Monday, November 28, 2011

Link Salad

A Monday's worth of interesting education-related links:

On non-cognitives, we have two articles from the Boston Globe. The first is "How College Prep is Killing High School":
A number of economists, including Nobel economist James Heckman, have documented the need for noncognitive or so-called soft skills in the labor market, such as motivation, perseverance, risk aversion, self-esteem, and self-control.
The second is "How Willpower Works":
In dozens of studies conducted over the past 25 years, Baumeister has found that taking on specific habits - like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand you’d normally use - can increase levels of self-control. In a phone interview, he likened willpower to a muscle: “If you exercise it, you can make it stronger. There’s nothing magical about it.’’
Then there is the less optimistic offering from the New York Times "The Dwindling Power of a College Degree," which contains a warning for all of us:
A general guideline these days is that people are rewarded when they can do things that take trained judgment and skill — things, in other words, that can’t be done by computers or lower-wage workers in other countries.
The Wall Street Journal has a scorecard of career salaries by degree, in case you're keeping score. The highest 75th percentile salary goes to math and computer science combined. Compare it to math education:

A partial listing of the WSJ salary/major list found here.
The quote in the New York Times article about computers replacing us is especially interesting when juxtaposed to the ambitious research plan described in "Mining the Language of Science," from
Scientists are developing a computer that can read vast amounts of scientific literature, make connections between facts and develop hypotheses.
Stanford University is offering a free online course on machine learning if you want to learn how to make a computer smarter than yourself (true story).

 To round out that topic, here are two articles on the limits of human understanding. First from again is "People are Biased against Creative Ideas, Studies Find," including these findings:
  • Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable. 
  •  People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical -- tried and true. 
  •  Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it. 
  • Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea.
The second article, from SciGuru, is "Ignorance is bliss when it comes to challenging social issues."
The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware [...]
This illustrates the mechanism I described in "Self-limiting Intelligence."  You can test yourself on these last two points. Here's a creative idea from Business Insider, and a challenging social issue from The Economist. Good luck!

1 comment:

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