Ideas Rule the World

A very witty phrase, if you ask me. Going by the definition by Wikipedia; "An idea is a concept or abstraction formed and existing in the mind. Human capability to contemplate ideas is associated with the ability of reasoning, self-reflection, and the ability to acquire and apply intellect. Further, ideas give rise to actual concepts, or mind generalizations, which are the basis for any kind of knowledge whether science or philosophy. "

So why do we say they rule the world? "Everything you see and touch was once an invisible idea until someone chose to bring into being." – Richard Bach. Like a dream, an idea sprouts up in the mind, flies around in our brains till its used or naturally fades out. The uniqueness and power that set apart any successful businesses or individual, starts with the kind of ideas they come up with (usually influenced by their state of mind, environ and situations).

It is not enough to have an idea, but it is a good start. To create a business, you need to come up with an idea. Then once you're in business, you need more ideas for design, engineering, capacity building, marketing, creative problem solving, customer retention, etc. Day in day out, you would need to think and generate new creative ideas to sustain the existing ideas. The accelerated pace of change and current ease of new entrants to new markets due to technological advances leaves no time to be sloppy in encouraging and nurturing ideas. The success or failure of a business could be could depend on just one idea or the timing.

Most companies are not short on new ideas, but they are short on ways to assess, prioritize, and execute those new ideas. For example, IBM existed when Dell took advantage of the internet and started online computer sales. Dell Computers had "an idea" IBM lacked and developing that single idea at that time, made Dell MONEY and a strong brand name. Ideas do not just bring you out of your shell, they possess the power to creatively stand you out.

Find great ideas? Basically, ideas are born by combining existing ideas to form an invention (eg "car" and "kitchen," = "mobile restaurant,"). Firms must enthusiastically welcome new ideas and suggestions. If an idea is given proper attention, it may become the hero in town, the next great marketing campaign, or even the perfect incubator for your next innovative product or service.

There are several instances in history where great ideas were born and have made success:
Finding solutions to a need gave birth to Crayola brand crayons which started as a need for a child friendly school instrument. To improve its business Garment Care (another laundry shop or better still a "glorified wash-man"), accepted Alder 's concept of "branding" and the success, we can tell. The famous Mark and Spencer wanted to be different from other retail stores in UK; today, miles away the Igbo * -boy in Tejuosho * market, sells with lines like "this one is original stuff, like Mark and Spencer". Post It Notes was created from the "failures" in a series of experiments in trying to create a heavy adhesive. Adapting to change has helped Madonna (the world known singer and business woman) keep a firm grip on her legion of fans. Despite all the critics surrounding her career, by incorporating the latest dance, music and trends into her own style, she has managed to retain her stage space in the entertainment industry, for decades. I remember banking in Nigeria was also very boring before Bond Bank (then) * and GTBank * changed the game thanks to Alder consulting. The lists goes on and on.

To build a strong brand out of businesses or individual you need to have a unique story to tell. The Einsteins, Gates, Dangotes *, Bruces *, Modelas *, had all made it because, Ideas Rules The World!

(* Note: this article was written from the Nigeria perspective and languages.)

Source by Ola Olabimpe

Review: The Eighth Day, Selected Writings, by Christian Bobin

I wanted to dislike the writings of Christian Bobin, really I did. He’s a poet, it’s claimed, and if there is one thing I am extremely sceptical about it is poets who don’t write poems but prose. All great poetry is driven by form and when form is absent, despite modernist and zeitgeist claims to the contrary, what we have is prose. As I say, I wanted to dislike Bobin’s writings, but I found I couldn’t: he is a true poet, although he writes in prose, and his work is massively interesting from both literary and theological points of view. And, as a sidebar, from a specifically Quaker perspective too, for Bobin has much to say about many Quaker central concerns, and especially silence and plumbing its depths. Contra GK Chesterton, a Catholic, for example, who claimed that “gratitude is the highest form of thought”, for Bobin “Silence is the highest form of thought” and he explores it in an original and unique way, although apparently without trying to. Indeed, otiose seems a word made for him. Here is one of his comments on silence, which gives a flavour of his style: “Yesterday, thanks to a quick movement, I caught a bit of Christ’s tunic. It was a patch of silence”.

But there I go: doing a very un-Bobin like thing – contrasting and comparing. One joy of Bobin’s work is that he doesn’t seem to be arguing with anyone; instead he is moving through life and picking up one stone after another, examining each in turn, giving it its due consideration and attention, and then moving on. These stones can be objects, they can be flowers or nature or living things (trees are models of acceptance for Bobin), or they can be his father’s Alzheimer’s or the death of the love of his life. There is a sense of rumination and getting to the heart of things; and alongside this, there goes a dismissal of contemporary illusions and delusions. Bobin is someone not taken in by the modern world: “It is because each of us strives at any cost to suffer as little as possible that life is hellish.” Whoa! – surely, anyone with a spiritual notion in their smallest finger would see how that more or less defines and condemns Western spirituality: people want a religion that fits their preferences rather than a religion that is true, or more exactly that accords with the Tao, or the nature of reality. We in the modern world find that we are not comfortable with Christ or with death and so we relegate both to a backroom of the mind and lock its door; and yes, we find we rarely get there to examine its contents. The joy of Bobin’s work is that he does this for us: death, especially, haunts his pages: “I was born into a world starting to close its ears to any talk of death: it has had its way, not realising that it had thus barred itself from hearing any talk of grace”.

