The Strength of Education

Strength comes in different forms. A person who displays and utilizes physical attributes is considered to be strong. Someone who demonstrates calmness in times of stress or trouble could be thought of as emotionally strong. An individual exhibiting an above-average intellectual capacity could be classified as mentally strong. Educational strength, though not as widely acknowledged, is a life-changer capable of helping anyone who develops it.

Quality education produces the kind of strength life can be built upon. Its foundation is reinforced with the fortitude of knowledge, its pillars erected from the support of wisdom, and its structure solidified with the cement of confidence. Without it, the winds of chance and circumstance can blow through one’s existence like a hurricane in a treehouse.

Reading today’s reports on the challenges facing public schools would leave readers shaking their heads and thinking, why bother? Poverty, classroom size, family issues, technological inadequacy, bullying – physically and online, student attitudes, student health – obesity at epidemic levels, parental under-involvement or over-involvement, funding… when taken together, it’s no wonder such a bleak and negative picture presents itself.

Education is the Bedrock of Our Future

The truth is, we have to care because our future depends on it. The power of education is enduring, and it forms a bedrock for understanding and addressing the critical issues facing our country and the world in the 21st-century. Contrary to pessimistic headlines emanating from critics of public education, success stories are rampant in schools struggling to overcome the ever-present challenges and obstacles to daily learning.

Education, particularly in our public school system, has received a bad, and some would say unfair, rap. Accentuating the negative is, unfortunately, what makes news headlines far more frequently than positive stories which occur daily in classrooms across the country. Teachers labor intensively every day to build academically strong students who will be able to apply that strength throughout life.

Students from all walks of life are being provided quality education that will make a profound difference in their lives, and in their communities. Learning the three R’s and discovering their connection and meaning to the world outside school walls, is creating the kind of strength only literacy can provide.

Educational Strength Gives Birth to New Ideas

Educational strength gives birth to ideas and options crucial for dealing with some of the most serious issues facing the United States, and the entire planet. Discovering sustainable solutions to address present and future concerns, can only be accomplished through ongoing public education development, and a dedicated commitment to interactive instruction, engaged learning and quality graduates.

More than ever, societal issues are impacting our students and their search for a meaningful and productive life. Poverty continues to be a major contributor to academic failure. Among children under the age of 18 in the United States, 41 percent are classified low-income and nearly 19 percent – one in five – are considered poor and living in poverty.

Statistics like these represent sobering, and in many cases, insurmountable factors in the near-term, for achieving the kind of scholastic success needed to permanently reverse the continuous trend of ‘disadvantaged disengagement‘ in our schools. However, through education we find knowledge, and through knowledge comes hope. Hope for the future, and hope for a better life. We find strength.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

Empowering Students: Add Choice to Assignments

Should students have a choice in what they learn and what work they do? The question reminds me of sitting in the doctor’s office when I was a little kid.

Whenever I went to receive school shots as a child, I remember the doctor would always have me select from one of her two hands she held behind her back. In these hands held the fate of my morale, and somehow I had the amazing gift of consistently choosing the hand which held a square of bubble gum. (I must mention that this was around the same time that I thought I had magical powers because I could fall asleep anywhere in the house and wake up in my bed the next morning). The pain seemed to weaken with the promise of a thrilling Bazooka Joe comic. I bravely faced measles, mumps and rubella with the help of my impervious (delusional) sense of power at having just chosen the correct hand.

Reflecting on how I was given this special opportunity to choose as a child has made me think about the influence choice has on my students when brought into the classroom.

In today’s world, “choice” as a positive is contested. Even when speaking in educational terms, choice can quickly divide a room. With this said, I’m going to suggest something that I feel is a bit less controversial, although I can already imagine objections similar to my own when my parents tried to tell me they had just been carrying me to bed.

Bringing Choice into the Classroom

Over years of creating projects and assigning essays to students, I’ve noticed that when given a choice, students tend to respond more positively. I started slow – students could choose a character in Of Mice and Men and decide if they were round or flat. I started loosening my grip on the gum and allowed students to choose a creative writing project over an essay.

This year, I’ve added multiple creative writing options, an essay, or a graphic organizer presentation which must be delivered to the class at the end of the unit. I’m not surprised that more students have completed this final assessment than in any year previous.

So let’s break down the “gum” and “shots” in providing choice in assessments:

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Student Choice

The Gum

1. Students take ownership over a project. (They can’t complain that it’s too difficult or too boring because they chose it.)

2. They can demonstrate their knowledge in a way they feel they can succeed in. You also get to know your student’s strengths by observing their choices.

3. As a teacher, grading diverse projects is more interesting.

4. Students are exposed to a variety of mini-lessons to support the work of the various projects.

The Shots

1. Projects, while different, have to be equally rigorous and meet the goals set out at the beginning of the unit – this takes careful thought.

2. Guidelines, supports and lessons must allow students to complete any or all of the projects which takes more time.

3. Students won’t choose to stretch themselves to practice and develop new skills. Everyone practices all the skills, but each chooses one to further develop.

Despite the potential drawbacks, I find myself choosing choice more often these days, improving past projects and creating new ones. In order to make your students feel they have a say in the classroom, I suggest always having something they want in that hand behind your back.

Why Trade School Is A Good Alternative To College

There was a time, not so long ago, when a high school diploma was all you needed in order to obtain a decent job. For several reasons, that standard has been raised. In modern America, a college education is now required for most entry-level positions. The only problem with that proviso is that higher education is no longer affordable for the masses.

