Tag Archives: Education

Student Eloquently Points Out What’s Wrong with Education System in Five Minutes

It seems you can’t go five minutes without hearing about how apathetic today’s youth is about education – that they only care about getting famous or doing things that make them happy rather than learning. We are consistently bombarded with statistics about lower test scores, op-eds on why today’s college students aren’t ready for the demanding rigor of the current work force and the reminder that the United States is constantly slipping in rank when it comes to world education.

One Knox County, Tennessee student is going to tell you why. And you know what? It’s not because of apathetic students or lazy teachers. In five short minutes he breaks down the history of the “common core” and why it is failing America’s students, its teachers and the overall system. He explains the problem with treating education like a fortune 500 business and how a student’s success and quality of learning can’t be accessed by the percentage score of a scantron test. He stands up for his peers, their desire to learn, and for the hard working teachers that try to give them that opportunity to do so against seemingly impossible odds.

I come from a family of teachers. My mother just retired from teaching second grade. My father has been teaching at a community college for over 15 years and this fall my brother started his first year as a fourth grade teacher. When I go home for the holidays I will spend most of my time listening to conversations about lesson plans, parent teacher conferences and a rundown of all of the tedious paperwork that has to be filled out just to get a student diagnosed with ADD. When my mother was teaching she would often be at the school until 6pm, and when she came home she would be up until 10 or 11 grading papers, tweaking lesson plans or responding to parent e-mails. Every child of a teacher knows that it is a 24/7 job and that as the years go on it becomes more and more impossible. As the video points out, our teachers today are graded by percentage points on quarterly standardized tests rather than the desire to learn they inspire in their students. It doesn’t measure the important things like the amount of time spent helping struggling students or thinking outside the box. For the sake of their own jobs teachers today are forced to teach their students how to think like a multiple choice question rather than creating their own original ideas.

If we fail our students in learning how to think for themselves, how do we ever expect them to succeed in life?

If you know a teacher that could use this video as encouragement, share it with them to show your support! Or tell us what you think about this student’s speech in the comments below.

Video of the Day: A Teenager Brings His Class to Tears with a Few Words

Today Upworthy shared yet another hear-warming gut-wrenching story of what happens when love, kindness and patience mix with ingenuity. Musharaf “Mushy” Asghar had faced school years filled with bullying and isolation due to a speech impediment but with a little help from the movies, he is able to give a goodbye speech that brings everyone in the room to tears.

It just goes to show the power of educators and the spirit of children who want to learn! Be kind. Inspire.

What do you think of the video? Share with us in the comments below! 

3 Young Adult Books that Will Make You a Better Grown Up

The third week of October is annually celebrated as “Teen Read Week.” Since young adult fiction is in a golden age and having a large impact on our mainstream media (see: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc) we thought we’d take a look at the section of the book store you normally leave to teenage girls.

NYT Best-selling author John Green says he has no interest in writing about adults because they are too cautious with their emotions. By writing stories about teenagers Green is able to ask and answer the tough questions directly without having to duck around the bush – teenagers go all in when it comes to their hearts and their curiosity. Through those qualities we as adults are able to be more honest with ourselves as to the questions we have about life, love, and the world we live in. Hence the reason for this list. Actually, speaking of John Green, let’s start with him.

 

1.) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.faultinourstarsbookcover

Story:  Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer. Though doctors have miraculously found a way to stop the disease from spreading she knows she only has a limited time left and her life is defined by being a cancer patient. That’s until she meets Augustus Waters. They fall in love, go on an adventure and break your heart in every conceivable way. Obvious warning: keep a box of Kleenex with you at all times while reading this book.

Why you should read it: If you think about it, we all have the same death sentence as Hazel, hers is just sooner than most of ours. Still, Hazel’s decision to live her life to her fullest capability no matter if she has a few months, days or weeks left is inspiring. TFiOS isn’t about cancer, it’s about life. It’s about lowering our defenses to allow the important people in our lives to <i>really</i> matter. It’s about letting yourself to feel – the good, the bad, all of it – because if you don’t it doesn’t matter when your terminal date is, you’re not living anyway.

Similar reads: “Looking for Alaska” – John Green, “Everyday” – David Levithan  & “You Know Where to Find Me” – Rachel Cohn

 

the-hunger-games-wallpaper-logo-2560x16002.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Story: To pay for the sins of uprisers 74 years before them, the citizens of the Panem districts must nominate one boy and one girl every year to participate in the Hunger Games – a sadistic, caged battle to the death for those unlucky enough to be chosen until only one “victor” remains. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for District 12 to save her sister Primrose from having to go in. As Katniss does everything she can to survive, she unknowingly sparks a revolution that could bring her entire system of life to its knees.

