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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Bill Gates – how do you make education better?

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Bill Gates, philantropist :)

“A goal I had there was to draw more people in to work on those problems, because I think there are some very important problems that don’t get worked on naturally. That is, the market does not drive the scientists, the communicators, the thinkers, the governments to do the right things. And only by paying attention to these things and having brilliant people who care and draw other people in can we make as much progress as we need to.
So, how do you make education better?

A top quartile (top 25%) teacher will increase the performance of their class — based on test scores — by over 10 percent in a single year. What does that mean? That means that if the entire U.S., for two years, had top quartile teachers, the entire difference between us and Asia would go away. Within four years we would be blowing everyone in the world away.

What are the characteristics of this top quartile? What do they look like?”

They’re not old and they donn’t have masters, which is what the educational system rewards.
They simply have students with good test results, and the teacher’s syndicates made the records of this tests unavailable. By law.

“You might say, “Do the good teachers stay and the bad teacher’s leave?” The answer is, on average, the slightly better teachers leave the system. And it’s a system with very high turnover.

Now, there are a few places — very few — where great teachers are being made. A good example of one is a set of charter schools called KIPP. They take the poorest kids, and over 96 percent of their high school graduates go to four-year colleges. And the whole spirit and attitude in those schools is very different than in the normal public schools. They’re team teaching. They’re constantly improving their teachers. They’re taking data, the test scores, and saying to a teacher, “Hey, you caused this amount of increase.” They’re deeply engaged in making teaching better.

When you actually go and sit in one of these classrooms, at first it’s very bizarre. I sat down and I thought, “What is going on?” The teacher was running around, and the energy level was high. I thought, “I’m in the sports rally or something. What’s going on?” And the teacher was constantly scanning to see which kids weren’t paying attention, which kids were bored, and calling kids rapidly, putting things up on the board. It was a very dynamic environment, because particularly in those middle school years — fifth through eighth grade — keeping people engaged and setting the tone that everybody in the classroom needs to pay attention, nobody gets to make fun of it or have the position of the kid who doesn’t want to be there. Everybody needs to be involved. And so KIPP is doing it.

How does that compare to a normal school? Well, in a normal school teachers aren’t told how good they are. The data isn’t gathered. In the teacher’s contract, it will limit the number of times the principal can come into the classroom — sometimes to once per year. And they need advanced notice to do that. So imagine running a factory where you’ve got these workers, some of them just making crap and the management is told, “Hey, you can only come down here once a year, but you need to let us know, because we might actually fool you, and try and do a good job in that one brief moment.”
Even a teacher who wants to improve doesn’t have the tools to do it. They don’t have the test scores, and there’s a whole thing of trying to block the data. For example, New York passed a law that said that the teacher improvement data could not be made available and used in the tenure decision for the teachers. And so that’s sort of working in the opposite direction. But I’m optimistic about this, I think there are some clear things we can do.
First of all, there’s a lot more testing going on, and that’s given us the picture of where we are. And that allows us to understand who’s doing it well, and call them out, and find out what those techniques are. Of course, digital video is cheap now. Putting a few cameras in the classroom and saying that things are being recorded on an ongoing basis is very practical in all public schools. And so every few weeks teachers could sit down and say, “OK, here’s a little clip of something I thought I did well. Here’s a little clip of something I think I did poorly. Advise me — when this kid acted up, how should I have dealt with that?” And they could all sit and work together on those problems. You can take the very best teachers and kind of annotate it, have it so everyone sees who is the very best at teaching this stuff.

Now there’s a book actually, about KIPP — the place that this is going on — that Jay Matthews, a news reporter, wrote — called, “Work Hard, Be Nice.” And I thought it was so fantastic. It gave you a sense of what a good teacher does.”

Written by flowingly

September 19, 2009 at 05:05

The Power of Time Orientation – Philip Zimbardo @ TED

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Philip Zimbardo: “Now lets tempt four-year-olds, giving them a treat. They can have one marshmallow now. But if they wait until the experimenter comes back, they can have two. Of course it pays, if you like marshmallows, to wait. What happens is 2/3rds of the kids give in to temptation. They cannot wait. The others, of course, wait. They resist the temptation. They delay the now for later.

Walter Mischel, my colleague at Stanford, went back 14 years later, to try to discover
what was different about those kids.
There were enormous differences between kids who resisted and kids who yielded, in many ways. The kids who resisted scored 250 points higher on the SAT. That’s enormous. That’s like a whole set of different IQ points. They didn’t get in as much trouble. They were better students. They were self-confident and determined. And the key for me today, the key for you, is they were future-focused instead of present-focused.

