The Gift of Imagination

TOPICS: imagination, education, sir ken robinson

… kids will take a chance. If they don't know, they'll have a go. They're not frightened of being wrong. Now I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. But what we do know is if you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.
— Sir Ken Robinson.

Investigating other topics, I was reminded of this TED talk by Ken Robinson on education and imagination.

We are educating people out of their creativity.
— Sir Ken Robinson.

Stimulating yet sobering thoughts for me as the parent of an 8-yr-old in public school (made more poignant having just returned from lunch with my wife and a discussion of some of the pros and cons about homeschooling vs. public school). But also provocative from the perspective of a college-level instructor.

Is it possible that 2nd grade at the local public elementary school is somehow ruining my 8-yr-old's creativity? The school organizes classes in music and art each week and the teachers incorporate imaginative, creative exercises and activities into their daily teaching/learning plans. The classrooms are organized to allow and encourage socialization and small group work. The teachers are enthusiastic, sincere, and encouraging. Even the PE classes sound pretty fun (though the students like to complain about them).

And yet there is a palpable squelching of creativity. A gradual erosion of the kids' natural love of learning (which I mix into the general concept of creativity).

So what's happening? Is it a problem, as Sir Ken Robinson suggests, of over-emphasizing the analytical? Under-emphasizing motion, energy, music, dance, emotion, physicality? Under-appreciating all the various modes of learning, under-appreciating the various modes of learning about, and interacting with, the world and others?

I think the problems are much more insidious and challenging to address. In fact, for U. S. elementary and secondary education, I have to laugh somewhat bitterly when I think of Robinson's suggestion that we over-emphasize the analytical. In a generic, theoretical sense, I recognize the truth of his observation that an alien visitor might think the whole logical endpoint point of our educational system/process is the creation of college professors; but that would only be the conclusion from aliens with really sloppy thinking after a very superficial analysis. If such aliens looked carefully at the consistent outcomes, year after year, decade after decade, I think they'd come to the conclusion that we are instead intent on crushing students' natural love of learning (quite the opposite of the effect desired for a college instructor), perhaps with the overall plan of controlling or at least homogenizing the students.

And this is where I think we hit Robinson's perceived squelching of creativity.

But it's not a process of educating people out of their creativity, except in some ironic sense of "education." It's not a problem of, or a result of, over-emphasizing the analytical.

Instead, it's a problem born of mind-numbing bureaucracy, a glacial pace set for the educational process, and a mixture of culturally entrenched negative ideas about teaching and learning, all at least in part due to a number of questionable assumptions underlying the attempt to mass-produce so-called educated individuals in the same way we mass produce clothing, cars, and other commodities.

We "educate" kids in our public school system, not by over-emphasizing the analytical, but by treating the kids like just so many cattle to be organized and controlled. The (eventual) college professors are the students who survive the process despite years of intellect-degrading efforts by such an educational system.

For me, the real point of Robinson's story about the dancer and dance school is not that we should teach everyone to dance. But that each person has his/her own unique abilities, needs, and ways to excel. Our public school system is not set up to acknowledge, encourage, or take advantage of such abilities. Nor is it an adaptive system that will ever evolve to do so. The system itself is essentially starved of imagination.


Robinson, K. (2006). TED talk, available at http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Robinson, Ken at http://sirkenrobinson.com/

TED biographical information on Sir Ken Robinson at http://www.ted.com/speakers/sir_ken_robinson.html


The Poetry of Reality

TOPIC: science, science education, science popularization

Science is the poetry of reality.
— Richard Dawkins.


Bronowski, J. (1978). The common sense of science. Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674146514. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Common-Sense-Science-Harvard-Paperbacks/dp/0674146514/

Dawkins, R. (2009). The greatest show on earth: the evidence for evolution. Free Press, ISBN 1416594787. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Show-Earth-Evidence-Evolution/dp/1416594787/

Dawkins, R. (2008). The god delusion. Mariner Books (paperback), ISBN 0618918248. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/God-Delusion-Richard-Dawkins/dp/0618918248/

Feynman, R. P. (2005). The pleasure of finding things out: the best short works of Richard P. Feynman. Basic Books (paperback), ISBN 0465023959. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Finding-Things-Out-Richard/dp/0465023959/

