blinded by science

President Barack Obama meets with student finalists of the Intel Science Talent Search 2011 competition, March 15, in the East Room of the White House

Info here

29 Responses to “blinded by science”

  1. 1 majii
    March 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I love, love, love the diversity in this group of up and coming scientists, and it looks as if they are very pleased to meet our president.

  2. 2 Jessica
    March 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Beautiful, but I’m sad to say that I see no black men or women. We’re lagging further and further behind.

    • 3 ari
      March 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      I noticed the same thing Jessica. We’ve got to get on this.

    • 4 EDP4BHO
      March 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      Seems we’re all on the same page. This is what our President preaches all the time, but seems inner city schools are continually underfunded. Now I’ll read what majii has said about this below.

    • 5 Sue in Minnesota
      March 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm

      Jessica there aren’t that many “white” kids either, considering the demograchics of our country and the systemic privilege that has benefitted most middle and upper class white kids….it’s a bad reflection.

      I think our culture of consumerism is also being reflected back to us in what our children place value in. Lots of excitement generated for superficial, superfluous and temporary attachments, and I think alot of people attempting to define themselves through outside influences rather than internal resources, developing self-awareness and self-actualization.

  3. 6 dotster
    March 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    One can’t help but notice in this photo and similar scholastic recognition events that Asian parents are doing something right, or alot of somethings right. Their devotion to their childrens’ education, and their children rising to their parents’ expectations of success does pay off.

  4. 7 majii
    March 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    A want to make a short response to your comment, dotster. I researched this phenomenon when I was still teaching and found that it has to do with the cultural background of Asians before their ancestors moved to America. The article stated that historically, Asians were tied to the land, growing rice, a very labor intensive crop. The authors speculated that this gave Asians experience in working hard in order to get a good result—something that many American students don’t want to do. I saw too many students over the course of my career who would easily give up if they thought something was “too hard,” and even though I would encourage them to continue working, the majority of them ignored the advice. I think if we want American kids to improve academically, values like hard work, perseverance, a willingness to learn new things, respect for learning, and a positive attitude toward education, must be emphasized from the time they begin to talk and walk.

    • March 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      That’s really interesting Majii, I always wondered about the exact causes of Asian kids’ academic success, relative to other groups. I assumed it was down to cultural factors, but never understood what they might be. Thank you.

      • 9 dotster
        March 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm

        Yes it is interesting, Majii. I hadn’t considered the ancestral background for their remarkable work ethic. But it is evident in the Asian community in many fields, scholastic and music notably. I always believe that kids will try to rise to their parents’ expectations. If parents are encouraging and show interest and make success in school important, their kids will respond. And Asian parents making clear their expectations that their kids will work hard to succeed, that’s what happens.

    • 10 Joy (Barbados)
      March 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      Majii, being a teacher myself I fully understand and endorse your comments about the need to work hard. I believe we are living in an era where some of our youngsters believe in the get rich quick syndrome without wanting to put the effort into it. I beg, plead and beseech the ones I teach. I get them at sixteen and over and sometimes the bad habits are so deeply fixed in their system it is hard to change. I hope that all the efforts that President Obama is placing on education and visiting these schools will have an impact on our young people. I say our young people because his influence reaches far and wide.

    • 11 Theo67
      March 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      I read some research recently relating to the explanation of why Asian kids are better at science and math. The explanation offered was that Asian characters (specifically Chinese) are shorter and more concise, so children are able to store more of these number characters in their brains at once. This trains the brain to be able to do more complex calculations, because it’s been trained to store multiple sequences and numbers from early childhood. They are literally wired differently. There are a few really good research articles out there about this.

  5. 12 SharonS
    March 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    So why not teach children Chinese from an early age in order to incorporate that sort of brain-training it will be well worth the effort, since Chinese language and culture will be more and more relevant as time goes by …

    • 13 majii
      March 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      When the Foxbots here in Middle GA learned last year that the state had received a grant to teach Mandarin to kids in Pre-k, they went NUTS. This is the mindset of many Americans. If it’s not related to America and speaking English, they want none of it. They don’t realize that beginning to learn a foreign language at a young age can pay benefits when their kid is older. It’s very frustrating to me seeing parents with such out-dated ideas in a rapidly changing and shrinking world. They don’t realize that kids around the world speak English + their native language. Personally, I don’t think our kids can be “exceptional” with such close-minded individuals who look at anything not related to the American culture as being inherently bad.

