Be Smart About Higher Education: A Six Step Assessment to Know Where You Are in Life

Where are you? Do you allow location access? Smart phones regularly pop-up this question in order to supply directions and relevant information to make the best choices available. The power of technology makes this happen in seconds, but it isn’t quite that easy in life.

In order to achieve anything significant in life or higher education, providing direction to the desired destination or goal comes only after identifying where the starting point is. Life is moving so fast for today’s student, the important things like taking the time to plan suffers at the expense of a hundred urgent things of little significance.

A planning problem occurs when self-deception creeps in making up a story that avoids getting to the core of the issue. If I stop smoking, I’ll gain weight (but actually, I get nervous and eat to calm down). I’m not good at names (because I don’t care to remember them). After starting college I’ll pick a major (because that’s hard work to figure it out beforehand).

Eliminating self-deception begins by describing things accurately. The brain works best when problems are clearly defined. Do not confuse this with negative self-talk that only leaves a broken spirit. Refuse to allow the “never good enough” and “who am I to think that… ” negative phrases to sabotage dreams.

An example of this is to think “I’m stupid” as opposed to “I did poorly on one test.” One is an opinion and derogatory while the other is specific and something the brain can work on a plan to make better. Words are powerful, especially self-talk that is continually bouncing around in the mind. Make it honest and positive!

Following is a Where Are You self-assessment with a P-E-R-M-S-F acrostic:

  • The P stands for Physical – weight, blood pressure, health, fitness (how many push-ups, sit-ups, etc.), nutrition, etc.
  • The E is for Emotional. Use a spreadsheet and list three positive things that were accomplished during the day. Categorize the entire day into one of three emoticons – sad, indifferent, or happy. At the end of the year a total for each emoticon can be calculated. Now how the year progressed emotionally is measured.
  • The R is for Relational. Married, parent, single, and in a relationship are the basics, but also include social circles and friends. A closest person category is limited to one or two people. Close might be two to three, good friends may range from three to 12, and Facebook friends don’t count.
  • The M represents the Mental or intellectual side of life. Note all formal education, but informal as well. A great book, 7 Kinds of Smart, is a good reference to combat a problematic stereotype in society. A professor is considered smart while the maintenance person is at best labeled less intelligent. The fact is both are smart and necessary for the institution of higher education to function. The maintenance person is smart at fixing things. Both are good at problem solving. The smarts are about specialized intelligence. Everyone is gifted, the challenge is finding, developing, and applying that gift.
  • The S refers to Spiritual and is the basis for decision-making. Whether a person professes allegiance to a particular religion or none at all indicates some type of worldview. What brings meaning to life? Is there a purpose to existence? Is humanity the result of intelligent design or a random arrangement of molecules?
  • Finally, F signifies Financial and is just a matter of digging up records or paying someone to do it. Identifying how money is earned and where it is spent defines what is important to you.

In summary, complete this self-assessment without getting over analytical. The objective is not to solve life’s problems with this article. Keep answers simple and straight-forward. The important thing is beginning a process of honest self-evaluation. The journey to a better life starts with a decision to take the first step.

Circumstances do not dictate personal response, you do. Diligently assessing where you are before and after the pursuit of higher education shifts thinking accordingly to determine what can be done. Dream big. As Les Brown quotes, “Live full, die empty.”

The Montessori Education System and the Desire to Learn

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire talks about what he calls the banking system of education. In the banking system the student is seen as an object in which the teacher must place information. The student has no responsibility for cognition of any sort; the student must simply memorize or internalize what the teacher tells him or her. Paulo Freire was very much opposed to the banking system. He argued that the banking system is a system of control and not a system meant to successfully educate. In the banking system the teacher is meant to mold and change the behavior of the students, sometimes in a way that almost resembles a fight. The teacher tries to force information down the student’s throat that the student may not believe or care about.

