Tag Archives: education

Teach the teacher; links

The last post was quite pessimistic but it was about a sad topic, bullying and manipulation of people. Text books and education of children affect everyone’s future because children become the leaders of the future. Change is happening and the next generations of children and young adults are speaking up in very positive ways not just in bullying chants.

Without considering what messages make it into the textbooks, or why, the following links consider how to make the texts and lesson plans more effective for helping children learn the material. The teaching strategies may also be more effective for adult education however the articles seem to be more geared towards the education of children and teens.

Six evidence based teaching strategies aren’t making it into textbooks used for training new teachers: [ http://bigthink.com/neurobonkers/we-need-to-rewrite-the-textbook-on-how-to-teach]

The six teaching strategies from the above link which research suggests may help students learn:

  1. Combine graphic images with descriptions in the text.
  2. Provide concrete examples of abstract concepts.
  3. Ask questions that encourage the student to think more about a topic.
  4. Repeatedly alternate between showing how to solve a type of problem and then having the students try to solve one themselves.
  5. Distribute practice of a skill throughout the day, the week, the semester to help the students learn the material more thoroughly.
  6. Assess the student’s skills to further boost how well they retain the information.

Other less proven methods about learning and learning styles have made it into teaching mythology: [https://momentssnippetsspirals.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/myths-in-education-or-how-bad-teaching-is-encouraged/]

And more in depth material for new teachers, “Learning about Learning, Jan 2016:” [https://momentssnippetsspirals.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/nctq_learning_about_learning_1-16.pdf]

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and this information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a lactation educator and Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

If elected President of the United States, I would also…

If elected President of the United States, I would also work towards changing…

  • tax structures and regulations that favor large businesses over small businesses,
  • and increasing Capital Gains taxes so that investing in employees would be a more valuable investment for businesses than investing in equipment,
  • and closing loopholes that make it easy for businesses and individuals to hide income from the IRS in off shore banks,
  • and I would work towards making an easier tax code in general based on percentage of income with fewer exclusions.

The last post already contained more than five to nine topics which might overtax the short term memory, (unintentional, gratuitous pun)., so I concluded it, but having opened the topic of what I would work towards changing it seemed important to add some of the other issues affecting our country and which affect the world because our economy and policies affect so much of the world.

  • I would also work towards decreasing spending on military, but in phases that address the unstable economies and terrorist organizations that have resulted from our nation’s “War on Terror.” Less war ultimately is likely to result in less terror and more peace; and less pollution. Bombs over other people’s neighborhoods still results in more pollution in the atmosphere and it does spread. Volatile chemicals evaporate from warmer regions of the world and condense and settle in colder regions so bombing the Middle East is ultimately poisoning the ground of colder regions in addition to poisoning the ground and air and people of the Middle East.
  • I would work towards providing effective nutrient based health interventions for helping reduce cancer and chronic disease risk. Pharmaceutical medications can be life saving but they also frequently contain toxic ingredients which have negative side effects for the patients using them and as waste products add to the pollution of our water supply.
  • I would work towards reducing the agencies and policies put in place by the Patriot Act and Homeland Security — they haven’t been proven to be cost effective or helped reduce mass killings.
  • I would work towards improving medication testing and adverse reaction reporting as psychiatric medication use has been linked directly to mass killings and suicides.
  • I would work towards a not-for-profit single payer health care system that encourages preventative health education and lifestyle changes as the first strategy for promoting wellness in patients. Private health care facilities would likely still exist for those who have the money to afford self pay health care but taking the profit motive out of standard health care would allow freedom to treat health issues with the cheapest possible solutions. Magnesium supplements and Epsom Salt baths are much cheaper and safer than medications such as Prilosec, Nexium and Zantac — which are physiologically used in place of magnesium, nature’s calcium channel blocker, but which have been proven to have negative health effects at least for some groups of patients.
  • I would work towards an increased use of genetic screening for the purposes of individualized dietary guidance. I could share which nutrients I need to bypass my genetic defect in the ability to make cannabinoids internally, but they wouldn’t necessarily help other people unless they had the same genetic anomaly as me.
  • I would work towards substance addiction being treated individually with genetic screening and lifestyle guidance for bypassing other people’s individual metabolic needs. Defects in the cannabinoid receptor system may affect cravings for opioids, food, and alcohol and to a lesser extant nicotine and cocaine.
  • I would work towards modifying the banking industry so that they aren’t allowed to loan out the same money to multiple debtors and then treat it as if more money was created when actually only more debt repayment cash streams were created.
  • I would work towards making a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court which created a new race of non-humans – the corporate people, can’t vote, don’t need to eat or breath pollution and therefore aren’t people or citizens and have no right to interfere with electing politicians or judges.
  • I would work towards a campaign system that is not funded by donations from individuals by establishing a forum for town hall meetings and debates and educational websites that allow all candidates an equal opportunity to address the voters. And to reduce the popularity contest aspect I would work towards outlawing campaign commercials from being allowed on television and other paid advertising media. I would work towards ending gerrymandering of districts and work towards improving access to vote by making mail in ballots more universally accessible and/or by making businesses allow workers to take time off from work to vote or by making the voting dates federal holidays, (that would only give government workers the day off though and would cost a lot).
  • I would work towards decreasing college loan interest rates but I am not supportive of “free” college tuition — we aren’t doing well enough with providing “free” education to grade school and high school students yet to suggest that as a nation we could provide free college educations too. And students who are just given access to college might not be as motivated to treat it as a business opportunity that affects the rest of their life – they may be more likely to treat it as a few more years to party. Making technical schools and career guidance more available is also important. A college education does not guarantee a job in the current market.
  • I would work towards making public education about educating the children as creative individuals rather than about passing standardized tests and punishing teachers for not getting the children to pass tests. Some children may need to focus on learning life skills and will never be able to pass all the tests — biology is a fact that can’t be changed by passing laws against it.
  • I would work towards expanding jobs within nations and work towards sensible global trade agreements. Sending raw chicken to nations such as China to then be processed by cheaper labor and then be shipped back to the U.S. for sale to consumers is a waste of gasoline and increases food safety risks due to the increased transit time and possibly due to unknown factory conditions or food processing additives. [http://www.newsweek.com/2014/10/10/curious-case-chinese-chicken-import-export-business-273699.html] Processing chicken is not a pleasant job but U.S. workers need work too.
  • I would work to decrease the use of “Temporary Workers” and to make regulations that make it safer for temporary workers as well as work to stop temporary immigration from being falsely claimed to be an opportunity for a guest worker to be able to bring their whole family to the U.S. as permanent citizens. Some changes have been made but congress has also blocked changes. The inexpensive workers are good for some businesses but also tend to bring wages down in general for the industries and areas in which they are allowed to work. [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/us/rules-revised-for-h-2b-guest-worker-program.html?_r=0]
  • I do not support birthright citizenship it is being used as a vacation destination to give babies dual citizenship. Border patrols can’t keep out pregnant tourists with money for an airplane ticket. People who move here and establish residences and seek jobs and have children should have routes available to work towards their families becoming citizens but the ease of travel in this era has changed too much to support continuing automatic birthright citizenship – in my opinion and others. [http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-ed-birthright-citizenship-20141026-story.html]
  • I would read information about these issues that is written by non-partisan, non-corporate funded specialists and seek out specialists to work with who know more about the industries but who are not lobbyists for the industries.