That should not surprise us: the title, the Eighth Day, is curious. The nearest we get to an explanation is: “What is strange in fact is that grace still gets to us, when we do all we can to render ourselves unreachable. What is strange is that – thanks to a wait, a look, or a laugh – we sometimes gain access to that eighth day of the week, which neither dawns nor dies in the context of time”. As I understand it, the Eighth Day is the same as ‘on the third day’ – it is the Sunday on which Christ rose from the dead. On the sixth day the world was created, and Christ was crucified, and on the seventh day God rested, as Christ did in the tomb; but on the Eighth day the resurrection signified a new creation, a new order, and one which is independent of time and death. This, then, is what Bobin’s work is constantly veering towards and alluding to: the magic of that Eighth Day which is strangely accessible to us now but in glimpses. As he says, “the unique concept of a presence we would never again lack, of a beauty that would never again be subject to the outrages of evening, evil and death.” Bobin helps us locate that presence and also to celebrate its joy.

One notable aspect of Bobin’s writing is his aphoristic style; he is pre-eminently quotable because his language is so pithy and meaning-laden. Let me end by sharing three wonderful observations from his writing.

“I like to lay my hand on the trunk of a tree I happen to be passing, not to assure myself that the tree exists – I have no doubt of that – but that I do.” This reminds me of one of CS Lewis’s wonderful apercus where he reminds us that when Christ appears to his disciples after the resurrection and they are huddled together in a locked room, he seems to walk through the wall; this is not because Christ is insubstantial and ghost-like; it is that the wall is insubstantial compared with the reality of Christ! Things are not what they seem, but the other way round. What, in short, is really real?

“One gram of light serves as a counterweight to kilograms of darkness”. Here we have such a hopeful and enlightening perception; there is no doubt that Bobin feels the full weight of darkness and evil in the world, and is himself of a somewhat melancholy disposition; yet for all that even tiny amounts of light are so powerful and such antidotes to darkness and evil. I see this as an encouragement to arms; to fight the good fight because every contribution carries more power than we can ever imagine.

Finally, and perhaps most poetically, on writing itself, Bobin declares: “Writing is like drawing a door on a wall too high to climb, then opening it”. That, surely, is a genius image; it speaks about the counterintuitive fact that all true writers understand. Essentially, one does not write to say what one means, but to discover what one truly knows. Bizarrely, the meaning seems to be not pre-existent in the mind, but created through the act of writing itself. I am sure, if I had space and time here, one might want to reflect on the ‘Word made flesh’ and how in some way human creativity mirrors – is in the image of – the divine process.

Suffice to say, I have become a big Bobin fan. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is remotely interested in the spiritual journey, which of course is one of healing too. This book will repay constant reading and re-reading many times over in terms of its insights and suggestions. And like true poetry, it will live in, if not haunt, your mind.

And one last, quick note: I am not qualified to comment on how well the original French of this book has been translated into English in terms of its accuracy and nuance, but I can say that I suspect that the translation is superb in that what one reads in English is so clear, powerful and effective, and I can only imagine that that derives from fidelity to the intention of the source; so full marks to Pauline Matarasso.

Source by James Sale

6 Common Teacher Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

When you get a call from a school administrator inviting you to interview for a teaching job, how do you feel? Happy? Elated? Excited? Nervous? Scared stiff?

You don’t need to worry about the interview if you’re a well-prepared, qualified candidate. Preparing for a teaching interview is a lot like studying for a test. You can review commonly asked questions, think about what you’ll say beforehand, and go in to do your best. If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. You’ll have answers on the tip of your tongue, ready-to-go.

Below is a list of six commonly asked teacher interview questions from my eBook, Guide to Getting the Teaching Job of Your Dreams. How would you answer each question?

1. Tell us about yourself.

This will be the first question at almost every interview. Just give a brief background in about three sentences. Tell them what colleges you graduated from, what you’re certified to teach, what your teaching & working experiences are, and why you’d love the job.

2. How do you teach to the state standards?

If you interview in the United States, school administrators love to talk about state, local, or national standards! Reassure your interviewer that everything you do ties into standards. Be sure the lesson plans in your portfolio have the state standards typed right on them. When they ask about them, pull out your lesson and show them the close ties between your teaching and the standards.

3. How will you prepare students for standardized assessments?

There are standardized assessments at almost every grade level. Be sure you know the names of the tests. Talk about your experiences preparing students. You’ll get bonus points if you know and describe the format of the test because that will prove your familiarity.

4. Describe your discipline philosophy.

You use lots of positive reinforcement. You are firm, but you don’t yell. You have appropriate consequences for inappropriate behavior. You have your classroom rules posted clearly on the walls. You set common routines that students follow. You adhere to the school’s discipline guidelines. Also, emphasize that you suspect discipline problems will be minimal because your lessons are very interesting and engaging to students. Don’t tell the interviewer that you “send kids to the principal’s office” whenever there is a problem. You should be able to handle most discipline problems on your own. Only students who have committed very serious behavior problems should be sent to the office.

5. How do you make sure you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?

An IEP is an “individualized education plan.” Students with special needs will be given an IEP, or a list of things that you must do when teaching the child. An IEP might include anything from “additional time for testing” to “needs all test questions read aloud” to “needs to use braille textbook.” How do you ensure you’re meeting the needs of a student with an IEP? First, read the IEP carefully. If you have questions, consult a special education teacher, counselor, or other staff member who can help you. Then, you just make sure you follow the requirements on the IEP word for word. When necessary, you may be asked to attend a meeting in which you can make suggestions for updating the IEP. Your goal, and the goal of the IEP, is to make sure the student has whatever he or she needs to be successful in your class.

