Archive for the 'education' Category

Back to School

I’ve long said I’d go back to school for my graduate degree only when I found a program I was passionate about.

I’ve found it. ;)

University of Hertfordshire in the UK will be offering an MA in Vampire Literature, beginning this fall. I’m not quite sure where Hertfordshire is, what the entrance requirements are, or how much it would cost, but I’m checking student visa requirements now.

On top of that, from April 16-17, the University of Hertforshire will host a two day conference entitled “Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture”. Apparently some of the awesome papers presented at the conference sessions will be used in the graduate program:

  • Gothic Charm School, or How Vampires Learned to Sparkle

  • “Vegetarian” Vampires: Morality of the Anti-Villain in Selected Vampire Novels
  • Fundamentalism, Hybridity and the Vampire body: Postmodern Vampirism and the Presidency of George W. Bush

If you were attending the conference, what paper would you want to concoct and present?

Via i09, the blog I wish I wrote.

Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: education, writing | 6 Comments »

CBA Paper: Government Revenue

Zach and Justin are in their senior year of high school, and so have a few interesting mandatory assignments to complete – a senior project, a senior portfolio, etc.

One of them is a required “CBA paper” for their contemporary world issues class. Apparently CBA stands for curriculum based assessment. Or capabilities based assessment. Or combat body armor.

As I heard them discuss this assignment – the only topic given to all senior students, across the state, this year – I was pretty astounded.

The general subject area is government revenue and responsibility. The specific assignment is:

“Responsible citizenship requires an understanding of how government raises and spends money to implement policies and programs. For this research paper, select a level of givernment (federal, state or local) receiving funding from the 2009 Recovery Act (the economic stimulus). Examine the revenue sources and expenditures related to a particular policy or program.”

The troublesome part of the assignment was this:

“Provide an explanation of who pays for and who benefits from the collection of revenue and expenditures related to the policy or program.”

The assumption is made that it’s all upside, that it’s working wonderfully; the teachers do not want to hear about any issues or failures of the stimulus program. I have a problem with that. If you’re assigning a research paper, shouldn’t you let your student select the position he/she wants to support?

(And, for the record, I have no particular issue with the stimulus package, although I do have problems with much of the pork barrel legislation attached to it. I just have an issue with requiring a pre-determined outcome; it seems like propaganda creation.)

Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: education | 3 Comments »

The Scholarly Paper

A few of my friends have returned to school and are pursuing degrees – or advanced degrees. I admire them greatly for it, but have never been particularly tempted to do so myself.

I have a basic bachelor’s degree, a BA in English – technical communications emphasis. I only worked in the field for a couple of years, but the skill has served me well throughout my career.

One friend has an executive MBA. A few have MBAs in telecommunications management. Another has her masters’ in project management. Others are working on resuming and finishing their bachelor’s degrees – general studies, information science, teaching, even math.

There’s nothing I am passionate enough about to spend 2-4 years on pursuing in graduate school. Sure, I like creative writing and fine arts – but not enough to pursue an academic degree in the subject matter, plus the return on investment isn’t really there.

In spite of my disregard for the whole going-back-to-school experience, I get to live it vicariously.

I’m the proud parent of a college sophomore. He’s pursing a degree in digital media engineering at the local community college, with a possible 4-year transfer. He typically sails through classes in his primary subject area, but some of the broader classes are a bit of a challenge.

His 8am class this fall is Effective Human Relations. (Are any positive human relations possible at 8am?) He’s writing the first of several analytical papers for the class, this week a critical analysis of a scholarly journal article on a management topic.

He chose “constructive criticism” as his topic and found an article on “Constructive Criticism and Social Lies: a Developmental Sequence for Understanding Honesty and Kindness in Social Interactions.” You’d think such an article would be pretty interesting; you’d be dead wrong. Academic writing can suck the life out of anything!

Tonight, my job begins with helping him understand the directions and ends with proofreading. No actual writing or – ugh – footnoting is required.

I sure don’t miss those days!

Posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: education | 3 Comments »

Repeating History

My son is in 11th grade history this year, his last required year. It’s – surprise! – US history. Again. This makes me cranky.

I am not a history buff. I am, however, a believer in a solid education, and I think our educational system should be turning out more students who are fired up about history.

I remember my history education as a blur of repetitive American history. Coumbus blah blah American Revolution blah Lewis and Clark blah blah Civil War blah blah Industrial Revolution blah World Wars then, well, the school year was over. (They didn’t want to tackle the tricky Vietnam and Cold War.) All the schools ever seemed to teach was the same tired stuff, year after year, and what they required from us students was rote memorization of dates, battles, places, and presidents. “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

I had only one class that stood out, a contemporary world problems seminar, where we read newspapers, debated current events and talked about issues as they unfolded through the eyes of the everyday citizen. It was the only class that engaged us on every level.

It’s no wonder that our American system turns out so few history geeks. We teach it as a dead field of study, we teach only dead facts and figures, and we skew it so heavily toward our own history that it distorts our young people’s view of the world around us.

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s own culture. It often entails the belief that one’s own race or ethnic group is the most important and/or that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups.

I did a survey of Washington state’s educational standards, and here’s an oversimplified summary of the 12-year history curriculum:

1st grade – none
2nd grade – none
3rd grade – US history
4th grade – state and US history
5th grade – US history
6th grade – world history
7th grade – state and US history
8th grade – US history
9th grade – US history
10th grade – modern world history
11th grade – US history
12th grade – Contemporary world problems or other social science (elective)

That’s 7 years of US history, 2 years of world history, and one social science elective. Pardon me, but is the last 500 years of one country’s history on one continent proportionally – 7:2 – so critical? Are we Americans really so special that we need to review the American Revolution and Lewis and Clark seven times in seven years, cover multiple milennia of Chinese history once for three weeks in sixth grade, and never touch on modern Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian history at all?

History could be so much more compelling to students if we taught about the people behind the dates, places & battles, their stories, hopes & dreams. We need to cover the ideas and philosophies that were flashpoints for historical change, and why, in the context of their times and culture, they drove people to such passionate measures. We need to not be so afraid of religion, in the historical and comparative context, in schools, religion was and continues to be a significant impetus for conflict and political change.

I’ve often been told that the reason we study history is so that we will learn from our mistakes.

Is quisnam does non perceptum ex history est fatum ut revolvo is.
He who does not learn from history is destined to repeat it.

Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 by Jeri
Under: education, rant | 16 Comments »

Unexpected Bonus

Zach had an unexpected call on our voice mail this weekend. The local community college wanted to ensure he would receive 5 college credits for the media technology class he took this past year in high school, and just needed a few details to create his transcript.

That would be a $371 value AND a running start on his college credits. He’ll get the same college credit opportunity for another class this year, and two classes his senior year, as long as he keeps his grades in those qualifying classes at a 2.5 or above.

Pretty darn cool.

Posted on Monday, July 21st, 2008 by Jeri
Under: education | 1 Comment »