The App Generation

Today’s youth seems to be struggling with the secondary effects of technology in and out of school.

A recent Harvard Study that led to an intriguing book (The App Generation) explains the perils and pitfalls of apps that can do just about everything.*

Their argument, and I happen to totally agree with it, is that convenience comes with a loss of critical thinking skills. Others have focused on the superficiality of thinking in comparison to deep thinking about complex questions and problems. All these issues are intertwined with the ubiquity, ease of use and extensive functionality these apps provide.

The researchers and I are not advocating you abandon your apps and smartphone, but realise that there is a price being paid, like a tax every time you choose the easier way to get something done.

One easy example for people of my generation is — “back in the good ‘ole days, I could remember hundreds of phone numbers… Now I can barely remember my own number.”

Kids today struggle to do simple arithmetic and readily confuse orders of magnitude.

The point being that technology is great, but as the world continues to shift to a “knowledge-based” economy and paradigm, those with the most advanced critical thinking skills will rise to the top and dominate their industries and will be handsomely rewarded.

Suggestion: Force yourself to THINK THROUGH THINGS a little more deeply, seek the distinctions that make a difference and ASK better questions.

Here is a list to get you started, submitted by Andrew Powell of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

6 Critical Thinking Questions

* I am going to download the book on my Kindle App and speed read it on my iPhone…

This was submitted as a response to this blog post – very funny….!

Cartoon App For TVRemote

 

 

Quick math / logic question…

What is the next number in the sequence?

Math question

Kids Learn To Code – For Free!

I just heard about this… Check it out!

Kids Code Jeunesse is a Canadian bilingual non-profit organization that aims to provide every child in Canada with the opportunity to learn to code. They provide schools with trained volunteers who teach kids and their teachers computer programming in the classroom.

What a great idea!

Don’t get a degree!

Last week I blogged about the value of getting a degree, this week, have a look at the counter-argument… Don’t bother to get a degree!

Make sure you scroll all the way down to the end of the page for the “WARNING” if you choose not to get a degree!

You might not like school, but…

You don’t really have a choice… please keep reading what the statistics reveal about staying in school…

High school graduation rates reached a record high of 80% in 2012!

That would be great news, if it wasn’t for the fact that this “record-high” rate meant a full 20%, or one in five kids, didn’t finish the most basic level of education.

It’s possible that those who didn’t graduate got a General Education Development (GED) certificate instead, or will at a later point, but people with a GED tend to fare as well economically as those who got neither a diploma nor a GED.

So while reaching the 80% mark might be a move in the right direction, this is not a number that brings a lot of cheer.

And then there’s college… The percentage of the population with a college degree has continued to grow, albeit slowly, for decades. This trend is coming to an end because the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college has rolled over.

After reaching a high point of 70% in 2009, only 66% of these kids enrolled in college in 2013. There’s an argument to be made that in years past, too many kids were entering college.

They simply went to college because everyone else did, but lacked direction, preparation, or both. Given the cost of college, the recent economic downturn caused many families to re-evaluate if pursuing higher education was the right choice.

This is a great development, but it was brought on by a tough situation.

Now there are a few more kids (in the United States) that are getting all the way through high school, but fewer young people entering college, so there are more people getting off the education train in the middle.

Unfortunately, this isn’t translating into more employment. While recent US college graduates work to find jobs in their field, recent high school graduates struggle to find any employment. Those without high school diplomas are being left behind in record numbers.

In the late 1990s, over 80% of those with just a high school diploma were participating in the labor force (either employed or looking for work) the year after graduation, and roughly 70% had jobs.

By the early 2000s, participation in the labor force — the year after graduation — had dropped to around 78%, while employment had fallen to 60%. Over the decade, participation dropped well below 70%.

Now, with a slight upturn after the massive drop in employment during the financial crisis, labor force participation is back up to 74% while employment is at 51%.

The net effect is that unemployment the year after high school — among those with just a high school diploma — was running at 10% in the 1990s, and is currently at 23%.

As noted above, for those who didn’t graduate high school, it’s worse. That group had a roughly 65% labor force participation rate the year after high school in the late 1990s, while their employment rate was near 50%.

But the numbers have fallen dramatically since then, and have not staged much of a recovery. At the end of 2013, only 43% of this group was either employed or actively seeking employment, with 31% holding down a job.

Oddly, this makes the unemployment rate of this group — around 12% — look better than that of high school graduates, but that’s misleading. The key is that only 43% are participating in the labor force.

Where are the rest of them?