Greene, B. (2005). The fabric of the cosmos: space, time, and the texture of reality. Vintage (paperback), ISBN 0375727205. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Fabric-Cosmos-Space-Texture-Reality/dp/0375727205/

Hawking, S. (2007). The theory of everything: the origin and fate of the universe. Phoenix Books, ISBN 1597775541. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Theory-Everything-Origin-Fate-Universe/dp/1597775541/

Krauss, L. (2007). Fear of physics: a guide for the perplexed. Basic Books, ISBN 0465002188. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Fear-Physics-Lawrence-M-Krauss/dp/0465002188/

Myers, P. Z. Blogging at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/

Porco, C. Profile on TED.com available at http://www.ted.com/speakers/carolyn_porco.html

Sagan, C. & Druyan, A. (1997). The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. Ballantine Books, ISBN 0345409469. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-Dark/dp/0345409469/

Shermer, M. (2009). The mind of the market: how biology and psychology shape our economic lives. Holt Paperbacks, ISBN 0805089160. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Market-Biology-Psychology-Economic/dp/0805089160/ Symphony of Science at http://symphonyofscience.com/

Tarter, J. (2009). Are we alone? TED talk available at http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_tarter_s_call_to_join_the_seti_search.html

Tyson, N. D. (2005). Origins: fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution. W. W. Norton, ISBN 0393327582. Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Fourteen-Billion-Cosmic-Evolution/dp/0393327582/


Hamster Gadget by Adam Bowman

I couldn't resist.

For more about Adam Bowman and some other very cool gadgets, see http://abowman.com/about/


Arthur Benjamin on Statistics

TOPIC: math education

The relative importance of statistics vs calculus — something I've pondered many times as a part-time member of the math & computer science department at a small liberal arts college. Our general distribution requirements here demand neither calculus nor statistics, although of course our science majors end up at various levels of calculus, and some eventually include a thorough one-semester statistics class.

Would it be interesting and useful to re-organize some things and plan for a required stats experience?




Misreporting of Recent Flu Vaccine Research: Headlines Sure To Spark Trouble

TOPIC: recent flu vaccine research, science in pop media

A recent headline on ScienceDaily.com announces that "Children Who Get Flu Vaccine Have Three Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu," and sure enough a quick Google search on that exact title produces hundreds of hits, including respectable sites such as ScienceDaily.com and medwirenews and a title at the U. S. Dept of Health & Human Services site www.healthfinder.gov:
Hospitalization Rates Higher in Kids Who Get Flu Shots
and of course at anti-vaccine propaganda sites such as www.ageofautism.com, that site trumpeting that "Flu Vaccine Triples Child Hospitalizations."

Wait — what?

Where is all of this coming from?

It turns out that the headlines are terribly misleading, especially for a unscientific general population that (1) easily confuses correlation with causation and (2) doesn't understand the difference between an experimental study and a quasi-experimental (or even correlational) study.

Most of the material being published out there under these headlines consists of simple regurgitations (or sometimes only pieces of) a premature and irresponsible press release issued 5/19 by The American Thoracic Society in promotion of that 'Society's 105th International Conference being held in San Diego, the press release having been timed to coincide with the specific symposium in which the related research was first being presented.

Premature? Yes. The American Thoracic Society press release concerned research not yet ready for general public consumption, concerning research not yet peer-reviewed (except minimally for conference presentation) or published in a peer-reviewed journal and involving a relatively small and special population of participants.

Irresponsible? Yes, in part for the reasons mentioned above, but also for the breath-takingly cavalier attitude with which they threw out for pop-media consumption poorly-explained research results under a heading sure to catch attention and sure to appear to have widespread and profound public health policy implications. Add to that the fact that the press release was based on an already-poorly-written abstract with questionably-worded conclusions, and the news release becomes an incredible fiasco.