That’s a few of the issues that I care about. I care about a lot of things. Litter pick-up and invasive plant control would be potential jobs that improve environmental and public health and the economy. Biodiversity helps keep insects like mosquitos healthier too. Spraying mosquitos with pesticides has been associated with an increased rate of autism. So do we want to reduce the risk of a few mosquito born diseases at the expense of an increased rate of autism — or do we want a healthier, more biodiverse environment in general?

Do we want to spend a quarter of million dollars per person who has cancer or prevent cancer in the first place? or help the patients recover with more cost effective treatments and lifestyle changes? Our national priorities have lasting impact on the whole world because we share the air and we share the water — with dragonflies and birds and bees, and the trees, as well as with each other.

Live, Work, Create.

Live, Work, Create — the subway, because — public transport matters, it saves gasoline.

 

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

How we praise children may be instilling a more entity or incremental theory about personality traits

How we praise one another or ourselves may be affected by whether we have an entity theory or incremental theory about personality traits such as intelligence, or other traits such as trustworthiness or fairness. Hearing praise about what a good child we are can leave the underlying impression that if circumstances were different then we would be a bad child. Praise about how good we were for scoring well on the test or for drawing a pretty picture may be leaving the impression that next time if we score poorly on the test or make a less nice drawing that we are a bad child. [1]

Praise that focuses on the effort involved – or lack of effort – instead focuses on the job at hand rather than any innate goodness or badness. Praise about the effort involved, such as, “Great, you finished almost all of the questions and put in a lot of work on solving them, with more time you may have been able to finish all of the problems,” might be more successful in the long run at promoting a sense that working hard on a problem can lead to success without placing an external judgement on the child’s general goodness or badness. Praising the process that a child used rather than praising or criticizing the child may help children feel more confident about their ability to successfully handle challenges. Praise feels good in the short term but can lead the child to  be more self critical and to give up when they run into more difficult work. [1]

Research suggests  that people with a more fixed view of personality, or entity theory, may be judging others and themselves more harshly. While people with the more fluid view of personality, the incremental theory that people can change and improve their skills over time, make fewer snap judgments about themselves or others. [1]

Within the field of nutrition people who are trying to practice healthier eating habits may face setbacks in their food choices. It is important for the overall success of the dietary changes for them to see the unhealthier choices as simply unhealthier choices for that day or meal rather than a more general reflection of their overall chances of sticking with the new eating habits over time. One day’s unhealthy choices are unlikely to lead to long term ill health but if the unhealthy choices are viewed as proof that the person is a bad person who might as well give up trying then the day’s unhealthy choices might add to the long term risk of ill health. Eating disorders can be a person’s way of trying to cope with unrecognized emotional issues. Gentleness with oneself while trying to practice new eating habits may help with getting through minor setbacks without giving up on the overall goal of change.

