Why Teach Art?

Thinking Skills

An article written by Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland for the Boston Globe in 2007 promotes creativity in learning: “There is, however, a very good reason to teach arts in schools, and it’s not the one that arts supporters tend to fall back on. In a recent study of several art classes in Boston-area schools, we found that arts programs teach a specific set of thinking skills rarely addressed elsewhere in the curriculum – and that far from being irrelevant in a test-driven education system, arts education is becoming even more important as standardized tests like the MCAS exert a narrowing influence over what schools teach.”

And why shouldn’t they? Dr. Betty Edwards, best-selling author of “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain,” advocates the use of our right brain hemisphere and has written great coursework that reveals are inherent underdevelopment of this side of the brain. Most educational programs, established in the United States back in the 1800’s, site a preference for left hemispherical instruction. Understandably, we were still essentially agricultural at the time, and steadily emerging to play a major part in the Industrial Revolution. Whatever music, drama and art instruction existed in the one room schoolhouse, soon migrated to larger and larger classrooms where the early technology of manufacturing in the New World was a bright glow on the future horizons of American young people.

Space Race

Into the 1900’s, those artful programs diminished. The “Space Race” and Sputnik, launched an all-out emphasis on Science and Math learning and changed school curriculums forever. With the realization that America, in the 1980’s and 1990’s was fast become a service and technology oriented nation, our manufacturing industries diminished and a New Age of Technology changed the future glow for school children. Again, in public and private schools across the nation, the importance of that left hemisphere, so amply delineated by Dr. Betty Edwards as the time-counter, the data finder, the logician, the number-cruncher, the financier, the worker of charts and graphs would again dictate what our schools taught our youth.

Rich Creative Thinking

What we haven’t quite figured out yet is that most scientific, mathematical, legal, financial positions require creativity and that great progress has been made in these areas by “thinking outside the box.” For that matter, creative thinking enhances any part of our lives. How?

When we receive information, if we are basically trained in the American educational system, we process it as data, that is, it represents dates, times, charts, factors, elements that regulate our lives in monetary, fiduciary, fact-oriented ways. This is our perceptual reality. Indeed, the best trained to process this data have a good chance of doing well in our culture. Could creativity make us better? Yes, because, with the emphasis on just one hemisphere of our brain, we don’t really have the whole picture. We are not cognitive to all of the options that our wonderful brains can render. Therefore, we are severely limited: economically, culturally, politically and spiritually.

The Total Brain

Developing our total brains, more the cerebral scenario of ancient Western culture, is still alive and well in many cultures today. But as the global economy spreads the word, educational patterns lean towards left hemisphere education. Will we ultimately inherit a global, lop-sided perspective, severely limiting our brain capacities in favor of the left and retarding the use of the right? In the future, will bear offspring that are limited that way?

Sci-Fi?

This prospect is dismal and hopefully, just science fiction. If we chose to, via cultural choices, cut off the very rich resources of the right side, are children and future children will inherit a two-dimensional world which stifles creativity, shuns invention and creative research, blocks poetry, the theatre, and artists endeavors and, ultimately, cuts off a very powerful resource. It could be that the world will suffer for our restrictions on creative thinking.

Here is my challenge. Learn your right side! You will become stronger, better equipped to deal with what the world has to offer and, if at first, you are uncomfortable, well, go ahead, jump into to the hot tub of creativity.

3D Printing: The Near Future & Market Opportunities Explored

The 3D printing process was invented by Chuck Hill in 1983, named, as ‘stereolithography’ as a technique for constructing solid entities by sequentially printing thin films of ultraviolet material over one another. This technique laid the foundation of present scenario of 3D printing. The modern definition of 3D printing can be defined as an additive engineering process to generate a physical entity from a digital source or design. Today, there are various 3D technologies and material available in the market, but all follow the same standardised procedure: a solid material from a digital design by adding consecutive layers. A typical 3D printing initiated with a forming of digitalized design file of a physical entity. The next step varies with technology and material used, commencing from system printers to melt the material and place it down onto printing platform. The time is highly dependent on the printing size, and often post-processing events. The common printing techniques include fused deposition modelling, stereolithography, digital light processing, selective laser sintering, polyjet and multijet modelling, binder jetting, and metal printing (selective laser melting and electron beam melting). The materials for printing varies by printing options, ranging from rubber, plastics (polyamide, ABS, PLA, and LayWood), ceramics, biomaterials, sandstone, metals and alloys (titanium, aluminium, steel, cobalt-chrome and nickel).