Why you should read it:  There is the obvious argument that by not reading these books (seeing the movies isn’t the same!) you are literally living under a rock. There is more to it than being pop-culturally relevant though. “The Hunger Games” is a story of human nature – how if we go unchecked humans have a disgusting habit of letting our egos destroy ourselves. By sparking the revolution Katniss has an inside look at how societies corrupt themselves, and has to find the strength within herself to stop the cycle from repeating. Most of us can’t relate to toppling governments or taking down dictators, but we can all learn something from breaking negative patterns and making choices to provide ourselves, and those we care about, with a better life.

Similar reads: “Divergent” – Veronica Roth & “The Maze Runner” – James Dashner

 

3.) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanorPark_thumb

Story: Eleanor is invited back to live with her mother after being kicked out by her abusive step-father for over a year. Every day she has to struggle to stay under the radar from his rage, while protecting her younger siblings and begging their mother to leave. Her life at home and her family’s complete lack of budget make it difficult for her to fit in at school – to the point Eleanor just wants to be invisible. Instead, she meets Park who shares his seat with her on the bus. It starts as a casual sharing of comic books so neither of them has to talk but inevitably they fall in love, and so starts the mission to save Eleanor from her hell at home and for Park to truly find himself.

Why you should read it:  It’s easy to be cynical of teenage love stories. They are too young to know better, right? “Eleanor & Park” proves that teenage naivety actually allows teenagers to fall deep enough into love to find strength and change the world, or at least the world around them. The beautiful thing about Eleanor and Park as characters is that they aren’t perfect. She isn’t a shy and clumsy, but strikingly beautiful damsel in distress. Park isn’t the smarter-than-he-wants-everyone-to-know athlete who gives a chance to the new girl. They have flaws, large ones. They have problems that are even bigger. There’s a quote that says “Love isn’t finding the perfect person, it’s seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” And these kids nail it on the first try. “Eleanor & Park” teaches us to love as deep as we can, no matter how scary it is. It’s a book about trust and inner strength and you find the people who will matter the most to you by being yourself.  By falling in love Eleanor and Park stop trying to blend in and allow themselves to really be seen for the first time.

Similar reads: “The Spectacular Now” – Tim Tharp & “Paper Towns” –  John Green

This is by no means a definitive list. What are your favorite young adult books? Was it “Catcher in the Rye” or something newer? Tell us in the comments below!

VOD: Malala Yousafzai Interview on The Daily Show

She risked her life to stand up for girl’s education in Pakistan. She survived a gun-shot to the head for those beliefs. She is a best-selling author. And now, at only 16 years old, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The incredibly courageous teenager gave an exclusive interview to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show on Tuesday night where she talked about her homeland, the rise of the Taliban and why she thinks that education is too important to stop fighting for. Stewart himself even asks if he can adopt her when Malala explains her thought process after finding out the Taliban were threatening her. This is a must watch interview for anyone that has been following Malala, believes in equal education rights, or just needs a few pointers on how to be a better human being. This girl has a lot to teach all of us.


You can watch the extended interview on The Daily Show website.

Are you inspired by Malala’s story and interview? Or do you have a video you’d like us to share in our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below! 

Bringing Music Back to the Kids Through High School Nation

89d94678302311e39d8022000a1fa9ec_7Imagine you’re back in high school trying to make it through 3rd period history without falling asleep. How awesome would it be if a giant truck rolled into the parking lot and unloaded all the makings of a music festival onto the front lawn? That’s what High School Nation, a non-profit organization that works to promote and fund music and art programs in schools, is doing for high school and middle school students around the country. By bringing live music to campus and giving kids a free concert with the help of generous sponsors, High School Nation hopes to inspire students to pick an instrument and express themselves in creative ways.

Intent recently chatted with lead singer of the band STAMPS – who are currently on their third HSN tour – Ren Patrick about the organization, how they got involved and what it means to her to make sure music programs and the arts stay alive in public schools.

Intent: What is High School Nation and how did STAMPS get involved? 

Ren: High School Nation is an organization that is promoting arts and music in schools all across the country. It’s really cool and important to us because I was so involved in choir growing up, since middle school. Basically, it’s a charity tour with a ton of sponsors – like Ernie Ball, Guitar Center, and Monster – all of those donate their products and money. All of that is given to each school.

We got involved with that through the person that created High School Nation. His name is Jimmy Cantillon. We went on tour with his brother who is in a  band called Tommy and the High Pilots. They heard our music and said “Wow, you guys would be great for this demographic because it’s all – it’s touring high schools all across the country.” It’s just really cool organization.