The book Self-theories; Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, (1999), by Carol S. Dweck, is written for the academic field of social psychology however it is a review of research and doesn’t go into detail about statistical analysis which makes it fairly accessible for the general interest reader. It is part of the series Essays in Social Psychology by Psychology Press. [1]

Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by severe control of caloric intake, is mentioned as an example of a condition where individuals can harm themselves in the pursuit of a perfect self ([1], page 138) but the book is not about nutrition specifically. It discusses how cognitive therapy techniques can help children and adults learn more productive views of self and how well meaning praise may actually be promoting increased risk of giving up when setbacks are encountered. How we talk to children and adolescents about their size can have significant impact on the risk of their developing disordered eating patterns:

In addition, history of depression and history of teasing by a teacher or coach have been linked to the onset of an eating disorder 30. [2]

A focus on healthy exercise habits and regular meals of various types of foods may be more helpful than overly focusing on weight or size or a few specific food choices. Health occurs over time not just at each meal. Process oriented help for healthy eating might better focus on helping the person recognize their hunger and fullness signals and recognizing when thirst for water might actually be the primary body sensation they are feeling.

The fixed or entity theory of self might suggest to a child or adult that their ability to change their eating habits or fitness level is not possible while a fluid incremental theory of self might suggest that with effort the child or adult’s ability to change their eating habits or fitness level is possible. It can be helpful to not make weight loss or size changes the primary goal when trying to help someone address eating habits. Changing habits can support a healthy gradual change in weight or size or may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes or high blood pressure from developing even if there aren’t large changes in weight or size. Cognitive behavior therapy can be helpful for promoting healthy eating and lifestyle changes. [23]

/Disclosure: I am a nutritionist. Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician. Please see a health professional for individualized health care services./

  1. Carol S. Dweck, Self-theories; Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, (Psychology Press, 1999, Ann Arbor) [1]
  2. Denise E. Wilfley, Ph.D., Rachel P. Kolko, B.A., and Andrea E. Kass, B.A., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management and Eating Disorders in Children and AdolescentsChild Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2011 Apr; 20(2): 271–285. . Full text available online. [2]
  3. Rebecca Murphy, DClinPsych. et al, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders, Psychiatric Clinics of North America Vol 33, Issue 3, Sept. 2010, Pages 611–627. Full text available online. [3]

 

Intelligence is not a fixed entity, but believing that may make it so

Research in the field of social psychology suggests that people have two different basic beliefs about intelligence. A few people fall into a middle ground between the two basic beliefs but the majority tend to fall into one or the other set of beliefs. [1]

One group tends to see intelligence as a fixed entity that you either have or don’t have; that you are born with a certain amount and that amount can’t be changed much throughout life; [1], that you either are an Albert Einstein type or you aren’t. This belief is somewhat true in that research does suggest that intelligence is 40 to 80% due to genetics – how smart your parents are does correlate with how smart you may be. [2],  However that leaves up to 60% of intelligence due to your own health status and work effort. If you believe that you will never be as smart as Albert Einstein so it just isn’t worth trying to improve or study, then that is a self-fulfilling belief. Someone who doesn’t study is unlikely to improve their skills or to stick to a difficult problem long enough to solve it.

Albert Einstein wasn’t a straight A student but that didn’t stop him from sticking with his field of interest and breaking new ground in the understanding of physics. But he probably wasn’t as smart as Jean Liedloff was in the field of child rearing where she broke new ground in the understanding of natural parenting strategies. And Jean Liedloff probably wasn’t as smart as Albert Einstein was in the field of physics but that is okay. We all are better off for having experts in a variety of fields of study.

Jean Leidloff is less well known then Albert Einstein but she did go where few before her had gone – and she stayed for a few years. Jean is best known for her book, The Continuum Concept, published in 1975. She described her time spent living with a South American tribe and her observations of their parenting practices. The book formed a basis for the attachment parenting movement.

The second basic theory of intelligence is that intelligence is incremental – that intelligence is something fluid that can be changed and increased with more study and effort. [1] This core belief is associated with students viewing learning as a fun self challenge. Students with a more incremental theory of intelligence are more likely to choose challenging learning tasks and to avoid tasks that they have already mastered (super boring, man). Students with a more entity theory of intelligence may be more likely to choose tasks that they will be able to complete easily as a way of proving to themselves how smart they are or to show others how smart they are. Students with the entity theory of intelligence may be more likely to feel threatened by other students who do well on a test or project; while students with the incremental theory of intelligence primarily judge their progress against their own previous work – with intelligence as a fluid changeable trait they are eager to learn and challenge themselves against themselves. [1]

Intelligence is fluid over the whole lifespan. Reaction times may be faster in our teens and twenties but social skills continue to improve on average with each decade of life. [3]

In the U.S. the No Child Left Behind legislation greatly increased the number of tests that young children are made to take and teachers can lose their jobs and schools can lose their funding if children don’t perform well on the tests. [4] The policy may be leaving all the children behind by teaching them the entity theory of intelligence – that intelligence is something that you can measure with a test and that you either have or you don’t. The entity theory of intelligence is associated with an increased risk of giving up when faced with unfamiliar, confusing, or difficult work. [1] More children are leaving the school system before they graduate, that also can leave them behind. [11, 12] Teaching to the test may help bring some children up to average but it may also be leaving the self-challengers in a state of mind numbing boredom and leading them to dropping out; or to only working for the easy ‘A’ instead of working to their maximum capability; or to acting up in class and becoming a behavior problem.

