How Google Took Over the Classroom submitted by Nasik Elahi

The tech giant is transforming public education with low-cost laptops and free apps. But schools may be giving Google more than they are getting.

By NATASHA SINGER

CHICAGO — The sixth graders at Newton Bateman, a public elementary school here with a classic red brick facade, know the Google drill.

In a social-science class last year, the students each grabbed a Google-powered laptop. They opened Google Classroom, an app where teachers make assignments. Then they clicked on Google Docs, a writing program, and began composing essays.

Looking up from her laptop, Masuma Khan, then 11 years old, said her essay explored how schooling in ancient Athens differed from her own. “Back then, they had wooden tablets and they had to take all of their notes on it,” she said. “Nowadays, we can just do it in Google Docs.”

Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States, with about 381,000 students, is at the forefront of a profound shift in American education: the Googlification of the classroom.

Click link below for the rest of the article

The tech giant is transforming public education with low-cost laptops and free apps. But schools may be giving Google more than they are getting.

By NATASHA SINGER

CHICAGO — The sixth graders at Newton Bateman, a public elementary school here with a classic red brick facade, know the Google drill.

In a social-science class last year, the students each grabbed a Google-powered laptop. They opened Google Classroom, an app where teachers make assignments. Then they clicked on Google Docs, a writing program, and began composing essays.

Looking up from her laptop, Masuma Khan, then 11 years old, said her essay explored how schooling in ancient Athens differed from her own. “Back then, they had wooden tablets and they had to take all of their notes on it,” she said. “Nowadays, we can just do it in Google Docs.”

Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States, with about 381,000 students is at the forefront of a profound shift in American education: the Googlification of the classroom.

Click below for the rest of the article

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/google-education-chromebooks-schools.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_ct_20170518&nl=technology&nlid=49568442&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0&referer=

India: violent and caste ridden society

Shared by Dr. Syed Ehtisham

EOM: Worth reading article. How much Indian journalists are objective and critical of their environment.

In the land of Kama Sutra —–Our popular culture celebrates violence, but frowns on any expression of love. Marriage is a house-keeping, bonded-labour arrangement. The powerful cultural hegemony of the rich castes and classes has cast its spell on the rest, even the poor and the deprived, who emulate this cultural charade even more seriously. It is an India that has forgotten how to love.

==== ==== ====

Lovesick in the time of anti-Romeos

By Padmaja Shaw | The New Indian Express – 24th April 2017

Freud famously said, “In the last resort we must begin to love in order not to fall ill, and we are bound to fall ill if … we are unable to love”. Love is an essential human instinct that keeps us sane. It transcends all artificial categories of caste, class, religion, race or ethnicity.

It is evident from the increasing attacks on young people in love, whether in the name of caste, anti-Romeo squads or love jihad, that we are surrounded by a muscular but sick society that considers love a bad word—a bad emotion. It is incapable of understanding that to love is to realise one’s humanity in its truest sense.9

A loveless sick society destroys the effervescence of a Romeo’s love for his consenting Juliet. Madhukar Manthani of Telangana and V Shankar of Kumaralingam village in TN were brutally killed for being in love with a higher caste girl. Neither were stalkers. Their love was reciprocated.

Our popular culture celebrates violence, but frowns on any expression of love. This was said in the 1960s by the Khosla committee report on film censorship. Nothing much has changed since.

Love was never much of a factor in traditional marriages, primarily because of endogamy and the mandated age difference between men and women. Sex in marriage is to fulfil the duty of procreation, it should not be confused with love.

Many a time, when young brides complain to their families about the coldness of the relationship with their spouse, mothers advice them to get a baby quickly to establish their position in the family.

Of course, mostly nothing changes. The woman just gets busier, with no time to think about the vast emptiness within her soul.

This equation is also the basis of marriages where caste, community and religion are important. The bride must understand her place in family and society. No new indoctrination should be necessary. She should be “homely, well-brought up” to fit into the family from day one, and is not supposed to recognise love if it stares her in the face.

And the ability of the young bride to make food allowed and relished by the community is ensured. The bride is seamlessly integrated into the family. The age difference between men and women insisted upon in arranged marriages is to ensure that women stay fit enough to serve the men in old age.

Marriage is a house-keeping, bonded-labour arrangement. This, in essence, is the root of anxiety about youngsters finding mates of their choice, the anxiety that such independent women may not play their assigned role.

With wives fully occupied with perpetuation of the bloodline, men are free to find their pleasures elsewhere, without attracting any social opprobrium. The devadasis and joginis are an artful exploitation of unattached women with full religious approval under the noses of presiding deities.