The 3D printer is advantageous as they offer construction of complex designs which cannot be produced by traditional methods, customization of products with no supplementary detailing or tooling, and no additional pricing, and creating a hope for entrepreneurs or designers in cost effective production for market testing or other needs. In addition, the traditional methods for manufacturing an entity generate a huge amount of waste of raw materials, for instance, bracket manufacturing lavish nearly 90% of the raw material. On the other hand, 3D printing manufacturing process involve minimal wastage of material and can be recycled in the next cycle.

However, the concept of 3D modelling often associated with drawbacks such as high cost of large production, restricted strength and durability, and lower quality resolution. Moreover, there are more than 500 3D printing materials available in the market, most are made from plastics and metals. However, owing to rapid technological advancement, the number of materials is increasing briskly comprising wood, composites, meat, chocolates, and so on.

As exemplified by public sources, by 2027, one tenth of world’s production will be 3D printed. Consequently, the cost of printers will drop from $18,000 USD to $400 USD in upcoming 10 years. Therefore, various companies have started their 3D printed production such as dominating shoe companies as well as in aircraft constructions. Evolving technology will create a scenario where smartphones were fortified with scanner allowing to build anything at home, for instance, China has created a complete 6-story building by using 3D printing technology.

The 3D printing has diverse applications in the fields of medical, manufacturing, sociocultural, and industrial. Based on manufacturing applications, the field is divided into agile tooling, food, research, prototyping, cloud-based additives, and mass customization. Based on medical application, the field is distributed into bio-printing devices and medicines. For instance, in August 2015, 3D printed surgical bolt device, named, ‘FastForward Bone Tether Plate’ was approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of bunion. In addition, in May 2017, the researcher of Max Plank Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany developed a micro-machine, named, microswimmers, by using 3D printer technology of Nanoscribe GmBH, for precisely delivering drugs to the site of infection and can be controlled inside the body. Various industries have adopted 3D printing technology for manufacturing their products. For instance, Airbus SAS, France declared that its product, Airbus A350 XWB contains more than 100 3D printed components. The astronautical industries have developed a 3D printer through the collaboration of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Made In Space, Inc. for printing in zero gravity.

It’s Market

The Global 3D Printing Market is projected to reach by 2022 is USD X.X, from X.X in 2015 at a CAGR of X.X% from 2016 to 2022 as per the latest updated report available at DecisionDatabases.com. The market is segmented on basis of printer type, material type, material form, software, service, technology, process, vertical, application, and geography.

Based on printer type, the market is segmented on the basis of desktop 3D printers and industrial printers. Based on the material type, the market is segmented as plastics, metals, ceramics, and other (wax, laywood, paper, biomaterials). Based on material form, the market is segmented on the basis of filament, powder, and liquid. Based on software the market is segmented on the basis of design software, inspection software, printer software, and scanning software. Based on technology the market is segmented on the basis of stereolithography, fused deposition modelling, selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering, polyjet printing, inkjet printing, electron beam melting, laser metal deposition, digital light processing, and laminated object manufacturing. Based on the process the market is segmented on the basis of binder jetting, direct energy deposition, material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion, vat photopolymerization, and sheet lamination. Based on vertical the market is segmented on the basis of automotive, healthcare, architecture & construction, consumer products, education, industrial, energy, printed electronics, jewellery, food & culinary, aerospace & defence, and others. Based on the application the market is segmented on the basis of prototyping, tooling, and functional parts.

By geography, the market is segmented on the basis of North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Middle-East and Africa

The factors such as high investments in Research and development (R&D), low wastage of raw material, and ease of constructing tailored products propel the growth of the market. However, the factor such as restricted availability of printer, high pricing of materials, and the dearth of skilled professionals impede the market growth.

New Conflicting Trends in Education

There was a time when the basic needs of human beings were only food, clothing and shelter. With the rise of the industrial age, education was added as one of their basic needs. And now education is one of the major industries of the world, producing graduates to manage and run the economy, politics, and the transmission of culture. But with the information age gaining more and more ground in our society, we are seeing conflicting trends in the educational system.

