I’ve been playing around with ChatGPT from OpenAI. Below are a few prompts and the responses generated by the artificial intelligence (AI) of ChatGPT. Be sure to see the last question below! Your thoughts?
Can Holden Caulfield be considered a tragic hero?
Holden Caulfield, the main character in J.D. Salinger’s novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” could be considered a tragic hero. A tragic hero is a literary character who is noble and has good intentions, but who is ultimately flawed and makes mistakes that lead to their downfall. Holden fits this description because he is a complex and sensitive character who is trying to find his place in the world. However, his actions and decisions are often misguided and cause him to suffer and struggle. Despite his flaws, Holden remains a sympathetic and relatable character, which is a key characteristic of a tragic hero.
What are different forms of energy?
There are many different forms of energy. Some examples include kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion; potential energy, which is stored energy that can be converted into kinetic energy; thermal energy, which is the energy of heat; electrical energy, which is the flow of electric charge; and radiant energy, which is the energy of light or other electromagnetic radiation. These forms of energy can be converted from one form to another, and they are all essential for various processes and phenomena in the natural world.
What are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two different types of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. This type of diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence and requires regular insulin injections to control blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not effectively use the insulin it does produce. This type of diabetes is typically diagnosed in adulthood and can often be managed with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medication.
Some key differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:
Cause: Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction, while Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Age of onset: Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, while Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adulthood.
Treatment: Type 1 diabetes requires regular insulin injections, while Type 2 diabetes can often be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
Progression: Type 1 diabetes tends to progress rapidly, while Type 2 diabetes tends to progress more slowly.
Overall, the main difference between the two types of diabetes is the cause and the way in which they are treated.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two different forms of the disease. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults, and it is treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump.
Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin effectively. This form of diabetes is more common than Type 1 diabetes and is often associated with obesity and lack of physical activity. It is typically diagnosed in adults, but it is also becoming more common in children and teenagers. Treatment for Type 2 diabetes may include lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, oral medication, and insulin injections.
Some key differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:
Causes: Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder, while Type 2 diabetes is often caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Age of onset: Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults, while Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults.
Treatment: Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump, while Type 2 diabetes may be treated with lifestyle changes, oral medication, and insulin injections.
Prognosis: The long-term outlook for individuals with Type 1 diabetes is generally good with proper management, while the long-term outlook for individuals with Type 2 diabetes may be more variable and can depend on several factors, including the severity of the disease and the person’s overall health.
What are the best foods to eat in Thailand?
Thailand is known for its delicious and varied cuisine, which is influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Malay culinary traditions. Some of the best foods to eat in Thailand include:
Tom yum: a spicy and sour soup made with shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves
Pad Thai: a stir-fried noodle dish made with rice noodles, tofu, shrimp, egg, and peanuts
Green curry: a rich and fragrant curry made with coconut milk, green chilies, and a variety of vegetables and meats
Som tam: a spicy green papaya salad made with shrimp, peanuts, long beans, and a lime dressing
Fried rice: a popular and versatile dish made with rice, eggs, onions, and a variety of meats and vegetables
Mango sticky rice: a sweet and satisfying dessert made with glutinous rice, mangoes, and coconut milk.
These are just a few examples of the many delicious foods that can be found in Thailand. It is worth trying a variety of dishes to experience the full range of flavors and textures that Thai cuisine has to offer.
What is (34.16 * 54.87) / 31?
The result of (34.16 * 54.87) / 31 is approximately 32.35. To calculate this, we first need to multiply 34.16 and 54.87 to get 1882.0872. We then need to divide this result by 31 to get approximately 32.35.
What are polynomials and what do we use them for?
Polynomials are mathematical expressions that consist of variables and coefficients. They can be written in the form a0 + a1x + a2x^2 + a3x^3 + … + anx^n, where a0, a1, a2, a3, …, an are the coefficients and x is the variable. Polynomials are used in many different fields to model and solve a variety of problems. Some common uses of polynomials include:
Describing the motion of objects: Polynomials can be used to model the position, velocity, and acceleration of objects moving in a straight line or in a plane.
Modeling population growth: Polynomials can be used to model the growth of a population over time, taking into account factors such as birth rates, death rates, and migration.
Solving equations: Polynomials can be used to find the solutions to equations, including those that cannot be solved using algebraic methods.
