti Te’o committed a mortal sin; he made the media look like fools. And another thing, there is not much of a better story than ascension to greatness after personal tragedy…except for the fall from grace. As easily as the media can lift an athlete into celebrity and fame, they can tear them down when they fall (Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong). Many different versions of the “truth” came out. Some of them accused Te’o of lying in order to increase his own fame and for personal gain, even though all of these other groups were using this tall tale for just that reason.

The media began to lay on the pressure on Te’o to come clean with the truth. Te’o has already given his side of story, that he was the victim of a cruel prank. The interview he gave was off the mic with no television cameras and apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the rabid media. They forced Te’o to come clean in front of the camera because they felt the public deserved it. During Te’o interview with Katie Couric, she grilled Te’o about being “the most naive person on the planet” and Couric asked Te’o, “Are you gay?” I don’t know about other fans but I don’t feel entitled to know every detail of another person’s humiliation, something that has nothing to do with their performance on the field. What these media outlets want to do is to again exploit Te’o’s humiliation and his personal life solely for the sake of revenue that comes from higher television ratings. It isn’t actually about the truth; it’s about how many people are going to tune in to watch it.

Schools Requiring Criminal Background Checks For Visitors

Schools Background Check
Visitors In Illinois For Criminal Record


Visitors to schools in a suburban Chicago, Ill., district are now required to undergo a background check as part of added security measures in the weeks following last month’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Frankfort School District 157-C has installed a $2,000 system that uses a visitor’s state-issued ID or driver’s license to conduct an instant criminal background check through a national database, WLS reports. Those who clear the check will receive a visitor’s badge with photo — those who don’t will be alerted to school officials.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure that anybody that comes into the building first has a purpose for being in the building, and then once they’re in the building we’ll do a check to confirm that they’re safe to enter and be with children,” Superintendent Thomas Hurlburt told WLS.

Previously, visitors relinquished their IDs while signing in at the front office and retrieved their IDs upon departure, according to The SouthtownStar. The school also locks its external doors during the school day and requires visitors to be buzzed in to the building.

Illinois’ Lincoln-Way High School District 210 has also added a background check procedure for visitors, in addition to a security management system that features 911 panic buttons.

But similarly strict security measures couldn’t stop an armed shooter in Newtown, where Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary by breaking a window and opening fire. The Newtown school district had spent 10 times more on school security training this year, implementing regular lockdown drills, instituting a photo-ID visitor sign-in procedure and locking its front doors shortly after school started in the morning.

Still, parents and teachers in Frankfort say that while the new system might not stop another Sandy Hook massacre, it is still an added layer of security.

“Hopefully it will keep our kids safe and if it deters one person, then it is worth it,” parent Tania Murray told WLS.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, lawmakers across the country are introducing legislation ranging from stricter gun laws to adding armed guards and even arming teachers to protect schools.

As part of a series of far-reaching gun control proposals, President Barack Obama recommended Wednesday a federal $150 million “Comprehensive School Safety Program” that would help school districts hire school guards, counselors and other staff.

Creating, Tinkering, Inventing and Imagining Our Way to the Top

Creating, Tinkering, Inventing and Imagining Our Way to the Top

by Dori Roberts

If you were to peek through the door of most preschool classrooms or observe young children playing at home, you would likely find kids creating, tinkering, inventing and imagining. Their hands would be busy and their minds would be racing a hundred miles a minute with all different types of creative possibilities: A rollercoaster using foam pipe insulation! A rocket from a plastic water bottle! A bridge from paper and tape! These kids are engineers. Most just don’t know it. Yet.

I began my career as a high school technology and engineering teacher. During that time, I witnessed amazing ideas high school students developed and implemented around engineering-related challenges. I saw firsthand how students could begin to address real-world problems with their innovation. My own son, who was 6 at the time, became very interested in the students’ projects. Upon searching for an after-school STEM program for him, I realized such a thing did not exist. So, I began to dream of a program that would introduce STEM concepts to young children. In 2009, I founded Engineering for Kids, which brings science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to kids ages 4 through 14 in a fun and challenging way.

A recent study conducted by Intel Corporation revealed that 63 percent of teens have never considered a field in engineering. Additionally, 44 percent said they would consider engineering as a career if they knew more about it. Bingo. By exposing children to STEM-related classes beginning at age 4, we can help inspire them to consider engineering as a career. Many of our youngest students at Engineering for Kids are females. This is not statistically true in most fields of engineering. We need to catch girls while they are still young have not yet received gender stereotypes that may lead them away from an interest in engineering. I hope that through the classes, camps and parties we offer, both boys and girls will realize that the majority of engineers in the world — the ones who solve big-deal problems and invent all kinds of helpful gadgets and gizmos — do not wear blue and white striped hats and red bandanas around their necks. I hope they realize that they have already been in training as engineers as they have created, tinkered, invented and imagined.

Engineers use science, technology, engineering and math to change the world in both small and big ways. Though engineering education has been virtually absent from most elementary schools, plenty of classrooms around the United States teach science and math in a fun way. Many teachers are innovative and inspiring. What is different, then, about STEM education and its importance to the future success of our workforce?

