#facts #truth #science #InconvenientTruth
Who would have thought that facts – truth – and science would get such a bad name.
Most people like facts when they suit one’s preferred narrative. But, like the weather, facts can be inconvenient.
At one time, everyone celebrated scientists. They were considered the great minds of our society.
Now, some people not only don’t celebrate scientists when their research produces facts that they don’t like, but they criticize, even condemn them.
One can see a concerning pattern developing here. If facts are not facts, and real science is not considered truthful or acceptable, what’s the point of education?
Well, some of those who do not like some facts or science are trying to redo education so that students don’t learn those facts or science.
If students don’t learn what’s true, or are unable to properly discern truth or science, how productive will they be to society? How will their natural curiosity be changed? Will they be discouraged from being creative?
Creativity and curiosity are essential in all humans. To try to tamp that down in young students is doing them – and the world – a disservice.
Facts and science can be inconvenient, to which former U.S. Vice President Al Gore can attest. But the problems that knowledge, creativity and curiosity can solve will not go away.
If you live in a place in which people in power are trying to tamper with facts, science, creativity, curiosity and education, tell them you want all of those things emphasized in your schools.
Beliefs, faith and truth do not always match. Having faith is certainly laudable, but, if the truth contradicts what one believes via faith, reconcile those differences. Other generations have done that quite well.
If you have children, encourage them to be curious. Encourage them to be creative. Encourage them to want to change the world, if they don’t like it. Most of all, encourage them to do all they can to make the world a better place.
Certainly, one could argue that some people’s worlds don’t need changing. But, the world as a whole could use more kindness, more tolerance and more empathy.
Encourage children to embrace those characteristics in their own persona.
The world around you will not always be what you want it to be. But, embracing the people in the world for who they are would be a great start toward improvement.
The lesson here is that facts and science – truth – are usually not a matter of opinion.
Sure, what was once true can no longer be so. Some science can be, perhaps even needs to be, challenged.
But challenging facts and good science can produce knowledge vacuums, which can be filled by wild conspiracies, even fiction.
Beware of the person who tells you that 2+2 can’t be 4. That person usually finds facts inconvenient, so he or she just makes up stuff.
The person who can discern honest truth is one who will help change the world.


#knowledge #intelligence #wisdom #education
Knowledge is different from intelligence.
Both are different from wisdom.
Knowledge is the collection of facts, information and skill. These can be acquired at any age. They can be acquired either through reading, education or by doing.
Intelligence can be acquired naturally. Or, it can be honed through learning. It takes intelligence to apply knowledge properly.
Wisdom can only be required through experience. It can be learned in youth through mentoring, but it more likely comes with learning by doing over time.
One can know a lot, and not apply what he or she knows intelligently. As one applies knowledge, properly or not, presumably, over time, he or she gains wisdom.
However, consistent misapplication of knowledge can help one evade wisdom.
We all want to be knowledgeable, intelligent and wise. Depending on the person, that can be a tall task.
The begged question here is: how does a truly knowledgeable, intelligent and wise person behave?
As humans, we make decisions. Not all decisions are good. Virtually no one can make every single decision a good one.
But knowledgeable, intelligent and wise people make more good decisions than bad ones.
One’s character is shaped by decisions. A person of good character doesn’t just want everyone to think he or she is knowledgeable, intelligent and wise. He or she wants to believe he or she is so.
Usually, that means saying less and doing more. It also means doing good things even when no one is watching.
If you know you are being watched, however, model your good behavior with pride.
Many people, if not all, can attain the three characteristics. But, attainment has to start with the inner desire to do so.
Some have no interest in, and couldn’t care less, whether they are knowledgeable, intelligent or wise. To them, life is lived on their own terms, regardless of the consequences.
Others have disabilities that keep them from attaining their full potential. But they, too, can attain a great deal if they have the desire to do so.
Knowledge, intelligence and wisdom are there for the taking for most, if one has the desire.
The combination of traits does not, in itself, make a good person. But how one applies each of those traits can determine the type of person one becomes.
So, do you have the knowledge, intelligence and wisdom to be the best you can be?
If not, do you want to be your best?
How one thinks about those questions can determine one’s path to success and happiness.


