"Universities, schools...do any of you remember them?"
Sounds like a crazy statement to make, but bolstered by my opinion that crazy is (sometimes) good, let me forge on. For hundreds of years we have been teaching in much the same way; teachers and professors standing in front of classes spewing out fonts of wisdom that are excitedly lapped up by their captive audiences.
The centuries have moved on; technology has advanced, and in its wake corporations have risen and fallen (Encyclopaedia Britannica, PanAm, Kodak) , jobs appeared and vanished (lift operator, switchboard operator, typesetter) - yet somehow education remains impervious.
A wayward time traveller flung unwittingly into our time from 100 years ago, suddenly appearing in a univeristy lecture theatre would have no angst besides possible confusion relating to the topic. Yet if our unwitting time traveler were to appear in a business office, he'd need to be tazered to quell his hysteria at the ominous "machines" surrounding him. How can this be? How can commerce and industry have moved so far yet education (largely) remain frozen like a long lost mammoth in the icy grip of tradition?
Maybe it's fear of change. Maybe it's the cost of change? Maybe it's access to the right people? Maybe...maybe...but whatever the "maybe" one thing is certain, an avalanche is coming. In the words of an essay
"The solid classical buildings of great universities may look permanent but the storms of change now threaten them...the obvious strategy – steady as she goes – is doomed to fail; the one thing you don’t do in the path of an avalanche is stand still!"
We cannot just sit here and think our education systems, as they are, will not be swept away. If the avalanche of change has toppled "mighty" institutions like Kodak, Britannica, and others...do we think that traditional education stolidly ignoring the mounting pressures around it, will somehow survive?
All over the web more and more articles are appearing that sound the warning about the death of the lecture theatre
. These are not from crazies (like me) but from revered educational institutions like Cambridge
. Even the popular media is waking up to the impeding avalanche, as the New York Times
Institutions of higher learning must move, as the historian Walter Russell Mead puts it, from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google.
Yet despite this rising maelstrom of warnings, most institutions stoically persist with a way of teaching that has served them well for centuries. "If it was good enough for our grandparents, and their parents before them," the custodian says, "it should be good enough for our children and their grand children after them," he continues while reaching for his mobile phone to check a message.
But the avalanche is coming! An article published by MIT
warns of the rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that are sweeping the world. No longer are learners confined to learning from their local university - now they can pick to learn from the top professors from the top universities in the world - and often for free! These courses, using the power of the web provide complete courses on everything from medicine, to engineering, to business and more - Check our Standford's MOOCs
Already the developing world is waking up to this amazing opportunity as is depicted in the chart alongside. Thousands of students are dropping out of traditional learning institutions and signing up for these life-changing opportunities. All of a sudden the world is a lot smaller - and third world countries suddenly have access to some of the best educational opportunities on offer.
When prominent U.S. universities began offering free college classes over the Web this year, more than half of the students who signed up were from outside the United States.
Call me crazy...but how much longer can we ignore the changes that are coming. It's time we look up the slope and face what's happening. It's time we stop the excuses...fear, cost, training...and step forward into the new world of e-learning. If we don't, our children will learn all about us, in the not too distant future, on their iDevice, from a professor in another country, on a course attended by thousands from all around the world.
"Welcome class to your first MOOC lesson on History," the Professor says in the introductory video, "Universities, schools...do any of you remember them?" he asks.
Oh No! My kid has been diagnosed with R.D.D."
"Really, wow that is terrible. What are you doing about it?"
"Well the doctor has said the only way to treat Risk Deficit Disorder is with Riskalin. So now Gregory is taking Riskalin twice a day."
"Wow, that's serious. Why does he have 2 tablets a day? Is he that bad?"
"Yeah. I give him one tablet in the morning and the teacher gives him another half way through the day. She says that by lunchtime she can see the first Riskalin tablet has worn out. He is totally freaked out! He will simply not swing from the jungle gym at break. And then in class he is unmanageable. He's continuously glancing anxiously at the clock to keep confirming his work/time progress. If she asks the class to decide on a topic for an oral, he is paralyzed by questions and need for reassurance."
