Academic Minute

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s probably the most asked question in a young person’s life. For many, answering it is a chore well into adulthood. But when they get to college, they are asked to instantly start down whatever path it is they think they want to take.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear why the arts and sciences should still be a big part of a higher education.

#1400: "The New Kids"

Jul 20, 2017

So what were you doing 14 hundred weeks ago? It was the spring of 1990, and a new program called The Best of Our Knowledge debuted on WAMC radio. Bob Barrett, the current producer and host of TBOOK has only been around for the last 300 of those weeks. He went back and listened to the first program he hosted back in 2011 and found that the topic is still interesting and relevant.

You’ve seen them, those students or colleagues who are always taking the bull by the horns and plowing through projects and assignments on their own. In academia, these are called self-directed learners. Now, a professor has used the concept of self-directed learning to analyze one of the greatest relationships in music history.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, did self-directed learning break up the Beatles?

University of Missouri

A lot of people have a lot of opinions about climate change. However, there is only one set of actual facts. Now, a new study shows that an important group of people are getting some of those facts wrong: science teachers.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about that study.

We’ll also hear from two groups of students…one focused on their future careers…and one that is completing a trip to Ecuador.

We’ll also spend an academic minute helping kids think about stuff.

Masa Israel Journey.

  

More and more students in the US are choosing to take a “gap year”…a 12 month break from school between high school and college to travel and experience the world. In fact there is one country that is actively encouraging those students to come on down and take that gap year with them.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a conversation about Masa Israel Journey.

NY State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia holds a meeting on the Every Students Succeeds Act in Plattsburg, New York.
Pat Bradley

Here it is, 2017, and we’re still talking about No Child Left Behind…and that was two presidents ago. Right now in New York State, they are working on the replacement to that Bush era initiative to the Obama era Every Student Succeeds Act.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, New York’s Education Commissioner hears from the public.

We’ll also hear from protesters who want a controversial local school board member kicked out…learn that self-awareness is important to get a head in the world…and we’ll spend an academic minute building a better bus route.

Twitter

Women attending college don’t exactly practice the healthiest lifestyles. That, I’m sure, comes as no big surprise. But a new study about the activity level of these students shines a new light on what can motivate a woman to start eating better and getting some exercise.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the lead author of that study to see what it takes to get some college age students moving.

We’ll also learn that pressure on women to be their best doesn’t start in college…and we’ll spend an academic minute dealing with peer pressure to chow down.

Colleges don’t admit students, they admit applications. That’s what a long time college application consultant says about the current state of college admission in the US.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about how students can make themselves attractive to the college of their choice…and when they should start trying.

We’ll also learn that the number of words a child learns goes a long way toward academic success in the future…and we’ll spend an academic minute looking for heroes.

#1391: "Smart Homes"

May 18, 2017
Bob Barrett

Can technology make us smarter? Well I’m not sure about that, but it can make the things around us smarter. In fact, advances in building techniques and practices, and the addition of custom technology have started a new trend in construction: smart homes.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll put on our hard hats and tour a smart home building site.

Dr. Haru Okuda demonstrating one of the simulation training room at the VA's SimLEARN Center near Orlando, Florida.
Bob Barrett

If there’s one area of education that demands a hands-on learning experience it’s the field of medicine. And not just for new students. Doctors in the field need continuous training to stay up to date on the latest advances. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, it’s road trip time, as we tour the Veterans Administration’s SimLEARN Training Center in central Florida.

#1388: "Pandora's Lab"

Apr 27, 2017

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I think most of us have felt that way about something in our lives…something that looked really really good that ended up really really not. Some of history’s greatest scientific minds probably feel the same way. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the book Pandora’s Lab, which explores some of the biggest unintended consequences of history’s biggest scientific discoveries.

Then we’ll talk about a book about evolution…for toddlers. And we’ll also spend an academic minute with the benefits of being bilingual.

What can studying the climate of other planets tell us about climate change on Earth?  Next time on The Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an expert on Mars to find out.

We’ll also talk about images from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory…and spend an Academic Minute with impact craters on the red planet.

I’m Bob Barrett…that’s this week on The Best Of Our Knowledge.

We recently aired a couple of programs on Autism; one was about young people and the other about adults. I was also looking for people who could talk to me about seniors with autism. Well, I’m still looking, but in the meantime I had a conversation with someone who has a job I find fascinating. She runs support groups for caregivers. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about caregivers…and how they get by from day to day.

Find more information ion the National Council on Aging HERE.

You know what almost never happens anymore here in the US? A unanimous Supreme Court decision. But last week that’s just what happened. The court ruled that school districts are required to give students with disabilities more than just the bare minimum education.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a special education expert about this decision and what it may mean for students with disabilities, from minor learning disorders to children on the autism spectrum.

We’ll also spend an academic minute helping students who may have had a concussion.

