Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Difference Between Being Smart, Educated, and Intelligent

I've always been intrigued by the subject of intelligence. As a child my mother would refer to me as "smart," but I quickly noticed that all parents refer to their children as smart. In time I would discover that all children are not smart, just as all babies are not cute. If that were the case, we'd have a world full of beautiful, smart people - which we don't.
Some of us are smart; but not as smart as we think, and others are smarter than they seem, which makes me wonder, how do we define smart? What makes one person smarter than another? When do "street smarts" matter more than "book smarts"? Can you be both smart and stupid? Is being smart more of a direct influence of genetics, or one's environment?
Then there are the issues of education, intelligence and wisdom.
What does it mean to be highly educated? What's the difference between being highly educated and highly intelligent? Does being highly educated automatically make you highly intelligent? Can one be highly intelligent without being highly educated? Do IQs really mean anything? What makes a person wise? Why is wisdom typically associated with old age?
My desire to seek answers to these questions inspired many hours of intense research which included the reading of 6 books, hundreds of research documents, and countless hours on the Internet; which pales in comparison to the lifetime of studies and research that pioneers in the fields of intelligence and education like Howard Gardner, Richard Sternberg, Linda S. Gottfredson, Thomas Sowell, Alfie Kohn, and Diane F. Halpern whose work is cited in this article.
My goal was simple: Amass, synthesize, and present data on what it means to be smart, educated and intelligent so that it can be understood and used by anyone for their benefit.
With this in mind, there was not a better (or more appropriate) place to start than at the very beginning of our existence: as a fetus in the womb.
There is mounting evidence that the consumption of food that's high in iron both before and during pregnancy is critical to building the prenatal brain. Researchers have found a strong association between low iron levels during pregnancy and diminished IQ. Foods rich in iron include lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, seafoods, nuts, dried fruits, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.
Children with low iron status in utero (in the uterus) scored lower on every test and had significantly lower language ability, fine-motor skills, and tractability than children with higher prenatal iron levels. In essence, proper prenatal care is critical to the development of cognitive skills.
Cognitive skills are the basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn. They include a wide variety of mental processes used to analyze sounds and images, recall information from memory, make associations between different pieces of information, and maintain concentration on particular tasks. They can be individually identified and measured. Cognitive skill strength and efficiency correlates directly with students' ease of learning.
Drinking while pregnant is not smart. In fact, it's downright stupid.
A study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that even light to moderate drinking - especially during the second trimester - is associated with lower IQs in offspring at 10 years of age. This result was especially pronounced among African-American rather than Caucasian offspring.
"IQ is a measure of the child's ability to learn and to survive in his or her environment. It predicts the potential for success in school and in everyday life. Although a small but significant percentage of children are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year, many more children are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy who do not meet criteria for FAS yet experience deficits in growth and cognitive function," said Jennifer A. Willford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Paul D. Connor, clinical director of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington has this to say about the subject:
"There are a number of domains of cognitive functioning that can be impaired even in the face of a relatively normal IQ, including academic achievement (especially arithmetic), adaptive functioning, and executive functions (the ability to problem solve and learn from experiences). Deficits in intellectual, achievement, adaptive, and executive functioning could make it difficult to appropriately manage finances, function independently without assistance, and understand the consequences of - or react appropriately to - mistakes."
This is a key finding which speaks directly to the (psychological) definition of intelligence which is addressed later in this article.
Studies have shown that the frequent exposure of the human fetus to ultrasound waves is associated with a decrease in newborn body weight, an increase in the frequency of left-handedness, and delayed speech.
Because ultrasound energy is a high-frequency mechanical vibration, researchers hypothesized that it might influence the migration of neurons in a developing fetus. Neurons in mammals multiply early in fetal development and then migrate to their final destinations. Any interference or disruption in the process could result in abnormal brain function.
Commercial companies (which do ultrasounds for "keepsake" purposes) are now creating more powerful ultrasound machines capable of providing popular 3D and 4D images. The procedure, however, lasts longer as they try to make 30-minute videos of the fetus in the uterus.
The main stream magazine New Scientist reported the following: Ultrasound scans can stop cells from dividing and make them commit suicide. Routine scans, which have let doctors peek at fetuses and internal organs for the past 40 years, affect the normal cell cycle.
On the FDA website this information is posted about ultrasounds:
While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. In light of all that remains unknown, having a prenatal ultrasound for non-medical reasons is not a good idea.
Now that you are aware of some of the known factors which determine, improve, and impact the intellectual development of a fetus, it's time for conception. Once that baby is born, which will be more crucial in the development of its intellect: nature (genetics) or nurture (the environment)?
Apparently for centuries, scientists and psychologists have gone back and forth on this. I read many comprehensive studies and reports on this subject during the research phase of this article, and I believe that it's time to put this debate to rest. Both nature and nurture are equally as important and must be fully observed in the intellectual development of all children. This shouldn't be an either/or proposition.
A recent study shows that early intervention in the home and in the classroom can make a big difference for a child born into extreme poverty, according to Eric Turkheimer, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The study concludes that while genetic makeup explains most of the differences in IQ for children in wealthier families, environment - and not genes - makes a bigger difference for minority children in low-income homes.
Specifically, what researchers call "heritability"- the degree to which genes influence IQ - was significantly lower for poor families. "Once you're put into an adequate environment, your genes start to take over," Mr. Turkheimer said, "but in poor environments genes don't have that ability."
