Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Jan 2012 00:14 UTC, submitted by Elv13
Hardware, Embedded Systems "Raspberry Pis started being made a couple of days ago, but I was forbidden to tell you about it until signed contracts and receipts for payment had arrived - it's been killing me, especially since I've had tens of you asking me when manufacturing would start every day for the last few weeks. I am not good at keeping secrets." No more secrets to keep, Liz! I can't wait to place my order.
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RE[10]: Subtext
by sbergman27 on Sat 14th Jan 2012 21:17 UTC in reply to "RE[9]: Subtext"
sbergman27
Member since:
2005-07-24

What you are seeing is a steady decrease in the ability of the US to compete effectively in the world market. You're looking in the wrong places for a solution. A change in economic model is not going to fix the complacent attitudes of adults and the poor performance of our high school students compared to the rest to the world.

The US's 15 year olds rank 32nd in science, 30th in math, and 17th in reading, according to the 2009 OECD results:

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/31/28/46660259.pdf

That out of about 65 countries participating. The US is outclassed in education by such countries as Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia, and many more. Some that you may not even have heard of. The #1 city in the world in all 3 tested areas? Shanghai, China.

And year by year, the US rankings are *getting worse*.

You can't expect the standard of living to be rising in a (currently) 1st world country when 3rd world kids regularly run circles around their kids in education.

And you're not going fix that with a change in economic model. In fact, I'm not sure it can be fixed at all. History is full of examples of nations rising to great power, becoming fat, complacent, and sassy, and declining due to the resulting internal rot. It's a very common pattern. And our grand United States appear to be right on schedule. All the indications are clearly there when viewed in an objective manner.

In short, it appears to me that the sad state of affairs is not due to some inferior economic model or external influence, but is a direct a result of a problem with the people of the United States, ourselves.

-Steve

Edited 2012-01-14 21:22 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[11]: Subtext
by Alfman on Sun 15th Jan 2012 05:54 in reply to "RE[10]: Subtext"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

sbergman27,

"And year by year, the US rankings are *getting worse*."

This is true, however I think the causality is circular rather than strictly one way. The schools here are broke. They're raising taxes on a shrinking middle class and cutting back days. When schools shut down, the remaining ones become ridiculously overpopulated. So it may be true that US education has gone down - that may be both a cause and effect of worsening economic conditions.

However, many degreed graduates don't even have professional jobs waiting for them. I could vouch for that personally, so there's definitely more than an education problem.

"You can't expect the standard of living to be rising in a (currently) 1st world country when 3rd world kids regularly run circles around their kids in education."

So competing on a global market is killing the middle class? Sounds plausible to me. I think US workers deserve some defense though, when career veterans are being laid off in favor of outsourcing abroad, it's probably motivated by cost savings rather than a skills gap.

Regardless of this, you might still say the cold hard truth is that we're uncompetitive in the US. And maybe that's true, however that might be because of the fat cats on top who take enormous piles of wealth out of company operations. Our companies used to invest in training and even university classes for employees, they would sponsor childhood education, invest in better facilities, better products, etc. Today's companies have stopped all these beneficiary activities in order to raise profits to unprecedented levels. And my have their profits skyrocketed. Now they feel entitled to keep those profits at any cost to society. So maybe society should be considering alternatives.

I think the extremity of the situation is finally causing ordinary people to recognize how the elite are holding back the middle class and the US as a whole. Hell, even billionaire Warren Buffet thinks so.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-r...



"History is full of examples of nations rising to great power, becoming fat, complacent, and sassy, and declining due to the resulting internal rot."

"...but is a direct a result of a problem with the people of the United States, ourselves."

Having the US fall is a good kick in the pants to motivate real changes, however some people are far more responsible for the internal rot than others, even though in the end it won't make much difference who was responsible.

Edited 2012-01-15 06:11 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[12]: Subtext
by sbergman27 on Sun 15th Jan 2012 06:45 in reply to "RE[11]: Subtext"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"The schools here are broke."

When people recognize that we have a problem regarding education, they immediately look to blame our educational system. Understandable. But I don't buy it.

We are *swimming* in virtually cost free opportunity for both continuing education for adults, and for the education of kids whose schools might have faltered on them.

I'm 48, and further my continuing education every day, using the resources provided at ocw.mit.edu, which is MIT's site for making their teaching materials, often including lecture videos, available to the public free of charge.

Also Yale's excellent line of courses. Standford's. Boston University's. And many lesser known Universities, like the University of Missouri, Kansas City, which has an excellent course on college algebra, which I have found very helpful as an adjunct to the Calculus refresher I'm taking. (I've always needed more drill on factoring polynomials and simplifying expressions. It's so important to being able to finish up after you've done the actual Calculus part.)

MIT has 3 particularly good physics courses available, lectured by Walter Lewin. Yale and Berkeley have complementary Chem 1A and Organic Chemistry courses up.

I'm just highlighting the one's I'm currently availing myself of. Almost any topic you might want to educate yourself upon is available. And increasingly, the courses are *not* dependent upon expensive text books, but are designed to use the custom materials provided by the institution: Lectures. Focused, pertinent PDF handouts. Problem sets. Past exams, with solutions provided either together or separately.

It's all there. Any motivated person could acquire an impressive education even if their local public school burned down and nobody bothered to rebuild it.

The *only* way not to have a proper education, these days, is to not *want* one. And that goes for adults as well as kids. Adults who bemoan the sad state of education without addressing their own continuing education are the height of irony. Ignorance among the children is an impending problem. Ignorance among adults is an acute problem.

I think that the most important thing I have learned is just how much I have forgotten. Hence my decision to lay off cosmology (which is both fascinating and numinous) and review the basics. And work on my math, which I was somehow able to kind of "wing" when I was studying Mech E back in college, rather than really understanding it.

The resources which anyone with an Internet connection has available today are an unimaginably valuable gift.

I realize that I took one line of your post and made a whole long post of my own in response. Apologies. But it is a topic which has weighed upon my mind a great deal, lately.

-Steve

Edited 2012-01-15 06:57 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2