 Intent: What is a typical day on an HSN tour like when you get to the school? 

Ren: It’s basically a festival type thing. you go in and there’s a tent all set up. There’s an Ernie Ball stage – which is what they use at Warped Tour. All the sponsors have their own thing they are representing. All the kids come out and we play a show. It’s basically a crazy, madness sea of children and it’s amazing.

Intent: What do you guys think is your favorite part of performing for HSN? 

Ren: Sometimes at the show you can really connect to a kid. They’ll come up to you afterwards [or] they’ll be hanging around the merch table. They get really real with you, and say something that’s really hard for them to say. Sometimes they will come up to us and confess their depression or that the cut themselves or they’ve been having a terrible week, but [then] they say, “You guys just made my week,” or “Now I have a new favorite band and something to look forward to.” It breaks my heart but it makes me really happy that we can make them happy. To be able to make their day in any way is really special to us.

Intent: What difference do you think it makes when kids are exposed to the arts early on? 

Ren: I think it makes a huge difference. There are so many talented kids that have no idea they are talented yet. For a lot of people it takes something like band or choir or orchestra to realize what they are good at. You won’t know you’re good at guitar unless you start playing guitar. They have so much potential and it’s sad to see a talent like that go to waste. It would be sad to see programs like that disappear.

Photo credit: High School Nation snapwidget

***

High School Nation continues it’s fall Tour at the following cities

Oct. 9 – Newark, NJ
Oct. 10 – Trention, NJ
Oct. 11 – Atlantic City, NJ
Oct. 14 – Baltimore, MD
Oct. 15 – Washington, DC
Oct. 16 – Virginia Beach, VA
Oct. 17 – Raleigh, NC
Oct. 18 – Charlotte, NC

STAMPS was recently recognized as a BMI indie spotlight artist. They have a self-titled EP which you can listen to on their website. They are currently in the process of recording a follow-up and will continue producing a new record at the end of the High School Nation tour so stay tuned for that!

How to Define Success for Yourself

hikingPeople like to be comfortable. We also like to make sense out of the chaos that surrounds us.

We find the best way of doing this is to rank and organize everything around us; including accomplishments. It can become so easy to see a family member or a friend living the life that “you should be living,” and look upon your own accomplishments with much less fervor. So what if I asked you if you’ve lived up to your life and career expectations; what would you say? How would you judge yourself?

The truth is that everyone will have a different answer, because we all have a different definition for success.

You’re a Unique Snowflake

Like I mentioned before, it’s supremely important that you don’t compare yourself to friends and coworkers.  Seeing the accomplishments of others and trying to measure up to their standards makes it nearly impossible to be satisfied with yourself. This is especially true in regards to social media. As enjoyable as it can be, social media provides people the opportunity to show only a “highlight reel” of their best moments. This is often self-deflating as you and I only see our bloopers.

The thing is is that there’s no traditional finish line in life, because life isn’t a race. There’s no timer telling you that you have to have a college education by the age of 23, be married by 28 and start having children by 30. At least, I hope there’s not, or someone’s going to have to take back the degree I finally earned at the ripe old age of 33.

Look in the Mirror

It may be hard to admit, but if you look hard enough, you’ll most likely find someone in the world that is better than you at something. For example, I like to think I’m the best video game player on earth. I try and remind my 10-year-old boy of that “fact” every day. Nevertheless, I think we could both agree that it’s not entirely true.

That’s why it’s so important to set realistic goals that are both manageable end enjoyable. There’s no goal in the world that’s too large if you set your mind to it; you just have to take the right path to get there.

A good metric to determine your own success is to simply compare what you’ve done in the past with what you’re doing right now. What have you accomplished in the last year? Are you happier now than you were six months ago? What have you done to improve yourself?

You might surprise yourself and realize that maybe you’ve done more than you thought. You might even decide that it’s time to make a change. Either way, never forget that it’s never too late to do something big.

Start With What You Know

Here are some of the questions I asked myself. Your questions and answers may vary:

  • Was I a successful writer five years ago? Nope. Am I now? I’d like to think so!
  • Are you more fit than you were last year? Not even close. This is something I need to work on.
  • Am I happier now than when I first separated from the Army? Infinitely!
  • Have I become a more well-rounded person in the last two years? I can honestly say, yes!
  • Did I own a house 10 years ago? No. Do I now? Yes!

It’s not a foolproof plan, nor does it fix every problem, but it’s a start. Ask yourself, and you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.