This process eventually leads most students to dislike school. It also leads them to develop a resistance and a negative attitude towards learning in general, to the point where most people won’t seek knowledge unless it is required for a grade in a class. Freire thought that the only way to have a real education, in which the students engage in cognition, was to change from the banking system into what he defined as problem-posing education. Freire described how a problem-posing educational system could work in Pedagogy of the Oppressed by saying, “Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge. Because they apprehend the challenge as interrelated to other problems within a total context not as a theoretical question, the resulting comprehension tends to be increasingly critical and thus constantly less alienated”(81). The educational system developed by the Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori presents a tested and effective form of problem-posing education that leads its students to increase their desire to learn as opposed to inhibiting it.

Freire presents two major problems with the banking concept. The first one is that in the banking concept a student is not required to be cognitively active. The student is meant to simply memorize and repeat information, not to understand it. This inhibits the students’ creativity, destroys their interest in the subject, and transforms them into passive learners who don’t understand or believe what they are being taught but accept and repeat it because they have no other option. The second and more dramatic consequence of the banking concept is that it gives an enormous power to those who choose what is being taught to oppress those who are obliged to learn it and accept it. Freire explains that the problems lies in that the teacher holds all the keys, has all the answers and does all the thinking. The Montessori approach to education does the exact opposite. It makes students do all the thinking and problem solving so that they arrive at their own conclusions. The teachers simply help guide the student, but they do not tell the student what is true or false or how a problem can be solved.

In the Montessori system, even if a student finds a way to solve a problem that is slower or less effective than a standard mechanical way of solving the problem, the teacher will not intervene with the student’s process because this way the student learns to find solutions by himself or herself and to think of creative ways to work on different problems.

The educational system in the United States, especially from grade school to the end of high school, is almost identical to the banking approach to education that Freire described. During high school most of what students do is sit in a class and take notes. They are then graded on how well they complete homework and projects and finally they are tested to show that they can reproduce or use the knowledge which was taught. Most of the time the students are only receptors of information and they take no part in the creation of knowledge. Another way in which the U.S. education system is practically identical to the banking system of education is the grading system. The grades of students mostly reflect how much they comply with the teacher’s ideas and how much they are willing to follow directions. Grades reflect submission to authority and the willingness to do what is told more than they reflect one’s intelligence, interest in the class, or understanding of the material that is being taught. For instance, in a government class in the United States a student who does not agree that a representative democracy is superior to any other form of government will do worse than a student who simply accepts that a representative democracy is better than a direct democracy, socialism, communism, or another form of social system. The U.S. education system rewards those who agree with what is being taught and punishes those who do not.

Furthermore, it discourages students from questioning and doing any thinking of their own. Because of the repetitive and insipid nature of our education system, most students dislike high school, and if they do well on their work, it is merely for the purpose of obtaining a grade as opposed to learning or exploring a new idea.

The Montessori Method advocates child based teaching, letting the students take control of their own education. In E.M Standing’s The Montessori Revolution in Education, Standing says that the Montessori Method “is a method based on the principle of freedom in a prepared environment”(5). Studies done on two groups of students of the ages of 6 and 12 comparing those who learn in a Montessori to those who learn in a standard school environment show that despite the Montessori system having no grading system and no obligatory work load, it does as well as the standard system in both English and social sciences; but Montessori students do much better in mathematics, sciences, and problem solving. The Montessori system allows for students to be able to explore their interests and curiosity freely. Because of this the Montessori system pushes students toward the active pursuit of knowledge for pleasure, meaning that students will want to learn and will find out about things that interest them simply because it is fun to do so.

Maria Montessori started to develop what is now known as the Montessori Method of education in the early twentieth century.

The Montessori Method focuses on the relations between the child, the adult, and the environment. The child is seen as an individual in development. The Montessori system has an implied notion of letting the child be what the child would naturally be. Montessori believed the standard education system causes children to lose many childish traits, some of which are considered to be virtues. In Loeffler’s Montessori in Contemporary American Culture, Loeffler states that “among the traits that disappear are not only untidiness, disobedience, sloth, greed, egoism, quarrelsomeness, and instability, but also the so-called ‘creative imagination’, delight in stories, attachment to individuals, play, submissiveness and so forth”. Because of this perceived loss of the child, the Montessori system works to enable a child to naturally develop self-confidence as well as the ability and willingness to actively seek knowledge and find unique solutions to problems by thinking creatively. Another important difference in how children learn in the Montessori system is that in the Montessori system a child has no defined time slot in which to perform a task. Instead the child is allowed to perform a task for as long as he wants. This leads children to have a better capacity to concentrate and focus on a single task for an extended period of time than children have in the standard education system.