But there are reports that contradict these findings...sort of.
Linda S. Gottfredson, a professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware, wrote in her article, The General Intelligence Factor that environments shared by siblings have little to do with IQ. Many people still mistakenly believe that social, psychological and economic differences among families create lasting and marked differences in IQ.
She found that behavioral geneticists refer to such environmental effects as "shared" because they are common to siblings who grow up together. Her reports states that the heritability of IQ rises with age; that is to say, the extent to which genetics accounts for differences in IQ among individuals increases as people get older.
In her article she also refers to studies comparing identical and fraternal twins, published in the past decade by a group led by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., of the University of Minnesota and other scholars, show that about 40 percent of IQ differences among preschoolers stems from genetic differences, but that heritability rises to 60 percent by adolescence and to 80 percent by late adulthood.
And this is perhaps the most interesting bit of information, and relevant to this section of my article:
With age, differences among individuals in their developed intelligence come to mirror more closely their genetic differences. It appears that the effects of environment on intelligence fade rather than grow with time.
Bouchard concludes that young children have the circumstances of their lives imposed on them by parents, schools and other agents of society, but as people get older they become more independent and tend to seek out the life niches that are most congenial to their genetic proclivities.
Researchers from Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand studied over 1,000 children born between April and August 1977. During the period from birth to one year, they gathered information on how these children were fed.
The infants were then followed to age 18. Over the years, the researchers collected a range of cognitive and academic information on the children, including IQ, teacher ratings of school performance in reading and math, and results of standardized tests of reading comprehension, mathematics, and scholastic ability. The researchers also looked at the number of passing grades achieved in national School Certificate examinations taken at the end of the third year of high school.
The results indicated that the longer children had been breast-fed, the higher they scored on such tests.
Thomas Sowell, author of Race, IQ, Black Crime, and facts Liberals Ignore uncovered some fascinating information that every parent should take note of. He writes:
There is a strong case that black Americans suffer from a series of disadvantageous environments. Studies show time and again that before they go to school, black children are on average exposed to a smaller vocabulary than white children, in part due to socioeconomic factors.
While children from professional households typically exposed to a total of 2,150 different words each day, children from working class households are exposed to 1,250, and children from households on welfare a mere 620.
Yes, smart sounding children tend to come from educated, professional, two-parent environments where they pick-up valuable language skills and vocabulary from its smart sounding inhabitants.
Mr. Sowell continues: Black children are obviously not to blame for their poor socioeconomic status, but something beyond economic status is at work in black homes. Black people have not signed up for the "great mission" of the white middle class - the constant quest to stimulate intellectual growth and get their child into Harvard or Oxbridge.
Elsie Moore of Arizona State University, Phoenix, studied black children adopted by either black or white parents, all of whom were middle-class professionals. By the age of 7.5 years, those in black homes were 13 IQ points behind those being raised in the white homes.
At this juncture in my research it dawned on me, and should be fairly obvious to you, that many children are predisposed to being smart, educated, and intelligent, simply by their exposure to the influential factors which determine them long before they start school.
An informed mother, proper prenatal care, educated, communicative parents, and a nurturing environment in which to live, all add up to accumulated advantages that formulate intellectual abilities. As you can see, some children have unfair advantages from the very beginning.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of top-selling book Outliers, wrote that "accumulated advantages" are made possible by arbitrary rules...and such unfair advantages are everywhere. "It is those who are successful who are most likely to be given the kinds of social opportunities that lead to further success," he writes. "It's the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It's the best students who get the best teaching and most attention."
With that in mind, we turn our attention to education and intelligence.
Alfie Kohn, author of the book What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? poses the question, does the phrase well educated refer to a quality of schooling you received, or something about you? Does it denote what you were taught? Or what you remember?
I contend that to be well educated is all in the application; the application and use of information. Information has to be used in order to become knowledge, and as we all have heard, knowledge is power.
Most people are aware of the floundering state of education in this country on some level. We tell our children that nothing is more important than getting a "good" education, and every year, due to government budget shortfalls, teachers are laid off, classes are condensed, schools are closed, and many educational programs - especially those which help the underprivileged - are cut.
The reality is, we don't really value education. We value it as a business, an industry, political ammunition, and as an accepted form of discrimination, but not for what it was intended: a means of enriching one's character and life through learning.
What we value as a society, are athletes and the entertainment they offer. The fact that a professional athlete makes more money in one season, than most teachers in any region will make in their careers, is abominable. There's always money to build new sports stadiums, but not enough to give teachers a decent (and well-deserved) raise.
Ironically, the best teachers don't go into the profession for money. They teach because it's a calling. Most of them were influenced by a really good teacher as a student. With the mass exodus of teachers, many students are not able to cultivate the mentoring relationships that they once were able to because so many are leaving the profession - voluntarily and involuntarily - within an average of three years.
At the high school level, where I got my start, the emphasis is not on how to educate the students to prepare them for life, or even college (all high schools should be college-prep schools, right?), it was about preparing them to excel on their standardized tests. Then the controversial "exit" exams were implemented and literally, many high schools were transformed into testing centers. Learning has almost become secondary.
This mentality carries over into college, which of course there's a test one must take in order to enroll (the SAT or ACT). This explains why so many college students are more concerned with completing a course, than learning from it. They are focused on getting "A's" and degrees, instead of becoming degreed thinkers. The latter of which are in greater demand by employers and comprise the bulk of the self-employed. The "get-the-good-grade" mindset is directly attributable to the relentless and often unnecessary testing that our students are subjected to in schools.
