Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Is short always smarter and better than long?

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Don’t you mean is long always smarter and better than short?  That is what I might have said before. Carlin Romano describes in “Will the Book Survive” the challenges involved in getting college students to read books.  I pulled the above question from the paragraph below.

Destructive cultural trends lurk behind the decline of readerly ambition and student stamina. One is the expanding cultural bias in all writerly media toward clipped, hit-friendly brevity—no longer the soul of wit, but metric-driven pith in lieu of wit. Everywhere they turn, but particularly in mainstream, sophisticated venues—where middle-aged fogies desperately seek to stay ahead of the tech curve—young people hear, through the apotheosis of tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, and sound bites as the core of communication, that short is always smarter and better than long, even though most everyone knows it’s usually dumber and worse.

I am not sure about his next point–that people don’t want to read because they can’t interact with the author.  Of course today, one trick of publishers to help authors succeed is to set up a blog in order to promote their books.  Hmmm, maybe he has a point.

Another cultural trend propelling the possible death of the whole book as assigned reading is the pressurized hawking of interactivity, brought to us by the same media panderers to limited attention spans. It’s no longer acceptable for A to listen to B for more than a few minutes before A gets his or her right to respond.

Next, Romano sounds like Nicholas Carr from The Shallows when he refers to Robert Darnton’s The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future (PublicAffairs, 2009):

Darnton notices what many other professors also see in young people: “A generation ‘born digital’ is ‘always on,’ conversing everywhere on cellphones, tapping out instant messages, and networking in actual or virtual realities. The younger people you pass on the street or sit next to on a bus are simultaneously there and not there. They shake their shoulders and tap their feet to music audible only to them inside the cocoon of their digital systems. They seem to be wired differently from their elders, whose orientation to machines comes from another zone of the unconscious.”

Maybe he is hard on the youth of today but perhaps you, like myself, have seen the following scene:

Many college-age sorts study their phones, put them away to try to focus on something else—the passing scenery outside the Amtrak train, a magazine, the old-fashioned book they’ve brought along—then yank the phones back out three or four minutes later and start tapping away again. Reading a book, however, requires concentration, endurance, the ability to disconnect from other connections. You have to be there rather than not there. Hyperwired young people may be making it to age 17 without acquiring that ability, let alone losing it.

Another worthwhile read on the subject is a post on The Art of Slow Reading by Patrick Kingsley.

Men missing on campus

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Where have all the young men gone?  With 60% of student populations now being women, we may have a problem. Check out this article by Albert Mohler.

Mohler concludes,

Biblical manhood requires that young men grow up, assume adult responsibilities, and prepare for leadership and service in the home, in the church, and in the larger society.

This much is clear — if this trend is not reversed, the college campus will not be the only place these young men are found missing.

“Fat, dumb and happy”

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Just too much traveling of late to be consistent in blogging–Bangkok last week, Calapan on Sunday to Monday.  In Manila now for five days and then off to America on Dec 13.

“Fat dumb and happy” may be a description of what will result if we continue the staus quo in our university education in America according to this piece on the problem of University Education via Felix Salmon.

The following article on Universities and Economic Growth by Philip Greenspun stimulated my thinking because it reveals yet again the pointlessness of an over-reliance on lecture as a form of education.   As opposed to adult dialogue education! Greenspun writes,

Pedagogy researchers have found that people stop paying attention after about 20 minutes. That’s as long as a lecture should be at a university. After 20 minutes, the students can break up into small groups to solve problems, with the teacher wandering around the room assisting groups as necessary

Pity the poor prof for whom Greenspun described what actually happened in the first 20 min of class. He provides a scathing review for how ineffective are so many things about our university level education and warns that this will have a future negative consequences for our society and economy.   He offers two Simple Changes: “Stop grading your own students” and “Stop lecturing”, two Modest Changes: “Build open offices for students and “Provide detailed review of all work; grade students on their ability to assist other students” and one Big Change for Engineering: Teach Engineering.

It is a long article but worth reading if you are an educator, one being educated or one paying for either of the above!

English as Second Language Books

November 29, 2009 2 comments

A friend of ours has written six workbooks designed for learners of English who need to improve their reading comprehension in order to do well in Christian institutions and organizations that require extensive reading in English. The books are designed to supplement classroom instruction with biblically contextualized passages and exercises. All of the workbooks are available as a FREE download, to print and photocopy for personal or class use, but may not be reproduced for profit.

Vocabulary Building for Biblical Studies is an intermediate level workbook of 15 chapters centering on biblical and Christian themes. Each unit includes a passage of 1000 words and exercises that aid the students in understanding and expanding their vocabulary.

Men and Women in the History of the Church is a pre-intermediate primer. Each unit begins with pre-reading questions and a biography of approximately 650 words. This is followed by exercises on reading comprehension and vocabulary building, and ends with discussion questions.

Developing Reading Skills: Jonah is a two-part pre-intermediate curriculum based on the books of Jonah and Ruth.  Each curriculum includes a Student Workbook and a Teacher’s Book and introduces a variety of reading strategies, particularly observation-interpretation-application.

