A Message From Scott Lang

With greater rigor comes a greater education. This has been the mantra and formula used by reformists and political pundits for almost two decades. Through it all, America’s youth have been pushed, pulled, prodded, and cajoled through dizzying levels of sleep deprivation and stress, often leading to depression, angst, and academic burnout.

Since 2010, schools across this country have turned to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based curricula in hopes of feeding the frenzy of helicopter parents who crave competition and rigor. Needing proof that their children are prepared for college and a global marketplace, schools are being forced to drive curricula towards technical skills that have an ever decreasing shelf life of relevance and usability.

Are we pushing kids too far too fast? Is it possible that in an effort to do good, we are actually doing long-term damage? Where will it stop? When will it end? How long before preschool becomes pre-med?

Gone are teaching and training of soft skills. Gone are the days of teaching of requisite and important social skills. Gone are the days of exploration and discovery.

Through it all, there is some evidence that STEM is not driving innovation but is in fact inhibiting it.

As a part of a major initiative to analyze its workforce, Google undertook a comprehensive and long ranging study of its employees and what makes them successful or not. What they found shook not just Google but the entirety of Silicon Valley, akin to the earthquakes they have become accustomed to.

Project Oxygen concluded that, “among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise came in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others, valuing different points of view; having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”

Those traits sound more like what one gains as an English or music major than as a computer programmer. Could it be that top Google employees were succeeding despitetheir technical training, not because of it?

After bringing in anthropologists and ethnographers to dive even deeper into the data, the company enlarged its previous hiring practices to include humanities majors, musicians, artists, and even the MBAs and company founders once viewed with disdain.

Yes, science, technology, and math are important. We need engineers to understand schematics. We need architects to understand blueprints. We need programmers to understand code. But, we also need humans who understand humans.

And the arts, music in particular, makes people more human and help us to understand what it is to be human.

Have a great week!

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UV You days for music

Hello, my name is Whitney Olsen and I work at Utah Valley University. I wanted to let you know about a special event we have coming up for all high school students interested in music.

Every year my office organizes several UV You Days which are open to all students, parents, faculty, and counselors. During this event students receive essential information about their college major, and meet their future dean, professors, and advisors. UV You Days are free Saturday events and students will receive breakfast and lunch. The Music and Dance UV You Day will be held on Saturday, January 21st, 2011. I encourage you to invite your students to attend this event.

Along with other prizes, a $200 bookstore scholarship will be given away at every event! Also, if your student wears their FREE UVU t-shirt they can enter to win an ipad! To order their t-shirt and have it mailed to them before the event direct your students to www.uvu.edu/futurestudents There they will find a scrolling advertisement for this t-shirt.

To register for this event your student can visit www.uvu.edu/futurestudents.events

I appreciate your help. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Whitney Olsen
On-Campus Recruitment Coordinator
Utah Valley University
P: 801.863.6182
E: Olsenwh@uvu.edu