The role which the adult or teacher has in the Montessori system marks another fundamental difference between the Montessori s Method and the standard education system. With the Montessori Method the adult is not meant to constantly teach and order the student. The adult’s job is to guide the child so that the child will continue to pursue his curiosities and develop his or her own notions of what is real, right, and true. Montessori describes the child as an individual in intense, constant change. From observation Montessori concluded that if allowed to develop by himself, a child would always find equilibrium with his environment, meaning he would learn not to mistreat others, for example, and to interact positively with his peers. This is important because it leads to one of the Montessori Method’s most deep-seated ideas, which is that adults should not let their presence be felt by the children. This means that although an adult is in the environment with the students, the adult does not necessarily interact with the students unless the students ask the adult a question or request help. Furthermore, the adult must make it so that the students do not feel like they are being observed or judged in any way. The adult can make suggestions to the children, but never orders them or tells them what to do or how to do it. The adult must not be felt as an authority figure, but rather almost as another peer of the children.

The consequence of this, not surprisingly, is that a lot less ‘work’ gets done by the students. Nevertheless, the students’ development is dramatically better in the Montessori system than in a standard education system. But how can students who have no obligation to do any work possibly compete with students who are taught in the standard system and do much more work in class and at home? I believe the answer lies in that while students taught in the standard way are constantly being pushed towards disliking school and doing things mechanically without really thinking about it, Montessori students are led to actively explore their interests and enjoy doing so. Furthermore, Montessori students are constantly engaged in cognition. They are continuously learning to think in different ways and creating solutions to problems from scratch, as opposed to students in the standard method of education who only solve problems with the tools or information that the teacher gives them to use.

The final important aspect of the Montessori Method is the environment in which the student learns and explores. As mentioned before, it is of utmost importance that the children feel like they are safe and free to do what they want for as long as they want. It is also important for the children to have a variety of didactic material to play and learn with. These can be as simple as cards with different letters which the students use to make different words with. In this way the student can get the idea of the letter being a physical object which can be moved and manipulated to formulate words as opposed to simply an abstract concept which he must write repeatedly on a piece of paper. Montessori describes a copious amount of didactic materials that she used. She also describes how effective they were at helping the children grasp concepts such as the formation of sentences, square roots, and division. The didactic materials do not just help the students grasp the concept of different abstractions from reality, they also make learning a game and this makes students develop a natural joy for learning and thinking about abstract concepts. In The Montessori Revolution in Education, Standing talks about a young girl who was learning to read and played a game in which she attempted to read words from cards containing different words marked with different levels of difficulty. Standing states about the girl, “She was fairly rushing at this intellectual food. But even in Set 2 most of the words seemed beyond her. At last she had made out one, M – A – N, MAN. How delighted she was! With what joy did she place the card triumphantly under the picture of the man!”(173). This aspect of the Montessori method, in which children are left to play different learning games at their will, creates a hunger and excitement for learning.

Especially at a young age, it is much easier and enjoyable for children to learn with didactic materials instead of simply sitting in a classroom and taking notes when the children are wishing they were somewhere else or doing something else the entire time they are meant to be learning. With the use of didactic materials and by allowing students to use them or not use them whenever they want to, the Montessori system gives the students the freedom to learn what they want to when they want to. This is especially important when we think about how the standard method of education, like the banking system, forces students to ‘learn’ even when the students don’t want the information being shoved down their throats, and this leads to a form of artificial learning where students memorize information or to a mechanical process where students do not internalize the information and forget it as soon as they are not being graded on it.