Developing Reading Skills: Ruth is a two-part pre-intermediate curriculum based on the books of Jonah and Ruth.  Each curriculum includes a Student Workbook and a Teacher’s Book and introduces a variety of reading strategies, particularly observation-interpretation-application.

Israel’s Judges focuses on the beginner level, covers all 4 skills, and includes communicative grammar activities for class use. There is a listening component that can be downloaded as well.

Reviewing Grammar is a booklet intended to serve as a reference guide and a review of basic grammar rules for students writing in English.  It is not an exhaustive study of English grammar; rather, it is a compilation of grammar definitions, explanations, and examples from several grammar books.  Basic grammar points and some troublesome spots are addressed.


Some web based learning tools

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

A compilation of many of the new web tools out there.  Some are pretty basic but others may be new to you.  I have a couple that I am going to try out.


What academic credentials can’t guarantee

June 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Just read a fascinating article, The Case for Working with your hands by Matthew B. Crawford that was passed onto me by my wife.  I have always had a high respect for  people in the trades, who could create something with their hands.  Sadly, being a tradesman here where I live is not an esteemed profession to which one would aspire.  The goal for too many is to go to college, graduate and work in an air conditioned office behind a computer!  Something is wrong with this picture!   Reading Crawford may remind you of values we have forgotten in our post-modern culture.   He notes, “A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.”

As somone who has spent most of my life in academics, I think I need to learn a new hobby in my old age!

Why shouldn’t I get a B?

March 1, 2009 1 comment

Buy an experience not more stuff

February 22, 2009 2 comments

Wondering what to do with that extra money?  Give away half of it.  Then, use the rest to do something with others.  A new study shows, “Experiences bring people more happiness than buying material things.”

  • experiences increase happiness because they are often social in nature.
  • experiences tend to make people feel more alive
  • experiences leave people with positive memories

“It’s not that material things don’t bring any happiness. It’s just that they don’t bring as much,” Howell said. “You’re happy with a new television set. But you’re thrilled with a vacation.”

Since we just had our television stolen, I guess I need to plan a vacation with my wife instead of buying a new one!

Closing debate on scientific truth?

February 14, 2009 1 comment

We are celebrating the 200th anniversaries of the birth of Darwin and Lincoln this week so much is being written in support of Darwin and evolution.  Here, an attempt is made to link Lincoln and Darwin.  I hope this is not the common agenda of most scientists.  Dr. Michael Wolfe writes

Democracy needs to evolve to the point where our representatives cannot vote on matters of scientific truth, just as a majority should not be able to vote to deny the rights of a minority.

Sounds like he wants to elevate arguments against evolution to the category of hate crimes? Why do evolutionists fear healthy debate?

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and through this executive order, set the stage for the total abolition of slavery in this country. In the same way, national standards for science education should be established so that state and municipal boards of education cannot work to deny the truth of evolution and cause distraction and confusion by having scientifically inaccurate and indefensible alternatives taught in the science classroom and espoused in science textbooks.

Lincoln saved our union from dissolution and opened our minds to the equality of man. Darwin unified biology and opened our minds to the origin of man. Today we should proudly celebrate both men and their legacies. And let’s recommit ourselves, as President Obama said in his inaugural address, to “restoring science to its rightful place”.

Wolfe’s point earlier in the article, “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.”  He further states,

“As a biomedical researcher, I can attest that we routinely use the genetic relationship between humans and other organisms (including yeast, worms, flies and mice) to discover important processes involved in human health and disease. Not only is evolution true, it is practical; we need the insight it offers to understand and treat illness.

Why not admit that these genetic relationships may reflect a common creator rather than a common evolutionay link?

Smoking moms, flying pigs and racists

February 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Three posts that caught my attention on science blogs

Interesting post  here on a study in which a connection is shown between smoking moms, birth weight and anti-social behavior. Nothing new there and was the connection related to genetics or the environment or a combination of both.  I was  intriguedwhen I discovered that the study was done on a group of “test tube babies.”

Another link to a more technical study in which researchers found the part of the brain in which idioms like “when pigs fly” and “when hell freezes over” are processed.  I didn’t quite understand why this is important!

Finally, a hopeful study which shows that people can be trained to become less racist as they learn to identify and distinguish unique characteristics between individuals within another race. In other words, one is inclined to be more racist if you “see” all _____ people as looking alike.

People of the screen and people of the book

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Lengthy article on the future of reading in The New Atlantis by Cristine Rosen

She speculates

  • will the book be around much longer?
  • what will become of the book and its related print culture?
  • Will “collaborative ‘information foraging’ replace solitary deep reading”?
  • Will “the connected screen will replace the disconnected book”?
  • Does regular reading truly benefit our society?
  • Are print literacy and screen literacy complementary capacities or just competitors?
  • Will a new reading class develop?
  • Should we be the master or the student when we read?
  • “What exactly is reading?”
  • Are screen readers more “users” or “consumers” and not “readers”
  • What can e-books do better than printed books?