Here's the original press release:

News Release

FOR RELEASE MAY 19, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. PDT

Keely Savoie or Brian Kell
ksavoie@thoracic.org or bkell@thoracic.org
ATS Office: 212-315-8620 or 212-315-6442 (until May 13)
Cell phones: 917-860-5814 (KS) or 516-305-9251 (BK)
ATS Press Room: 619-525-6323, 619-525-6324 or 619-525-6325 (May 15 to 20)
Mini-Symposium time: May 19: 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Presentation time: May 19: 3:20 p.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center, Room 3 (Upper Level)

Flu Shot Not Effective in Preventing Flu-Related Hospitalizations in Asthmatic Children

ATS 2009, SAN DIEGO— The inactivated flu vaccine does not appear to be effective in preventing influenza-related hospitalizations in children, especially the ones with asthma. In fact, children who get the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than their peers who do not get the vaccine, according to new research that will be presented on Tuesday, May 19, at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego.

Flu vaccine (trivalent inactivated flu vaccine—TIV) has unknown effects on asthmatics.

“The concerns that vaccination maybe [sic] associated with asthma exacerbations have been disproved with multiple studies in the past, but the vaccine’s effectiveness has not been well-established,” said Avni Joshi, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. “This study was aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the TIV in children overall, as well as the children with asthma, to prevent influenza-related hospitalization.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend annual influenza vaccination for all children aged six months to 18 years.

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (3 revision) also recommends annual flu vaccination of asthmatic children older than six months.

In order to determine whether the vaccine was effective in reducing the number of hospitalizations that all children, and especially the ones with asthma, faced over eight consecutive flu seasons, the researchers conducted a cohort study of 263 children who were evaluated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota from six months to 18 years of age, each of whom had had laboratory-confirmed influenza between 1996 to 2006. The investigators determined who had and had not received the flu vaccine, their asthma status and who did and did not require hospitalization. Records were reviewed for each subject with influenza-related illness for flu vaccination preceding the illness and hospitalization during that illness.

They found that children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization, as compared to children who had not received the vaccine. In asthmatic children, there was a significantly higher risk of hospitalization in subjects who received the TIV, as compared to those who did not (p= 0.006). But no other measured factors — such as insurance plans or severity of asthma — appeared to affect risk of hospitalization.

“While these findings do raise questions about the efficacy of the vaccine, they do not in fact implicate it as a cause of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Joshi. “More studies are needed to assess not only the immunogenicity, but also the efficacy of different influenza vaccines in asthmatic subjects.”


Session # C94: “Viral Infections in Childhood Respiratory Disease”

Abstract # 561: “Flu Vaccination in Asthmatics: Does It Work?”

It's interesting to look at the deterioration of the information as it flowed from Joshi, et al's original conference abstract, to the press release, then on to various pop media outlets:

Original title of Joshni, et al's conference abstract:
Flu Vaccination in Asthmatics: Does It Work?
(which, given the actual description of the research actually seems a poor title)

Then to this in the press release from the American Thoracic Society:

Flu Shot Not Effective in Preventing Flu-Related Hospitalizations in Asthmatic Children
Then to something like this in the mainstream pop-media (this one appearing on ScienceDaily.com):
Children Who Get Flu Vaccine Have Three Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu, Study Suggests
Then further mangled by less mainstream media to things like this:
Flu Vaccine Triples Child Hospitalizations
That last one of course now making it sound like the very existence of the flu vaccine is somehow leading to dramatic increases in child hospitalizations, which is utter nonsense.

So what's really happening here? And why does the first author Dr. Avni Joshi herself remark that the findings “… do not in fact implicate it [the vaccine] as a cause of hospitalizations” ?

In part, she is acknowledging what this study was NOT: the study was not an experimental study allowing cause-effect conclusions. In other words, the study was NOT something like that outlined in the figure below:

Given such a design, we might reasonably compare the conditional probabilities of being hospitalized with and without having earlier received a flu vaccine, something like

p(hospitalization | flu vaccine) vs. p(hospitalization | no vaccine)

Such an experimental design would allow us to fill in all of the cells of an incidence table like the one shown here at right:

But again, that's NOT the study Joshi and colleagues did. Instead we have the following description from Joshi and colleagues in their conference abstract:

METHODS: We conducted a cohort study of all pediatric subjects( 6 months to 18 years age) who were evaluated at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA who had laboratory confirmed influenza during each flu season from 1999-2006 to evaluate the efficacy of TIV. A case control analysis was performed with the cases and the controls being the subjects with asthma who did and did not required hospitalization with the influenza illness respectively.

and this slightly elaborated description from the press release:

… the researchers conducted a cohort study of 263 children who were evaluated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota from six months to 18 years of age, each of whom had had laboratory-confirmed influenza between 1996 to 2006. The investigators determined who had and had not received the flu vaccine, their asthma status and who did and did not require hospitalization. Records were reviewed for each subject with influenza-related illness for flu vaccination preceding the illness and hospitalization during that illness.

