Tag Archives: education

Guess Who’s Back and Ranting about Budget Cuts–Me!

Hello, lovely readers!

Now that I am back from my terrible hiatus (finishing the practicum), I have good news. I finally received a pass with distinction on my final assignment of the practicum. The critical essay was written on one of my personal favorite subjects, detective fiction. Over the course of writing about P.D. James’ Devices and Desires, I found an appalling aspect of our society and the education system.

How can society expect the best and brightest of future generations to expand their minds without the tools to do so? We live in an age where a college degree  (associates, bachelors, masters) is pretty much required for the job you desire, or even a job that will pay for life’s needs. The economy is struggling so badly that we are willing to sacrifice in this area, and still expect students to provide the best results. Students continually pay out of pocket for the resources (laptops, supplies, books) that should be provided for them to become useful in their own field.

What is even more disturbing is the amount of money students shell out just to go to a college, and this doesn’t include access to the best library resources available. If the students can’t do the research to complete their assignments, how do you expect them to graduate with the skills necessary to succeed?

Can’t get to the library to get to the book you need? And to buy it online would cost $100 bucks to quote a few pages and days to ship to you? Oh well!

Now before you give a response, please note that this is not the period of instant information transference. We may have the internet at our fingertips, but that does not mean that the answers are free. Most likely, they are very expensive.  This brings us to the root of the problem. We can make cut backs to our libraries or shut them down all together because it costs too much to keep them open.

All over the country, our libraries are suffering from budget cuts that are supposedly necessary to salvage some other need for society. Yet, in a world where we need that college degree to get a job, and are struggling to find positions for skilled worker (to improve the economy), we decide to cut jobs that can help our society succeed. Check out the map below and see how much our resources are cut back for students and non-students across the country. It will appall anyone with a child or love of books because the future of education is slim if this continues.

But are we really considering the long-term repercussions for making these resources unavailable to students? In many ways, the digital age has made it easier for students to utilize books to their full potential. It is considered a rule of thumb in the classroom (to this day) that print text are more reliable than online sources. This may change as books are converted to electronic format, but the majority of a student’s library resources remain on paper and stacked on shelves (especially for English majors). It is not enough to print out new editions of books each year and demand the student to buy the brand new book.  Now society expects the student to find their way to the library that may close in a few years to find the texts they need to succeed.

Ain’t it the truth?

For many of us (commuters, online students, graduate students), access to a full library is either improbable to fit into a schedule or outside of our abilities to obtain. We look to Google and Yahoo to provide us with scholarly texts that may help us to write the best papers and assignments possible. One teensy problem.  Almost every single scholarly article or journal on the public databases like JSTOR, Project Muse, Questia all require a username/password  or membership for access to any of the full articles.

Why can’t we provide access to online databases for all students (high school and up) to become the most knowledgeable individual that they can be? I don’t think it is that difficult to provide the online or the print resources with the thousands of dollars students will spend 30 year paying back. To me, this is like asking a plumber to learn how to fix pipes without giving him a wrench or tool box. I spent three days looking for resources on my paper only to be left with sad excuses for resources. I was smart enough to purchase one book, which costs me $10 literally for one quote used in my paper. I was lucky the book was available in electronic format because with a full-time job that takes up the library’s hours, it would have been impossible for me to get to a library in time to complete the paper.

The truth is the Google may provide you with the search results, but the answers you seek come at a price.

While my critical paper took 3 days to research, it could have taken a few hours. Without the access to a physical library or the literary journals needed to collect resources, I was forced to use little scholarly resources for my paper. I wish I could have gained access to more because my paper would have been a better one. I happened to luck out this time, but for thousands of students in some of the best schools in the country, they are suffering from a lack of knowledge.

Share your opinion of how students and other readers have little access to library resources. It’s not just the print books that are in danger, but the digital sources are restricted to those who can pay out of pocket for a few minutes of view time.

Anyway, Happy reading and writing all!

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Hot For Teacher Gets You in Trouble

Perusing the internet, as I seem to be doing all of the time, I have found a gold mine of an article. Thanks to Yahoo’s interest in weird and disturbing news, I have found another kink in the education system that is supposed to be encouraging our creative minds.

http://news.yahoo.com/hot-teacher-essay-lands-student-trouble-221254769–abc-news.html

Personally, I have had a wonderful experience both in my undergrad and graduate experience. For some students like 56-year-old Joseph Corlett, speaking  your mind in class is apparently frowned upon for a writing student. Wait, say that again. You say that a writing student is being penalized for speaking his mind? What has the world come to that a professor can assign a creative writing journal and then claim the contents are too offensive? I thought the point of creative writing was to write whatever you thought and when a teacher says nothing is off limits, nothing is off limits.

Well, the article above describes this enthusiastic student now being kicked off campus and sued for sexual harassment because Van Halen’s hit “Hot For Teacher” apparently was too offensive for one teacher. I understand that there are times where people’s thoughts just shouldn’t be written down. However, this is not one of those times. Having a male student write in his “no boundaries” journal that you’re attractive in his first impression of you is NOT sexual harassment in my mind.

I know that some people are more sensitive than others, but as a college professor, you should either restrict your students or grow some balls, seriously. The man wasn’t saying that he wanted to rape her. Taking offense to sexual themes in writing is like saying that boy scouts are offensive for trying to sell popcorn for their next camping trip.

