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The case for adult recess

Of all the tasks we try to schedule into our days, physical activity is the one most likely to get pushed indefinitely to tomorrow.

Earlier in June, scientists at the National Institute on Aging published (paywall) the results of a study on the daily activity of Americans as young as six years old to adults up to 84 years old. The team analyzed data from accelerometers, wearable devices that pick up any kind of movement, from over 12,500 participants that participated in US Centers of Disease Control surveys between 1999 to 2014. All of the participants wore these movement trackers for an entire week, except in the shower and while sleeping.

The resulting data show that, generally, activity patterns followed a clear curve: six-year-olds were the most active, but as the years went by, they moved around less and less until they hit 19, at which point they had the same activity levels as people who were 60 years old. Folks in their 20s seemed to move around a bit more than folks in their late teens, and activity actually increased slightly in the early 30s, but at 35 overall movement decreased once again, and never recovered.

“At 60-plus, many people have health issues that might cause a restriction in movement,” Vijay Varma, a researcher at the National Institute of Aging and lead author of the paper, told the Washington Post. But surely the majority of teens shouldn’t have these physical limitations. In fact, they should be at their peak fitnesses. “[The study] suggests that the social structures in place may not be supporting physical activity,” he says.

When it comes to daily physical activity, an obvious difference between kids and older teens and adults is that kids in school have recess, a glorious 20 to 30 minute break in the day in which they’re usually forced to go outside even if they don’t play on any organized sports team. (They also may squirm around in their seats more than adults; squirming and fidgeting still count as calorie-burning movement.)

But as kids grow up, that scheduled physical and mental break disappears. They take harder classes, and although by the time they reach college they typically have less structured time during the day than they used to, they have more to do. Work, for school or otherwise, usually involves sitting in front of a screen of some sort. And when people aren’t working, they’re probably unwinding watching TV or scrolling through a social media app on their phone. Some estimates suggest that Americans spend upwards of 10 hours a day staring at a screen. Unless you’re watching at a gym, that’s time spent sitting.

The small uptick in activity for people in their 20s can be at least partially explained by the shift from school to the professional realm. More of their activity occurred in the morning, which suggests a morning commute (compared to rolling out of bed to get to class). But even with this slight increase, overall movement is still lower than it is at its peak during childhood, and then continues to decline with age.

Inactivity can cause a person to become overweight, which puts you at risk for all sorts of health complications from metabolic and heart diseases. And although recess doesn’t necessarily mean exercise—the researchers found that about 25% of boys and 50% of girls aged six to 11 still were falling short of the World Health Organization-recommended hour of vigorous activity per day—it’s still more movement than most physically able adults get.

Although the authors don’t suggest any specific intervention to get adults to be more active, we came up with one of our own: Why not literally force activity into adults’ days, like we do children, with a workday recess?

We schedule so much into our days to try to keep our personal and professional commitments. Adult recess could be just another one of these commitments. Instead of forcing ourselves to carve out some of our free time for a workout, it could be built into the workday. Think of it like an all-staff meeting where the only thing on the agenda is being away from your desk.

In addition to making sure we all are a little more active, adult recess could be hugely productive. Taking a walk and playing have both been shown to make people think more creatively, and even taking time to do nothing at all can be an important reboot for maintaining overall momentum at work. “Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,” Michael Guttridge, a psychologist who studies office behavior, told Quartz. Plus, with a scheduled recess, we’d all be less likely to get burned out over time. Workers who quit entirely are like the ultimate wrench in the gears that get things done.

If your manager isn’t willing to instate office recess, it’s certainly worth considering for yourself. You’ll be a more active person, and maybe even a better employee for it.

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Adults view black girls as ‘less innocent,’ new report says

(CNN)When compared with their white peers, young black girls are viewed less as children and more like adults, according to a new research report.

