Monthly Archives: September 2020

The Education Enigma

Title: The Education Enigma

Author: Bruce Deitrick Price

Publisher: Word-Wise Publishing

ISBN: 1-4392-3035-8

ISBN-13: 978-1439230350

The Education Enigma is a book of essays pertaining to America’s education system. The question Price poses is: What Happened to American Education? Price proclaims, “The simultaneous decline of American education and the language used by America’s educators is a historical fact.” Over the years I have done some research on this topic, in particular through editing and proofreading of college papers. I found this book very interesting and agree with much of what Price states.

The main crux of Price’s essays deal with the failure of our teaching methods to actually teach children to read. He explains the difference between teaching children to read using whole word strategy and phonics, favoring phonics. According to Price, “When we examine education throughout the 20th century, we see a puzzling array of unproductive ideas. But no failure is as primal and destructive as the inability of American public schools to teach reading-the one essential skill.”

Through his essays Price also touches on the subjects of math, history, science and art. In addition, he provides a history of the American education system along with its downward turn referring to it as the “dumbing down” of America. From John Dewey to Maria Montessori to Rudolf Flesch to Gilbert Highet, Price explains their philosophies and the affects on this country’s education system. He concludes, specifically in regard to Dewey and his followers, “Make no mistake, this was a secret conspiracy.”

Along with this Price argues an excellent point that I always disagreed with: children need to memorize facts and figures even if they can look the answers up, whether in a book or online. I always believed that as long as children were taught where and how to look up answers there is no need for state tests that cause stress for many of our children from fourth grade up. His comment toward this kind of theorizing is: “But will they? No, people usually muddle through with what they actually know in their heads.” I do tend to agree with this point even though I still feel there is too much emphasis placed on state tests.

The Education Enigma is full of information and history pertaining to the American education system. Through some of the titles of his essays it’s easy to see that Price has a sense of humor: Jay Leno: Educator of the Year; Phooey on John Dewey; and Educators are Best Understood as “Ignorance Engineers.”

It is important to mention that Price is not hurling these jabs pertaining to the ineffectiveness of the school system at the teachers in the trenches. It is aimed at those in control of creating and enforcing inadequate teaching strategies. In Price’s words, “When I speak of “educators,” I never mean teachers. I mean that small group of managers at the top, with Ph.D.’s, who effectively control the public schools.”

A final quote from this book that I especially liked: “…Another famous government report, A Nation at Risk (1983) concluded that our public schools seem to have been created by an enemy power. Exactly. An enemy that would want Americans to read feebly and count inaccurately.”

About the author: Bruce Deitrick Price is a novelist, painter, poet and education activist. He graduated from Norfolk Academy and Princeton (with Honors in English Literature). Throughout his career, Price was writing about education. Aside from the arts, his main passion is Improve-Education.org. Price is a member of PEN and Mensa.

Open Courses: Changing the Higher Education Scene

Want to take a course from M.I.T., one of the most revered technology schools in the world? You don’t have to have almost-perfect SAT scores, you don’t have to have a 4.0 GPA, you don’t have to pay the $50,000 tuition – in fact, you don’t even have to be enrolled as a student. Sound too good to be true? M.I.T. has put its entire course catalogue online so that anyone who wishes to check out class lectures, class notes, assignments and other materials will be able to via their computer.

Online education continues to change the way educators and students envision higher education and M.I.T.’s open courses are just one of the many ways that traditional ground schools are adapting to advances in technology. Due to the expansion of online education, OpenCourseWare Consortium, a non-profit organization committed to advancing global education opportunity, was created to give students worldwide the opportunity to access higher education courses and relevant material.

M.I.T. isn’t the only prestigious ground school to get involved. Stanford, Tufts, Yale, the University of Michigan and Harvard also offer many, if not all, of their courses online for free. So, why give away something that many students pay so much for? “My deep belief is that as academics we have a duty to disperse our ideas as far and as freely as possible,” says Rebecca Henderson a business professor from M.I.T. and Harvard.

Sharing the world’s knowledge is the goal of OpenCourseWare Consortium. Obtaining copyrights from more schools and then delivering the material effectively as well as long-term funding are issues which are still being dealt with. Initial funding came from the private sector by way of affluent schools and organizations like the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. But, say Consortium directors, “relying on philanthropy is not sustainable.”

To address sustainability, copyright issues, and course effectiveness of the Open Education movement activists, educators, and scientists will converge in Barcelona for meetings on education, accessibility, and trends in Open Education. Open Ed 2011 and the Drumbeat Learning Freedom and the Web Festival will convene to address the future of education and the Web and the “decisions needed to make open education a reality” as well as ‘impact and sustainability.”

