Tag: education

Blog Posts (29)

June 10, 2016

Small Minds

I have recently read an opinion piece published in the Chronicle of Higher Education by John Kaag and David O’Hara entitled Big Brains, Small Minds. In this article Kaag and O’Hara boldly assert that “We are on the verge of becoming the best trained, and least educated, society since the Romans”. In the ensuing explanation we learn that education is science is what he refers to as “trained” while education in the humanities is what he refers to as “educated”. Apparently I have been trained and he has been educated. What a crock. Because I have been trained and not educated it is probably important to clarify that I mean crock not in the sense of an earthenware jar but rather in the sense of something which is complete nonsense.

Kaag and O’Hara appear to believe that one of the primary roles of the humanities is to critique science. That is fine; everybody should critique science, it is much too important to not be evaluated in the context of all types of human knowledge and understanding. It is also fine that they suggest that humanities should not be judged by the metrics of hard science. Of note, however, is I have never heard anyone suggest that humanities should be judged by the metrics of hard science. But I think it is probably important to note, however, that if it is the job of humanities to critique science perhaps those doing the critiquing should also know some science. It should also be kept in mind that scientists are pretty good at critiquing the sciences and, in fact, we usually spend quite a bit of time and energy critiquing each other. Just for the record, Kaag and O’Hara write that Plato teaches us that part of the liberal arts enduring mission is to critique the objectives of science. Science was rather different in the time of Plato. Perhaps he should have a more recent reference. He should also remember that at the time of Plato there was really no distinct boundary between science and philosophy. The authors cite the story of Herodicus as told by Socrates as an example of a disordered mind having “been trained in the STEM fields of his time”.  Really! This took place in the fifth century BC. Again, I think we may well need a newer reference. Parenthetically Herodicus showed great insight in advocating the value of exercise in preserving health.

The job of a professional scientist is to learn what has previously been unknown. They must be able to understand and appreciate the state of knowledge in their field, identify the boundaries of knowledge, and formulate hypotheses that if proven produce new knowledge. For a scientist to be successful they assume the burden of proving or disproving that hypothesis. They must have the communications skills to present their ideas in an adequately compelling manner to be awarded resources to engage these scientific pursuits. They must communicate their findings to the world. None of these are endeavors of the small mind.

The authors of this essay state “If you’re interested in learning about justice, you don’t go to the chemistry laboratory. You go to philosophy class and travel to Plato’s Republic. Perhaps so but I am unconvinced. If the justice one seeks has to do with environmental preservation, species extinction, and biomedical innovation perhaps this is positively contributed to by those who have had their minds expanded by an education which includes science.

 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

May 26, 2016

Obsessed with Smartness

I came across an article published recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education with the rather surprising title: “Are Colleges Too Obsessed With Smartness?”

I have spent the last forty-eight years at one college or another as a student, fellow or faculty member and for nearly all of that time I have always thought of smartness as a good and admirable thing in those who taught me, those I taught, and my colleagues. I thought therefore, that it might be worth taking a look to find out exactly what he meant by “smartness” and what he thought was wrong with higher educators being interested in smartness. I will admit that I began reading with the idea that the contention might possibly be misguided. I also went into that consideration aware of the frequency with which overreaching statements made in The Chronicle of Higher Education by retired professors really mean that they are promoting a book. In this case the latter was true but I will not name the book as I do not wish to promote it.

Eric Hoover, Professor Emeritus at UCLA actually appears to define smartness pretty much the same way everybody else does “in the traditional sense, kids who get the highest grades and testy scores.” He objects that the “emphasis on these students” is “to the detriment of everybody else”. He does not really provide much of an argument, in this article, how this is to the detriment of everybody else. It may very well be true that these students have an advantage in gaining admission to some institutions and being awarded certain scholarships. Is this necessarily bad? I am not sure I believe this is a problem. There are many scholarships awarded on the basis of need. Is it wrong that some are awarded on merit?

When I served as a consultant to my local public school system I learned that the curriculum was aimed at the average students and that there were many programs in place to assist lower achieving students. The smartest students were often left underserved, bored and uninterested and as a result underachieving. I was happy to advocate and help design programs for these students.