Reading is the core of the Common Core, and yes that’s still a thing. For the most part, education cannot begin without a student first learning how to read.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll take another look at the book Reading Reconsidered, which looks at the power of reading and how it is being taught on all levels…or at least, maybe, how it probably should be.

We’ll also spend an academic minute learning why writing a science good science paper means writing a good story.

#1382: "Lab Girl"

Mar 16, 2017

Hope Jahren was one of those rare children who had a definite answer when someone asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up. She wanted to build her own lab, and work in it every day. Just like her father. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to Dr. Jahren about her book called Lab Girl, which talks about her science, her labs and her life.

We’ll also tour a new manufacturing institute in New York, and spend an Academic Minute hitting the slopes.

Last week we talked about children with autism and some of the help they can receive both in and out of school. But school doesn’t last forever, and soon those former students can find themselves with little to no help at all. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn what can happen when a child with autism becomes an adult.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute with government, health and trust.

Bob Barrett

A new government survey of parents suggests that 1 in 45 children, ages 3 through 17, have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This is notably higher than the official government estimate of 1 in 68 American children with autism, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And even though there has been seemingly endless debate about what causes autism, for a parent whose child has the condition, all they care about is helping that child live a full, happy life.

#1379: "Girls Who Code"

Feb 23, 2017

When we talk about learning a second language in school we’re usually talking about Spanish or French or Mandarin. But one of the most important languages a student can learn today is computer code, and it seems not many girls are signing up.  Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from the founder of the group Girls Who Code.

We’ll also talk to Henry Winkler about his diagnosis of dyslexia and the books he writes for kids growing up with the same issues…and spend an Academic Minute with political satire in a post truth world.

Over the past few months we’ve been hearing about plans to make public colleges and universities in some states tuition free. But that hasn’t happened yet and does not include private schools. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the new edition of Paying For College Without Going Broke.

We’ll also hear talk to an Iraqi refugee who became a published poet a little over a year ago at age 14…and we’ll spend an Academic Minute with the lasting effects of Jim Crow laws.

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 hear from a student in the northeast who is always being asked “where are you from?”…and we’ll spend an Academic Minute mourning the loss if the roadside motel.

nysed.gov

So we’re going to start out close to home this week. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently toured the state promoting his legislative plans for the New Year. He spent a lot of that time talking about education…and leaders around the state noticed.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear reaction to education policy changes in the Empire State.

Then it’s off to the UK to hear how scientists are trying to repair defects in DNA with gene splicing…and we’ll spend an Academic Minute learning fertility from a fruit fly.

Hillsdale College

We are just a few days away from a new administration in Washington, and as we anticipate what that will mean for education in the US in the coming months and years there is another question some educators are facing: how will we teach the history of this election?

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk again with Dr. Adam Carrington, an assistant professor of politics, and not only put the election in historic perspective, but see how history will talk about our choices.

When I was going over segments to replay on the program at the end of the year, I remembered this one from April and remembered what fun I had producing it. Hope you have fun listening again. Back in the early 1970s, a new network called National Public Radio hired a young producer who had two special interests: baseball and science. Since there was little chance of NPR running Mets games he got on the air with that other topic.

I get to say this every year about this time and it’s still true: you meet the most interesting people when you do a public radio show about knowledge! Today, and next week on the Best of Our Knowledge we’ll look back at a few of my favorite conversations with from this past year with people who are a whole lot smarter than me.

A lot of new teachers are becoming ex-teachers in a year or two, and that makes it increasingly difficult for the teachers who stay to live a well-rounded life while also being effective in the classroom. Basically, they have to learn to get a life.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge we’ll talk to Dave Stuart Jr,  a high school teacher who has written about how teachers can reclaim their lives.

Governors State University

Title IX has been around for a while. It states that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance". Over the 44 years since the law was passed, almost 10 times the number of women and girls are participating in school athletics. The number of coaches is another story. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge: a report on the impact of Title IX on women coaches.

Is there a more thankless job in the world than being a substitute teacher? OK, there probably are a lot them but you have to admit walking into a room with 20 to 30 middle school kids looking to make the next 50 minutes of your life miserable doesn’t sound like a party. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to someone who became of substitute and wrote a book about it.  

Famous Mathematicians dot com

If you ever visit Ireland in October, you may see hundreds of people gather for a walk to a bridge in Dublin that celebrates Ireland's greatest mathematician. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we'll hear William Rowan Hamilton, who vandalized Broom Bridge with an equation…an equation which changed mathematics forever.  

We’ll also hear how virtual reality is being used to teach history, celebrate the teenager who game the world Frankenstein.

And we’ll spend an academic minute advocating for hosta. 

It’s finally over! After two years of non-stop election coverage we can finally take a little break from all the talk about politics and scandals and…whatever. That makes this a perfect time to revisit a book about politics in the classroom. We’ve been hearing about the decline of civics education for years...and one issue keeps arising: is it possible to keep politics out of civics? For that matter, is keeping politics out of the classroom a good idea at all?

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