Archive for February, 2008

A Brief Cynical Update

I was away this weekend, I’ve been busy, and I am tired. I have a whole bag full of excuses. Until I return I leave you with every cynics favorite comic, Calvin and Hobbes:
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I also choose to blame Bill who recently blogged about Calvin and Hobbes so I now am going through the complete archive.

Competition and Reality

When I take a second to put down the kool-aide every now and then I can see reality a little better. Lately I have been thinking about the culture I live in where school is not really cool and learning is great as long is its not taking place in a classroom (boring!). I would even argue that there is such a strong culture of anti-school among my generation. We are brainwashed to dislike school and sometimes for good reason. There just seems to be inherently a negative connotation built in with the word school. Rewinding my brain to just a year ago (it seems to be getting harder) I can remember the feelings of discontent with school, its lifelessness and boring tradition.

Lets be honest the University is competing for student’s attention and it is really an unbalanced fight. For freshman that are getting their first taste of freedom away from parents and the identity they have been living with most of their lives, it is a time to explore new ideas. There are also friends, clubs, parties, etc. Academics are going to take a back seat to these things most of the time. Combine this with the anti-school sentiment and it is plain to see that for most students being a student isn’t really the most important thing. And here is what I am really getting at, when there is no community built around learning, students will not be interested. I don’t believe cool tools or awesome professors could fully convince someone of the importance of learning. It would just be a blip on the radar screen in a sea of tradition, non-controversial, and rote schooling.

People have been trying to take steps towards building a better community through new emerging technologies, but they still face that same culture of anti-school. Even then you just aren’t going to get through to people and sometimes people aren’t that interested in “real school”. This doesn’t mean we should stop trying because their are people out there that do care and some people who don’t even realize yet that they care. A connected community of student learners has the ability to bring people in, but until this happens there will just be little silos of education surrounded by fields of “plain old school”.

I would not say this is a call to arms, a post to point out successes or failures, or even saying that this is an impenetrable wall. It is merely a social commentary of one student on the state of the learning community at an institution.

Process, Or, My Strange Love Of Physics

I started to take Physics in the fall of ’07 as part of the gen-ed requirement for the school. I am not inherently a science/math person, I can do it, but its not what I am naturally good at. As the semester went on I found myself more and more fascinated by physics. The class is not a conceptual class really, we do a lot of math (mostly algebra not calculus, thank goodness), but still I felt compelled to commit time to actually learning what we were doing in class. It seems kind of silly of course because what else would students be doing in college if they weren’t learning (not that you’d really be surprised that some/most students aren’t).

This has carried on into the spring semester and as I reflected on this strange new love of science, I realized a part of it was the process. The way physics challenges me because it does not necessarily come to me naturally and the fact I have to spend time on it to really understand it. Even though not everything I am learning is applicable to what I will be doing in the future I know that there are connections being made and that science/math part of my brain that usually goes malnourished is getting some good attention.

Now, it might be because I am kool-aide drinking real school fiend that I’m starting to appreciate process (and dare I say using my brain heh). For me, the problem is explaining it to other students. I had a conversation with a friend a few months back and she was saying that a specific equation she learned in physics could not help her in her social science major (she also challenged me to directly connect it). I argued it is not always about making those direct connections. The problem with process is that is often an invisible process that is going on in the brain, making it hard to measure. It is not about knowing F=MA, but being challenged in class to remember back and say, well this is how I can also get to F.
Pushing the brain to make connections.
The brain is that much richer for having being pushed in a different direction. By taking the time to learn these things as you go along as a process, your brain is getting better at making connections. Cramming for the test the night before does not train your brain for much good at all.

I see I have rambled a bit from where I started. Not that ever really have a specific point to make to begin with, but I hope what I have said makes some sort of logical sense.

A Bit Giddy

By way of CogDog, I heard about Al Upton’s miniLegend project. He is currently asking edubloggers to be mentors for his year 3 students (8 and 9 year olds I believe). Being the geek I am I think this is the coolest thing so I went over to sign up to be a mentor.

As it currently stands I will be mentoring a girl named Emili. I’m really looking forward to commenting on her blog and just seeing what she learns over the year. Something about these connections, ya know?

Time

I’ve got to know, where does time go?

Why does it seem to speed by so quickly? Yet I distinctly recall moments where time stopped.

Always questions, will I have enough time? when is the right time? when will there be more time?

It makes me think about the larger picture, am I doing enough with my time? Am I spending my time wisely and what does that mean? There are so many equations for time, what one do I use?

For now I think it is time to sleep. I guess I’ll have to return to the problems of time, once I find the time to think about it again.

Fire

Today’s 100-word topic: Fire

The bonfire hypnotized us into silence those late nights in Liz’s backyard. We were savoring the last summer before we all went off to college and started our new lives apart. There was the usually chat of random nonsense that we had all grown accustomed to, and when we had stared long enough into the fire and our souls we imagined the future. Those late nights never accomplished anything.

We were on the cusp of a new beginning. Waiting for the time where we would rise up, like a phoenix, from the embers of those nights into an unknown future.

Not My Thoughts On Imagination

I’ve you haven’t heard of “This Date, From Henry David Thoreau’s Journal” blog, it is an interesting read. As stated everyday there is a blog post from a journal entry. In some ways it brings Thoreau back to life, more accessible.

Here is today’s journal entry from 1859, enjoy:

Sometimes in our prosaic moods, life appears to us but a certain number more of days like those which we have lived, to be cheered not by more friends and friendship but probably fewer and less. As, perchance, we anticipate the end of this day before it is done, close the shutters, and with a cheerless resignation commence the barren evening whose fruitless end we clearly see, we despondingly think that all of life that is left is only this experience repeated a certain number of times. And so it would be, if it were not for the faculty of imagination.


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