There are many opportunities in place where a student’s innate qualities may be to their advantage. When I made my rather marginal attempts to succeed on my high school football team I accepted the fact that the largest, strongest, fastest players had an advantage. In defense of my teammates I will note that many of them were quite smart as well. I do not think there is anything wrong with obtaining advantage based on being smart, especially in an educational system in a society and economy which rewards merit and accomplishment. I could not have achieved much if I had to be strong and fast to succeed. I am glad there was an opportunity for me to achieve and succeed based on the things I was able to do. I am glad that others will also be able to succeed based on what they can do.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

March 30, 2016

Save Algebra

Those of you who have followed my blog posts know that I sometimes express my views about education. I have argued for the value of broad-based education and in particular I have advocated both that scientists should receive quality education in the humanities and that those in the humanities should receive quality education in science. Now I am ready to again argue for inclusion of broad educational requirements and in particularly disagreeing with a man named Andrew Hacker who has, for some years now, argued against the required teaching of algebra. Andrew Hacker is a professor emeritus of political science at Queens College of the City University of New York.  Mr. Hacker notes that some students drop out of both high school and college and that others fail courses. These contentions are most certainly factually correct. But Mr. Hacker than goes on, with an amazing disregard for citing actual evidence, to identify mathematics in general, and algebra courses in particular as the reason for students who fail to complete or succeed in their education. In an opinion piece published in 2012 by the New York Times. Hacker argues that making mathematics education mandatory is a barrier in developing young talent and a major obstacle to their continued education. He claims without data or attribution that eight million high school and college students struggle with algebra every day. He indicates that one in four fails to finish high school and again without data or attribution indicates that “Most of the educator’s I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.” Not this educator. He does cite the agreement of a teacher named Shirley Bagwell of Tennessee who is apparently another anti-algebra crusader.

It has never been more important than the present time for those who are educated to be grounded in mathematics in general and in specifically in algebra as a fundamental building block to mathematics literacy. We live in a world where science and math are a part of virtually all knowledge. I guess Mr. Hacker’s background in political science have prepared him well to make these fundamental decisions on educational standards for everybody. There was some media coverage of Mr. Hacker’s opinions in 2012 although it is unclear to me why the New York Times provided him a vehicle to advocate his anti-educational diatribe. He did not seem to change many opinions on this. However he has a new book out and this seems to be the basis for rehashing his views before the public.

Michael Gerson coined the term “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. (Yes, I did just quote a republican.) Mr. Hacker seems to be extending this concept by having low expectations for just about everyone.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website. 

October 16, 2015

If I Were Running the Place

<p style="font-size: 11.2px; line-height: 19.04px;"><span style="font-size: 11.2px; line-height: 19.04px;">I have a riddle for you.  Start with six attorneys; add three management consultants, three financial executives/advisors and a couple of bankers. Sprinkle in, one each, clothing store chain CEO and entertainment retail chain CEO. Add executives from a supermarket chain, a construction company, and a paper products company. Fold in a hedge fund manager, real estate executive, and an accountant. Finish with a reputation management expert and exactly one educator and one physician. What have you got? Perhaps you have the membership of an exclusive club, perhaps a class reunion of an exclusive prep school. No not these.  I will not make you guess any more. What you have is the Board of Directors of a large academic medical center which includes a major teaching hospital and a medical school. This academic medical center educates medical students and physicians, graduate students in science and other health professions. This teaching hospital is a major health care provider in the state capital of a large northeastern state. The academic medical center is the leading biomedical research organization in the region.</span></p> <p style="font-size: 11.2px; line-height: 19.04px;">The Board of Directors is fully responsible for the governance of this large and complex organization. This organization has a mission to educate, to conduct biomedical research, and to provide patient care services. I was expecting to see that this list of directors would include expertise from renowned educators with national reputations. I was expecting to see a list containing outstanding biomedical researchers who discovered knowledge which made the world a better place. I was expecting leaders from the field of healthcare and medicine. But that is not what I found. I was surprised.</p> <p><span style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.04px;"><strong>The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a</strong> </span><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.04px;">Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="color: #000099; text-decoration: underline;" href="http://www.amc.edu/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></p>
August 11, 2015

…So That We Know How to Live

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

This Spring Quarter I had the honor of creating and teaching a new course at my university: HLTH 341 Death & Dying.…

June 30, 2015

Professionalism in Medicine: I Know it When I See it

by Jennifer Chevinsky, BS

A medical student comes into the hospital wearing his favorite pair of old, ripped, dirty jeans.

A physician ‘pimps’ a medical student and publicly shames her when she doesn’t know the answer.…

June 17, 2015

Does Clinical Ethics Consultation Lend Itself to Professionalization?