Interpolating data: Polynomials can be used to estimate the values of a function between known data points, allowing us to make predictions and extrapolations.
Optimization: Polynomials can be used to find the maximum or minimum values of a function, which can be useful for solving optimization problems in fields such as engineering and economics.
Overall, polynomials are a powerful and versatile tool that can be used to model and solve a wide range of problems.
Will Social Security run out of money?
The Social Security Trust Funds, which are used to pay for Social Security benefits, are currently projected to be exhausted by 2035. This means that if no changes are made to the program, the Trust Funds will no longer have enough money to pay for all of the promised benefits. However, it is important to note that even if the Trust Funds are exhausted, the Social Security program will still have enough revenue coming in from payroll taxes and other sources to pay for about three-fourths of promised benefits.
The Social Security program has been running a deficit for several years, and the gap between the program’s revenues and expenses is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades. This is due to a number of factors, including the aging of the population, increases in life expectancy, and slower economic growth. In order to ensure the long-term solvency of the Social Security program, it may be necessary to make changes to the program, such as increasing payroll taxes or reducing benefits.
Overall, it is likely that the Social Security program will need to be modified in some way in order to continue to provide benefits to future retirees. However, it is important to remember that the program has been successful in providing income security for millions of Americans for many years, and it will continue to play a critical role in the country’s retirement system.
Can we custom design babies with CRISPR?
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a gene-editing technology that allows scientists to make precise changes to the DNA of living organisms. While CRISPR has been used to edit the genes of plants, animals, and other organisms, it is not currently possible to use it to design custom babies.
The use of CRISPR and other gene-editing technologies to modify the DNA of human embryos is a highly controversial and complex issue. There are many ethical, legal, and technical challenges that must be considered before it can be done safely and responsibly. In addition, there are many potential risks and unknowns associated with using CRISPR to edit the genes of human embryos, and further research and development is needed before it can be considered a viable option.
At present, it is not possible to use CRISPR or any other technology to design custom babies. While gene-editing technologies may hold great promise for the future, they also raise many complex and difficult questions that must be carefully considered.
Should I get a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage?
It is difficult for me to advise you on whether to get a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage, as this decision will depend on your individual circumstances and financial goals. Fixed rate mortgages have an interest rate that remains the same throughout the life of the loan, while adjustable rate mortgages have an interest rate that can fluctuate over time.
Fixed rate mortgages are a good option for people who want the security of knowing what their monthly mortgage payment will be for the entire loan term. They are also a good option for people who plan to stay in their home for a long time and want to lock in a low interest rate.
Adjustable rate mortgages, on the other hand, may have a lower interest rate initially, but the rate can increase or decrease over time based on market conditions. These loans may be a good option for people who expect their income to increase over time and who are comfortable with the potential for changes in their monthly mortgage payment. They may also be a good option for people who plan to sell their home or refinance their loan before the interest rate adjusts.
It is important to carefully consider your financial situation and goals before deciding whether a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage is right for you. You may want to talk to a financial advisor or mortgage lender to get more information and advice.
Compare and contrast the styles of Vincent Van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat
Vincent Van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat were two highly influential artists who worked in different time periods and had distinct styles. Both artists are known for their unique and distinctive approaches to art, and their works have had a lasting impact on the art world.
Van Gogh was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter who is known for his expressive use of color and brushwork. His paintings often featured bold, swirling lines and vibrant colors, and they were heavily influenced by emotion and personal experience. Some of his most famous works include “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers.”
Basquiat, on the other hand, was an American neo-expressionist painter who is known for his distinctive style that combined elements of graffiti, pop art, and abstract expressionism. His paintings often featured figures, symbols, and words, and they were often marked by a raw energy and intensity. Some of his most famous works include “Untitled” and “Hollywood Africans.”
One key difference between the styles of Van Gogh and Basquiat is the use of color. Van Gogh’s paintings are known for their bold and vibrant colors, while Basquiat’s paintings often featured a more limited color palette, with a predominance of black, white, and gray. Another difference is the subject matter of their paintings. Van Gogh’s paintings often depicted landscapes and still lifes, while Basquiat’s paintings often featured figures and symbols that were inspired by his experiences as a young, black artist in New York City. Despite these differences, both artists are known for their unique and powerful styles, and their works continue to be celebrated and studied today.