Alfie Kohn advocates the "exhibition" of learning, in which students reveal their understanding by means of in-depth projects, portfolios of assignments, and other demonstrations.
He cites a model pioneered by Ted Sizer and Deborah Meier. Meier has emphasized the importance of students having five "habits of mind," which are: the value of raising questions about evidence ("How do we know what we know?"), point of view, ("Whose perspective does this represent?"), connections ("How is this related to that?"), supposition ("How might things have been otherwise?"), and relevance ("Why is this important?").
Kohn writes: It's only the ability to raise and answer those questions that matters, though, but also the disposition to do so. For that matter, any set of intellectual objectives, any description of what it means to think deeply and critically, should be accompanied by a reference to one's interest or intrinsic motivation to do such be well-educated then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends...
We've always wanted to measure intelligence. Ironically, when you look at some the first methods used to evaluate it in the 1800s, they were not, well, very intelligent. Tactics such as subjecting people to various forms of torture to see what their threshold for pain was (the longer you could withstand wincing, the more intelligent you were believed to be), or testing your ability to detect a high pitch sound that others could not hear.
Things have changed...or have they?
No discussion of intelligence or IQ can be complete without mention of Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who was responsible for laying the groundwork for IQ testing in 1904. His original intention was to devise a test that would diagnose learning disabilities of students in France. The test results were then used to prepare special programs to help students overcome their educational difficulties.
It was never intended to be used as an absolute measure of one's intellectual capabilities.
According to Binet, intelligence could not be described as a single score. He said that the use of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as a definite statement of a child's intellectual capability would be a serious mistake. In addition, Binet feared that IQ measurement would be used to condemn a child to a permanent "condition" of stupidity, thereby negatively affecting his or her education and livelihood.
The original interest was in the assessment of 'mental age' -- the average level of intelligence for a person of a given age. His creation, the Binet-Simon test (originally called a "scale"), formed the archetype for future tests of intelligence.
H. H. Goddard, director of research at Vineland Training School in New Jersey, translated Binet's work into English and advocated a more general application of the Simon-Binet test. Unlike Binet, Goddard considered intelligence a solitary, fixed and inborn entity that could be measured. With help of Lewis Terman of Stanford University, his final product, published in 1916 as the Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale of Intelligence (also known as the Stanford-Binet), became the standard intelligence test in the United States.
It's important to note that the fallacy about IQ is that it is fixed and can not be changed. The fact is that IQ scores are known to fluctuate - both up and down during the course of one's lifetime. It does not mean that you become more, or less intelligent, it merely means that you tested better on one day than another.
One more thing to know about IQ tests: They have been used for racist purposes since their importation into the U.S. Many of those who were involved in the importation and refinement of these tests believed that IQ was hereditary and are responsible for feeding the fallacy that it is a "fixed" trait.
Many immigrants were tested in the 1920s and failed these IQ tests miserably. As a result, many of them were denied entry into the U.S., or were forced to undergo sterilization for fear of populating America with "dumb" and "inferior" babies. If you recall, the tests were designed for white, middle class Americans. Who do you think would have the most difficulty passing them?
Lewis Terman developed the original notion of IQ and proposed this scale for classifying IQ scores:
000 - 070: Definite feeble-mindedness
070 - 079: Borderline deficiency
080 - 089: Dullness
090 - 109: Normal or average intelligence
110 - 119: Superior intelligence
115 - 124: Above average (e.g., university students)
125 - 134: Gifted (e.g., post-graduate students)
135 - 144: Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals)
145 - 154: Genius (e.g., professors)
155 - 164: Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)
165 - 179: High genius
180 - 200: Highest genius
200 - higher ?: Immeasurable genius
*Genius IQ is generally considered to begin around 140 to 145, representing only 25% of the population (1 in 400).
*Einstein was considered to "only" have an IQ of about 160.
Diane F. Halpern, a psychologist and past-president of the American Psychological Association (APA), wrote in her essay contribution to Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid that in general, we recognize people as intelligent if they have some combination of these achievements (1) good grades in school; (2) a high level of education; (3) a responsible, complex job; (4) some other recognition of being intelligent, such as winning prestigious awards or earning a large salary; (5) the ability to read complex text with good comprehension; (6) solve difficult and novel problems.
Throughout my research and in the early phases of this article, I came across many definitions of the word intelligence. Some were long, some were short. Some I couldn't even understand. The definition that is most prevalent is the one created by the APA which is: the ability to adapt to one's environment, and learn from one's mistakes.
How about that? There's the word environment again. We just can't seem to escape it. This adds deeper meaning to the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." It means recognizing what's going on in your environment, and having the intelligence adapt to it - and the people who occupy it - in order to survive and succeed within it.
There are also many different forms of intelligence. Most notably those created by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.
Dr. Gardner believes (and I agree) that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.
He felt that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ testing, was far too limited and created the Theories Of Multiple Intelligences in 1983 to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.
These intelligences are:
Linguistic intelligence ("word smart")
Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
Musical intelligence ("music smart")
Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")
Not associated with Dr. Gardner, but equally respected are:
According to, Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence and further developed the theory with John Horn. The Cattell-Horn theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence suggests that intelligence is composed of a number of different abilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.