"It sounds serious."
"The worst part is the Riskalin tablets are changing his personality. When he comes home he is out exploring the garden, doing experiments with a science kit, and even sometimes playing new games. It's just terrible. My Gregory is simply not the calm, ordered, predictable, conforming child he was."
"Oh, well at least he doesn't have A.D.D"
"It's some new crazy condition where kids are naturally not calm, ordered, predictable and conforming. I bet before long they will have some tablets for them too!"
We live in a world that is rich in its diversity. The Bible puts it beautifully when it says
"I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so?
If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it." (1Cor 12:14-18 MSG)
Yet, while in word we sometimes celebrate this diversity, in life we all too often strive for something completely different. "You can be a foot, and ear or a nose...as long as your primary purpose is to see!"
However, what is worse than this is when we take a personality type and label it as a disorder. Imagine labeling your nose as V.I.D - Vision Impaired Disorder or your ear as S.I.D. - Smelling Impaired Disorder. It's crazy, because a nose is not designed to see and an ear is not designed to smell. Every body part is perfect for what it is designed to do. Yet, in our crazy world, we label those who do not fit into the category of "orderly", "compliant", and "sedate" as suffering from a condition, no, not a condition but a disorder - Attention Deficit Disorder. Yet, why does our labeling end there? Every personality type has its strengths and weaknesses. The risk taker is unlikely to be compliant. The compliant are unlikely to take risks. The logical are unlikely to be compassionate. The compassionate are unlikely to be logical. However, these all go unlabeled. Maybe to be complete, and fair, we should make sure all personalities types have a label...
A.D.D. - Attention Deficit Disorder
R.D.D. - Risk Deficit Disorder
L.D.D. - Logical Deficit Disorder
E.D.D. - Emotional Deficit Disorder
Take your pick, you, your kid, and every person on the planet is going to have one of these "disorders". Yet why is it that only A.D.D. carries a label, medication and so called "treatments"?
Well, quite simply because the school systems, with their rules, ordered desks, and straight lines are run mainly by R.D.D. people. R.D.D. kids thrive while A.D.D. ones suffer. And guess which graduating kids return to become teachers for the next generation? Yeah, the R.D.D. kids of the previous generation. And so the fallacy of A.D.D. is perpetuated, as non-conformist, free thinking, adventurous kids are labeled, medicated and treated. If we ever want to build a great future, it's time we get rid of these detrimental labels and rejoice in the fact that "God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it" - that in our diverse strengths we can become a complete human race.
I know I'm taking a risk writing this, but hey, I haven't had my Ritalin today!
Craig Blewett is a certified True Colors personality assessment facilitator and the developer of the FaceIt personality tool. Craig runs fun and engaging workshops for schools, universities and companies to help people understand their own strengths and weaknesses. This understanding is vital in career choice, business and personal relationships. Visit www.craigblewett.com
Facebook, Facebook on the Wall, who is the fairest of all? by Craig Blewett
"Wow, you look great in that photo, Jess!
"LOL, see what Maggie is wearing there standing at the back behind Dan! I'd never be seen going out like that!
Comments like these are very common on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. As these digital meeting places become the standard place to share news, photos and idle chat, they also become the places where self-worth, perceptions and even values are created. With millions of users signing up every month, more and more are looking at their Facebook wall as a mirror of who they are, or should become. However, unlike a real mirror that reflects reality, the enchanted Facebook mirror reveals the hidden and feared images of the heart, most often those related to imagined inadequacies.
It's a constant game of comparison. In fact new research conducted by Dr Derek Lackaff and Dr Devan Rosen, is suggesting that women who base their self worth on appearance are most affected by this digital mirror. "Those whose self-esteem is based on public-based contingencies (defined here as others' approval, physical appearance and outdoing others in competition) were more involved in online photo sharing
," said Dr Stefanone from the University of Buffalo.