What is the best way to teach reading?
There is no one “best” way to teach reading. Different teaching methods and approaches may be more effective for some students than others. Some common strategies for teaching reading include phonics-based instruction, which focuses on teaching students the relationship between letters and sounds, and whole language instruction, which emphasizes the meaning of words and sentences. Other strategies include using reading comprehension activities, such as discussing and answering questions about a text, and providing students with a variety of reading materials that are interesting and engaging to them. Ultimately, the best way to teach reading will depend on the individual needs and abilities of the students.
Why are teachers leaving the profession?
There are many reasons why teachers may leave the profession, and the specific reasons can vary depending on the individual teacher and the context in which they work. Some common reasons why teachers may leave the profession include:
Burnout: Teaching can be a demanding and stressful profession, and many teachers may experience burnout after working in the field for a long time. Burnout can be caused by factors such as heavy workloads, lack of support, and lack of recognition for their work.
Low pay: Many teachers are paid relatively low salaries, especially when compared to other professions that require similar levels of education and experience. This can make it difficult for teachers to make ends meet and may lead them to seek higher-paying jobs in other fields.
Lack of support: Teachers often work in challenging environments, and they may not receive the support they need to be effective in their jobs. This can include inadequate resources, lack of administrative support, and inadequate professional development opportunities.
Negative attitudes towards teachers: Teachers may be subject to criticism and disrespect from students, parents, and the general public. This can create a negative working environment and may lead teachers to feel unappreciated and unsupported.
Overall, there are many factors that can contribute to teachers leaving the profession, and addressing these issues will require a combination of efforts from teachers, school districts, and policy makers.
What are some AI-proof jobs?
It is difficult to predict which jobs will be “AI-proof” in the future, as the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) are constantly evolving and new technologies are being developed. However, some jobs that are generally considered to be less susceptible to automation by AI include:
Jobs that require complex problem-solving and critical thinking skills: AI systems are generally good at performing tasks that require a high degree of repetition and precision, but they are less effective at tasks that require creativity and abstract reasoning. Jobs that require these skills, such as research, policy analysis, and strategic planning, may be less vulnerable to automation.
Jobs that require empathy and emotional intelligence: AI systems are not currently able to replicate the ability of humans to understand and respond to emotional cues and social dynamics. Jobs that require these skills, such as therapy, counseling, and social work, may be less vulnerable to automation.
Jobs that require physical presence: Some jobs require workers to be physically present in a specific location, such as to perform hands-on tasks or interact with people. Jobs that require physical presence, such as construction, healthcare, and education, may be less vulnerable to automation.
Jobs that require specialized knowledge and expertise: AI systems are not currently able to replicate the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that many workers have developed over the course of their careers
[I’ve been fairly quiet here during the pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy. I thought that I would share a little of what I’ve been doing for the past year…]
Last March about this time, Yong Zhao, Chris Dede, Punya Mishra, Curtis Bonk, Shuangye Chen, and I launched Silver Lining for Learning. The initiative was meant to highlight interesting technology-enabled learning around the world and to spark some discussions about schooling possibilities during the pandemic and afterward. Although I bowed out after Episode 32 due to other commitments, my colleagues have done an absolutely fantastic job of keeping the dialogues going.
Below is a list of the first year’s worth of episodes. You will see that Silver Lining for Learning has addressed a wide range of topics. One of the strengths of the project is its incredible global emphasis and reach. If you want to learn from and interact with other educational innovators around the world – and hear about some really interesting learning and teaching happening elsewhere – Silver Lining is a wonderful place to start. I love that numerous guest bloggers have been willing to share their experiences as well.
The site just got a new look for Year 2, and Yong, Chris, Punya, Curt, and Shuangye do an excellent job of sparking rich conversation with their inspiring guests. I am honored to have helped launch this initiative and hope that you will subscribe to the blog and join the hosts for their weekly discussions (which also are archived for later viewing).
Amidst the chaos of 2020 we lost a true leader in education in late August just as schools were trying to reopen. In the event that you might have missed it, I wanted to circle back and offer a brief tribute.
