Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

Ways to Connect

From technology and test scores to Common Core, curriculums and teaching techniques are changing all over the country. And a lot of different sources are weighing in on what those changes should look like. But are the students getting enough input in the process…and should they?

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the question of student voice in the education system.

We’ll also meet a young man from the UK who says he’s addicted to selfies. And we’ll spend an academic minute with onomatopoeia.

Is solving a university level math problem your idea of fun? Then have I got a book for you. A professor from Oxford University in the UK has complied over 100 of these problems for people who love a good math puzzle.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a look at Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems.

We’ll also listen in on a public session on Common Core in Northern New York State, and spend an academic minute building a better bridge.

Cornell University via Facebook

There’s a group at Cornell University called the Cornell Alliance for Science, and they are holding a special event this month featuring global leaders talking about food insecurity and the challenges of farmers in countries around the world. But one of the major topics has some people in the US questioning the efforts. The topic: Genetically Modified Organisms.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear the pros and cons of GMOs in the developing world.

GED Testing Service

A group of major employers in the US have gotten together to provide their employees with a free path to further their education. And we’re not talking about technical education or masters degrees.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn about GED Works…and new program to help employees finally get their GED..

We’ll also hear how many school districts in New York State are looking to opt out of new teacher evaluation standards, find out about enriching the education of young people in paradise…and spend an academic minute studying the sturdiest part of a turtle.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults on college campuses are not unusual. This year, a new law took effect hoping to make students safer. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear if the Campus Save Act is making a difference in a state with a high assault rate.

We’ll also travel to Portugal and hear how art is helping students build self-esteem, find out how teachers can avoid cyber traps waiting for them on line, and spend an academic minute figuring out just how Mexican your favorite Mexican restaurant is.

Anyone who enjoys trivia probably knows that Humphry Bogart never actually says “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca, and Captain Kirk never says “Beam me up, Scotty” in Star Trek. But what about these quotes: Cleanliness is next to godliness. God works in mysterious ways. For years many people have assumed these came from the bible. Spoiler alert – they don’t. Or at least they didn’t.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the lost book of Hezekiah that finally gives a home to those phantom biblical ditties.

NOAO/AURA/NSF

A while back we had a great discussion about cosmic voids…and how they are everywhere and take up a huge amount of space in the universe. One thing we heard about that day was Dark Energy. Now, scientists from around the country are launching a new project that hopes to expand our understanding just what the heck that is!

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to one of the researchers chosen to participate in the DESI Project.

We’ll also keep it dark by spending an academic minute learning a little more about Dark Matter.

What do you think about when you hear the name Jack London? Probably American heroes and adventure stories. But the author was also a social advocate who championed the poor and railed against income inequality. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from the author of a new book on Jack London as an adventurer and social warrior.

We’ll also spend an academic minute looking at the influence of violent video games.

So, if you were with us last week, you heard the story of Riverview High School. The school was a pseudonym for an academically successful but racially divided school in the Midwest. Today, it’s a story of a different school…Mission High, a real school in the San Francisco Bay area that by all the metrics used to measure schools today is failing. But after spending a lot of time at the school, a reporter found out there was more to Mission High than met the eye. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from that reporter who spent four years at Mission High.

Oxford University Press

There’s a well-funded suburban high school in the Midwest that has an issue. It’s racially diverse, but once classes begin the sessions are anything but integrated…and school officials can’t figure out why. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from one of the researchers called in to explain and help solve the racial achievement gap at Riverview High.

We’ll also spend an academic minute exploring the quality of your personal boredom.

Ever drive down the road and pass one of those historical markers a lot of places erect and wonder what it's all about? You can do that a lot...and if you stopped at all of them you'd never really get anywhere. Not to worry, there's an app for that. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the people behind Next Exit History, and learn how a stop for coffee on a road trip turned into nationwide historical database.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A liberal arts education teaches students how to think. OK, I’m not really going to stop but yes, most of us have heard that little nugget more than once. The thing is over the past decade or three we’ve become more interested in the bottom line. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a discussion about the future the liberal arts, in what’s called the neoliberal age.

We’ll also hear how a group of performers are using comedy to teach about disability…and spend an academic minute with your lying liar kids.

A recent study of business school across the country shows a consistent disparity in the gender of students enrolling in these programs. To put that in plain English: it appears there are more men than women who want to be accountants. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a leading woman in the field and see if she sees the same thing happening in real life.

We’ll also hear about a class in college survival 101, find a community college that’s giving dropouts a second chance and spend an academic minute getting into shape by taking a nap.

I had a long, very enjoyable conversation with an elementary school principal last week as she was getting ready for the new school year. One topic we kept coming back to was dealing with students who have seizures in class…which is apparently a lot more common than you’d think. And it seems not all seizures are created equal.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll listen to a conversation with two doctors who specialize in Epilepsy, and see how this condition is affecting more and more lives.

