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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

A Gem of A Quote From – Ron Paul?

Actually, there are a few issues in which me and Ron Paul see eye to eye, such as his stance on education, drug legalization, and staying the hell out of another country’s business. This quote attributed to Paul fits my view on education perfectly. The corporate world doesn’t want critical thinkers; it would much rather have a nation of worker bees, who happily punch a time clock in order to feed the already morbidly obese corporate beast.

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Cookie Cutter Education: The New American Dream?

My partner brought this article to my attention. It was written by Chris Hedges at TruthDig.com: Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System. The article talks about how our system of education continues to be dumbed down by corporate sponsored government interference to the point where test scores are more important than critical thinking and literacy.

Hedges points out that our current system of education encourages conformity through standardized education, and is systematically producing a generation of  worker bees who know little else than to serve the hive that is corporate America.

The article is dead on; our school systems are nothing more than diploma mills, churning out consumers and workers. Principals and superintendents have been reduced to CEOs, encouraging their teachers to reward those who have the ability to regurgitate the watered down lessons handed to them. Meanwhile, those students who dare to ask questions and think outside the box are labeled as special needs children, and medicated until they fall in line.

I’m currently working toward my BA in History: My goal one day is to become an educator. However, I will not waste my time, or my students’ time, conforming to some corporation’s ideals of what a proper education should be. Learning is about more than just taking tests; it’s about understanding what something means, and successfully applying that understanding to solve problems, or come up with new and creative ideas. It’s about expanding a student’s ability to critically think for his or her self. An education should expand one’s mind; it should encourage our young to have the confidence to ask questions, and form their own conclusions based on the answers they find. Our schools do not do this.

I often speak in my blog of how America is becoming a closed society; our standardized, underfunded and understaffed system of education is both a symptom of and a contributor to that closed society. If you don’t believe me look at some closed societies from our not so distant past. Both Nazi Germany and Communist Russia discouraged critical thinkers; individualists were punished by death or imprisonment, not rewarded. Their school age children were brainwashed to be loyal servants of their regimes. How is our system any different from those regimes anymore? I’m finding it more difficult by the day to discern any difference at all.

Becoming a Successful E-Learner: From Carving Out a Voice.

This is a further continuation of the  College Success Series from Carving Out a Voice :  Becoming a Successful E-Learner.

This article gives concise informative tips for succeding as an online student, once you’ve chosen your online university. I follow these guidelines to the letter, and if an old codger like me can be successful, so can you.  The entire series is worth the read if you’re thinking of going to college, online style.

You can follow these links to find the rest of the series:

Is an Online Education Right for You?

How to Choose the Right Online University for You

Creationism: It’s Not Just For Christians Anymore.

As many of you know, I’m a born again atheist. What many of you don’t know is that I was reared in the catholic faith(No I wasn’t an altar boy, get your mind out of the gutter!). I attended catholic schools and went to church, just like all the other good little catholic children. After I graduated, I stopped going to church, but I continued to maintain my faith in god and based my moral decisions on my religious convictions. 

As I grew older, my faith became less important to me, and I began to question the validity of god. How could I not? It’s hard for me to believe that even the most devout christian wouldn’t question their faith in light if all the tragedy and evil that exists in our world. 

It was about 5 years ago when my faith completely disappeared. It became evident to me that life was a random act of nature, not a carefully planned process enacted by some invisible sky wizard. The whole concept of deity was devised by our Neolithic predecessors, who were attempting to define nature as well as themselves. Think about it; these early ancestors routinely witnessed the life, death, and rebirth cycle of plants, it was only normal to apply the same cycle to ourselves, and dream that someone above was watching out for us. Who, after death, would be able to refute the theory? 

Here is the simple truth; we’re born, we live, we die, our energy is released back to nature. Game over, end of story. If you choose to believe differently, that’s fine. I won’t argue with you unless you become a crazed fanatic about it, like so many extreme christian conservatives are doing now. Then I get pissed. These bible thumping nut jobs are trying to wedge their beliefs into political practice by attempting to define abortion as murder, and same sex marriage as an abomination against traditional marriage. Another attempt at ram-rodding religion down our throats is by force feeding our kids creationism in our public schools. If you want to teach that malarkey, fine. Keep it in your own schools, would you please?

I found this article on Mother Jones today, outlining 9 bills in 7 states that are trying to make creationism part of the public school curriculum. Without further adieu, here is the list, ribbed for your pleasure. 

1. Texas

Legislation: HB 2454 would ban discrimination against creationists, for instance, biology professors who believe in intelligent design. Defending his bill, Texas state Rep. Bill Zedler told Mother Jones, “When was the last time we’ve seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say, ‘Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch’?”

Status: Referred to Higher Education Committee. 

