Marie’s Musings – November 2018

Home » Marie’s Musings – November 2018
Thoughts on education, publishing, and other intellectual titillations –by Marie Brown, Consulting Editorial Project Director

***The following comments, views, and opinions are solely those of Marie Brown, and do not necessarily reflect those of Westchester Publishing Services, its management, and staff.***

“Here come the Millennials.”
– Several media outlets commenting on the recent 2018 mid-term elections

The recent mid-term elections saw an increasing number of 18-29 years-olds voting for the first time. The final numbers are yet to be tabulated (keep counting, Texas and Florida), but these early returns are available: more than 3.3 million voters of the Millennial (also known as Gen Y) age group voted early!, a 188% increase from 2014 and in battleground states, such as Texas and Georgia, early turnout was up a whopping 500%.  While more complete analysis will be forthcoming when all the data are collected, it appears early on that these first-time voters want to be heard and to participate in decisions made about candidates and issues that are important to them.

MY TAKE—This is great news.  What is of some concern, however, is where and how these young people are getting information for making their decisions. In a recent study conducted by the Education Week Research Center, the most popular source of information for Millennials is Google searches, followed by family, school, friends, and TV news, and social media such as Facebook and YouTube. Given the potential biases and misinformation of these and other sources makes the vetting process very difficult. In fact, I think all of us—from youngster to oldsters—are faced with the same challenge of finding “just the facts.”

After many years in curriculum limbo, civics education is once again getting attention. Senators James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma and Angus King, an independent from Maine, have introduced a bill to make a small change to the $1.8 million American History and Civics Education program grants. Under the change, grant recipients would need to “include programs that educate students about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights.” This initiative is reflective of an increasing interest in boosting civics education. Massachusetts recently became the first state to require “action civics” projects as part of 8-12 coursework, while Washington state and Illinois both recently past legislation requiring all students to take a half-semester civics course before graduation.

In related news, Pearson has released a new online curriculum for U.S. history meant to create an “immersive and engaging” experience for students.  The new curriculum, called Project Imagine, is a supplemental resource that seeks to guide students through historical events with features such as interactive maps, 360-degree technology, and links to actual archived, historical recordings and documents. Future plans are to expand Project Imagine to other history and social studies curricula such as world history and civics.


  • YouTube has created a $20 million fund to motivate entrepreneurs to create educational content. Company officials emphasized the requirement that content creators must have a track record and manage an established audience of at least 25,000 subscribers on their platform. YouTube is one of the most preferred of the social media for 14-23 -year-olds.
  • Google Play for Education, a portal that includes free apps, videos, and rental textbooks can now be accessed via the cloud-based Chromebook notebooks, in addition to its original design for use on Android tablets.
  • Amazon is launching a “childhood–to–career program that aims to spur underprivileged children and adults to pursue careers in computer science.  They project to reach 10 million kids each year through coding camps, online lessons, and introductory and advanced placement courses in computer science. They will also award related scholarships and internships at Amazon.

 Gone are the days when vocational education students (those who were deemed to not be “college material”) spent their time constructing birdfeeders or taking apart car engines. The CTE (Career Technical Education) students of today are involved with rigorous, personalized, blended learning experiences in career areas such as: biomedical science, dental science, exercise science, and healthcare science.  These career-focused experiences include coursework, hands-on laboratory activities, job shadowing and relevant internships. After graduation, some CTE students will transition to skilled jobs such as phlebotomy technician or dental assistant, but a surprising more than 60% opt to go on to earning a four-year or advanced degrees, aspiring to such careers as registered nurses, biomedical engineers, dentists , and psychologists.

MY TAKE—This is such a welcome trend.  Since the beginning days of voc-ed, low-performing students—some late bloomers no doubt—were relegated to this self-described non-college bound track with their future already predetermined for them.  Often these were low-income students whose parents, teachers, and even themselves perhaps, had low-expectations for their academic success.

When criticism is often leveled at the shortcomings and failures of our schools and educational practices, this is an admirable and noteworthy example of educational progress at its best!  Kudos!

A new study published in the journal, Preventive Medicine Reports, found that young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens (TVs, computers, and other digital devices) are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for a hour a day and also were more easily distracted, less emotionally  stable and had more problems finishing tasks and making friends.The data came from more than 40,000 kids ages 2-17 and was collected as part of the Census Bureau’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health.

So are kids looking at screens that much of the time? A recent Pew Research found that teens use the Internet “almost constantly.” This addiction is not only relegated to kids—some estimates show that U.S. adults now spend roughly 10 hours a day staring at TVs or digital devices.

BIAS ALERT–I grow increasingly alarmed at the increasing obsessive use of everything digital.  Look around you – on the street, on a bus or train, on a supermarket checkout line–nearly everyone is tethered to a mobile phone.  Go to someone’s house or your own to see how little interaction there is among the humans. Conversation is becoming a lost art. When I observe children playing video games, they look like zombies to me. Their eyes don’t even look like they’re blinking. How many kids would rather play a game on their iPad than go outside to play with their friends? I have mentioned before in these blogs the 2008 movie Wall-E.  You’ll get a good idea of how all this technology is going to affect what our children will look like and how they will act. These are serious and growing concerns. Of course, there are many positives we are gaining from technology technology.  It’s what we are losing that alarms me.

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