Like most of you that knew Sir Ken Robinson’s impact on education, I first learned about him through his wildly popular TED Talk in 2006. It was, of course, not the first impactful thing he said, nor the last. He was by then already declared a Knight by the Queen, so I assume the story before the TED talk was robust as a professor and leader of the arts. But, anytime something is viewed around 100 million times, it tends to define the person. So, of course, the relationship between schools and creativity, and the embedded story of a young dancer, is perhaps Sir Ken’s most defining message. If you have not watched it yet, as it is the starting place for so many others, I do of course recommend viewing.
A different message of his, less well known, has always resonated most deeply with me though. It is a metaphor he liked to use about a garden and it shows up in a few different videos that do not have a million views. Articulated more fully in his book Creative Schools (chapter 2), this is a short clip of the essence of it (start at 1:30 where he speaks of changing metaphors … at around 6:00 he begins on the distinction with industrial agriculture):
Contained in this message is something that strikes at the essence of our outdated approach to learning systems. As America, Britain, and others grew and industrialized, we adopted elements of that mentality for our schools as well. While the factory model of school narrative is certainly overused and a bit misplaced (particularly by reformers and salesmen) the transition to large-scale institutions of learning certainly shared notions of efficiency tied up with our conception of mechanization, standardization, and competition. As Sir Ken says in the video above, perhaps the better comparison is not the factory as much as it is the monoculture-based industrial farm.
I would have loved to see Sir Ken continue to explore and develop this idea further for it is something that our generation must confront. It is remarkable what was achieved by industrialization and, specifically, industrial farming. I grew up working on an industrial farm and was convinced of its efficacy. Billions have been lifted out of subsistence poverty and the American grocery store became the envy of the world. But, these industrial achievements came at a heavy cost. We burned oil and coal to power our machines and changed our climate. We cleared the forests endangering countless species. Our topsoil has suffered and now must be supplemented by lab-created chemicals. With pesticides and herbicides we poisoned our waters. We medicated our domestic animals and produced lower cost, but lower quality, meats that have been shown to have adverse health effects on the humans that consume them. I’ve personally been recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer and I can’t help but wonder what might have contributed. Sir Ken died of cancer as well. I wonder whether he might have asked similar questions.
In a comparable way, in America, our industrial schools have achieved much but at a high price. We have achieved near-universal basic literacy. Nearly nine out of ten students graduate high school. Yet, according to Gallup polling of students, more high school students are actively disengaged in school than are engaged. Our schools have shown a nearly complete inability to close achievement gaps or serve as a tool of desegregation. And, research has shown economic mobility, achieving higher standards of living than your parents, has declined as inequality in America continues to grow. This year, 2020, has shown with stark clarity the implications of these failures. Our society is dangerously scientifically illiterate. Racism continues to bring out America’s worst inclinations. A majority of us are economically vulnerable. And, perhaps most concerningly, we seem unable to share a common social purpose or work across differences to make any substantial progress. Like our farms, the dominant ideologies of our schools are good at many things but increasingly feel antiquated and ill-equipped to help us solve our modern challenges.
In this way, Sir Ken Robinson was a critical voice that, in his humorous but insightful way, brought forward the loss of the full complexity of humanity we have sacrificed for standardization. He considered our approach to be Out of our Minds, in that we only sought to develop some of the potential each mind has to offer. His passion and stories around dance and the arts were just one of those sacrifices that, upon reflection, a listener can’t help but regret. With a chuckle, Sir Ken was able to cut through the dominant narratives of education and insert a new notion that we might be capable of schools in which all children can flourish. Schools in which each child can find their Element.
He offered a different mental model through a new metaphor. “Human flourishing is not a mechanical process, it is an organic process.” A teacher’s role then is to prepare the soil, nurture it, and then let natural processes innate in each learner grow. In well prepared soil with the right conditions life of all forms flourishes. Our attempts to craft the standard educational system has worked very well for a few, but left many others for whom “the standard” was not a good fit to wither. In this sense our schools, our farms, and our society must be more organic.
For me, and I think a great many others, Sir Ken pollinated a shift in paradigm. For the millions who watched his videos, read his books, or listened to speeches, he prepared the soil and created the conditions for us to grow our own new notions of how we might help learning flourish. The task of growing the complex, organic ecosystems in which all children might flourish then is left to us. Happily, Sir Ken, and many others, have helped to pollinate these ideas so widely that a global effort to grow these more organic models of school has inspired models of Creative Schools to bloom all across the planet.