In the year after high school, where are the 26% of graduates not participating in the labor force, and where are the 57% of those who didn’t receive a diploma who aren’t participating in the labor force?

These kids get lumped in with others who don’t count toward labor force participation rates, like retirees and homemakers, but the differences are obvious. These young people are not on a path to a productive life.

It doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t get there; it simply means that they’re not on that path today.

This is part of where the sluggish employment situation shows up. Employees have a tough time getting raises.

Those with skills and experience can get jobs, but the inexperienced college graduates are taking positions outside of their fields of study, and often in jobs that don’t require college degrees.

This pushes high school graduates out of the running for such jobs, and kicks those without a high school diploma out of the equation.

With one in five young people not achieving a high school diploma, we can expect a very large social issue to erupt in the years ahead because this group will have little work experience, and little ability to establish and grow their own household.

First Woman Field’s Medal Winner

For the first time in history, a woman has received the highest honor in mathematics, often nicknamed the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Since it was established in 1936, the Fields Medal had gone only to men, until Wednesday, when Maryam Mirzakhani received it in Seoul, South Korea, from the International Mathematical Union.

“It is fun — it’s like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case”
- Maryam Mirzakhani

 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to download and see the details.

 

 

Stimulation = Better Grades

A University Of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study revealed that “well-off” parents talk to their school-age children for three more hours each week than low-income parents.

They also put their toddlers and babies in stimulating places such as parks and churches for hour and a half more hours. A University of Chicago study echoed this with a simple statement. Well-off parents play with their toddlers more and organise their teenagers better.

Most studies agree that the two most important parenting factors that affect grades are:

  1. Intellectual stimulation: Talking, reading, answering “why?” questions and
  2. Emotional support: Bonding with infants so they grow up confident and secure.

Hmmm… Food for thought.

What can you do if you’re not an infant or toddler? Stimulate and motivate yourself! It helps if you can speed read and use colourful mindmaps

You talkin’ to me?

We know the classic line from Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver… “Are you talkin’ to me?”

Robert De Niro - Taxi Driver

What might be less well known (or understood) are the following facts extracted from a 1995 study at the University of Kansas:

  • Children in professional familiies heard on average 2,100 words per hour
  • Working class kids heard 1,200 words per hour
  • Welfare kids heard  a paltyr 600 words per hour

By the age of three, a doctor’s or lawyer’s child has probably heard 30 million more words than a poo child has.

SHOCKING.

 

Student extra-curricular activities

Today’s post is edited from The Economist Magazine, it deals with a hot topic of conversation amongst parents and students.

In 1693 the philosopher John Locke warned that children should not be given too much “unwholesome fruit” to eat. Three centuries later, misguided ideas about child-rearing are still rife. Many parents fret that their offspring will die unless ceaselessly watched.

In America, the law can be equally paranoid. In South Carolina, Debra Harrell was jailed for letting her nine-year-old daughter play in a park unsupervised. The child, who had a mobile phone and had not been harmed in any way, was briefly taken into custody of the social services.

Ms Harrell’s draconian punishment reflects the (rich) developed world’s angst about parenting. By most objective measures, modern parents are far more conscientious than previous generations. Since 1965 labour-saving devices such as washing machines and ready-made meals have freed eight hours a week for the average American couple, but slightly more than all of that time has been swallowed up by childcare.

Dads today are far more hands-on than their fathers were and working mothers spend more time nurturing their children than the housewives of the 1960s did. This works for both sides: children need love and stimulation; and for the parents, reading to a child or playing ball games in the garden is more fulfilling than washing dishes.

All is not rosy in the land of opportunity

There are two very different perspectives to this phenomenon, related to wealth. One is at the lower end of the spectrum. Even if poor parents spend more time with their children than they once did, they spend less than rich parents do—and they struggle to provide enough support, especially in the crucial early years.

America is a laggard here; its government spends abundantly on school-age kids but much less than other rich countries on the first two or three years of life. If America did more to help poor parents with young children, it would yield huge returns.

The second problem, less easy to prove, occurs at the other end of the income scale: well-educated, rich parents try to do too much. Safety is part of it: they fear that if they are not constantly vigilant their children may break their necks or eat a cupcake that has fallen on the floor. Over-coaching is another symptom. Parents fear that unless they drive their offspring to Mandarin classes, violin lessons and fencing practice six times a week, they will not get into the right university. The streets of Palo Alto and Chelsea are clogged with people-carriers hauling children from one educational event to another.