The first conflicting trend is in the area of cost. While the cost of formal education in colleges and universities is rising, the cost of education through the Internet is getting lower and lower. In many countries the observation of educational managers is that educational cost is rising higher than the inflation rate of a country. And yet getting information which is the raw data of education is becoming cheaper and cheaper through the Internet. Students can connect cheaply to the Internet through Internet cafes and access information that before would cost them much. They can now download ebooks, many of which are free.

In the Website Personal Money Store an article is written about Academic Earth. It says that while Academic Earth is not an organization that can provide a learner with college credit, it can give him or her nearly all the same material he or she could receive in a traditional college classroom, at a time when he or she wants it, without the hassle of transportation and dress expenses. There is an advertisement in this Website of “Great College Lectures, for FREE.”

The second conflicting trend I see is in the area of methodology. With more information to digest and more books to read students are getting more and more burdened with reading, memorizing and comprehending the content of the books and lectures of professors. And yet on the other hand there are so many individuals and groups trying to make learning fun and enjoyable, not a burdensome experience.

In the Website DNA Read the World there is an article entitled “New trends in teaching that make learning fun.” In this article we read, “To make students enjoy and understand at the same time is the key principle on which education institutions should work on.” There are also online experiments with mnemonics to make memorization fun.

The third conflicting trend is in the area of results. Almost everywhere in countries with Western kind of education the complaint has been that the educational system produces unemployed or underemployed graduates. There is no assurance that upon graduation employment is there. And yet jobs are being generated through the Internet. Some get jobs by writing reviews of books, of programs, by creating websites, by programming, etc., not to mention the many scams online.

The Website Engines for Education is trying “to raise consciousness about the changes needed in our educational system.” Hopefully these changes will also solve the problem of unemployment or underemployment of our college graduates.

What do these conflicting trends tell us? It seems that the following trends are possible.

As the cost of formal education goes higher and higher and the cost of non-formal education through the Web goes lower and lower, only the wealthy will be able to access formal education while the not so wealthy will be content with non-formal education through the Web.

As the process of education becomes more and more burdensome to students more and more educational games will be put on the web where the students will be spending more and more of their time. There are already indications that students cut their classes in order to spend their time playing games in Internet cafes.

As more and more unemployed and underemployed are produced by our formal system of education, more and more jobs will be created through the Web.

The changes in the educational area are not so clear at the present time but it seems clear that there are indications of substantial changes in the near future.

The Easiest Way to Prepare Your Child for a Bright Future: Pre-Kindergarten

Every parent wants to give their child the skills to succeed. For most, these tools include enrolling their children in school around the age of five, helping them with their homework, and emphasizing the importance of academics. However, some parents may be surprised to learn that one of the most proven ways to help their child find future academic success is an early-stage tool: prekindergarten.

Setting a Precedent

A vast and growing body of scientific research shows that enrolling in prekindergarten yields both short and long-term benefits for children and their communities. Preschool exposes young ones to numbers, letters, and shapes during a critical cognitive development stage. Preparing them to understand the concept of counting, giving them a sharper grasp of time, and engaging in fantasy play or storytelling. States that have invested in offering public education pre-k programs for all children have reported significant academic improvements across the board, for all income levels and racial groups. These educational improvements include letter identification, word identification, applied problem solving and spelling. All of which are crucial tools for students to master at a young age in order to stay abreast of their future education. Furthermore, studies that followed subjects for longer periods of time found impressive long-term results concerning educational progress, lowered delinquency, and post-high school earning power. More and more kindergarten teachers are expecting their pupils to already have a basic knowledge of the ABCs, 123s, and the primary colors. However, they now also want them to know how to spell and recognize their name, know the alphabet, name letters, count one to ten, and recognize most of the basic colors and shapes. A pupil entering kindergarten without these skills in hand may struggle to catch up or stay on the same pace as the class. Thus risking a larger and larger academic lag as their education continues.

