Friday, September 27, 2013

Which Job Skills Will Be Most Important In The Coming Years?


Listen To The Machines

One of the most compelling concepts in Average Is Over is “listening to the machine.”
The smarter machines become the more it shapes how human beings have to change. We used to be rewarded for sheer brainpower — smarts — but now if the machine is smarter than you or sometimes smarter than you there’s a new scale, and that’s knowing when to defer. It’s about knowing when are you better and when is the machine better and, of course, increasingly, it’s often the machine. I think of humility as a virtue, a practical virtue that’s making a comeback.
Who is poised to do well in the future and what can we do to better prepare for how you see things going?
The people who will do better are those who are very good at working with computers, programming and software. That’s a rather obvious point but I think as income inequality increases people who are very good at positioning themselves in service sectors with some kind of marketing plan or somebody that can grab the attention of wealthier people will do well. Basically, the scarce skills for the future are all about psychology because computers right now still don’t do that very well. The good jobs will be about branding. They’re all about figuring out how to get other people’s attention and I think that’s really the growth sector we’re looking at.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Losing Is Good for You

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"Today, participation trophies and prizes are almost a given, as children are constantly assured that they are winners. One Maryland summer program gives awards every day — and the “day” is one hour long. In Southern California, a regional branch of the American Youth Soccer Organization hands out roughly 3,500 awards each season — each player gets one, while around a third get two. Nationally, A.Y.S.O. local branches typically spend as much as 12 percent of their yearly budgets on trophies.
It adds up: trophy and award sales are now an estimated $3 billion-a-year industry in the United States and Canada.
Po Bronson and I have spent years reporting on the effects of praise and rewards on kids. The science is clear. Awards can be powerful motivators, but nonstop recognition does not inspire children to succeed. Instead, it can cause them to underachieve."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Homework discussion


This post is slightly different from my others because it incorporates two articles and looks at the topic of homework, asking some serious questions about it from different points of view.

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"Esmee is in the eighth grade at the NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies, a selective public school in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. My wife and I have noticed since she started there in February of last year that she has a lot of homework. We moved from Pacific Palisades, California, where Esmee also had a great deal of homework at Paul Revere Charter Middle School in Brentwood. I have found, at both schools, that whenever I bring up the homework issue with teachers or administrators, their response is that they are required by the state to cover a certain amount of material. There are standardized tests, and everyone—students, teachers, schools—is being evaluated on those tests. I’m not interested in the debates over teaching to the test or No Child Left Behind. What I am interested in is what my daughter is doing during those nightly hours between 8 o’clock and midnight, when she finally gets to bed. During the school week, she averages three to four hours of homework a night and six and a half hours of sleep.

 Some evenings, when we force her to go to bed, she will pretend to go to sleep and then get back up and continue to do homework for another hour. The following mornings are awful, my daughter teary-eyed and exhausted but still trudging to school."

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"Do American students have too much homework, or too little? We often hear passionate arguments for either side, but I believe that we ought to be asking a different question altogether. What should matter to parents and educators is this: How effectively do children’s after-school assignments advance learning?
The quantity of students’ homework is a lot less important than its quality. And evidence suggests that as of now, homework isn’t making the grade. Although surveys show that the amount of time our children spend on homework has risen over the last three decades, American students are mired in the middle of international academic rankings: 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, according to the most recent results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
In a 2008 survey, one-third of parents polled rated the quality of their children’s homework assignments as fair or poor, and 4 in 10 said they believed that some or a great deal of homework was busywork. A recent study, published in the Economics of Education Review, reports that homework in science, English and history has “little to no impact” on student test scores. (The authors did note a positive effect for math homework.) Enriching children’s classroom learning requires making homework not shorter or longer, but smarter."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reading this will help you understand your Generation Y child better.

Say hi to Lucy.

Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.  She's also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y.  
I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group—I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs.  A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.
So Lucy's enjoying her GYPSY life, and she's very pleased to be Lucy.  Only issue is this one thing:
Lucy's kind of unhappy.
To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place.  It comes down to a simple formula:

It's pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone's life is better than they had expected, they're happy.  When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they're unhappy.
To provide some context, let's start by bringing Lucy's parents into the discussion:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to make school better for boys.


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"Similarly, in Maine, the Portland Press Herald ran an alarming story about the educational deficits of boys—reporting that high school girls outnumber boys by almost a 2-1 ratio in top-10 senior rankings, that men earn about 38 percent of the bachelor's degrees awarded by Maine's public universities, and that boys both rich and poor had fallen seriously behind their sisters. But the director of Women’s Studies at the University of Southern Maine, Susan Feiner, expressed frustration over the sudden concern for boys. “It is kind of ironic that a couple of years into a disparity between male and female attendance in college it becomes ‘Oh my God, we really need to look at this. The world is going to end.’”
Feiner’s complaint is understandable but seriously misguided. It was wrong to ignore women’s educational needs for so long, and cause for celebration when we turned our attention to meeting those needs. But turning the tables and neglecting boys is not the answer. Why not be fair to both? Great Britain, Australia, and Canada are Western democracies just as committed to gender equality as we are. Yet they are seriously addressing their boy gap. If they can do it, so can we."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology

(This is a longer read but at least worth scanning through the report)