6. How do you communicate with parents?

This question will come up at almost every elementary school interview. It’s fairly common in the middle school and high school as well. You might have a weekly parent newsletter that you send home each week. For grades 3 and up, you may require students to have an assignment book that has to be signed each night. This way, parents know what assignments are given and when projects are due. When there are discipline problems you call home and talk to parents. It’s important to have an open-door policy and invite parents to share their concerns at any time.

For more teacher interview questions, I invite you to download my eBook Getting the Teaching Job of Your Dreams ( ). In it you will find 50 common interview questions and answers as well as practical advice for getting the teaching job you want.

Source by Tim W

A Brief History of Computer Based Training

Computer Based Training or CBT is now widely adopted in education, corporate training for learning any subject from math, history to sales skill, customer support and project management. The driving force behind the maturity of CBT industry, however, has been aviation industry.

In the 1980's, Computer based training and simulation were introduced to pilot training programs to reduce the training cost and avoid the safety issue in on-site training. The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC), an international association of technology-based training professionals, oversees and develops guidelines for aviation industry in the design, implementation, delivery, and evaluation of CBT.

In the early 90's, CBT had made its way into educational institutes and corporate market. These instructional manuals were text based and often taught the user how to complete particular lessons. Unfortunately, computers were still progressing at that time, which made it difficult to add into classrooms. At the time, teachers still did not agree with using strictly based CBT programs. While this was a great way to learn topics without having to be rushed, the technology fell short. It was not until the later years that full multimedia, which included audio and video, was integrated into these lessons. From there, computer based training only got more popular.

As technology progressed, computer based training courses were also getting better. By the late 90's, CBT was full of video, streaming audio, and a wide array of topics. This type of computer based training was picked up by universities worldwide. This is when online courses began to take full form. Universities provided online classes to those who just could not attend real courses. Filled with video lectures and practice exams, students were able to work at their own pace. Although this sounded like a tough idea, students loved the invention. It not only allowed the already employed to get more education, but it helped those with learning disabilities work on their own time.

CBT has gone far beyond the minds of college students. Amazingly, it has also reached aviation training. Computer based training now allows potential pilots to use simulated airfare and courses designed to help them understand the concepts involved. Due to the fact that many people prefer learning in a quiet environment, so that they can review frequently, CBT has become widely popular among aviation schools. These computer programs also teach aviation supplies information, and other necessities. As a result, pilots can fly easily with their david clark headsets, knowing that they know everything about aircraft supplies.

Although CBT is still controversial, most universities and aviation schools have accepted the new form of learning. With students having specific learning disabilities, and tough schedules, this type of e-learning helps everyone get a great education. It is possible to do achieve more when convenience and flexibility is present. You no longer have to worry about getting to campus on time, or juggling three jobs with an array of different courses. Even aviation pilots can dream of educational freedom, if it means spending extra hours at home studying the latest aviation supplies. For the majority of learners, computer based training has allowed society to open their minds to schooling. Students no longer have to worry about getting behind. CBT makes it possible, no matter what level you are at.

Source by Natalie Aranda

What Is the Secret to Student Success?

Within the field of higher education, one of the important metrics for gauging the effectiveness of programs is student retention. Retention measures the number of students that a school has been able to keep in their programs and in contrast, attrition measures the number of students who have withdrawn – either voluntarily or involuntarily. Another important word for this field is persistence, and that is meant as a student measurement. While retention and persistence may seem to measure the same criteria, I have made a distinction based upon the actions taken. For example, a school may have retention programs in place; whereas, helping students succeed in their programs bolsters their ability to persist and continue to make progress.

The sector of higher education that I have the most experience in is the for-profit online college, with roles ranging from online educator to faculty development specialist, Chief Academic Officer, and Dean. For this industry, the typical retention rate is 50% or less. Retention initiatives that have been implemented in many of the schools I’ve worked with included changing feedback requirements, grading requirements, and the curriculum itself to make it easier for students to pass their classes. While these initiatives may provide some help for the bottom line, I have found that it has little impact on the student experience. What matters most for students is their ability to persist and be successful in their attempt to be involved in the learning process. Is there a secret to student success? In my experience, I have learned there is and it has to do with the support and resources students receive from the school and their instructors.

Growth of the Non-Traditional Student

When I entered the field of higher education over ten years ago, the phrase “non-traditional student” was becoming popular and I have watched it become prominent now – especially with regards to how courses and curriculum are designed for students. The essence of this phrase is meant to describe new types of students, other than those who are starting college right out of high school, who are enrolling in college level courses and programs. This one of the important factors that drove the growth of the for-profit online college industry. It is not uncommon to see online programs being offered for what is called the “working adult” – with promises made that the degrees obtained will help them advance within their chosen career.

As a general rule, the non-traditional student can be a mix of someone who is older, part of a minority group, speaks English as a second language, attends school part-time, is employed, and has prior life experience. I have had non-traditional students in my online classes with a range in ages from their 30s to 60s, with many who were also working full time. What this means for these students is that their school work is not their only responsibility and that can create periodic time management challenges for them. In addition, by having life experience these students cannot be treated like blank slates, which is someone waiting to receive knowledge being dispensed.

