US kids behind in Science education


Our children are continuing to fall behind in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and currently the US is ranked 44th in the world. The ranking has been on a steady slide downwards with no hope for improving. Other countries continue to improve their engagement in modern education, and help their students prosper, because of better policies and parent’s involvement. Paul Morgan of Penn State’s education department has done a focused study on the causes of this decline in America over the past decades, and come up with some startling findings. These are similar to the ground breaking work done by Fredrick Froebel (pictured above) over a century ago, who started Kindergartens and revolutionized children’s education, and was very influential in improving education in our world.

His research looked for the timelines when these declines happened, whether in High School, or 8th Grade, or third grade, or started in Kinder Garden. It also looked at racial and economic backgrounds of the children, and any other social factors that may be causing the US children to be consistently falling behind in STEM studies. He found this is threatening the development of the knowledge based society, required for our future. Given all the modern gadgets available and tools of our information age, it seemed strange that our children are not gaining ground, on the rest of the world. I was intrigued by the contrary findings of his research, as I would have expected that our children would have the benefits of an internet age, and be able to develop basic math and language skills, more rapidly.

His core findings are that the knowledge gap starts in Kinder Garden itself and children just do not have the general knowledge and societal awareness, which form the foundation for a good education. It is the parents and society that is failing the children by not exposing them early to the needs of a modern educated society. Mathematics and science exposure early is not required but just an exposure to general knowledge where we broaden a child’s horizon to include a broader exposure to our world. The child has to be given the opportunity to expand his\her brain by exercising it in learning general and broad spheres of knowledge. Especially in minorities an effort needs to be made to help groom the children early, to have this broader exposure to education, as soon as they enter, or even before they enter Kinder Garden.

His research talks about a “leaky STEM pipeline” where low-income, minorities and women are allowed to set lower expectations, and hence not encouraged, to challenge themselves, towards loftier learning goals. The same individuals when encouraged and provided the right support, can excel at basic STEM education, and develop into scientists and engineers in later life. While about 20% of white children and similarly about 20% of upper-income children do not display aptitude for science and mathematics, it falls to 52% for low-income students and 63% for blacks by the time they reach 8th grade. These low numbers are not acceptable if we really want these children to live an economically better life, in the knowledge based economy we are transitioning to.

The solution proposed is to encourage young children to become competent in English and mathematics at an early age. They should be guided to have more exposure to general knowledge in Kinder Garden and encouraged to broaden their horizons. Young brains must be encouraged to develop basic language and mathematical skills, along with physical and societal awareness. This foundation is to be built up to the third grade and if they are up to the grade level by then, it is highly probable that they will continue on that path, even when they are in the 8th grade. Education policy has to change and parents, teachers and society all have to contribute to the child’s success. Then the children having built this foundation and with the right expectations, will become competent in STEM education in High School and College.

As Paul points out “It is never too late to help children grow to be successful.” By starting early we can make them more aware of the physical and natural world around them, even before they reach KG. To make a great society we have to start at the beginning, and invest far greater effort in the children who are our future. To shirk this responsibility on the basis of race, ethnic, gender or economic background will be the greatest blunder we can make as a society. Each child deserves the opportunity to be successful in later life, and while not everyone has a STEM aptitude, not to be even allowed the opportunity to improve oneself, is a moral sin. There is still time to invest in our future, and by an early change in education policy, make America the land of opportunity once again.

Artificial aristocracy is the greatest danger to modern times


We have a great respect for the founding fathers of America and Thomas Jefferson not only doubled the size of America with the Louisiana Purchase but also was a genius in many other areas. His intellectual capabilities were second to none and having fought tyranny and repression he left us great words of wisdom on the dangers of an artificial aristocracy. In the current US elections we have some candidates who fall into this danger zone.

“There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents… The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provisions should be made to prevent its ascendancy.” -Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect, and author (13 Apr 1743-1826)

We have seen this in history time and again when leading scions of famous families come to lead nations and drive them to ruin. The misguided policies are often cheered by the populace without realizing the severe constraints they put on their own betterment. We have seen many examples where fame and wealth may give access to the corridors of power, but we have to remain ever vigilant against their corrupting influence. It is easy to be misled as all of us hunger for fame and wealth, or at the least identify internally with those who have fame and wealth. This can easily lead to misinterpretation of a person’s capabilities just because we often link wealth and fame to superior intellect and a sense of achievement.

I would include Mr. Donald Trump as a leading example of this artificial aristocracy in the current state of affairs. I seriously doubt his virtues and also question his talents towards public policy and ability to do serious government work. His statements have been mischievous and often cater to the lowest human aspirations of racial and moral superiority. I do not see any remedying qualities in his messages, or policies for the betterment of man. I see instead divisive policies, and cheap political gimmickry, to attract followers. For him to have risen so high so quickly is a testament to the gullibility of the innocent American public, who often accept people at face value.

It is only right for all of us to remove his ascendancy and seek out a better leader of the free world. After the second Bush years, who proved himself to be another example of an artificial aristocracy of modern time, we should have learnt our lessons well. We need leaders who will be ‘compassionate’ and not turn around on their own slogan and bomb the fifth largest army into oblivion and destabilize a whole region. We need builders and visionaries of the future and not aristocratic leaders fighting yesterday’s wars. Life is hard enough with global warming, species annihilation, energy, and health and economic challenges that we all face. We have to reach out to billions as fellow citizens of this mother earth. America should reach for the stars, and does not have to follow someone, who will build walls around us, and keep the world out.


