STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

ASPIRATIONS.JPEG

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Yell And Intimidate The Child?

Child.jpeg

So at the table next to us this morning at breakfast was a mean looking lady and a fidgety young child. 

The lady as we found out over the course of their dialogue was the child’s grandmother. 

And she wouldn’t stop berating this kid, maybe 5-years old. 

Grandmother: “Don’t you dare get up from the table until I’m done with my coffee, [and then this weird chilling] thank you.”

Child: Obviously looking to run around and have some fun, “But I just want to go.”

Grandmother:  Who has finished her breakfast and coffee and is just making a continuing point, “You’ll wait until I’m done, and I say we’re ready, [and again, the long controlling pause and then] thank you.”

Child: “I’m tired.”

Grandmother: “Then you’ll go upstairs, get back into bed and go to sleep, and no tv, just sleep–you will not move!”

Child: Looks up helplessly sad.

Grandmother: Now the truth starts to come out, “You know I don’t like the way you treat you mother. Your disrespectful! And that won’t go with me.”

Child: Appears to not really understand what she is saying and legs dangle anxiously off the chair, but clearly very afraid to get up.

Grandmother: “You’ll learn to be respectful to your mother. You will learn!”

Child: Head leaning sideways on table, says nothing. 

Grandmother: Makes child wait some more and more, and finally, “Now we can go.”

Child: Child picks head up and runs to take her hand. 

Grandmother: Sneers and smirks with her power over the child–she looks like a freakin’ witch. 

Whole scene was sort of heartbreaking. 

My wife and I look at each other, and shake our heads.

This was not teaching or loving, but something else and it wasn’t normal or nice. 

I say, “Perhaps, when a child is abused this way–day after day, year after year–this is why they grow up and then do horrible and hateful things.”

It’s amazing how adults take out their issues on children–and they think it’s legit–but deep down you can see it really isn’t–and the children and society pays for the sins of the adults. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Helping Kids To Stand On Their Own

Bubbles.jpeg

So my wife and I have a longstanding disagreement on the best way of teaching children. 


Her perspective:


TEACH TO CARE – Get the kids to do them for themselves, learn to be independent, by doing they learn to stand on their own two feet, don’t baby them, by teaching them to do for themselves you are caring for the kids, if you jump every time they ask then there is no reason for them to try themselves.


His perspective:


CARE TO TEACH – Do for the kids when they are young, by showing them how then they start to learn how to do it for themselves later in life, children need to be shown love and caring so they can learn to one day care for themselves as well as for others, by loving and giving selflessly to children they learn that they are valuable human beings and grow to a healthy maturity. 


The reality:


CARE AND TEACH – We need to show care and love to children, but also need to teach them to do for themselves. We can’t smother children nor can we send them out into the world unprepared. Care for them at an early age, show them how, and then give them opportunities to do it for themselves and become full adults. 


Like with most things in marriage, and relationships in general, the bringing together of two heads and hearts is better than just one alone. We balance each other, complement each other, and synergize each other–one is alone and deficient, two is together and with G-d making three, it is a whole. 


And always tell your wife she was right. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Indians And Palestinians

American Indian

September 4, 1886, Geronimo, the last American Indian warrior surrenders to the United States and later after some time in prison, Geronimo converts and becomes a successful farmer. 

November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly votes 33-13 in favor of a partition from what was land prior under the control of Britain leading to the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 at which time the surrounding Arab nations attacked and were defeated, and this replayed many times in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and subsequent Intifadas.

Recently, I had a conversation with a lady who is a Lacota Indian and who happens to be a proud supporter of the State of Israel.

This is what she told me: 

“The Indians and Palestinians have a lot in common in that we both have to share land.”

But, what is different is that we [American Indians] don’t act like some [extremist] Palestinians teaching endless cycles of hatred and violence.

We don’t go around knifing people, throwing stones, shooting, or blowing people up.”

I had understood many people think this, but I had never heard anyone actually come out and say it–let alone a Native American Indian. 

Even now-a-days, I think we must admit that American Indians live in a challenging state in this country and certainly they deserve more and their standard of living should be vastly improved, but at the same time, they manage to live with all the immigrants that came to the United States from all over the world, and they do this in peace.  

Perhaps, in Israel, where there is tacit agreement towards an even better scenario–a two-state solution–with the real potential of peace, prosperity, and security for both Jews and Palestinians–the cycle of hatred and violence can end and should end. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maryland GovPics) 

Reform The Movement

Hamas_Children

So was very glad to read this week about a top Sunni cleric who called for educational reform to combat “extremist violence.”


Sheik Ahmend al-Tayeb, a grand imam in Cairo said “corrupt interpretations” of the Koran and of Muhammad was leading to a rise of Middle East-based terrorism. 


This to hopefully stem the flow of what is now being reported as 20,000 foreign fighters flocking to join ISIS


What is amazing here is that good Muslim people are recognizing the problem with radicalization, extremism, and violence and are speaking out. 


Yet, many of our own leaders in the Western world still refuse to say the dirty words “Islamic terrorism.”


The President saying instead: “No religion is responsible for terrorism–people are responsible for violence and terrorism.


So perhaps, according to this “logic,” no movement is responsible for what their people do–only the individuals are?