This constant gazing into the Facebook mirror often does not provide the affirmation that the gazers seek, but rather can have the opposite effect. It can result in what is now being called "Facebook depression". This new term has been coined to explain a startling problem facing many Facebook users. With all the photos, friend-counts, and status updates, people are constantly trying to keep up, or just feel adequate. Whether it is the amazing photo that someone has posted of themselves (chosen from many to look so good), or the daunting number of friends others seem to have (which obviously means popularity), the effect is the same - inadequacy. The more the beholder tries to garner more friends, post better photos, make wittier comments, the more the mirror reflects their inadequacy to measure up.
It's a sad fact that so much of our modern day image is based around looks, yet as long as this is the case, the magical power of the illusion depicted by the Facebook wall will remain.
"Facebook, Facebook on the wall, who is the fairest of all?
"You are fair, 'tis true, but Jess is fairer than you!
" For more information
on staying safe online visit www.internetdangers.org or join Keep Facebook Safe - http://www.facebook.com/internetdangers About the Author
- Craig is a senior University lecturer in Information Technology and the lead researcher on a project that is investigating ways to use the Internet in effective ways for education. Craig runs a variety of seminars and workshops on Internet dangers for schools and other organisations. For more visit http://www.craigblewett.com
My South Africa by Jonathan Jansen
Wednesday, 09 February 2011
My South Africa is the working-class man who called from the airport to return my wallet without a cent missing. It is the white woman who put all three of her domestic worker's children through the same school that her own child attended. It is the politician in one of our rural provinces, Mpumalanga, who returned his salary to the government as a statement that standing with the poor had to be more than just a few words. It is the teacher who worked after school hours every day during the public sector strike to ensure her children did not miss out on learning.
My South Africa is the first-year university student in Bloemfontein who took all the gifts she received for her birthday and donated them - with the permission of the givers - to a home for children in an Aids village. It is the people hurt by racist acts who find it in their hearts to publicly forgive the perpetrators. It is the group of farmers in Paarl who started a top school for the children of farm workers to ensure they got the best education possible while their parents toiled in the vineyards. It is the farmer's wife in Viljoenskroon who created an education and training centre for the wives of farm labourers so that they could gain the advanced skills required to operate accredited early-learning centers for their own and other children.
My South Africa is that little white boy at a decent school in the Eastern Cape who decided to teach the black boys in the community to play cricket, and to fit them all out with the togs required to play the gentleman’s game. It is the two black street children in Durban, caught on camera, who put their spare change in the condensed milk tin of a white beggar. It is the Johannesburg pastor who opened up his church as a place of shelter for illegal immigrants. It is the Afrikaner woman from Boksburg who nailed the white guy who shot and killed one of South Africa's greatest freedom fighters outside his home.
My South Africa is the man who went to prison for 27 years and came out embracing his captors, thereby releasing them from their impending misery. It is the activist priest who dived into a crowd of angry people to rescue a woman from a sure necklacing. It is the former police chief who fell to his knees to wash the feet of Mamelodi women whose sons disappeared on his watch; it is the women who forgave him in his act of contrition. It is the Cape Town university psychologist who interviewed the 'Prime Evil' in Pretoria Centre and came away with emotional attachment, even empathy, for the human being who did such terrible things under apartheid.
My South Africa is the quiet, dignified, determined township mother from Langa who straightened her back during the years of oppression and decided that her struggle was to raise decent children, insist that they learn, and ensure that they not succumb to bitterness or defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It is the two young girls who walked 20kms to school every day, even through their matric years, and passed well enough to be accepted into university studies. It is the student who takes on three jobs, during the evenings and on weekends, to find ways of paying for his university studies.
My South Africa is the teenager in a wheelchair who works in townships serving the poor. It is the pastor of a Kenilworth church whose parishioners were slaughtered, who visits the killers and asks them for forgiveness because he was a beneficiary of apartheid. It is the politician who resigns on conscientious grounds, giving up status and salary because of an objection in principle to a social policy of her political party. It is the young lawman who decides to dedicate his life to representing those who cannot afford to pay for legal services.
My South Africa is not the angry, corrupt, violent country those deeds fill the front pages of newspapers and the lead-in items on the seven-o'-clock news. It is the South Africa often unseen, yet powered by the remarkable lives of ordinary people. It is the citizens who keep the country together through millions of acts of daily kindness.
