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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  January 2009

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE January 2009

Subject:

Re: Science and Education January 2009 issue of Science

From:

mart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 11 Jan 2009 22:44:03 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (375 lines)

>not  hard to imagine
> scientists (like Koshland, if it was him) proposing to fix
> social problems
> by fixing peoples' chemistry.  

sometimes they are just grasping at straws to get funding---pay the electrcity bill for my streetlight and i'll find what you're missing. 

For me meritocracies are
> a shame in a class
> based society for keeping the social structure unchanged.

i assume you meant to insert between 'shame' and 'in' , some thing like 'which are used' .   
   this is also my 'hypothesis' and i think it extends to education, especially science. its taught in a way often  to essentially predetermine in advance who gets through, via very subtle cues.  essentially alot of people who are outside the status quo are bored to death and see no motivation for learning what is presented.  (i remember when i took organic chem (which i liked, except the labs) the big deal was an authentic researcher who came to show how we could use our knoweldge to get jobs making nail polish.  synthetic heroin seemed  a better idea than that since bettering society was off the table.)  
    while science/math is pretty strict about rules to follow and basic facts you need to know, i think the selection of topics is such as to weed out (and social stratify) people almost at the beginning.  (i do think its slowly changing).  as an analogy it would be like asking a jazz/hip hop/ rock musician to first master mozart before they are permitted to play music; it won't happen. the assumption is there is basically one fairly narrow science, and  path to it.  (in nonclassical music, alot of people actually learn the more classical forms to some extent later once they have a reason.) also, the net result of the science itself presertves the status quo---'financial physics'; computers for speeding up walmart and junk food and lotto sales...  Science is used to dumb people down, so they can be used to justify buying surveillance technology, etc. (created at places like MIT).  A different kind of science might try to avoid this profitable and abusive
 caste system.  (of course people adapt, so now some people like it; eg gangsta rap, ...)
    you point this out.  
    but, people who do things like 'financial physics' i think are threatened by the thought of having competing brands, just as talk radio and the music industry is worried about having it known there may be there  valid alternatives.  they prefer keeping their own little monopolistic fiefdoms, and to pass them off as if they are uniquely stable 'general equilibria'.
    a bunch of military types i think are like this---they enjoy making bombs, so need a warfare state. they can justify it ideologically too (its natural.)

   as an alternative, for example, there was a 'humanistic math association' quite awhile back out of harvey mudd college (which lasted about a year i think---they still have web stuff) which attempted a more relevant curriculum for people outside the 'dominant paradigm'.  i think this was discouraged.  it wasnt that radical.  (i heard there was something like that in harlem at high school level a couple of years ago.)    
      its funny that in middle schools and even elementary kids learn economics via the 'stock market game' while in graduate school they study attitudes towards 'fairness' in children.  that summarizes it.  you don't ask people, teach them, or have them explicitly think about the question unless they are in a PhD program at MIT or UC in econ.  and at a younger age they need to study investing in mcdonald's, etc. 
    (and in that environment, a fair number drop out rather than 'compete'.   also, if its dawg eat dawg, might as well join the crips.) 

> 
> What I was thinking about what using Alberts' apparent
> sense of "rage"
> (toward the bottom of the editorial) and his proposal to
> have a monthly
> educational forum to propose radical analyses of the
> current state US
> society and its education system.  Good idea?  I do not
> have much experience
> at this type of analysis.

yeah, sure anything is a good idea.  the quantitative question might be 'how good'.     i could see a new 500$M dept creating an assessment of how good.   
    i would say calling it 'radical' may just give people a reason to ignore it (try something moderate like the Rev. Wright/Bill Ayers/Farrakhan/Stalin/Manson/purpose driven life  critque of education standards).  another problem is some critiques simply become 'in-house' things (as chomsky has said about protests and dissent---they merely provide cover for   the lack of dissent).  i sometimes see this in bioethics, when some critique is made of nano or biotech or pharma, they bring in some philosopher who knows very little about science or economics, or anything at all it can appear, and simply goes 'on the one hand progress may be good and inevitable, and on the other hand there may be a caveat and if you give me/my department 500G i'll shut up and sign on the dotted line and write something on it for world scientific to sell'.    i worry this 'forum' is like that---'oh, yeah, we had the critique'.