So, to be clear: this appears to have been a retrospective study of 263 participants already diagnosed with flu, some of whom had received a flu vaccine before their illness, some of whom had not, and some of whom were later hospitalized for their illness. The design of the study looks more like this:

and instead of giving information about the probability of hospitalization if you get a flu vaccine, the results give us information (with limited generalizability) about the probability of hospitalization if you were vaccinated but still came down with the flu. The phrasing makes this sound like some arcane, subtle distinction, but the information being communicated is dramatically different.

The pop media headlines and coverage lead one to believe that getting a flu vaccine somehow triples one's likelihood of being hospitalized for the flu. That is wrong. Instead, the research being reported implies only that if you get the flu (and have serious enough symptoms that you go to a medical clinic to be checked out) despite having self-selected into getting a flu vaccine (which means you're already part of an at-greater-risk population in general) then you're more likely to be hospitalized than someone who was also quite sick from the flu but without having had the earlier immunization.

Some of the possible explanations for such a result lie with the special patients themselves, and this is why Joshi points out that the results do not imply that the vaccine causes an increase in hospitalization rates. The special patients who get a serious case of the flu despite being vaccinated may be special (for example) in having particular health difficulties already or some other constitutional predisposition for the illness, and/or the patients may be special in having contracted particularly dangerous forms of the illness.


Children Who Get Flu Vaccine Have Three Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu, Study Suggests. (5/20/2009). Science Daily, accessed 5/21/2009 at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519172045.htm

Flu Shot Not Effective in Preventing Flu-Related Hospitalizations in Asthmatic Children. (5/19/2009). New Release from the American Thoracic Society, accessed 5/20/2009 at www.thoracic.org/sections/publications/press-releases/conference/articles/2009/abstracts-and-press-releases/joshi.pdf

Heckenlively, K. (5/21/2009). Flu Vaccine Triples Child Hospitalizations, but Won’t Turn Them into Horned, Hairy Apes, say Experts! Age of Autism: Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic, accessed 5/21/2009 at http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/05/flu-vaccine-triples-child-hospitalizations-but-wont-turn-them-into-horned-hairy-apes-say-experts.html

Joshi, A. Y., Iyer, V. N., Hartz, M. F., Volcheck, G. W., Patel, A. M., & Li, J. T. (2009). Flu vaccination in asthmatics: does it work? Presentation at The American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference, San Diego, CA, 5/19/2009. Abstract available as part of the press release available at www.thoracic.org/sections/publications/press-releases/conference/articles/2009/abstracts-and-press-releases/joshi.pdf

Lyford, J. (5/21/2009). Flu vaccine fails to reduce hospitalization in asthmatic children. medwirenews, accessed 5/21/2009 at http://www.medwire-news.md/48/82539/Respiratory/Flu_vaccine_fails_to_reduce_hospitalization_in_asthmatic_children.html


American Thoracic Society. http://www.thoracic.org/

CDC - Influenza (Flu). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). http://www.cdc.gov/


QualiaSoup on Open-Mindedness

TOPIC: open-minded skepticism vs simple open-mindedness

Just recently discovered this nice video from QualiaSoup as I was browsing over at the Pharyngula website. The extended commentary there and at QualiaSoup's youtube site is pretty much what you might expect: lots of positive remarks, the usual non-sequitars and tangential remarks, and the occasional critical response being harshly attacked by the other commenters.

What I wondered, though, all the way through the video and as I scanned through the comments, was this: who watching such a video would come away changed? And who needing such change would ever watch the video?

These aren't just idle questions. My academic colleagues and I strive often to address pseudoscience and pseudoscientific beliefs/concepts in the classroom — raising questions concerning falsifiability, bias, systematic empiricism, etc., and encouraging the practice of open-minded skepticism. But I often wonder seriously about how much thinking we actually change out there, instead of possibly just being heard by the students who are already attuned to this way of thinking and just alienating the ones who really need the message.