Cattell defined fluid intelligence as "...the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instruction concerning those relationships." Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. This ability is considered independent of learning, experience, and education. Examples of the use of fluid intelligence include solving puzzles and coming up with problem solving strategies.
Crystallized intelligence is learning from past experiences and learning. Situations that require crystallized intelligence include reading comprehension and vocabulary exams. This type of intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. This type of intelligence becomes stronger as we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding.
Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence. Fluid intelligence peaks in adolescence and begins to decline progressively beginning around age 30 or 40. Crystallized intelligence continues to grow throughout adulthood.
Then there's Successful Intelligence, which is authored by intelligence psychologist and Yale professor, Robert J. Sternberg, who believes that the whole concept of relating IQ to life achievement is misguided, because he believes that IQ is a pretty miserable predictor of life achievement.
His Successful Intelligence theory focuses on 3 types of intelligence which are combined to contribute to one's overall success: Analytical Intelligence; mental steps or components used to solve problems; Creative Intelligence: the use of experience in ways that foster insight (creativity/divergent thinking); and Practical Intelligence: the ability to read and adapt to the contexts of everyday life.
With regard to environment, Mr. Sternberg writes in his book Successful Intelligence: Successfully intelligent people realize that the environment in which they find themselves may or may not be able to make the most of their talents. They actively seek an environment where they can not only do successful work, but make a difference. They create opportunities rather than let opportunities be limited by circumstances in which they happen to find themselves.
As an educator, I subscribe to Mr. Sternberg's Successful Intelligence approach to teaching. It has proven to be a highly effective tool and mindset for my college students. Using Successful Intelligence as the backbone of my context-driven curriculum really inspires students to see how education makes their life goals more attainable, and motivates them to further develop their expertise. Mr. Sternberg believes that the major factor in achieving expertise is purposeful engagement.
In his best-selling 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reported that research shows that conventional measures of intelligence - IQ - only account for 20% of a person's success in life. For example, research on IQ and education shows that high IQ predicts 10 to 25% of grades in college. The percentage will vary depending on how we define success. Nonetheless, Goleman's assertion begs the question: What accounts for the other 80%?
You guessed it...Emotional Intelligence. What exactly is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (also called EQ or EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Many corporations now have mandatory EQ training for their managers in an effort to improve employee
relations and increase productivity.
You've heard the phrase, "Experience is the greatest teacher..."
In psychology circles knowledge gained from everyday experience is called tacit knowledge. The colloquial term is "street smarts," which implies that formal, classroom instruction (aka "book smarts") has nothing to do with it. The individual is not directly instructed as to what he or she should learn, but rather must extract the important lesson from the experience even when learning is not the primary objective.
Tacit knowledge is closely related to common sense, which is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. As you know, common sense is not all that common.
Tacit knowledge, or the lessons obtained from it, seems to "stick" both faster and better when the lessons have direct relevance to the individual's goals. Knowledge that is based on one's own practical experience will likely be more instrumental to achieving one's goals than will be knowledge that is based on someone else's experience, or that is overly generic and abstract.
Yes, it's possible to be both smart and stupid. I'm sure someone you know comes to mind at this precise moment. But the goal here is not to ridicule, but to understand how some seemingly highly intelligent, or highly educated individuals can be so smart in one way, and incredibly stupid in others.
The woman who is a respected, well paid, dynamic executive who consistently chooses men who don't appear to be worthy of her, or the man who appears to be a pillar of the community, with a loving wife and happy kids, ends up being arrested on rape charges.
It happens, but why? I found the answer in Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid. Essentially, intellect is domain specific. In other words, being smart (knowledgeable) in one area of your life, and stupid (ignorant) in another is natural. Turning off one's brain is quite common especially when it comes to what we desire. A shared characteristic among those who are smart and stupid, is the difficulty in delaying gratification.
Olem Ayduk & Walter Mischel who wrote the chapter summarized: Sometimes stupid behavior in smart people may arise from faulty expectations, erroneous beliefs, or merely a lack of motivation to enact control strategies even when one has them. But sometimes it is an inability to regulate one's affective states and the behavioral tendencies associated with them that leads to stupid and self-defeating behavior.
The central character in this book who many of these lessons regarding being smart and stupid revolve around is Bill Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinksky.
My great grandmother, Leola Cecil, maybe had an 8th grade education at the most. By no stretch of the imagination was she highly educated, but she had what seemed like infinite wisdom. She was very observant and could "read" people with startling accuracy. Till the very end of her life she shared her "crystallized intelligence" with whomever was receptive to it.
She died at the age of 94. I often use many of her sayings as a public speaker, but most importantly, I use her philosophies to make sure that I'm being guided spiritually and not just intellectually. Many of us who are lucky enough to have a great grandparent can testify that there is something special about their knowledge. They seem to have life figured out, and a knack for helping those of us who are smart, educated and intelligent see things more clearly when we are too busy thinking.
What they have is what we should all aspire to end up with if we are lucky: wisdom.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Specialties Are Available For Online Education Degrees

While each core curriculum will differ from school to school, most education degree programs include courses in all relevant aspects of education. These courses are designed to give you the knowledge needed to be a successful teacher.
Some schools also give you the freedom to choose your own curriculum for your online degree. This means that you can decide which areas of the education field you want to gain expertise in. The ability to design your own curriculum gives you a unique background that allows you to stand out from the competition and attracts potential employers. Some concentrations for online education degrees include Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Adult Education, Distance and Online Education, Educational Administration, and Special Education.
