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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Daniel Koretz: We have seen over the last 20 years an improvement in the mathematics performance of elementary school students that is faster and larger than the decline that got everyone so upset to begin with.  Now what’s odd is the decline was called by people, [the policy, both] large, alarming, catastrophic, and so on.  The increase has been called stagnation.  I don’t quite understand the logic.  I think, some of the people simply who do this simply don’t understand the data.  But what we’ve seen is relatively flat performance in reading, which is not as bad news as it seems because international comparison show that the United States is fairly good at teaching reading.  We have seen very large, very rapid consistent gains in performance in mathematics in elementary school, moderate-sized gains in middle school, and then the bad news, no real gains in high school.  So in mathematics, the bad news is not deterioration, it’s a failure to maintain the gains that young children have shown as they progress through school, that progress is eroded.

 

Daniel Koretz on Progress i...

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