We need people with a variety of types of interests and skills and who see challenge as something fun and worth the work. The incremental theory of intelligence is a more accurate reflection of how our brains work over the decades. Testing young children every year of their early lives may be fostering the more inaccurate entity theory of intelligence. The good news is that children can be taught the incremental theory of intelligence simply by encouraging more projects with learning goals rather than performance goals. [1]

A learning goal might sound something like: “This task may be a little challenging but that is okay it will help you learn a new skill and the grade isn’t important.” And a performance goal might sound something like: “This task will be graded and your grade says something about your level of intelligence” –> and in the era of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top programs –> “and your teacher’s job and your schools budget may be affected by your grade.”.

Young children’s core beliefs may be harmed by the frequent testing that has become standard and high stakes that have become associated with the tests, in my opinion at least.

/Disclosure: I am a nutritionist. Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician. Please see a health professional for individualized health care services./

  1. Carol S. Dweck, Self-theories; Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, (Psychology Press, 1999, Ann Arbor) [1]

 

IQ and Racism, Classism, and Corporate-profit-mongerism

Yes, racism is bad and slavery is bad. Slavery was bad when Africans were brought to the Americas, north and south, against their will and it was bad centuries earlier when blondes from the area that is now Finland were shipped to a variety of areas around the world against their will.

Racism and Class-ism in History:

Having slaves that look different from the rest of a population likely made it easier to control and limit their movement; like a neighborhood game played among boys where one team simply removes their shirts – the shirts and the skins makes an easy way to tell who is playing on which team without a need for expensive uniforms.

Slaves were also seized in the areas where Moscow and Poland are located. Some families were allowed to buy back their loved ones if they could afford it, while others in times of famine were able to sell their children to the slave industry. Between “1200 until 1760, an estimated 6.5 million prisoners” were shipped to areas ranging from Italy to India. The more recent trade of African prisoners may have shipped as many as 12.5 million people over three and a half centuries to ports ranging from as far south as Argentina to as far north as Canada. The people taken in the earlier centuries of slave trade were primarily women and children who were sold as domestic and sexual workers while the later centuries of trade in humans focused on strong men for use as field laborers. [1]

Slavery is bad, but so was the slaughter of Native American people and the take over of their lands. Spanish conquistadors and European explorers killed the men of the native populations and bred with the women often enough that the genetic evidence can still be found in the mixed heritage of their ancestors. Genes from the Y chromosome can show who your father and grandfather and great-great-great-(etc.) grandfathers might have been while mitochondrial DNA can show who your mother, grandmother and great-great-great-(etc.) grandmothers might have been. [2]

Slavery is bad, and so is slaughtering native people and taking their land, and so was slaughtering disabled and black people and Jewish people and people with different political or religious beliefs during Hitler’s control of Germany. In the decade before Jewish people were collected and put in concentration camps and killed by Hitler’s regime, hundreds of thousands of black people and people with disabilities were put to death. At the end of the war when surviving prisoners were freed from the concentration camps there were homosexual prisoners that were actually left imprisoned. [3] They weren’t given their own country. Eleven million people were killed by the Hitler regime but we tend to only hear about the six million people of Jewish  ancestry. Who decides what is fair or bad or worth mentioning in textbooks?

Japanese Americans were rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps in the United States of America during World War II. That was also bad, in my opinion at least.

It turns out that the genetic joke is on Hitler; the only pure race of humans is Sub-Saharan Africans, the rest of the world’s peoples have a mixture of genes made up mostly of Sub-Saharan African genes combined with a small percentage from Neanderthal and Denisovan people and one other unidentified early race of people. [2]

So who decides what is fair or bad? Possibly the people with the biggest guns or the fastest horses or the fastest intellect or the ones with the most powerful friends.

Racism, Class-ism, and Corporate Profit-Monger-ism in Modern Times:

It is not fair that today in the United States there are more prisoners in a for-profit prison industry then there were slaves during the years of the African slave trade, in my opinion at least. It does not seem fair to me that people are sent to the for-profit-prison-industry for standing on the sidewalk while looking female and attractive (loitering) or while male and not pale (obstructing pedestrian traffic) or while male and smoking a hand rolled tobacco cigarette (undercover police drug bust – ouch, that’s too bad that your head was slammed against the pavement by what seemed to be a mugging by gangsters which turned out to be a wrongful arrest by undercover officers instead). [4]

If the wrongfully arrested don’t have someone to post bail for them, then they have to stay in jail where they are encouraged to sign plea agreements, which is signing that you agree to plead guilt of the alleged crime and which results in the person having an arrest record. If the person gets a few standing-on-the-sidewalk arrests, then the person becomes a repeat offender with multiple arrests on their record and risk of longer jail terms for future standing-on-the-sidewalk arrests. [4]

Our assumption that we have a system that assumes we are innocent until proven guilty may be inaccurate. The system seems to have changed into a system of guilty until you can post bail or otherwise defend yourself.

It doesn’t seem fair that people who default on their credit card debt can have their cars seized or their wages garnished when they never received a summons to court about the unpaid debt. Whistle-blowers in the banking industry have lost their jobs trying to inform the government about unfair practices by the banks in their handling of mortgage and credit card debt but the banks got bailed out and no bank executives went to jail.

