In the United States we are raised to appreciate the accomplishments of inventors and thinkers—creative people whose ideas have transformed our world. We celebrate the famously imaginative, the greatest artists and innovators from Van Gogh to Steve Jobs. Viewing the world creatively is supposed to be an asset, even a virtue. Online job boards burst with ads recruiting “idea people” and “out of the box” thinkers. We are taught that our own creativity will be celebrated as well, and that if we have good ideas, we will succeed.
It’s all a lie. This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.
“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.
Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.
Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.
Thirty-six student protesters were arrested in London last night, with many more kettled, during a ‘Cops off Campus’ demonstration over police presence on university campuses.
Between 200 and 300 students gathered outside the University of London Union to protest over alleged police brutality on Wednesday, which included video footage appearing to show a policeman punching a student.
Two of those arrested were held on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and 34 people for suspected breach of the peace and affray, all of whom were taken to stations across south London.
Many protesters split up or went home due to bad weather. Others were diverted towards Euston Square station where they were kettled by officers from more than 20 police vans.
Three officers suffered minor injuries during the demonstration which saw protesters travelling from as far as Coventry.
A mom who thought she was properly parenting by sending her two young kids to school with a homemade, whole-food lunch was shocked to find a penalty note from school officials informing her that the lunch of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, oranges and milk she provided was “unbalanced” and therefore had to be supplemented with Ritz crackers.
She was also fined $10.
Just as parents are grappling with how to keep their kids safe on social media, schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students’ online interactions off-campus to protect them from dangers such as bullying, drug use, violence and suicide?
This summer, the Glendale school district in suburban Los Angeles captured headlines with its decision to pay a tech firm $40,500 to monitor what middle and high school students post publicly on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
The school district went with the firm Geo Listening after a pilot program with the company last spring helped a student who was talking on social media about “ending his life,” company CEO Chris Frydrych told CNN’s Michael Martinez in September.
“We were able to save a life,” said Richard Sheehan, the Glendale superintendent, adding that two students in the school district had committed suicide the past two years.
“It’s just another avenue to open up a dialogue with parents about safety,” he said.
Technocracy is slowly replacing Democracy in the West. In debt crippled countries, such as Italy, Greece and Spain, no politician dares press the default reset button, so the Anaconda debt is delivering slow inexorable death.
Because our political representatives lack the spine to bite that bullet, elections have become a charade. Financial markets, the shadowy Gnomes of Zurich, have begun choosing our political leaders.
But these Goldman Sachs friendly, loan shark, technocrats are only one arm of an octopus that is emerging as the real power in the Western world. Lesser known are the companies that own valuable patents and, like conjurers, roll out dazzling new scientific gadgets. This is the technology which, in public hands, should now be liberating us all from drudgery and freeing up our leisure time, but in private hands it is doing precisely the opposite.
When our MPs, journalists and lawyers store their phone contact book data using a ‘Synch’ service, or back up documents in ‘The Cloud’ they have no idea where their precious work will end up. They share that data unthinkingly with businesses that can quietly copy it, sell it on, or even corrupt it before they let them have it back.
These technocrats of the ‘digital revolution’ are planning decades ahead. They steal a march on elected governments using ‘commercial confidentiality’ to keep press, politicians and the public in the dark. In the age of mass surveillance and communication trawling, they can buy intelligence on what elected politicians are about to do, or even thinking of doing, and pour vast resources into counter-moves.
[Malala] Yousafzai said she was honored to meet Obama and that she raised concerns with him about the administration’s use of drones, saying they are “fueling terrorism.”
“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” Yousafzai said in a statement published by the Associated Press. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
IT’S LONG been known that America’s school kids haven’t measured well compared with international peers. Now, there’s a new twist: Adults don’t either.
In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.
Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.
Parents send their children to school with the best of intentions, believing that’s what they need to become productive and happy adults. Many have qualms about how well schools are performing, but the conventional wisdom is that these issues can be resolved with more money, better teachers, more challenging curricula and/or more rigorous tests.
But what if the real problem is school itself? The unfortunate fact is that one of our most cherished institutions is, by its very nature, failing our children and our society.
School is a place where children are compelled to be, and where their freedom is greatly restricted — far more restricted than most adults would tolerate in their workplaces. In recent decades, we have been compelling our children to spend ever more time in this kind of setting, and there is strong evidence (summarized in my recent book) that this is causing serious psychological damage to many of them. Moreover, the more scientists have learned about how children naturally learn, the more we have come to realize that children learn most deeply and fully, and with greatest enthusiasm, in conditions that are almost opposite to those of school.
