Marie’s Musings – February 2018

Home » Marie’s Musings – February 2018
Thoughts on publishing, education, and other 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. ***


Don’t let any more children suffer like we have.” –  Christine Yared, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to President Donald Trump

!BIAS ALERT! As a former elementary school teacher, as a mother of a daughter currently teaching in an elementary school, as a grandmother of four grandchildren currently attending elementary, middle and high schools, and as an acutely concerned American, it is impossible for me to stay silent about the tragedy that took place in Parkland, FL.  There have been multiple incidents, some reports cite as high as 18 such events across the United States, since the first of the year. We have heard “thoughts and prayers” offered by our government— but little real action to deal with the problem.  We have failed our children. We have failed to keep them safe.  We have failed to keep the fear of future violence from them. We see the heroism and commitment of teachers and school personnel.  We see, now, the powerful voices of the students—CHILDREN– taking the bold initiative to confront the issue, head on, to deal with gun violence. Certainly, mental illness is a major contributing factor.  But without a gun, and an assault weapon at that, would the shooter have been able to kill and wound as many people? Our president’s suggestion to arm “adept” teachers to face would-be shooters is both incredibly naïve and dangerous.  Every teacher I’ve spoken to is vehemently opposed to this suggestion. I sometimes think the NRA would welcome everyone being armed— in airports, in movie theaters, in churches (think of the sales!) everywhere there could be a potential shooter. And why not give them the option of an assault weapon? What an image we are projecting to the rest of the world!  I am heartbroken.  The safety of our children—all of us—must be our highest priority.  It is time, this time.


Back in 1975, more than one-fifth (22%) of college students (albeit, female students) majored in education—a higher share than any other major. However, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2015, fewer than 10% pursued degrees in education. The shift away from education majors was especially notable among women. In fact, over the past 40 years, the share of female college students majoring in education has shrunk from 32% to 11%. A projection from a May 2017 research study by UCLA found that only 4.6% of college freshmen planned to major in education. One of the reasons, happily, is that women are looking into other careers in STEM areas which were formerly male-dominated.


And now to burst that just aforementioned bubble. Students who are navigating toward a STEM job, take heed. The results of several in-house studies conducted by Google (Project Oxygen) raised some questions over the conventional wisdom surrounding the importance of a STEM education on careers in the digital age. Their findings conclude that the hard skills from a STEM education were not as important as softer skills such as curiosity, empathy, and emotional intelligence. (My nephew, who has a great job at Google, got his undergraduate degree in communications.)

Colleges are onto this trend, exploring new teaching models to incorporate soft skills like leadership, geniality and emotional stability in an effort to equip students to become better communicators, problem solvers, and global citizens.


NPR (National Public Radio) is looking for a new science editor to cover consumer health trends, medicine, public health, biotech, and health policy. Think you wouldn’t qualify?  Think again.  Here are the qualifications posted for the job:  Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience.  Background in science not required.  So, to be the NPR science editor, one doesn’t need a college degree or a background in science. Is this low bar set because of budgetary constraints? Cheaper to hire a social media intern than a Ph.D. in science ? I love NPR.  Let’s step up our donations, folks.


The founder of a kindergarten in central China (Yesanguan) dissected a whole pig in front of a large group of students, who tried to squeeze to the front to watch the butchering. The man removed and held up the innards as well as other various structural parts and organs of the pig. Apparently, the students’ parents had been informed of the event beforehand, and none of them objected. The kindergarten’s principal explained that the children would not find the demonstration traumatizing, as pig slaughtering was a local custom which symbolized prosperity.  And now for the best part—the pig, which was reared in the school, was later cooked and served to the parents and children as part of a celebration.

Bacon, anyone?


Until next time…


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