      • 14 Theo67
        March 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

        Maybe this is the true meaning on those “Left Behind” books. They want to leave the whole country behind the rest of the world. It’s even scarier that these type of minds decide what books are used for the nation’s schools.

  6. 16 northanger
    March 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    OT, but…….
    Robonaut Is Unboxed At Long Last


  7. 18 Carolyn
    March 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    One thing I also noticed, there are very few “traditional” Caucasian students in that picture, the ones whose parents consider them the real Americans. I have taught college for 30+ years, and the last 6 years have noticed that the laziest students are white males. This sounds harsh, but other professors are saying the same thing. It’s as if they feel entitled, and shouldn’t have to work hard. Their parents, pardon the generalization, are daffy over sports, and do not respect education and what is required. To become truly educated, one needs to work. This seems to be anathema to parents and students. It’s all sports, sports, sports where I live in Oklahoma. We should be thankful for immigrants, instead of trying to keep the out. Their children are motivated and work hard.
    I am very pleased with the president’s emphasis on science. We reap the benefits of past scientists’ work every day!

    • 19 EDP4BHO
      March 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      Funny you mention the prevalence of the “sport” mentality. This seemed to have been the bane of African American students for the longest. I do believe that whites and blacks in this country have exchanged cultural influences, thereby adopting one another’s tendencies. None of this bodes well for the future of this country, except that other ethnicities will be the leaders. And after the present senior and middle age population has died off, our kids will be the ones left behind, unless they heed the President’s call for more math and science, parental guidance and direction. My God, he’s been saying this for like 4 years now. Oh yeah, I forgot, why listen to the “black” President. They take umbrage to the First Lady encouraging healthy eating. It’s their loss in the end.

      • 20 majii
        March 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm

        It was the same with the sports vs. academics at the high school where I taught. The emphasis was on the sports. I had a kid in a 9th Grade world history class who was an excellent athlete, but he didn’t want to learn anything. I stayed on this kid, explaining to him that if he expected to get a scholarship, he needed good grades. The local newspaper featured him as a football star in his senior year, but the kid hadn’t passed any of the five portions of the graduation test. The system allowed him to participate in graduation exercises (something I’ve never liked) so that they could “protect” his reputation in the community. Few of the community members that attended the graduation ceremony knew that he wouldn’t be receiving a high school diploma that night. He was sent to a prep school for 2 years and kept returning to the school until he passed all portions of the graduation test. Eventually, he went on to college, but he was two years behind his peers. I can’t recall the number of times a principal or coach came to me to ask what “I could do to help his athlete remain eligible to play.” This shouldn’t be happening, and it wouldn’t have happened when I was in school, because my parents didn’t play these types of games. We could not come home after school everyday and say that we didn’t have any homework. If we did, my mom would tell us that we’d better find a book to read because we weren’t going to watch teevee or go outside to play. You’re right, ED4PHO, there is more emphasis placed on being a good athlete than there is on being a good student, and this needs to stop if the country is to continue being, as some conservatives like to say, “exceptional.” There is no exceptionalism in mediocrity.

      • 21 Eleroy
        March 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm

        Remember the uproar when President Obama gave the speech to scool kids on the first day of school??!!!

        They balk at the President of the United States of America encouraging students to study hard and do well in school!!!

        That is all we need to know about this dangerous Fox/Republican led movement to dumb down America!!!

        • 22 Eleroy
          March 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm

          geez!!! “School”!!!

          • 23 EDP4BHO
            March 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

            Oh, I forgot about that nonsense. Just shows you how people are willing to forgo common sense to salvage their silly egos and pacify their racist attitudes. What a non-legacy to leave their children. By them passing on hatred, their children will be non-competitive in the real and ever-changing world.

