Every year for the past decade, kaggle—a globally-connected-solar-powered game of skill, rule, and strategy—has grown to represent an abundance of answers to daunting questions. As the most extensive online competition website for winning scientific data, kaggle offers a means of prototyping for new ideas, a largely way of thinking about how human knowledge and practice works.


The 1960 PBS interview with a Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate:

Andrew Mellon was a multimillionaire industrialist who grew rich as managing director of the trusts during the Roaring Twenties and later served as Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin Roosevelt. We don’t have much to go on but the current political candidate could well take Mellon’s advice in running for office: tell America what they want to hear about how wonderful the rest of the world is, so that you can save face and appear electable.

Gaps in social skills

I just don’t understand why a traditional scholastic examination like the GRE or SAT isn’t an appropriate aid for these more apt social skills. The exam and the additional coaching, training and demonstrations which some online services might offer could certainly help the student prove that their social competencies are likely to improve or stay the same.

But none of this is being done or encouraged. Why should online analytical skills be of any help to a social science teacher who hasn’t been trained in that field and who is struggling to deal with the wider complexities of the world in which we all live?

The lesson is that mathematical, advanced analytical tasks with complex problems and challenging procedures aren’t usually used in high school settings. Look at the parts which the games feature, such as the manipulations, or the addition of multiple values: the games are very vague with what they are teaching. They are “calculator” exercises for traditionally educated people, with the focus on a number of basic computational steps. There is no shortage of ways to help a student become mentally able to critically analyze a mathematical problem, and also to learn how to become confident and communicative in the subject.

As a teacher, I see the major talent deficit that we are currently facing as a result of marginalization by our society. Teachers often do not have the time, attention, and patience to help our students do well at high-level math, and so so many end up placing themselves at the bottom of the academic rankings. The prospects for skilled mathematicians and scientists in many professions are dismal. Unfortunately, we haven’t done anything in modern society to actively encourage students to get into science or math at university and go on to become skilled workers. The money spent on advertising for movie stars and sports heroes for the sake of achieving youth interest in technology and business seems to have been spent on “do-it-yourself” kits. There is much to be said for spending on education to help our students develop the ability to critically analyze new information and to tackle the complex demands of 21st century jobs. For example, a second-year computer science student with some initial experience and competence might take on assignments which would usually be the responsibility of a PhD student in another discipline. These new students could be mentored by PhD students who are used to working side-by-side with the students, and who would likely start off as “parent” rather than supervisor-in-training to the student.

Author Wm.Etta Wilcoxon did quite well in IQ tests in her day, even though she never had access to science education as a child, nor did she receive the types of learning activities (math, science, engineering) or the training which she would now find useful. After working as a nurse for a while, she decided to write a book based on her experiences of caring for one young patient who was not only handicapped and disfigured, but had learned not to read and even to speak. Enlisting the aid of her husband, and consultants from the then university of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, she published her book, “Mutual Empathy” in 1931. That book was an important and lasting contribution to the development of psychotherapy in the United States. Some 37 years later, in 1953, with little recognition of her achievements, Wilcoxon was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal for lifetime achievement by the Psychotherapy Association of America.

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