Education today, to a great degree, is wasting time, money, and effort-the time and effort of the student and, to a great degree, the parents’ money.Let’s begin by dispelling the myth that teachers (for now let’s talk primary and secondary) are all that and a bag of chips. Teachers are not only given too much credit, they are given too much of the blame. Currently, the move is toward greater teacher accountability for student outcomes based on assessment criteria. What’s all that arcane jargon mean? Simply that teachers are to a greater and greater degree being held responsible for students’ grades. That, my friend, is a good one. Almost as funny as the one where a minister, priest and rabbi walk into a bar . . . Let me explain.To a great degree, teachers have a workload that even the toughest laborer would bend and break under. They not only have to prepare lessons, attend meetings (teacher, administrative, parent), and have a life-if they can fit it in-they have a workload that has them averaging 57 hours worked per week . On top of that, consider that working as a teacher is stressful because there is no time to relax. As a teacher, you are in charge of teaching, policing, cajoling, organizing, coaching, motivating, disciplining, and so on. From start to finish of the school day there is little time to relax, and you are working at full sensory capacity most of the time. That is why there is such great teacher burn out. You have very little time to kick back and recede into yourself (like a desk jockey or cubical cubby). So, on top of all this, teacher are now to be responsible for chasing 100 to 200 students to make sure they are doing their homework and are learning what they need to learn.But consider that there are other factors now that weaken the teacher physically, emotionally, and authoritatively. It is the last item I desire to focus on here. Students and parents, to a great degree, have sapped the teacher’s strength as authoritative figure, one of the reasons why 3 out of 5 teachers now entering the field (K through 12) look at teaching as a stepping stone. I have a lawyer friend who did just that.When he began teaching, he was told by a grizzled veteran that “you will either give into the student’s demands or you will quit.” To cite an example of this loss of control, at a general assembly a student was acting up. My friend told the student, who was not his, to settle down. The student challenged him and said, “I don’t care. You can even call the police. Nothing’s going to happen to me.” Another friend, a fellow classmate in graduate school, told me she was no longer a high school teacher because after 13 years her authority in the classroom had nearly vanished. Add to this parents who no longer, to a great degree, support teachers. Many a parent, if their child receives a bad grade, places the blame entirely on the teacher, the student getting off scot-free.Teachers are not, should not, or ever be seen as the main educators, motivators, keepers of their students or children. Children? What does that word naturally imply? Of course, parents. It is the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their children are doing their homework and doing it well. Get off the couch and be the teacher you should be.I have numerous friends who have taken back the teaching of their children by home teaching. An issue of much discussion, but I mention it here to show how the problems of the K-12 school system has gotten so out of control that parents are taking the issue into their own hands.It is essential that parents not only teach academics (meaning, bare minimum checking homework) but other vitally important issues of concern, concerns that last a lifetime beyond all the math, science, history, and English that is all too soon forgotten. A few things that should exist on that list are a work ethic, accountability, patience, perseverance, manors / respect for authority, cooperation, tolerance for difference, sacrifice, charity, humility, and more. If these things were taught by parents, as they should be, perhaps the number of problems we now face in school and society would be reduced.Continuing with the issue of educational necessity and change, I’d like to propose an academic overhaul. This issue is quit complex and something I go into greater depth in my upcoming book Education is a Waste of Time, but I’d like to touch on a few points here.Consider that in 24 hours we forget 80% of what we read if we don’t review, and even more so if we don’t pay attention, have acquired the skill of better retention, and, most importantly, don’t care, how much does our no-student-left-behind retain? Well, according to my eight-plus years of teaching, mostly at the junior college level (or as I like to call it, mop-up college), and concurring statistical evidence, less than 1/3 of all students entering community college have sufficient math, reading, and writing skills. The key word here is sufficient. Considering that there is a push for more math and science majors to keep up with the 6 countries that produce students that exceed our student’s preparedness, it appears we don’t have much hope. Even though the push for students is ill-founded because of the small number of existing careers that require high level math skills, the numbers do not bode well.Taking all this into consideration, how important is it that we teach our students specific, locked in studies: math, science, history, English, and so on. I often will address this point by asking my students to regurgitate on queue, from the first minute to last, all that they learned in a class that day before coming to my class. Most if not all come up completely empty handed. One thing we don’t teach or inspire our students to do is to pay attention and acquire skills that will aid in focusing on key material and being able to recall it. Where is that class in high school? We merely throw it at ’em and hope it sticks. Maybe I misspeak. Do teachers, parents, and administrator even consider hoping?Something else we’ve forgotten to do, like any good marketer should do, is ask. What happened to our authoritative, empowered, no-student-left-behinder? The