<p style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Let me say emphatically at the outset of this blog, as someone who has been a clinical ethics consultant for over 20 years, I am quite sure that clinical ethics consultations overall improve the quality of patient care and currently are an important, even essential, part of the providing excellent patient care in hospitals. Contemporary medicine is filled with value laden questions and issues that often can be effectively addressed by someone with expertise and training in clinical ethics. Having said this, I am still somewhat skeptical about clinical ethics consultation becoming a professional area of healthcare that parallels other professional areas like medicine, nursing, and social work. I think there are some special considerations about the field of clinical ethics consultation that makes its future status as a professional activity uncertain.</span></p> <p style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">First of all it is well-known that CEC’s come from a variety of backgrounds and training—from philosophers to physicians to social workers to nurses and lawyers and on and on. People enter the field of clinical ethics consultations from very different disciplinary backgrounds and seemingly learn a common vocabulary and methodology of clinical ethics and a basic familiarity with and ability to function in the clinical setting. They learn this vocabulary in very different ways—some informally, some through short 1-2 week long intensives, some with certificate programs, some with master’s degrees, and some with 1-2 year long fellowships. No other area of healthcare work admits of such diversity. Though this is a positive feature in some ways by providing diverse perspectives in understanding value dilemmas, it creates a challenge of considerable controversy when we try to define the kind of educational training a future CEC should have. At the moment there seem to be many pathways into the field and no clear answer has emerged.</p> <p><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19.0400009155273px; font-size: 12px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="color: #000099; text-decoration: underline;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></p>
May 27, 2015

Roundtable Discussion: Improving Public Dialogue of Bioethics

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) closed its discussion of democratic deliberation in bioethics and bioethics education with a roundtable discussion involving Commission members and presenters. Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., Chair of the Bioethics Commission, kicked off the session by asking the panelists to share their thoughts on what the Bioethics […]
May 27, 2015

Bioethics Education from Three Viewpoints

This afternoon, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) turned its attention to three approaches for teaching bioethics. Emphasis on Empirical Methods Steven Joffe, M.D., M.P.H., the vice chair of Medical Ethics, Emanuel and Robert Hart Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and director of Penn Fellowship in Advanced […]
April 14, 2015

Let’s do a Better Job Educating Everyone

<p class="MsoNormal" style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Last week we posted an article to our Facebook page from the Washington Post entitled “<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/02/18/we-dont-need-more-stem-majors-we-need-more-stem-majors-with-liberal-arts-training/?tid=sm_fb">We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training</a>”.</span><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">  </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="font-size: 11.1999998092651px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Reading this got me to thinking and a bit of reminiscing about my own education. Long before STEM meant science technology engineering and math I was a STEM major. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in 1972 from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. That is, I was a STEM major who received a liberal arts education. The replacement of the word “education” for “training” is intentional on my part as I value education far beyond training but I digress.  I focused on science to the greatest degree possible with a biology major and a chemistry/physics minor. But as a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences I was required to complete requirements which were satisfied by sequences in social sciences, humanities, foreign language, and rhetoric. I remember these experiences to varying degrees. Some are fond memories, some seemed more like torture. Collectively, however, I look back on these courses as a great well rounded and very rewarding educational experience. I do have every confidence that I benefited greatly from my non-STEM courses and they helped me with the skills and the experience to better communicate as a scientist and the non-scientific responsibilities I also had as a faculty member.</span></p> <p><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="color: #000099; text-decoration: underline;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong><span style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"> </span></p>

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Published Articles (3)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 12 - Dec 2008

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on Medical and Nursing Students' Television Viewing Habits: Potential Implications for Bioethics

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 12 - Dec 2008

Medical and Nursing Students' Television Viewing Habits: Potential Implications for Bioethics

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 7 Issue 4 - Apr 2007

Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS: Selling Beautiful Education

News (3)

May 20, 2012 12:40 pm

Father calls for organ donation lessons in schools (BBC News)

A father who lost his son to leukaemia is calling for secondary schools and colleges to include one lesson on how to donate stem cells, blood and organs. Keith Sudbury wants to raise awareness by making donation part of the curriculum for students aged 16 and over.

May 4, 2012 1:34 pm

Better ethics education needed in community-based research (Phys.org)

A growing number of health research programs are collaborating with community groups to conduct research. The groups help recruit study participants, obtain informed consent, collect data and provide input on study design and procedures. But existing programs that educate researchers, community groups and institutional review boards about research ethics “fail to meet the needs of all groups that have a role in community-engaged research,” according to an article in the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics.

April 12, 2012 9:58 pm

Confusion Reigns in Tennessee (Science Insider)

Teaching science in Tennessee may become more confusing now that an antievolution bill has been added to the state’s statutes. Governor Bill Haslam yesterday declined to either sign or veto HR 368, which prohibits school officials from stopping a teacher from helping students understand so-called controversial subjects such as evolution and global warming. Never mind that teachers say they need no such protection, or that thousands of educators and scientific societies (including AAAS, which publishes ScienceInsider) had urged Haslam to veto the bill because it wrongly suggests that the scientific community is divided on these issues.