Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where the boys are....?

I remember my high school teachers patting me on the head and patiently explaining that women cannot/should not do science. Much better to find a nice husband to take care of me. When I did get to college, the sea of blonde and blue eyed men was astounding and inspiring to a young co-ed. The ratio of men to women made it even more interesting.

Things have changed. Stats show that the attendance is edging up to 60% women on campuses. Fewer and fewer men are showing up for college and, for those that do, fewer and fewer are graduating. The 64 thousand dollar question is where are the men?

In a recent article in This Week, that talked about an article in U.S. News, the author was discussing that we are graduating too many financial advisors, lawyers, marketing, etc. majors. We are not producing enough people to make the products that made the U.S. the country it is now. Perhaps, he suggested, that we produce more machinists.

Perhaps these disappearing men come from those ranks that are going out into the workforce to make products. Perhaps they can't see how the investment in college is going to help them in their career. Could it be that we need to do some systemic change for what colleges teach, the length of time in which subjects are taught, and what people really need to make it financially? This is not just rearranging courses, but taking a step back and looking again at two year and certificate applied programs. Perhaps this will bring men back to college if they can see a financial value.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How do we get hellicopter parents linked to the kids that need them?

Ok, I am going to start a whole big campaign to link up helicopter moms, dads, grandparents, and whomever to the kids that need them. A new book came out The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up (Free Press).

When at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, we conducted radio interviews with students about what they did to get to college. This is a prestigious, small college that excels in teaching and mentoring students. We use to kid around that there was one club per student and faculty adviser. The interviews were a surprise. Every student we interviewed had relayed that a family member, friend, or counselor completed the paper work, helped find scholarships, terrorized admissions staff, and drug the student along. The graduation rate at Westminster is a whopping 95%.

Now, we look at Hispanic students at UTB/TSC that are not only navigating the system alone, but often against the wishes of their family. Actually, it is not necessarily against family wishes, but the economic need to support the extended family.

So, my solution is that we take these helicopter parents that are terrorizing their kids, preventing them from maturing and living life as their own, and assign them to a student who really needs a helicopter busy body.

Easy solution, how do you implement it? Which is now getting me thinking that there is a way to do this with social media.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Playing nice

Today a friend forwarded me a webpage A day in the life as the director of IBM research that gave some insight as to how we need to view education in the 21st Century.

Some how over the years, the disciplines have become isolated from each other. Courses have become more standardized and narrow in focus; students don't interact with those from other disciplines.

So, how are we, as college professors, going to send students out into a workforce that requires interdisciplinary research?

One of the most valuable courses I took at Ohio State was a class for science, education, medical, and behavioral science students to discuss current issues in medicine, the science behind them, and the pubic perception. The discussion went long past the end time and sometimes meandered into the local pub.

When I attended the first group of Cold Springs Harbor workshops for the Human Genome project as they were setting up the infrastructure, Watson's greatest move was gathering educators, public relations specialists, behavioral scientists, and scientists together to discuss the social impacts of this. When the project disbursed money, they included all the science and technological fields. This project may not have gone as well had he not done so.

Solving problems is not an assembly line process, it is a group sport. We can't solve problems like we can put together a car on an assembly line.

So, the question is, how can we educate students to be problem solvers and how do we get students from different disciplines together?