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Alternative funding planned for Kansas City arts campus

KANSAS CITY — Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday vetoed use of state funds to help pay for a $96 million arts campus in downtown Kansas City, just hours after University of Missouri System officials said they would seek alternative funding in anticipation of his opposition.

Greitens released a statement slamming the legislation approved by the Legislature this spring, saying it would have allowed the state to issue up to $48 million in bonds to support the arts campus.

“You know who would have to pay that bill?” the Republican said. “You. Missouri families. I think that’s wrong.”

The veto came shortly after a statement about alternative funding was released by the Missouri Board of Curators and University of Missouri System President Mun Choi. The statement said details of funding for the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s downtown arts campus, along with its $2 million in annual operating costs, would be presented at the curators’ meeting in September.

“This approach will allow construction to begin sooner and save money by avoiding construction cost inflation on a project that will benefit the students of UMKC, the people of Kansas City and the state of Missouri,” Choi said.

Supporters of the project had raised concerns that a veto by the governor would damage efforts to raise the other $48 million from private sources. Julia Irene Kauffman has already pledged $20 million to the campus, which would be built near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The city of Kansas City also has pledged $7 million for the project.

“The Downtown Arts Campus will be a critical element of our performing arts community. It needs to happen,” Kauffman said in a statement released earlier Wednesday, before the veto was announced. “That’s why I have supported it, and that’s why I am so grateful to Chancellor Morton and President Choi for taking this bold step to make it a reality.”

Supporters argue the arts campus could stimulate economic development while attracting more cultural activities and creative students to Missouri. Kansas City Democratic Sen. Jason Holsman has said the university hoped to create the “Julliard of the west.”

House Democratic Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, also of Kansas City, criticized the governor’s veto.

“Eric Greitens talks a great deal about economic development, but his veto of HCR 19 exposes his words as the empty rhetoric of professional politician,” McCann Beatty said in a statement. “The extra hurdles the governor has erected will delay the jobs and economic benefits the downtown campus ultimately will generate for Kansas City.”

During debate on the issue, some lawmakers raised concerns about the cost amid the state’s budget constraints and questioned the value of more students studying the arts.

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New state funding could alleviate in-state tuition increase

In-state students may see a tuition increase reprieve if state lawmakers decide to push $70 million across the table to higher education funding this year.

A 10.6 percent tuition increase for Oregon residents was voted down and then approved weeks later by the higher education coordinating commission last month. Despite student protests and strong condemnation of the decision by ASUO, University of Oregon administrators insisted the increase was necessary to cover rising costs.

Now, Senate Bill 5524 will potentially increase the higher education coordinating commission’s budget by $90 million next biennium. The public university support fund is set to increase 10.4 percent, or about $70 million.

According to Tobin Klinger, a UO spokesman, the university has been working in Salem for months to encourage more investment in higher education.

“We’re really thrilled that they have recognized the value of higher education to the state of Oregon,” Klinger said. “They are a partner in helping to provide critical relief in terms of tuition cost.”

If the Legislative Fiscal Office’s proposal is accepted, universities will be required to roll back their tuition increases by 3 to 4 percent. According to the senate bill materials, UO would be required to hold its tuition increase to 6.56 percent next year.

In November, UO President Michael Schill, along with the presidents of Oregon’s six other public universities, wrote a letter to the state asking for $100 million. Schill has said that if the state can increase funding by that amount, tuition increases would be capped at 5 percent. According to Schill, for every $20 million the state pledges to higher education funding, the UO will be able to reduce its tuition increase by 1 percent.

One month after the university presidents requested $100 million, Gov. Kate Brown released her budget for the biennium. That budget offered increases to K-12 spending but held funding for public universities flat, a move described by administrators as an effectual cut.

Now it appears that Gov. Brown and other lawmakers are reconsidering their position, considering the heavy burden students are bearing for their education.

At the time, higher education funding was held static due to the $1.6 billion shortfall the state faced over the next two years. It is still unclear where this $70 million will come from.