    • 24 dotster
      March 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      I’ve noticed many have raised alarms lately about the widening gender gap in college enrollment. I think it’s 60-40 female registration now, or worse. Not good.
      And I remember President Obama telling about discussing education with other world leaders. Where here we have parents crabbing about raising standards, they would tell him they have the opposite problem in their countries. Their parents would push for English to be taught at a younger age, for more advanced courses to be introduced at a younger grade etc. As he has always made clear, our kids now are not just competing with the kids from the next county or the next state but with kids from all over the world. It’s time to step it up. The future of our country depends on it.

      • 25 majii
        March 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

        One reason American students lag behind foreign students in math is due to the fact that kids in other countries are pushed to learn at a faster pace, whereas students here end up being reviewed every year on mathematical concepts that they should already know. This means they don’t cover as much material as students in other countries. I’ve done research in this area, and I was appalled to learn this. IMHO, there is too much coddling going on in schools. I was reading about the new integrated math classes here in Ga yesterday, and I ran across a comment from a parent that I remember so well. The woman said that her daughter earned a “B” in integrated math, and that broke her all “A” streak, therefore, she’s not too pleased with im. She didn’t try to understand whether her daughter learned more in the im class. Her only interest seemed to be that her daughter no longer had a 4.0 average.

  8. 26 EDP4BHO
    March 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I think the photo of all the student finalists should be used in the campaign for better education. Since this country is hooked on visuals, nothing speaks louder about the failing of a sizeable portion of America’s black, white, native and hispanic youth population in the sciences than this picture.

  9. 27 barb
    March 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    This is a very good discussion with many here being teachers and other careers. Theo67, I have also read about the Chinese language circuiting the Asain brain for math.

    In our city before desegregation, we had a school called Sumner where the AA kids went to school. Their AA teachers were the driving force along with parents to guide those students into higher learning. They produced Physicians, Astronauts, Scientists and a disportionate amount of highly successful adults compared to the rest of the white schools unless they were private. I have talked to many parents and grandparents whose children attended this school. It was the day when you better not do something wrong in the neighborhood because that neighbor was looking and not only did you hear from them but they would be on the phone calling their parents. They were in double trouble. It was a village looking after everyone.

    I just read an article, I linked here recently with a sit down conversation with Jay-Z,Warren Buffet and Forbes magazine on success and giving back to the community. Jay-Z said as a child he didn’t have high esteem and was isolated.

    “I grew up in the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Our classrooms were flooded. It was very difficult for teachers to give you one-on-one attention. And there was this one sixth-grade teacher named Miss Lowden. She must have seen something in me, and she gave me this attention and this love for words. It’s funny how it works, just a little bit of attention. She also took us on a field trip to her house, which opened me up to the world. My neighborhood had been my world. It’s the only thing I had seen. I saw a whole different world that day, and my imagination grew from there. I wanted that. I aspired to have that. The small things. She had an ice thing on her refrigerator. You know, you push it and the ice and the water comes down. I was really amazed by that. I was like, I want one of those. It’s true.” I not saying that being a rapper is goal for many people. It was good for Jay-Z.

    Last thought is my biracial granddaughter in college studing micro-engineering and pre-med. Talk about math and science. Next year, her junior year one of her subjects will be working with human cadavers. In high school she was in a special Med Program and worked with doctors in different fields. Her favorite was assisting with autopsies. Got to love her because she is so motivated.

    • 28 majii
      March 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      I know you’re very proud of your grand-daughter, and I happy to hear that she’s pursuing a field of study related to math and science, because I think too many girls have bought into the “girls aren’t good at math and science” lie. Yes, they are, especially when they’re exposed to these subjects early in their lives. I love the commercial with the little girl and her dad on the beach where they’re discussing the clouds.

  10. 29 Joy (Barbados)
    March 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    It is interesting to note that a lot of what is being discussed here is just what is happening in our part of the world. Only today I was involved in an activity which targeted boys from all our Secondary Schools (your senior high schools) because there is the widening gap where the girls are outnumbering the boys where post secondary education is concerned. Some believe they can be instant Magic Johnsons or they will end up in the US playing pro basketball and earn big bucks. The situation is frightening.

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