overly liberal shift of power from teacher to student is being wasted if we don’t ask the empowered what they want? And if they don’t know, well, work on it. Many a parent, teacher, administrator will say, “Well, they’re children. They aren’t mature enough to know. Let them experiment in school (meaning K through 14). It’s one of the reasons we want them to study the three R’s.” How ’bout this. We ask ’em often and we ask ’em early. Consider the following. Please bare with me.On average, 1 in 10,000 has perfect musical pitch. In many Asian countries, where pitch determines meaning (i.e.: going up at the end of a word means one thing, down another) 1 in 100 has perfect pitch. My point? Practice. If we get students thinking early and often what they want to do with their life, and more know than not, then that’s where they need to focus and not struggling, spending a majority of their time in classes they don’t care about, aren’t motivated to participate in, and bottom line, will end up wasting a lot of time in. Consider this, within ten years, 70% of college grads will be working in fields they were not educated in (regarding personal acquaintances, that number is low). And considering that many employers now only use a college degree as a dividing line (a way of weeding out candidates with less potential), why not get a degree in something you love. Don’t waste those four years.There is a lot more to this topic, such as incorporating financial classes, inter-personal skills classes, success classes, and so on, but our K through 16 system is in serious need of repair and upgrading. Now, before too much time passes and more time, money, and effort is wasted. I know that this is all rather idealistic and difficult if not impossible to obtain; nevertheless, it is a goal or target that we have to shoot for. We have no alternative, remembering that it is not perfection that we seek but betterment.
The public is choosing to look outside the pill box and become educated and inspired with evidence based science. Patients and their families are more informed today and are demanding that hospitals and physicians provide or, at least, allow access to other solutions.Integrative “medicine” is where Complementary and Alternative practices (CAM) along with good nutrition are utilized with Conventional therapy. This is an exciting trend in healthcare and includes functional foods.”Integrative” opens up a wide range of hopeful solutions to choose from, from real to fringe to fraud. Good nutrition and Glycoscience are growing in acceptance and practice because that are proven to be self-evident.Scientific American (11/2012) in an article entitled, How Drug Company Money Is Undermining Science, reported how huge sums of money undermine medicine and how pharmaceutical companies shroud their deviancy in secret. Charles Seife, states in his article, “In the past few years the pharmaceutical industry has come up with many ways to funnel large sums of money – enough sometimes to put a child through college – into the pockets of independent medical researchers who are doing work that bears, directly or indirectly, on the drugs these firms are making and marketing.”A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal, showed 87% of the researchers who gave the diabetes drug Avandia “favorable reviews” (although evidence indicated that it might increase the risk of heart attacks) had financial involvement with the manufacturer. When the FDA committee debated whether or not to pull Avandia from the market because of the heart attack risk, it was revealed that members of the committee, also, had received money from drug companies.Billions of dollars in wasteful spending and development of harmful drugs have undermined real science and brought us to the economical cliff of the most expensive healthcare system in the world where 71 countries are ahead of US in overall quality of health. But, don’t expect anybody to stop the scandals. Deceptions will increase. Your doctor may not be to blame, he or she was probably spoon fed education from the pharmaceutical industry. More than ever, the general public is helping educate medical professionals who aspire to better others as well as themselves.A large percent of the public has lost confidence in the system and are beginning to understand that more money is made in treatment research than in finding cause and cure. The system continues to extend hope for a new discovery tomorrow but the public is not waiting. They know they must look out for themselves.Stats from many surveys are “all over the place” but validate that the public is frustrated with traditional medicine. CAM and nutrition are growing in popularity. A 1997 survey found 13.7% of respondents in the US sought services of a medical doctor and an alternative medicine practitioner. A 2002 US adult survey indicated 74.6% had used some form of complementary and alternative medicine. In 2004, a survey of nearly 1,400 US hospitals found that more than one in four offered CAM therapies. A 2008 survey of US hospitals by Health Forum, a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association, found that more than 37% of responding hospitals indicated they offer one or more alternative medicine therapies, up from 26.5% in 2005. More than 70% of the hospitals offering CAM were in urban areas.Dedicated scientists are making new discoveries outside the pill box which will benefit the human race. The future of medicine is in Glycoscience.Glycoscience will go down three pathways:1) Development of the Gold Standard in diagnostics for measuring and monitoring glycoprotein receptor sites on the surface of cells to determine quality and quantity and thereby understand the health condition of the individual and how long until they get cancer or another disease;2) Synthesize vital sugars in the lab and incorporate them into expensive drugs to make superior drugs with less side effects; and3) Consumption of vital sugars found in nature as food to improve glycosylation of glycoproteins to improve human health. Evidence is mounting that MIT was correct, “Glycoscience will change the way we live.”