2. Kentucky

Legislation: The Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act (HB 169) would have allowed teachers to use “other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.” Kentucky already authorizes public schools to teach “the theory of creation as presented in the Bible” and to “read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation.” The state is home to the world-renowned Creation Museum and it may soon build the Ark Encounter, the world’s first creationist theme park.

Status: Died in committee. 

3. Florida

Legislation: SB 1854 would amend Florida law to require a “thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.” In 2009, Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise, the bill’s sponsor, rhetorically asked a Tampa radio host: “Why do we still have apes if we came from them?”

Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12, which Wise chairs.

4. Tennessee

Legislation: HB 368 and SB 893 would require educators to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.” The bills list four “controversies” ripe for pedagogical tinkering: biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. Modeled on Louisiana’s Science Education Act (which became law in 2008), the bills are believed to have a good shot at passing. Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching evolution in public schools, worries that the legislation “will allow teachers to bring this culture war into the classroom in a way that is going to leave students very confused about what science is and isn’t.”

Status: HB 368 was passed by the House General Subcommittee on Education on March 16. 

5. Oklahoma

Legislation: The Sooner State kicked off its creationism legislation season early with the January 19 pre-filing of SB 554, a bill that would have ensured that teachers could present “relevant scientific information” about “controversial topics in the sciences” including “biological origins of life and biological evolution.” It also would have required Oklahoma to adopt science standards echoing those passed by in 2009 by the Texas state board of education. “Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings is incomplete and unacceptable,” wrote the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Josh Brecheen, in the Durant Daily Democrat. A second bill introduced in February, the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, resembled Louisiana’s Science Education Act.

Status: Both bills died in committee. 

6. New Mexico

Legislation: HB 302, another bill modeled on Louisiana’s Science Education Act. Sponsor Kent Cravens, a state senator from Albuquerque, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the bill wasn’t anti-Darwinian, but rather was “intended to give the teacher the ability to disclose that there may be another way to think about this, whatever subject they are talking about.”

Status: Died in committee. 

7. Missouri

Legislation: HB 195 would permit teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.” Missouri is the site of the newly opened Creation Museum of the Ozarks.

Status: Not yet referred to a committee.

So far the score card looks like this: christian conservative politicians want to place their version of god in a woman’s ovaries, a person’s sexual orientation, and in secular class rooms. Does that about cover it?

Is an Online Education Right for You? It is For Me!

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My partner over at Carving Out a Voice currently has an article posted titled Is an Online Education Right for You?.

In the article she touches on her personal experiences with not only online classes that she took to further herself in her former job, but her experiences in getting her MFA in creative writing as well. In addition she discusses the pros and cons of an online education versus an education at a traditional university, as well as the challenges of choosing an online university that will provide a challenging and truly educational experience.

 

As I was reading the article, I began to think about my own online experience. 3 years ago I decided it was time to go back to college, and become the first in my family to earn a degree. I have a full time job which occupies 40 to 50 hours a week, so I was enticed by the flexibility that an online education has to offer. I first enrolled in an online university that offered an associate’s degree in business thinking that this two year degree may help me further my career in the transportation industry in which I currently work. However after the first few classes, I realized that the curriculum was in no way challenging, and after discussing it with my partner decided to transfer to the college where she was earning her masters.

 

Not only did I change universities, I changed my degree as well. I decided that with my almost fanatic love of history, it would be beneficial for me to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in history. When I graduate, I plan on going to graduate school, possibly to a traditional university to enhance my advanced education experience. Once I’m finished, I hope to become a history teacher at either a high school or university. Hell, I may even write a book or two based on historical events. If I do end up writing a book, you can count on the fact that it would include the type of analysis that only my in your face perspective can provide.

 

The difference between my current university and my former university was quite a shock at first. While I was able to maintain an A average at the former college with little to no effort, I now must work my ass off to maintain the same GPA. I love the fact that I am challenged by the work load, and I feel as if I am actually learning something. When I earn my degree, I will accept it proudly, because I worked my ass off for it. This would not have been the case if I continued to study at the former school.

 

No matter what your age or level of education, if you want to return to school and online education may be just the ticket for you. As I mentioned previously, you have a somewhat flexible class schedule in regards to your studies, and you can complete your education from the comfort of your own home. However, online education requires more discipline than a traditional university in my opinion, because you do not have an instructor looking over your shoulder to supervise. You do indeed get out of this what you put into it. Furthermore, if you do enroll and find the classes ridiculously easy, remember that you do have other choices, and you can transfer to another college in search of something more challenging. Most credits earned are transferrable to traditional universities as well. In fact, there are more traditional colleges than ever who offer the opportunity of an online education.

 

Online education no longer carries the stigma that it once did. It can be challenging and rewarding. Online degrees are starting to become the norm rather than the exception, and prospective employers are recognizing the legitimacy of such an education. If you choose to go this route, make sure you research the schools you’re interested in, so that you can find a program that’s right for you. You won’t be sorry you did; I know I’m not.