In the orthodox mind, this thing called love is a dangerous emotion. It is associated with joy in another being that thrives outside the accepted social relations they are familiar with. So every time it sees a couple happily in love, the orthodox mind rises up in rage as whatever love they themselves experienced in their taboo world is associated with illegitimacy. The well-brought-up girl you are married to is not supposed to know anything about love. In a woman, it reflects an autonomy of spirit that can pose a threat to the male authority.

Killing our own kind for reasons other than threat to one’s very survival goes against species loyalty. But in India, we see incidents of murder and violence perpetrated daily against people of a different faith or caste to “protect the honour of the family”. Humans have exploited colour, language, gods and demeanour to differentiate between groups. In this process of pseudo-speciation, we have created artificial divisions and differentiations that allow us to disrespect basic loyalty to our own species. The caste system is a despicable example of such pseudo-speciation. Humans across races, ethnicities and colour can cohabit and reproduce. Such pseudo-speciation that is socio-culturally manufactured and imposed ensures that people do not break out of the traps of exploitation and discrimination.

The young people of India are emerging out of the stranglehold of these divisions and becoming more human, by the fact that they are able to love someone transcending the social boundaries. It is also a healthy sign that the very ability to love also makes them saner and more empathetic. It allows them to see through the social and political games played by those who want to preserve old structures and orthodoxies that are designed for accumulation of wealth and ensuring the right to its enjoyment through a rigid system of succession within bloodlines. An elaborate cultural charade of family honour and purity of descent is built around it to justify this basic objective. Everyone and everything—women, children, gods, faith, rituals—are subordinate to this overarching purpose. The powerful cultural hegemony of the rich castes and classes has cast its spell on the rest, even the poor and the deprived, who emulate this cultural charade even more seriously.

This is the 21st century India that stakes its claim to global leadership. It is an India that has forgotten how to love. The “anti-Romeo squads” and the “anti-love-jihadists” are coercing the young back into their caste and community, essentially to preserve the upper class/caste hegemony. Only in such fragmented soil can divisive politics thrive. Are we tacitly approving self-righteous vigilante violence, allowing them to destroy love around us by keeping silent? Or are we silent because the vigilantes are the foot soldiers who are ensuring the perpetuation of our little empires without us getting our hands dirty? Is a dead son here and a dead daughter there a small price to pay for a superpower that has taken ill?

(The author is a retired journalism professor, Osmania University. Email: padmajashaw@gmail.com)

 

 

“Why Building Relationships may be the only Soft Skill You Need” By Zafar Khizer

There was a recent survey of millennials asking them what their most important life goals were, and over 80 percent said that a major life goal for them was to get rich. And another 50 percent of those same young adults said that their other major life goal was to become famous. But according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development by Harvard, the clearest message from the study is: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

So the ultimate goal of all soft skills we need to learn is to build good relationships, I think.

Good relationships are built by truly caring about people who put their trust in you. This is possible only if we listen with open mind and open heart, have a clear awareness of ourselves, other people and the world and work by connecting to the highest future possibilities.

What we see is not the Reality

MIT Professor Peter Senge teaches us: World of relationships is a world of conflicts by its very nature. Different systems with different realities are interacting and sometimes interacting in very problematic ways. It is important to be aware of the fact that we do not perceive the world we see, we see the world we perceive and our perception is a reflection of our history. It is characteristic of a living system. Unlike a non-living device such as a camera, we create our own reality. Men see the world differently than women. So telling someone what reality is, is like making a demand for obedience. None of us can see actual reality because we are not a recording device. And understanding “Love is an act of allowing others to be a legitimate other” by the prominent Biologist Humberto Maturana is essential to truly caring about people.

So forcing our opinion on others will be damaging to the relationship but understanding that you cannot change thinking of people but can only provide them tools to do it themselves and that you cannot control people but can only influence them, may keep the relationships healthy.

Wisdom and the Fog

Tim Urban also provides us some good ways to improve our awareness and understand the big picture that may help to build relationships and gain happiness. He says in his blog (I am paraphrasing):

The goal of human beings should be to gain wisdom. It means being aware of the truth. The truth is a combination of what we know and what we do not know. And gaining and maintaining awareness of both sides of the reality is the key to being wise. So what is in our way: The fog.

A human is the combination of the Higher Being (brilliant, big-thinking, and rational part of our brain) and the low-level animals. These animals are the remnants of our animal past and still a prominent part of our brains, creating a zoo of small-minded emotions and motivations (such as fear, pettiness, jealousy, greed, instant gratification, etc. and the fog) in our heads.

The battle of the Higher Being against the animals—of trying to see through the fog to clarity—is the core internal human struggle.