Montessori criticized the standard method of education greatly. In addition to seeing it as inefficient and outdated, Montessori, like Freire, believed that it was oppressive to the students. In her book The Montessori Method, Montessori writes, “The principle of slavery still pervades pedagogy, and therefore, the same principle pervades the school”(16). Montessori then goes on to describe a simple example which illustrates her point. She talks about how chairs are especially designed for classrooms. These classroom chairs, Montessori posits, are made to restrict as much movement as possible, force the children to look forward towards the teacher, and make them as visible as possible to the teacher so the children always feel like they are being watched and must behave properly.

Montessori views the standard method of education as an antagonistic model in which the teacher is basically fighting the student, constantly trying to control him and repress his childish behavior while attempting to force feed him knowledge that the student does not want. Despite the many studies which have shown that the Montessori Method is more effective and humane than the standard method, and even though more than 100 years have passed since it was introduced to the United States, very little has changed in the way children are educated here.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire says that education is used as a tool to manipulate and control masses. He proposes that the banking system of education exists and persists not because of its effectiveness at getting students to learn, but rather its effectiveness at indoctrinating children into believing something that the people who control the schools want them to believe. This leads to an important question. What is more important for the United States: that children grow up being able to think for themselves, or that they grow up believing what others deem correct? Here, especially in public high schools, there is a strong emphasis on nationalism and many ideas are taught as inherently inferior to others. For example, it is not only taught in schools that capitalism is better and more humane than, for instance, socialism and communism, but rather students are also taught to fear these concepts and to fear the very idea of questioning or thinking about social structures other than capitalism and economic models other than the free market. Furthermore, teachers often promote the false portrayal of the United States as the hero and police of the entire world. The U.S. education system is not meant to liberate students and inspire them to seek knowledge, but rather it is meant to keep them in line and is used as a tool to shape a kind of person who thinks only as far as is socially acceptable. How much our education system is manipulated by the interests of the people who control it is questionable. However, it is clear that whether or not our education system is being used to control the masses, it lends itself well to do so and can be used to sway people’s opinion and repress ideas that might go against the establishment.

Our current education system is closer to the banking system than to something like the Montessori Method in which the development of the child is put first and children are presented with a form of problem-posing education. It is likely difficult to change to a way of teaching that allows students to learn for themselves and be inspired to actively seek knowledge. A good place to start would be to use didactic materials to the extent that is possible and to present students with differing sides of arguments in a judgment-free manner. Another important point is that creative thought should always be encouraged and dissenting ideas should be welcome and debated thoroughly. By making the transition to an education system that is problem-posing, students would be encouraged to think critically and create different, unique and inventive ways to solve problems. This change would lead to enormous growth in innovation and scientific development, as well as giving students a more humane and interactive way of learning.

Is Education Really the Key to Success?

“Education is the Key to Success” – Well, I TOTALLY DISAGREE. In fact, I see education as an authoritative conditioning tool which tried to lead me into economic enslavement. And mind you, I always did well in school, but finally had to leave as it was dummying me down as my business was taking off. I should have left HS my sophomore year and GED’d (General Education Development test instead of finishing HS) out, went straight to business school classes for two years and left. I’d have been way Ahead, but I was told by so many do-gooders to stay in school and be involved.

Great, and yes as Senior Class Pres, 4-year varsity, most likely to succeed, I excelled at the game, but so what, that’s HS, and it was just a prison for us 3000 kids for 4-years. Education is NOT the key to success at all. Recently I went to speak at a HS, I was blown away, as nothing had changed since the 80s, same ridiculous rows of desks, and time-wasting, brain numbing crap. I am sorry, but I will NOT parrot the party-line. We are making our little humans stupid and the longer they stay, the more they owe in student loans, and the less they can think.

Seriously – dare to challenge your na├»ve notion and belief system? Chicken. Go ahead; keep telling everyone the importance of our education system, but it is BS, you can learn more watching lectures online and doing things in the real world. Why has it gotten so bad you ask? Well, how about; Teachers Unions, Bureaucracy, In-fighting, top-heavy administration, wasting taxpayer’s money, status quo stodgy crap. “Education the key to success?” Nonsense, especially what people pass off as education these days. Admit it, we are producing brain-dead morons.

