Through the Education Lens

Too Young to Research. Yeah, Right.

CJW, October 4, 2010 7:58 AM


"We Are Not Too Young To Research"
Two-Minute BEST Video Below

By C.J. Westerberg

This two-minute video "hit home" on several levels.  One is the ironic and hypocritical concern of our nation falling behind internationally in STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) education while at the same time budgets for science Lab in schools have to be cut.  Do we really think memorizing the elements table for Chemistry class will be the catalyst for students to continue science learning in higher education or the magical motivation to learn?  Let's make science as boring and far removed from any purpose, shall we? 

Another take-away from this video is how we as a society, have been so bombarded with "fear for our children" where both parents and schools have inadvertently created a new set of problems.   Adults have more often than not, on one hand, put more pressure on kindergartners to hit certain academic learning benchmarks (in lieu of lessons in play) while simultaneously lessened adolescent opportunities for meaningful adult connections,  employment/volunteer activity,  real-world constructive yet caring feedback. Go figure. 

One book in full attack on this issue is "Escaping the Endless Adolescence" by Joseph Allen and Caludia Worrell Allen:

"There's been a gradual, insidious change occurring in the very nature of adolescence over the past several generations - a change that has been stripping this period of meaningful work and of exposure to adult challenges and rewards, and undermining our teens' development in the process.   . . . we've learned that teenage entitlement, apathy, surliness, and cynicism are far from inevitable.  Most important, we've learned that we can change teens' behaviors and attitudes dramatically for the better with relatively modest, well-targeted efforts to change their environments. . . ."

Probably the most widely-known book in this arena was written by "America's Worst Mom"*,  Lenore Skenazy, "Free-Range Kids:  How To Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)."

A few of the Skenazy's "dangers" created by our obsession with "safety":

  • The danger of childhood obesity, which has tripled since 1980.  No one means to plumpen his or her progeny, but it's hard for kids to get in shape when they're not allowed to walk to a friend's house or even play on the lawn.

  • The danger of diabetes.  This disease is on the rise for the same reason as obesity: too much screen time, sitting time, Snickers time.

  • The danger of vitamin D deficiency, leading to rickets.  How did this Dickensian disease suddenly reappear?  See above.  Now add sunscreen . . .
  • The danger of depression.  No one can say for sure why somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of all kids under age eighteen will go through this terrible illness, but it certainly seems that it would be depressing to keep hearing that the world is filled with creeps who want to kill you. . . (I spoke to a guy from Tide who said that kids aren't even getting dirty anymore.  That's bad news for him - and kids).

  • The danger of a college breakdown.  Many of the kids arriving on campuses today are called "teacups" by administrators because they're so fragile.  After literally a lifetime of overprotection, these young adults are overwhelmed by sudden independence.  Sure they're beautiful and beloved, and you can show them (and their SAT scores) off to company.  But take them out of the china cabinet and they break. 

The two-minute video below was "designed, developed and directed by Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST)", promoting "the game-changing idea of early participation of high school and college students doing real research".  Credits:

Actors for the video came from the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor, MI, the Homeschool HUB of Niles, MI, and Berrien RESA Math Science Center. The production company is Giant House Productions. In addition, voiceovers were done by Kenneth Harper, former Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Benton Harbor, Professor Marsha Kilsby, and Professors Emeriti Bill Mutch and Peter Wong. The video soundtrack was done by Andrew Osano. The video was shot on location at Andrews University Science Building. Funding came from the National Science Foundation.
The concept and script was conceived by Professor Desmond H Murray, founder of BEST. He is a passionate advocate for early research participation as a sustainable solution for twenty-first century innovation, education and economy

 2-Minute Video BELOW.
* "America's Worst Mom" as self-defined on book cover

Related articles from The Daily Riff:

"Have We Created A Generation Of Followers, Not Leaders?"  Fear of Failure  & Teaching Too Much Self-Esteem?

"Dear Milennials:  Your Parents Lied to You" - You're wonderful, sweetie. Just keep working hard and you can be anything you want to be. Great job!" (soccer mom, 1992)

"Ten Lessons For My Daughters"  - Take Trips; Travel

"Eyes Wide Open" : Parental Advice about Teens & Depression

"Top Chef Jamie Oliver Joins Michelle Obama:  Can Your Teen Cook Ten Healthy Meals?"

"Why Can't Playgrounds Look More Like This?"

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