Public Problems, Your Story or Mine?


An example of a public problem is the proliferation of crime in housing projects. It is almost impossible to describe the problem without referencing social constructs.

Social Constructs

According to the book, Theories of the Policy Process, social constructs are created by policy makers to cast beneficiaries or recipients in either a positive or negative light. In turn, the distribution of benefits or encumbrances reflects and further defines the perception of the target population. The book further delineates target groups into four classifications: advantaged, contenders, dependents, and deviants (Sabatier, Paul 2007, p 101-103).

In this view, people living in housing projects could easily vacillate between being defined as dependent (mothers, poor) or deviant (welfare mothers, criminals) depending on who is defining them. Unfortunately, the social construct surrounding housing projects is often the deviant construct.

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Quartz – Google gives answers but deprives us of intelligence

Search engines play one of the most significant roles in our technologically enabled lives by shaping how we conceptualize and interact with information, knowledge, wisdom, and arguably reality itself. They are our externalized reasoning machines, both facilitating our access to knowledge and quickly becoming our knowledge. They are where we go to research, clarify, and…

via Googling gives us answers—but deprives us of intelligence — Quartz

I think this where the importance of teaching our children how to look things up the “old fashioned” way becomes critical to developing a critical thought process.  I was very lucky to grow up in a “look it up” household right before the dawn of giants like Google.   Whenever I asked my family a question, they told me to look it up.  I had to learn how to use an Encyclopedia and a dictionary.  I also had to learn how to work the Dewey Decimal system and reference rooms at the local library.

By the time that search engines became a thing, they made my work easier for sure. Number one, because it was right at my fingertips, number two because I developed the critical thinking skills necessary to form my own opinion based on what was being offered up.

What do you think? Should youth learn how to access material the “old-fashioned” way?  Or are those days long behind us?


Diversity in STEM Careers, Are We Starting Too Late?

I recently had the pleasure of attending a well-coordinated event designed to connect educators, youth, and the workforce. The premise of the event was simple – show 8th graders alternative career paths in addition to four-year colleges.  The event showcased a local technical school and programs geared towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in manufacturing, welding, drafting, machine shops, 3D printers, etc.

The day started with a 30-minute video that showed real people working in STEM jobs.  The examples used were snowboarding, race car driving, rock music and a transport vehicle in a 3rd world country.  The individuals in the video were exactly who you are thinking of when we talk about techies.  They were mostly middle-aged and young professional white males.

Although the video tried to use contemporary examples to appeal to youth, I still think they may have missed the mark. As I was scanning the room full of students, I realized that they do not look like the people in the video.  50% were not white, and 10% were female. I noticed this throughout the day-long event.  The difference in demographics was also reflected back in the volunteers for the day, the learning videos provided in the classroom sessions, the teachers, and the student body of the technical school.

So my question became two-fold. How can we reach children without role models that reflect their demographics, and how do we increase diversity in STEM? And further, is the 8th grade too late to prepare children to embrace a career in STEM if they have not focused on Math or Science?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You are Wearing That??

Recently a colleague approached me to discuss office dress code and what she perceived to be violations of the dress code by interns. This got me thinking about a couple things.

One, did the organization have a written dress code? As a volunteer myself I am not a regular office member, but I am subject to all of the department policies. In the volumes of reading material I encountered during my first week, I do not remember seeing a dress code. So if there is no formal written document, it begs the question, whose dress code?

Which leads me to thought number two. While we were having the conversation, it occurred to me that the interns most likely never held a professional role or title. They may not know what workplace culture is, or they may not have a professional role model to look to for cues on what is appropriate for the workplace. These ladies were not dressed inappropriately, but perhaps inappropriately for the conservative environment for which they are working. The primary concern of the office member was that the intern’s shorts were too short.

So who has the responsibility to teach young people about workplace dress and culture?  It is certainly not happening in the schools. At the graduate level, I watched fellow classmates give presentations in sweatpants, wrinkled t-shirts, and ripped jeans.

For me, acceptable workplace items include knee length skirts, button down blouses with sleeves, and trousers.  I do not think that sleeveless or low-cut shirts, short skirts, yoga pants, or shorts belong in the work environment.  Jeans are acceptable depending on the office – but leave your sparkle booty jeans at home.

You should feel confident in your office attire, and it should be something that is not distracting to you or your colleagues.

Does that make me old school? Perhaps! But isn’t it better to remove any distractions that could overshadow your accomplishments?

What do you think?