College Costs

According to data from Bloomberg, a leading financial news company, the cost of a college degree in America has increased a whopping 1,120 percent in the past three decades. Now rising two and a half times faster than the rate of inflation, only about 10 percent of students can afford their tuition. The other 90 percent must take out student loans that saddle them with bills that can take years, even decades, to pay. At last count, the average college graduate left school with $28,000 of student debt. What’s the alternative?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many. Without a college education, many workers are doomed to a lifetime of low-wage employment. These positions offer little in the way of benefits or job security; not to mention that the stagnant wages that are a hallmark of these jobs often makes saving impossible. Even so, about 25 percent of Americans work these dead-end jobs. There is, however, one viable option many have not explored.

Why Trade School?

As incredible as it may sound, there are more than three million jobs openings in the skilled trades. According to employers, a good number of those high-paying positions cannot be filled because they can’t find qualified workers. Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, and other tradesmen are in such high demand that their salaries are rising much faster than inflation. This is great news for the average high school grad who does not have the money or the desire to pursue a college degree.

The Benefits

Not everyone was meant to go to college. But, because parents and educators often push young people in that direction, many of them take classes just to avoid conflict. Not surprisingly, few of these reluctant students graduate. In fact, about 40 percent of all college and university students drop out before earning their degree. Most waste thousands of dollars on an education they will never use. If they had only been encouraged to attend trade school instead, things may have gone better for them for the following reasons:

Less Schooling

Because students are able to focus on a single subject or trade, instead of on a full course load, they can complete their training in only a year or two. They can then start working immediately without the extra years of education they would have needed at a four-year institution.

Less Expensive

Even an excellent trade school will only charge a fraction of the price of the average institution of higher learning. Expect to spend a bit more than you would on a new car, but not as much as you would on a new house, which is what you’d have to fork off if you pursued your four-year degree.

More Hands-On

Instead of learning theories and hypotheticals, aspiring tradesmen are prepared for the real world from day one. By the time they graduate, students have the training and experience they need to ply their respective trade.

For all of these reasons and more, trade school is a viable alternative to higher education for millions of Americans.

Where Did the High School Go? How School Stole Young People Dreams

Despite more than two decades of reform initiatives, we still do not know how to provide effective schools for millions of poor and disadvantaged students. The increasing number of high school dropouts is a tragic portrait of our school system. It really is extraordinary that after all these years, educationists have still failed to devise what steps should be taken to turn the tide of the current crisis of education. Surely, it is necessary an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of students who drop out high school. Why do young people drop out in such large numbers? To approach the problem, I think we should ask ourselves where the story really starts.

Today, the moment a child begins school, he enters a world that lacks moral leadership. The system lowers the standards of teaching, for it deprives the teacher of all freedom. The lack of discipline and social interaction in team sports and other activities indicate where the problem begins. Part of this may have been the result of the adoption of progressive educational theories. The system doesn’t emphasize the importance of learning, of developing a person’s true ability and aptitude, of developing empathy in students and the respect for the basic human values.

Public school’s requirements for graduating are easy. Students do little or no homework each week. Students don’t work harder, because of the lack of challenge. Surely, if schools do not provide the necessary support for students and do not demand more of them, this will increase their risk of dropping out. The low expectations for the students or for the teachers are in stark contrast to high expectations they have in private schools. The consequences are tragic. Our communities also suffer due to the loss of productive workers and the higher costs associated with health care and social services.

Unfortunately, educators, policymakers and leaders do not speak the same language. A good education must be a priority in our society. We need to invest our time in public forums in schools and communities in which the problem is severe for a better understanding of the problem and so common solutions could be undertaken. In all cases, the voices of students who dropped out of high school should be heard. What are the essential components of high school reforms? Acknowledging the efforts that exist, it is necessary to design a comprehensive approach that address the illiteracy and focus on reading readiness in our poor communities.

The Duty and Meanings of the Master in Chinese Culture

When we refer to Chinese education, Confucius can be a key figure in Chinese education history. His status as a teacher and his education concepts have deeply rooted in Chinese people’s mind, while his fame and his ideas of teaching even spread overseas.

Even today, some leaders in Southeast Asian countries continue to advocate Confucius as a rivalry with modern Western civilization. From “Kung Fu Panda”, people will find it is deeply branded by Confucius educational concepts. In Confucius’s concept of education, he promoted moral education.

At spring and autumn period, with great changes in production relations, the superstructure became a reality and feudal statutes were promulgated in various states to restrict the privilege of slave-owning aristocrats. In view of this situation, Confucius proposed his theory of rule of virtue, advocating enlightenment by means of moral education offered to the ducks and common people, in an attempt to safeguard the Zhou rites-criteria and institutions to normalize and restrict their behavior in the interests of slavery, the patriarchic clan system.

Under the clan slavery in Zhou, the patriarchic system was nothing less than a hierarchical system, ethics was the same as politics, clan power was equal to political power, and monarchical power and patriarchic power were consistent.

Therefore, people who showed filial piety to parents and elder brothers at home would be loyal to monarchs, and vice versa. Confucius advocated filial piety as the foundation of “people” in an attempt to strengthen the patriarchic system-to safeguard the patriarchic system-to safeguard the Zhou hierarchy.

Later, moral teaching becomes one important part of Chinese education which is passed down from generations to generations. In his theory, “benevolence” can be the highest concept of morals. His moral education system based on “filial duty”, be regulated by “etiquette”, constantly pursued by “faithfulness and forgiveness”, and guided by “the Doctrine of the Mean”.

In addition, they promote morals, such as, wisdom.