Mary Lou Forward, executive director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is planning to attend both meetings. Unequal access to education is one of the most prominent reasons OpenCourseWare was developed, bringing free education to the masses is a concept that is always on Forward’s mind. “What I think about all the time,” she says, “are ways to bring education to people.”

While open courses don’t provide actual course credit or an eventual degree to students, they are used by many to self-learn or to find areas of study that may interest them in their eventual degree track. Additionally, open courses give underprivileged students or students with traditionally little access who may be incapable of attending college an opportunity to study and learn exactly what their peers elsewhere are studying.

OpenCourseWare hopes to eventually make national and worldwide higher education courses freely available to students and learners across the globe.

How Can Video Conferencing Solutions Positively Impact the Rural Education?

Video Conferencing has always been considered as an upmarket technology; beyond the reach of common people, especially in the rural sector. However, the circumstances have started to show some positive bends lately. Technology has stepped into the rural domain and has also started impacting the lives of the masses. The basic purpose of video conferencing solutions is an enhanced virtual connectivity. Beforehand, the far-flung villages suffered from the unavailability of necessary amenities which the virtual connectivity has brought to their doorstep.

The greatest impact of the audio-visual technology can be seen in the rural education sector. Rural communities have always suffered from the lack of qualitative education within accessible distance. Stories of people traveling miles in search of qualitative education and training aren’t rare. Girls in most Indian villages, fail to get educated in hi-end technologies since their parents are unwilling to let them travel to distant schools and colleges. Video Conferencing Solutions for Education have been able to curtail these drawbacks to a considerable extent.

Benefits of virtual collaboration for education in the rural sector

Experts at doorstep

The AV collaborative solutions have bridged the gap between education and the learners. This technology and the solutions based on it have transformed the authentic brick and mortar classrooms into global learning platforms. Through Live video collaboration, the rural students can learn directly from the experts in various genre’, ask questions and resolve problems without changing their locations; thus avoiding the traveling cost.

“Classroom without walls”

This is a concept that made around 125 students from 3 schools on the Kenai Peninsula spend a night at school to wake up at 4 a.m. for attending a video conference with the students in Nazareth, Israel (The Journal.com). This collaborative technology has not only pulled up the rural students to the standards where high-end education is not only limited to their privileged urban or suburban peers but also helped them realize the importance and urgency of cross-cultural collaboration. We can thank this technology for helping rural students become responsible global citizens.

Parents’ are in control

While the students are leveraging video conferencing solutions to acquire higher education, parents can relax to see their children not shift base for higher education. In the pre-virtual collaboration scenario, helplessly worried parents had no option but to allow their children relocate to big cities to satisfy their learning sprees. This also made some parents reluctant about letting their children pursue higher education. Thus, curbing their growth, which in its turn affecting the growth of rural education as a whole. With children collaborating virtually, the parents are also aware of their children’s academic progress. They can also be a part of virtual performance tracking of their wards and have discussions with the educators.

Teachers can grow as well

Apart from a better exposure and interaction with remote students, there are quite a few things that the teachers can really leverage from a hi-end video conferencing solution for education. Remote collaboration can help teachers, especially who are rurally located, enhance their skills. The teachers can, thus, not only impart education but also be a part of different forums or peer-groups to act upon fruitful knowledge exchange.

Helping children with special needs

Children with special needs, located rurally, find it exceptionally tough to access varied learning scopes. With easily accessible video conferencing solutions, they can now register for various workshops, learning forums, discussion session without relocating. They can overcome their feeling of isolation by joining peers around the world who have similar needs and be a part of the global learning junket.

Initiatives to promote digital learning

Educational institutes around the world are focusing on encompassing digital learning into their curriculum. In India, E-Kranti program under the Digital India campaign is designed to focus on digitizing rural education. Under this program, free Wi-Fi will be provided to 2.5 lakh schools in the next five years. Also, devices like tablets will be distributed among rural students and plans for initiating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to help them overcome the demographic constraint and learn from global industry experts and eminent mentors. Players like Google and Facebook are also partnering with the Central Government to make the initiative successful.

Centrally Sponsored schemes, Rashtriya Uchchatar Siksha Aviyan (RUSA) and not-for-profit organization, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) are set-ups to fund and upgrade the education, training, and skill development initiatives in the country, including the digital learning undertakings.

Digital Learning endeavors around the globe are gaining grounds. Developed countries like the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of the European Union have already started leveraging the benefits of incorporating digital learning trend in their existing curriculum. Countries from Africa, Latin America and Asian Subcontinents to are following the current trend.