Aggressive business tactics are viewed as just doing good business – but good business for whom? Pensioners have lost their pensions and individuals have lost their homes or cars. Business practices that depend on fraudulent legal devices are bad, and fraudulent, and it is unfair that it is the whistle-blower who tried to protect small credit card holders who lost her job. Some in-house lawyers did lose their jobs at the bank involved in the case. [4, 6] A different whistle-blower in the flawed home loans scandal is being awarded a percentage of the settlement fine that was collected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). [5]

It is unfair that the Welfare system has turned into a fraud detection system that may send individuals to the for-profit prison industry over a son’s too large pants (might be evidence that a boyfriend is staying in the home instead of a son with too large pants.) Rates of violent crime has been dropping and rates of welfare recipients have also been dropping, yet prison population is going up. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is if you are not able to read the plea agreement or the Welfare rights statement that a person in a position of authority is prompting you to sign.  [4] Is entrapment fair just because someone isn’t able to read the subtext of an unfair statement?

Instead of subsidizing a for-profit prison industry we could subsidize a for-profit invasive species control industry and group homes for those with mental health problems or for parents who need help providing for their children. The current Welfare system makes getting married a bad financial decision for mothers and that is a system that is probably not ideal for the children.

Group Homes might help families stay together and grow together:

A group home that is centered around the children who are in need might provide group dining room and daycare facilities and parents could be asked to work a certain number of hours working in the kitchen or daycare or in cleaning the communal areas. Efficiency apartments could be available for the individual families and marriage could be encouraged for parents who want to stay in the group facility with their children. Stipends for the volunteer hours might provide some cash allotment but increasing amounts for having increasing numbers of children wouldn’t be provided. The children’s financial support would be tied to their stay at the group home. Parents could be encouraged to seek paying jobs while staying in their efficiency apartment within the larger group home and would be allowed to save towards getting their own place instead of the current system which takes away Welfare payments when the recipient finds other paying work or sends the recipient to jail for fraud if undeclared income is discovered by the Welfare fraud investigative team or because of a tip from a disgruntled ex-friend or family member.

Intelligence and Natural Differences:

Equal rights and equal opportunities are important but expecting equal outcomes is not reasonable. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and it is not fair that “aggressive” but fraudulent business practices are awarded billions while individuals are sent to for-profit prisons over a few hundred dollars in Welfare benefits – that’s not very fair at all, in my opinion at least.

It is a nice idea that a college education can assure a good job and good life but it isn’t really true. College is hard because the jobs that students are being prepared for are demanding. Preparing some people for technical jobs and some people for basic life skills management or for working a certain number of hours within a group home may be more realistic.

We are all different and that is what provides a diverse range of talents. We need more jobs for people who have more physical skills than intellectual ones and we need to protect them from unfair “aggressive” business practices because it is really not fair that someone is sent to jail because they signed a plea agreement or Welfare paper that they didn’t understand, in my opinion at least.

Class-ism and Injustice in the name of defense, is offensive, to me at least:

A college degree didn’t save Miriam Carey from being shot multiple times after having turned the wrong way onto White House grounds. [7] An off duty officer dressed in a short sleeve shirt and caring an ice chest moved a mobile barricade in the way of her car while she was trying to leave. He and the barricade got knocked down and she was chased for several blocks by multiple police cars before officers killed her with five gun shot wounds. Two drunken Secret Service officers actually did drive onto White House grounds and they weren’t shot multiple times or even once. [8]

Miriam Carey’s boyfriend had asked for help for her. She was a health professional who was being treated for severe postpartum depression with irrational beliefs. She had her young baby in the car with her on the day she turned the wrong way onto White House grounds and then failed to stop when directed to do so by the off duty officer who was not in uniform. Miraculously her baby is alive and in the custody of the father, her boyfriend who had tried to get adequate help for her condition. The tragic event happened months after the delivery of her baby when Miriam Carey may have been trying to gradually stop the use of her psychiatric medication.

We need more mental health care facilities and a police force that doesn’t shoot first and assume one is guilty until proven innocence. It is likely that if she had survived the multiple shots that she would have been arrested for the misdemeanor offense of failing to stop when signaled to do so by the police cars who pursued her after she tried to leave the area by the White House. [7] It seems unfair to me that Secret Service officers receive different treatment than other people. The two drunken officers weren’t arrested or shot but they were reassigned to “non-supervisory and non-operational” assignments (in other words, they didn’t even lose their jobs). [8]

Corporate profit-monger-ism going international may be dangerous to health:

Currently the international community is facing the possibility of increased power being given to corporations if the Trans Pacific Partnership is passed. It includes language that would allow corporations to sue nations for any laws that might impede their profit margins. [9] For example some nations have passed cigarette packaging laws that highlight the negative health risks associated with smoking and tobacco corporations have tried to sue the nations regarding the special packaging requirements. The large tobacco corporations may have a larger income than some of the small nations that are trying to resist the lawsuits. Sales of cigarettes have dropped in the U.S. and the companies are seeking more customers elsewhere. [10] People’s health is being put at risk for the sake of corporate profit and foreign nations that are trying to protect their citizens are being harassed by multiple lawsuits. That doesn’t seem fair, to me at least.

