Ernst Schneider

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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
Why is it OK for corporations to outsource work to countries that violate the corporation's home country labor laws?
This situation can be changed but it will take collective and intelligent action. Gandhi, for instance, knew that people couldn't just peacefully protest every action of the British because for some situations the British would lose too much face if they backed down. A fact about education, for example, is that you don't need technology at all for children to learn all they need to--really, a house full of good books and supportive parents is all that is necessary. There are many ways around Big Brother, but enough people have to act to make a difference. Big Brother has trained people to WANT so many things they don't NEED; the more people who know this and act upon it, the more things will change.
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
To what extent can an idea be unique?
I think I see where you are going with this. From my perspective, humans are not capable of making things up--or as you might put it, they aren't capable of an original thought. That's why I believe that there has to be some truth to things like Bigfoot, UFOs, the Lockness Monster, etc. That said, I also think that those who appear to have original thoughts are the great artist down through history. Who could explain where Beethoven's music came from or what possessed Vincent Van Gogh to create such amazing images? We don't know where Shakespeare got his genius, but one thing that is true, even for people like Einstein, is that somehow we are able to 'connect' with what they know. What we call genius is only called that because these works strike so many of us at a very deep level. I think these 'ideas' are very special to us because they come close to mirroring the workings of the human mind. Another way to look at it is that when anyone is very very good at doing something they don't have to think about it, it is a pure mind-body connection. If we can achieve, even for a few moments in our life a perfect connection b/t mind and body that is worth a life time of effort. I used to do this as a long distance runner, and if I could have written a perfect poem about how I felt when performing at my best, it would have moved humanity to tears. That said, I do think we have to have unique thoughts ever so often; if we didn't we would progress as a species. This is like punctuated equilibrium in evolutionary biology--scientist don't really know how a species can evolve to meet environmental pressure so quickly and so precisely, but it nevertheless happens. Just the same, I think our minds slowly evolve and due to unknown forces think in truly new ways when it's necessary. I am not sure that 'uniqueness' of thought is as important as continuing to recombine concepts in new ways and to think more clearly about everything. Take care, Prof. Schneider
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
The colonization of Mars vs. solving the problems at home
From my perspective, we have to first make sure everyone on earth has the things that thinkers like Maslow emphasized as being essential for the basic health and welfare of human beings. These are things like consistent access to nutritious food, clean water, warmth, human companionship, safety, etc. Far too many people do not have those things & this is wrong, especially considering that such things would not be expensive or difficult to provide. Next we'd need to make sure that everyone has access to comprehensive and engaging education, and remove any / all barriers to learning (socio-economic, physical, physiological, emotional, etc.). Far too many young people, even in developed countries, don't have what you clearly have had in your life--parents interested in education and a supportive educational atmosphere. Far too many kids grow up in the world's inner city areas and can only see a life of drugs and gangs in their futures. 25 million US school-age children can't read, as is true for 1 in 5 American adults. Reading ability predicts future success more than any other skill, dooming these people to poverty. I grew up looking at the stars (& Playboy), built a star drive for my telescope, and dreamed of being an astronaut. My father was interested in everything and provided me with all the opportunity I needed to be able to learn & grow. My point is basically that before we spend a trillion dollars to send a favored few to Mars, we should first make it possible for ALL children and adults to be able to dream like you and I have. Even though I was glued to the TV set during the Apollo Moon Landings and Shuttle Missions, there were millions of people on earth who were much more worried about their next meal than watching a few very privileged people do things that did not change their reality at all. We can have a world of 'enough' for everyone, but first we must care enough to act responsibly--so one day everyone can dream... Take care, Prof. Schneider
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
Why is it OK for corporations to outsource work to countries that violate the corporation's home country labor laws?
