In brief, children around the county have had a better education because of the influence of this lady, Rita F. Pierson.

NCYI had the privilege of working with Rita and having her speak at many of our conferences. If you have ever heard Rita speak, you’ve never forgotten the experience. If you have never heard her before, it’s more than worth the click and time to hear her inspirational message for educators. Rita passed away in June.

Click here to hear one of her messages.

Click on this link to see a few of her quotes.

Posted by NCYI Admin | Topic: Character Education

Link to article: http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/22288684/students-cant-resist-distraction-for-two-minutes-and-neither-can-you

NBC – Are gadgets making us dumber? Two new studies suggest they might be. One found that people who are interrupted by technology score 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test. A second demonstrated that some students, even when on their best behavior, can’t concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media or writing an email.

Interruptions are the scourge of modern life. Our days and nights are full of gadgets that ping, buzz and beep their way into our attention, taking us away from whatever we are doing.

We’ve known for a while that distractions hurt productivity at work. Depressing research by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, says that typical office workers only get 11 continuous minutes to work on a task before interruption. With smartphones reaching near ubiquity, the problem of tech-driven multitasking — juggling daily tasks with email, text messages, social media etc — is coming to a head.

Multitasking has been the subject of popular debate, but among neuroscientists, there is very little of that. Brain researchers say that what many people call multitasking should really be called “rapid toggling” between tasks, as the brain focuses quickly on one topic, then switches to another, and another. As all economics students know, switching is not free. It involves “switching costs” — in this case, the time it takes to re-immerse your mind in one topic or another.

Researchers say only the simplest of tasks are candidates for multitasking, and all but one of those tasks must involve automaticity. If you are good at folding laundry, you can probably fold laundry and watch TV at the same time, for example.

Overestimated abilities
Despite this concern among brain scientists, many people overestimate their ability to multitask, such as the college student who thinks he can text and listen to a lecture simultaneously. He cannot, says brain expert Annie Murphy Paul, who writes “The Brilliant Blog.”

“Multitasking while doing academic work — which is very, very common among young people — leads to spottier, shallower, less flexible learning,” Paul warned in a recent column.

The two studies mentioned above underscore this point.

In the first, Alessandro Acquisti and Eyal Peer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction lab recruited 136 college students to take a standard test of cognitive abilities, and invented a controlled method of distraction. Test-takers were interrupted via instant message, which they were told contained important additional instructions, during the exam.

(The research was conducted in concert with research for The Plateau Effect, a book I recently co-authored with Hugh Thompson.)

The interrupted group answered correctly 20 percent less often than members of a control group.

The Carnegie Mellon test might seem a bit contrived, however, because the control group was pretty unrealistic. It’s hard to find a group of college students who could take a test without being interrupted by gadgets.

Larry Rosen, a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, published a study in the May issue of Computers in Human Behavior that attempted to quantify how often students of all ages are distracted by technology while studying. Even under ideal circumstances, the results were dismal.

Rosen’s observers followed 263 students into their normal study environments — bedroom, library, den — and told them to work on an important school assignment for 15 minutes. Even knowing they were being watched, the students couldn’t resist texting or using social media. So-called “on-task” behavior started declining at about the two minute mark, and overall, only 65 percent of the time was used on schoolwork.

“We really assumed we set up a situation where people would try to impress us,” said Rosen, an expert in the psychology of technology. “Frankly, I was appalled at how quickly they became distracted.”

‘Problem built into the brain’
The two studies, published closely together, generated strong reaction, particularly from students.

“Yes, we text in class, but if my grade in that class is and A or a B I don’t see why it’s a problem,” wrote one student to Paul.

It’s a big problem for both students and adults, Paul counters, for plenty of reasons. Assignments inevitably take longer when learners split their time between tasks, she says. All that task-switching wears out the brain and makes learners more tired and less competent. Most important, several studies have shown that information learned while partially distracted is often quickly forgotten, so the learning is tragically shallow.

The key to transferring new information from the brain’s short-term to long-term memory is a process called “encoding.” Without deep concentration, encoding is unlikely to occur, explained Nicholas Carr in his book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.”

So Paul is among a group of researchers who worry that the digital divide is not about the gadget haves and have nots, but rather about those who can resist the constant distracting tug of technology and those who cannot. She compares it to the famous marshmallow test, which shows that children who can delay eating one marshmallow for 10 or 15 minutes on the promise of gaining a second one are the most likely to succeed later in life. In a new “marshmallow” test, educators or employers might test to see how long people can resist “a blinking inbox or a buzzing phone.”

“There are those people who think that multitasking is simply the way life is now and we should be focusing on getting better at it … that we are a bunch of old fogies who don’t understand,” Paul said. “But scientifically, there is no evidence for that. There are fundamental biological limits to what the brain can pay attention to. This is a problem built into the brain.”

