Rick Vander Kam

Team builder and educator
San Juan Capistrano, CA, United States

About Rick

Comments & conversations

16061
Rick Vander Kam
Posted almost 3 years ago
Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life
What if we think about consciousness as the capacity to perceive structures, patterns and processes so as to predict a given outcome given the properties of the substances involved? Furthermore, lets imagine a group of us can measure these structures, observe patterns and processes and make predictions about outcomes. Then, as a group, we create tests for our predictions. Together we create a body of knowledge about the world outside our individual perceptions so as to create complex systems capable of landing probes on asteroids so as to analyze the properties of the substances we find there. Proto-cells won't ever do this, nor will mushrooms, but human beings can and do. Whatever we call our capacity to conduct science and build systems of knowledge - consciousness seems as good a term as any - that capacity is can be consistently demonstrated as a real phenomena. It is an indirect measure to be sure, but still a measure of something there outside the limits of our individual perceptions. The capacity to chemically react is not the same kind of thing as will or intent or consciousness. Isn't all this obvious?
16061
Rick Vander Kam
Posted about 3 years ago
Is the generation in education getting less intelligent than the ones before them or smarter?
Education in the United States does seem to be in peril in many places., but not all. Where it is in fact falling apart, it is doing for so due to a montage of contributing factors. A partial list might include: 1. a consumerist mentality we have successfully imparted to them that they now carry into their education. For the seniors I have informally interviewed, this means to get the highest grade for the least amount of work. The kids I talk to are bright enough, but they are convinced that much of what happens in a classroom is irrelevant to them as a basis of knowledge. The grade is a stepping stone toward high hopes of a high salary job. Much more should be said here. Many studies have documented the impact of screen media on emotions, modes of cognition and the like. I believe we need to look at how the overwhelming amount of information and information exchange is influencing maturation processes. I suspect a kid's development, including brain materation, becomes regressed or at least held in check due to the hyper-exchange of virtual screen environments. As a country and a culture, we may be getting from this generation exactly what we sell for.
16061
Rick Vander Kam
Posted about 3 years ago
Can you give me one idea that would help to save public education?
Educating people is a multi-dimensional endeavor and not surpising the roadblocks to providing our children with a relevant, education that develops them for the challenges of our era are also multidimensional. We must consider or perhaps reconsider the following relevant factors: social/media environment that trains our kids to be consumers rather than builders. I taught middle school for ten years and I found kids of all capacities and socio-economic standing will respond to a classroom that is fair, creative and relevant. Fair in that a teacher can lead them to edges of their abilities if kids are graded on process more than outcomes. Creative in that a teacher weaves together multiple learning strategies that address the growing person where their current abilities lie plus access to their next level where their abilities are only beginning to develop. And this toward learning outcomes that fit the true developmental level of the developing person. Relevant in that a teacher can always answer the question "why is this important?" However, all this rests on a more fundemental question: what is the human being for? a complex question to be sure. Now, what practical structual changes do we make to save public education? The structure of public education must conform to the processes necessary to realize a fair, creative and relevant education. This requires establishing several capacities in public schools: teachers must be philosophically oriented. That is they must engage in and foster good thinking habits. Teachers must be astute compassionate leaders of developing people. Teachers must have a proper number of students enrolled in smaller schools and be accountable as professionals for choosing and implementing learning and assessment protocols appropriate for each of their student cadres. I belive the transition to this kind of educational environment can only happen through charter schools run by informed, caring professionals; not by most school districts.
16061
Rick Vander Kam
Posted over 5 years ago
Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education
I have eight years teaching experience in public and private schools grades 7th through 9th. To do it right requires constant mindfulness and long hours of grading: 37 kids per classroom x 5 classes x the number of pages of assigned writing per week. And that's just the writing component. That is the numbers game of our current system of public education. Today, since technology has placed unprecedented power in the hands of the young, schools and families and other community socializing influences face an unprecedented challenge: we must teach ever younger and ever more distracted children the ethical and moral use of their power to entertain themselves. This is in addition to teaching computational skills, scientific content/process and reading and writing and cultural competency. We are to do this while all of us are responding to massive changes in world climate, economies and societies. It can be done and must be done. Pandora%u2019s box is open and there is no return to simpler times. But it requires education systems that are not systems, but are relationships. Teachers must have real relationships with their students%u2019 developmental processes, their ideas and their individuality. Children and teens must be able to be known for their contributions to their learning communities. Teachers must be brilliant, renaissance individuals who have deep love for their students and our collective futures. This requires investment of substantial resources in thought, time and money, and more importantly, a radical redefinition of what as a culture we believe to be good education. Mr. Gates, If you intend teachers who are beat up by the current dysfunction of the system to lead this, witness the high turn over rate you mentioned, then you have no rational basis for optimism. And we haven't even touched on school and district administrations trained to follow directives from the top, rather than lead creatively.