The previous post of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s tweet reminded me about an earlier conversation I had, and the subsequent post, which was related to the quality of education here in Singapore.
The argument was that Singaporean students deserve more faith and trust from their professors, in their ability to perform and handle their studies more independently. My friend had made the point that students here don’t really deserve trust, if you look at how much students try to game the system (via cheating, memorizing instead of learning, etc.). I would argue now that a) those two points talk about different types of trust, or trust in different areas of their education (one is trusting them to take their education seriously, the other is trusting them not to cheat), and b) the fact that you have cheating is simply a sign of an even more fundamental issue, which is only a signal that change is even more important.
Cheating in school is a sign that one believes the purpose of school is to get good marks, not to learn. From what I’ve seen, this is a significant problem with school here in Singapore.
Denial of evolution is unique to the United States. I mean, we’re the world’s most advanced technological—I mean, you could say Japan—but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.
Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.
As my old professor, Carl Sagan, said, “When you’re in love you want to tell the world.” So, once in a while I get people that really—or that claim—they don’t believe in evolution. And my response generally is “Well, why not? Really, why not?” Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they’re at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.
And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.
It’s just really hard a thing, it’s really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I’m sure, will be, it just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.
I’m glad to see people like Bill Nye voicing his opinion on this topic. I mostly agree with what’s said here: it is crucial that younger generations are not restricted from exploring the sciences in the name of religion. Society (economies, technology, etc.) needs as many people as possible who are driven to constantly push boundaries, and once you stop pushing, then, well, that’s that.
At its core, education is a two-sided community of students and teachers.
At Lore we serve both sides. Instructors create a course, manage their schedules and materials, and facilitate a community. Students interact with their classmates, find information they need, complete their work,…
I’ve been a fan of what Lore is trying to accomplish for a while. They’re taking the bottom-up approach to learning management systems in education, by focusing on the student and building the learning experience around them. They just launched Lore for Students, which means that you can now sign up as a user not tied to any course, and start building out your personal learning identity. I am excited beyond measure to watch Lore take this further. I think revolution is on it’s way, and it’s going to be interesting to watch Lore try and be that revolution.
Wow, Lore redesign looks beautiful. This is what happens when you market to the bottom (students and profs) as opposed tot he top (universities, organizations): users come first. I’m so excited for this tool; hopefully we can get it going in come courses when I get back to Waterloo.
I think I wrote about this a while back, but it came up in an article regrading Britain’s move to a system which releases publicly funded research. Recall that in most places, the research which is funded by universities and government money, is sent to journals, who in turn charge universities and the public pretty hefty fees to read the research. Seems silly, but the system has established itself like that, with prestige built behind various publishers and whatnot - another broken system.
The article outlines a few perspectives on Britain’s specific journey to free up more of this research, and the struggle with publishers and academics, that is happening along the way. All in all, a good topic to read up on.
I was surprised to find out that America’s National Institutes of Health have similar policies, which is great to see coming from the US. I wonder what policy is like in Canada.
Click the title; it’s an article and video on good.is. Yes, researchers need to have more public facing roles where they can engage and inspire the population. Many people in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) have major influencers/inspirational sources who are in similar fields as what they’re doing. It makes a huge difference. Besides, it’s not like we couldn’t use all the help we can get with inspiring and pushing the youth of today to do great things.
“Don’t be different just for the sake of being different. Be different because it’s who you are and what you believe… and because it will get you where you want to go, with your integrity and your sense of self intact.”
Not just for entrepreneurs, for anyone who found school restricting. Here’s some advice on what to forget. And also, some advice on what topic up going forwards.
One of the strongest motivators for helping me get back on track with school was the realization that when the only barrier between yourself and education is your own interest and motivation, you are in a very privileged place; one that is not to be taken for granted.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
by Marianne Williamson.
It’s pretty powerful, and I think it does a good job of explaining what I’m going through right now with my education. I avoid wanting to learn; I feel like I don’t deserve it, or shouldn’t be doing it. I think it has to do with the people around me - I don’t want people to feel like I take pride or interest in what I do. But when I look deep inside, I really do/am. And I need to put my personal priorities ahead of anything else. Why are we afraid of learning? Why are we afraid of knowledge? Is it being afraid or power? It’s not valid, it’s silly.
Maybe it’s being afraid of people thinking coming across as obnoxious - engineers are known for that. Taking pride in their knowledge and sharing that with the world. But I don’t think not having that knowledge is the right way of going about it. It’s having the knowledge and being humble. Guess that’s a balance I need to work on. Take pride and don’t hide your interest in what you’re doing. Love it. At the end of the day, knowledge is power. And having too much knowledge never hurt anyone.
In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the quote.
PS, this speech from the pilot of The Newsroom is great and has some relevant parts. The speech is only the first five minutes, but it’s a great pilot and I recommend watching the entire thing.