science mag is so connected to biotech alot of the rage i hear from there is like what you hear from NIH---people have come to expect an ever increasing pool of money and talent trained to pursue their interests. if science mag was going to look at exactly how many of the expensive drug cures they promote, and things like GM crops (for say, corn syrup), can be replaced by other things, then  the 'rage' over lack of edcucation/miseducation might be real.  i heard NPR's science friday last wek and they had on new drug cures for type 2 diabetes when there is good evidence diet is the real issue.  (but the diet approach lowers spending on drugs.  i dont think this was even mentioned. they are too often just (probably greedy)  shills.)  even the 'anti-creationist' stuff too often sounds like 'why do they get a humvee and megachurch for teaching a 2000 year old book when i should get it for my own pet theory?'

maybe one needs  beyond a science of education, a science of science, to see if it makes sense from concept to application.

to me the big problem in science is noone really knows what it is for, and hecne there is no way to define what an educated person in it is.  should everyone have a phD in everything?  should some people just aim to sweep the lab? the blog mathematics under the microscope has a few discussions along this line (pointing out in a math saturated society (via computers) like 99% of the people dont even need calculus).  (i did implicitly  criticize the guy for accepting templeton money----though 'spritual capitalism' may have something to it.   templeton seems to have a ton of famous scientists in its stable.)  do people need to have some literacy, etc?
    technology alters the picture even more---you can almost write math abnd physics papers using mathematica and the like.  if this merans work can be replaced by automation, cool.  but more likely its just going to be stratified.  one will still have the long haul truck drivers, while others just use canned software.

    (i actually think maybe everyone should aim for having some sort of research hobby/collaboration, in the same way everyone may vote or go to some sort of community planning meeting. or at least explore the idea.  current science seems to me sometimes overly 'fascistic', meaning basically only certain  'important' status quo ideas really get developed.    )


what really gets me about that editorial now is the idea they are going to 'bring in leading experts' to solve the problem.  in my view, commomnly these are the exact same experts who have caused the crisis in the first place.  they get one salary causing the problem  (essentially running out anyone who doesn't fit their stereotype of who they approve of) and then they want another, with a bonus, solving the problem they caused.  plus, a ton of conferneces. alot of those experts also basically are 'management consultants' and people with business degrees (like bush) who really just know how to push people around.   it does trickle down to some extent (Obama!) but there seems to be alot of inertia and stalling. 
   my view is try paying some of the people who know more about the problems to see if they might have a clue.  (the idea of Fryer at harvard of paying people to go to school, etc.. , and of mexico city/bloomberg NYC to pay them to get a library card and go to PTA , i think are ok in present reality, though i dought the incentive is enough to make much of a difference---some people dont even bother with food stamps or eitc.  actually getting out of cash economy into more barter/community building is a better idea.) 
> 
> Larry > >> Froman editorial by Bruce Alberts,
> > >> lip service and
> >> borders on hypocrisy because neither the editor or
> any of
> >> the articles are
> >> set in the social-political context of the current
> school
> >> system.  

   what i'd  imagine.

I have
> >> looked through the articles, but not read them
> all.  They
> >> are about using
> >> technology to improve teaching and education, but
> they are
> >> not about using
> >> technology to really empower people.  They do not
> discuss
> >> using technology
> >> to teach people about relationships between race
> and
> >> education, between
> >> income and education, or about providing low
> income and
> >> inner city people
> >> and their children the resources they need to
> empower
> >> themselves.  How could
> >> modern technology be use to build unions, for
> example?


   the humaniostic math thing i mentioned had a 
(very few) things on stuff like this (as opposed to say, compound interest or projectile motion which are the standards.)