People who have their online education degrees in Elementary Education usually teach kindergarten through fifth grade. The major goals of this degree are to establish a foundation in reading, writing, math, science, history, and the social sciences for all children. The courses in this field are designed to prepare you to teach these major fields of study. Some course titles include Philosophy of Education, Psychology of Learning, and Teaching Methods. You may also be required to take courses in computer technology.
A degree in Secondary Education is for those who want to teach middle school and high school aged children. Many individuals who get their degree in secondary education focus their training on a particular subject, such as English, math, or science. The courses in this field will teach you about different teaching techniques, curriculum development, and other related topics.
An online degree in Adult Education will prepare you to teach and educate adults. This can include a teaching career in colleges, universities, and learning centers. People pursuing this degree generally specialize in a specific subject, or have work experience in a particular field. Courses in this field of study include Adult Growth and Development, Adult Psychology, and Program Planning and Development.
A degree in Distance and Online Education will prepare you to work in the field of distance learning. People with this degree generally work at colleges and universities teaching their courses online. Some of the courses in this degree include Foundations of Distance Education, Technology in Distance Education, and Teaching and Learning in Online Distance Education.
People who have their degrees in Educational Administration manage the activities in schools, day care centers, and colleges and universities. They can also be directors of educational programs in businesses, prisons, and museums. Many go on to be college presidents and school district superintendents. Courses in this field of study include Introduction to Educational Research and Evaluation, Policy Studies, Current Issues in Education, and Educational Leadership.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Controversy Of Distance Education

It was just really nice to hear that there is a developing alternative method available for people to avail of education even outside the school premises. It was interesting to witness that the world has really been on its track towards globalization and progress. I agree that technological advancement is one of the most evident proofs for almost everyone. I believe that the development of distant education is on its way to being widely accepted by both students and educators because of its inherent and obvious benefits for parties (students and teachers), the government and the business sector. My stand is that distant education, online education, or interactive education, whatever anyone prefers, as an alternative method of knowledge acquisition cannot and should not replace traditional classroom education even if it be an indication of the world's progress.
Andrew Feenberg, in his article entitled "Reflections on the Distance Learning Controversy" has clearly shown favor for the online education as one of the pioneers of such program. His admiration for the purpose of the program is so obvious when he said that "the virtual classroom was a place of intense intellectual and human interaction" (A. Feenberg). I am personally in favor of pursuing distant education, knowing that such method can help a lot non-traditional students. It maybe possible that "intense intellectual and human interaction", as Feenberg claimed, can happen in online education. This is so because intelligent and smart students can be found anywhere else in the world, regardless of their nationality and age, as well as teachers. I also agree that such kind of students can be shaped by online education but like traditional classroom learning, the case is relative. I said so because learning depends on how eager and dedicated students are.
For Feenberg to say that "the quality of these online discussions surpasses anything I have been able to stimulate in my face-to-face" is something I would have to strongly disagree with. Feenberg spoke of his personal experience as an online teacher. The bias here is that not all teachers find the same thing. Linda Sweeney, in her article entitled "Guidelines for Being a Good Online Student" expressed her frustration in having students with bad learning habits who are to be kept reminded of their schedules. The obvious factor here is attitude. One problem with online education is the attitude of instructors, students, and administrators (D. Valentine). The quality of education depends on how the parties involved behave towards online education and how much importance do they place on the program. As one Professor stated, "The students' interest, motivation, questioning, and interaction must be on display throughout the learning process" (A.Arsham). As with the traditional classroom lectures, students and teachers interaction is vital in the learning process. The personal exchange of information and views are indications that both parties are interested on what they are discussing about. When students make queries or clarifications on the lesson, it means that students are taking things seriously.
Face-to-face class discussion has the advantage of on-the-spot monitoring of those who are showing interest because the students and teachers are physically with each other at the same time and at the same place. This means that checking the students' attitudes is immediate. This is hardly possible with distance learning where teachers have to do time-consuming e-mail just to remind students of their schedules. So Feenberg cannot absolutely claim that online discussions can surpass that one done with face-to-face. It is however admirable for Feenberg to admit that distance learning systems cannot replace face-to-face classroom education, as he stressed in his conclusion.
Another vital consideration in the issue of distance learning is the cost involved, which, Feenberg did not fail to pay attention to. While the author enumerated the benefits of distance learning, he did consider that "distance learning is not going to be a cheap replacement for campuses" (A. Feenberg). In his discussion, he looked into the interests of the parties involved relative to the cost of online education: the government, corporations, teachers and students. Feenberg's idea was that the government is interested in cost reduction for educational expenses while the corporations which are to provide the resources are obviously interested with sales and earnings of which I agree with. So the main concern here is the difference between cost efficiency and cost effectiveness. As Doug Valentine quoted Atkinson's statement: "it is possible for a program to be efficient but not cost effective if the outputs which are actually produced do not contribute to the program objectives: that is it may be efficient at doing the wrong things" (Atkinson, 1983).
With the actual cost of education as computed by Weber, the government does not actually have the assurance of achieving both cost effectiveness and cost efficiency. If the cost of training teachers, the cost hardware and software, human resources such as technicians and other people involved are to be considered, we can say that establishing online education is not as cheap as it may seem for others. Valentine stressed that "the costs associated with training technicians and instructors should not be overlooked"; citing the fact that online education requires a minimum of three persons in one setting compared with one instructor in a traditional setting.