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"In the popular press, much is made about how new digital technologies such as iPads and smartphones are revolutionizing family life. Children and parents alike now have a growing stream of new technological resources at their fingertips, offering increased opportunities for engagement, entertainment, and education. But while anecdotes about families and media abound, empirical evidence on national trends is much harder to come by.
This study explores how parents are incorporating new digital technologies (iPads, smartphones) as well as older media platforms (TV, video games, and computers) into their family lives and parenting practices:
• What does the family media and technology environment look like today?
• How widely have mobile media technologies been adopted? Are they making parents’ lives easier?
• How does the role of newer technologies compare to that of “traditional” platforms like television, or to other
technologies such as computers and video games?
• How do parents use media and technology as a parenting tool, to help them get things done, or to educate their
• What role do media and technology play in families’ “together” time?
• How do different parenting practices and parents’ own levels of media and technology use affect the use patterns of
children in the home?
The study focuses on families with young children an explores what is actually happening in the lives of real families, from all walks of life. It is based on an extensive survey of a nationally representative sample of more than 2,300 parents of children from birth to eight years old. (The complete survey questionnaire and results are provided in the appendix.) The survey was informed by a series of four focus groups among parents of young children, conducted in California and Illinois. While parents’ comments from the focus groups and from the survey are included throughout the report, the key findings and all numeric data in the report are based on the results of the quantitative national survey.

For children’s advocates, educators, public health groups, policymakers, and parents, it is important to have an accurate understanding of what families’ lives really look like. Thus the goal of the present report is to deepen and sharpen that understanding.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Struggle Means Learning: Difference in Eastern and Western Cultures

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"I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you're just not very smart," Stigler says. "It's a sign of low ability — people who are smart don't struggle, they just naturally get it, that's our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The learning "sweet spot"

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"Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham wrote a book called Why Don’t Students Like School?The book is complex and fascinating – and 228 pages – but you can basically boil the answer down to this: Students don’t like school because school isn’t set up to help them learn very well.
The first thing to know is that everyone likes to learn.
“There is a sense of satisfaction, of fulfillment, in successful thinking,” writes Willingham.
But it’s not fun to try to learn something that’s too hard.
“Working on a problem with no sense that you’re making progress is not pleasurable,” writes Willingham. “In fact, it’s frustrating.”
Working on a problem that’s too easy is no fun either. It’s boring.
What people enjoy is working on problems that are the right level of difficulty.
“The problem must be easy enough to be solved yet difficult enough to take some mental effort,” Willingham writes. He calls this the “sweet spot” of difficulty."


Friday, September 6, 2013

Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail

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"Thirteen years ago, when I was a relatively new teacher, stumbling around my classroom with wobbly legs, I had to call a student's mother to inform her that I would be initiating disciplinary proceedings against her daughter for plagiarism, and that furthermore, her daughter would receive a zero for the plagiarized paper.
"You can't do that. She didn't do anything wrong," the mother informed me, enraged.
"But she did. I was able to find entire paragraphs lifted off of web sites," I stammered.
"No, I mean she didn't do it. I did. I wrote her paper."
I don't remember what I said in response, but I'm fairly confident I had to take a moment to digest what I had just heard. And what would I do, anyway? Suspend the mother? Keep her in for lunch detention and make her write "I will not write my daughter's papers using articles plagiarized from the Internet" one hundred times on the board? In all fairness, the mother submitted a defense: her daughter had been stressed out, and she did not want her to get sick or overwhelmed.
In the end, my student received a zero and I made sure she re-wrote the paper. Herself. Sure, I didn't have the authority to discipline the student's mother, but I have done so many times in my dreams."


Online Grade books. How should they be used?

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"We’re not the only family that’s had to decide what to do with “student information systems.” According to Bryan Macdonald, senior vice president of PowerSchool, 70 to 80 percent of the schools that use PowerSchool choose to implement the parent portal, which represents about 9 to 10 million students. “Our best data suggests that over 80 percent of parents and students who have access – meaning their school has enabled remote access – use the system at least once a week…and many users check multiple times a day.”
When I posted a challenge on Facebook encouraging friends to join us in eschewing PowerSchool, I received many comments and emails, none of them neutral. Either PowerSchool and its ilk are best thing that’s ever happened to parenting or the worst invention for helicopter parents since the toddler leash.
Several parents reject the technology on the grounds that they want to talk to their kids face-to-face about school:"

Monday, September 2, 2013

Creating the 21st century brain

“Executive function means taking things from one file…and combining it with another mental file and putting them together for new applications, solve new problems, for innovation.
With the 21st century coming on, the two biggest needs or issues will be the amount of data…and to analyze the validity and consider how to innovate with it, and how to apply what’s valuable. And so, the need to be able to use executive functions is critical…how do you know what’s valid, how do you judge whether it’s scientifically accurate, opinion versus fact, and those activities through middle school–through debates, through researching…building those skills while that part of the brain is developing is creating the brain for the 21st century.
The other part is innovation and creativity. We don’t know the problems we’ll have in the future. The jobs we have now, 30% of the jobs people are working in now didn’t exist five years ago….We can’t specifically prepare the students for the jobs or the problems they’ll have. We also can’t prepare them for the opportunities. As technology and globalization and communication increase, they’ll be incredible opportunity for creativity and innovation."