QualiaSoup at http://www.youtube.com/user/QualiaSoup

Pharyngula at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula

Shermer, Michael (1997) excerpt from Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time (W. H. Freeman.) at http://www.skeptic.com/about_us/manifesto.html


ACM President Wendy Hall Appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

TOPIC: topic here in lower-case letters

WENDY HALL, innovative and groundbreaking professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, UK, has been appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for "services to science and technology." Here's the text of the news release from School of Electronics & Computer Science at the University of Southampton:
New Years Honours - Dame Wendy Hall

Professor Wendy Hall, CBE, has been appointed DBE in the New Year Honours List for services to science and technology.

One of the world’s leading computer scientists, Wendy Hall is a Professor at the University of Southampton and was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science from 2002 to 2007. Her influence on the development of computer science has been fundamental not only in her academic work and the many successful research initiatives in which she has been involved, but also for the large number of prominent roles she has held in the scientific and technological community.

In 2003 Professor Hall was appointed President of the British Computer Society (BCS), the UK’s leading professional body for IT. In 2005 she became the first woman to be elected Senior Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and in July 2008 she took up office as President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the first person from outside North America to hold this role in the organization’s 60-year history.

She is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, and a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. In November 2008 she was one of 25 European figures honoured for their contribution to Information, Communication and Technology by the EU. Among the many awards she has won is the Anita Borg Award for Technical Leadership (2006).

She is known throughout the community for her energy and vision and, in addition to her large number of commitments in areas of policy development, she continues to advance new research directions. In 2006, she was one of the founders of the Web Science Research Initiative, along with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor Nigel Shadbolt and Daniel Weitzner. They are pioneering the new discipline of Web Science, to develop a better understanding of the architectural principles that led to the Web’s growth and success, and ensure that these support the Web’s future development.

Throughout her career Wendy Hall has been a prominent and vocal advocate of women’s opportunities in science, engineering and technology. In her research and her public life she has sought to ensure that women are equal beneficiaries of technological advance, and her example of achievement and dedication has made her a distinguished and powerful role model for women. ‘I am thrilled to have been honoured in this way,’ said Professor Hall. ‘It is of course exciting for me personally and for my family, but it is also a tribute to all the people I have worked with in my career as a scientist and engineer both at Southampton and in the wider community.’

Professor Dame Wendy Hall took her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Southampton, where she met her husband Peter Chandler. They have been married for nearly 30 years and live in the New Forest.

See coverage of the announcement on BBC Technology, The Guardian, and TechRadar.com

Posted by Joyce Lewis on 31 Dec 2008.

Wendy Hall is also President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), described as "the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society."


Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Web site at http://www.acm.org/

Lipsett, Anthea (12/31/2008). Visionary computer scientist becomes a dame. guardian.co.uk, accessed Tues 1/6/2008 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/dec/31/new-years-honours-computing

Pioneer of cyberspace honoured. (12/31/2008). BBC online, accessed Tues 1/6/2009 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7806093.stm

Web pioneer honoured by Queen: Professor Wendy Hall becomes a Dame in New Year's Honours. (12/31/2008). techradar.com, accessed Tues 1/6/2008 at http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/web-pioneer-honoured-by-queen-497490


Religion: A Force For Self-Control?

TOPICs: religion, evolutionary psychology

Prompted by a recent news release on Science Daily, I had promised myself time to blog about and review McCullough & Willoughby's recent meta-analysis article on Religion and self-regulation, due out in Psychological Bulletin.

As I sat down this evening to organize some thoughts, I was surprised (although in retrospect surely shouldn't have been) to see I'm behind the curve already, with several blogs already responding to the news release and journal article — for example, see: Tim Rees' brief critical response (Improve your self control... with religion?) at the BHA Science Group blog. Since most of the blogs I've seen, however, seem to be responding directly to the news release (or related articles, like John Tierney's of the New York Times) instead of the actual research article, it's clear there's still plenty of opportunity (and need) to look carefully at the research article itself (downloadable in pre-print pdf form from Prof Michael McCullough's University of Miami website.

And that's where I will pick up tomorrow, beginning with McCullough & Willoughby's stimulating introduction and description of half-dozen or so propositions laying out the potential connections between religion and self-regulation.