The fear about safety is the least rational. Despite the impression you get from watching crime dramas, children in rich countries are mind-bogglingly safe, so long as they look both ways before crossing the road. Kids in the 1950s—that golden era so often evoked by conservative politicians—were in fact five times likelier to die before the age of five. Yet their parents thought nothing of letting them roam free. In those days, most American children walked or biked to school; now barely 10% do, prevented by jittery parents. Children learn how to handle risks by taking a few, such as climbing trees or taking the train, even if that means scraped knees and seeing the occasional weirdo. Freedom is exhilarating. It also fosters self-reliance.

The other popular parental fear—that your children might not get into an Ivy League college—is more rational. Academic success matters more than ever before. But beyond a certain point, parenting makes less difference than many parents imagine. Studies in Minnesota and Sweden, for example, found that identical twins grew up equally intelligent whether they were raised together or apart. A study in Colorado found that children adopted and raised by brainy parents ended up no brainier than those adopted by average parents. Genes appear to matter more than upbringing in the jobs market, too. In a big study of Korean children adopted in America, those raised by the richest families grew up to earn no more than those adopted by the poorest families.

This does not mean that parenting is irrelevant. The families who adopt children are carefully screened, so they tend to be warm, capable and middle-class. But the twin and adoption studies indicate that any child given a loving home and adequate stimulation is likely to fulfil her potential. Put another way, better-off parents can afford to relax a bit. Your kids will be fine if you hover over them less and let them frolic in the sun from time to time. You may be happier, too, if you spend the extra time indulging your own hobbies—or sleeping. And if you are less stressed, your children will appreciate it, even if you still make them eat their fruit and vegetables.

How to Stay Focused when Taking an Online Course

An increasing number of students are choosing to take university courses online. These courses boast a number of benefits for busy students, allowing them to complete coursework in their spare time without spending the extra time commuting to and from campus.

That means you can study when it’s most convenient, whether that’s on your lunch break at work or after the children have gone to bed. However, taking an online course can also lead to its own challenges. Without a set time and place to meet for your class, it’s all too easy to put it off until the last minute. You’ll need to have a combination of motivation and self-discipline in order to make the most of your online class and keep your focus. Try utilizing the following techniques to stay on track.

Image Source: Photoxpress

Image Source: Photoxpress

Set up a designated study space

To get started, you’ll need to have a space at home without distractions. Try to avoid common areas where your friends or family will interrupt you, as well as rooms with a television or phone. Bring in all of your school supplies and customise it to make it your own inspiring study area.

Create a realistic study schedule

It’s all too common for students to be enthusiastic about their course for the first week or two, only to lose interest or feel overwhelmed as the course progresses. Try to create a study schedule that you’ll really have time for, while still meeting your other work and personal obligations. Don’t try to do too much at once.

Use a filing system and calendar to stay organized

We all have different organisational methods that work for us, so choose the one that works best for you. Do you prefer online or handwritten calendars? Sort out your class print-outs into file folders and make sure that everything you need is within reach when you sit down to study.

Enlist support from friends and family

You are more likely to follow through with an online degree program when you have the support of your friends and family. Tell others about your goals, so they can help keep you on track.

Interact with the online community

 Image Source: Tbuckley89/Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Tbuckley89/Wikimedia Commons

Many students think that online courses are quite isolated, but with today’s sophisticated platforms you actually have many chances to interact with your fellow students and professors. You can read more about online courses to envision how this works, but it’s highly recommended to make the most of online contact to stay on track. Discuss questions and concerns you have using the online forum and set up a social network to interact with your fellow classmates. If there are any off-line events, try to attend these to forge personal relationships. This could make the course seem more “real” to you and encourage you to stay focused.

Set both short and long-term goals

Finally, keep your eyes on the prize and remember what you’re working towards. For some, this will be learning a new language while others may be pursuing a university degree. Write down your goals on post-it note sand put them in clear sight, focusing on both the big and small picture.

These tips will help you hone your study habits and stick to a schedule that best suits your personal habits and lifestyle. Keep your head in the game and visualize your final goal to make the smaller deadlines sail by with ease!

This has been a guest post. If you would like to submit content to this or any of our blogs, contact us for the publishing terms and conditions.

How to Read More

Lacking motivation to read more? This tip might help… :)

Or you could learn to speed read!
Reading Motivation

NOT staying in school is not a (financial) option

As college graduates take to the street, searching for the first jobs of their careers, many are unsure if it was worth it.

