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Becoming the Next Grace Hopper
JEI is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month and the women trailblazers who changed the world with their intellect. Grace Hopper is emblematic of one of these women. In fact, you can thank “Amazing Grace” for your ability to read this on your computer right now. When Grace Hopper joined the Navy during World War II, computers were in effect giant calculators. Using a computer meant familiarizing oneself with punch cards or manipulating wires to do complex calculations. Hopper had a vision that computers could be used by anyone without much technical skill. For this, Hopper thought there needed to be an interface between the user and the computer that allowed the user to write commands in plain English. When Hopper first proposed her language-based computer coding system, then called a compiler, she was told computers don’t understand English. Her idea wasn’t accepted for three years, but she persisted. She wrote a paper on the topic in 1952. While working for the Remington Rand company she completed her first compiler called the A compiler whose first version was called A-0. Hopper would go on to help develop the COBOL programming language in 1959 based on her earlier FLOW-MATIC programming language. These were among the first programming languages and would form the basis for modern computing. Despite being 60 years old, COBOL is still used in business code, providing the backbone of 95% of ATM transactions and 43% of banking systems. Hopper’s talent relied on her skills not only in mathematical reasoning but also in deeply understanding how language functions. At JEI, we’re training the next generation to navigate a world built on code. Our enrichment programs provide students with the math and English skills necessary to become the next Grace Hopper. JEI Problem Solving Math provides students with a hands-on approach to solving complex problems requiring math reasoning skills. Our Brain Safari program further develops a student’s critical reasoning and creative thinking skills – skills every developer needs to remain competitive. To enroll your child in our JEI Problem Solving Math or Brain Safari programs, find a JEI Learning Center near you.
Stop Asking, “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?”
As Michelle Obama often says, there is no point in asking a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We have all dealt with this question multiple times in our own childhood from adults looking for amusement in our answers of “Princess!” “Firefighter!” “Mommy!” or “President!” Even they realized the futility of asking such a question when we are barely old enough to understand the weight of it. Do you remember if you felt uncomfortable uncertainty or naive nonchalance when giving your response? Either way, children in the present still do not know what they are saying. They are simply eager to provide an answer, whether possible answers nowadays are “YouTube star!” or “Instagram model!” and they feel bad if they do not have anything to say. The reason Michelle Obama says to stop asking children this is that there is no room for growth when the emphasis is on a career as the end goal, “[a]s if growing up is finite. As if you become something and that is all there is.” It is a limiting, unrealistic way of viewing life as if who a child becomes is really what profession s/he takes on. S/he will be a teacher, and that is that. There is no room for growth or exploration beyond taking a role in society; however, rarely does life and growth stop once someone accepts her/his first job. Apart from that, this interrogation puts undue pressure on children to already start thinking about a career, as if they have to decide at this very minute and stick to it no matter what. They are so busy learning basic concepts, everything from numbers and letters to feelings and expression, in order to build a strong foundation for the rest of their life. At such an early stage, how are they to know what interests, skills, and proclivities they have that are more suitable for one career than another? Right now is the time to explore these interests, skills, and proclivities, which is how JEI Learning Center comes into play. JEI is all about setting up a foundation for children starting from a young age so they can learn about themselves and foster healthy creativity, emotional quotient (EQ), and communication skills. JEI also explores the concepts of vocational vs. academic routes, as most children are more suitable for one than the other, without pushing ideas prematurely onto malleable minds. Going off that, career theorist Linda Gottfredson also points out that children are too easily influenced by their surroundings. They end up choosing careers based on what they see around them or through the power of suggestion--and these are usually dependent on class and gender. For example, if a parent is a plumber and often dressed around the house as one, the child will think of becoming a plumber. If a child is often taken to fancy parties by his/her lawyer parents, s/he may think of lofty goals like becoming a fellow lawyer or a politician. Additionally, children may often see female nurses and male police officers, and limit themselves by these gender roles. All of this serves to only confuse them because they have yet to figure out what they like, who they are, and what careers are out there. As an adult, you need to provide children with room to grow and time for them to make the right decisions for themselves. Asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is not the right way to do it--save that for high school at the earliest! If you want to learn about a child’s interests, ask about what they like to do, what hobbies they have, or what books they like to read. Asking questions like these or simply observing are other ways to learn about children than asking right off the bat what career they want for the rest of their lives when they are just getting started. All children need right now is guidance. They do not need to have the answers to everything. To help your child develop the basic skills to learn and grow into curious, decision-making intellectuals, find a JEI Learning Center near you, and start from there.
Virginia Estelle Randolph: Pioneer of Black Education
JEI Learning Center is proud to celebrate Black History Month and the great Black trailblazers who pioneered new opportunities in education. Today, we are highlighting Virginia Estelle Randolph whose commitment to Black education led to breakthroughs in the way vocational training was globally conducted. Randolph was born in 1874, only nine years after enslaved people, including her parents, were emancipated in the United States. She graduated from school in 1889 and began her career as a school teacher at the age of 16. Randolph’s vision for education was revolutionary. The curriculum she designed was predicated on practicality and creativity. Education was cast as an endeavor involving parents and the entire community. In order to garner support for such endeavors, Randolph organized some unusual activities. On Arbor Day, she gathered parents and students to plant 12 sycamore trees which came to be cared for by parents of students and other community members. In 1908, she was honored with the first Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher award which employed black supervisors to upgrade vocational programs for black students. Given this honor, Randolph was given the task of improving the schools in Henrico County, Virginia. The curriculum she developed, known as the Henrico Plan, focused on using school beautification projects to teach vocational and academic skills. This plan was later replicated in Britain’s African colonies. At JEI Learning Center, we are proud to continue the tradition of hands-on learning and parental involvement that Virginia Randolph pioneered. At our centers, students are challenged not through rote memorization drills, but actually applying what they have learned to practical tasks. JEI prides itself on helping students connect the things they learn in school to problems they encounter in everyday life. To get started with a JEI education, find a center near you!