If the bill passes, the UO Board of Trustees will reconvene in order to determine what the new tuition cost will be, Klinger said. Because they already approved the 10.6 percent increase, they will have to vote on a new cost. Klinger said the school would be able to reduce the tuition increase significantly.

“The proposed higher education budget would bring critical tuition relief to the students of the University of Oregon, allowing us to reduce next year’s tuition increase by more than a third,” Schill said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank the state’s legislative leaders for this important step in the right direction. I hope it is a sign of the state’s continuing commitment to supporting an excellent, accessible higher education system for all Oregonians.”

The bill is still tentative and changes are possible.

Follow Max Thornberry on Twitter @Max_Thornberry .


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Legislature pushes for more higher education funding to keep Oregon tuition hikes down

State lawmakers appear close to approving a $736.9 million budget for public universities that would nearly halve the proposed tuition increases for some undergraduate Oregonians this fall, saving students hundreds of dollars a year.

The spending plan, which passed a key legislative hurdle Wednesday, includes nearly $70 million more in operating support than Gov. Kate Brown’s proposal, which left funding flat. That plan was criticized by university presidents, student groups and faculty unions.

The development comes more than a month after double-digit tuition increases at some public universities led to a dramatic rebuttal from the volunteer state higher education board, which must sign off on tuition increases greater than 5 percent, followed by a second meeting where state watchdogs ultimately approved the tuition increases.

According to state documents, “the expectation” for the 2018-19 school year is any tuition increase would not exceed 5 percent. Rod Monroe, D-Portland, said the legislature is trying to hold the increase to 5 percent,” he said.

It’s unclear whether the proposed budget will lead to lower tuition increases next year, but both University of Oregon and Portland State University officials noted that the cost drivers – rising public pension and medical costs – are not going away.

The schools and Brown applauded the budget writers’ decision to boost spending for higher education even while lawmakers punted on a transportation package and comprehensive revenue reform bill.

“The proposed higher education budget would bring critical tuition relief to the students of the University of Oregon, allowing us to reduce next year’s tuition increase by more than a third,” UO President Michael Schill said in a statement. “I want to thank the state’s legislative leaders for this important step in the right direction. I hope it is a sign of the state’s continuing commitment to supporting an excellent, accessible higher education system for all Oregonians.”

PSU said in a statement that the development was “good news for Portland State and all Oregon public universities.”

Brown, who in April urged the volunteer education commission to scrutinize the tuition proposals, said the budget would stabilize tuition for the next two years and provide “important relief to Oregon’s students, who already carry too much of the financial burden of higher education.”

“Protecting affordability ensures that all Oregonians —particularly low-income students and students of color— have the opportunity to continue their education and earn a college degree on the path to a rewarding career,” she said in a statement.

Ben Cannon, the executive director of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, told the committee that the education community appreciates the added support during a “very difficult state budget.” He added that the need for greater levels of student support will continue in the future.

The budget could affect some 24,000 undergraduates at UO and OSU, and likely save students hundreds of dollars a year.

UO had approved a 10.6 percent tuition bump for resident undergraduates, which represented a $945 annual jump for full-time students. Under the proposed budget, the school would instead seek a 6.6 percent hike.

Portland State, which first approved an 8.9 percent bump, will now seek a 5.5 percent increase this fall. The new tuition plan would likely save students $247 annually.

But that doesn’t account for an increase of $36 in student fees at PSU.

Both UO and PSU said the funding boost won’t eliminate the need to make cuts to programs and services.

– Andrew Theen

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Graduating Seniors Offer Advice to Their High Schools

A group of students wrote letters to the leaders of the high schools they are leaving behind, and they were blunt. Despite attending different schools with different academic rigor and student populations, they focused on two themes: the racial makeup of their schools and inequity. 

