The Best Of Our Knowledge

Fridays, 3pm - 3:30pm

Every day, faculty members at schools and universities throughout the world are making discoveries that shape our ways of thinking and redefine our understanding of today's knowledge-driven society. Since 1990, The Best of Our Knowledge has highlighted breakthroughs across disciplines and across the globe, putting you in touch with the men and women at the forefront of their fields. Each week this program examines some of the issues unique to college campuses, looks at the latest research, and invites commentary from experts and administrators from all levels of education.

Twitter: @TBOOKnowledge

Ways to Connect

When a man or woman leaves the military they can expect to get a helping hand with college tuition. But there’s an effort now from schools and communities to help veterans get a head start in business.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn about one of those programs.

We’ll also tour a facility that helps train Veteran’s Administration doctors, hear about college students’ new found stress…and spend an Academic Minute urging older adults to volunteer.

#1463: "The Tango War"

Oct 4, 2018

World War 2 earned its name. When studying the history of this conflict you will find yourself talking about Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. And you should also be talking about a region that played a very important part of early Axis success…and the ultimate Allied victory: Latin America. Our neighbors to the south were a source of materials vital to the war efforts of both sides.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, it’s back to history class to learn about the role of Latin America in World War 2.

Depending on when you grew up, discipline in school can mean anything from a time out to detention to that proverbial ruler against the knuckles. But a former teacher says that, in some school systems, there is next to no discipline at all…and that is doing kids a disservice.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a conversation about school discipline and the appropriately named book Sit Down and Shut Up..

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute with teenagers and energy drinks because what could possibly go wrong there?

College and university campuses have been the birthplace of a lot of American ideas, good and bad…benign and controversial. But today, a lot of speakers are being prevented from talking about those ideas on campus…and students are one of the main culprits.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a first amendment expert talks about the coddling of American minds on campus.

#1460: "White Kids"

Sep 13, 2018

There’s very little doubt that white privilege is a thing, how much of a thing is the big question. While some parents say they are raising color-blind children, they could be ignoring opportunities to teach tolerance.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from a sociologist whose long term study is the topic of the new book called White Kids.

Then we’ll hear from a consumer advocate about toxic chemicals found in some common back to school items. And we’ll spend an Academic Minute finding toxins in the dirt in the backyard.

Some recent court rulings have us thinking again about a segment we ran earlier this year, so as we head into the new school year, let’s take another look at just how much are teachers valued in the US? There are a lot of politicians, media outlets and education reformers who can’t say enough bad things about teachers and teachers unions. But every school day kids around the country sit down in front of teachers dedicated to their jobs.

Woodstock Day School

You can learn a lot by sitting down and talking to a teacher.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll highlight my conversation with David Penberg, a veteran educator who has worked as a teacher and school administrator around the world and has settled down as the new head of a school in New York’s Hudson Valley.

We’ll also hear about some Hudson Valley college students who spent some of their summer rebuilding homes in Puerto Rico, and spend an academic minute finding out that security for you might mean something very different for everyone else.

20 years ago, a Sociologist named James W Loewen wrote a book exposing the inaccuracies and outright lies in most history textbooks.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to Loewen about the latest edition of the book Lies My Teacher Told Me.

We’ll also spend an academic minute finding out if mom really liked you best.

#1456: "BRAINS!"

Aug 16, 2018

Just about any teacher will tell you that dealing with teenagers for a living can range from rewarding to nightmarish. But don’t blame or credit the child…it’s all on the child’s brain.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn how the constantly changing brain of teenagers makes them who they are…eventually.

We’ll hear the story of a Massachusetts woman whose brain underwent changes due to a childhood trauma, the care that was needed to help get her life back…and we’ll spend an academic minute finding out just who is likely to develop PTSD.

Living life as a trans-gendered adult carries its own set of issues and challenges, and society seems to slowly be opening up to accommodate and even celebrate these people. But most trans adults were once growing up as a trans child who needed support.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the children and parents who make up the current trans generation.

We’ll also spend an academic minute exploring how Americans feel about trans-gender rights.

NASA

A while back, we told you about a young scientist who was also a world class diver who was training for a mission with NASA call Project NEEMO. Well she’s now an award winning scientist.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll catch up with Dr. Dawn Kernagis, and talk about the results of Project NEEMO, and her shiny new trophy.

Also stories on a NASA study on fresh water on Earth and continued diversity in New York State schools…plus we’ll spend an academic minute looking for water in the Everglades.

There are parts of US history that many of us are not proud of…and slavery has got to be either on or very near the top of that list. And the history of slavery in the new world is entwined with another huge part of early colonial life: Christianity.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll open up history class and learn about the paradoxes and justifications of Christian slavery in America.

We’ve been hearing about the problem of rising student debt for so long that some graduates are using it as a badge of honor. A lot of that debt is generated by for-profit colleges, who continue to attract a growing number of students. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the rise of for profit colleges and how inequality, both financial and academic, is fueling that rise.

We’ll also spend an academic minute learning how to check our facts because, apparently, we really stink at it.

Gloria Rangel

Parents who send their children to a neighborhood school in a small California city were devastated over the announcement that the school will be shut down. Then, they started taking action.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll tell you about the fight to save Fair Oaks Elementary School in Redwood City, California.

