Friday, April 27, 2018

Uplifting The Role of Education in The Contemporary World

Uplifting the Role of Education in the Contemporary World
Part I
Education reform needs a new paradigm, and below I will try to get more teaching on why and how it could be done (in addition to the original post).
There are tasks which are a technically challenging, require enormous amount of resources and effort, but conceptually are very clear.
For example, eradication polio is one of such tasks.
But in order to become such a task there had to be the period of conceptual development.
At first, the very idea of vaccination had to be invented. Then this idea should had been accepted by the scientific community. That generally happened after the works of Edward Jenner (1796) and Louis Pasteur (1897).
Then a specific vaccine had to be invented and accepted; the polio vaccine was invented in 1955. Then the process for mass production of that vaccine had to be designed and implemented on a scale which was large enough to produce large amounts of vaccine. Speaking specifically about the polio vaccine, this period ended in the yearly 1960th.
After 1960th the task of eradicating polio in the world had become technically challenging, required enormous amount of resources and effort, but conceptually was very clear.
The main challenge was having enough money and establishing effective management. The effective management ensures the development of the facilities for mass production of the vaccine; establishes communication with the leaders of affected areas, organizes the delivery and distribution of the vaccine.
Similar tasks – difficult but conceptually clear – are such task as feeding the poor, delivering clear drinking water to the residents of deserted areas, providing clothing and shelter to the residents of underdeveloped countries.
All those efforts help saving human lives.
But what if that saved life remains truly miserable, glum and unhappy?
What if those people have to rely for the rest of their life on the efforts of various external providers of a thin lifeline of goods to barely support their living?
Would these social conditions be considered satisfactory?
And if not – what is the path to make a transition to the satisfactory conditions?
My answers to the last two questions are:
1. no;
2. high quality public education.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to grasp the basic idea of the Maslow pyramid.
To ensure the survivor of a species the species needs food, water, and bearable environment. This level is the same for animals and for people. But if people remain on this level, they are not really different from animals.
Culture is what differ intelligent species from animals.
And only education ensures that the culture is being passed over from a generation to a generation.
And a good education ensures that during this transition the culture progresses, advances, evolves.
Because only good education allows learners to generate knowledge and develop skills beyond the ones they have acquired during lessons (BTW: this statement is essentially a definition of a good education).
Water, food, vaccines save a life.
But only good education makes that life worthwhile. 
One of my professional goals is to attract attention of large financial and charitable organization to the fact that the progress in the development a good public education requires the development of a strong developed science of education (which is currently in the developing stage; here terms "developed" and “developing” have the similar meaning to the one when we talk about “developed” and “developing” countries).
Intellectual health of the people is at least as important 
as their physical health.
Part II
The following is my presentation prepared for Forbes UNDER 30 Summit in Boston (Oct 16 – Oct 18, 2016; here https://youtu.be/jCE_Z_bat74 is my “mock” interview during the Summit;
this page provides additional links to posts on the matter)

Foreword:  Why would anyone want to listen to what I say about education?
Because I have a proof that I’m good at what I do (a.k.a. teaching)!
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This was just one of many feedbacks collected over the years from my students
(and openly available at: http://www.teachology.xyz/evvv.html)

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Eradicating Polio and Malaria (Bill and Melinda Gates: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Polio);
Finding cure to all diseases (Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan: https://chanzuckerberg.com/);
Space tourism (Richard Branson: http://www.virgingalactic.com/);
Space cargo (Jeff Bezos: https://www.blueorigin.com/);
- what do all these goals have in common?
The tasks of achieving these goals are all doable! (hence, all these missions are possible! )
No doubt, achieving each goal requires an enormous amount of money, and effort, and R&D, and manpower, and intellectual breakthroughs, and organization, and logistics, and … the list can go on and on.
But the process for achieving each goal has a well-defined structure, clear stages, manageable tasks such that when one task is finished it opens doors for the next one. In the end,
all these goals are achievable!
That was the reason all these goals have been proposed – because 
businessmen do not set unachievable goals. Businessmen do not “burn” money, neither literally, nor figuratively.
If businessmen do not see any realistic and positive 
(for them, for society) outcomes of a project,
they do not invest into that project.
After establishing this notion, we can conclude that businessmen do not see as feasible, or achievable such a goal as eradicating illiteracy/"ignorance" – a slang for “providing sufficient education to all” (otherwise they would be pouring investments into education).