I really enjoy it when companies come up with creative logos...not the run of mill ones we so often see. For example the SUN computers logo
is cleverly made up in such a way that however you turn it you see SUN. I came across this site
the other day that looks at 25 logos creative logos (although he misses the SUN logo). Check it out...and let's hope we see more creative inspiration like this.
Are you are sick of those painful calls from Direct Marketers? Well if you here is some good news!As counter-intuitive as this may seem, you can register with the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMSA) to have your name placed on their "Don't Contact Me" database. Now that sure sounds appealing. So, how does it work?Apparently, all companies involved in Direct Marketing, according to law, are meant to be registered with this association. They are also therefore meant to not contact any people who have chosen to not be contacted. Obviously there are companies that either do not register with the DMSA or simply ignore this - but hey, the only way to stop them will be the "Hello...No Thanks...Bye" method. But for the rest, this should do the trick and drop those irritating calls down significantly.Great...so how do you get your name on the "STOP CONTACTING ME NOW" list? Simple.1. Head on over to the DMSA website Opt Out Page2. Click the link that takes you to the "Opt Out Register"3. Fill in the form...it's scary but the only way...giving them all your details4. Click "Add to List"5. You will get
redirected to a page that says
6. Then you need to check your email for the final step or this will all be in vain. You'll get an email from them with a link in it. Click the link.7. You will finally see the GOOD NEWS...
- We've received your response.A validation link has been emailled to you.You must follow the link to complete the registration process.
- You have been successfully registered on this database. None of the DMA members will be allowed to contact you in the future.
To the sound of the Halleluhah chorus, you will now sing a song of Joy...and do a dance....From this day forth you should get less irritating calls just when you sit down to enjoy your evening meal :-)If for some reason you don't have access to the Internet - which is strange considering you're reading this ;-) but do not fear you can also remove your name by SMSing;DMA followed by your ID number to 34385
An Obituary for Common Sense
'Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who
has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was,
since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the
worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend
more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children,
are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but
overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy
charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens
suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher
fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the
job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental
consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could
not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses;
and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common
Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar
in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to
realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in
her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust
his wife, Discretion his daughter, Responsibility his son, Reason
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If
you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do
This is a modified version of a text that's originally attributed to Lori Borgman (www.loriborgman.com)
"It is unlikely there will ever be a World Cup as unique as this one" - A Time Magazine writer reports. And what an awesome World Cup is is turning out to be. South Africa has blown the world away (partly with their vuvuzelas).
With all the doubt, negative media - with some even hoping for failure, this World Cup is amazing. But even more than hosting a World Cup in first world efficiency - they have done what has never been seen before - they have welcomed the world as family.
South Africans dance, sing, talk to and have genuinely embraced everyone as part of their global family. The Time article ends - "Fans are as happy to be here as South Africa is to have them". WOW - I'm proud to South African.
Forget the Noise; South Africa's a Success
Posted by BILL SAPORITOTuesday, June 15, 2010 at 9:54 am
Blame it on the vuvuzelas. The noise level of these plastic horns in the stadiums—think about attending a game in which every fan is operating a leaf blower— became the first big story of the tournament. The horns have been criticized by players, fans and some officials, leading Danny Jordaan, the boss of the games, to consider banning them, except for matches played by the South African team, which wouldn't think of depriving its fans of their sound effects.
But like the vuvus themselves, this is a lot of noise. By most measures this World Cup has kicked off decently, even impressively. The showcase Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg's Soweto township is first rate, a beautiful piece of athletic architecture. The opening match was a thriller between South Africa and Mexico. In the squares where big screens have been set up, fans from participating countries are mixing easily without problems. Even the English are behaving. As for the locals, the welcome couldn't be more genuine. “Hello, I am Siphiwe,” my cab driver introduces himself to me. I can assure you I do not get this greeting in New York City
Are there problems? Of course: The tickets are sold and the hotels are filled— but the stadiums are not. World Cup Mystery, read the headline of one of the local papers. Where are all the people? At a number of games there were noticeable blocks of unoccupied seats, including 8,000 no shows for the Greece-South Korean game in the 42,486-seat Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. But you can't blame South Africa if the prospect of a Greece-South Korea or a Slovenia vs. Algeria match might not send everyone into a frenzy. Much of the problem, though, was the transportation system, which largely employs buses of various sizes, many of which got gridlocked on their way to stadiums. It happened on opening day in Joburg and again at the Soccer City stadium for the Holland vs. Denmark game.