So, very quickly, what is the optimal time profile?

  • High on past-positive.
  • Moderately high on future.
  • And moderate on present-hedonism.
  • And always low on past-negative and present-fatalism.

So the optimal temporal mix is

  • what you get from the past — past-positive give you roots. You connect your family, identity and your self.
  • What you get from the future is wings to soar to new destinations, new challenges.
  • What you get from the present hedonism is the energy, the energy to explore yourself, places, people, sensuality.”

Written by flowingly

July 24, 2009 at 13:46

Why Humans Have Sex

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Book-a-minute on steroids, that’s how I think about this study.

In other words, read it and you’ll be more of a connoisseur (ahem :)

Here’s a glimpse:

1. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted

disease (e.g., herpes, AIDS)

2. Someone offered me money to do it

3. I wanted to get a raise

4. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization

5. I wanted to get a job

6. I wanted to get a promotion

7. The person offered to give me drugs for doing it

8. I wanted to punish myself

9. I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person

10. I wanted to feel closer to God

11. I wanted to breakup my relationship

12. I wanted to breakup another’s relationship

13. I wanted to be used or degraded

14. I wanted to gain access to that person’s friend

15. I wanted to get a favor from someone

16. I wanted to enhance my reputation

17. It would get me gifts

18. I wanted to make money

19. I wanted to hurt an enemy

20. Because of a bet

21. It was a favor to someone

22. I wanted to end the relationship

For more like the above, you can download the pdf from here.

Written by flowingly

November 27, 2007 at 07:54

Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?

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“This chapter offers a detailed glimpse into the economics of a drug-dealing street gang. The authors follow the research efforts of sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, whose years conducting field studies in the housing projects of Chicago granted him unprecedented access to the inner workings of the gang. Venkatesh befriended many of his research subjects, one of whom gave him several years of financial records kept by the gang, which Venkatesh later provided to Levitt.

With extensive analysis of the data, Levitt was able to debunk the common perception that crack dealers are all very wealthy individuals. He found that although a few participants profit mightily from their involvement, these are usually the higher-ups who lead the organization, rather than the large numbers of street dealers who form the lower ranks of the group. Levitt compares the organizational structure of the gang to McDonalds, in which a comparatively few executives and managers prosper from the labor of thousands of low-wage workers. This comparison proved to be particularly apt when he found that most street dealers made less than minimum wage, while also bearing a 1-in-4 risk of death.” (from wikisummaries.org, Freakonomics entry)

Well, it seems like even a thief needs to do some competent work in order to achieve success, dear Watson… :)

Written by flowingly

September 8, 2007 at 10:09

Hellen Keller’s story

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Written by flowingly

July 13, 2007 at 18:25

Poor people gamble three times more money than better-off people

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That’s in America, poor meaning under $10,000 annual revenue per household, well-off meaning over $50.000 annually. Saw it on a Viasat program about instincts, found a bit more here:

  • The report found gambling enterprises in the US were as common as fast food outlets as Americans splurged $600 billion a year on gambling, more than on cars or groceries.
  • The report found that 5.4 million Americans were pathological or problem gamblers, half of whom were youths, [..] more than 15 million Americans were considered at-risk gamblers, meaning they have high potential of becoming problem gamblers.
  • “In addition to the working poor, many elderly Americans fall into the low-income categories,” Senator Wolf said. “The casinos and riverboats and video parlours and even the State-sponsored lotteries have become the predators of our society, preying on those most vulnerable.”

Uneducated people may need leaders, but not leaders that exploit and keep them stupid.

Scaming uneducated people is like drug raping a woman or the luring of a kid by a pedophile. But it’s economiks. It doesn’t apply. I found out this, and it explains A LOT about it.

Written by flowingly

May 18, 2007 at 11:24

It is said that your salary is usually equal to the average the salaries of your 10 closest friends

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In the 6-degrees-of-separation numerical spirit:

productivity501.com: “It is said that your salary is usually equal to the average the salaries of your 10 closest friends.  This is a good general rule for everything–not just finances.  The capabilities of our friends average together to create a social glass ceiling.  Even if you work hard and break through the ceiling, it will still exert constraints on your progress.  If you want to truly push the limits of your potential, the people with whom you interact must be people who significantly challenge you in the areas where you want to excel.”

Don’t know how true it is, but I find the concept very interesting.

Written by flowingly

April 12, 2007 at 08:34