• Integrated: For starters, it is an integrated approach to presenting and solving real-world problems. Students may work to design a bridge using a limited number of index cards to support a specific amount of weight. For a project like this, students need to consider mathematical concepts such as geometry and measurement in addition to scientific principles such as stress, tension and shear.
• Cooperative: STEM education mimics professions in the real world because of its collaborative nature. Students are encouraged to bounce ideas off one another and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes.
• Applauds failure as a step toward learning: One of the most important elements in a successful STEM program is what the students learn when their projects, plans and ideas fail. Many classrooms in the United States frown upon failure and are shamed when their less-than-superior standardized test scores are printed in the local paper. Many teachers do not feel like they have the time that is necessary for their students to learn from their mistakes. They must keep moving forward. STEM education applauds failure because it means that the learning is not finished yet. It means there is more problem solving to be done. It means that students get more time to create, tinker, invent and imagine. Something in which they excelled during their preschool years.

The total number of jobs in the United States is projected to grow by 10 percent between 2008 and 2018. The total number of STEM-related jobs is projected to grow by 17 percent during the same period of time, leaving 2.4 million job openings in STEM fields by 2018. If we can introduce children to STEM-related fields at a young age and encourage them that an integrated, cooperative approach to learning from our failures is vitally important to their education and the future success of our nation, we will have done our job. We will have inspired the next generation of engineers.

Are Video Games Good For Kids?

Dr. James Gee, Arizona State University Professor,
Proclaims Video Games Are Good For Kids
video game addiction
The focus on addressing gun violence in American society has relaunched a discussion about video games and what effects they have on youth. But are they actually a beneficial teaching tool?

Dr. James Gee is currently the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona State University. Gee has researched how children are affected by video games and believes they are good for kids.

See video by clicking on the link below:–james-gee–video-games-are-good-for-kids-517650431?icid=OnHomepageC3_Trending_Tag

Teaching Technology: 10 Lessons Every School Should Share

Teaching Technology: 10 Lessons Every School Should Share

by Scott Steinberg

According to the Center for Digital Education, schools spent nearly $20 billion in the last two years on technology costs, and with the increasing acceptance of tools like iPads or other tablets in the classroom, that figure should only continue to grow in the coming years ahead. But aside from simply having the right equipment and instructing children in basic technology usage, what else should educational institutions be teaching kids about technology, starting as early as kindergarten? Here are 10 essential technology lessons every school should teach – in many ways, our children can’t afford to leave school without learning all of the below:

1.Online Etiquette – Perhaps just as important as table manners and other social graces, teaching kids how to act online is one crucially important way that schools can reinforce the lessons parents should be teaching at home. For those interested in learning more, we dive further into these concepts for kids of all ages (and adults) in our book Netiquette Essentials.

2.Privacy and Safety – As a major concern for parents as well as the federal government, keeping kids safe online and their information private will remain a top priority, and should be for schools too. While online platforms and the corporations behind them all need to act appropriately as well, it’s even more important that kids be taught now how and what they can share online without divulging or losing their precious data.

3.Permanence of Information – It has been previously stated that any information disseminated online is permanent: The need to keep revisiting this topic is because of its importance. The fact is that information can be used against kids and will be if they’re not careful. Above all else, kids need to realize they can’t take something back online, even if they put it out there in a moment of haste.

4.Digital Citizenship – Technology can be used as a force for good, and Digital Citizenship is all about empowering kids to use it as such by acting appropriately and spreading positive messages. As previously explained in Section V, Digital Citizenship can be a cornerstone for how Generation Tech takes advantage of technology in their future, both for the benefit of themselves and other digital citizens they interact with. In addition to socializing and communicating online, kids who use technology in more of a philanthropic way will get much greater benefit from their time online.

5.Texting and Messaging Basics – Texting is perhaps the most popular tech-based activity for tweens and teens, so schools should make sure kids understand the ramifications and effects of these seemingly disposable communiqués. From avoiding overage costs to the consequences of negative or controversial texts, teachers can’t afford to bury their heads in the sand to this ubiquitous young adult activity.

6.Tech Isn’t Everything – While technology has no doubt made life more convenient, few if any are the experts that would argue against the continued importance of real-life interactions and play to the developing adolescent brain. There’s still immense value in reading actual books or tinkering with real-world problems and building physical objects – offline play is more important than online in many cases. However, both prove a nice complement to one another: There’s room for both in children’s lives.

7.Technology Addiction – Just as with drugs and drinking, there are dangers that kids, teens and even grown-ups can become addicted to certain types of technology, whether it’s a video game, social network or even texting. Schools need to help kids recognize the dangers and warning signs of too much tech and what to do if someone needs help, including providing support, guidance and – if needed – assistance with reaching professional help.

8.What to Do When Mistakes Are Made – Whether it’s by themselves or through engagement with one of their friends, it’s inevitable that kids will engage in inappropriate conduct or behavior using technology, whether such infractions are intentional or not. Kids need to know what to do when they access a questionable site, observe controversial content and view or participate in online behavior that’s unacceptable. Understanding that mistakes will be made – kids will be kids, after all – and providing appropriate support and guidance is crucial to positive growth and development.

9.Technology as a Teaching Tool – It’s important that kids don’t feel that technology is a negative aspect of life, or that it’s only to be used as a reward or pleasurable experience. The truth is there are a great many benefits to technology, and kids should be taught them so they don’t have to feel guilty about the role it will continue to play in their life. Those that provide continued learning, education and self-empowerment can easily be highlighted and prized most of all – especially with regard to interactive tools that promote real-world interests and social engagement.

10.The Value of Technology – Kids are just beginning to experience the impact that technology has on their lives now and will continue to in the future. And while it remains unseen what kind of innovation there is to come, by educating kids early on – both in the classroom and at home – about the benefits (and potential risks) of technology, it’s more likely that they’ll appreciate its value and truly become responsible digital citizens because of it.