Another thing is that online education cannot promise the quality. One reason is that there are still no clear standards set for the accreditation of this type of education. Another concern is that graduates of online courses do not have the hands-on training of their courses as reflected by the limitation of communication and training facilities. "Students also need the attention of the instructors" (D. Valentine). Considering the limitations of distance learning, I believe that the required attention from teachers will be a far more enduring task for teachers. It maybe far easier to remind students face to face than to do some emails, which gives no assurance when the students will receive the message. Worse, there is assurance that the instructions are clear for the students, or if they are, the feedbacks will obviously be delayed.
One more point to ponder on is the students' social growth. Because distance education involves only a small group who do not have frequent interactions, the social aspect of the students might be at risk. Students do not learn only on formal and educational conversations. As social beings, it is important that they too interact with others and have informal talks or converse with lighter topics. "These students miss the social contact and face-to-face interaction that an institutional setting provides" (S. Arsham). The challenge therefore is "for online courses to build and sustain a sense of growing community at levels that are comparable to the traditional classroom" (D. Valentine).
Lastly, I would like to give credit to Feenberg for navigating both sides of the issue of distance learning. While he was able to clearly present the benefits of online education, he is open to admitting the limitations of the program. Yes, Feenberg is right when he admitted that technology must be regarded as a medium of learning and not as replacement for the human factors, who are the traditional instructors. On the other hand, I also agree that teachers should not resist the development of online education and view it as a threat to their profession. Distance learning must serve as a challenge for them to cope up with economic and technological changes as part of the world's progress. The government must treat online education as better educational tools but not as replacement for school campuses. I believe that focusing on the needs of the poor people, who cannot even afford to attend even traditional education, is better than investing on distance education where obviously fewer people can afford.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Increasing Scope of European Education

Education is spreading its wings and strengthening its roots globally. Students don't shy away from crossing boundaries and traveling to different poles for achieving better education. Different countries serve niche in different fields of education. While Scandinavian states like Norway and Denmark offer a great scope for IT studies, UK offers state-of-the-art management studies options and Central Europe (Spain and Germany) is a hub for engineering studies.
Talking about Europe, it has carved a niche as a prominent destination for qualitative education abroad among international students. You name the education field and Europe has it- fashion designing, hotel management, engineering, management, study of medicine, etc. Europe is acting as an emerging education focal point. Scholars from all over are considering European education to be a push start for a successful career. It is undoubtedly becoming a hot spot for global students, Indian students being a major chunk of it. A study from the European Commissioner for Education reveals that every sixth student in eminent European colleges is an Indian.
The study also affirms that Europe witnesses a big dropout rate when it comes to higher education. Therefore, it has opened its doors for international students. This cross-cultural education system is being mutually beneficial. While Europe offers leading edge opportunities and resources for educational courses, there are thousands of talented students outside Europe who take benefit of the avant-grade facilities.
Lately, European Education is seen as an education extravaganza. This paradigm shift in the image of European Education is credited to the ever improving education programs by the European Parliament and European Education Commissioners. They are also attempting at increasing their associations and widening their campaigns with other countries so as to spread the scope of education overseas. The interesting thing however is that Europe is all keen on sending its students to India just as it wants Indians to pursue Education there. They deem good understanding of the education in IIT and other premier educational institutes in India, and are educating their citizens of the high esteems and scope of education in India.
Students and scholars have a wide market laid ahead of them. This educational cross flow is sure to bring major positive changes in years to come.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Online Education to Become a Teacher

You might want to consider acquiring an online degree if you are interested in becoming a teacher. The field of education is one that gives you plenty of opportunities to try out different roles. As a teacher, you can focus on early, middle, or secondary aged students. You can also take on administrative roles with an online degree focused on teaching.
Kinds of Online Degrees:
Similar to any other field, there are lots of options available for you when it comes to online degrees. To start with, you can go for a bachelor's degree in education. You can become a teacher in any college or university by earning this degree along with a certificate in teaching. Normally your college major will decide which subject you are going to teach. Once you have earned a bachelor's degree in education, you can further go for a master's degree in education. This degree can come in real handy for individuals who want to advance their career.
Different Areas in the Field of Education:
The education field consists of various specializations that include elementary education, early childhood education, administration, higher education, secondary education and middle school. Each of these specializations needs a specific educational qualification and certification for becoming a teacher. For example, it is mandatory for teachers to get a license from the state in which they are teaching.
Online Bachelor's in Education:
To start a career in teaching, you need to earn a bachelor's degree in Education. The course structure of this online degree program includes planning lessons, handling discipline related issues, psychology of learning and making sure that students do not face any problem in understanding concepts. You can earn between $25,000 and $30,000 as a first year teacher with an online bachelor's degree in education.
Online Master's in Teaching:
Certified teachers can attain promotions as well as pay raises with the help of online a master's in teaching degree. Another good thing about this degree program is that it gives teachers more opportunities in private schools and universities. Upon graduation you can also enroll in a PhD in education degree program.