In the meantime, here are some related video comments from McCullough himself (courtesy of the University of Miami website):


McCullough, Michael (2008). Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

See details at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Revenge-Evolution-Forgiveness-Instinct/dp/078797756X/ref=si3_rdr_bb_product.

McCullough, Michael E. & Willoughby, Brian L. B. (2009). Religion, self-regulation, and self-control: associations, explanations, implications. Psychological Bulletin, in press.

A pre-print pdf of this article is available from the author's web site at http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Religion_Research.htm

Rees, Tom (1/1/2009). Improve your self control... with religion? A BHA Science Group Blog entry accessed 1/4/2009 at http://bhascience.blogspot.com/2009/01/improve-your-self-control-with-religion.html?

Religion, Self-control, and Values (1/3/2009). TS-Si News Service, article accessed 1/4/2009 at http://www.ts-si.org/the-discussion/3708-religion-self-control-and-values.html

Religion May Have Evolved Because Of Its Ability To Help People Exercise Self-control (1/1/2009). Accessed 1/1/2009 at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081231005355.htm

Tierney, John (12/29/2008). For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It. The New York Times accessed 1/4/2009 at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/30/science/30tier.html?


Disheartening Censorship

TOPICs: censorship, political correctness

Enfuriating. Political correctness run amok — watch the video below about a university student-employee's brush with his school's political-correctness police, then link over to Ed Brayton's Dispatches From The Culture Wars for stimulating comments and discussion.

We have this snippet from the minutes of the 4/1/2008 Indianapolis Faculty Council (IFC) meeting:

Agenda Item IV: Updates/Remarks from the Chancellor

Chancellor Bantz gave the following report:


Affirmative Action: The Chancellor spoke to the recent action by the Affirmative Action Office regarding staff member, Keith Sampson. He stated there was no question there was a mistake in sending the first letter. The second letter sent withdrew the first letter and made clear there was no finding in the case and therefore, nothing placed in the staff member’s file. This is not a matter of litigation. He intended this spring to begin a review of the office procedures. At the end of this month, an external reviewer will look at the office and procedures. He agrees the office needs to be more successful in a number of places. The search continues for the new Director of Equal Opportunity. When the report is received for that office, it will be reviewed by the IFC which will show the number of cases the office reviews each year.

All of which seems reasonable. Later in the same minutes, however, the circumstances are referred to as "the Keith Sampson issue," which unfortunate phrasing suggests a continued institutional mis-apprehension and mis-interpretation of the fiasco entire event.

Moreover, apparently the Affirmative Action Office at IUPUI was reconstituted as the Office of Equal Opportunity (although publicly accessible records are not necessarily clear on this — did the OEO already exist previously?) with director Kim D. Kirkland and now … Assistant Director (!) Marguerite Watkins, who says on her staff directory web page that "My passion includes educating people."

Sadly, a Google-search of the IUPUI website produces only the single page hit for "Keith Sampson" (the IFC minutes quoted above).


Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Web site at http://www.thefire.org/

Indianapolis Faculty Council (IFC) Minutes dated April 1, 2008. Accessed Sat 01/03/2008 at http://www.iupui.edu/~fcouncil/minutes/Minutes_IFC_4-1-08.htm

IUPUI: Indiana University - Purdue University, Indiana. Web site at http://www.iupui.edu/

Proposed Resolution for the Review of the Affirmative Action Office, Agenda Item X of the Indianapolis Faculty Council (IFC) Minutes dated April 1, 2008. Accessed Sat 01/03/2008 at http://www.iupui.edu/~fcouncil/documents/ProposedResolutionAAO2008.htm.

Saha, Abhishek (5/2/2008). Keith Sampson round-up. Accessed Sat 01/03/2009 at http://musefree.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/keith-sampson-round-up/

Watkins, Marguerite. IUPUI Staff Directory Webpage at http://www.iupui.edu/~oeo/directory/watkins.html


Generating Ideas for Research —
Post & Discussion on Thus Spake Zuska

TOPIC: research ideas

Check out the stimulating post and discussion at Suzanne Franks' Thus Spake Zuska on the challenges of generating new ideas for research. Thought-provoking and motivating.

And keeping track of ideas … that's a serious challenge as well, requiring (1) some habitual "system," and (2) the regularly available energy to use one's system.