Giving here and there several millions of dollars to support students and teachers in economically depressed areas might help to easy some of the social issues like insufficient teacher preparation in local schools, or helping students with having textbooks, etc. 
However, these actions look nothing like setting apart several billions of dollars for
Eradicating Polio and Malaria
Finding cure to all diseases
Space tourism
Space cargo
Colonizing Mars
Searching for extraterrestrials
It looks like that for businessmen colonizing Mars, or eradicating all diseases, or even finding aliens
seems more achievable
than providing high quality education to all students. 
Isn’t this strange?
One might ask, how do businessmen decide if a goal is achievable or not, if a mission is possible or not?
The answer is simple – science!
All goals listed above are based on a solid science: physics, mathematics, engineering, biology, chemistry, medical science.
Consciously or subconsciously, all billionaires know this.
One simply cannot build a multibillion business without having a strong intuition about the things. 
All billionaires intuitively know that currently there is no basis for an “Eradicating Ignorance” Project (evidently, building a city on Mars is just easier!).
But accepting the fact that there is no yet such a thing as a science of education could lead to stating an actually achievable goal –
investing into the development of infrastructure needed for the development of a science of education!
Of course, philanthropists do give millions of dollars to educational causes, but so far they see it only as a charity, they do not see those actions as investments!
Education badly (!) needs its own “Manhattan Project”, or “Apollo Program”.
The continuous battle between supporters and opponents of charter schools, voucher schools, and other non-traditional educational entities covers one of the biggest issues of the contemporary education, which is a significant insufficiency of fundamental theoretical and technological innovations (countless startups promoting their apps or gadgets do not make any difference in the field). The main reason for this insufficiency is not the lack of the resources, but the lack of a broad collaboration between various professional and scientific groups.
Education needs its own “Manhattan Project”, or “Apollo Program”, which would reexamine the well-established paradigms, and would guide a broad search for new connections and correlations; which would combine newly presented advances in artificial intelligence with neuroscience to study and analyze multi-layered universe of individual, group, and institutional learning and teaching; which would bring in education newly developed technologies, including AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, top level robotics.
This type of a program can be initiated via institutionalizing a collaboration between various professional and scientific groups by establishing a specific institution –an Institute for Learning and Teaching (the name is tentative, of course).
Within this Institute, professionals from various universities, intuitions, and companies would be able to join their effort and expertise.
Dear Reader,
at this point I see only three options:
you may think
1. “what a load of nonsense, forget about it”.
or
2. “it sounds strange, but promising, I would like to take a part in the project”.
or
3. “I am not sure what to make of it, it may be a lot of nonsense, or a very promising project”.
In the latter case, two more minutes to check slides below could help to make your mind.
1. Hello, I’m Dr. Valentin Voroshilov.
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2. Billions of dollars have been spent to build research facilities to study
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3. or to conquer the physical world.
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4. Billions of dollars are being spent for building research facilitates to study biology, and medicine.
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5. However, despite the fact that too many U.S. schools cannot provide sufficient education to too many graduates,
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6. there are no investments in building research facilities designed specifically to studying learning and teaching processes.
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7. The Government, the NSF, charitable and philanthropic organizations do finance various projects in the field, but the majority of the projects aim at solving social issues, like insufficient teacher preparation, adoption of new standards, bringing technologies in a classroom, and others.
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8. According to Dr. Kauffman and others, the research in the field is currently in a pre-science state. Most of the research conclusions can be summarized in a single statement: if we take two large groups of similar students, and one group of students will have a more extensive or divers learning experience (for example, more contact hours, or more time spent on certain exercises, or training through more, or more difficult, or different exercises) students from that group, on average, will demonstrate better learning outcomes than the students in a controlled group. Period. (http://www.cognisity.how/2016/12/handbook.html)
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9. This conclusion does not really need special research; it becomes almost obvious if we employ the notion that a brain is basically a muscle, or a collection of muscles, the development of which strongly correlates with the variety and intensity of exercises it goes through.