As a student of literature, the sexual nature of all animals is just a natural part of life. It shouldn’t be censored because one teacher can’t handle her students. I know that some “kids,” yes KIDS (high school students) may take an assignment like this and go too far (talk about having sex or drugs), but when did sex become off limits for adults? If we took everything offensive out of writing and literature, this would be 1984. Guess what? It’s not.

We’re in America and we’re supposed to have the freedom to express ourselves especially through writing. I am appalled at the reaction of the teacher as well as the school. In a world where children are diagnosed with A.D.D. at the drop of a hat and people scream terrorist when they see someone remotely anxious. It’s a place where paranoia reigns supreme and suing people is our national past time.  I wish that people knew how difficult it is for writers to get past this offensive barrier. Oh wait, we do!

After hundreds of years of people oppressing our ideas and banning books, how haven’t we learned? Students should be nurtured and encourage to express their raw emotions or offensive ones. My previous post of the “Write for Life” program lives by the idea of allowing troubled teen girls to express their darkest emotions. No one would dare censor them because of sexual feelings. You want to know why? Because it’s healthy to express those feelings. This man was not some young freshman trying to get into bed with his teacher. He was simply stating a fact. Stating a truth that normally he wouldn’t have said out loud, but since it was in a creative writing journal WITH NO BOUNDARIES,  he thought it would be safe to express himself.

I think the hardest part about this situation is that we, as writers, have worked so hard to gain respect for telling the truth about life. Although fiction is not complete truth, it is grounded in the realities that we live in. This student’s reputation will be forever tainted because he wrote his teacher was attractive. I know that people deserve respect, especially teachers.

However, what happened to respecting the growth of a student’s learning? Regardless of what exactly was written, the point is to allow him to feel comfortable expressing himself. If we can’t share ideas without the fear of being censored or sued for something that MIGHT offend someone, nothing would ever be written or published. It was just an assignment in class. He wasn’t making inappropriate comments in public or attempting to touch her. If this is the way that teachers and university respond to sexual references in student’s work, I am glad that I’m not at that school.

The education I’m getting is at least honest in what it expects out of its students. Sex is NOT off limits, especially for the poets, and they encourage any subject to be addressed. Writers should not be limited and shoved into a box of what some professor or institution wants them to write about. There should be a freedom is writing whatever you want, and knowing that you’re entitled to write your feelings.

The opinion in this post doesn’t reflect any ties to the article above and I apologize if I offend anyone in my blatant disregard for ninnies and wimps who can’t handle the reality of human expression.

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iEducation? Not Yet Apple!

Returning to my original discussion of being a writer in the digital age, I turn my sights on the schools in United States. Apple has very recently announced their initiative to make the iPad the go to tech for classrooms. The only problem is that they may be too forward thinking for school across the country.

Like the rise of the internet and personal computers, the mass acceptance of technology in every area of life takes time.  Apple can’t expect the school to pounce on  the iPad apps and have them flow flawlessly into every student’s hands.  An article from CNN gives an interesting comparison of tech use in classrooms: “in 2009, a survey by the National Center for Education Statisticsfound that while 99% of public school teachers have some access to computers, just 29% of public school teachers use them during instructional time “often.” Just 3% of schools in a 2010 survey by the FCC said they have a one-to-one computer ratio.”

That statistic is undeniable. The teachers have access to computers almost all of the time and even now in the digital age of smart phones, tablets, and laptops teachers still do not use technology in the classroom.

Now I know this is changing and some teachers across the country and the world are beginning to incorporate things like twitter and forums to engage the students in conversation. But the consensus is that the world is not willing to switch over.

The CNN article opens the idea to having school uses tablets instead of computers, which I agree is a much better use of the school’s budget. However, the idea that the technology is going to be used regularly and effectively is still in question.

The upside for iPads in schools is that it can make books cheaper for the school and more readily available. The technology will not work so that the iPad and the books purchased will stay with the school. According to CNN’s article, the books purchased on the iPad will only be accessed through the student’s iTunes account.

Not only that, but only a few books are available from each publishing company, so it’s not like the school can get every book it needs off the iBooks app.

The final problem is that to utilize all of this technology in the classroom, the school has to has two very important things. Fast internet connection and funding. They go hand in hand that the funding gives the devices and the fast internet. In turn, the devices and internet allow the students to learn better and give more back to the community that paid for their education. Yet, how many schools have the funding for advanced technology and high speed internet let alone proper dietary needs and other simpler school supplies for their students?
What it boils down to is a few main points:

Even if the school gets funding for the iPads and better internet connection, there is no guarantee the teachers will use the technology effectively in class. Then, once the school gets the technology, the schools aren’t even sure if the books they need will be available. Finally, the most important point is even if all of the other point pull through positively it is not 100% certain that the students will learn more effectively.

 

So, as I step down from my teacher in training soap box. I propose this question for those on both sides of this educational debate. Do you think the students will actually learn and retain more with the iPads? Or is it another chance for students to pay less attention to the content they could very easily learn from having a paper, pen, and book?

 

Acknowledgments: Please visit the CNN article for the statistics and more on the subject–

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/20/tech/innovation/ipad-wont-transform-education/index.html

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Filed under Idea of the Day