Tag Archives: education

Obama on Tumblr

Today President Obama did a live-stream Q&A on Tumblr with David Karp (founder of Tumblr) answering user’s questions focusing on student debt and touching on recent school shootings.

Or you could watch it streamed in a coffee shop while on Tumblr  #tumblrinception #community

I’ve always been particularly cynical when it comes to the Government and Congress, most of the time with good reason. But it does give me hope that the Obama administration is actively trying to reach out to young people through technology and the media, to open the door to positive conversation. Especially on topics that are tangibly relevant to every millennial at this point in their lives.

Student debt is a BIG deal for me and so many other students, and some don’t realize how big until after they’ve graduated. Something I appreciated President Obama talking about was balancing the desire to follow your dreams vs. practicality. It’s great if you want to do something you love, but be prepared to back it up with a concrete way to support yourself financially. Money isn’t the most important thing, but in reality, it is something that affects the way you live day-to-day.

Ultimately, you are going to do best at something you care deeply for. But you still have to grind it out. Your career isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes you have to take a job to pay the bills. And sometimes you take a big risk, like building something called Tumblr.

-President Obama

Turning away from college debt, President Obama answered a question about school shootings. I was disappointed with the way he chose to tie in gun control (which is an issue, just not the one I wanted him to talk about) instead of addressing the problem of mental illness in teens and young adults. An estimated 20% of adolescents (13-18 year olds), either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. That translates into 1 in every 5.

NCS-A_data-AnyDisorder-720

I rarely see politicians talking about this issue, even though it is becoming more prevalent in our society. America does not have many well-funded programs for those struggling with mental illnesses. On a more personal note, I know multiple people who have been denied psychiatric/therapeutic help because their symptoms were not severe enough! Most people simply cannot afford private counseling but still need more help than a suicide hotline can give. This is not the way to help those who are suffering from things like depression, or who struggle with self-harm. Mental illness is not an just a pessimistic attitude or a phase, it is a serious medical condition that can be treated if/when needed. In order to bring the violence we see in schools down, we need to address both the root cause of the violence as well as the tools used to carry it out.

Overall, I was excited to see the Obama Administration reach out to the younger generation through social media. I think it is a great sign that the government is willing to adapt and use the resources that have been growing rapidly in the past decade in a way that reaches out to the people and makes them feel like they do have an impact and their voices are being heard. Whether this will actually make a tangible impact on anything is another issue, but this, at least, is a step in a positive direction.

Did you tune in to the President’s Q&A? What did you think about what he had to say? Let me know in the comments!

I’m a Rambling Man

This week I went to my  first mindfulness meditation workshop. It was just an introduction, so we weren’t meditating the whole time, but it was a lot different than I’d thought it would be. I’ve been to multiple meditation-y type things over the course of my life, and I have found that I’m not very good at it. I pride myself on being a decent listener, so I know I can focus when I need to, but when it comes to meditation I feel like Dug from up.

Mindfulness meditation is different from other meditations I’ve tried in that it forces you to focus on the present, what is happening now. In the session I went to, we were told to focus on our body, specifically the breath. I really liked this because it gave me something substantial to focus on rather than emptying myself of everything. I felt like I was in control. But even having something to focus on, I was all over the place. My mind turned into cooked spaghetti! Every thought led to a different thought, which led to a quote from Pride and Prejudice, which led to why I should definitely try on a regency-styled dress before I die, which led to women in literature, which led to why Frozen has such a great soundtrack, but bad character development, which led to crap, I should be counting my breaths, I need to let this go….haha, let it go…and I’ll rise like the break of dawn….And there I went again.

Eventually I opened my eyes and focused on a spot on the floor as well as on my breathing so that my mind would shut up. Apparently I need multiple things to keep my mind focused on one thing. I’m all for being comfortable in silence with others (and when I’m in a good place I can even be quiet with myself), but I need to work on being comfortable in complete silence with myself. The combination of audio and visual silence is a lot of silence for the brain. Silence is golden, but hit someone with a stick of gold and you know how hard it is.

I breathe in, my body is calm.
I breathe out, I am going to be okay.