Then we’ll meet a high school English teacher who has published a series of young adult fiction book with the help of some unusual editors…the student in his creative writing class. And we’ll spend an academic minute at recess.

National History Day

Some of the brightest students from across the country met just outside Washington DC last month for the finals of the National History Day Contest, and there was a rare two-time winner.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to that exceptional student and learn all about National History Day.

We’ll also get an update on what some congressional Democrats are doing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision on public sector unions. And if you don’t want to fall on your face, then spend an academic minute out on the dance floor.

Teachers need to master quite a few disciplines to get through the school year. Communication, innovation, empathy and, importantly…ethics. Educators come across ethical questions almost every day…and dealing with them has a profound effect on students…and themselves.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk educational ethics.

We’ll also spend an academic minute seeing how immigration affects education.

Bob Barrett

Students and teachers looking back on this school year will remember the lessons that were taught and learned, the memories of friendships made and reinforced, and in some places, the time teachers walked off the job for better pay and working conditions. And it worked.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll have a conversation with the President of the National Education Association about those job actions, and the future of the union.

The Global Corner

As much as we might all like to be world travelers, most young students usually stay pretty close to home. But a small group of teachers in Florida are doing their part to bring the world to these students.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll introduce you to The Global Corner, and learn how they hope to broaden the world view of young students.

We’ll also hear about the latest edition of a massive book on family health…and spend an academic minute trying to ignore the facts and follow your instincts.

1968 was one of the most turbulent years in modern American history, filled with stories of anti-war protests, civil rights demonstrations and assassinations. June 5 marked 50 years since Robert Kennedy became one of those leaders who was gunned down.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from the author of a book about Kennedy, and how he grew to become a liberal icon.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with a different view of mental health.

Bob Barrett

It may be hyperbole to say that school shootings have become a way of life in the US…but it seems like they are no longer shocking. They certainly have become more frequent over the past few years. And students have become much more vocal about demanding something be done.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll take you to a session held in Los Angeles during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar, where four students from around the country spoke out about their experiences with school violence.

Last week we told you how more and more women are studying STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Right now, let’s focus on the “S”. Specifically the science of astronomy, where women have been instrumental since the 19th century.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the remarkable scientists who helped us understand our place among the stars.

#1443: "Women In STEM"

May 17, 2018
women in stem
wikimedia commons

There has been a big push in schools across the country to emphasize STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. And girls are being encouraged to enter these fields more than ever. But what happens when those girls become women?

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a look at the challenges women face working in the STEM fields. We’ll also learn about a different kind of STEM occupation…sound engineering, go back in time to take another look at time travel, and spend an academic minute with the shrinking number of international adoptions.

If we’ve learned anything over the past year and a half it’s that the constitution has some gaps. The United States Constitution has a lot of fans. To hear some politicians and pundits talk you would think it was the most perfect document ever drafted. But when you stop and really look into it, this puppy has some issues.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll listen to a conversation I had last year with the authors of a book for students outlining the many fault lines of the constitution.

It seems like every day there are more and more outlets available to get news and information. Web sites, podcasts, social media, more web sites are pumping out news stories every hour…many of which have, shall we say, dubious information.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the cacophony of information that’s available…and how to tell the true, from the not so much.

We’ll also learn about a college in Vermont that is offering its on-line students a big break in tuition… and we’ll spend an Academic Minute exploring the connection between memory and sleep.

How much do you know about money? It’s an important question because a new survey shows that the majority of students in the US get their financial education at home…and that education is lacking.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about that survey, and how one high school economics teacher is working to increase her students’ financial literacy.

We’ll also learn about how an event in outer space indirectly opened the door to college to millions of American women, and we’ll spend an Academic Minute feeling loved.

Sesame Place dot com

Last year, Sesame Street was in the news for introducing a Muppet character with autism. Now, a theme park based on the show has been designated a certified autism center.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the changes this year at Sesame Place.

We’ll also explore how people with autism and other conditions are finding their way into the media, talk to a big time comet hunter, and spend an Academic Minute looking out for asteroids.

Back in 2015, we ran an interview with actor Alan Alda about the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Since then, the center has been conducting workshops with scientists and other professionals around the country teaching the best ways to clearly communicate complex ideas.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the director of the center to get an update on how their mission continues to evolve.

We’ll also spend an academic minute checking out some nasty tattoos. Well, at least the nasty stuff in the ink.

Chances are pretty high that an undergraduate student…even one attending an elite institution…will be taught mostly by overworked and underpaid adjunct professors and graduate students who have received no teacher training. While this may be great news for the university’s bottom line, does it really constitute a quality education for their students?

Common Core has been the starting point for many a lively, and at times agitated discussion. Next time on The Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a political science professor whose new book calls it a threat to democracy.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute with another famous boogey man: Frankenstein.

I’m Bob Barrett…that’s this week on The Best of Our Knowledge.

#1435: "One Goal"

Mar 22, 2018

After years of economic decline and racial tension, a city in Maine that has become a popular landing spot for Somali refugees came together a couple of years ago over a very special soccer team…and a very special game.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear author Amy Bass's story of how one team, one coach and one goal united this New England community.

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