Math, Science, and Social Mobility

Why do some people climb up the social ladder while others stay put? What personal characteristics account for the fact that some people “get ahead” in life and others fall behind?
Here are three contending theories of social mobility >>
In my opinion, there is still a lot to be said for putting your shoulder to the wheel. In this case, the wheel happens to be math and science.
I know from personal experience that even not-so-bright kids get pretty good at physics and calculus if they get put through an Indian style education.
This is something we don’t understand in the West, because we have lost our capacity for heavy lifting – both as a society and as individuals.
Who needs to think? If the Lord wanted us to learn science, calculus would be included in the Bible, etc.
Unfortunately, America seems to be slacking off big time. Apparently, we’re turning into a nation of massage therapists, according to GE’s Immelt. 🙂

The Return on Attention

John Hagel is his usual insightful self in his blog post “Paying Attention“…
He asks: what is behind the desire to receive attention?
Is it a weak sense of self? A desire to be recognized and liked? An unhealthy need to be seen? Envied?
Let’s go back to before Goldhaber, to someone like St. Augustine, perhaps.

Immelt on Leadership

Emory’s Kelly Bean tells us about Jeffrey Immelt’s 5 traits of GE’s growth leaders:
1. External focus
2. Imagination and creativity
3. Clear thinking and decisiveness
4. Inclusiveness
5. Deep domain expertise
It’s all about creating leaders for tomorrow, not today.
Seems like Immelt is not quite optimistic about the US these days. Here’s what he told Fareed Zakaria
“More people will graduate in the United States in 2006 with sports-exercise degrees than electrical-engineering degrees… So, if we want to be the massage capital of the world, we’re well on our way.”
Ouch. Please read Zakaria’s How Long Will America Lead the World?.
Here’s a quick byte:
There are some who see the decline of science and technology as part of a larger cultural decay. A country that once adhered to a Puritan ethic of delayed gratification has become one that revels in instant pleasures. We’re losing interest in the basics—math, manufacturing, hard work, savings—and becoming a postindustrial society that specializes in consumption and leisure.