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Posted by NCYI Admin | Topic: Character Education

By Roslyn Tam
Provided by: EducationalLeadership.com

Many of the men and women who shaped the world over the course of history, from Mozart to Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, have done so by thinking well outside the sphere of traditional education. Famously, each of these men had some issues with authority, and it’s hard to imagine any of them sitting placidly in a classroom and copying facts and figures from a chalkboard. In the end, their genius was not simply in their ability to understand complex systems, although that was certainly an important part of it. What set them apart was their creativity—that is, their ability to use previously held knowledge to produce something that no one had ever thought to make before; whether a symphony, a scientific theory or a personal computer.

The passing of Steve Jobs in 2011 rekindled an age-old discussion about the relationship of creativity and innovation to traditional notions of intelligence. (Jobs often credited the creative classes he audited after dropping out of college with influencing some of his later decisions at Apple.)  Not everything about this relationship is completely understood, but most people involved in education and public policy agree: creativity will be a crucial characteristic possessed by anyone hoping to succeed in the twenty-first-century economy. And yet, the education system in its current state is not set up to foster this sort of out-of-the-box thinking. One solution currently gaining momentum is the use of community-driven non-profit organizations known as local education funds (LEFs) and public education funds (PEFs), which are committed to improving access to quality education for all members of society. While not the complete answer, these reform-minded organizations might be the key to injecting creativity back into public schools.

Fostering Creative Intelligence in the American Classroom

It is ten years after the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which was enacted in order to help American schools compete with their foreign counterparts, and their foreign counterparts are still outscoring them in just about every subject. This might be partially due to NCLB’s use of standardized testing to measure school performance. As many teachers will attest to, this emphasis on test scores leave schools little room to focus on anything besides “teaching to the test.” The United States has gone backwards, then, to a so-called “drill-and-kill” system of rote learning and memorization, while many of the rest of the world’s schools, especially those in Europe and Asia, have evolved to place emphasis on big picture concepts, problem solving, and encouraging innovation.

According to a 2010 study by The College of William & Mary education professor Kyung-Hee Kim, creativity has been on the decline among American students since 1990. Using the results of the Torrance Test measuring creative thinking, she analyzed decades’ worth of data and found that, while traditional IQ scores have actually gone up steadily each decade, creativity is on the decline. She also used the results to identify three types of students: those with high intelligence and high creativity, those with high intelligence and low creativity, and those with low intelligence and high creativity. What does this tell us? One theory is that creativity and intelligence, while related, are not exactly the same thing, and placing too much stress on more traditional standards of intelligence might result in stifling creativity in those who possess that quality. As Kim notes, “If we neglect creative students in school because of the structure and the testing movement—creative students cannot breathe, they are suffocated in school—then they become underachievers.” While there are several factors that might be resulting in this “creativity crisis,” Kim puts at least some of the blame for lower Torrance test scores on the culture of standardized testing encouraged by NCLB.

This decline in creativity does not bode well for the future of the country. According to John M. Eger, professor of communications and public policy and director of the Creative Economy Initiative at San Diego State University, creativity is essential to building an economy to compete with the rest of the world in coming decades. In a Huffington Post article from 2011, Eger points out that, while the word “creative” is often associated with the arts, the concept of creativity is just as important for the STEM subjects that have received so much attention from education leaders and government officials in recent years. In fact, a recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs around the world identified creativity as the top quality needed for future success in the global economy.

Is Public Investment the Solution?

As our schools struggle to keep up with the standards set forth by NCLB, they also grapple with staggeringbudget cuts, with fine art and music programs especially vulnerable to the axe. Recently, however, a number of organizations collectively known as public education support organizations, or ESOs, have been created within communities to supply capital for public schools through fundraising. Funds are then appropriated through grants to finance things like teacher training, afterschool programs, community-based projects, and school supplies. There are many types of ESOs, and they vary greatly in both scope and size. LEFs are specifically associated with the Public Education Network, while PEFs are a much broader group of education-related foundations. The Urban Institute reports that between 1997 and 2007, the number of ESOs doubled to more than 19,000, collectively spending $4.3 billion dollars on improving education.

The Decatur Public Schools Foundation (DPSF) out of Decatur, Illinois, is an organization that’s representative of the possibilities for PEFs to create opportunities rewarding creative thinking and innovation. Decatur Science Investigations, funded by the foundation, is a partnership with Millikin University that brings undergraduate science students into Decatur elementary schools to set up science stations and perform science demonstrations at school assemblies. The goal of the program is to encourage young students to use their imaginations and gain enthusiasm for science, and 100% of teachers polled in the district felt that the program increased critical thinking and problem solving skills. Another DPSF program is the musical instrument library, which provides band and orchestra instruments to low-income students who might not have otherwise been able to afford them. After the program started in 2009, participation in music programs increased by 15%.

Compared to some of the larger LEFs operating with multi-million dollar budgets, DPSF is a relatively small organization, but it’s easy to see how these small-scale efforts can really make a difference to students who benefit from them, and how they might be used to fill in the creativity gap that currently exists in public education. As to whether these organizations will continue to expand and become an important part of education funding in the future, there is no clear answer. What does seem clear is that creative thinking will be the only solution to the myriad complex problems facing coming generations. And, appropriately enough, one of those problems might just be how we’re going to fix education.

Posted by NCYI Admin

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