Sir Ken Robinson had a unique and irreplaceable ability to reach an audience and to open minds. His legacy is a challenge for us to be creative ourselves to empower students to engage the full range of their natural instincts to learn.
Thank you, Sir Ken, for opening my mind and engaging my own natural instinct to learn, grow, and find a better way. We have lost many precious things in 2020 and we will dearly miss your presence, wit, and insights. But, you have left us a powerful metaphor from which to find our way to a better place.
As coronavirus cases continue to increase across the country, numerous school districts are reluctantly announcing that they will be doing ‘remote learning’ again this fall. Although we had the summer to prepare for this eventuality, unfortunately we have instead seen a lot of magical thinking from educational leaders and policy makers.
We are seeing a wide variety of school schedules being proposed for the fall, even in locations that are leading the world in infection rates. Many of them center learning in person at school as the main modality, with accommodations perhaps being made for students, families, and educators who are rightfully concerned about becoming infected with a deadly virus.
Many of the schools that are still planning to be face-to-face this fall will have to switch over in the next couple of weeks. It’s also likely that a surge of cases in their area will shut them back down again soon after opening. Even those that are planning to start in person – either entirely or with a staggered schedule – realize that many families are going to keep their children at home. And schools may have to dip in and out of in person, online, and hybrid modalities throughout the year, depending on what happens with the coronavirus.
This is what I have been recommending to the schools and educators that I am working with this summer:
Design for online this fall. Even if you’re lucky enough to have students in person in your classrooms at some point, use that precious time to work on technology skills, social-emotional resilience, building students’ capacity to be self-directed learners, creating classroom community, etc. Given that you have some of your students learning remotely anyway, design for online instead of asking teachers to do double work for both in school and at home. Even the kids that are sitting in front of you in class should do their learning work online – the same learning work that the kids at home are doing. It’s incredibly likely that you’re going to have to be wholly remote at some point this school year anyway. Designing for online as your primary modality allows you maximum flexibility and a more seamless transition when you almost inevitably have to shift over to remote instruction. It also protects your staff from burnout, and most communities will support you.
I don’t see any other reasonable way to do school this fall. Anything else seems like magical thinking. Magical thinking that our schools and communities will be free of the virus despite inadequate safety protections. Magical thinking that students and parents will engage in appropriate mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing precautions. Magical thinking that teachers can operate simultaneously in face-to-face, online, hybrid, and/or hyflex modalities all year, even with scant training on how to do so. Magical thinking that the decisions that we make this summer about in-person instruction are going to somehow hold for an entire school year. And so on…
Students and families are going to pay the price if they are in school systems that haven’t invested heavily this summer in professional learning for teachers to teach effectively online. Students and families are going to pay the price if they are in school systems that haven’t figured out how to remedy device and Internet bandwidth inequities. Students and families are going to pay the price if they are in school systems that continue to prepare primarily for in person learning and have neglected online learning.
I also think it’s worth considering what we are fighting for this fall. Are we fighting for compelling visions of learning and teaching in person, or just child care so that people can get back to work?
Our families gave us grace in the spring when we did remote learning because it was an ‘emergency.’ If we squandered the summer by engaging in magical thinking about returning in person this fall instead of making the organizational investments that we needed to make, they’re not going to give us the same grace again. And they’ll be right. We had our chance this summer to get better at online learning. And many school systems didn’t do nearly enough.
Is your school system ready to ‘design for online’ this fall and do it well?
Since it’s now 2020, I thought it would be fun to revisit Karl Fisch’s video from 2006, titled 2020 Vision. In that video, Karl imagines he is the commencement speaker for the Arapahoe High School (AHS) Class of 2020, reflecting back on the past 13 years of schooling for that cohort.
AHS launches a 21st century learning initiative that is focused on preparing learners, workers, and successful contributors to the global community.
Google buys Logitech and a whole host of media companies and university lectures. AHS eventually buys a ceiling-mounted ‘GCam’ for every classroom, which captures video, sound (through an area microphone), and screen capture into unified ‘GCasts’ that can be uploaded to the AHS Learning Management System, which also contains RSS feeds, blogs, and Google Docs-like environments for every course.
AHS launches its ‘Warrior Portal,’ which eliminates grades and transcripts, allows for more-personalized learning pathways, and creates academic/work portfolios for every student.