Schools Offering Online Education Degrees:
o Western Governors University: Regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Western Governors University offers Bachelor in Education, Masters in Teaching, Masters in Education, Higher Education, Secondary Education and Special Education.
o Ashford University: Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Ashford University offers Associate, Bachelor and Master degrees in teaching. Some of the programs conducted by Ashford University are Bachelor in Education, Masters in Teaching, Masters in Education, Masters in Teaching, Higher Education, Early Childhood Education, Secondary Education and Elementary Education.
o Grand Canyon University: Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, Grand Canyon University offers Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education in Secondary Education and Master of Education in Special Education.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Fine and Performing Arts & Education

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. (Paulo Freire)
I see too many public service commercials-today-exhorting us to support the Performing and Fine Arts in public education. We, as a nation, have evidently become so low-brow, or unsophisticated, that we can no longer see the need for Art education in our schools. So now, we have our children pleading with us, on television commercials, to keep Art education alive. This is a sad state of affairs for us and our children, because art is what truly separates us from the beasts and allows us to rise above the mundane drudgery of life. As many others, I believe art should be at the center of education and not just because it's good for us. Art stimulates a child's cognitive and affective domains, as well as their motor skills, which leads to learning, discovery, creativity and motivation.
Academics are very important, of course, but too often they only stimulate a very small portion of the student's mind and heart. There are three, basic domains of learning: the Cognitive (mind), Affective (emotions or feelings) and Motor-Skills (hands-on). These three domains are key to our thinking/reasoning, learning, problem solving and creating. A healthy mind (Cognitive) is capable of taking in, retaining and processing information, which can then be applied, if retained and used, to the individual's life. Emotions and feelings (Affective) are closely connected to an individual's learning, because they aid in retaining and applying information, as well as stimulating the desire to learn more. Seeing, hearing, speaking, the ability to write, walk and run are all part of the individual's Motor-skills. Without these three domains, learning, needless to say, would be impossible. Reading, writing, math and the sciences stimulate the cognitive and motor skills domains quite effectively, but the affective is too often short changed.
If we think back to our school days, then we should be able to remember that the memorization of facts and successfully spitting them back out on tests was our main concern as students. This is very much a part of the learning process, and I'm not denying that, but where does the Affective domain play a significant part in this teaching process? In much of this way of learning the affective is absent, and-therefore-much of the educational material, which has just been learned, has no real application in the individual's life and is forgotten. I remember very little about higher level math, the periodic table and scientific jargon. Why is that? It didn't relate to my life nor touch me in a deep way. This is not to say that I, or anyone else, shouldn't have taken math and science classes, but what I am saying is academics are less effective than they can be, because they tend to ignore the Affective domain.
I contend that the Arts use all three domains effectively, and they can-therefore-stimulate the student to apply, as well as retain, what they've learned. Creativity is key in this process. The Performing and Fine Arts have a distinct advantage-educationally-in their ability to allow students to create as they learn. In painting, students are in the process of creating at the same time they're mixing colors and learning brush techniques. The same applies to sculpting and photography students. Many middle and high school music directors are-now-using computer programs to stimulate their students to compose as they learn to play and sing. Dance and theatre programs are examples, as well, of applying skills as their students learn. This artistic, educational process employs the cognitive and motor skills domains, but it also stimulates the affective. The art student experiences the sense of joy and satisfaction that comes from successfully learning, and then being able to immediately apply this knowledge in a very personal way. The Arts can enhance a student's ability to express their emotions in a very positive way. These students have ownership of what they have learned and are able to express this ownership through creativity. The Performing or Fine Arts student is motivated-educationally-beyond just memorizing facts and passing tests, because they're using their newly-acquired knowledge to express what lies deep in their heart and mind.
Surprisingly, the arts and sports have much in common, educationally. The basketball or football player, as well as the long-distant runner, learn their skills while applying them. The learning of physical techniques and immediate application reinforces the athlete's desire to learn and perform even more. In team sports, such as football, baseball and basketball, the student athlete learns to work with others to produce a product, or team. The young athlete learns that the whole, or team, is greater than the sum of its parts, or players, as do dancers, actors, singers and instrumentalists. As in performing ensembles, these young athletes experience the joy that comes from accomplishing something special with others. They learn, in a very intimate way, responsibility towards others and that the team is dependent on the very weakest athlete, as well as the strongest and most gifted. There's really very little difference between a football player and a band member, when it comes to being responsible and understanding that it takes everyone-involved-to be successful. This is such a valuable and wonderful lesson, and it is learned primarily, through the affective domain.
Educational collaboration between artistic disciplines is a great way for young artists to learn while they create. The pairing of young instrumentalists with dancers and visual artists, or actors with singers, can open up a whole new world of artistic exploration, discovery and creativity. These collaborations can become a great vehicle for learning and motivation, as any arts teacher who has experienced this process will testify. The educational process becomes more important than the outcome, or testing results, because it is in the process of exploration, discovery and creativity where learning really occurs. The educational outcome is secondary, because it is only used, in this case, to measure curricular goals. The motivation for and enjoying of learning comes through the process of collaboration, exploration, discovery and creating.
In academia, the emphasis-today-is placed more on the outcome, or testing and grades, which, in my estimation, is a huge mistake. Academic instructors could learn much from their counterparts in the arts. The government and its politically motivated, educational policies, of course, stands in the way of any successful, corrective change to academic teaching methods. Political agendas, such as, "No child left behind" are meaningless and worthless to students and teachers, because they're not concerned, as they so hypocritically claim, with the success of the individual learner. Instead, these agendas are merely an attempt to soothe the fevered brows of unsatisfied constituents.