It was in the time of the father of the current Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1970s and 1980s, that Multiculturalism as a concept for national development, was first adopted by a country. Canada became the leader and was later followed by Australia, as it moved away from the “White only Australia” policy, only after the Second World War. This is a new political reality where the public recognition of the importance of immigration and diversity, pushes against the forces of monoculturalism. Europe has been struggling with its adventures in Multiculturalism as its nation states evolved their own particular national and cultural homogeneity, after centuries of strife and war between the nation states. Now some like the Netherlands and Denmark are moving away from multiculturalism, as they regress to their core societies.
America was never intended to be multicultural as the founding fathers clearly laid out their preference for the new nation, “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…” The myth of America as a welcomer of immigrants of diversity, with the statue of Liberty holding high its torch high, evolved much later, as it was forced to move away from its WASP origins. The philosophy in America has been to make a homogenous society through its schools and common beliefs, national holidays and traditions. It has not been a multicultural policy although many looking in from outside have mistaken its policies, in moving towards the celebration of multiple cultures.In fact it has tried to make a new homogenous American society.
In India its 1652 indigenous languages and the variety of culture, music, cuisine and religious diversity have evolved over millennium, into a more or less homogenous society, with its own unique form of Multiculturalism. The celebration of multiple festivals and religious celebrations in India, stands out in a complete contrast to its major neighbors like China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangla Desh, Myanmar where the concept of a single culture nation state, seems paramount to their survival. As nation states evolve the cultural uniqueness of its people becomes a strength or weakness, as it can hold the nation back, or allows it to grow depending on its diversity and outlook. India’s strenght will be the diversity of its people as they retain their individual identities, and yet are able to work together to build, a greater nation state.
In my opinion it is the nations that can encourage diversity, which will prosper the most culturally and economically. The politics of inclusion brings out the best in people, as they work together to solve society’s problems. Each of us in our individualism and unique characteristics, bring strength of a greater whole, to any complex problem. The multiple thinking can allow people to tackle the age old problems, in a whole new way. It is not only compromise to a lesser solution, but a way to come up with a better solution, to solve the old problem. As we include people of all different ways of life, into our mainstream, and allow them to contribute to society as a whole, we will make a greater nation. We have to encourage each person of color, caste, race, sexual orientation, religion to participate in the rich tapestry of our society. Each one of us wants to have a better life, and as such will want to contribute, to a greater society. The tension of differences between us, can also help eventually increase, the harmony of potential solutions. Let us celebrate these political differences to make a greater human race.
To conclude we are all in this together and nature is a great multiplier of diversity and evolution as that is how survival works. If we can only allow this evolution to work in our favor, then we can all be successful and survive. If we do not, then we will only allow nature to overtake us, and send us into an evolutionary downward spiral. To become masters of our own destiny, we have to embrace everyone’s destiny, of all living creatures. Human beings are just a blip in the time space continuum, and we have a lot to learn from each other, to survive. In fact the more we interact with natures great variety, the more we will prosper. Diversity is our strength as the next great breakthrough for our survival will come from the outliers, and not the established norms. We have to move forward with multiculturalism as it is our only option.

My burning universe

Opening my inner eye leads to the firm conclusion that there is knowledge deep in each one of us, where the universe burns; in an eternal flame. We are blind to this sacred power that resides in our inner most cores, and gives us what we call life, as we are too worn down by the care of the trivial events, which surround us. It is only in moments when we awake to the great reality, that suddenly the opaque glass of Maya is shattered, and we come face to face with our own reality. It then become important for us to act on what is real, and let go of the illusion that is transitory.
I enter the burning universe and come alive as now the cosmic fire does not burn me, or the solar winds dry me, and I am the consciousness that was and will be. Primordial sound and light do not bother me, as I dance in their vibrations, and the waves are mine to ride. Time has no meaning suddenly, as it slows and eons are in my grasp, and as I unfold my grasp, eons are passing in moments. There is no joy or happiness in this moment, as it just is, and I am awake to a new sense of the extraordinary, that is here and now. I blink and worlds disappear and I blink again and they reappear, as if born again. Reincarnation is real, but just slightly different from what I had imagined, it to be. It is a flowing river of time and space, where the water is the same, but I cannot touch the same water, once it has passed.
I burn and am not consumed, for I am part of this universe where nothing is lost forever, and it is as if the more I burn, the more I live. So I let my inner eye close, and come back to my existence, and see that nothing has really changed. I am who I was and I remain who I will be. The visions of the burning universe remain in my mind’s eye, but I cannot explain them to anyone. I decide not to speak to anyone about it, lest they think I have a secret mission. I sleep and perchance will dream of the spectacle, that is all around us and yet we do not see it. I realize that the reality in sleep may be better, than the reality of being awake.We are creatures of consciousness, and I wrap myself in its layers, and am content; yet my inside burns, in the eternal flame. As i drift off I see my eternal flame fighting with the forces of dark matter and black holes, and know that tomorrow life will continue from here.