Near the end of her article, Rosen writes,

If reading has a history, it might also have an end. It is far too soon to tell when that end might come, and how the shift from print literacy to digital literacy will transform the “reading brain” and the culture that has so long supported it. Echoes will linger, as they do today from the distant past: audio books are merely a more individualistic and technologically sophisticated version of the old practice of reading aloud. But we are coming to see the book as a hindrance, a retrograde technology that doesn’t suit the times. Its inanimacy now renders it less compelling than the eye-catching screen. It doesn’t actively do anything for us. In our eagerness to upgrade or replace the book, we try to make reading easier, more convenient, more entertaining—forgetting that reading is also supposed to encourage us to challenge ourselves and to search for deeper meaning.

I guess as long as there are printers, I will still be able to print my e-books so I can read them!

The difference maker in education

February 1, 2009 1 comment

Fascinating review of an article by Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science comparing the acquisition of scientific knowledge, scientific reasoning ability and the method of teaching.  He relays a study in which students in the Chinese educational system scored significantly higher on physics’ tests than did students studying in the American system.  However, both the American and Chinese students scored almost identically in scientific reasoning skills.  How could this be–the informal learning that takes place inside and outside the classroom?  Yong concludes

So if it what we teach doesn’t lead to better reasoning skills, perhaps it is how we teach it. That’s an idea Bao subscribes to. He advocates more “inquiry-based learning“, where teachers encourage students to discover things for themselves, acting more as a facilitator that guides the class rather than a vessel that pours knowledge into it. Obviously, this shouldn’t be introduced to the exclusion of knuckling down and cramming some basic facts in, but the two approaches should complement each other.

A good reason for a continued committment to dialogue education!

Most irritating phrases

November 15, 2008 7 comments

Here are the top ten most irritating phrases.

1 – At the end of the day

2 – Fairly unique

3 – I personally

4 – At this moment in time

5 – With all due respect

6 – Absolutely

7 – It’s a nightmare

8 – Shouldn’t of

9 – 24/7

10 – It’s not rocket science

Thanks to Tom McMahon, who suggests trying to use all ten in one sentence!

Is self-esteem more important than self-control?

June 17, 2008 4 comments

My wife pointed me to this article in the Houston Chronicle in which Ashley Herzog writes a damaging critique of the self-esteem movement. Here is a summary from “The flaws of the self-esteem fad” by Ashley Herzog

Herzog says the self-esteem movement proclaims to

  • make the kids feel important
  • emphasize their good qualities
  • refrain from criticizing children too much
  • encourage kids to feel good about themselves for no particular reason
  • “We want to anchor self-esteem firmly to the child so no matter what the performance might be, the self-esteem remains high,”

As Herzog points out, the goal of making children smarter and more productive using a focus on building self-esteem “has never been proved to work.” She provides an interesting example.

“Starting in the mid-1990s, a team led by psychologist Carol Dweck did a series of experiments on fifth-graders, who were divided into two groups. In the first group, students were praised for their intelligence — an innate trait unrelated to performance. In the second group, students were praised for their effort and good behavior. The children in the second group performed better and were more likely to attempt difficult tasks — probably because their teachers had encouraged them to work hard, rather than constantly telling them how brilliant they were.”

What has the self-esteem movement accomplished? According to Herzog

  • Americans “are unprepared to compete in the global economy.”
  • “our teens don’t let their ignorance bother them.”
  • “get good grades no matter what”
  • “Grade inflation in order to avoid bruised egos.”
  • “While the self-esteem movement hasn’t made children any smarter, it has made them more self-centered, demanding and hostile to criticism.”
  • they think they “deserve recognition and attention from others”
  • they think it is “acceptable and desirable to be preoccupied with oneself and praise oneself.”

She warns, “Self-esteem isn’t linked to academic achievement or good behavior. Nor does it protect against teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, drug abuse or chronic welfare dependency.” Instead, she suggests that educators should focus on “teaching the time-tested values of self-respect and self-control.”

Herzog, a resident of The Woodlands, is a journalism major at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Sexual boundaries on college campuses today

May 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Dawn Eden over at Dawn Patrol had the following daily quote today and I thought it is worth re-posting here. This was reminiscent of a post that Heather McDonald made a few months ago on City Journal–for which I provided links. How do we bring about a change on this situation.  According to McDonald, the blame seems to lie at the college administration level giving mixed signals to the students.

“No doubt lurid anecdote and popular myth cause us to exaggerate the actual frequency of campus hook-ups: Most college students do not share in these delights. But most students also believe that ‘everyone does it,’ even if the individual student, for some reason, cannot locate a partner. Thus an active minority sets the tone and makes hooking up a ‘culture.’ When there are no sexual boundaries, either official or informal, the standard becomes the extreme, and all students feel the pressure to appear more promiscuous than they are. The traditional double standard of sexual conduct – more restrictive for women than for men – has been replaced by the single standard of the predatory male.”

Harvey C. Mansfield, reviewing Donna Freitas’s Sex and the Soul in today’s Wall Street Journal

Pressure is on the Korean kids

April 30, 2008 Leave a comment

An article in the New York Times talks about the pressure on Korean kids who want to attend University in the U.S.  They study 15 hours a day in prep schools to get in the top American Universities.  At what price?


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