Jah, it's not that I disagree w/ you, but what you are essentially trying to do is take trillions of dollars out of the pockets of big corporations, who essentially have bought the governments of the world. The only way to improve the situation is to do two basic things: a) buy less of the products / services that these industries sell, which means changing the way we educate young people to think about things like Nike shoes, texting, and Big Macs; and b) fight fire w/ fire by creating industries that sell better products that are meant to last longer, like Apple vs. PC laptops. Apple products are more expensive, but they last longer and are mostly not the target of viruses. I've asked techies why hackers don't attack Apple w/ viruses, who say 'people LIKE Apple....' Another thing you are fighting is a world-wide campaign against access to good education for ALL. If governments were to invest in addressing any / all learning barriers K to 6, along w/ rigorous & engaging education then everyone would be able think for, take care of, & respect themselves. I work in the Mid. East, where many citizens are not educated enough to know that constantly eating Fast Food is not healthy, & where 70% of citizens are overweight (many of whom suffer from medical problems). We could produce healthier foods for everyone, but the profit margin would be lower....not going to happen... Acquiring knowledge & critical thinking skills, and valuing hard work & citizenship are the keys to our future but BIG MONEY & POWER are fighting against this--they want young people to learn to become dependent on mostly unnecessary products and 'services', and simply be too dull to question this system. We must learn to fight this by being smarter than those who think we are too stupid to understand what is going on--not that hard, but it means a life style change. I teach my college students HOW to think not WHAT.. Keep thinking, questioning, learning, and getting smart. Prof. Schneider
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
Why is art (or artistically creative fields) often not taken seriously?
Well, if I am ever lucky enough to have kids I will encourage them to find things they are passionate about because such exploration is how you eventually find the one or two things you are meant to do. At the same time I think every child also has be taught common sense. That is, just wanting to be 'creative' is not enough in many instances to support a decent life. Strictly speaking, to be creative is to do something that you have never done before, but that is generally very different than being seen as 'creative enough' by other people that you can get a job. You pointed out that 'maybe this is due to financial pressures'--there is no 'maybe' about it, parents can see this reality much better than young people. When I was young you could afford to mess around and get a History or Anthropology degree just because you were interested in it, but now that's not true and parents know it. So, I think all children should be encouraged to be creative and follow their passions, but unless they are a prodigy in music or art, etc., they need to also get training that will allow them to create a stable future. I do, however, think the emphasis on following a strict set of steps to be a 'success' has to change. The fact is that we have allowed the world to change into a place where money and things are more important than being happy. That was the beauty of growing up in the 60s; no one had much but lots of people were reasonably happy--and isn't that the point of life? When I was young, lots of working adults had time to pursue things they were interested in. More professionals in that era valued spending time with their families more than killing themselves at work just to 'get ahead'. Only one income was necessary to successfully raise a family. Now, not even two incomes is enough in many instances to have a reasonable family life, in part because costs continue to skyrocket. We have to change our values so that happiness is more important than 'consuming'.
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
What are classes would you offer to today's students to help improve their education?
Thanks Robert, the fact that you care about these things means the young people around you are very lucky. When I was growing up I had a number of learning barriers to overcome, which came from my childhood and from a medical condition. It meant that I had great difficulty reading and remembering, and had very little confidence in myself. I thought that I was a fake and that people would eventually find out how stupid I really was. Meanwhile my father was extremely bright and that made things worse. Mr. Clark showed me that I had lots of potential, but that I would have to work first to discover how best I learned and then apply that to every learning situation I was in. It has been quite a journey, but worth every minute. From this lesson I learned that most students DO want to participate, but first you must get them to stop being afraid to expose their thoughts to others. My college students are free to ask me any (relevant) question, and sometimes I have to think about the answer--sometimes I actually don't know. But I have learned to say 'wonderful question, give me a minute to go to the board and figure it out' (or I'll find out & let you know--and I always do). So my students know I am not afraid to make a mistake or have to think about an answer, or even just not know--so they aren't either. Also I reward hard work and effort as being just as important as being 'clever'. I had a student this summer who certainly wasn't my best reading student and she knew it. I didn't let her lack of confidence get in the way and rewarded every single effort she made. Pretty soon she was getting the highest marks in the class and beaming with pride. She took my feedback and turned it into progress. I didn't GIVE her anything--she earned every mark w/ her hard work. I got to where I am by sheer hard work and a lot of mistakes. But, I don't want my students do feel alone as I did, so I never let them accept failure if they are willing to try... Keep exploring...