Compulsory schooling has been a fixture of our culture now for several generations. It’s hard today for most people to even imagine how children would learn what they must for success in our culture without it. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are so enamored with schooling that they want even longer school days and school years. Most people assume that the basic design of schools, as we know them today, emerged from scientific evidence about how children learn best. But, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
- Children should not start school until age six or seven, say education experts (Daily Mail)
- Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms (RSA)
- Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity (TED)
- Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley (TED)
- Peter Gray’s Blog: Freedom to Learn (Psychology Today)
- Will Smith’s Son Jaden Smith’s Twitter Rant Calls for Everybody to Drop Out of School (ABC)
12-Year-Old Student Chased Through the Woods and Called the N-Word as Part of “Educational” Slavery Reenactment
A Connecticut couple is filing a human rights complaint against the Hartford school system after their 12-year-old daughter came back from a four-day school field trip to Nature’s Classroom in Charlton, Mass., and alleged that her teachers chased her through the woods and called her racial slurs as part of a slavery reenactment during a field trip.
According to WFSB-TV, James and Sandra Baker’s daughter described students being led into a dark room, where they were lined up and asked to imagine what it would be like to watch their fathers be killed by slave masters before they were all loaded onto slave ships. The instructor then reportedly ordered the students to sit closely together, where they would be forced to relieve themselves on one another and likely get sick. Afterwards, the students were taken to the woods, where they were yelled at and called animals as they pretended to pick cotton. Some where told to dance for the instructors as entertainment; others were told that they would have their a Achilles tendon cut or find themselves hanged if they attempted to run away.
According to the girl’s mother, several of the teachers referred to the students by the N-word for what was described as ‘historical accuracy.”
[...] They average a 48-hour week over a year – and that is taking into account the long holidays.
More than 80% fear the “hidden hours” they spend planning lessons are damaging their health, and 55% worry about the impact on their personal life.
The poll by teaching website tesconnect.com found 55% of teachers regularly spend more than 56 hours a week grafting during term time.
With holidays, they average 48.3 hours, just below managers in mining and energy industries, who average 49.6 hours.
The poll found that 48% of teachers spend more time preparing lessons than they spend teaching, with 78% saying they spent time on Sundays planning work.
Content-industry giants and internet service providers are teaming up to produce multi-grade elementary school curriculum which will denounce copyright infringement.
The likes of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), AT&T, Verizon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Comcast are behind the pilot project which will be tested in California elementary schools later this year.
The curriculum, called “Be a Creator,” is not quite complete, producers say, though Wired was able to obtain the various levels of content – from kindergarten to sixth grade – which aim to communicate that copying is theft.
“This thinly disguised corporate propaganda is inaccurate and inappropriate,” said Mitch Stoltz, an intellectual property attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who reviewed the material.
“It suggests, falsely, that ideas are property and that building on others’ ideas always requires permission,”Stoltz says. “The overriding message of this curriculum is that students’ time should be consumed not in creating but in worrying about their impact on corporate profits.”
The content was made by the California School Library Association and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. The Center for Copyright Infringement commissioned the material. The center’s board is made up of executives from MPAA, RIAA, Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T.
[...]It would be beyond grouchy for me to ruin the day with frightening or doomsday predictions about what lies ahead for today’s A-level generation. The hard work of thousands of students and teachers will be reflected in results that will rightly be a source of pride and vindication. Those who go to university will meet lifelong friends, possibly even their life partners; they will learn things – both as academic and social beings – that will transform them for ever. Others will find jobs that are fulfilling and allow them in time to support a family.
But blimey, there’s no point pretending: things will be considerably harder than they were for me or my peers. A government that justifies its austerity programme with chilling warnings about saddling the next generation with debt will leave today’s university leavers paying off £60,000, in many cases for the rest of their lives. The number of students – generally from poorer backgrounds – having to work during term time to cover costs is much higher than it was, despite research suggesting it lowers grades. And neither are those who amass these excruciating debts guaranteed work: one in 10 graduates are now jobless six months after leaving university.
Overall, there are twice as many young people languishing in unemployment as there were when Stockport’s state schools had finished with me. And there’s no point glorifying the situation of many of those who actually find work. A third of university graduates are now doing jobs that don’t require degrees, up from a quarter a decade ago. A million people – many of them young – are stuck on zero-hour contracts, a disturbing echo of a supposedly bygone era when mostly young men would trundle to a yard in the early hours to find out if they had any work that day. Others are among the record numbers of workers forced to do part-time work in a country where 6.5 million are looking for jobs with more hours. There’s the booming poverty wage jobs, too: TUC research shows that nearly four in five of the jobs created since June 2010 pay less than £7.95 an hour. Whether they go to university or not, many of today’s A-level students will be fodder for Britain’s increasingly low-paid and precarious workforce.