We’ll also spend an academic minute getting into some heavy metal!

Nothing about sexual assault is easy…not even talking about it. But at colleges and universities across the country, that conversation is finally starting. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear how some schools are changing the rules of consent from no means no to yes means yes.

Then we’ll talk to three young women who have chosen to start a career in the military after high school…head to Afghanistan to see how refugees orphans are getting an education…and spend an academic minute with college returnees finally completing theirs.

The first time most of heard the word disobedience was probably in the classroom.

Speaking from personal experience, it was usually directed at the most interesting, or at least fun, members of the class. Obedience is an important part of classroom management for teachers, but there are times when disobedience can not only be helpful…it’s almost mandatory.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of a new book on intelligent disobedience.

Looks like summer’s in the home stretch and soon the Friday and Saturday night lights will be fired up all over the country and another football season will be underway. Student athletes of all ages from Pee Wee to Division One will be doing their best to be their best on the field. But for athletes of any age or experience level, that sometimes means taking performance enhancing drugs.

Rosewell Park Cancer Institute

If you have an important topic to teach a particular audience…it helps to not only know your audience, but to also know how to talk to them.

This culturally tailored educational approach is being used around the country to bring important information about health to a racially diverse population. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the director of one of these programs in western New York State, which just received two major grants to continue their work.

What happens when you put regular people together with inmates in a prison? Sometimes you get the situation we had this summer in Northern New York when two inmates escaped from the prison in Dannemora with the alleged help of civilian staff members. But there are prisoners in northern New York who are enjoying a much more fulfilling interaction with people from the outside. Dr. Bob Cowser is a professor of English at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

If you go by the raw numbers, it looks like children of minority families are more likely to end up in special education programs. But if we’ve learned anything over the years it’s that number don’t nearly tell the whole story. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the co-author of a new study on minorities and special ed and learn why most preconceived notions are probably really wrong.

We’ll also spend some time yawning at an academic minute…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If someone tells you they are a science teacher…think about it, that really doesn’t narrow it down a whole lot. Earth science, chemistry, biology, astronomy, physics…these are all taught by science teachers. But it takes a special person to teach ocean science when there isn’t an ocean for hundreds of miles.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear the story of an ocean science teacher in a land locked state.

University of West Florida

After four long years of study and late nights and brutal exams, graduation! Freedom! Sleep! OK, enough of that…time to go get a job. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an economist about the prospects this year’s graduates have in the current job market.

We’ll also look at one of the most open areas of the job market…the medical field, and find out how it’s coping with increased demand for doctors. And we’ll spend an academic minute with a necessary evil of the job search: networking…or is it schmoozing?

Recently there has been increased talk about the importance of teaching citizenship in schools.

We’ve had a conversation or two about it right here. But can citizenship education survive in an atmosphere of standardized testing and common core homogenization? Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a professor of democracy and education about teaching students to be good citizens in a democratic society.

We’ll also spend an academic minute celebrating the birthday of one of the building blocks of democratic society.

William L. Clements Library / University of Michigan

A history class at the University of Michigan recently had the chance to study two unique aspects of American life just before and after the end of the 19th century: African American life in the Albany area after the end of slavery…and the photograph. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to Dr. Martha Jones, the history professor whose class studied the photo albums of Arabella Chapman…and preserved them on line for all to see.

We all have a picture in our head about what the perfect learning environment looks and sounds like. Secluded, comfortable, quiet.

Yeah, that’s pretty much all wrong. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of the book How We Learn…and learn how most of us get it all wrong.

We’ll also head to LA and hear how the schools are helping low income students get three solids a day.

Anyone paying attention to the news of the day can see there are calls to limit the right of free speech in the US for various reason ranging from national security to racial unrest. You might think these calls are unprecedented. You’d be wrong. In the very early days of our republic, back in 1798, there were calls to make criticizing the government a crime.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’re going to return to history class and discuss those early calls for restricting free speech in the US

There are interesting stories about Common Core and standardized testing all over the country, but if you want real entertainment, you have to look closely at Florida. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear how developing education standards and valid evaluations has been a comedy of errors in the Sunshine State.

We’ll also see how another southern state, North Carolina, is trying to find ways to pay its best teachers. And we’ll spend an academic minute matching the personalities of students and teachers for better early education.

University of West Florida

Let’s start off with an important definition. A phage is a virus that preys on and feeds off bacteria. They are found, among other places, in the soil.

Most educators agree that teaching ethics is an important part of a medical education. What they don’t agree on is when to start. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about teaching ethics to medical students.

We’ll also hear from a college student about her education in the arts…and the effects starting early in life had on her progress.

Then a conversation about summer vacation…and keeping all that good education from the school year safe between your student’s ears.

Stanford University

I love road trips! Last month I hit the road and ended up in Silicon Valley at the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference where I had the chance to speak with educators and authors about the latest in medical education.

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