Thursday, October 26, 2006

Using Robotics to Teach Creativity

[24 October 2006 - Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute] The CMU Robotics Institute has released a new paper titled, "Teaching technical creativity through Robotics: A case study in Ghana."The problem faced by the CMU researchers was how to teach creative use of technology to students in developing regions who tended to think of technology in very narrow terms (for example thinking of computer software only in terms of databases or business applications). They presented the students with robotic challenges that required students to use local resources and develop a broad understanding of technology. The result was that students left the class with a better understanding of how technology could be improvised and applied in their everyday lives. They also learned the importance of testing when improvising with technology. More

Arts make big impact on local economy

[25 October 2006 - Denver Post] Metro Denver's cultural institutions in 2005 attracted 14.1 million people who spent $785 million, according to a study released Tuesday by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts. The group calculated overall economic activity at $1.4 billion, including $597 million in operating expenses and $44 million in capital expenses by cultural organizations. More

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The art of science

[25 October 2006 - Telegraph (UK)] ... So catastrophic has been the decline in numbers of pupils taking physics and chemistry that Britain now faces a manpower crisis in scientific research and engineering that will have to be remedied by importing expertise from abroad. ... Brighter pupils can too often gain the impression (especially in the early years of study) that scientific subjects offer no scope for imagination or creativity: that they are simply closed bodies of facts to be memorised and predictable "experiments" to be replicated in the classroom. There is little sense of a wider context, or any exploratory dimension, even to a subject such as physics, which should offer endlessly fascinating insights into the order of the universe. More

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ambivalence linked to more creativity

[8 October 2006 - UPI] Those with ambivalence, feeling positive and negative emotions at once, are more creative than those who are happy, sad or lack emotion, says a U.S. study. Christina Ting Fong, an assistant professor at the University of Washington Business School, says this increased sensitivity for recognizing unusual associations, which happy or sad workers probably couldn't detect, is what leads to creativity in the workplace. More

A Nobel for New York

[10 October 2006 - New York Sun Editorial] It's hard to think of a more delightful and satisfying piece of news than word that the Nobel prize in economics has gone to Columbia University's Edmund "Ned" Phelps. He and his wife Viviana are not only wonderful individuals, as we learned on several occasions in the past few years, but in a career spanning more than four decades, there are few economic puzzles to which Mr. Phelps has not turned his intellect. He earned the prize for his work on the particular problems lying at the intersection of monetary policy, inflation control, and employment, but for the past few years he has been speaking regularly about the importance of that quality, which almost defines the city where he and Viviana have made their home — "dynamism." ... So he began dusting off von Mises, Hayek, and Schumpeter and presenting them to modern economists. We have the sense that Hayek would have been thrilled; twice, in the years before his death, he told us, between his pinches of snuff, of the importance of understanding precisely the nature of the choice between socialism and capitalism. This is no doubt how Mr. Phelps latched onto the importance of "dynamism," which can be defined loosely as the qualities in a country's economic system that create work, allow talent to shine, and encourage creative problem solving. Mr. Phelps has recognized that America's dynamism has been the key to its economic success, while many European countries have stalled for lack of it. More

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Scholar sees bleak future for Europe

[7 October 2006 - Boston Globe] What could bring out 600 people, including a cardinal, on a beautiful fall night in the middle of the week? At St. Paul Church in Cambridge Wednesday, the draw was a leading Catholic intellectual with a pessimistic prognosis for the future of Europe and maybe the United States. George Weigel may not be as famous as actor George Clooney, but as a senior fellow at Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, a syndicated columnist, and a prolific author who wrote a popular biography of Pope John Paul II, he commands attention among the intelligentsia. Weigel's talk, the first lecture this season sponsored by St. Paul's lay Committee on Spiritual and Public Concerns, was elaborately planned and regimented. ... Asked what could be done about the European demise he forecast, he cited a suggestion Pope Benedict XVI made in a book when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger, Weigel said, called for a "creative minority" of religious believers allied with those nonbelievers who agreed that there are universal moral imperatives. He hoped that such a coalition might reform public life. "That's the most interesting suggestion along those lines that I've heard so far," Weigel said. More

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Creativity boosts pupils' work

[29 September 2006 - BBC - UK] Pupils who have worked with creative people such as writers and fashion designers are more punctual, better behaved and work better, Ofsted says. The education inspectorate has evaluated the Creative Partnerships scheme that has now been running in 2,500 schools in England. It said pupils developed skills such as improvisation, risk-taking, resilience and collaboration. The challenge now was to get them to apply these skills independently. Ministers said they were pleased at the findings. More

