April 30, 2012

Gen Eds: Rethinking Higher Education

This week, we will discuss the entity of Higher Education. The costs, the curriculum, the desired outcomes, and the alternatives.


My first semester of Freshman year, I enrolled in Pysch 104, more excited about this course than any other on my schedule.

In fact, I was confident I would end up minoring in Psychology. After all, as a marketing student, I wanted to better understand human behavior. The way the mind works. What motivates us. How we learn. Instead, I was given multiple choice tests on the different biological parts of the brain. Disenchanted, I never took another Psych course.

This course was also the entry point course for my friend Diana, a registered Psychology major.

Why were we both taking the same course? Why is the entry level course for a Psych major the same broad "liberal arts" version of Psychology the rest of us are assigned as a Gen Ed?

If our goal within a "liberal arts" education is to give non-majors a broad understanding of the inner-connectivity of all these different fields, shouldn't we design the course more broadly? Not merely boring foundational curriculum that assumes you'll be moving on to next-level stuff next semester?

Why was I memorizing brain parts with the one chance they had to open my mind to the science of Psychology?

April 27, 2012

Caine’s Arcade and a Public School Takeaway

Take 10 minutes today during your lunchbreak to watch this beautiful story of children's entrepreneurship.

There are a lot of great takeaways from this video. So, I'll give you a crazy one you probably didn't think of.

I want kids like Caine to be plucked away from the traditional public school system.

I understand the theory behind maintaining/improving our current public school system. That in a charter or private school environment, rich parents will all flock to the same schools. That the best teachers will then flock to these schools. And that the poor kids will be stuck in the poor schools with the worst teachers - permanently stuck in their lower-rung socio-economic world.

And so, if we maintain a system that spreads the wealth a little more evenly, it will give the poor kids a better shot.

It's absolutely true. But, there is a downside we have to acknowledge. By definition, spreading out the best teachers and the best resources will make the privileged kids' schools a little worse.

Is this fair? Maybe.

But, I want us to understand the downside. Because while every child has enormous potential, Caine is uniquely special. He could be Edison. And I don't want him in an avg. school. I want kids with Caine's potential to be plucked and groomed.

We used to do this. In the 60s, Kennedy said, "We're going to the moon." And we tried to find the geniuses who would help get us there. We took our perceived best and brightest out of high school and sent them to specialized schools.

It's a completely different way of looking at education. To some, it looks cruel. To me, it seems obvious.

So, I'm re-asking a question I've asked before.

Is our educational system designed to help geniuses create the future, or to help the average kid follow instructions?

April 26, 2012

Placating the Stay at Home Mom

When I was a kid, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) hosted America's Funniest Home Videos.

And he would always interview the family of the winning video the at the end of the episode, and ask the parents what they did for a living.

Frequently, the wife would say, "I'm a stay at home mom."

And every time, Saget would quickly interject with, "And we all know there's nothing harder than that."

For some reason, I always thought this was a 'save' attempt. That everyone in the room knew this wasn't true. That the mother was partially embarrassed to admit she didn't have a real job.

Then, I had a child. And every day I'm home alone with her is the most isolating and exhausting experience of my week. Work is a vacation compared to it.

Yet, from the 'Ann Romney' gaffe from the other day, I realized that there truly is bias against the stay-at-home mom.

And I don't understand anyone who has had kids having it?

April 24, 2012

Earning the Respect of the Crazies

I keep trying to win the respect of people I do not respect.

I do this purely for career reasons. But all too often, I take the results personally.

Now, if someone you respect has issues with you, that is a great indicator that it is time to stop and self-examine. You should take their criticism seriously.

...but crazy people are crazy. And expecting them to objectively appreciate you is a no-win game.

April 23, 2012

Important People Live Awful Lives

Consider the most important individuals in modern history.

We remember these lives through an almost romantic lens, but imagine what it must have been like to actually live them?

Lincoln's life sucked. Overwhelming stress, despair and melancholy. With so much at stake, the gravity of your importance can simply be overwhelming.

And almost never do you get to experience the fruits of your labor. Rather, you are simply laying down your life as a foundation for the future to cross more smoothly.

Lives of importance are rarely grand in the experience. Yet, we think we want one?

April 18, 2012

Confusing Our Desire for Celebrity

Even the shy among us enjoy feeling appreciated - important - may even relish a mere 15 minutes of fame.

But, I wonder if we've confused that innate desire? "Being important" as opposed to "Doing important things".

Were you to be cast in a reality television show, you may feel important. If the show were to be successful, you may in fact "be" important.

And all without doing anything of real importance.

This short-term celebrity might satiate our innate desire of importance, but wrongly so.

Your desire for importance is a good thing. But the desire is meant to provoke us into becoming an agent of restoration. Not mere celebrity.

April 13, 2012

Smart Fish in a Dumb Pond

I say I want to move to a city where everyone is smarter than me.

Because I truly do believe in the Aristotelian practice of finding mentors - surrounding yourself with intellectual giants, and growing from their knowledge.

But, could my ego really handle this?

Or would I actually prefer becoming a big fish in a very small pond, and deluding myself into thinking I'm the king of the world?

April 12, 2012

Television News is Pornography

I get that news is a business.

I get that I am more interested in the real-time coverage of a roadside bomb than the story about a new hospital wing being donated.

That I probably wouldn't watch the utopian news channel I could concoct in my head.

But that doesn't let you off the hook for being a willing part of that system. For claiming journalistic integrity in promoting, magnifying and shouting the worst in humanity night after night.

You create pornography. It does not fill, nor educate us. It tricks us into believing in an ever-worsening reality that does not exist.

April 11, 2012

Spotify Embed Feature is Only 1/2 Cool

Spotify just got 1/2 step cooler. Give it a try with my embedded "Why Every President Sucked" album below.

1/2 of you probably think this is awesome. The ability to embed any song, album or playlist on Spotify - directly into your Website or blog.

But those are the 1/2 of you that already have Spotify running in the background.

For non-Spotify users, this embedded player does nothing and isn't useful at all. And that prevents this new innovation from being the "holy wow" of awesome I originally thought it may be.


April 10, 2012

Give-Give Relationships

Is it wrong to only invest in relationships you personally get something out of?

After all, we have certain time constraints on our lives. It is physically impossible for me to pursue genuinely deep relationships with all those around me.

So, if I'm being honest, I'm looking for your permission to bail out of those relationships with people I dread but guiltily maintain, and instead, focus on building the ones where I inherently enjoy the other person?

Fully aware you probably won't let me off the hook...