Other Education Determinants Affecting the Nation's Economy02/17
Classroom learning is an unequivocal education determinant predisposed to prepare students to contribute to the nation’s economy and pursue a preferable quality of life.
Brain scans of students learning in a desirable classroom environment that is relevant and emotionally pleasurable show an increase in the brain’s release of dopamine – an emotional neurotransmitter that increases your desire to learn. These brain scans also show an increase in the neurotransmitters that stimulate the higher neurotransmitters in the brain and enhance long-term learning (Willis, 2014).
Contrarily, brain scans of students subjected to undesirable classroom environments featuring grade-threatening and test-intimidating mandates show an increase in cortisol. Cortisol is a high anxiety neurotransmitter that constricts blood flow in the brain, inhibits growth of the network of neurons located in the cognitive centers of the brain and suppresses the learning processes (Jensen, 2015).
Finally, it is important to recognize Aristotle’s 345 B.C. self-evident axiom: students are endowed with the natural desire to learn. For example, babies have the natural desire to learn to crawl, stand, walk, swallow, talk and think. This natural desire to learn is critical to classroom learning environments. Forcing students to learn by threats of a grade reduction, course failures or verbal reprimands are counterproductive. Students learn best when learning is not overly directed, demanded or forced.
Education Initiative: Make classroom learning environments desirable and devoid of irrelevant, grade-threatening and intimidating mandates.
Initiating a strand of behavioral virtues as a cultural component of each course in a school’s curriculum is an ethical determinant predisposed to helping students identify, practice and habituate the behavioral virtues enabling virtuous acts of conduct to become a permanent feature of a student’s character.
A behavioral virtue may be defined as a good, righteous, beneficent act of conduct. Select behavioral virtues having evolved as cultural norms include the following acts of conduct: caring, civility, fairness, loyalty, respectfulness, responsibility, thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, tolerance, understanding, courage, temperance and patriotism. Habituating these behavioral virtues is accomplished by practicing these good acts of conduct until they become a permanent part of the student’s ethical character.
Be that as it may, in order for students to fully realize an ethical character, they also must reject the behavioral vices: rudeness, unfriendliness, prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, selfishness, rashness, foolhardiness, self-indulgence, vanity, jealousy, revenge, bullying, infidelity, passing moral judgement and patriotic indifference.
Education Initiative: Introducing a strand of behavioral virtues into the school’s curriculum will enhance the ethical culture of our nation, unite its citizenry and help attenuate the $3.4 trillion cost of crime confronting the nation’s taxpayers.
Classroom Cultural Support
Classroom cultural support is an elegant determinant predisposed to effecting student behavior.
Some 70 years ago, the late Dr. Robert Allen directed a revealing cultural support behavioral change study. Funded by a substantial grant, he relocated a group of inner-city juvenile delinquents to a converted countryside-farmhouse estate. The boys helped transport bound haystacks, picked gardened vegetables, milked the cows, and fed the chickens and farm animals. They rode the horses, fished and swam in the farm’s lake. They enjoyed fresh-farm prepared meals; and, after dinner they roasted marshmallows and sang camp songs. After six weeks of this positive support culture, the boys’ delinquent behavioral characteristics disappeared.
After the camp-experience part of the study was over, the boys returned to their inner-city cultural environment and the study continued. But, behold! Within one week the boys were stealing hubcaps and back to their delinquent behavior. Dr. Allen concluded: positive support cultures are an effective determinant in structuring behavioral environments. (Personal communication, 1978).
Education Initiative: By introducing an effective assembly of classroom behavioral norms, a desirable and compelling classroom learning environment will be realized, and students will like school and look forward to interacting with friendly peers and reinforcing teachers. With reference to cultural support groups: It is axiomatic that group acceptance and belonging is a significant need for all students; and that being accepted by encouraging positive classroom support culture will help fulfill this important need. However, it is also true: If students are rejected by a positive classroom culture, they will seek out an intruding counter-culture and adhere to the negative rite-of- passage norms demanded by that respective culture. Finally, it should be noted: students who become part of a positive support group, strong enough to reject the flawed behavior practices of negative counter-cultures, help attenuate the nation’s annual $1.7 trillion cost of crime.
Based on the results of Dr. Allen’s breakthrough study, a positive classroom learning support culture is proposed whereby every classroom offers a protective, encouraging, inviting and desirable learning environment. To accomplish this end, the teachers and students will collaboratively actualize an assembly of well-founded behavioral norms. For example, students would practice the virtues of caring, friendliness, civility, respectfulness, loyalty, comradery... and disdain the transgressions of bullying, gossiping, discrimination, prejudice, rudeness, peer-competition, passing moral judgement...
Accomplishing a healthy exercise-nutrition lifestyle is an all-absorbing determinant predisposed to reducing the national obsession with obesity and over fatness and helping to attenuate the nation’s estimated annual $3.2 trillion health care costs.
Instilling an appreciation for exercise starts in the elementary grades. Young children need to be introduced to an appropriate age-related aerobic activity. The activity of choice should be walking. Walking is a low-skill activity all students can accomplish. It does not require special equipment. It does not produce the trauma to the knee joints as running activities do. It is an individual activity, therefore, is easier to schedule than a team activity. Students can walk at their own physiological pace and fulfill their individual aerobic capacity and caloric expenditure needs. Finally, walking is a self-competitive activity, wherein students do not have to compete against their peers or face the possibility of failure because of their physiological limitations. Rather, students can perform within their individual physiological capacities and find success by training to increase their pace times or distances walked.