The Family University Network: Unplugging Institutional Higher Education

Why not build a Christian family enterprise with the energy, funding, and infrastructure that would otherwise build the state or private educational institutions?

It is common knowledge today that serious moral problems exist in families, churches, schools, colleges, corporations, and political arena. These problems have academic, moral, and philosophical roots reaching back centuries, and have been promoted by the systematic separation of knowledge from faith in God. The significant amount of teaching required to equip people with the ability to discern the times and apply Scripture by faith to all areas of life, requires diligence in all areas of learning, and at all levels of education.

Secular universities are openly hostile to the Christian worldview, and the best of the Christian colleges cannot replicate the family away from home. Nehemiah Institute worldview assessment of 1177 students in 18 Christian colleges over 7 years demonstrated that Christian students are graduating from Christian institutions with a secular humanism worldview, even where their professors have a Biblical Theist worldview. Even the above average Christian colleges are little better than their secular counterpart because the curricula are developed under the same institutional accreditation guidelines, the same text books are used, many of the faculty were trained at secular institutions, and the family learning context is ignored.

Even the best of Christian distance education does not purposefully involve the family in the learning process, nor couple with individual family convictions, nor uses the family knowledge base, nor earns family income. It is time to unplug institutional higher education and bring higher education home.

The establishment of family universities and networks based on the fellowship of the church is one solution. This can help individuals and families implement the Christian philosophy of education through developing their own family university and complementary business as a part of the dominion mandate (Psalm 8).

University education needs to be reinvented with a Biblical understanding to strengthen the family and church. Christian people can easily learn how a family university can uniquely provide the humble, relational, and Spirit led ideal Biblical higher education for their young adults to participate in building a strong Christian family, church and culture.

The benefit of a network for learning was forseen by Ivan Illich, philosopher of the 1970s who spoke in favor of home education. He stated that “If the networks I have described could emerge, the educational path of each student would be his own to follow, and only in retrospect would it take on the features of a recognizable program. The wise student would periodically seek professional advice: assistance to set a new goal, insight into difficulties encountered choice between possible methods. Even now, most persons would admit that the important services their teachers have rendered them are such advice or counsel, given at a chance meeting or in a tutorial. Pedagogues, in an unschooled world, would also come into their own, and be able to do what frustrated teachers pretend to pursue today.” Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society, 1970.

There is only one such family university network in operation at this time, but the time has come for this concept and therefore this is likely just the beginning of home schooling expanding into home college.

Continuing Education Is a Necessity – That Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be Tedious

Therapists who see continuing education as something just to get through are missing out. LMFTs (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) LPCCs (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors) and LCSWs (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) are required to maintain current skills by completing continuing education (CEUs) requirements in order to renew their licenses.

This isn’t just a requirement, it’s an opportunity! These precious hours are time for the therapist to regroup, to recharge the batteries renew motivation, learn new skills and update established ones.

Online or Classroom teaching

Therapists can gain CEUs with self-study, online and live trainings and workshops. While it’s easy to see the appeal of online courses (convenient, on your schedule, in your jammies) “live” classes offer so much more than basic information.

Interactive learning

By attending live classes and workshops, therapists have the opportunity to discuss and get clarification, “try on” ideas with colleagues and see the material in a relatable, communicative way. Small groups are especially helpful when the opportunity to “learn it, see it, do it” is offered. This way of learning brings the material to life and offers practical and efficient ways of learning.

Meeting colleagues

Attending live classes also offers you the chance to network with colleagues while you learn together. Being a therapist can be an isolating experience, so talking with your peers, sharing ideas and community is essential. CEU classes provide an ideal opportunity to network, collaborate and educate yourself while contributing to the group as a whole.

Bring Theory to life

Live CEU workshops offer the unique opportunity to see material in action. Understanding a theory is great, knowing how to apply it is essential! As therapists learn and actually practice new skills, they contribute to the well-being of every client they see.

Don’t Put It Off

It’s easy to put off your required Continuing Education (CEU) requirements, but that leads to a rushed experience as your renewal date looms. Help yourself and your practice by getting those CEU dates on your calendar now. While there are legal minimum required hours, there is no maximum to the amount of learning from which a therapist can benefit. You don’t give the “bare minimum” to your clients, why settle for it in your CEUs?

Get motivated

Live classes allow you to be part of a bigger community that will support your work, motivate you to be stretch and that needs your contribution of energy. Online IS convenient, but it’s also one more place of isolation, and often, frustration. Get out of your jammies, go see your colleagues, and get excited about your meaningful and challenging work again!