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July 19, 2010
Sometimes when a word in our language slips out of favor, the marketers among us look for another word to reframe and replace it. There is no doubt that “play” is under appreciated, even misunderstood, especially when it comes to children. So it was significant to me that the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival organizers not only boldly embraced the word play, but added a whole track to its 2010 agenda called “the promise of play.” And even more significantly, the nine sessions in this track were very well-attended, some with standing room only, despite the fact they were competing with sessions at the same time on global health, the next economy, or world affairs.read more
July 13, 2010
If there was a consistent theme reverberating through many of the sessions at the 2010 Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, it’s that the educational system is out of sync with the realities and needs of today and tomorrow. Picture this: while photographs of scenes from the past would look quite old-fashioned, photographs of classrooms from the past and from today look unmistakably the same—desks all in rows, facing the teacher, or what Constance Yowell of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation calls “the sage on stage.” The educational system that emerged in the factory era, New York Times’ David Leonhardt says, does not work today.
The message that our educational system needs fixing is a time-honored one. I have only to think back to the publication of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform by the National Commission on Excellence in Education in 1983 to recall how this drumbeat has been sounding for years. But in the 27 intervening years since this report was issued, the urgency for change has greatly intensified. For example, whereas the United States was once first in the world in college graduation rates, we are now 14th. What was surprising to me is how many well-known speakers from very diverse fields at the Aspen Institute see the need for educational change as a societal, economic and moral imperative or as Kati Haycock of The Education Trust terms it, “the civil rights movement of our times.
July 08, 2010
Let’s assume that the people invited to present at the 2010 Aspen Institute Ideas Festival have important ideas to share. Then let’s also assume that there are important things we can learn from their own career paths: how did they become people with “bold ideas?” How did they emerge from the rough and tumble inner cities to the more affluent communities to become the people they are.
Although the sessions at the Ideas Festival are designed to focus on the ideas themselves and not on their originators, I find myself paying attention to the speakers’ personal stories. I have been listening to what helped them find their passions—their chosen paths, pursue them and become individuals with ideas worth listening to.
June 23, 2010
The first time I publicly said “I worry about men in today’s economy,” my statement was greeted with astonished laughter. It was more than two years ago and I was giving a speech to a group of corporate human resource leaders. In their world, men continue to retain the top positions and they rightly worry about the “glass ceiling” that remains impenetrable to significant numbers of women or the “sticky floor,” where far too many women remain stuck.
Now, the July/August Atlantic article on The End of Men by Hanna Rosin has made the important concerns about men the talk of the town. The article quotes some of the facts that led me to my 2008 statement, especially findings from the U.S. Department of Education that women have been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1982 and more master’s degrees since 1981; in 2005-2006, women earned 58% of bachelor’s degrees and 60% of master’s degrees. Then I also had findings from my organization’s ongoing nationally representative study, the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, showing that men’s desire for jobs with more responsibility had dropped more steeply than that of women’s so that now young men and young women are equally ambitious; that fathers are now experiencing more work-life conflict than mothers; and that men’s health is declining.read more
June 17, 2010
By Morra Aarons-Mele
Joseph Campos explains that the role of a parent or caregiver’s non-verbal communication can help your child guide his behavior in an uncertain context. That’s how we learn the rules. How we communicate affects how our child approaches challenges. In his famous “Visual Cliff” experiment, Campos illustrates how babies either forge ahead with a challenge, or hold back, depending on their parent’s facial feedback. Placed on a raised platform, a baby is faced with a “visual” cliff of plexiglass. He is hesitant to crawl over the “cliff,” even to reach an appetizing toy. If his parent gives him an encouraging look or gesture, however, the baby is much more likely to take on the challenge and crawl over the “cliff.” Parents of babies and toddlers face versions of the visual cliff every day. Sometimes, we need to use every available expression and piece of language to prevent experimentation (if, for example, your kid is approaching the stove). But often, the non-verbal interplay between parent and child encourages new learning.