Increase in Skills

In addition to scholastic improvement, children enrolled in school programs prior to kindergarten have greater opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as their social and life skills. At ages 3-4, one should be able to use scissors, copy shapes, negotiate solutions to conflicts with peers, and show interest in spending time with other children. According to research, kids who have positive developmental experiences go on to have a higher vocabulary, are more apt to follow directions, and are more socially confident in their teenage years. Scientific studies show that these earlier educated children also have decreased chances of needing special education services later on in life. Not only does this obviously benefit the child and the family, but it also reduces the financial drain on schools and communities, freeing up extra dollars to be reinvested into improving and expanding other school activities and programs. Cities that invest in early public education see their dollars returned with a closing of their achievement gap, an increase in their graduation rate, and the creation of productive citizens.

In conclusion, parents should consider prekindergarten a crucial step for their children. 3 and 4-year-old brains are like sponges, ready to soak up valuable information and build a strong foundation. With prekindergarten, they will quickly learn how to navigate the academic and social world of kindergarten and beyond.

The Future of Educational Technology and Education 3.0

Thinking of what education might look like in the next decade, one quickly realizes that the trends in technology are leaving a large number of our students behind. We no longer live in an age of visible movement when it comes to progress and innovation. Today is an age of exponential change. New and ever-improving technologies are popping up every day and in every corner of society.

Educating the best and the brightest in this brave new world will take a new and improved educational paradigm. Allowing our educational tools to age in the corner of the classroom will be the mistake that may cost us our future. Throwing away masses of children to inequitable access will ensure that we languish at the bottom of the global pool of employable workers for decades to come.

The New Toolbox

I was at an auction a few years ago and noticed a few old woodworking tools that I thought I could use. For a few bucks, I was able to snag an assortment of hand tools that may have been in someone’s toolbox for a generation or more. As the next decade passed, I used these tools in my shop for a wide variety of projects until my projects outgrew these old, dull tools. My woodworking creations continued to improve as did my skills and artistry. I quickly discovered that using improved tools would translate into improved craftsmanship. As any woodworker will tell you, new tools require new skills.

Woodworking is a great metaphor for shaping and molding students. There is simply no good substitute for a sharp tool. If you want to build the best projects possible, you need to use the best tools possible. Thinking in terms of the next decade for our country, we will be sorely disappointed in our projects if we fail to improve our tools.

Within this article, I will try to paint a picture of how technology will shape the way we educate students in the next decade. I will attempt to show the amazing possibilities that lay before us if we will simply walk through the doorway of opportunity that is open to us. My focus will be this idea: Transforming the student from being a passenger to becoming a “user.” You may be wondering what I mean by this. Let me explain.

Ask yourself what it means to be a “user.” A user is not simply a person who uses. For the student, being a user should involve using the latest technology in a free and autonomous manner. This new-found freedom will allow the student to become an active participant in his/her education instead of a passive passenger. No other time in history have we been so able to make this a reality.

In our current technological society, being a user also means being tracked. Tracking has become a major part of our daily lives and is precisely the engine that should drive our educational process for the foreseeable future. Tracking a student means having the ability to target education toward weaknesses and strengths. The ability to accurately customize curriculum to the individual has been the holy grail of educational philosophy for many years. This golden age of technological development may soon enable this dream to become a reality.

Current educational curriculum and individual assessment is arbitrary at best. Being able to accurately asses a student can only be achieved by using modern tracking and database technologies. The means by which we can make this a reality is readily available and only needs to be taken off the shelf to be used. If Congress is looking for a shovel-ready project, this may be the one.

Imagine a world where every child has a tablet computer with ready access to the App of virtual photographic memory (internet). Further, imagine that every student can access all the knowledge of humankind freely at any moment in time. Continue to imagine a world where a misspelled word brings up a spelling challenge application instead of an auto correction. Try to contemplate what it would mean for a teacher to have a database of every misspelled word, every misunderstood concept or every missed equation for each of their students. Try to envision a teacher with the ability to customize the experience of the individual “user” with minimal effort. Imagine the curriculum being automatically targeted to the user through an intuitive educational platform that knows every strength and each unique weakness. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The company that makes this standard available to the educational community will be the company that shapes the future of humankind. Will it be Google, Apple, Microsoft, or some other yet unknown pioneer?