Take hold of your life today and make the changes that will ultimately make you happier, more successful and lead you to your dreams. Only you can determine if you’re successful, so make sure it happens.

Photo courtesy of Johnson Cameraface.

Déjà Vu “Explained” 3 Ways, But Still Super Bizarre

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 1.57.59 PMHave you ever that eerie, ineffable feeling that “you’ve been here before.” The feeling might be triggered by something someone says, or by a series of events, a scent, taste, or texture. It may hit you all at once or perhaps dawn on you slowly as a conversation unfolds.

It’s such a common experience, you’d think there would be some good research out there to explain the phenomenon. But there are several difficulties that get in the way. For one, you can’t induce déjà vu or predict when it will come about. And researchers aren’t prepared to just sit around waiting for it to happen. Even if they did, it would be hard to tell if any two people experience déjà vu in the same way.

There are several theories out there, though, which attempt to offer insight into, if not completely explain, the bizarre phenomenon. This enlightening TedEducation video outlines three such theories, with awesome animation to accompany.

What do you think déjà vu is? Do any of these theories adequately explain it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Yoga Books and More: A Reading List Fit for a Yogi

Stacking Up and Defying Time (+1)Yoga is great for stretching. If you do it enough, you can touch your toes and improve your parallel parking skills by twisting to see behind you.

But, it’s also great for stretching and expanding things beyond your muscles—namely your mind. Through concentration and meditation, in particular, the mind becomes stronger and more agile, in the same way our muscles are strengthened by a Vinyasa class or trip to the gym.

Another way to stretch our minds is through svadhyaya or self-study, which encourages yogis to be students of their practice and the world. One easy way to do this is to read.  Since you’re reading this now, you’re off to a smashing start. BRAVO!

I recently had a request to share my favorite yoga and meditation books, so here’s a quick sampling of the ones I turn to most.

Modern yoga resources:

  • Living Your Yoga (Judith Lasater)
  • Eastern Body, Western Mind (Anodea Judith)
  • Yoga for Emotional Balance by my friend Bo Forbes
  • Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga by the late Georg Feuerstein
  • Mudras: Yoga in your Hands (Gertrud Hirschi)
  • Anything by B.K.S. Iyengar…

Classical yoga texts (each with multiple translations):

  • Bhagavad Gita
  • The Upanishads
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Meditation books:

  • Wherever You Go There You Are by mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn (and dad to one my dearest friends).
  • When Things Fall Apart by no nonsense Buddhist nun Pema Chodron

As an English major, former English teacher, writer, and proud nerd founder of the Om Gal Book Club, it’s no secret that I’m a major bookworm. I even have the knots in my shoulder and neck to prove it from lugging 2-3 books in my handbag at all times. I think it’s time for an e-reader…

And since they’re not all yoga books (not even close), I’ll share what else I’ve been reading lately and what I plan to read next.

Lately…

  • Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers by the inimitable Anne Lamott
  • Lean In by Facebook COO and feminist superhero Sheryl Sandberg
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, also known as the book that changed my life most this year.  (If you don’t have time to read the book, watch her TED Talk).
  • Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield
  • Buddy: How a Rooster Made me a Family Man by my friend and editor of the Boston Globe, Brian McGrory.
  • Undiet by Candian gal pal and nutritionista superstar Meghan Telpner
  • New & Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (which I could read every day and still have my breathe taken away at least once on each page).

Up next…

  • Learning to Breathe by my friend Priscilla Warner
  • Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham
  • A literature heavy hitter… like Infinite Jest or Anna Karenina. If I start now, I can finish by Christmas, right?
  • The September issue of Vogue—seriously, have you seen this thing? Magazine doesn’t cut it. Definitely a book.

What about you? What are you reading? Which yoga and meditation books expand your mind, and which works of prose or poetry stretch your soul and fill your handbag?

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

Mallika Chopra: Summer with Kids – Sleepaway Camp, Study or Just Relax?

What stinks?

By Mallika Chopra

Summer is past the midway point for many of us, and I can admit I am happily anticipating a return to school in a month. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids. But entertaining them for 2 1/2 months is not so easy.

In fact, I’ve had quite a few conversations lately with parents about what to do with kids over the summer.

Our friend circle is has the whole range of activities – many kids have gone to sleep away camp, some are studying, others are doing sports camp and Junior Lifeguard training (we live in Santa Monica by the beach!), and then there are the art, drama, science, cooking camps. You name the activity and there is something for the kids to do!

The NY Times has a great editorial series/debate on “Should Kids Go To Sleepaway Camp?” that presents a variety of opinions on what kids should be doing over summer. The range of opinions includes:

“Yes, it is a great way to build confidence and independence.”