The most glaring example is the way the fog convinces us, time after time, that certain things will make us happy that in reality absolutely don’t. The only real way to improve happiness in a lasting way is to make progress in the battle against the fog.

So if it were not because of the fog, is there any point for developing a reputation for being cheap, a liar, selfish, greedy, dishonest, or rigid or someone with a bad attitude or bad work ethics?

Being aware of our biases, shortcomings or weaknesses and continuously trying to overcome them is a major struggle for all of us. A major key to achieving this is to develop our listening skills.

Four Levels of Listening

According to MIT Professor Otto Scharmer, there are four levels of listening:

i- Listening from Habit: You listen only to what you already know. You reconfirm your opinions and judgments.

ii- Factual Listening: Listening with an open mind. Listening to what contradicts your own opinions and judgments.

iii- Empathic Listening: Listening with an open heart. Listening with feelings and seeing the situation from eyes of another. Listening with an emotional connection with another.

iv- Generative Listening: Listening with connection to emerging future possibilities. Noticing arrival of your highest future possibilities.

We cannot improve our awareness unless we really listen with an open mind and open heart. Not listening with an open mind and open heart is one of the major causes of conflict or troubles in the world.

A study conducted by Harvard University noted that 80% of achievements in career are determined by soft skills and only 20% by hard skills.

Here it’s worth it to remind ourselves of the famous quote of Aristotle: “What is essence of life? To serve others and do good.”

Whether it is for career success, happiness or a good life, it makes all the sense to let go of short term benefits or instant-gratification and keep improving ourselves to build good relationships.

Top ten soft skill attributes for business executives

Following is a list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University.

  1. Communication – oral, speaking capability, written, presenting, listening.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, graciousness, saying please and thank you, being respectful.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willingness to change, lifelong learner, accepting new things, adjusting, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, having high morals and personal values, doing what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – being nice, personable, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, patient, sociable, having self-control, sense of humor, warmth, social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
  7. Professionalism – business-like, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, takes initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/religion-for-the-nonreligious.html

Professor Otto Scharmer Presentation on Youtube.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robots Taking Human’s Jobs Should Be Taxed Like Humans, Bill Gates Suggests

( Interesting article by Paul Ratner in Big Idea)

The prospect of automation taking away human jobs is both alarming and an opportunity to reorient our civilization to new objectives. The worrying part is that a sizable number of jobs, both blue and white collar, might be gone soon – a number that some estimates put as high as 47% during the next 25 years.

How will we adjust to this transformation? How will the people without jobs survive? Some ideas, floated by people like Elon Musk, see the necessity of instituting a universal basic income. Another approach was just proposed by Bill Gates, one of the original tech superstars and prognosticators, who also happens to be the world’s richest man. In an interview with Quartz, Bill Gates explained his view that as robots will be taking human jobs, a “robot tax” will be necessary on the companies that employ them.

Gates sees this as a positive development, because the tax would fund jobs that do not receive enough focus and talent currently, including elderly care and working with kids. These types of jobs that require empathy are better left to the humans. The government would run such programs. Gates thinks business cannot be left to manage this because growing “inequity” due to automation can only be addressed via the government.

Here’s how Gates says that as a working human is taxed, so should the robot replacing the human –

“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” explains Gates.

He thinks it an overall positive that automation will replace much of human labor, as it will free those people to do something else. What is necessary is training and education. 

“So if you can take the labor that used to do the thing automation replaces, and financially and training-wise and fulfillment-wise have that person go off and do these other things, then you’re net ahead. But you can’t just give up that income tax, because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers,” points out Gates.

Gates proposes that the time has come to start talking about these questions. Many jobs in retail, warehouse work, driving, service industry and others should be gone in the next 20 years. And, according to Gates, maybe we should also think about slowing down the pace of automation until we have a good plan going forward.

How would taxing automation work exactly? Gates sees it as a tax on profits from increased efficiency or a tax on robot companies.

“Some of it can come on the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come directly in some type of robot tax. I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax. It’s OK,” says Gates.

Overall, Gates stays enthusiastic about the future. But automation is a topic that demands immediate and continual attention. Not because we should be afraid of innovation, but because it’s a challenge we worked to create and need to meet.

“People should be figuring it out. It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm. That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do,” continues Gates.

To him, taxation is a better approach to innovation than stifling it. 

http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/bill-gates-proposes-that-if-a-robot-takes-a-human-job-it-should-pay-taxes?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2696a8fe1e-DailyNewsletter_021817&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_625217e121-2696a8fe1e-41548293

posted by f.sheikh