#BookBans #education #students #teachers #parents
Parents are clamoring for certain books to be banned in schools.
Do students want the same thing?
It appears no one cares what the kids think.
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tackled this subject in her October 11, 2022, column.
“(Parents) often roll their eyes or guffaw when students themselves defend the books, suggesting that while they want to protect kids, they don’t want to hear their views,” Downey writes.
Downey asked students who have attended school board meetings and hearings what they would like to tell adults advocating book bans.
“I would ask them not even to change their viewpoint, but to keep and open mind. Even though I didn’t agree with what the parents were saying, I still listened. They refused to listen. Whenever someone would speak against book bans, they would start yelling. I also wish they were more informed. They were taking so many things out of context.”
That quote comes from Anvita Sachdeva, a senior at Forsyth County High School, outside Atlanta.
The whole debate about banning books and “protecting” kids centers on open minds vs. closed minds.
So many fear that schools will indoctrinate children into believing things that oppose what they are taught at home by parents, at church or in other non-school locales.
Past generations were easily able to reconcile what they were taught in church, at home and in school, even if there were seemingly contradictory narratives.
Why do some parents fear that no longer is the case?
Perhaps these parents so desperately want their children to think exactly as they do. They don’t want them exposed to ideas, religions etc., that differ from theirs.
Parental restrictions may be the purest form of indoctrination.
The other problem is that parents objecting to certain texts take certain passages out of context, thereby condemning the entire work without reading it in its entirety.
Something that may have a good, even wholesome, overall message may have passages that are less so.
That seems like the old forest vs. trees syndrome.
In short, children should be taught to have open minds, for it is a closed mind that prevents innovation. In that quest, they may come across words, attitudes and behaviors they find objectionable. But that’s not nearly as important as raising a child to think for himself or herself.
Parents certainly want to teach children right from wrong. There are certainly words, attitudes and behaviors that are universally right or wrong. But, children are unlikely to become gay, or trans, based on what they are taught in school. Those are not learned behaviors, but are natural feelings.
Exposing children to people, cultures and beliefs that may not sync up with what their parents believe can not only open their minds, but teach them to accept others for who they are.
By doing that, the world will be better. The children themselves will be better people. And, unexpected friendships could result.
That should be the goal of every parent.


#truth #deceit #4CornersOfDeceit #debate #facts #conspiracies
The “Four Corners of Deceit”: government, science, academia and the media.
The late radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh coined this term several years ago, as he claimed climate change was a hoax.
Contrary to that theory, former Vice President Al Gore called climate change “An Inconvenient Truth” in his book.
This is not just a simple debate. This “dispute” creates parallel universes of “truth.” One is smart to treat everything one reads or hears, purported as fact, with a skeptic’s ear.
But to take on our origins of knowledge without any basis of fact is reckless, even dangerous.
It has led to debates about what children should learn in school. Do we want our kids to learn only what we want them to know, or hear? Or, do we want them to learn the truth and follow the facts wherever they lead? We shouldn’t want them to believe things just because we want them to believe them. We should want them to be thoughtful, mindful and diligent about discerning truth from conspiracy, then making up their own minds about what to believe.
For example, certain types of discrimination are carefully taught in some households. But, as children go out into the world, they often find that what they were taught to hate cannot, and should not, be hated.
They may come across people whose behaviors they do not understand. But they learn that that is no reason to hate them.
Limbaugh may have found those institutions to be deceitful because they exposed things that were contrary to HIS version of the truth.
Certainly, one knows that not everything that comes out of those four corners is true. One can also ascertain that government, or some forms of media, can and do create narratives intended to make people believe what those institutions want them to believe.
But academia’s and science’s sole purpose is, or should be, to find the truth, teach the truth and not dress the truth in something that might make it look like something it is not.
By labeling our institutions as pillars of deceit does a disservice to our way of life. It does a disservice to our ability to advance our society, progress with new inventions and find ways to live even better lives.
Facts can be pesky things. They can get in the way of a good story. But, they can also expose REAL deceit among people and entities.
We’ve morphed into a society that, when someone doesn’t like something, he or she feels free to make up something different. We’ve come to believe that if someone with a big megaphone says something loud enough, often enough and unwaveringly enough, at least some – enough? — people will presume it is true, even if it isn’t.
Such a society is not a good place to raise and educate children. Children must learn how their ancestors created the world, and the tactics they used. Some of those tactics need teaching so the next generation will behave differently, and for the better.
No one is perfect. No one acts perfectly all the time. We make mistakes. But we, or those who come after us, must acknowledge those mistakes for what they are, so they will not be repeated.
Challenging certain truths can do real damage to the world we so carefully want to preserve.