And therefore, accordingly, the Nazis would not be responsible for the Holocaust, nor America for Slavery, nor Communism for political purges, oppression, and violation of human rights, etc. etc. 


…in which case, there would be no apologies, no regrets, no reparations, no museums, no memorials, nothing–because this was just some individuals doing some bad things and those individuals are may no longer even be here with us. 


Doesn’t this ignore the very basic and fundamental fact that when the masses follow a movements’ (genuine or distorted) ideological teachings of hatred, racism, and discrimination, and the people act nefariously on this, then does not the movement itself hold some responsibility for the murderous and evil actions committed based on their doctrine?


The Sheik who denounced terror and called for changes to the education in the Muslim community is recognizing what apparently many of our own leaders refuse to, which is that they–and we–are responsible for what is taught and tolerated in our communities. 


As Peggy Noonan recently wrote, “The reality is that the Islamic State is…very Islamic.


Currently, we are fighting a war on radical Islamic terrorism…whether that terror is committed on Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish grocery store, or the World Trade Centers. 


That does not mean that tomorrow, we are not fighting against some other movement’s treachery. 


This is why good people everywhere must stand up and speak out when they see religions, governments, institutions, or other movements preach and teach lies, hatred, and terror. 


Bad (or hijacked good) movements drive bad actors…so we must not only go after the bad guys, but also hold the movements themselves to account.


We must demand that the lies and distortions be called out for what they are and that truth and virtue be held up in its place. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Front Page Magazine)

Treat People Nice

Treat People Nice

On a recent college visit, I saw this sign hanging on a door.

The quote is by Maya Angelou and it is very powerful:

“People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As human beings in this world, we come and go.

Our time here is finite.

We will be replaced by others.

What is truly memorable about us is our relationships and how we treat others.

When we show kindness to people or when we are cruel to others–these things are never forgotten.

Our interactions are the mark of who we are inside–do we sincerely care about others and the bigger picture or are we just plain selfish?

How about you–can you remember:

  • how that parent who loved you made you feel?
  • how that teacher who taught you made you feel?
  • how that friend who played with you made you feel?
  • how that boss who mentored you made you feel?
  • how that clergy who inspired you made you feel?
  • how that spouse who was your companion made you feel?
  • how those children who looked up to you made you feel?
  • how those colleagues who supported your work made you feel?

I’m sure you can also remember times when people made you feel not so good–perhaps, you scowled or even cursed them under your breath.

Getting results in life is not enough–we can’t do it by stepping on other people and really being successful that way.

Empathy and kindness or a hard heart and cruelty–you will be remembered one way or another. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hooters’ Training

Hooters' Training

I thought this was a funny-sad photo.

This dad took his two kids (twins?) out to eat.

The eatery is Hooters.

The young, attractive, scantily clad waitresses in the orange shorts were serving them.

It may be fine for the adult, but it didn’t seem so okay for the little kids.

Not that I’m so Mr. Perfect, but couldn’t help reflect that what we teach our children is important.

This wasn’t Ronald McDonald’s, Subway, or Chipotle.

What was the lessons for these kids?

I remember when I would argue with my dad (still to this day) about religion and seeing seemingly “religious” people do things wrong (sometimes terribly wrong), and he would say to me, “You be the example!”

Maybe that’s sort of the point–is that the way we live is the lessons we showcase to others.

Each of us has the opportunity to lead by example…that’s what leadership fundamentally is.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Go 2 Shul

Go 2 Shul

My wonderful dad is very religious and enjoys going to shul (i.e. synagogue) every day–multiple times a day.

I love him for who he is and respect his deep religious beliefs and devotion to G-d–my dad truly serves and walks with Hashem.

And I hope and pray that my Dad has many more happy and healthy years to go to synagogue–“Until 120 years,” G-d bless!

Often, Dad reminds me how important it is to attend services, especially since I am a more private person who would rather connect with G-d on a more personal level.

To each his own and live and let live.

My wife saw this license plate today and my daughter took a photo of it.

Apparently, this is someone else who either wants to go 2 shul or wants others to go as well.

I’m not sure, but it even looks like they wrote or carved the word “synagogue” on the bumper of their car as well.

Anyway as long as everyone drives safely, it is great to find innovative ways to get the message out there. 😉

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

I like this photo…”I don’t know what we’re yelling about!!”

On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger–because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a “righteous anger”).

On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can’t handle their sh*t (i.e. “they are losing it”).

Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you’re about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell…this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. “they’ll look for an easier target”).

While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.

Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month–this includes shouting, cursing, calling them “lazy,” “stupid,” or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less.

In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)

Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates.

While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do “silent yelling–sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don’t yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless.

Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, “Sometimes–I don’t want to say scream at them–but you have to be…forceful.”

Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down–way down–using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.

The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it.

People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations.” 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)

Lessons Learned From My Family By Rebecca Blumenthal

This is a moving interview with Rebecca Blumenthal.

She came to me this afternoon, spontaneously, to tell me some meaningful lessons she had gathered from some of the special members of her family.

Immediately after I heard a few of the things she had to say, I asked her if she would mind me capturing these beautiful sentiments on this short video.

I was very moved by her sincerity and thoughtfulness, and it gave me pause in my own life to appreciate these things anew from the people who have been so important in my life as well.

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)