 
> >> Interestingly, lots
> >> of pictures of people accompanying the articles,
> not one
> >> picture of an
> >> African-American or African. (Nothing about
> Africa.)
> >> Mostly whites and some
> >> Asians. (Few black people read Science anyway, why
> worry.)
> >> You would not
> >> know there are social classes in the US from
> reading the
> >> articles.

   science sometimes does the pc thing. its interesting they forgot this time---a slip up!   or they find a clarence thomas type.  or that book 'time on the cross' by that UC econ noble laureate---slaves actually got above minimum wage for their era, which implies nobody owes anybody anything.  

> >> 
> >> I think these articles are basically about
> developing
> >> technology to create
> >> an elite group of people to run society and
> another
> >> specially trained set to
> >> fight its battles.  

   this idea is fairly common implicitly or explicitly; it changes over time in format.  of course you do get 'countervailing power', so there are equivalent hierarchies outside the mainstream ones (most obvious in things like criminal gangs). 


One article on how the DOD has
> made
> >> contributions to the
> >> use of computers in training (see p. 72.
> ³Education and
> >> Training Technology
> >> in the Military.²)
> >> 
> >> I quote several sentences from the third paragraph
> of that
> >> article.  The
> >> sentences are one of the most antiseptic
> descriptions of
> >> the military I have
> >> ever read:  ³For military organizations, both
> education
> >> and training are
> >> means to an end.  Efficiency (time and resources
> expended)
> >> and effectiveness
> >> (Production of human competence) are critical. 
> Military
> >> organizations have
> >> historically turned to technology to maximize the
> >> efficiency and
> >> effectiveness of all their activities, training
> and
> >> education included.²
> >> 
> >> Fits Hamas or the Iraqi insurgency
> perfectly‹not!


i note military people are going to cogntition /linguistic oncferences now, discussing what types of language might characterize an effective military.   chomsky may attends some of those same ones too. 
> >> 
> >> I think this issue of Science requires a radical
> (meaning
> >> root cause, of
> >> course) response.  There is an opening in the
> editorial for
> >> a such a
> >> contribution: ³Thus, we will be publishing
> important work
> >> in education as
> >> Perspectives, Policy Forums, Reviews, or as
> original
> >> Research Reports and
> >> Articles, while continuing to cover education in
> the News
> >> section.²
> >> 
> >> I am not well equipped to do this (a chemist after
> all).
> >> Nevertheless, I
> >> would be interesting in contributing.  Good idea?

     it seems you have the main points.  the problem with science is that its fungible---chemistry can be used for m/any things.  
       one would like a response that would not get mostly ignored.
       (e.g. take this seriously, or we'll go free access.)   