The Role of an Educator

Within traditional colleges and universities, the role of the educator has remained largely unchanged. This means they are at the front of the class and the center of attention during each scheduled session. It is a teacher-centered approach to instruction that is utilized in primary education. This educator typically provides a lecture and students are expected to study for quizzes and exams. In contrast, an educator who is teaching online courses is finding that their role is evolving. The very nature of a virtual learning environment puts the primary responsibility for learning on the students.

I have coached many traditional educators who have tried to make the transition to online teaching and found it to be difficult to adapt to as traditional teaching methods do not translate well. I can empathize with them as educators devote time and effort into developing their career and becoming a teaching expert – and then having to learn new methods may produce a lot of natural resistance. Online teaching requires changing the focus from teacher-led to student-centered instruction. Does this have a direct impact on student success? The answer is absolutely yes, as an educator must be comfortable in their role and understand the needs of the students they are charged with teaching.

Advisor vs. Success Initiatives

The traditional responsibility for working with students has been part of the role of the academic advisor. The advisor is someone who may assist students with a wide range of tasks that includes registration, enrollment, course selection, and the list continues. Often this was a reactive role and that means an advisor could address a wide range of questions but only when initiated by the students. Within the for-profit online college industry, I have seen the advisor’s role evolve and include responsibility for conducting follow up for those students who were at risk for failing and/or dropping their courses.

There have been other initiatives taken by online schools to help students persist and one that I was part of was a success coach program. I was responsible for conducting a periodic check-in with students, and these were students outside of the classes I was assigned to teach. Unfortunately, the project was short-lived and to this day I am not sure of the reason why it was disbanded. I have also watched an increase in the number of resources that are made available to students as a means of helping them succeed, and one of the most common resources provided is through the use of a writing center.

There is a newer non-profit online school that has been hiring mentors, who are meant to take the place of faculty. Students do not have regular classes and instead, they study to take an assessment – usually with a very low or minimal required passing score. It is similar to correspondence courses that preceded the online for-profit industry. There isn’t clear evidence yet to support that someone calling students every week, without having course specific knowledge, subject matter expertise, or higher education experience, has an impact on student persistence rates.

How to Support Student Success as an Educator

What I can state with certainty, based upon my experience and my work with hundreds of educators, is that students need an instructor – and just as important, they need ongoing support. I realize this statement goes against the foundational concept of a massive open online course or MOOC; however, I know that an educator serves as the front line for helping to implement retention strategies put into place by the school and being able to work with students to help them persist or succeed. This is where the secret to student success can be found and it is within the relationship that is established with students. An instructor is in a position to develop a relationship with students because they are working with them through learning activities, feedback, and discussions – and all of these tasks prompt learning. In other words, learning is relational. Below are strategies that any educator can use to help support student success, regardless of the class or subject matter being taught.

#1. Provide Ongoing Support: Are you keeping track of the progress of your students? Every student has developmental needs, even those who are doing exceptionally well in your class. When you are familiar with their needs you will know what resources to recommend – whether those are sources provided by the school or supplemental resources. Even recommending additional materials to review, along with subject matter related videos, can help to enhance the learning experience and encourage engagement in the course. Why? The more interested a student is in the course, and the more they are able to develop their areas of weakness, the more they are going to be able to persist.

#2. Provide Engaging Feedback: I have heard many instructors state that students do not read the feedback provided and if they do, those students never seem to implement the suggestions provided. What I have discovered is that students develop a perception about feedback based upon their experiences. As an instructor, I have tried to provide engaging feedback by taking time to insert comments directly into student papers and ask questions, offer insight, share my expertise, and relate the topics to the real world. Again, if students find that you have taken time to do more than provide a grade, they are going to take time to at least consider what you have written. The more engaging your feedback becomes, the more likely they are going to maintain an interest in performing their best.

#3. Develop a High Level of Responsiveness: For some students, the thought of asking a question or making a request for help can be intimidating – especially at the beginning of a class when there isn’t a relationship established with their instructor. When students approach you, and seek your assistance, your ability to demonstrate responsiveness is going to make a difference for them. If you can demonstrate a genuine concern for their request, and make it a point to help them in a meaningful manner, they will develop a perception that you care and become more willing to work with you in the future. They will also be more receptive to your coaching and feedback.

#4. Always Be Aware of Your Disposition and Tone: As an educator, you must be mindful of how you feel and the emotions you are experiencing as you work with students, as this will have a direct impact on your disposition. It will extend further into the tone of your communication and for an online class, you are represented by the words you use and you must consider how those words will be interpreted. While you need to remain professional, it will be helpful to add some warmth to your messages to help develop a connection with your students. For example, consider the difference between the following two options for responding to a student’s email: #1) “Student: This is my response to your email,” or, #2) “Hello Student: It is good to hear from you. Here is a suggestion to help answer your question.” Do you see how the second option communicates professionalism, warmth, and a genuine concern for helping?

#5. Provide Follow-Up and Follow-Through: This probably one of the most important elements for student success and that involves going beyond answering questions or providing feedback. It means you are paying attention to your students, all of your students, and you make it a point to maintain coaching and mentoring attempts at all times. If a student asks a question via email, and it involves something complex or may not be easily resolved, a simple follow-up email or call can support their success. When a student is struggling, has performed poorly, or is not active in a class discussion – don’t wait to see if they improve. Contact that student right away and offer assistance. In addition, consider the value of a phone call and how a personal touch could influence their well-being. As another example, if you tell students you don’t have an answer to a question, be sure you find an answer and then follow up with them.

