This presidential election has the country captivated. As many commentators have pointed out, the primaries are more focused on personalities than policy. While the parties focus on who is going to represent them in the fall, I want to make the case for something that I hope every candidate will agree on in November: America’s unparalleled capacity for innovation. When the United States invests in innovation, it creates companies and jobs at home, makes Americans healthier and safer, and saves lives and fights poverty in the world’s poorest countries.
Dr. Tonya Matthews, President and CEO of the Michigan Science Center, writes about what we can do to resist bias against girls in science education and hiring. Googling “teaching girls about bias" might ruin your day. The top results are not encouraging.
When our principals speak, we can see that they care deeply about their students and school communities. The natural result of this is to be care-ful. We know that innovation requires a risk-taking mindset. Yet, we also know that taking risks with the education of children is very different from taking risks with money. Understanding this brings principals to a place of vulnerability - and an almost mama-bear like instinct to protect their cubs.
Mathematics is a fantastic tool, revealing more about the universe than we could've ever dreamt when the first scientists started applying rigorous methods to their natural philosophy. But that blessing is also a curse. Mathematics, the language that proves so adept at describing nature, is not the easiest language to translate into, say, plain English. That difficulty -- the same difficulty in translating from any language into another -- is at the root of much of the distrust some people have of astronomers and scientific findings.
The whole premise behind a Chief Innovation Officer goes beyond useless to completely and utterly counterproductive. If one person is in charge of innovation, everyone else are not. And they must be. Anyone not innovating is falling behind those that are. Darwin taught us that that is a bad thing. So: No Chief Innovative Officers. No distinctions between scientific, artistic and interpersonal leaders. Everyone is responsible for innovating, creating and leading.
The phrase “national security” brings to mind the goals of keeping our homeland safe from intruders, maintaining a strong military, and encouraging sound foreign policy. These aspects are essential; however, ensuring a top-notch education for our students should also be included in that list. Without a properly educated country, we jeopardize our standing in the world, as well as our economic future and physical safety.
The core of our claim is that the convergence of enormous and continuous advances in computing power, the Internet of Things, broadband speeds, cloud computing, mobile applications, artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology inevitably will unleash a broad range of new, disruptive products and services that none of us can foresee now.
The early 20th-century German-language writer Franz Kafka once observed: “Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” In today’s high-tech economy and workforce, Kafka’s statement could well be said of a STEM education. Even occupations not ordinarily thought of as requiring a background in science, technology, engineering and math -- and the kind of problem-solving, critical-thinking and teamwork-oriented skills inherent in it -- are increasingly in need of them.
Just training teachers in computer science is a giant endeavor on its own. The country will essentially “have to start from scratch—start with teachers the way we would start with children,” Barbara Stengel, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, tells Quartz. But the practical barriers to putting computer science education in America’s schools may be dwarfed by the philosophical obstacles.
What passes today as innovation is really pretty trivial. That’s the view of Robert Gordon, noted macroeconomist and Stanley G. Harris Professor of Social Sciences at Northwestern University. And he uses 784 pages in a book published last month entitled "The Rise and Fall of American Growth" to make his case.