The U.S. education system is not as internationally competitive as it used to be. The rest of the developed world is catching up, and some countries are surpassing the United States in high school and college completion, all while spending much less per student.
— A really scary report from the Council on Foreign Relations on the trajectory of U.S. education. 
The kids of strict tiger parents had lower grades, were more troubled emotionally and were more estranged from their families than kids whose parents were what Kim categorizes as “supportive” and “easygoing.”
— Sorry, Tiger Moms. It’s a 10-year study, too. 

This is terrific. Asenath Andrews (who founded and runs the academy) spoke at PopTech 2012. She was informative, funny and interesting.



Former men’s room of what used to be an elementary school in Detroit; the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a charter high school for young mothers and pregnant teens, now calls the historic building home. 

The property’s grounds feature a four-acre urban farm, which helps teach students about gardening, and enhances their skills sets.

The school, which allows students to “attend classes and care for their babies in a single environment,” was slated to be closed in 2011. Thanks to community members who rallied in support of the school, the school remains open today. Almost all the school’s graduates enroll in two- or four-year colleges.

Via The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit: Places: Design Observer. Photograph by Andrew Herscher.

Seems fitting to follow this earlier Unconsumption post about repurposed urinals with this one on fixtures-turned-planters-in-girls’-school!   

Should we make our kids go out in the cold in bare feet at school? Should they enter school through the window? Do they need some tough love? Famed Icelandic educator Margrét Pála’s PopTech talk suggests the answer is yes.

Statistics show that teen pregnancy can devastate a girl’s chances of graduating high school and going on to college. Not so at the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, run by Asenath Andrews. The alternative high school for teen mothers typically sends 100 percent of its girls on to higher education. 


Discovery/NHK’s show about the giant squid is a must-watch if you’re into such things. There’s some debate about how interesting the footage is and whether or not it’s technically The First, but personally I think it’s incredible. They lure it with a smaller squid as bait, and it hangs around eating for 23 minutes while they film it in bright white light. It’s much better than a couple tentacles flashing by in infrared. From NHK’s press release:

During a dive by Dr. Kubodera, an NHK cameraman, and the submersible pilot at the depth of 630 meters, they came face-to-face with the giant squid and followed it to a depth of 900 meters. The squid was missing its characteristic two longest tentacles, but nevertheless measured about 3 m in length. If this pair of tentacles had been intact, the creature would probably have measured 7 - 8 m.

Mark Dery’s essay about the video is a great followup.

By the way, Discovery, I would gladly pay for the opportunity to download the unedited 23 minutes from the main camera in HD.


Join Cartoonist Lynda Barry for a University-Level Course on Doodling and Neuroscience

Can I just stop you for a minute and note how fucking amazing it is that one of our greatest living cartoonists is not only teaching this class, but she’s letting us all follow along? Incredible.

Love it. Exploring complex ideas visually is why Peter Durand draws during PopTech talks.

Calling All Geek Girls! Apply for the Huffington Post's STEM Mentorship Program



It’s well-established that women face social pressures that push them away from pursuing science as a life passion. It’s also well-established that women who do stay in science face discrimination all the way up the ladder. Women are 50 percent of the population but hold less than a quarter of STEM jobs.

Young ladies, HuffPo has your back. Check it out:

Dear Geek Girls,

We were there once — making a decision about which career path to choose can be a source of great anxiety, especially in tough economic times like these. But having someone on your side to coach you through, and give you practical advice without judgement can make all the difference in the world.

HuffPo Science is offering young ladies 14-21 the chance to be mentored by a female scientist, to show you the ropes and keep you motivated to achieve your goals. Applications are due Jan 31st, so apply here today!

Big round of applause to them for this effort.

Signal Boost. Seems like something really positive to share with your high school students. 

Q&A with Lisa Gansky, author of ‘The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing’ | JWT Intelligence

Yet with peer-to-peer services, the community is generally a virtual one, right?

The community can be a physical place, but it can also look like Kickstarter or Spacehive or SmallKnot, even, I would say, TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit has done an incredibly fabulous job at creating a lot of reverse work around trust and safety so people have a lot of confidence in the service.

Do these businesses change the mainstream concept of what constitutes a professional service and a career?

They create a sense of what Leah Busque [founder of TaskRabbit] likes to call the micro-entrepreneur, or the micropreneur. I was in Portland last week and I asked some people what do they do for a living. Somebody put their arm around me and said, “Look, Lisa, nobody I know has a full-time job. It’s just a collection of really interesting projects.”

People are seeing that the time they have between working on a project and life is really quite interesting. Then aligning that with the amount of money you really need to make, as opposed to necessarily trying to make the most money possible, is a real shift. It’s a huge shift from 10 years ago, when the goal was to aim for the biggest amount of income you could have. I think the value has shifted to aim for an enjoyable, relatively stress-free life in which you’re enriched with a lot of experience. And so that shift means a lot when you translate that into what it will look like when it plays out in the economy.

Do you think that’s a generational trend?

No. It’s not just Millennial. The recession and people being unemployed has invited a kind of reinventing of the self from a career perspective. And instead of it being, “My career is equal to the string of jobs I have,” people are seeing their lives as kind of cocktail of projects and experiences. I don’t even hear the word “career” being used that much anymore.

(via futuristgerd)

When I was a kid, I thought a lot about what made me different from the other kids. I don’t think I was smarter than them and I certainly wasn’t more talented. And I definitely can’t claim I was a harder worker — I’ve never worked particularly hard, I’ve always just tried doing things I find fun. Instead, what I concluded was that I was more curious — but not because I had been born that way. If you watch little kids, they are intensely curious, always exploring and trying to figure out how things work. The problem is that school drives all that curiosity out. Instead of letting you explore things for yourself, it tells you that you have to read these particular books and answer these particular questions. And if you try to do something else instead, you’ll get in trouble. Very few people’s curiosity can survive that. But, due to some accident, mine did. I kept being curious and just followed my curiosity.

Open-access champion and RSS co-creator Aaron Swartz, who took his own life last week at the age of 26, echoes Neil deGrasse Tyson, Isaac Asimov, and Sir Ken Robinson. A heartbreaking loss in innumerable ways.

Some thoughts on Aaron’s legacy in digital culture from Stanford’s Jennifer Granick.

( Daring Fireball)