#CollegeEducation #education #colleges #EducationDecisions
Does one get a college education simply to get a good job? Or, does one get a college education to expand his or her mind, and learn to think critically?
It appears most students today view a college education in practical terms: what’s the (employment) payoff at the end?
But, should they?
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, explored this topic in her May 10, 2022 column.
Downey quotes from the book “The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be,” by Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The authors accuse college of “mission sprawl” and abandoning their main purpose, which they describe as enabling students to analyze, reflect, connect and communicate on the critical questions they will encounter in their lives and in the world, Downey writes.
“You go on a college tour and you hear about 100 different things,” Downey quotes Gardner. But what they don’t hear enough, in the authors’ minds, is how colleges develop the mind, Downey writes.
“If students don’t leave college better thinkers, writers and communicators, the colleges fail their core mission, Downey attributes to the authors.
Let’s break down what a college education is, and should be.
First, let’s establish that no college education is wasted, if the student vigorously pursues his or her studies, regardless of what his or her major is.
But, if a student, or his or her family, is paying dearly for that education, the student and family can reasonably expect a payoff at the end. Usually, that’s defined as a good job and career launch for the student. Worse yet, if the student incurs thousands of dollars in debt for that education, he or she had better have a good income to pay it back.
Today’s political environment might describe what the Harvard authors say the colleges’ mission should be as “indoctrination” of a certain political position. Or, as Downey calls it, “political correctness and free speech.”
A college education today also involves fun, new friendships, sports and other entertainment that can help mold a young person’s life.
This begs the question: why can’t a college education accomplish both the academic and practical goals students may have?
Certainly, some students’ studies can focus on critical thinking. Others can focus on the practical skills and knowledge that will help them launch the careers they want.
It boils down to choices. A student first must figure out what he or she wants to do after college. That requires him or her to take a certain batch of core courses toward that end. But in every semester schedule, there are usually electives that a student can choose to take that may have nothing to do with his or her major, but are of personal interest.
The smart student will choose those electives to help him or her develop his or her mind and make him or her a more well rounded, or well grounded, person.
Remember, too, that a college education isn’t for everyone. So, students and parents must determine whether the prospective college student is suited to college and ready for college (academically and financially).
The choices the student makes if he or she goes to college will determine how he or she uses his or her degree after graduation, and what kind of person he or she becomes.


#teachers #education #parents #SchoolAuthorities #TeachersQuitting
First, the pandemic imposed extra stress on teachers.
Then, politicians started telling teachers what they could teach, how they could teach it and what books or other tools they could use.
It’s hardly a wonder why teachers are asking why anyone would do this job.
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tackled the rapid departure of teachers in a recent column.
She quotes a Rand report on the pandemic’s role in teacher resignations. Researchers found that half the teachers who resigned did so because of the pandemic, she writes.
She also writes that stress, more than low pay, was almost twice as common a reason for resigning.
“At least for some teachers, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have exacerbated what were high stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to, among other things, work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment, often with frequent technical problems,” Downey quotes the Rand report.
Teachers didn’t leave the profession necessarily for higher-paying jobs. The Rand researchers said most teachers who left took jobs with either less or about equal pay, Downey writes.
The Merrimack College Teacher Survey, a poll of more than 1,300 teachers conducted by EdWeek Research Center in January and February 2022, says the profession is in free-fall, Downey writes. Only 12 percent of K-12 teachers are very satisfied with their jobs, down from 39 percent a decade ago,’ Downey quotes the survey. It also says the salary satisfaction rates are lowest in the South and Midwest. Only 21 percent of teachers in those areas believe their pay is fair for the job they do, Downey quotes the survey.
In 2011, 77 percent of teachers believe their profession is respected. Now, only 46 percent of teachers believe that, Downey writes.
In short, teaching is a relatively low-paying profession that politicians love to pick on. There is already a teacher shortage, which could become acute if the pressure and restrictions on teachers continue.
Certainly, everyone wants parents actively involved in the school(s) their children attend. Some mostly inner-city teachers have seen a lack of parental involvement as a serious problem.
But, there is a difference between involvement and interference. Involvement means parents are supporting what teachers are doing, and encourage their children to vigorously participate in their education.
Interference means parents are standing in the way of teachers teaching truth to children. Few teachers will put up with that for a long time.
People go into teaching, and education in general, for the love of the job. They certainly don’t do it to enrich themselves. Yet, good teachers can play a significant role in making the world a better place by encouraging students to learn.
If the current milieu continues to chase away teachers from the profession, we may soon have schools that can’t educate students.
Those in authority over schools should not only know the difference between parental involvement and interference, but also the difference between educational improvement and educational destruction.
Teachers acutely know the difference and are voting with their feet.