AHS students each have their own laptop and routinely engage in tele-learning with 10 sister schools all around the world.
Google buys Ford, Apple, and AMD, allowing it to make breakthroughs in solar energy, battery technology, and quantum computing. ‘Google Panels’ replace 2/3 of worldwide energy production. ‘GCars’ travel 1,200 miles on a single charge and are essentially free transportation for homes with Google shingles or roof panels. The GCars also are WiFi access points, creating massive nationwide mesh networks. Google makes the first quantum laptops available for an inexpensive subscription to ‘Google Premium,’ which allows free learning (and shopping) for every laptop owner.
AHS and Arapahoe Community College merge to become Arapahoe Community School (ACS), a partnership that results in every student graduating with a minimum of 2 years of college credit.
‘Google U’ launches, incorporating elements of Google Premium, GCasts, university/library materials, Internet resources, and classroom tools, allowing ACS to dump its own courses and create true individualized pathways for students that allow them to both master essential learnings (competency-based education) and engage in passion-based learning projects.
By 2020, Google has created an eyeMAGINE computer that projects a 56-inch screen onto users’ retinas, global energy consumption has actually decreased, and ACS has grown to over 20,000 students, all of whom are empowered to “Change the World” (which has been the AHS / ACS motto throughout).
It was fascinating to see some of Karl’s projections from 2006. Today we see a number of dual enrollment programs, for example, and secondary students in P-Tech programs, the Bard Early Colleges, and other initiatives are graduating with college credits. We also have seen some progress related to retinal projection systems, electric cars, solar energy, battery technologies, quantum computing, and other fronts. Many states and school systems are implementing competency-based education (CBE) frameworks and project- / inquiry-based learning initiatives, and 1:1 computing is increasingly prevalent in our elementary and secondary schools.
on Wednesday, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a prominent lab in Seattle, unveiled a new system that passed the test with room to spare. It correctly answered more than 90 percent of the questions on an eighth-grade science test and more than 80 percent on a 12th-grade exam.
Not only could the software answer recall questions, it also could solve basic logic and inference problems.
Do students still need to know some stuff? Absolutely. Do students need to know the vast amounts of easily-findable minutiae and trivia that we pretend is important and try to shove into them each school year? No way.
The machines are getting better at mental tasks we previously thought could only be done by humans. When will we start asking better questions? When and how will we adapt our teaching and schooling?
What takes this little game from merely silly to obnoxious is the following rule: You must attribute unflattering adjectives to cohorts younger than your own – even though yours was on the receiving end of similar disparagements not so long ago. Thus, those who came of age in the sixties were written off as longhaired, unamerican, potsmoking relativists with a deficient work ethic. At some point, though, they took the advice of disapproving passersby (“Get a job!”) and eventually decided that those younger than they – Generation X – were all slackers, unwilling to commit and unable to plan for the future.
Now those two groups finally have made common cause . . . to denigrate Millennials. Essentially everyone over the age of about forty has decided that today’s adolescents and young adults have been coddled and indulged by their parents with the result that they – how shall we put it? – have a deficient work ethic and are unable to commit or plan for the future. These entitled little pissants were overcelebrated as children, given easy As and trophies “just for showing up,” and are now unable to hack it in the Real World.
The absence of historical perspective here is frankly astonishing. Rarely do older folks pause and say, “Wait a second. If these snide truisms about young people that I’m confidently repeating aren’t all that different from what our elders said about us, might that be reason to question their validity?”
Are young adults in the workplace more fragile and demanding than new hires of yesteryear? Here’s Google’s director of human resources:
Every single generation enters the work force and feels like they’re a unique generation, and the generation that’s one or two ahead of them looks back and says, ‘Who are these weird, strange kids coming into the work force with their attitudes of entitlement and not wanting to fit in?’ It’s a cycle that’s been repeated every 10 to 15 years for the last 50 years…. If you look at what their underlying needs and aspirations are, there’s no difference at all between this new generation of workers and my generation and my father’s generation…. We [all] want to be treated with respect, we want to have a sense of meaning and agency and impact, and we want our boss to just leave us alone so we can get our work done.