> >> 
> >> Larry
> >> 
> >> www.sciencemag.org SCIENCE VOL 323 2 JANUARY 2009
> 15
> >> CREDITS (TOP TO BOTTOM): TOM KOCHEL; JUPITERIMAGES
> >> 
> >> EDITORIAL
> >> Making a Science of Education
> >> 
> >> First.  FOR SUCCESS IN AN INCREASINGLY COMPLEX,
> CROWDED,
> >> AND DANGEROUS
> >> WORLD, A NATION must strive to be a meritocracy:
> Its
> >> education and social
> >> systems should be structured to select those with
> the most
> >> talent, energy,
> >> wisdom, and character as the next generation of
> leaders for
> >> each segment of
> >> society.   Second.  When I was young, I was taught
> that
> >> providing equal
> >> opportunities for
> >> everyone was a matter of social justice‹part of
> the
> >> social contract in the
> >> United States. Now, I believe that it is also a
> matter of
> >> national survival.
> >> Any country that fails to encourage and develop
> the talent
> >> in each
> >> individual through its public school system will
> suffer
> >> greatly, because the
> >> quality of a nation depends on the collective
> wisdom of
> >> both its leaders and
> >> its citizens.  An outstanding education system
> imparts
> >> values that support
> >> good citizenship, while empowering adults to be
> life-long
> >> learners and
> >> problem solvers who can make wise decisions for
> their
> >> families, for their
> >> communities, and for their workplaces. Such an
> education
> >> system must
> >> continually evolve to remain relevant to the
> interests and
> >> needs of each new
> >> generation. To achieve these ambitious goals, we
> will need
> >> much more
> >> emphasis on both science education and the
> ³science of
> >> education.² It is my
> >> hope that Science can help to promote progress on
> both
> >> scores.
> >> 
> >>      In 2006, Science began a monthly Education
> Forum. We
> >> now plan to build
> >> on this strong beginning by recruiting
> high-quality
> >> articles
> >> on education from the world¹s best experts for
> every
> >> section of the
> >> magazine. Thus, we will be publishing important
> work in
> >> education
> >> as Perspectives, Policy Forums, Reviews, or as
> original
> >> Research Reports and
> >> Articles, while continuing to cover education in
> the
> >> News section. This first issue of 2009, with its
> focus on
> >> Education and
> >> Technology (see page 53), represents a start that
> will
> >> hopefully
> >> inspire many more articles to come.
> >> 
> >> As this special issue explains, the computer and
> >> communication technologies
> >> that have profoundly altered many other aspects of
> our
> >> lives seem to hold
> >> great promise for improving education as well. But
> >> technology is only a
> >> tool. To fulfill its promise for education will
> require a
> >> great deal of
> >> high-quality research, focused on its utilization
> and
> >> effects in both school
> >> and nonschool settings. Only by collecting and
> analyzing
> >> data on student
> >> learning can we hope to sort out the many
> variables that
> >> determine
> >> effectiveness.
> >> 
> >>      The same type of scientific research is also
> needed to
> >> explore,
> >> analyze, and improve each of the many other
> components of
> >> educational
> >> systems. For example, the most important element
> of any
> >> education system is
> >> a highly skilled teacher. Teacher recruitment,
> preparation,
> >> retention, and
> >> professional development all need to be informed
> by
> >> scientific research in
> >> education.  Curricula, pedagogy, assessment, and
> school
> >> system management
> >> similarly require focused research. We hope that
> what
> >> scientists are
> >> learning about each of these important aspects of
> education
> >> will be reported
> >> and reviewed in Science.
> >> 
> >>      Research in the social sciences is especially
> >> challenging because of
> >> the conditionality of its findings: The effects of
> an
> >> intervention are
> >> likely to depend on many variables that need to be
> studied
> >> and understood.
> >> Some readers may therefore question whether the
> science of
> >> education
> >> deserves a prominent place in this prestigious
> journal. For
> >> them, I offer
> >> the wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead, who wrote 80
> years
> >> ago: ³The art of
> >> education is never easy. To surmount its
> difficulties,
> >> especially those of
> >> elementary education, is a task worthy of the
> highest
> >> genius.² [But] ³when
> >> one considersŠthe importance of this question of
> the
> >> education of a nation¹s
> >> young, the broken lives, the defeated hopes, the
> national
> >> failures, which
> >> result from the frivolous inertia with which it is
> treated,
> >> it is difficult
> >> to restrain within oneself a savage rage. In the
> conditions
> >> of modern life
> >> the rule is absolute, [a country] that does not
> value
> >> trained intelligence
> >> is doomed.²
> >> 
> >>     The sense of rage is every bit as appropriate
> today.
> >> But we now
> >> recognize that we must look at the ³art² of
> education
> >> through the critical
> >> lens of science if we are to survive.
> >> 
> >> ­Bruce Alberts
> >> 10.1126/science.1169941
> >> Bruce Alberts is the Editor-in-Chief of Science.
> >> Published by AAAS
> >> Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on January 10,
> 2009
> > 
> > 
> >


      

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