“But, Lance education and schooling are not the same thing,” I was then told. Well, to that I say, thanks for clarifying that. However, the public equates “Education” with school + college. I wouldn’t say “I think” the system sucks, more like “I know” what I’ve observed and there is no excuse for it. That is NOT an opinion you see, rather that is an observation which is duplicable across this great nation. If we de-couple the words; “Education” with “School” and “College” then I will accept your view of the debate at hand. But how can you de-couple real world definitions?

We can’t, that’s what education is in the minds of the people, thus the statement; “Education is the Key to Success” is invalid. Now then, if we want to say; “experience, education, observation, and the ability to think and adapt” are the keys to success, okay, I can go for that. But, as it stands now, our school system is a disgusting excuse for anything worthy of being called; education.

Forex Education – Prerequisite for Beginners Before Trading

Forex education is always a prerequisite for anyone who is interested to start Forex Trading. Forex Trading may look simple on its skin, but when you look deep into its body it is often a complicated one. If you want to succeed as a Good Professional, then it is wise to have some Basic knowledge on Forex Trading. basically requires 3 attributes in you. These are Courage, Analytical Mind and Knowledge. Anyone who wants to do and in case does not posses these attributes by default, he can gain these attributes during his training and education. Before stepping in the real forex world, it is imperative to go through the forex demo, which will help the individuals in understanding the mechanism of trading at the Forex Market.

Online forex courses:

Many Forex Trading Courses are available online. But before enrolling yourself for a Course, it is necessary to know the Overview of the Course. A good Course is the one which teaches you right from the Definition, Introduction and Working of. The course should also cover basic concepts like Market Trends, Money Management, Forex Indicators, and Data Analysis etc. From Online Courses you will be able to learn how to minimize risks and develop a good Trading Strategy. Online Courses provides you Flexibility over time. Hence many Forex Trading Beginners opt for these online Courses. In order to get an insight into, you can read Books by Specialists. They will act as a guide in your Voyage of Forex Trading. There are plenty of such books available which are written by Forex Trading Specialists.

Demo account:

Once you have required knowledge to put your feet on, it is not necessary for you to directly enter into the Forex Trading World at once. You can always test your knowledge and expertise in through forex demo. This Demo account will enable you to practice Forex Trading Virtually. You need to invest by using your Virtual Money. Demo Account brings you a step closer to the Environment. By using a Demo account you can get familiar with the Trading platform. Next you can learn how to execute a trade, have a feel of profit and loss scenarios on a real time basis.

You can apply all the knowledge you have acquired during forex education and see if the trading strategy proves fruitful. The Demo account also has its own set of disadvantages. But these disadvantages are over come by the fact that the Demo Account provides you basic practical Knowledge in Forex Trading which is valuable for any beginner. Hence, all the beginners who look out for trading at the forex exchange must opt for training and education so that they are well aware of the fundamentals and mechanisms of trading.

The Role of Mobile Libraries in Supporting Education

Introduction

A Mobile library refers to a suitably equipped and reinforced vehicle or bus that visits schools according to a regular schedule, with a resources collection that may be borrowed by learners and teachers. It can also be used to refresh a school’s resource collection by issuing of block loans. This model of library is operated from a central library/depot of resources, such as regional or district education resource center. The mobile library service was initiated chiefly to alleviate the demands for library service at the main libraries by reaching out to the general population with the sole aim of providing accurate and current information to meet the needs in rural schools.

Butdisuwan (2000), defined Mobile library as a library that serves communities and locations that are distant from a local library. They are mostly run from Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturdays.

Knight (2006), defined Mobile Library as a large vehicle for use as a library. It is designed to hold books on shelves so that the books can easily be accessed by readers when the vehicle is parked. The vehicle used usually has enough space for people to read the book inside of it. They are often used to provide library service to villages and city suburbs which have no library buildings. They can also serve groups of those who have difficulty accessing library services.

