Sunday, August 14, 2011

More on the future, or the lack of it...

In today's New York Times, opinionator Thomas L. Friedman is writing about the unrest in the world, from burning London, arabic uprisings, Tea Party craziness, to unhappy people.  What is going on here, really? He writes:

"There are multiple and different reasons for these explosions, but to the extent they might have a common denominator I think it can be found in one of the slogans of Israel’s middle-class uprising: “We are fighting for an accessible future.” Across the world, a lot of middle- and lower-middle-class people now feel that the “future” is out of their grasp, and they are letting their leaders know it." 

Read it all here, it is very interesting and I think he hits on several important points on what is going on and why we are all so frustrated, especially the younger generations.
A happy, fulfilled and easy future is maybe out of our grasp. At least it is easy to feel trapped, helpless, and frustrated over all the things that seems to get worse and worse when you look forward in time. And more and more people feel like this.  Here in America, for the first time ever, the children born today are predicted to live shorter lives than their parents (mostly due to diabetes and similar epidemic diseases), but most on people's minds are not health, but jobs, homes, food, and simply "how to get a good life".  Young people can't afford homes.  There aren't enough jobs.  Who cares about how much taxes you have to pay when you can't even get a job?  (The tea party seem to have forgotten about that angle of things.).

And when the future seems uncertain, with climate change, stock markets roller coasting, and untrustworthy politicians, those on top that have more hang on to it more, and those that have less feel desperate and loose more.  What do you think, readers of the blog?

And here above is something else to ponder... (text borrowed from the internet)


PP said...

e says 1/2 of Chinese applicants have a perfect SAT score. I wonder how many of those scores are real? From what you have said many are fake scores...

LS said...

It is hard to know. We know there is some cheating on SAT scores in China, but, on the other hand many Chinese students are drilled over and over again for years so they can get perfect SAT scores. You also have to remember that the ones that apply here in the US are only the top 1% of all students of China, and they have many more students to choose from to begin with. But I am starting to believe that the scores are real, mostly.

Chinese students are highly advanced, but I don't know if they really are good at problem-solving and independent thinking. Studying for tests is not the same thing, and I think that for future problems we need people that can think and solve new problems. My experience is that they mostly study for the tests and take what is in the textbooks as the truth.

Another issue is that American students are really falling behind because the education here is getting worse and their SAT scores are falling on average (like in Sweden, Swedish student performance in math is falling too).

PP said...

so they know how to get a perfect SAT score then. What next after that?

LS said...

Exactly. Getting a perfect SAT score will not help you solve our environmental problems or think smart. But it will help in making the necessary calculations in engineering, physics, chemistry, etc. But I don't think American students are better (on average) in thinking independently. Too many schools just teach for the test, not teach for the future or what is best for society.

(This is also one reason why all my tests have written answers, not multichoice questions. I want to see that the students can formulate and express an answer, not just select A, B, C, or D from prewritten answers. Yep, it is harder for them! But better for all of us, them too.)