Keeping your mind focused on the present is a great way to minimize stress. Why stress about things that might never happen? Worried about seeing your ex? You’re not seeing him now so stop worrying, worry when you see him. Worried about a paper that hasn’t been assigned yet, but will determine your grade? There’s nothing you can do right now, so let it go until there is something you can do. What if you don’t graduate, what if you can’t find a job, what if, what if, what if.

I breathe in, my body is calm.
I breathe out, I am going to be okay.

Focus on the now. Focus on your body. It is alive. Breathe in, breathe out.
We are going to be okay.

Book is the New Work

Click over to your favorite blog, and pick out the 4th and 14th words (that aren’t “the” or “an”). Drop them into this phrase:
“_____ is the new _____.”

My family never had cable and by time I was in 8th grade we didn’t even have a tv anymore. So I grew up on books and I loved them. I had read every fantasy, sci-fi and interesting young adult book at the small library near my house a million times when I went off to college.

BLOG PIC

But once I got to university, I stopped reading. I don’t like to admit it, but I haven’t read a book all the way through in a long time. It’s hard mixing pleasure reading with academic reading. It might have to do with the fact that I don’t like a lot of academic readings–big words and haughty tones aren’t really my thing and in order to succeed in my classes, I don’t have to read these texts all the way through, I just skim them.

tedtalks2

We watched a TED Talk in my education class called Changing Education Paradigms, which was based on the talk by Ken Robinson, which discussed problems with our education system. One of these is the distinguishing between academic people and non-academic people, the former considered smart and the latter non-smart.

One of the reasons I think reading for class is such a burden is because the texts we read are often written by academics who insist on showing off their “smartness” through word choice and confusing sentence structure. Now, I’m an English major and I’ve made it to my junior year of college so according to society I am smart. But these texts we read make me feel like I’m back in fifth grade struggling to understand the basics of math! There should not be such a decisive divide between different types of “smartness”–those who excel at math and science are just as smart as those who excel at drama and art. I do not want the things I’m reading for school, that are supposed to help me learn, to make me feel stupid instead.

Students do need to be challenged, but confidence in one’s abilities is just as important. I don’t want to approach learning with the attitude that because I don’t know something I’m not as smart as my peers or that not understanding “academic works” makes me somehow lesser. I want to get excited when I learn new things because learning is enjoyable and I want to be respected for the things I do know, be it art, poetry, or any of the liberal arts.

Do you think there is a real divide between “academics” and “non-academics”? If there is, should there be?

I highly advise watching Robinson’s talk, it makes some great points about the American school system and offers some interesting ideas for future changes.

What do you think about divergent thinking? Could we incorporate that into our school system today, or is divergent thinking too different from the intellectual model of the mind on which we currently base our school system?

I want to know what you think–leave your ideas in the comment section!

Are You Talented?

I don’t have very many talents that I can physically show people. I was never good at sports, I don’t have any trophies, and if you asked me to type with two hands I’d laugh. So there are lots of talents I wish I had but don’t. Not to put myself down, I am good at other things, like reading, listening, working with kids, being compassionate and typing with one hand. But I can’t really challenge someone to a listening contest–I think I’d die of boredom!

In the theme of practice makes perfect, I am teaching myself how to knit this semester!

348385750a8ef01258b9dba8bad3cd7c

For one of my education classes we have to teach ourselves something new so we can more fully understand the struggles our students go through as they learn their letters and how to read. I’m supposed to keep a mini-journal on how I learn and how I feel while I learn. One of my roommates knows how to knit so I might ask her for help, but I think I’m going to try and youtube it before I ask. I was never good at asking for help…I guess this will be good because not all of my students will find asking for help easy either.

I want to create an atmosphere in my classroom where hard work is valued and complimented, rather than just “smarts” because there is a difference and I know I never found being smart easy like a lot of my peers growing up. No one wants to seem dumb, but asking for help does not equal stupidity. Being naturally good at math is great, but learning is about being challenged, and all students need to practice to reach their full potential.

Elementary classroom setting.  Focus on teacher and chalkboard.

What are some talents you wish you had but don’t? Are those talents that you can physically show people, or are the more abstract? Can you type with two hands, or am I the only one challenged by the keyboard? Have a great week and leave your answers in the comments!