“I remember a teacher saying he wouldn’t learn to say the correct pronunciation of my name and another one going as far as to call me an illegal refugee within school walls,” said Yacine Fall who is Muslim, born and raised in Harlem. She attended Beacon High School in Manhattan. 

Her friend Haby Sondo said she was sorry her teachers did not tackle current events or cultural issues in the classroom.

“My whole four years though, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in a classroom and had a discussion about racism or issues permeating our society,” she said. Her advice? Have those conversations at school. 

The girls met through a college-prep program called Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, where they participated in a project organized by The Bell, an education-focused podcast. They shared their letters at an April event held at the Bronx Library Center.




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GCSE pass levels causing confusion over university entry – BBC News

Exam hallImage copyright

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GCSEs in English and maths are going to be graded from 9 to 1 from this year

There are warnings of confusion over university admissions from changes to GCSE exams in England which will create two different pass grades.

A number of universities have minimum entry grades at GCSE level – such as a C grade pass at maths and English.

But GCSEs are switching to numerical grades, from 9 to 1, and there is uncertainty because both 4 and 5 are officially classed as pass grades.

Universities are now setting different “pass” grade equivalents.

University College London says a C grade pass now requires a grade 5, while Manchester University has set the benchmark at grade 4.

Deborah Streatfield, founder of careers advice charity My Big Career, said students and parents were “confused” and looking for advice.

“It’s inconceivable that a simple task of deciding a pass has led to a ridiculous “standard pass” and a “good pass”.

“Universities and employers need to decide whether a 4 or 5 is the benchmark.

“At the moment different standards across universities will lead to a divisive landscape leading to disadvantaged students losing out again.”

Different types of ‘pass’

Pupils taking their English and maths GCSEs this year will be the first to get the new numerical grades this summer – and these results will have an impact on university applications as well as getting on to A-level courses.

For pupils who get a grade 4 in English and maths, it means that they will already be below the threshold for some universities – even though it is a pass grade – and before they even begin their A-level courses.

The new numerical system will be phased in for other GCSE subjects over the next few years.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Universities can require GCSE passes in English and maths for all courses – but what is the pass grade?

When the Education Secretary Justine Greening explained the new points system to the education select committee in March she said that grade 4 would be a “standard pass” and grade 5 would be a “strong pass”.

She wrote to the committee chairman to clarify that grade 4 was the “equivalent to a C and above” – and that employers and universities would be expected to recognise the grade 4.

But there are different interpretations from different universities.

University College London says it expects applicants for all subjects to have a C grade at maths and English GCSE – but under the new system that will be a grade 5.

King’s College London also makes a grade 5 an equivalent of a grade C for its admissions.

But Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool put grade 4 as their requirement.

London School of Economics, which previously required grade Bs, now requires a 5, although a B grade could also be the equivalent of a 6.

Oxford and Cambridge, which run their own tests and interview systems, do not have such across-the-board minimum requirements for GCSEs.

A spokesman for the exam regulator Ofqual said that it remained up to universities to set their admissions rules.

But the spokesman said that this year’s GCSE candidates would not apply this year – and the requirements might be re-set again after the first wave of results.

Suzanne O’Farrell of the ASCL head teachers’ union said that some schools might be “future proofing” their pupils’ results by treating grade 5 as a pass rather than a grade 4.

But she said it would not be until next year that it would become apparent how universities would interpret the pass grade.

A Department for Education spokesman said that the changes were “part of our drive to continue raising standards” and a wide range of resources had been produced to explain the new grading system.

“Most recently every school and college have been sent a pack with information for teachers, students, parents, and employers.”

A website had also been launched to answer questions people may have, he said.

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Lies and Other Advice

Agreeing to become an American Historical Association career contact might seem like an extension of my role as a graduate career counselor. Both my job and the AHA program require direct contact with new or soon-to-be Ph.D. students. But there is a difference, and the distinction rests in students’ professional motivation.