Recent statistics reveal college grads made 98% more an hour on average than people without a degree in 2013, which is up from 89% in 2008 and 64% in the early ’80s.

But since the numbers are based on averages, we need to look at the details to see there are big differences in experience among individuals within groups of both graduates and non-graduates.

There is no question the pay gap between the college educated and everyone else is getting bigger.

It’s also true that the unemployment rate for college graduates right now, is remarkably low. For college grads between ages 25 and 34, the unemployment rate is currently around 3%!

Here is the paradox:

College grads are not making headway;
instead non-graduates are losing ground.

The income paid to college grads, on average, has remained flat,
but the wages of non-graduates have fallen.

To look at it a different way, college graduates are now taking jobs away from non-graduates. This reality is reflected in several recent studies and in U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. According to The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in 2008 roughly 38% of working college graduates were in positions that didn’t require a degree. By 2013, that number had increased to 48%.

Not every Starbucks barista is a college graduate, but many of them are.

So what happens to you if you are a non-graduate who didn’t get that job?

It’s unlikely you will be moving up in the corporate world, skipping over all those college graduates to take higher-paying positions above them.

Don’t blame employers for this. If an open position doesn’t require a college degree, but 50 out of 200 applicants have a degree, why wouldn’t they choose a college graduate?

That’s why you need to STAY IN SCHOOL and graduate, your financial future depends on it.

No one said it was fair, it’s just the way it is.

Of course if you have a college degree – YOU WANT THIS ADVANTAGE over non-graduates – don’t you?!?!

Note Taking – how important is it?

The weakest ink is stronger that the strongest memory.

As The Exponential Growth Strategist, I present to audiences around the world. I reveal the most powerful and valuable insights for people who want to achieve extra-ordinary results. People pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to hear me speak and deliver my content. Content I have gathered and collected over the past 20+ years, information extracted from more than 1,000 books and 3,000 academic articles. Knowledge acquired via 5 university degrees…

And the thing that surprises me the most is that the vast majority of attendees do not take notes – the EXPECT to remember what I have said.

I can make a list of the 4 Keys To Success and within 10 minutes ask the audience to repeat them to me and THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN are the ones who took notes. How do the others ever expect to remember it the day after or a week later?

It baffles me.

Students of course take notes in class – BECAUSE they want to know what will be on the exam, but they usually don’t take them effectively – that’s why if you want to take the BEST notes possible, you need to switch to MindMapping To Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort.

Note Taking, Student Notes, Class Notes, Lecture Notes

Thank you to John Weiss of Keymetric Business Solutions for mentioning this quote during my Blogging For Small Business Workshop, in Corona, California. An event sponsored by Allegra Corona and attended by VIP Mastermind Club Members.

How observant do you think you are? Take this quick visual test

We all think we’re observant, but you’d be surprised at how many details we miss on our first glance…

Take this quick visual test and see if you’re as observant as you think you are… Good luck!

Read more, achieve more

Dr Seuss - Read More

“The more that you read,The more things you will know.The more that you learn,The more places you’ll go.”

Meditate to get better grades

child-meditatingI have blogged about using a floatation tank to improve your grades

A recent study further supports the view that meditation can improve your grades. If this is all too zen for you, that’s OK, enjoy the stress and strain of doing it ‘your way’ and let me know how that works out for you!

Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours sent me this link – knowing that getting good grades leads to a much better career.

Listen to music to get better grades

Brain Activity - MusicChelsea Wilson, the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s Online LLM program, informed me that @WashULaw recently created a new study aid in the form of a Spotify Playlist composed of late baroque era classical music. The playlist was created based on a Stanford study that discovered music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. Due to the phenomena, it is believed students and professionals alike would be well served to find ways to incorporate music into their lives, careers, and studies.

The playlist includes works by Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven and Handel, among others (the style of music used in many studies). You click on the hyperlink to determine how you can listen to music to improve your grades. Click on this hyperlink for the Spotify playlist to improve your grades.

 

 

Gap Year Infographic

Gap year trips are very popular – this great infographic reveals some interesting stats… Enjoy!

An infographic by World First

Scrabble test

Research says 70% will select the SAME one word… Place your comments below and let’s see…
Scrabble - TEST

Estella’s Brilliant Bus

It always amazes me when someone applies the principles of antimimeticisomorphism to change the world, one person at a time. Estella Pyfrom is one such person. Have a look at the video to see how a simple school bus can change lives and ultimately destinies.