The purpose of this exercise component is to develop an appreciation for walking that can be carried over into the adult years and help prevent the premature onset of obesity and other degenerative diseases contributing to the health-care costs straining the nation’s economy. Moreover, instilling an appreciation for healthy, fresh foods – high in protein and fiber and low in saturated fats and other inflammation producing foods – also needs to be started in the elementary grades.
As you move onto secondary school, you need to develop a two-semester elective exercise-nutrition lifestyle course to be accepted as fulfilling a part or all of any physical education curriculum requirements. This course would include a laboratory experience, wherein, bio-impedance body fat measurements are taken periodically so students may record their changes in body fat over time. (Note: all measurements should be performed privately, so as to prevent student embarrassments.) This exercise-nutrition lifestyle course would also include a strength-training component because as the body ages, you lose 1.0 percent of your skeletal muscle strength each year. And this loss contributes to the age-related losses in body balance, bone density and the ability to lift and move the body – all of which have a direct effect on the spiraling cost of health care as you age.
This course will also include learning about the physiological strategies needed to help students understand and appreciate the variables that enhance exercise performances: second wind, third wind, aerobic-anaerobic pace, metabolic fatigue, recovery routines, the “capillary kinking theory,” heat stroke, carbohydrate loading, lactic acid fatigue, peer competition vs. self-competition and fast-twitch/slow-twitch muscle fiber genetic differences and how they limit performance expectations.
Teachers for this course will need special training! They will need to upgrade their knowledge base in exercise physiology. They will need to be active walkers and project a healthy body image in order to be respected by the students and inspire them to adhere and comply with an active and healthy nutrition lifestyle. Identifying and certifying these teachers will be a challenge – but most certainly needed if you expect to actuate an effective exercise-nutrition lifestyle intervention course foreseen to prevent the premature onset of over fatness and the age-related losses in cardiovascular aerobic integrity and skeletal muscle strength, all of which are major risk factors affecting the degenerative diseases contributing to the nation’s burdening health-care costs.
Education Initiative: Realizing a comprehensive exercise-nutrition intervention course will help attenuate the estimated annual $84 billion cost of physical inactivity, the $266 billion cost of obesity and the $3.2 trillion cost of health care.
Documentary videos are an education determinant predisposed to providing a tantalizing alternative to traditional textbooks.
An authentic authoritative documentary video provides a more desirable classroom learning environment than do conventional textbooks. Documentaries afford a pictorial, auditory, musically scored and resonantly-narrated presentations that captivates student interests. Moreover, documentary videos presented in class create an opportunity for each student to view the same video, write-up a one-page report reflecting their respective impressionable moments and be prepared to contribute to a scheduled post-video class discussion. Home-viewed documentaries also provide an opportunity for students to prepare a home study research paper to be submitted for teacher feedback and recorded in the student’s portfolio.
Respective school media centers, local libraries and national public broadcasting offer a never-ending number of documentary videos. These captivating documentaries promise to produce an inspirational classroom and home-study learning environment. Documentaries reveal the historic events that formed this magnanimous nation, identify the men and women who have contributed to this nation’s rise to greatness and describe the enduring wars, civil liberty transition and economic crises these united states had to overcome to preserve this great nation. Documentaries also tell a compelling story of ancient history, European history, world geography, and provide a more colorful and exciting presentation of these stories than do expensive textbooks.
Education Initiative: Provide students with an inspiring assembly of documentary videos.
After 14 years, high-stakes testing has made no statistically significant improvement in reading, math, science and social studies (Nead, 2012). Moreover, a more recent survey (10/24/15), conducted by the Council of Great City Schools, which reviewed the nation’s 66 largest school districts, found no evidence the 112 mandated standardized tests taken between Pre-K and high school improved academic performance as measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) – a long-standing evaluation system often referred to as the nation’s “report card.”
Over the years, high-stakes testing has revealed the following reasons for abolishing the high stakes testing mandates: High-stakes tests discriminate against non-English speaking and special needs students. They are biased because test items do not consider cultural differences. Moreover, the time needed to administer high stakes testing protocols has been estimated to take up 30 percent of the school day. The personnel required to administer and supervise these tests demands a large percentage of teachers and school administrative staff. And the cost of these testing protocols has been estimated to be $50 billion each year.
High-stakes tests are time-based and, therefore, unfair to slow readers and analytic thinkers. Moreover, these tests are narrow in scope, because they do not consider the following education variables: understanding, dialectic reasoning, curiosity, creative thinking, perseverance, civic mindedness, societal virtues and values, workplace communication skills and appreciation for lifelong learning.
These tests lack transparency, as test items cannot be reviewed openly for validity evaluations. They do not provide an opportunity for teachers’ feedback – a most critical factor in student learning. They encourage “robotic” memorization, rather than long-term learning. And reportedly, essay questions are graded by temporary employees. Finally, these invalid high-stakes tests have been used to unfairly evaluate teaching performance – creating a serious teacher morale problem and straining teacher retention.
Education Initiative: Abolish high-stakes testing.
Other determinants also affect the Nation's economy