The AHA mentees want to move into counseling and advising. They want my job or something like my occupation in a research university. The unspoken competition doesn’t bother me. Nor do I feel like I’m in my dotage when speaking to would-be peers with no knowledge of card catalogs, typewriters and WordPerfect.

Here are some lessons that I share with any new or soon-to-Ph.D. interested in the day-to-day life of a career education professional.

Lesson No. 1: Lying is an art form and sometimes a form of protection. The tall tale is an example. Graduates can tell tall tales about themselves, advisers and motivations. But the career services professional listens for gaps between individual action and expression.

For example, Graduate Student Alpha, let’s call her, does a fine job explaining research in her lab. Her exact role, however, is less clear. More than objectivity, more than personal shyness, her reticence may reflect a crummy relationship with a primary investigator. You, the career counselor, need to consider if she is hesitant to disclose a poor workplace relationship. Or maybe Graduate Student Alpha is a slacker who does the minimal amount of work. Or perhaps she’s struggling with her decision to consider alternatives to an academic position.

The 26-year-old version of myself had the audacity to lie to a Baptist preacher about church affiliation! I wanted to sidestep a conversation about the condition of my soul. Likewise, graduates avoid full disclosure about shifts in personal values and professional interests.

But for a new professional, especially a recent Ph.D., running an administrative gantlet of assessments, goals and workshops, lying can seem like personal betrayal. You’ll contend that you can relate to the struggles of Ph.D. students. You might even have data supporting the efficacy of professional development for Ph.D. students. How dare they not share? Career professionals need to develop a reputation for confidentiality first.

Lesson No. 2: Interest does not always equal attention. Did only three students show up for a nighttime presentation on interview skills after the event organizer promised an audience of least 50? You will forever question the attentiveness of student leaders when it comes event planning. You will wonder who lied to whom: the students who clicked yes to the RSVP or the event organizer who issued an emailed invite full of misspellings and later claimed to have sent a correction that confused the intended audience.

The remedy to this situation of big promises and little audience turnout is humor and constant communication in the planning stages. When students approach me about working together, I’ll reflect with them about past events gone wrong. Or I’ll ask my tentative event partner to identify by name her co-organizers. Why? Because if she can’t remember the names of the people who share programmatic goals, then demand for an event might be limited or nonexistent.

I once worked with a graduate student leader who planned an entire event by himself. He ordered food, arranged the speaker (me) and secured a room. But only two students showed up. In the event postmortem, I learned he never directly communicated with his peers at any stage of his work. He did not obtain consent or agreement. He couldn’t identify people who shared his goals.

Was there any humor? Yes, my own schadenfreude in dissecting leadership failure with a management graduate student!

Lesson No. 3: Get comfortable with students who are just plain not ready for informational interviews or networking events. Conversion comes at an individual’s pace. First-year grad students may roll their eyes when you speak about transferable skills. An interactive workshop on interviewing skills gets hijacked by passivity, cultural misunderstandings or even a bad server connection. But as you become a more seasoned professional, you accept unpredictable students and conditions. You learn to modify coach-like enthusiasm according to the rhythm of individual students.

Lesson No. 4: Watch and listen. I know one professor who routinely sneers whenever anyone from career services speaks. I can’t determine if this faculty member has an involuntary tic or disdain for the work of my colleagues. So I am cautious. Discursive language and questions are central to new ideas, especially on a research university campus. But some faculty members get stuck in complaint mode. Find reliable faculty partners willing to constructively discuss professional development. Also, view your job from the perspective of faculty members who already have multiple priorities. Position yourself as an administrator prepared to help.

Lesson No. 5: Read, especially if your educational credentials are more archival than empirical-evidence based. You’ll need to adjust to students engaged in state-of-the-art research using computer and other technologies that didn’t exist a few years ago. Reading outside topics in higher education is undervalued but essential. I suggest The Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner, or even the 470 pages of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, to understand the long slog associated with science research. You’ll learn that the young scientists have entered a scholarly apprenticeship that might not pay dividends in results for two decades. If you are a STEM Ph.D., read anything by the late Sherwin Nuland for insight about achievement, frailty and resilience.