Working as a guidance counselor five years ago in Palm Beach County, Estella Pyfrom noticed that fewer students had access to a computer after school. The sluggish economy forced many families to prioritize their money and use it for more pressing needs.

“They needed food. They needed to pay their mortgage or their rent,” said Pyfrom, a former teacher. “Some of them lost their cars. So I knew it was a serious problem.”

Without a computer at home, or reliable transportation to get to a computer, Pyfrom feared that many of these students would get left behind. So she bought a bus, filled it with computers and brought technology to the kids.

Her mobile computer lab, Estella’s Brilliant Bus, has provided free, computer-based tutoring for thousands of students since 2011.

“If people don’t have some knowledge of technology, they’re going to be limited,” said Pyfrom, who retired in 2009 and used money from her savings to buy the bus. “It’s absolutely essential that they get involved technologically.”

“The digital divide is absolutely real,” said Pyfrom, 76. “And it didn’t just become a reality. It’s been there for years, and it’s getting bigger and more important.”

Pyfrom’s custom-designed bus is outfitted with 17 computer stations that are connected to high-speed Internet via satellite.

Emblazoned on its side are the words “Have Knowledge, Will Travel” and “We bring learning to you.” The bus travels to schools, shelters and community centers throughout the county.

“We serve children starting with age 3 all the way through senior citizens, based on what the needs are,” Pyfrom said. “We are bringing the learning and the technology to the neighborhoods. They all can benefit from that.”

Pyfrom and her army of volunteers hold regular classes and tutoring sessions about four days a week. They offer lessons in computer and Internet basics as well as reading, math or science classes that supplement what children are learning in school.

Sometimes, the bus simply serves as an open computer lab.

The rules on the bus are few and simple. Among them, gum and Facebook are not allowed. Pyfrom takes a no-nonsense approach to her mobile classroom. The custom-designed bus is outfitted with 17 computer stations that are connected to high-speed Internet via satellite.

The computers are loaded with educational software, providing interactive exercises that reinforce state-mandated curricula. Children receive their own account login and password, allowing them to continue their work from anywhere they can access the Internet. Users can only advance to the next level in a subject once they reach 90% proficiency in the current one, and the software allows Pyfrom to track their progress.

For older students, the bus brings GED and college preparatory assistance, anti-bullying and peer mediation classes, and student leadership training.

Pyfrom and her team provide about 8,000 hours of instruction to at least 500 children a year. She hopes the extra time will help bring students up to their grade level in reading, vocabulary, math, science and life skills.

Freddy and Brianna Rodriguez are two students benefiting from Pyfrom’s bus. Adopted from foster care, the siblings struggled with their grades when they entered junior high school.

“If I didn’t have the bus to come to, it’d be hard to get to a computer,” said Brianna, 13. “My grades have gotten better. The one-on-one time, it helped me.”

In working with the students, Pyfrom found that many parents didn’t know how to use a computer. Now her bus helps them, too.

“They’re learning right along with the kids,” Pyfrom said. “They don’t feel threatened, because what I say to them is, ‘If your 4-year-old can use a computer and click a mouse, so can you.’ ”

On the bus, adults can receive online banking tutorials, resume assistance and help searching for jobs and affordable housing.

Pyfrom’s efforts to help low-income families haven’t stopped with her bus. She also partnered with a community nonprofit to help provide meals to 3,000 residents each month. Through that work, she’s identified other ways her bus can help struggling neighbors build up technological proficiency necessary in the marketplace.

“We want to do what we can do in (each) neighborhood to make things better for all,” Pyfrom said. “We run into people who really want to better their lifestyles and are without help. We can help them make a big difference in their neighborhoods.”

To keep up the momentum of her efforts, Pyfrom has continued to pour her savings into maintaining and modifying her bus, so far spending about $1 million, she says.

An easy retirement is not something she aspires to.

“I’m not tired yet. And I don’t think I’m going to get tired,” she said. “I’m constantly charged up. I look at the faces of the children and I get energized.”

Pyfrom is determined to see her services expand throughout the state, even the country. She estimates she has enough savings to keep her bus running for another two years, but she hopes to find financial support before she runs out of money.

“I don’t think about what I’m not able to do or not going to be able to do,” she said. “I plan for the things that I think I’m going to do, need to do and want to do. And I think most of them are going to happen.

“We’ve got to keep rolling. We’re going to keep taking the service to the neighborhoods, and we are going to keep making a difference.”

Want to get involved? Check out the Estella’s Brilliant Bus website at www.estellasbrilliantbus.org and see how to help.