Education

Education

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  • Let’s Talk About Sex

    Congress loves abstinence-only programs so much it has thrown big bucks at them. The public? It's got better ideas.
  • Alter: A New Era of National Service Begins

    An idea that began with Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps 76 years ago and extends through several presidents in both parties (including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) is about to get turbocharged.
  • "Stuffed" Takes On America's Fat Industry

    Sixty-four-ounce soft drinks. Monster Thickburgers. Unlimited refills. Americans are overstuffed, no doubt about it: two thirds of the nation is overweight and the number's ballooning as fast as our waistlines. Consumers blame food companies who bombard us with advertisements to eat, eat, eat; companies blame consumers who say they want healthier fare and yet continue to supersize. The truth? The responsibility lies all around, says Hank Cardello in his new book "Stuffed." A former exec at General Mills and Coca-Cola, Cardello had an epiphany about a decade ago (involving, naturally, a personal health scare). Now, he's at the forefront of obesity awareness and trying to get disparate interests—food CEOs and lobbyists on the one side, FDA watchdogs and nutritionists on the other—to come up with creative, profitable solutions to our public health crisis.That's easier said than done, as Cardello acknowledges. From pork-barrel farm bills that penalize non-corn vegetable crops to...
  • Color My World: Hues that Enhance Thinking

    Is your job to detect side-effects of a new experimental drug, scrutinize manufactured parts for defects or something else that requires close attention to detail? Then you might want to pick red chairs, curtains and carpet for your work space. Ditto if you're a student studying for a test: find a room with lots of red. Is your job to brainstorm new product designs, dream up ad campaigns and do something similarly creative? Paint the walls blue. And if you're a student who has to write a paper or poem for this weekend's homework, plan on doing it in a room with lots of blue....
  • More on Brain Voodoo

    I had no intention of revisiting the debate over the use of brain imaging in social neuroscience, which I blogged about last month. But that post brought such a tsumani of anger, dismay, invective and outrage that I felt an obligation to go back and dig more deeply into whether the charges in a paper by Ed Vul of MIT, Hal Pashler of UC San Diego and colleagues that is in press at Perspectives on Psychological Science were as meritless as many of the scientists I heard from claimed....
  • An 'Obama Effect' on Blacks' Test Scores?

    On only the fourth day of his presidency, it’s obviously way too soon to assess whether Barack Obama’s effect on African-Americans will extend beyond providing hope and inspiration. Will he, for instance, goad black students to higher achievement, since he is living proof that working hard can pay off? One intriguing hint of what researchers led by Ray Friedman of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management calls the “Obama Effect” suggests that maybe, just maybe, Obama will do more for the scholastic achievement of African-Americans than anything since Brown v. Board of Education....
  • Childhood Obesity and School Exercise Programs: Not So Fast

    I hate to pour cold water on what seems like a surefire way to combat childhood obesity—namely, school-based health and exercise programs—so I’ll blame the Cochrane Collaboration for doing so. This non-profit group of scientists and physicians, based in England, regularly assesses the weight of the evidence on health and medical questions from whether St. John’s wort can alleviate depression (yes, sort of) to whether mouthwash can reduce bad breath (in some cases). Now the Cochrane team has weighed in on whether school programs can help kids lose weight and inspire them to ...
  • Sweden's Scores Plunge in International Tests

    In Sweden, forget stock prices: it's plunging test scores that are causing a national panic. Once 11th in the world in science rankings, Sweden's scores on international eighth-grade tests fell 42 points between 1995 and 2007—one of the worst declines among the 35 nations tested. Reading and math scores showed the same disturbing trend.Some experts say demographic shifts may be contributing to the plunge. Immigrants have increased from 9 percent of Sweden's population in 1990 to 12 percent currently, with many refugees coming from places like Somalia and Iraq. Families are moving away from schools where the newcomers are concentrated, and teachers aren't trained to deal with the increasingly segregated system.But others say a more plausible explanation is Sweden's lax education philosophy. Swedish children aren't graded on their work until the eighth grade, and there are few curriculum standards. Sweden's education minister, Jan Björklund, says this easygoing attitude is changing in...
  • White House Science Advisor

    That sigh of relief emanating from laboratories around the world is the sound of scientists reacting to reports that president-elect Obama will name physicist John Holdren his science adviser. Holdren has a resume longer than your arm (he is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and former president, and chairman of the board of American Association for the Advancement of Science), but what he will bring to the table is an unflinching commitment to evidence-based policy making....