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
What are classes would you offer to today's students to help improve their education?
Thanks Robert. In fact my dissertation explored whether I could improve the problem solving capacity of 6th graders in scientific contexts that I designed, so I am very interested in how young students learn, think, etc. I was able to improve the abstract reasoning of students by teaching them to successfully manipulate models so that the outcome of the experiments changed. This knowledge was generalized to other such problem solving situations in my study. So, this led me to believe that it is the DOING of things in class with meta-learning support that most effectively helps students execute critical thinking and problem solving more effectively. Eighth to 12th graders are certainly capable of engaging in this experience, but this approach should not be looked as highly intellectual lessons for gifted students only. The key here is to get all students involved by creating an engaging classroom atmosphere. My 6th grade teacher (Mr. Clark) was a genius at this in the 5 subjects he taught us. He encouraged all of us to have ideas and got almost all students involved. If your idea was wrong, he explored it with you so you could see the flaw in your thinking--and got peers involved in the conversation. Everyone had a chance to share ideas, and this approach raised the level of the whole class (like a rising tide and all boats). So, this approach is highly flexible as to language or conceptual level, but learning is nevertheless improved for all those who are engaged. That is, IF students do their part, then they progressively become more autonomous learners--at their own pace, which is highly important. Also, 'engaging' is not the same as 'entertaining'--when engaged we sit forward in anticipation of participating, when entertained we sit back passively--far too much of the latter in US education. Important too to remember that this a bi-directional process (think about it..). All students will respond to this if respectfully motivated. :)
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
Detroit's recent file for bankruptcy: a possible look into the future of what could happen to other cities here in the U.S.
Oh yes, after Detroit other cities will follow suit and this will be a huge mistake. We have to learn fiscal responsibility in the US and the only way is to start from scratch: default and begin again. Otherwise the US tax payer will be on the hook forever and those who continue to get rich by 'never spending their own money' will just get fatter and fatter--look at the banks and investment firms we bailed out; they haven't changed their behavior one single bit and why should they, it's not their money!!!
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Ernst Schneider
Posted almost 2 years ago
Are young adults today lacking life skills that inhibit them to determine an individual life track?
You are right. As a college professor of more than 25 years of experience, I would say that American young people have been shortchanged in the last 30 years by an increasingly failing educational system--K to College. Right now our system does a poor job of teaching the facts as we know them, good critical thinking skills to deal with those facts, and a good work ethic. When I was young we got life and school lessons every day. We were basically presented with a simple equation--the harder you work, the better you will do. This still true today, but hard work is 'so last year man....', and young people grow up not ever learning what only hard work can teach you about yourself. In other words, mowing the lawn is just as important as knowing your times tables. One way to look at this goes to your point about knowing interest rates and would that have meant those who couldn't afford them not taking the loans. The answer is NO, it would not have affected the outcome significantly. Why? Because when you grow up never having faced the consequences that only hard work can show you, then you will not take the threats of bad things happening as a result of certain behaviors seriously. Simply put, hard work is a great metaphor for life. If you aren't careful and fall off the ladder painting the kitchen wall, you never forget it. Those physical experiments and 'burnt fingers' help us understand the abstract hypothetical consequences of not having enough money. But when we don't have any of those physical experiences, we are less capable of generalizing to other life events. Another way to put it is that hard work teaches us common sense, and common sense would tell you not to take money you can't pay back. Also, hard work helps us develop confidence in ourselves. No matter how smart you are, nothing teaches you how to meet the fair and unfair challenges of real life like hard work. Time to stop the fluffy nonsense in US education and get back to hard work and basics.