With all of these strategies, you are working to bring out the best in your students and nurture their ability to succeed. This leads to another question: If learning is relational, can someone other than an educator work with students to help them succeed? From my experience, the answer is yes. If there are individuals who are tasked with helping students succeed, and are trained to do more than ask “how are you doing” types of questions – they can also develop a productive working relationship. It then becomes a matter of training those individuals to understand the many factors that make up student success and persistence, including self-motivation, grit, determination, and resilience – along with academic habits such as time management and study habits.

The role of someone who serves as a success coach needs to support both the students and instructors. For example, an instructor can utilize an early alert system and notify the success coach when a student is at risk. The coach can also support the students by devoting time and attention to all of them, checking in with them- even when it may seem that they are doing well in their classes. While adding a role like this to online degree programs requires a financial investment, the ultimate goal is to improve student success or their persistence rate. This in turn can have a positive impact on student retention overall. Student success is not a one-time event or something that occurs because a school changes its courses or curriculum. The secret to student success is the relationships that are established, nurtured, and maintained at all times with students.

Source by Dr. Bruce A. Johnson

Fast Constipation Relief – Free Home Remedy You Can Use Immediately

This is the simplest way I have ever found to relieve constipation. It’s fast. It’s effective. You can do it at home AND it won’t cost you a single penny!

I discovered this technique years ago when I was wandering around the local library looking for something on a totally unrelated topic. I’ll get back to this story in a second.

Let’s face it, constipation happens to nearly everybody at one time or another. If you analyze it, a natural process in your body came to a grinding halt for some reason. So you have to ask yourself the question, “what went wrong?”

Well, your body’s natural way of moving material through your digestive system is called peristalsis (paris-stall’-sis). In fact, the definition is ” rhythmic contraction of smooth muscles to propel contents through the digestive tract.”

So “what went wrong” was that the natural rhythmic contraction stopped and the obvious solution is to stimulate peristalsis in your digestive tract. Common sense, right?

Now here’s the great part. You don’t need pills, laxatives, or drugs (let alone castor oil, YUCK!) and you don’t have to wait hours for peristalsis to resume.

Back to the library story – I was looking for information about massage. I found a book, opened it up and skimmed through it. There was a warning about using massage. It said to be careful, massage may have a laxative effect.

Whoa! Massage? Laxative? What the…?

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense, though. A gentle massaging action over and around the stomach and abdominal area stimulates peristalsis.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Use both hands, flat against your abdomen.

2. Use light pressure.

3. Gently move your hands up and down and from left to right in kind of a rolling, massaging motion over the abdominal area.

4. Let nature take its course.

The keyword is g-e-n-t-l-e. If it hurts, stop immediately, you’re doing it way too hard.

Bottom line: The next time you’re constipated, a gentle massage of your abdominal area will encourage your body’s natural peristalsis response bringing constipation relief very quickly. It can literally work in minutes. Constipation gone. Problem solved.

Source by Phil Nelson

How to Choose Between Montessori, Progressive, Traditional, Waldorf, Or Reggio Emilia Preschools

Types of Preschools from Which to Choose

When I sent my daughter to nursery school, I wanted the most nurturing environment I could find. I chose a wonderful, progressive program in downtown Manhattan. A few years later, when we were interviewing uptown for a selective girl’s school, the admissions director told me that when my daughter would be interviewed there, they would test her. She would be expected to draw circles, squares, triangles and rectangles. My eyes opened wide in shock and I said, “But my daughter doesn’t know how to draw those!” She looked at my daughter’s file and said (rather snootily), “Oh yes, your daughter went to one of those downtown play schools.”

I was offended that she viewed the school I loved so much that way. But what could I do? Meanwhile, I ran into a neighbor who had sent her daughter to a fancy uptown traditional nursery school. She was applying her daughter to the same girl’s school. So I said to her, “Guess what! The kids are going to have to draw circles, squares, triangles and rectangles to get in.” My neighbor said, “Oh, Erica can do that. They spent a whole month on a shape unit at her school.” In fact, Erica had produced an entire shape book for every major shape (including diamonds!) during that unit.

So, when you choose a nursery school for your child, whichever type of school you choose, remember that at the end, there is a test if you want private school or a gifted program. Even if you send your child to a regular ol’ public kindergarten, she will still be tested in the very early days for placement in slow, average and advanced ability groups. Some schools prepare kids for these tests and others don’t. Frankly, I probably would have chosen the same progressive school I chose no matter what because we loved it. But I wish I had understood from the beginning that there would be an important test at the end and if the nursery school didn’t prepare my child, I would have to.

Here are the five most common types or philosophies of preschools you’ll see – Montessori, Progressive, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a preschool in a church, temple, co-op, private or public program – they are all likely to have adopted one of these approaches to education.


Personally, I love Montessori schools and encourage you to tour one and see for yourself. Not only do kids learn a lot, but they are taught not to start a new project until they put the materials they were working on away. My daughter was always very messy and I have to wonder if she wouldn’t have been had I sent her to a Montessori school when she was very young.

Marie Montessori started her schools in the early 20th Century as a way to train severely retarded children. The materials she created were so effective that they were later used with normally intelligent children.

The goal of Montessori is to establish independence, self-esteem, and confidence in a child while fostering learning at his own pace.

In a Montessori classroom, the main interaction is between the child and the materials, not the teacher and the children. At first, the teacher demonstrates to the children the proper use of each set of materials. Then, the child can take the materials out, place them on a mat, and use them as the teacher taught her. When she is finished, she puts it away before starting another project. The emphasis is on self-directed learning.

