Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#DevLearn Keynote with Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson

These are my live blogged notes from the opening keynote at DevLearn 14, happening this week in Las Vegas.  Forgive any incoherencies or typos.

Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson -- Science Literacy and the Future of Work

Children are born scientists. We beat it out of them.

Running around your house and breaking stuff – that’s scientific inquiry at work.

A toddler spilling her milk and watching it run down the floor – an experiment in fluid dynamics.

Don't deny the child the experiment just because you want to avoid a big mess (“no jumping in puddles!”)

A kid grabbing an egg off the counter and seeing how it breaks – an experiment in material science, embryotic biology

Kids already are scientifically literate.

Sacrifice the cleanliness of your home and let stuff break.

And adult scientist is a kid who never grew up.

“Neil should cultivate a more serious attitude in his schoolwork.” We have a system of education that asserts that the best students are the best behaved ones.

In 1969:
This is why our country is so messed up. These are the people who are now governing our country. These were the options we had? Women could be mothers and school teachers.  Notice, the men were not given the choice to be fathers.

With the women’s movement, education expanded – more options for women. More talented people moving into the workforce. This corresponds with a downturn in American Education.

1960’s Civil Rights, 1970’s Women’s Lib, 1980s Gay Rights – this is why we see a black president before a female president.

“Did your college major teach you what to know or how to think?”

What’s more valuable in the workplace? Knowing stuff or knowing how to think about stuff?  At the end of the day, you want to know: Who are the problem solvers?

We need to learn HOW to think so we can solve problems we’ve never seen before.

When you learn Trig Calc, your brain is going through a new wiring process. You’re learning HOW to solve problems. It’s the act of having to slog through math problem sets. It leaves your brain differently wired.

“Job Description” Workers = I don’t do it if it’s not in my job description. They only apply a body of knowledge to their job.

A “Problem Solving” Worker has a completely different attitude.

How do YOU react to a task never handed to you before? Problem solvers embrace them. That’s who you want in the workplace.

How would you promote someone who only ever just works completely in their job description?

"We've come to presume that the answer matters instead of the brain wiring that leads to the answers."

“Multiple Choice” Workers = Q: “Where do you want to go to lunch?” A: “What are my choices?” This is a world where the answers are pre-sorted for us. The brain doesn’t have to do any work. Work would mean coming up with answer out of the blue.

The Straight A Student: If you got straight A's, then the teacher was pretty much irrelevant. Don't show me your great teachers if you got straight A's. Show me your teachers if you got a B and your teacher helped you move to A. Those are the educators that really matter. The ones who made a difference.

Don't define what you know by the grade that others give you. 

My grades are not the measure of what I know -- not the measure of myself - it's my commitment. Don't use your grade as the measure. At your second job does anyone ask what your GPA was? Your A's don't matter to anyone but yourself (or maybe the teacher who held you up as an exemplar student).

Let's look at the top ten college dropouts: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, James Cameron, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lady Gaga, Tiger Woods

These are no slouches here.

We have to get out of the mindset that everything that is not the right answer is equally wrong. Is K-A-T more wrong that Q-W-R to spell cat?

Creativity is what you do when you step into a new place where no one has been before. Seeing what everyone else sees, but thinking what no one else has thought.

At MIT, you take over 80% of you classes in math, science, engineering.

At Harvard, he majored in physics. Half of his classes were in non-science/math subjects. 

To win the Nobel Prize, you need to think like no one else has thought. You need angles and ways in that are new.  (Havard has about 60 Nobel Prize winners; MIT has about 29). 

Could it be the immersion in the liberal arts that opens up the mind to ideas you've never had before?

Where is science going on in the world?

A map based on scientific activity. Look at Japan? (Japan won three Nobel Prizes this year).

But where is the trend going? Look at research trends. The US is shrinking...

Innovation in STEM fields is the driver in economies. 

But there's hope -- interest in science is on the rise. Tyson has 4 million twitter followers. There are LOTS of shows with science as a theme (Big Bang Theory, CSI, Cosmos, etc.) When you connect STEM to pop culture it flies.

"Neil deGrasse Tyson is about to crack a knowledge egg on your ass."


What's the role of games in education? 
He talks about his son, who plays a lot of games. There's a lot going on in the mind of a gamer -- spatial play. Engagement. The gamification of everything.

How do we change the trend with US falling behind?
One idea -- In the US, kids don't respect their elders so much. We don't see this in other countries, esp in the far east. What does it take to think like no one has thought before? It requires irreverence for authority. Disrespect for someone saying how someone should think. Maybe this irreverence keeps us on the edge and keeps us from being drowned. We would be FARTHER behind if it weren't for this.

Keep thinking about the future. What's the role of science fiction in stimulating innovation. It gets us to think about the possibilities.

How do we serve the greater good for society?


karen08 said...

Thank you Cammy! I wasn't able to attend this year and I'm SO missing it. Your posts will help make me feel a little bit more connected.

Unknown said...

Thanks Cammy, so pleased you have posted this! It was a very inspiring keynote.

Unknown said...

Thanks Cammy! Great notes and inspiration.

Victoria said...

Combine your blog post on Neil's DevLearn keynote with Clark Quinn's blog mindmap of the same and it's almost like having been there!

Thank you for sharing your notes, Cammy - incoherencies, typos or not. Much appreciated!

Love what he said about letting kids experiment and make messes.