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Archive for Bill Ritchie

Why Our Education System Is So Stuck

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Thinking Skills: Sigmund Freud Meets Apple Pie

For years I have been ranting about the American education system, how murky and ill prepared it is to consider new ideas. I gave a TEDx talk about this in 2012: one of my slides was a cartoon I had made to describe how profoundly confused the situation is.

Don’t worry if you don’t get this cartoon… you’re not supposed to. The idea is that it’s an enigma… something so ingrained you’re not sure if you are allowed to think that you don’t understand it.

The biggest thing gnawing at me the past few years has been the “HOW” question… this is such an important topic, how could things have gotten to be this way?

And so I was very happy to find the answer lurking inside an article in last Sunday’s Washington Post, about Bill Gates and the new Common Core education standards.

Says Gates: “The funding, in general, of what works in education… is tiny. It’s the lowest in this field than any field of human endeavor. … As a result, there is a paucity of information about methods of instruction that work.”

So why is it that I’ve had these murky, queasy feelings about education? Because it turns out the American Education system has the lowest R&D funding of any field of human endeavor! This starts to make sense now.

OK then… with this post I’ve dug a little bit into what the problem is. Next look for some solution ideas.

And do read the Washington Post piece. It turns out that Gates is using his millions to rebuild the entire USA education system, makes for a fascinating and revealing read.

What a Great Gathering!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

This past weekend I made my bi-annual trek to the Gathering for Gardner, a four day celebration of recreational intellectualism held in honor of Martin Gardner, who was for many years the Mathematical Games columnist for Scientific American.  Martin is a hero to generations of mathematicians, magicians, metagrobologists (puzzle lovers), skeptics, Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum scholars, and assorted polymaths, this conference is a true “gathering of the clans”.  And yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

Martin Gardner (still going strong at age 95) was a hero to my father; I have vivid childhood memories of the yellow jacketed Mathematical Carnival, Mathematical Circus, and Mathematical Magic Show books that he kept on his bookshelf.  One of my grand ambitions when we started Binary Arts/ThinkFun in 1985 was to someday meet Martin… and one of my proudest achievements has been that we developed Visual Brainstorms 2 with him.  I have visited Martin several times and we are friends… wow!

Making this experience video was a lot of fun, thanks to all who were included.  And, to read more about the G4G9 experience, read the blog post from our own ThinkFun Puzzle Hunter, Tanya Thompson.

Categories : Problem solving
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