Once the teacher has demonstrated the use of the materials, children work on them individually or in small groups. With this level of individualized instruction, children with learning delays or who are gifted often do well in a Montessori classroom.

The materials used in a Montessori classroom are built around three areas. 1) Practical life skills (folding shirts, tying shoelaces); 2) Sensory (handling geometric shapes, putting blocks into the right holes) and; 3) Language and mathematics (handling sandpaper letters and numbers, counting beads on a long chain). As you can imagine, children learn a great deal with this curriculum – numbers, letters, adding, subtracting, practical life skills, information and more.

The Montessori classroom is usually very bright, warm and inviting. There are usually several learning centers where children can explore via hands-on, tactile materials.

Children are of mixed ages, typically three to six-years-old, with the older children helping the younger ones. Kids are encouraged to work at their own pace and build their own foundation of knowledge. When they emerge from Montessori, they are cooperative, organized, respectful of other children’s work, and able to work independently.

Progressive (a.k.a. Developmental, Child-Centered, Bank Street Model)

This is the type of program I chose for my kids and we loved it. Here, the philosophy is that children need to explore and learn through imaginary play, art, and block building. The progressive classroom is usually set up as a series of “centers” where learning can take place using open-ended materials. There might be a fantasy play area, a cluster of easels with paint, a block corner, a water table, puzzle area and more. Teachers set these environments up in response to what they see the children are interested in. They move among the areas and encourage the kids to pursue their own projects and ideas at these centers. Play is considered the “work” of children and is taken seriously.

Here, there is no pre-planned curriculum that kids follow. Since teachers are following the children’s lead, what kids learn from year to year and between the morning and afternoon sessions may be different. Children work at their own pace, learning through play. The interaction is between the children as opposed to between the children and the materials (as with Montessori). At no prescribed points are children expected to learn any particular skill. In fact, specific learning through teaching is frowned upon. This explains why my daughter didn’t have a “unit” on shapes – This just wasn’t done in a progressive school.

Social interaction between children is very important in a progressive classroom. There is much talk about “community.” Separation between child and parent is seen as a major developmental step and a lot of time and energy is spent on this. The atmosphere is informal. Kids often call teachers by their first names and you would never find uniforms in such programs. The school is usually more relaxed about when a child should be toilet trained.

Children who attend progressive schools are usually more independent, curious, creative and likely to ask questions. They often score higher on tests of problem solving and curiosity, but lower on IQ tests. If your child will need to be tested for private school or a gifted program after attending a progressive school, you will want to be sure he has gained all the abilities IQ tests will assess.

In the traditional classroom, there is a structured curriculum with specific goals for the children. Goals are built around teaching children math, letters, numbers, sounds, shapes, problem solving, classifying, listening and more. The talk around the water table is most likely to be teacher directed instead of child led. Here, teachers instruct, direct, explain, and organize each lesson. Children learn from their teachers instead of their own exploration.

In this type of classroom, all the kids are likely to be working on the same activity at the same time. For example, at Thanksgiving, they may all work on putting pre-cut construction paper together to make turkeys. The emphasis will be more on the finished product than the process. If you go into a classroom and see a bulletin board displaying 20 matching turkeys, you are probably in a traditional school. At this type of school, kids might be working with worksheets to learn math and writing. There is an emphasis on school readiness.

Certainly there might be a free-choice period, but there is more emphasis on formal instruction. Children call teachers Mrs. X or Miss Y. You might find uniform or a dress code at this kind of school. At a traditional program, they will be strict about making sure your child is toilet trained before the age of three. Studies have shown that kids who attend traditional schools are less aggressive toward peers, more task oriented and do better on IQ and achievement tests. On the downside, they show less independence and initiative, their play is not as imaginative, and they score lower on tests of creativity.

Waldorf Schools

Developed by Rudolph Steiner in 1919, Waldorf programs aim to educate the whole child – “head, heart and hands.” Classrooms are warm and homey, creative play is the order of the day, with a strong dose of teamwork and community. The teacher stays with the same class from preschool through eighth grade, which leads to a strong relationship where the teacher truly knows your child.

Learning is hands on, through cooking, art projects, storytelling, singing, puppet shows, dress up and play. Academics are not emphasized in the early years, with reading readiness beginning in kindergarten and actual instruction starting in first grade. “Main lessons” are taught in blocks of 1.5 to 3 hours a day with each subject block lasting 3 to 5 weeks. This way, children experience the curriculum as deeply and vividly as possible. Activities that are seen as extras at many schools are core to Waldorf philosophy – art, gardening, and foreign language. In the early years,, much learning takes place through art versus lecturing and rote learning. All children knit and play the recorder.

In the early years, Waldorf schools don’t use textbooks. Instead, children have their own “main lesson books” which the fill out during the year, recording their experiences. Later, textbooks are introduced for certain classes such as math and grammar. Grades do not begin until middle school. Instead, teachers write detailed reports about each child’s development and progress.

The use of electronic media by young children, especially TV, is discouraged in Waldorf Schools.

Reggio Emilia Schools

Loris Malaguzzi founded the Reggio Emilia approach at a city in Italy called Reggio Emilia. Newsweek Magazine hailed them the best preschools in the world in 1991. Their approach sees children as being competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative and inventive.