#teachers #schools #students #education
The thrill is gone.
So says Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when talking about why teachers are leaving the profession in droves.
Certainly, teachers, in fact schools, are being asked to do more than just teach kids. They have to be a psychologist, cook and other things for children under their care.
Teacher pay is relatively low, and the responsibility keeps increasing.
On top of that, teachers are being used as political cudgels when parents protest the teaching of “critical race theory,” which is not taught in any K-12 environment.
Downey talked about all of this in her column published Nov. 23, 2021.
Many non-teachers have, over time, thought teachers had it pretty good. They made “decent” pay, and had great benefits, including three months off every year, the thinking went.
If teachers thought their pay was low, they could augment it during the summer and on extensive school breaks. In fact, many teachers had summer jobs, and worked in department stores over the Christmas holiday break to supplement their income.
At the same time, back then, parents had a good deal of respect for teachers. If a child’s teacher reported to parents that their child did something wrong in school, the parents almost automatically believed the teacher.
Today’s parents seem to have less respect for teachers. The parents, particularly those who’ve experienced hard economic times, see them as public employees who have economic protections many parents don’t have.
The teachers have become handy targets for abuse – much of which is unjustified.
Therefore, teachers are walking away in large numbers. They are looking at other opportunities that seem to be popping up. To them, teaching has become something they didn’t sign up for. Even the dedicated teachers who love what they do are becoming increasingly frustrated.
This begs a question: what will public education do to keep teachers in the fold? Many locales are reluctant to significantly increase school funding. In fact, many taxpayers want their schools to do even more, with even less than they get now.
We consider our teachers as essential workers. The pandemic made teaching children even more difficult.
School systems will have to reckon with these problems for the foreseeable future. How they attract and retain teachers will be a big part of that reckoning.
To parents who unfairly criticize teachers and schools, think of what it would be like without them.


#graduations #GraduationSeason #education #jobs #careers
It’s graduation season, and we tend to see it as an end.
But, it’s really a beginning.
Consider the adage: it’s the first day of the rest of your life.
Most grads have plans. Some will go to college, grad school or some other higher education. Others will get jobs. The main thing to hope for is that where you go next is someplace you want to go.
At graduation ceremonies, the exiting students will hear messages like, “find your passion.”
If your passion won’t pay the bills, exercise your passion, but also find something that will make you a living.
If you are graduating from college, hopefully you are not saddled with debt. If you are, hopefully your education will help you pay it off comfortably.
If you are graduating high school, hopefully you’ve thought long and hard about either college, work or some combination – say, work full time, school part time or vice versa.
Remember, too, that college is not for everyone. Make sure that if you go on to college, you are prepared in every way. It’s OK if you do not think college is for you. There are other endeavors you can pursue that will educate you and potentially make you a living.
Most importantly, always think about the future, no matter what you will do. One day, you could get married and have a family. One day, you will retire. On the latter, here’s hoping that you can do it on your own terms. Not everyone can say that.
Both of those life endeavors require preparation, financial and otherwise. If you have a job, set aside a portion of your paycheck — even $5 a week – for savings. Start with a bank savings account. As it grows, get some good investment advice and act accordingly.
Be disciplined enough not to dip into your savings for frivolous expenses. You want a good nest egg for your retirement. Those who retire comfortably had made good decisions when they were younger.
You CAN create a nest egg and still enjoy life now by watching where your money goes. That means prudent spending.
Also, whatever you decide to do, remember to give rather than take. As you give and help others, most of what you want will come to you.
So, as you go through graduation ceremonies, celebrate and enjoy. Then, give thought to where you go next. Work hard, but play, too. Form relationships. Make everything you do less about you and more about others.
No matter what you do, your potential is infinite if you make it so.
Go into adulthood with the attitude of setting goals and achieving them, no matter how long it may take and no matter what circumstances befall you.
It’s not what happens to you that matters. It’s how you deal with everything that happens. Finding something good in every situation is a good first step.
As stones cross your path, find ways to go over them.
Best of luck to all the grads.


