Saturday, May 21, 2016

smart stuff, stupid people.

Last night was the White St. Art Walk in Eureka Springs, and I showed my work to interested persons and sold some of it. The event is normally a time to connect with old friends much more that than an opportunity to sell work. The weather was perfect and the street outside Lux Weaving Studio turned into a full fledged street fair. The artists who started the annual event have become a sideline attraction, but is that not how things work?

I am reminded of an American cello player who toured China as an amateur musician. He told that as he played in a Chinese home, the children would get on the floor and wrestle and play, but when he'd stop, the children would stop playing and stare, wondering why the music had stopped. Is that not the place of the arts in the scheme of things? We provide the backbone of human culture around which all else follows. The American musician had presupposed that people might listen as one might listen to a church sermon, but the children responded in a more honest way, by letting the music invigorate their lives.

On the title of this post, the National Science Foundation, wondered what people knew about science and technology, and discovered, not much.
NSF surveys have asked respondents to explain in their own words what it means to study something scientifically. Based on their answers, it is possible to conclude that most Americans (two-thirds in 2001) do not have a firm grasp of what is meant by the scientific process.[27] This lack of understanding may explain why a substantial portion of the population believes in various forms of pseudoscience. (See discussion of "Belief in Pseudoscience" in this chapter.) 
One might think that as much smart stuff in the form of digital technology that we have and that fills our culture, people might know something about it... Sorry, not much:
Most Americans are probably not technologically literate. They have little conception of how science, technology, and engineering are related to one another, and they do not clearly understand what engineers do and how engineers and scientists work together to create technology. Those are the major findings of a recent report issued by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Research Council (NRC) (Committee on Technological Literacy 2002). In addition, the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) concluded from its 2001 survey that "adults are very interested in but relatively poorly informed about technology" (Rose and Dugger 2002).[29]
Technology has become so user friendly it is largely "invisible." Americans use technology with a minimal comprehension of how or why it works or the implications of its use or even where it comes from. American adults and children have a poor understanding of the essential characteristics of technology, how it influences society, and how people can and affect its development. 
The following points are also made:
Technological literacy is particularly important for decision makers in business, government, and the media. However, as the report notes, "there is no evidence to suggest that legislators or their staff are any more technologically literate than the general public."

Technological literacy is extremely important to the health of the U.S. economy. Technological innovation is a major factor in the vitality of the economy, and an increasing number of jobs require workers to be technologically literate.
It appears that as we've become a nation of smart stuff, stupid people, and we need to do a better job educating students, and educating teachers to teach students, and give more trust and training to teachers to prepare students for learning, and we ought to have a sense of urgency about it. We also need to give teachers a clear mission to teach hands-on so that each child will be drawn into deeper engagement with technology and the arts.

We must consider how to infuse schools with the more fundamental technologies that provide an entry point to understanding tools and materials so that students begin to grasp the ways in which our technology driven world can be taken into their own creative hands. Wood shop, music, the arts, and laboratory science each have a part to play.

One of the highlights of my night was to see many of my students from Clear Spring School.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the chance of learning likewise.

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