In a Reggio Emilia school, educators play close attention to the look and feel of the classroom, which is often referred to as the “third teacher.” The goal is to create a room that is beautiful, joyful, inviting and stimulating. Children’s work is on display along with collections of leaves or rocks they have gathered from field trips. There is natural light, plants, mirrors, photographs and children’s work to capture the attention. Different centers are located throughout the classroom. They are devoted to dramatic play, art, writing, sand/water, reading, math, manipulatives, blocks and science. Much thought goes in to the design of a Reggio Emilia classroom in order to support their multi-sensory approach to learning.

After the teacher organizes the classroom in a way that is rich with possibilities, she invites the children to undertake exploration and problem solving. By observing the children, she learns what they are interested in and uses that information to act as a resource for them, asking them questions, discovering their ideas, helping them crate hypotheses and theories to test. There is no pre-set curriculum. Teachers and parents are seen as partners in learning with the children. Teachers document the children’s discussions, remarks and activities through notes, videos and photographs. This makes learning visible, helping parents understand what their children are doing, teachers understand the children better, and children see that their work is valued.

Long-term projects emerge out of spontaneous play and exploration with children. They may last from days to several months. Depending on children’s interests, topics for projects are decided (with the children’s input). Teachers bring in materials, books, questions, and opportunities for the children to explore the topic further. Exploration may take place through field trips, discussion, drawing, sculpture, puppetry, drama, shadow and dramatic play, and writing.

Combination Schools

Some schools use a mixture of the approaches mentioned above. You might find a program using the “best” of Montessori, while also spending lots of time on separation and socialization, which a pure Montessori school wouldn’t do. Some very structured and traditional schools will throw in a few elements of progressive into their program and say they are a combination school. This wouldn’t be a true combined approach unless the teachers are allowing the academic work to evolve out of the kids’ interests.

How do you know which educational philosophy a school follows? Look at their materials. Ask when you visit. But most of all, observe when you visit. Many schools are very clear about who they are and which philosophy they follow. Other directors will tell you they are are a mixture of progressive and traditional, but when you observe, you will clearly see they are one or the other.

Children attending a traditional or Montessori school are more likely to “graduate” with the types of skills private schools will be looking for. Traditional schools teach the skills and Montessori materials lend themselves to children learning these skills independently. This isn’t to say that children attending a progressive, Waldorf or Reggio Emilia school won’t acquire these skills through the program – many do. But if your child doesn’t, you won’t be getting a call from the Director raising a red flag that your child can’t draw circles, squares or triangles. These directors believe that children will learn these skills when they are interested and developmentally better.

One approach isn’t necessarily better than another. My recommendation is that you visit each type of school and determine which feels like the best fit. You may decide that your child is best suited for either a traditional or Montessori education. There are other factors you’ll want to consider in deciding on a preschool, but by exploring the various philosophies first, you’ll be able to rule out types of schools that don’t feel right for your child.

Source by Karen N. Quinn

IT Job Titles – What Do They Mean?

Although only a few decades old, the information technology or IT field is as broad and deep as industries that have been around for centuries. IT job categories, titles and specialties abound – so many that anyone investigating IT as a career is likely to be very, very confused. What’s the difference between a Network Engineer and a Network Support Analyst? Between a Web Developer, a Web Designer and a Web Technology Specialist? Just what does a Database Administrator do?

Although labels and responsibilities tend to vary from employer to employer, here are some common IT job titles and their descriptions. Consider these when looking for an IT career that best suits your interests, talents and temperament:

Database Administrator – A database is any collection of information that a company or organization keeps on file (e.g. customer names, addresses, inventory, etc.) The Database Administrator (DBA) is in charge of organizing, maintaining and updating this database and creating systems so that people authorized to view, add or remove information are able to do so as quickly and as easily as possible.

Internet Solutions Developer – This is a “catch-all” description for a person responsible for devising and executing Internet-based projects. The job usually involves working with programs that allow the public to view and interact with a company, organization or agency’s Website.

IT Project Program Manager – This is a managerial position requiring some years of experience in the IT field. The IT Project Program Manager is responsible for finding solutions to IT-related problems and then implementing those solutions, often with the help of a team.

Network Administrator – A “network” is any collection of computers that are linked either to each other or to a central server so that information can be created, shared and updated. The Network Administrator is generally responsible for making sure than an existing network runs smoothly and for adding or removing hardware (computers, printers, etc.) and software (programs, applications) from the system.

Network and Security Specialist – The Network and Internet Security Specialist is the person responsible for making sure people who use a computer network only get access to that information they are allowed to see, that information in the network database’s is protected and properly preserved, and that the network cannot be accessed (or “hacked”) by unauthorized individuals, wherever they may be.

Network Engineer – The network engineer is usually responsible for 1) Designing new computer networks, 2) Actually creating these networks, 3) Installing the computers and software that connect to the networks and, 4) Ensuring the network is able to grow and function as needed.

Network Support Analyst – A Network Support Analyst is much like a Network Administrator in that he/she is responsible for keeping an existing network operating as needed, but has fewer managerial responsibilities. The Network Support Analyst may also be responsible for monitoring how people actually use the network, identifying problem areas and then recommending and implementing solutions.

Software Developer/Engineer – “Software” is the set of instructions that make a computer do what you want it to do. The Software Developer/Engineer is the person who writes the instructions, also known as “code,” for these computer programs/applications. Software Developer/Engineers may work “in-house” developing customized programs for a specific employer or client, or may work on programs that are then sold commercially.