Chomsky: Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society…
n the early years of the 20th century, the students in Bullitt County, Kentucky, were asked to clear a test that many full-fledged adults would likely be hard-pressed to pass today. The Bullitt County Geneaological Society has a copy of this exam, reproduced below—a mix of math and science and reading and writing and questions on oddly specific factoids–preserved in their museum in the county courthouse.
[...] Eighth graders needed to know about patent rights, the relative size of the liver and mountain range geography. They had to be able to put together an argument for studying physiology. Though some of it is useful, much of the test amounts of little more than an assessment of random factoids.
So, if you’re anything like us, no, you’re probably not much smarter than an 1912 Bullitt County eighth grader. But that’s okay.
Records obtained by DeSmogBlog pertaining to City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College’s hiring of former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus to teach a seminar this coming fall reveal that his syllabus features two of the most well-known “frackademia” studies.
“Frackademia” is shorthand for oil and gas industry-funded research costumed as independent economics or science covering the topic of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial horizontal drilling process via which oil and gas is obtained deep within shale rock basins.
According to the syllabus, Petraeus will devote two weeks to energy alone, naming those weeks “The Energy Revolution I” and “The Energy Revolution II.” The two “frackademia” studies Petraeus will have his students read for his course titled “The Coming North American Decade(s)? are both seminal industry-funded works.
One of them is a study written by industry-funded National Economic Research Associates (NERA) concluding liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are beneficial to the U.S. economy, despite the fact that exporting fracked gas will raise domestic home-heating and manufacturing prices. NERA was founded by “father of deregulation” Alfred E. Kahn. The study Petraeus will have his students read was contracted out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to NERA.
The other, a study written by then-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research professor Ernest Moniz—now the head of the DOE—is titled “The Future of Natural Gas” and also covers LNG exports. DOE oversees the permitting process for LNG exports. That study was funded by the Clean Skies Foundation, a front group for Chesapeake Energy and covered in-depth in the Public Accountability Initiative‘s report titled, Industry Partner or Industry Puppet?
Noticeably absent from the reading list: studies tackling the climate impacts, air quality impacts, over-arching ecological impacts such as water contamination, wastewater impacts and diminishing supply issues.
Together, the two crucial studies on the syllabus reading list—and the lack of critical readings on the topic of fracking—offers a glimpse into the stamp of legitimacy industry-funded studies get when they have the logo of elite research universities on them. It’s also another portrayal of the ascendancy of the corporate university.
Speaking to young activists on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), didn’t mince words when describing the money the government makes off student loans.
“The federal government will make $51 billion in profits off student loans,” she said at Generation Progress’s Make Progress National Summit . “That’s more than wrong. It’s obscene.”
Warren used her address at the conference of young activists to make the case for her Bank On Students Loan Fairness Act, which she has said would provide a one-year fix to the Stafford loan interest hike that went into effect on July 1. The bill, she said, would allow students to borrow at the same rate that big banks do, a rate around 0.75 percent. The interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford loans has increased from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, while Congress continues to try to come to agreement on the issue.
The rate increase will only affect loans that were issued after July 1, 2012, but overall, educational debt is an issue for approximately 37 million student loan borrowers, with the majority of borrowers in 2012 with outstanding balances less than $10,000.
The Oscar-winning director of Al Gore environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth is to bring the story of teenage Pakistani women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived an attack by the Taliban, to the big screen.
Davis Guggenheim, who also directed the acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman, about failures in the American public education system, will take charge of the cameras on the as-yet-untitled project.
It was supposed to be a feather in the cap for the City University of New York’s ambitious honors college. Or perhaps a careful first step back into public life for a leader sidelined by scandal.
One way or another, the news that David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director and commander of the allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be a visiting professor at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY this coming academic year was supposed to be great publicity all around.
Instead it turned into a minor scandal all its own, as some professors and politicians expressed outrage over his six-figure salary, and others accused the university’s administration of lying about just what the salary was.
On Monday, it was announced that Mr. Petraeus would, on second thought, teach for just $1.
A furious mother has complained that her 10-year-old son was refused a drink of water during one of the hottest summer days of the year, because the teacher was worried it might cause offence to other pupils fasting for Ramadan.
Kora Blagden, 32, said that her son Luke returned home from Charles Dickens Primary School in Portsmouth, Hampshire, yesterday complaining that he was dehydrated after not drinking water throughout the day.
She said that he told her that he had asked to drink from his water bottle but the teacher had asked him to consider Muslim pupils who were observing Ramadan, particularly one child who had a headache.
Packed lunches could be banned and pupils barred from leaving school during breaks to buy junk food under a government plan to increase the take-up of school meals, which is to be announced on Friday.
The plan, drawn up by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, the founders of the food company Leon, aims to tackle the poor public image of school meals.