Graduate students and postdocs bear more than credentials. Make sure your zeal for background information includes talking to people. Students are more than demographic points in the institutional database. URM, STEM and F-1 are categories or a way to organize information. But career counselors should to tune in to how students define their needs by following common social media sources. Nothing surpasses insights learned during old-fashioned conversations. Sometimes it’s better to turn down the volume on strategic planning and listen.

Career services is not a haven for a Ph.D. waiting for a tenure-track job or management role in a prestigious foundation. The best people in this profession pivot like athletes through generational differences, job market changes and shifts in institutional priorities. We are constant learners. I personally know nothing about CRISPR, but you can bet I understand that CRISPR is a new genome-editing tool.

Counseling graduate students isn’t rooted in a single discipline. My daily routines and knowledge span layers of boundaries. Newcomers to graduate career counseling should consider joining the Graduate Career Consortium. The GCC highlights best practices while giving its members a place to commiserate, celebrate and exchange ideas to guide the newest cohort of graduate students. If you can’t join us this year, then certainly follow the GCC during its national meeting hosted by the University of Texas and M. D. Anderson Center in Houston, on Twitter @GradCareers.

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Low-income childhood may affect adult heart health – Medical News …

The results of a new study have shown that a person’s risk of developing heart-related health problems are greater if they had a low-income childhood.

New research reveals that a low-income family background in childhood is linked to two heart problems in middle age. The two heart problems are increased left ventricular mass and diastolic dysfunction, which are both known to be associated with heart failure.

The study – led by the University of Turku in Finland and published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics – supports the idea that efforts to improve heart health should address the family environment of growing children.

In the United States, there are around 5.7 million people living with heart failure, a progressive condition in which the heart become less and less able to pump enough blood for what the body needs.

The most common symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in various parts of the body such as the abdomen, legs, feet, and ankles. As the symptoms progress, they make it harder and harder to lead a normal life and do everyday things.

The leading causes of heart failure are disorders that alter and damage the heart. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease, a condition in which the main vessels that supply blood to the heart stiffen and narrow.

Increased left ventricular (LV) mass and LV diastolic dysfunction are signs of abnormality in the lower left chamber of the heart. The former means that the chamber is enlarged and the latter means that the chamber is not relaxing properly during pumping.

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Low family income an independent factor

In their study paper, the authors note that both increased LV mass and LV diastolic dysfunction are linked to heart failure, and that studies show that they are more common in middle-aged and older adults of lower education.

Citing other research that also looked at the link between occupation and these conditions later in life, the authors note that their study is the first to look at how the conditions might link to socioeconomic status in the early years.

For their investigation, the team used data from 1,871 participants collected between 1980 and 2011 in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, a large follow-up study of heart health from childhood into adulthood.

The extent of the data allowed the researchers to examine the link between childhood family income status (which they classed as low, middle, or high income) when the participants were aged between 3 and 18 years, and LV mass and LV diastolic function measured more than 30 years later, when they were aged between 34 and 49 years.

The analysis found that low family income in childhood was linked to increased LV mass and poorer LV diastolic performance during adulthood, 31 years later.

The link was still there when the researchers took into account other factors that might have an effect, including age, sex, socioeconomic status in adulthood, and other cardiovascular risk factors in childhood and adulthood.

The authors acknowledge that a weakness of the study is the fact that it only included white people and that no measures of LV mass and diastolic performance were taken in childhood, making it difficult to determine when the effects of low income in childhood may have started to influence heart function. Nevertheless, they conclude that:

These findings emphasize that approaches of CVD [cardiovascular disease] prevention must be directed also to the family environment of the developing child.”

Learn how childhood poverty is linked to depression-related brain changes.

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