Continuing from the thoughts in my last post, I would like to elaborate on the idea of the student as a user of a new standardized educational platform. It is obvious to me that the future of education will always mirror our everyday lives in one way or another. If you examine how technology has influenced your daily life already, you begin to put together a snapshot of what it will mean to be educated in the next decade.

In the last few hundred years, most individuals would consider an education as something you receive. You often hear the question asked, “Where did you receive your education?” As we proceed through the next decade, education will slowly move away from reception and toward being custom designed for the individual user. New technology will not only allow us to receive an education, but also develop an education. The question we might ask in 10 years is, “How did you develop your education?” The question of where will still be important, but the how of the matter will be the focus that defines the individual.

To make this a reality we will need a standardized platform from which to develop a student’s unique education. This standardized platform will allow us to tailor a custom curriculum that will be matched to talents, interests and life goals. For the educator, a standardized platform will create a way to assist the student in discovering a true purpose in life through a unique educational experience. The basics of reading, writing and arithmetic will not be taught as much as they will be discovered and used. Learning will become a reciprocal experience between the teacher, the student and the machine.

Under a standardized platform, each of these three participants will have a role to play. The teacher will be the facilitator, assisting the development of the curriculum and inspiring the direction the student takes. The student will be the user, gathering resources, skills and knowledge in an efficient and measured sequence. The machine will do the work of data gathering and analysis, which will assist the teacher and student in refining the curriculum. This data gathering work of the machine will also free the teacher from the burden of record-keeping and tedious tasks that currently distract from the real job of teaching and learning.

Under a standardized system, grade level will be far less important. Achievement and progression will be measured by accomplishment and intelligence as a benchmark for success. The question of failure or success will be irrelevant and replaced with a standard and consistent measurement of potential and overall intelligence. Information will no longer be missed but continually rehearsed and monitored for retention by the machine.

In our current educational paradigm, the teacher is in charge of arbitrarily constructing curriculum. This approach to curriculum development is based on inexperience in some cases, outdated materials, inadequate funding and a shortage of time. Measuring the success of a specific curriculum is currently impossible. With a standardized system, comparisons of curricular success can be made across the entire spectrum of education and then continually reformulated and enhanced by the machine.

Sadly, teachers today are bogged down with an assortment of mind-numbing tasks that would be better suited to an off-the-shelf automated system. Tasks such as data tracking, reporting and record keeping are currently accomplished manually. These tasks could easily be delegated to an intuitive database. Developing a standard to follow would eliminate these tasks and free the teacher to do their main job of teaching students.

Education 3.0

Throughout history, man has sought to pass on knowledge to the next generation. This process started with oral tradition, storytelling and writing. With the advent of the printing press, knowledge and information slowly became available to the masses. The amount of information that could be gained by one human in a lifetime was severely limited by his access to printed materials and wealth. The majority of learning was gained through observation and imitation. We can call this Education 1.0.

Education 2.0 starts around the late eighteen hundreds with universal literacy movements throughout newly industrialized regions of the world. Improvements in education slowly transitioned from apprenticeship to formal education and training. Despite our movements toward universal education, access to knowledge and opportunity continues to be inequitable throughout the world. Even with the arrival of the computer revolution, access to the tools of learning continues to define the learner.

The next decade may mark the moment in history when all men are granted equal access to the greatest treasure a soul can possess. I use the word may in the last sentence because there is the chance that we will miss this golden opportunity. Access to Education 3.0 will only be gained through investment and universal standardization. If we continue to divert wealth toward fruitless goals and corporate greed, this opportunity will be lost or hopelessly delayed.

Education 3.0, when it arrives, will be the age of universal enlightenment. Platforms for education and learning will slowly standardize and become globally accessible and affordable. The poorest to the wealthiest will have access to the machine that runs the platform.

The thought on your mind at this point is most likely wondering what machine I keep referring to. The machine in question is the one we have been so busy teaching and training since roughly 1969. You’ve probably guessed it by now that I am referring to the internet. The great cloud of knowledge that we call the internet is precisely the mechanism that we will use to build the platform of Education 3.0. When the platform is finally in place, the decade to follow will see the greatest amount of wealth, discoveries and use of human potential that we have witnessed during our time on this earth. The only question that remains to be answered is the point at which I will leave this article.

When will we allow the user to use the machine to its potential?