Niemand (2004), defined Mobile library as a library housed in a large van that provides a live service to those unable to attend their nearest local library.

Requirements for the Operation of a Mobile Library

Some of the requirements needed for the operation of a such services are highlighted thus:

• A teacher-Librarian to manage the overall service;

• Library assistant and a driver;

• Funding for fuel, maintenance and licensing;

• Optional online information and circulation services, linked to parent education library management system, by means of a laptop and scanner;

• A service level agreement with schools involved that clearly articulates the role and responsibilities between the schools and the providers of the service;

• A schedule of regular visits, based on school terms;

• A dedicated budget for collection development and running costs;

• Ongoing training for teachers who have access to the collection; and a

• Monitoring and reporting mechanism (Knight, 2006).

The Role of Mobile Libraries in supporting education

Libraries and information centres do not exist in vacuum. There is always a sound rationale for their operations. Hence the following reasons below express the importance of mobile libraries:

• Move on to service other schools as schools progress towards developing their own school library and information service;

• The school’s library resource is refreshed regularly by mobile library service since the selection is based on the needs of the schools that are visited;

• This service is useful especially in the rural schools, when there is a lack of large organizational capacity and a lack of space to establish a proper library;

• Engage in the sharing of resources which enables learners and teachers to access a wide range of resources;

• Assist the teachers in growing learners to become information literate and develop the reading habit;

• Have other learning interventions such as music, arts, science and technology learning Programmes as part of the School Library and Information Service Programme, which will benefit all learners.

• Target user groups and their information needs in remote communities or other regions where library services are currently unable to stimulate or meet the demand for information;

• Stretch out their services to reach the physically disabled;

• Mobile libraries make reading materials available to various schools based on their different learning needs. Picture books with less complex illustrations, words and information books with many photographs are selected for a class at the preparatory level;

• They play a vital role in times of crises by directing many stakeholders such as citizens, experts and policy makers by providing trustworthy sources of information;

• Building lasting ties with the school community through establishing sustainable partnership by helping to inculcate the habit and culture of reading in the communities;

• Provide read-aloud session and user-education programmes especially when new users are introduced to their services; and

• Provide reference materials such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, atlases, and globes for extensive source of information and references for their patrons (Beenham and Harrison, 1990).

Challenges Faced in the Operating Mobile Library Services

Mobile Libraries operations are not without challenges. These range from a lot of issues as stated below:

• Resources are limited and there is a chance that the appropriate resources could be selected by another school first. Mobile Library is medium is size and referral in nature and most times can accommodate less than fifty (50) users at a time. It also lacks certain facilities such as the bibliographic instructions and the library catalogue which are the keys to the holding of the library;

• The lack of space to read and the time to explore the mobile library is not sufficient. Typically depending on the size of the school population and duration of visit, each class is given thirty (30) minutes to utilise the library. As the number of children and classes increases in schools, the amount of time and space decreases in order to cater for all;

• More so, lack of sufficient trained and qualified personnel is another challenge of mobile library operation. Many a time, mobile library staff lacks the required qualification in the field of librarianship;

• Financial constraints also pose a challenge to running a mobile library. A mobile library needs a recurrent income and expenditure budget in order to augment for its depleted resources over a set of time owing to its consistent usage by users;

• Management of the Service could be problematic, as schools have to be held accountable for items borrowed;

• Distance and terrain present their own challenges especially as the service is limited by the number of buses servicing rural areas;

• Buses can also be a target for thieves especially if they carry computers; and

• Donated buses already customized from other countries need to be serviced locally, while there is also the added attendant of cost of importation clearance.

Indeed, a mobile library service is one of the most important services that library and Information Services use to meet their aims and objectives. There is considerable potential in the use the mobile library services as a support to local or stationary library services but there are also many challenges. There should be therefore commitment on the part of the government of nations, Educational Administrators, Librarians, and National library administrations, in order to achieve quality and sustainability in the development and improvement of mobile library services. Only through their active participation will mobile library services transform the teaching and learning process in education.