Lack of creativity may stifle education

[2 October 2006 - Desert News - Opinion] What about the students who don't go on to college? Efforts to sell the importance of college may end up demeaning those who don't make it to the ivory tower. Unwittingly, some professional educators are marketing college to K-12 students based on the amount of money as a way to success. This may be a case of good intentions with bad results. By inference, are students being told they are failures because they won't make as much money as college graduates? As a society, do we want to measure success by how much money one makes? ... Most disturbing is that we may be losing a great pool of intelligent, creative and innovative students because they don't fit the mold of how our educational systems — K-12 and higher education — test for academic intelligence. Our K-12 system is not designed to let students use different learning styles such as aural, visual and kinesthetic. Make no mistake, if our nation is to compete with other nations that are graduating more science and engineering students, then we must accelerate our efforts to educate our own. Globalization has changed our world, where creativity and innovation are the talents needed for a nation to compete in today's knowledge-based economy. More and more organizations, including business and the National Association of Governors, are realizing that imagination, creativity and innovation are the currency needed to succeed. The Rainbow Project, a study funded by the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, found that adding creative, practical and common sense parts to the test better predicted a student's collegiate success and narrowed the scoring discrepancy between ethnic groups (Newsweek, Aug. 14, 2006). More

Monday, October 02, 2006

Most Young People Entering the U.S. Workforce Lack Critical Skills Essential for Success

[2 October 2006 - The Conference Board] As the baby boom generation slowly exits the U.S. workplace, a new survey of leaders from a consortium of business research organizations finds the incoming generation sorely lacking in much needed workplace skills-both basic academic and more advanced "applied" skills, according to a report released today. The report is based on an detailed survey of 431 human resource officials that was conducted in April and May 2006 by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Its objective was to examine employers' views on the readiness of new entrants to the U.S. workforce-recently hired graduates from high schools, two-year colleges or technical schools, and four-year colleges. "The future workforce is here, and it is ill-prepared," concludes the report. The findings reflect employers' growing frustrations over the preparedness of new entrants to the workforce. Employers expect young people to arrive with a core set of basic knowledge and the ability to apply their skills in the workplace - and the reality is not matching the expectation. "It is clear from the report that greater communication and collaboration between the business sector and educators is critical to ensure that young people are prepared to enter the workplace of the 21st century," says Richard Cavanagh, President and CEO of The Conference Board. "Less than intense preparation in critical skills can lead to unsuccessful futures for America's youth, as well as a less competitive U.S. workforce. This ultimately makes the U.S. economy more vulnerable in the global marketplace." ... CREATIVITY IS IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE WORKPLACE: Looking toward the future, nearly three-fourths of the survey participants ranked "creativity/innovation" as among the top five applied skills projected to increase in importance for future graduates. In addition, knowledge of foreign languages, cultures, and global markets will become increasingly important for future graduates entering the U.S. workforce. When asked to project the changing importance of several knowledge and skill needs over the next five years, 63 percent of survey participants cited foreign languages as increasing in importance more than any other basic knowledge area or skill. And, in separate questions about emerging content areas, half of the respondents noted the use of "non-English languages as a tool for understanding other nations, markets, and cultures," while 53 percent selected "understanding of global markets and the economic and cultural impacts of globalization." Making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness is the number one emerging topic considered most critical for future graduates entering the workforce. More than three-quarters of survey participants (76 percent) say that "making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness, such as nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, work-life effectiveness" is an emerging content area that will be most critical for future graduates. More

Intense children not the problem, their treatment is

[1 October 2006 - Providence Journal] “Do other people consider you intense?” inquires Howard Glasser, psychologist, author and keynote speaker to the large audience at Bradley Hospital’s annual conference called “Parenting Matters.” He’s clearly intense himself. “Do any of you have a child who’s considered intense?” Besides some teachers, psychologists and daycare providers, the audience is overwhelmingly parents, and they immediately murmur irate answers to this question, with a few shouts of "You bet." All parents who happen to have high-energy, high-strung children have been dragged into fights with and for those kids unwillingly and all too often. Glasser continues, “Intensity is a gift. But the world acts as though intensity is the enemy. So we find labels; we get unnerved; we have to find a cure. And the first approach is medication.” His audience is totally with him. All parents have kids who are intense in some way, at some times. But kids who are powered-up all the time can be mighty troublesome. Glasser barks, “The message to the kids is that there’s something wrong with your intensity. We can’t handle it, and neither can anyone else. We need to make it go away.” This hits home with me. Some of the smartest, most creative and exciting people I’ve known were, well, intense – and it seems like someone was always trying to intimidate or shame them into cowed compliance. More