People as products of for-profit industries may also be dangerous to health:

A for-profit prison industry turns people into a product as does a for-profit health care system and a for-profit education system. Contracts with required quotas mean that police officers or Welfare fraud investigators may have to work just a little harder to arrest people for standing on sidewalks or for having suspiciously male clothing in the home of a single mother on Welfare. Contracts with for-profit prisons stipulate that states have to provide a certain number of prisoners or pay the difference anyway.

Manufacturing prisoners doesn’t seem fair or sensible. The cost to house prisoners is much greater than the cost of Welfare payments and the irony is that the rate of violent crime and use of Welfare has been dropping. To give a worse case example of privatization – if fire departments were for-profit and they had to meet quotas for numbers of fires put out each month then unscrupulous fire departments might start looking for buildings that look like they might be at risk for fires and test the theory by dropping a few lit matches – and that wouldn’t be fair or safe.

In Summary; we can learn from the past and we can change the future:

As a nation it seems sensible to take a second look at some of the policies that have developed over the years and consider changing directions to meet a changing reality. We live on a planet with limited resources and a growing population. Building on each other’s strengths instead of capitalizing aggressively on weaknesses seems like it would be more profitable in the long run, to me at least.

Profit Monger, definition: “A person, business or profession marked by avarice and greed.”

Classism, definition: “Discrimination or prejudice that is based on social class.”

Racism, definition: 1) “The belief that each race has distinct and intrinsic attributes” and/or 2) “that one race or group of races is superior or inferior to another race or group of races” that may lead to 3) “Prejudice or discrimination based upon race.”

There may be differences between groups on average but each individual has their own unique strengths and weaknesses and we can’t tell what those might be based on how someone looks or what their last name is.

We can help make opportunities available equally but we can not make children incapable of failing just by passing a law. The No Child Left Behind policy has led to increased teacher turn over and increased cheating at the teacher and administrative level and there are increased rates of students who leave school before graduating. We can help create stronger individuals by treating each child as an individual and helping them build their confidence in their own unique strengths and helping them learn to recognize their weaknesses and how to ask for help or to work within their range of abilities. [11, 12] Staying in school is associated with delaying the age at which young women have their first pregnancy which can help prevent complications of birth. [13] And education is more associated with voting than one’s economic bracket – a poor educated person is statistically more likely to vote than an uneducated rich person. [14, page 258]

Being relaxed may help boost intelligence scores when taking intelligence tests, [15], and race and economic bracket may have different effects on one’s stress and anxiety levels. Social acceptance of other’s differences may also be a factor. We can’t all be doctors or lawyers or NBA basketball players – and that is okay – but shooting people first and asking questions later doesn’t seem any more okay than arresting people for standing on public sidewalks.

/Disclosure: I am a nutritionist. Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician. Please see a health professional for individualized health care services./

  1. The Invisible History of the Human Race, How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures / by Christine Kenneally / 2014 [http://www.penguin.com/book/the-invisible-history-of-the-human-race-by-christine-kenneally/9780670025558]
  2. pink-triangle.com / homepage [http://www.pink-triangle.org/]
  3. The Divide; American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, by Matt Taibbi, (Spiegel & Grau, 2014, New York)
  4. JPMorgan whistleblower gets $63.9 million in mortgage fraud deal / By Jonathan Stempel / March 7, 2014 [http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/07/us-jpmorgan-whistleblower-idUSBREA261HM20140307]
  5. JP Morgan Chase Credit Card Robo-Signing Challenged / by Donald Petersen/ JUNE 25, 2011 [http://www.fdcpa.me/jp-morgan-chase-credit-card-robo-sign/]
  6. How Miriam Carey’s U-Turn at a Whitehouse Checkpoint Led to Her Death / by David Montgomery / Nov. 26, 2014 [http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2014/11/26/how-miriam-careys-u-turn-at-a-white-house-checkpoint-led-to-her-death/]
  7. Two Secret Service agents drunkenly crashed White House barricades: Official
  8. WikiLeaks Reveals TPP Proposal Allowing Corporations to Sue Nations, March 26, 2015 [http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/26/headlines/wikileaks_reveals_tpp_proposal_allowing_corporations_to_sue_nations]
  9. Tobacco Firms’ Strategy Limits Poorer Nations Smoking Laws / by Sabrina Tavernise / Dec. 13, 2013 [http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/health/tobacco-industry-tactics-limit-poorer-nations-smoking-laws.html?_r=0]
  10. New Study Offers Reality Check: No Child Left Behind is Increasing Dropout Rates, Feb. 15, 2008 [http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/02/new-study-offer.html]
  11. Don’t Call Them Dropouts; Understanding the Experiences of Young People Who Leave High School Before Graduation, A Report from America’s Promise Alliance and its Center for Promise at Tufts University with support from Target / May 20, 2014 [http://gradnation.org/report/dont-call-them-dropouts]
  12. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas D. Kistof and Sheryl WuDunn
  13. The Bell Curve; Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray (The Free Press, 1994, New York)
  14. IQ Since “The Bell Curve”, by Christopher F. Chabris, August 1998 [http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~cfc/Chabris1998a.html]

One billion IQ points and iodine

Preventing iodine deficiency can help improve the quality of life for women and their families by increasing intelligence in addition to helping general health and possibly helping to reduce risk of some types of cancer. [Cancer and iodine] Iodized salt and use of iodine supplements for young women of child bearing age are two solutions discussed in the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009). Severe iodine deficiency prenatally can cause mental retardation in the infant but moderate iodine deficiency has been found to reduce intelligence by an ten to fifteen IQ points. Improving access to iodized salt and iodine supplements for women around the world could add to the intelligence of the next generation of our world’s supply of inventors and business builders.