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10. In order to move beyond the obvious and to make a transition from a pre-science state (like alchemy) to becoming a true science (like chemistry) we have to treat education as space exploration, i.e. the field of education needs research facilities designated specifically to studying learning and teaching processes.
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11. But first, two questions have to be answered: What to study, and how to structure this facility?
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12. I’ve been teaching math and physics for many years, and I know that everyone can get an A, but different people need a different path and a different time to achieve that. However, teaching today is like telling every marathon runner: “You have 2 hours to run, whoever runs the farthest – wins.”
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13. Many words are said about differentiation in learning. Those words however are just proclamations not based on any solid data. Nowadays we know only in general how people learn. But we have no idea how much time would Ben Smith need to spend to learn “Breaking numbers apart by addition”.
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14. Yes, different people have different learning styles. We know that.
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15. But how much time would it take to a child of a specific gender, race, socio-economic background, attention span, temperament, and other individual characteristics to master a given skill of a given subject? That we do not know.
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16. For every child, there is a finite number of individual characteristics describing his or her learning, behavioral, and social styles. There is a finite number of subjects to learn, and within each subject there is a finite volume of knowledge to learn, and a finite number of skills to master. It should take a finite amount of time to study all relevant correlations.
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17. The research facility for conducting such a study must be developed around a specifically designed school, or a network of schools. Each school will be the nucleus of a facility where all students and professionals work together, with the whole world watching 24/7 (click here for more info on the structure of the facility).
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18. It will generate data sufficient for promoting current educational research to a true science. The research will lead to development of new teaching tools and learning aids.
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19. Two of the founders of the Breakthrough prize, Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner, pledged to spend one hundred million dollars on the search for extraterrestrials. It did not occur to them, or to anybody else, that for many teachers their students do look like aliens.
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20. Today I am calling on philanthropists to spend money on building research facilities designated specifically to studying learning and teaching processes, so in the coming decades every educator could point to scientific data supporting the method he or she uses, or recommends.
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21. Thank you. This would have been my presentation offered to the judges of 2016 Forbes Boston “30 under 30” Forum, ifI would have been under 30.
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22. However, I can assure you, there is no-one under 30 who could have made this presentation, because it is based on both, wide and deep, and both, teaching and research experience, which in the field of education takes decades to grow.
Thank you! (more at http://www.TeachOlogy.xyz)
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Dear Reader, if you still need more information which would help you to make your mind,
Please visit by blog at www.Cognisity.How
P.S.
If you check what the judges said about my proposal, you will see that their opinions were very much opposite. Interestingly, the similar case happened when two judges evaluated one of my papers ( please, visit http://www.GoMars.xyz/msm.html and scroll down). If you read my official student evaluations, you do not find many neutral views like "He was OK", but the most of the opinions are of an “awesome!” – type, and some are of an “awful” – type (and www.ratemyprofessor.com shows a similar pattern; more at http://www.teachology.xyz/evvv.html). Evidently, one way or another, I touch most of the people I meet in a way like I am a “Donald-Trump/Hillary-Clinton” type of person – people tend to love me or hate me.
I want to stress, that I have no intention for making people feel that or another way about me, I just have noticed the pattern.
P.P.S. Everyone who is reading this very sentence has already spent some time to read this whole post, and might invest two more minutes to read one more paragraph: it might be especially useful for very rich people; just click on the next link, http://www.cognisity.how/2017/09/cash.html; press Contrl-F and type in Gates (or scroll down to part 6).
Thank you for visiting,
Dr. Valentin Voroshilov
Education Advancement Professionals
GoMars.xyz

To learn more about my professional experience:
The voices of my students 
"The Backpack Full of Cash": pointing at a problem, not offering a solution
Essentials of Teaching Science

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