I will agree with academic teachers that their process seems to be more set in stone than with the arts, and the only real way they can measure educational outcomes is through testing. There has to be a way-however-to allow a math, science, English or history student to become more involved in the process of learning. English teachers have a distinct advantage, since they could use writing essays and poems to instill a sense of ownership in their students. Their students-then-could use their essays and poems to collaborate with young composers, actors and dancers, as an example. Even though it would be difficult, science, language and math teachers could also seek these same avenues for educational exploration, discovery and creativity, which would-then-hopefully-lead to a student's retention/application, ownership and motivation. This, of course, will be impossible, as long as we allow our government to force academic teachers to teach-solely-towards the outcome, or "standardized" testing.
American students, every year, fall farther behind their counterparts around the world, academically and intellectually, while their parents and teachers continue to buy into the educational propaganda, which is spewed out by the American-political machine in Washington. Every year, Art education becomes less and less important in our schools, because of it's effectiveness in producing students who can think, reason, question, learn and create. Realistically speaking, Art education may be perceived as a threat to those who run this country and desire a race of middle-class, mindless, unquestioning and unsophisticated robots.
Education is the responsibility of the parents first and foremost, and if parents aren't capable or willing to fight for their children's education, then I guess America is doomed. If I were a parent-today-there would be no way I could allow my child to be intellectually molested by our current, public-education system. My child would either be home-schooled, at best, or in a private education system.
The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and long lasting nations in the history of the world, and yet, as the Roman government declined, then so did its human values and arts. There is only one piece of music remaining, one mere fragment, after one thousand years of Roman culture. Rome literally disintegrated from within, because of a corrupt government and decaying society. The United States is less than two-hundred and fifty years old, and we're already starting the lingering slide into governmental corruption, cultural ignorance and decay. Perhaps, it's too late to save our society, but if it isn't, then it's time to start rebuilding what we have allowed to be torn down for the last one-hundred and fifty years. If it isn't too late, then we must begin to rebuild our values and education system. Our values and education system may not have been perfect, in the past, but they were worthy of being fixed, properly.
Most successful, world cultures, throughout history, have been measured by the quality of their philosophers and artists far more than their forms of government and technological advances. If we disappear as a nation, in another century or so, what will we be remembered for? What will be our legacy to the world?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Graduate Education

As educational careers and instructional certifications become more specialized, education graduate programs are reflecting this by encouraging students to declare a concentration within their education degree program. A concentration makes educators more attractive, often broadening their career prospects and better preparing them to meet the challenges of being an education professional.
While it's typical for a student to declare a minor in a different field altogether-say, an international trade law major might choose a minor such as Chinese language if he or she intends to work within the Asian marketplace-a concentration is often closely linked with the major, more tailored to a specific job description. Someone looking to establish a career related to electronic teaching methods and new media in education, for instance, might pursue a masters degree in education with a concentration in distance learning, or instructional technology.
Credit hour requirements for concentrations vary greatly; programs typically require anywhere between 12 credit hours and 36 credit hours to complete degree requirements for a concentration within the primary degree program. This varies from one institution to the next, and of course, is dependent on the nature of the concentration itself.
Let's take a look at a few education degree programs and concentrations to see what's out there, and to help you better understand how selecting an education concentration might best serve your goals.
Educational Technology
Instructional or educational technology is a growing field that emphasizes the use of technology in education, both in the classroom and as a platform for distance learning programs. It encourages the design and implementation of a wide variety of tools to facilitate and advance students' potential for learning. With modern curricula being built around the use of digital technology and new media, a master's degree in education with a concentration in educational technology provides teachers with a valuable technological skill set and a solid working knowledge of e-learning methods. Those who understand and embrace these emerging learning methods are in high demand these days, whether it be in education or in private and corporate settings. Check out the International Society for Technology in Education's Educator's Resource page to learn more about this exciting, ever-changing field.
Curriculum and Instruction Strategies
A masters degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction strategies can help teachers improve and strengthen their classroom practices. Exploring such areas as student literacy, inclusion and educational leadership, this concentration helps prepare instructors to better implement practical solutions to problems encountered both inside and out of the classroom. There are plenty of related concentrations in education that are associated with curriculum and classroom methodologies that can also benefit administrators, curriculum developers and department heads, among others. In addition, various teacher certifications are contingent upon completing concentrations like curriculum and instruction strategies.
As a practical theory, inclusion is another name for (or synonymous with) what may have been formerly known as "special education". New educational models emphasize the inclusion of special needs children in the traditional classroom-built around the premise that children who learn together, learn to live together. A concentration in inclusion is designed to provide K-12 classroom teachers and administrators with critical theory and practical knowledge related to special education inclusion-offering educators the opportunity to study and improve upon professional practices, and in some cases, receive special education teacher certification as well.
Language and Literacy
Concentrations emphasizing reading, writing and literacy allow students to focus their attention on the study of how people develop, communicate and process written and spoken languages. This field explores complex relationships between these developmental processes, and how they reflect and relate to institutions, communities and cultures. Naturally, this field appeals to teachers of language and writing, but also has crossover value to those involved in studying new communication methods, particularly as they relate to technological advancement and ever-changing modes of communication. A concentration in language and literacy can prepare students for a broad array of career options, and also puts the graduate student in touch with the most fundamental elements of education: language and communication. The International Reading Association offers an excellent online resource, full of journals, publications and helpful Web tools for literacy and language professionals worldwide.