“Worldwide, iodine deficiency alone reduces humanity’s collective IQ by more than 1 billion points. According to one estimate, just $19 million would pay for salt iodization in poor countries that need it.”

– Half the Sky, (2009), p 172.

The volunteer organizations Kiwani’s International and UNICEF have helped provide iodine fortification around the world. [1] Salt iodization has met with community resistance in some areas possibly due to negative rumors that became associated with the programs. [2, 3]

Iodine deficiency can be common problem for people in developed nations too. Prenatal nutrition is important for everyone.

A study on the iodine levels of prenatal women in Australia found mild deficiency to be a problem for many of the women, “48.4% of the Caucasian women, 38.4% of the Vietnamese women and 40.8% of the Indian/Sri Lankan (ISL) women.” Follow-up research examining possible dietary differences between the groups was recommended in the article abstract. [4] Seafood and seaweed can be naturally good sources of iodine.

Talking about IQ as group averages may bother some people. A different way to consider it as individual infants. Mild iodine deficiency prenatally might leave the infant who had a potential of 115 IQ with 100-105; the infant with a potential of 100 with 85-90; the infant with a potential of 80 with 65-70; and the infant with a potential of 140 with 125-130.

Improving prenatal nutrition is good for each individual’s potential and their potential intelligence boost might not just be in IQ but also might include an improvement in social skills and emotional skills, maybe even physical skills. We don’t have national and international testing in place for assessing social and emotional skills, so we don’t know what we don’t know, do we? Good thing we can find out —-> more research is needed about the possible other benefits but there is no question about the benefits of preventing mild or severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy with increased cognitive skills on average.

Research comparing the iodine levels of women between their own pregnancies and then following the differences in IQ between siblings might be another way to show a connection between iodine deficiency prenatally and cognitive skills.* A difference has been found between sibling’s IQ in a large study (n=241,310), first born children scored about 3% higher than second born and 4% higher than third born. The difference was an average and was not observed in every family. [5] Iodine levels were not mentioned. Congenital hypothyroidism is more common for infants of multiple pregnancies, such as twins and triplets and for infants born to older women than younger:

In addition, New York found the incidence nearly double in twin births (1:876) as compared to singletons (1:1765), and even higher with multiple births (1:575). Older mothers (> 39 years) had a higher incidence (1:1,328) compared to younger mothers (< 20 years, 1:1,703). [6]

*A research study that provided extra iodine supplementation for mothers expecting twins or multiples and older mothers and then tracked iodine levels for the mothers and IQ levels for the children might be more ethical based on the known risks of congenital hypothyroidism and the benefits of improved IQ on average then the idea to track a woman’s iodine levels over progressive pregnancies and then measure the IQs of the siblings. It would be more ethical to provide iodine supplementation if levels were found deficient and later see if the siblings IQ levels were statistically similar.

Women all over the world in all economic brackets may not be getting as much iodine as their bodies need. The thyroid is well known as needing iodine and it has priority within the body for uptake of the mineral but the ovaries [7] and the mammary glands [8] need iodine too. Iodine is important in endocrine glands throughout the body in men as well as women.

Getting everyone off to a good start prenatally is just a good start to the rest of the life. Iodine intake is important at all stages of the lifespan.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes  within the guidelines of fair use and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Who asks the question may affect both the question and the answer

How to promote more diversity within science research is a question posed in the book “Who’s Asking? Native Science, Western Science, and Science Education,” by Douglas L. Medin and Megan Bang, (2014, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Our cultural background may impact not only what research studies are funded and performed but also which studies and which scientists are highlighted in textbooks and in science education classes. How science information is presented to students may impact whether they will be motivated to pursue further education in areas of science research.

Books and lectures that focus on researchers and history from Western science may bias the education of students from kindergarten through graduate school and may affect whether students seek further education in scientific topics. The authors of the book “Who’s Asking” present research regarding the idea that the cultural background we receive from our families and communities during our upbringing may create different viewpoints about the role humans have to play within nature. Stories from Native American cultures may place humans more within nature as a part of the greater whole. Stories from Western culture may place humans as separate from the rest of nature or even in a place of more importance than the rest of the natural world.

Within the book “Who’s Asking” (page 209-210) the authors share a list of education design principles which may help with developing a more culturally diverse science curriculum. The list had been hand written on a poster located in the researcher’s meeting room at the American Indian Center in Chicago, and I have slightly paraphrased it here:

  1. Use local, place based instruction and include hands-on experiences;
  2. Link program practices with community participation and try to incorporate practices which include community values, needs, language, and experiences;
  3. Try to see humans as part of nature rather than seeing nature as an externality, apart from humans;
  4. Organize practices around the idea that everything is related and has a role to play in the universe;
  5. Consider phenomena from a seasonal/cyclical perspective;
  6. Place science in an interdisciplinary or holistic perspective and invite the learner to view phenomena from multiple perspectives;
  7. Explore and address the relationships and tensions between Native science and Western science;
  8. And place science in social policy and community contexts that highlight the need for participation and leadership.