You'd almost have to expect gridlock in Joburg. This is a vast city, on the order of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and a car city, its very distinct neighborhoods not linked by inner city rail or subway. And its reputation for crime prompts many people drive to the games. My own trip to the stadium using the FanRide system from the Melrose Arch neighborhood was a bit roundabout—we meandered through a number of back streets—but nevertheless got there in plenty of time. Others weren't so lucky, which showed in the stadium in the form of empty orange seats that should have been occupied by Orange-clad Dutch fans. But midway through the first half most of the empty spaces had been filled in—except for the seats in the suites, which remained empty throughout.
Inevitably there will be some uncharitable comparisons between South Africa's World Cup and the hyper-organized one that Germany staged in 2006. That's both fair and unfair. If South Africa wants to play host, then it has to be measured by the standards of other World Cups, in places like Germany, Japan and South Korea, and France. So yes, stadium security personnel walked off the job in Cape Town in a pay dispute, forcing the local cops to send in reinforcements. Bus drivers also walked out briefly in Joburg, stranding some fans at Soccer City. And there have been some crimes—unfortunately, some robbers have mistaken foreign journalists for ATMs. But South African authorities have pointed out that the criminals (a couple of Zimbabweans, a Brazilian) include foreigners too.
Despite these early issues, it is unlikely there will ever be a World Cup as unique as this one. The U.S. vs England game took place in Rustenburg, a platinum mining town about 3 hours northwest of Joburg. Geographically, it would be like staging a Superbowl in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, to name a small (former) mining town a couple of hours removed from New York City. In Rustenburg, the pavement quickly disappears once you are outside Royal Bafokeng stadium. In this neighborhood the locals live in sheet-metal shacks—some of them quite new—with chickens patrolling the back yards. Yet Rustenburg is a success story, a place of rising opportunity because of the careful management of the platinum resource by the Bafokeng tribal leadership. As we were heading toward the stadium after parking our car on one of the dirt roads, a man approached to shake our hands. “Thank you for coming,” he said to me and my companions.
He wouldn't be the first local to utter these words. It's almost as if the South Africans were afraid that people wouldn't show up after they've gone through all this trouble to stage the World Cup. But they have. Fans are as happy to be here as South Africa is to have them.
I suppose this is an extension of the ADT post. There is a proverb that I read today - "To learn, you must love discipline....." (Prov 12:1). This is the challenge of the ADT challenged. It's hard to be disciplined, its hard to stay on one task for more than a few minutes before rushing down another more interesting road. The whole system is designed to encourage lack of discipline. The ability to open so many websites at the same time...the alluring squeak of the Skype contact online, the flash of an indicator that there's a new email - we've got no chance....it's no wonder we're finding it harder and harder to educate our students. So the question is to we try and force them into a serial processing, more disciplined approach, or do we try and use the tools and techniques they are growing up with to guide their learning. It seems the latter approach is the only feasible one. With shortening attention spans short videos and microblogs may hold the future to learning 2.0.
It seems fitting to start off with a post on ADT. This is a condition that has similar symptoms to ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) but unlike ADD and ADHD which are biological conditions, ADT is a learned behaviour - so says psychiatrist expert Dr. Edward Hallowell. We live in a society that is causing us to become more and more distracted. We are interrupted by emails, tweets, instant messages, cell phones etc. It has got so bad that we now actively seek the interruption as our brain can no longer stay on one task for more than a couple of minutes. This is causing us to become more superficial in our answering of questions, making us unable to effectively analyse problems, and may even lead to less sleep and related conditions of stress, anxiety etc. The solution? A desert island with not computers or cell phones. If that is not possible then get ready for your new ADT you!