The goal of Stanford University Media X is to foster collaborations between industry and academia. The 5th Annual Media X Conference on Research, Collaboration, Innovation and Productivity, which I was fortunate to attend, served its purpose well. Let me share the 10 Key Trends that every business executive and innovator should be paying attention to:1) Personal Robotics is poised to explode soon (predicted by Paul Saffo). It usually takes 20 years science basic science exists until applications reach inflection point and take the world by storm-and we are about to see that happen. Some indicators: DARPA sponsored first robotics attempts in mid-80s, and now we have applications such as the Roomba vacuum-cleaner, and a fully automated racing car. Prof. Kenneth Salisbury showed how there are robots today with great motor skills-i.e., they can unload a dishwasher!2) Brain Computer Interfaces. Prof. Krishna Shenoy explained how, for many people who can’t move/ communicate well, new systems enable the translation of brain signals into control signals, by implanting electrodes in brain that measure signals and help predict behaviors based on response pattern recognition There are already applications today that help people move cursors based on their thoughts.3) Clean Technology: Scott Z. Burns, co-producer of An Inconvenient Truth, explained how Al Gore was reluctant to make the movie, but he was convinced to participate given the increasing threat of global warming. Al Gore saw an analogy between the movie and a bio-feedback device that her daughter used to treat her migraines. In biofeedback, one learns how to manage vital body variables in order to reach a goal (preventing migraines, managing stress…). Similarly, Gore wanted each viewer to find his or her own “levers” or “muscles” and ways to act -not just be told what to do.4) Reinventing Aging: Prof. Laura L. Carstensen, of the Stanford Center on Longevity, explained how Technology & Science has been improving Biology for the last 150 years, and now we need to focus on how to help people remain physically fit and mentally sharp as we age. We need to redefine “aging”. Nowadays, there are many role models in their 70s and 80s that show how age is not an obstacle for being active contributors in society.5) Virtual Simulations for medical education. Dr. LeRoy Heinrichs showed how simulations work very well to train surgeons and other medical professionals learn how to perform their jobs. Virtual simulations (in a simulated virtual environment) can work as well as physical ones (which typically are more expensive and less scalable).6) Green Building and Green Cars. Prof. Gilbert M. Masters recommended reading the article “It’s the Architecture, Stupid!” to understand how buildings account for 35-45% carbon emissions in the US, more than transportation and industry.7) Friends not Email: Prof. B.J. Fogg claimed that email “cheapens our lives” and insisted that maintaining close relationships is critical for happiness. Email is a very bad tool to manage close relationships. Wise words.8) Science Videos: Prof. Roy D. Pea made the case that there is an increasing need for DIY videos in protocol sharing among scientists, so they can better replicate experiments. His Lab is creating new ways to enable people create conversations about video to enhance diversity of views and connections.9) Games for Learning: Prof. Dan Schwartz showcased new methods for learning outside the classroom. Games can help merge formal & informal learning. Teachable agents are computer programs created by students to make their knowledge explicit, and can be used as part of games to motivate students do their homework.10) 3D Scientific Imaging. Prof. Paul Brown displayed some of the new imaging and software packages that allow doctors navigate virtually into the bodies of patients, in a non-invasive way The images are simply spectacular. They used these technologies to see in detail the interiors of an Egyptian mummy.Which of these trends is more relevant to your business? What can you do to start preparing for the future, today?Copyright (c) 2007 SharpBrains