A more diverse curriculum may help motivate a more diverse group of students which may be just what our future needs.

We are part of nature, part of the world. Humanity may not be able to survive without the sea creatures that modify sulfur, iodine and selenium found in sea water into a form that can be used on land by humans and other land dwelling lifeforms. [1] We also may not be able to survive as a species if we didn’t have bees to pollinate our crops.

More of us need to start asking who’s going to protect the planet because it is our home, and it provides our air, our water, and our food supply.

A Right to Try

Trying new strategies can produce mixed results. Identifying the more successful techniques of a new program and modifying the less successful strategies is a sensible way to help improve quality over time. Testing in the education system and the No Child Left Behind Act may place unrealistic goals on the children with special learning needs.
A book by Diane Ravitch, a former U.S. assistant secretary of education goes into more detail about the No Child Left Behind Act and the more recent Race to the Top program. Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013). [1]
Special needs can exist for individuals that may make it difficult for them to reach their own potential within standard settings. Some students may struggle with memorization type skills while others might struggle with anxiety in a test taking situation; both individuals might fail a test and a good teacher might see that helping them to pass a similar test in the future would need very different educational strategies. A failed test alone would not show that the students had failed the test for different reasons but an observant teacher might see the different skills and learning needs of the students.
The right to try needs to include the right to fail, as well as the right to succeed because trying makes them both possible in the real world. Not all students will be able to pass tests equally well even if they all have excellent teachers. Helping students to maximize their own natural abilities seems more realistic than expecting all students to pass the same tests. Supporting each students learning needs might promote more self acceptance and instill a more courageous outlook on tackling tests in school or in the pursuit of work. More students might pursue technical school or seek jobs that are within their natural capabilities when they graduate high school. A college education for every student is a goal that would leave many technical and manual jobs without employees.
The following two posts were briefly published elsewhere and are my personal opinion.

Title: No child left behind or held back with multiple levels of testing (posted 8/15/2013)

Testing groups of children fairly or anyone fairly is difficult if not impossible. Designing accurate tests also costs money. The goals of the No Child Left Behind act suggest that all children can equally pass tests if the children are given adequate teachers. That is a nice idea but  life doesn’t hand out test passing capabilities or teaching abilities equally. Some children will be better or worse at math or reading or at sports or with getting along well with others. Natural abilities vary. Training can help people improve skills but may not ever bring all people up to the same passing level.

The accuracy of tests is also a concern in addition to the expense.  Quality control testing of the test is recommended which adds time and expense before a new test is ready to be given to groups of people. Tracking of students has benefits as long as people could enter programs for different types of education later in life if the desire or need occurred later.

Expecting equal testing abilities of all children is unfair for those who would naturally have lower or higher capabilities. Children could first be tested on life skill basic levels in addition to the more typical scholastic tests. Any children having difficulty passing one set of tests would hopefully be achieving passing grades in a (new and) more basic life skills type of schooling and testing – and therefore ‘no child would be left behind,’ they would have passed their life skills part of school.  A more basic level of test might also help by not overwhelming a student with so many hard tests that they can’t pass that they’re left traumatized by shame, anger or resentment from the testing process.

Any child who is observed to finish the typical scholastic tests in a short time and are looking bored or are disruptive could be handed a level two test during the same test time. They wouldn’t have time to be bored or disrupt the other test takers, and if they finish the level two, then give them a level three that same day, and so on until – ‘no child would be held back.’  Sometimes the apparent ‘overachiever’ is simply working to their own norm.

Title: We need civil rights group ACLU for No Child Left Behind (posted 8/16/13)

Trying to live up to some one else’s standards while also trying to meet one’s own can be difficult. School test scores aren’t accurate enough to be used alone to judge the value of any one individual student or teacher. Tests are averages that are helpful for comparing groups and for comparing the individual’s progress against their own previous scores – comparing oneself against oneself.

Handouts at the panel discussion included a copy of the education section of the Constitution of Michigan, Article VIII. Section one states that education will be encouraged and section two states that it will be provided free without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color, or national origin. I suggested that the “No Child Left Behind” act of 2001 be reconsidered as a civil rights issue and that the words, “and natural ability,” could be added to section two to help protect children from being too harshly tested or have unrealistic expectations set year after year. Maybe the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) could help.

Some people will never achieve a passing score on standard tests. Some would fail the basic life skills section of school, others would fail the scholastic section. But maybe they wouldn’t fail all of the scholastic sections or in all the areas of basic life skills and we would find out their individual skills and strengths.

Providing harder levels of tests or more specialized types of tests could help challenge children to excel within their own range of talents and help keep testing fun and interesting. Questions are just puzzles after all. Harder levels of tests would only be given after the easier levels were regularly achieved (before the test time is up, look around for the bored or disruptive children). Different types of tests would help show what type of skills and further training might best benefit individual children.

  1. Kansas illegally underfunds poorer school districts, court rules, Los Angeles Times  (March 7, 2014)[1]