The report, which suggests a link between nutrition and academic performance, highlights that parents currently spend almost £1bn on packed lunches but only 1% of them meet nutritional standards. In contrast, scientific studies show most school meals are a healthier option.
The report suggests a range of measures for headteachers to increase take-up of school meals. They include banning unhealthy packed lunches full of sugary drinks, crisps and sweets, or even a total ban on all packed lunches.
We’ve extensively documented that institutional corruption in the United States has led to a collapse in trust … which is hurting the economy.
And that the same thing is happening worldwide:
And that corruption has skyrocketed recently.
CBS News reports today:
According to a survey released Tuesday [by the international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International], a majority of people across the globe feel that corruption has worsened in their countries, and that their governments are ineffective in combating it.
According to the survey, more than one in four people reported paying a bribe in the past year.
The survey asked respondents to rate the corruption level of their countries’ institutions on a one-to-five scale, in which five meant “extremely corrupt.”
Political parties were considered to be the most corrupt globally, with an average score of 3.8 out of 5.
“As political parties require money in order to run their campaigns, one of the big corruption risks for political parties is how they are funded,” Transparency International wrote in its report. “The interests of the people and organizations that fund political parties can have a large influence on the actions of those parties.”
Transparency International’s “Global Corruption Barometer” asked respondents to rate institutions on a corruption scale./ Transparency International
Political parties fared worse in the United States, where the 1,000 respondents surveyed gave them a corruption score of 4.1.
Globally, police came in a close second, with a corruption score of 3.7. Nearly a third of respondents who came into contact with police reported having paid a bribe.
And while 53 percent of respondents felt corruption had increased in the last two years, a majority also believed that their governments couldn’t fix the problem. According to the report, 54 percent of respondents view government as ineffective in combating corruption, up from the 47 percent recorded in Transparency International’s 2010-2011 survey.
“When there is widespread belief that corruption prevails and that the powerful in particular are able to get away with it, people lose faith in those entrusted with power,” Transparency International said.
In the survey, 54 percent of respondents felt that governments largely run for the benefit of self-interested groups. In the U.S., 64 percent said the government is run by a few big interests, compared with 5 percent who felt the same in Norway, and 83 percent in Greece.
CNN Money notes:
“The majority of people around the world believe that their government is ineffective at fighting corruption and corruption in their country is getting worse,” Transparency International said in the report, which was based on a survey of 114,000 people in 107 countries.
The surveys suggest that corruption cuts across societies and demographics.
“Impunity is anathema to the fight against corruption and, especially in the judiciary and law enforcement sectors, is a direct challenge to the rule of law,” the group said.
by Richard Adams
The tyranny of the summer school break – an unbroken six weeks of freedom for pupils and inflated holiday costs for their parents – could soon be over, after the Department for Education announces that all schools are to get the power to set their own term dates.
The change is included in the government’s deregulation bill, which removes the role of local authorities in fixing the dates of school terms and leaves the decision to school leaders and governors.
However, some school leaders warn that too much variation could lead to chaos for families with children at different schools.
by MALLORY SOFASTAII
Monday marks the deadline for a hike in student loan interest rates, an increase affecting 7 million students. Congress left town Friday without taking action to prevent the interest rates on new subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1. Subsidized Stafford loans are low-interest rate loans available to students with financial need.
When faced with this issue last summer, Congress postponed the increases for one year. Lawmakers went home this time without an agreement on a long-term solution, though the Senate on July 10 will vote on a proposal that would extend the 3.4 percent interest rate for another year.
by JAMES CUSICK
Academies and free schools should become profit-making businesses using hedge funds and venture capitalists to raise money, according to private plans being drawn up by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove.
Details of discussions on the proposed redesign of academy regulations were leaked to The Independent by Department for Education insiders who are concerned that Mr Gove is going too fast and too far in his ambition to convert all 30,000 schools in England to academies.
They are worried that the new setup will divert cash from classrooms, limit the availability of “expensive” subjects such as music and science and end the public service vocation of teachers. They want to see an end to the secrecy over the proposed reforms, which have not been publicly announced.
Mr Gove, according to senior DfE sources, is considering the controversial financial revamp of his academy schools programme after advisers predicted the growth of his reforms will stall unless operators and sponsors are given new financial incentives.
by Brynn Gingras
NBC New York
A New Jersey school district is proposing random alcohol and drug testing for thousands of high school students who could lose school privileges and be forced to undergo counseling if they test positive.
Parents protested at a school board meeting Monday, where a preliminary plan was outlined that would affect 5,000 students at the Demarest and Old Tappan high schools.
The district says students would not be suspended and the drug test results would not go on their disciplinary records, but the penalties and loss of privileges become more severe if additional positive results are discovered.