We spent the last 200+ years (at least) pushing consumption models of learning on most of our students. We asked them to be passive recipients of whatever information came from the teacher or textbook. We gave them few opportunities to question the reliability or validity of the information that we spoon-fed them. We trusted that someone else did the filtering for us and them beforehand. And in many cases, we actually punished kids who dared to ask questions or present alternative viewpoints.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that we now have an information / media literacy problem with our adults. We shouldn’t be surprised that most of our citizens have trouble determining the validity and reliability of digital and online information sources. We shouldn’t be surprised that we are easy prey for those who spread misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
It’s going to get even worse as new tools for creating and spreading falsehoods proliferate. We should be more alarmed that we’re not doing more about this issue in our elementary and secondary classrooms. But we don’t seem to be. Not yet, not in most school systems. A few token ‘digital citizenship’ lessons from a teacher or librarian and we seem to think we’ve addressed this concern. A few conversations that in no way prepare students for this:
I had the privilege of participating in a conversation today at my university about how (and whether) the digital work done by faculty should count for promotion and tenure. (I also had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes; here are my slides). Here are four thoughts that are spinning around in my brain after a couple of hours of discussion…
Second, why is it that the faculty who ARE trying to be relevant in our new information landscape are the ones that always have to justify their work to those who are less responsive? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Which side should carry the burden of persuasion regarding relevance and quality?
Third, no one owes us anything, no matter how good the work is that we do. We have to prove ourselves every day. Just because we did good work a decade ago doesn’t mean that we are doing so now. Just because we believe that our work is valuable doesn’t mean that others do – or should. As Seth Godin says, “If [our] target audience isn’t listening, it’s [our] fault, not theirs.” Make the case. Be engaged. Help others see the meaning and value in what we do. All the time. (These digital tools can help…)
Jamieson and Cappella’s book is the first empirical study into how echo chambers function. In their analysis, echo chambers work by systematically alienating their members from all outside epistemic sources. Their research centres on Rush Limbaugh, a wildly successful conservative firebrand in the United States, along with Fox News and related media. Limbaugh uses methods to actively transfigure whom his listeners trust. His constant attacks on the ‘mainstream media’ are attempts to discredit all other sources of knowledge. He systematically undermines the integrity of anybody who expresses any kind of contrary view. And outsiders are not simply mistaken – they are malicious, manipulative and actively working to destroy Limbaugh and his followers. The resulting worldview is one of deeply opposed force, an all-or-nothing war between good and evil. Anybody who isn’t a fellow Limbaugh follower is clearly opposed to the side of right, and therefore utterly untrustworthy.
The result is a rather striking parallel to the techniques of emotional isolation typically practised in cult indoctrination. According to mental-health specialists in cult recovery, including Margaret Singer, Michael Langone and Robert Lifton, cult indoctrination involves new cult members being brought to distrust all non-cult members. This provides a social buffer against any attempts to extract the indoctrinated person from the cult.
The echo chamber doesn’t need any bad connectivity to function. Limbaugh’s followers have full access to outside sources of information. According to Jamieson and Cappella’s data, Limbaugh’s followers regularly read – but do not accept – mainstream and liberal news sources. They are isolated, not by selective exposure, but by changes in who they accept as authorities, experts and trusted sources. They hear, but dismiss, outside voices. Their worldview can survive exposure to those outside voices because their belief system has prepared them for such intellectual onslaught.
In fact, exposure to contrary views could actually reinforce their views. Limbaugh might offer his followers a conspiracy theory: anybody who criticises him is doing it at the behest of a secret cabal of evil elites, which has already seized control of the mainstream media. His followers are now protected against simple exposure to contrary evidence. In fact, the more they find that the mainstream media calls out Limbaugh for inaccuracy, the more Limbaugh’s predictions will be confirmed. Perversely, exposure to outsiders with contrary views can thus increase echo-chamber members’ confidence in their insider sources, and hence their attachment to their worldview. The philosopher Endre Begby calls this effect ‘evidential pre-emption’. What’s happening is a kind of intellectual judo, in which the power and enthusiasm of contrary voices are turned against those contrary voices through a carefully rigged internal structure of belief.
Read the whole thing and recognize that this pertains to numerous online communities, not just those on the political right. The psychology of all of this is pretty concerning. And for those of us who are searching for solutions, the one offered – to completely reboot your social circle – is incredibly unlikely for most people. No easy answers here, but plenty of room for concern…