#OnlineLearning #NormalSchool, #education #teachers #studemts
Parents and students of all ages have had to deal with a lot of school online.
But two Georgia Tech computer scientists are arguing that online learning can be as effective as in-person classes.
Their book, “The Distributed Classroom,” by David A. Joyner and Charles Isbell, was the subject of a column by Maureen Downey, who writes education commentary for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her column was published Sept. 28, 2021.
“No matter the age of their children, most parents favor a return to ‘normal school,’ which they define as how they learned – a teacher in front of a room and students in desks,” Downey writes.
But Joyner and Isbell call for classes spread across many locations and times, totally contradicting the belief that parents and teachers must meet together in a room at fixed times, Downey writes. (As an aside, the fixed time and classes were designed to teach kids promptness and how to follow a schedule, skills they would need in a “normal” workplace.)
“There are several features we developed of the past year that students want to continue, such as recorded classes. Going forward, I think we have to disentangle several developments that went together during COVID-19, but don’t have to go together going forward,” Downey quotes Joyner.
She writes that the professors don’t envision a student sitting at his or her kitchen table staring at a screen all day. Students can take online classes while going to school. The professors also believe online learners can form bonds with each other, as do graduate students in Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science(OMSCS) program, the column says. (Another aside: if students form bonds on social media, why can’t they do so through online classes?)
Previously, a question had been posed: if Student X wanted to take a class with Professor X, who may be miles away, why can’t that happen? Professor X is teaching his or her class anyway, why not let him or her teach it to thousands, even millions, at a time?
If Professor X’s lecture time isn’t convenient for Student X, couldn’t Student X view and listen to the class on a recording?
If COVID-19 helped advance those concepts, what will education look like in the future? Instead of School X having, say, three third-grade classes, how about one third-grade teacher and several teacher aides to offer one-on-one assistance, help grade papers and other work etc. ? Yes, the students can be in a school building if that’s preferable.
It may mean that students may get to know the teacher aides better than they know the teacher, but it could save school districts lots of money and help alleviate teacher shortages etc.
Taking the concept further, how about one teacher for multiple schools, again with aides helping individual students?
The teacher would do the same work preparing for classes. Online allows for interaction among students, though, in this scenario, a teacher teaching hundreds or thousands of students would make lots of interaction between teachers and students in real time difficult.
Educators, in general, have vivid imaginations. School systems and politicians, in general, can constrain such imaginations.
We will all have a front-row seat to watch how education evolves, how student life changes at all levels and how those who study can flex their time to accomplish whatever activities in which they need and wish to engage.
“Normal school” may look a lot different in years to come.


#CollegeEducation #colleges #education #investments
“If you are sending (your child) here (prestigious college) to get a job, you are sending them to the wrong place.”
That’s the likely response you would get from the admissions director of a prestigious college if you questioned him or her about a return on your investment, according to Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Downey discussed the return on investment for a college degree in a column published Nov. 16, 2021.
Meanwhile, that same day, cnn.com published an analysis by Ronald Brownstein, a CNN political analyst, that concludes that the infrastructure bill approved in Washington that same week is heavily weighted to create jobs for blue-collar, non-college-educated workers.
What should we make of all this? First, college is not for everyone. Most advisers tell young people that college is the key to getting a good job.
But as Downey’s column points out, it largely depends what a student majors in that will determine his or her post-graduation job prospects, and likely salary.
So, especially if you are planning to go into debt to go to college, think long and hard. Some college majors, mostly in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, may be worth it.
Others, particularly in the liberal arts, may not – presuming you are expecting a dollar return on that investment.
But, if you just want an education, and money is not going to be a concern, then college could be a great learning experience and, perhaps, a fun four years.
If you are not suited to college, and are more suited to a trade, there will be a need for plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc., for the foreseeable future.
If neither of these paths suits you, there are a number of programs out there that could give you a potentially lucrative income, without having specific education, experience or background.
These programs, too, may not be for everyone. But if you have ambition, an open mind and are willing to be coached, they may be a very good alternative.
To learn about one of the best such programs, message me.
Education of any sort is never a bad thing. The more one learns, the more one can grow.
But college is expensive and time-consuming. Four years in college is four years of earning little, if anything. You have to see the payoff – not necessarily financial – at the end.
Remember, too, as Downey points out, in general, the more education you have, the more you are likely to earn, vs. the person with less education.
But getting back a lifetime of great earnings in exchange for going through college may not necessarily happen.
Therefore, careful choice is required. You have to know who you are, and who you want to be, to make such a choice.
The same path does not lead everyone to the same destination. Learn where you not only want to go, but also what best would suit you.
There is a path for everyone. Your path may not be the same as your friend’s. You have to find your own way.