“No, kids need to just relax and learn to entertain themselves.”

“Actually, kids need year round school.”

I found the opinions in these editorials thought-provoking. One editorial, in particular, challenged my parenting philosophy. Michael Thompson says:

Parents assume that their presence always adds value to a child’s growth. I disagree. I think parents can sometimes seriously impede their children’s development.

As a parent there are many things you cannot do for you children. You cannot give your child confidence, you cannot pick or manage his or her friendships, you cannot always be his or her advocate/agent/manager/coach. Most parents cannot get their children to turn off electronics, especially in the summer, and most important, parents have a hard time urging their children to take psychological risks.

I couldn’t disagree more. I strongly believe parents build our children’s confidence and should mentor their kids through the difficult times. Parents need to be responsible to make sure their kids get off the electronics, not shift the responsibility to someone else!

Many of my daughter’s friends are away for 2-4 weeks away at sleepaway camp this summer. And, most of their parents are some of the most conscious parents I know who are guiding their children every day to be more confident, adding value to their children’s growth. (Again, I disagree with Mr. Thompson’s statement above.)  My friends rationale for sending their kids to camp includes:

“They have the most amazing time. They love it and always want to return.”

“They make deep friendships that last a lifetime.”

“Its great. They learn to be independent.”

Many of these parents went to summer camp when they were young and are excited for their kids to experience the magic they did.

While I respect their reasons, what unnerves me is that at many of the summer camps, the parents can’t speak with their children. The parents can email and write to their kids, and the children can write letters, but it’s not immediate communication like a text message, call, or email. So when the kids express stress or loneliness, my friends are struggling to stay strong. I understand the rationale that the kids are most vulnerable when they connect with their parents so the limited communication diminishes homesickness. But, I can’t overcome my feeling that a child should always have the security that they can turn to their parents for support.

I realize the notion of “independence” at such a young age doesn’t really resonate with my upbringing. Independence is not a core value for my Indian family. (As I point out to some of my friends, many of our friends in India live in joint families with their parents, siblings, and their families! Leaving home and being independent isn’t necessarily what culturally we set out to teach our children from an early age.)

When I was 16 years old, I spent a summer in the Dominican Republic working for Amigos De Las Americas – a Peace Corps of sorts for teenagers. I clearly remember fighting with my parents about going – they thought I was too young to be away home. They ultimately agreed, and it was my first taste of independence. The year after, I spent a summer in Cambridge, England – an ocean away from my parents in Boston. Those two summers were transformative for me. But I was 16 years old, not 9.

One of the editorials in the NY Times argues for continued education in the summer. And admittedly, my kids have a continued math and English program this summer, along with a series of science/robotics camps for my younger daughter, Leela. (Tara has done a theater program.) On the summer activities spectrum, I am a combination of continued education and relaxation!

Last but not least, I am a big believer in travel as the best education and my husband and I try to expose our kids to different parts of the world whenever we can. And, while I realize not everyone can travel to the extent that we do, I was inspired by my friend, who decided to discover LA, our own city, with her kids this summer. They hiked, went to museums, spent time on the beach, ate different ethnic foods, and visited different parts of the city. There is so much to learn where each of us live, and summer can be a great time to do that.

As parents we intuitively know that each of our children are unique, and what may be right for one child may not be right for another. That said, I find opinions on summer activities come with strong points of view. I’m curious, what do you think kids should be doing over the summer?

11-Year-Old Nada Al-Ahdal Narrowly Escaped Child Marriage – Here’s What She Has to Say

Nada Al-Ahdal is an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who recently risked everything to run away from home and seek refuge with her uncle after learning about her parents’ intentions to marry her off to a much older man. Nada knew that her teenage aunt, trapped in an arranged marriage and abused by her husband, had committed suicide to escape her fate. Nada did not want to be forced down the same path.

“I would have had no life, no education. Don’t they have any compassion?” Nada says in a video posted on YouTube. “I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.”

Thank goodness Nada has an older relative there to take her in and stand up for her, but many girls her age are not as lucky. The World Health Organization reports that 39,000 girls around the world are forced into child marriage every day. “Child marriage” is defined as marriage before 18 years of age, but many are even younger when they are forced into matrimony. The many dangers girls face in early marriages include premature pregnancy, maternal mortality (girls under 15 are five times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than older women), infant mortality, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, and more.

The best defense against practices like this, which endanger women and make our global community weaker, is education. We must raise our voices and empower women to change their communities.

Here are several resources working against child marriage and in support of women and children everywhere:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...