Technical Support Specialist – Computers and networks invariably have problems, and it’s the Technical Support Specialist’s job to identify these problems and find a way to correct them. Technical Support Specialists often work at “help desks” where they communicate with company employees or customers by phone, IM or email.

Web Developer – Web Developers create, maintain and update the functional aspects of Websites, be they on the Internet or on a company’s internal Intranet. When designing a new site, they’re usually responsible for creating its architecture, navigation and interactive functions. They may also be responsible for creating programs or applications designed specifically for the Web.

Web Designer – While the Web Developer is concerned with the technical aspects of a Website or Web-based application, the Web Designer is responsible for how such a site or application actually looks. This is an artistic position that requires training and experience in graphic design and layout – and perhaps even animation — as well as the technical aspects of Web operations.

Web Technology Specialist – This position combines the responsibilities of the Web Developer and Web Designer. The Web Technology Specialist needs to not only the technical aspects of Websites and applications, but also needs to frequently handle the design and graphic aspects as well.

If you are considering career training in Information Technology, you need to understand these (and other) job descriptions so you can pursue the education and training that will qualify you for the kind of IT job that fits your talent and personality.

Source by Allen B. Ury

What is Ruthless Compassion?

Ruthless Compassion is a philosophy which brings together two seemingly-contradictory concepts. It combines the loving-kindness of compassion with the fierceness of the warrior, and this is exactly why it works.

Many of us today misunderstand compassion as an attitude of “niceness,” where we feel obliged to take care of others at our own expense, tolerate disrespect and even collude with the other person’s bad behavior. We believe that we can’t be “mean” or “rude” to others, even if this means abandoning our own needs and feelings. We forgive the unforgivable and believe that all of this is being a good person.

In reality, true compassion has nothing to do with being nice and everything to do with doing the right thing for ourselves and others. It’s about being loving but empowered, as opposed to tolerant and forgiving, and this is where the ruthlessness comes in.

The philosophy I propose makes it possible for us to care for ourselves while also caring about others. It’s about not enabling someone to get away with their hurtful or disrespectful behavior but rather, allowing them to experience the consequences of their choices and in this way, have an opportunity to learn. This is far kinder than allowing them to continuously repeat their mistakes.

Rather than us believing that it’s “mean” to be assertive, this philosophy encourages us to do so, because the best way to learn about the people in our lives is to observe their reactions to our expressing our needs and feelings.

Ruthless Compassion supports us in developing self-love and self-confidence and in not protecting others from the natural consequences of their choices. For example, if we clean up our alcoholic spouse and tuck them into bed every time they binge, they’ll never learn that their drinking has consequences, or be motivated to change.

Our misunderstanding of compassion benefits no-one, while Ruthless Compassion is ultimately far more loving, even when the other person is unhappy with the consequences they’re facing. In reality, it’s misguided niceness that promotes cruelty, while a philosophy of loving empowerment decreases it.

We mistakenly believe that forgiveness is essential in life but I think that this is not always possible or necessary. What is necessary is the ability to let go. When someone has harmed or betrayed us their actions may not be forgivable, but we can release our anger and pain after we’ve acknowledged the validity of our experience. Forcing ourselves to forgive when we can’t (and shouldn’t) only causes us further pain.

If the other person apologizes, makes amends and promises to do better we could choose to forgive, but it’s not essential. It might be that our not forgiving them is just what they need to motivate them to truly change. As long as we’re not carrying bitterness, resentment or vengefulness in our hearts, we don’t need to forgive them for their sake or for our own.

Ruthless Compassion is about taking a position of strength in our lives. It’s saying “No more!” to exploitation, disrespect and cruelty. To practice it means to feel safer in the world, and with this sense of security it’s much easier to be happy and peaceful, knowing that we’ll handle whatever comes along.

(C) Marcia Sirota MD 2010

Source by Marcia Sirota

Mass Communication And The Modern Society

It should be understood that communication is the bedrock of modern society and in fact, a most critical component of modernity and civilization. It refers to the process of transferring or transmitting a message to a large unidentified scattered group of people at the same time through a medium, which includes newspapers, television, and the Internet. With the advent of nationwide radio networks, newspapers, and magazines which were circulated among the masses, the term mass communication was coined in the 1920s to accommodate their use in communication, with its main objective of distributing information to a wide range of people. Mass Communication can also be an avenue of escape from the daily humdrum of our lives.

In academics, the term mass communications is mainly used to describe the study of the ways people and groups relay messages to a large audience. Because of the worldwide interest in the academic study of mass communications a number of leading educational institutions now offer majors in the subject. Today mass communications graduates can find jobs in the news media, advertising or public relations agencies, publishing houses and research institutes. In Nigeria today, people who major in mass communications see communication as an integral part of human interaction which manifests itself in symbols and verbal forms. Understanding mass communication helps us to understand ourselves, keep in touch with people, understand them and make us able to predict their responses to situations.

Through the process of communication, relationships are established, extended and maintained. Communication provides a means by which those in business, politics and other professions exchange information, develop plans, proposals and manage people and materials. Mass Communication however involves all transfer of message to a large unidentified, scattered people through the use of mass media at the same time. For the simple fact that information is power, it becomes difficult to ignore the role of information in our societies today. When information is allowed to flow freely, the society becomes vibrant and dynamic, thereby allowing civilization to take place.

Civilization is achieved when there is a high degree of information activities in terms of education, politics, technology, culture, etc in a society. Since the ultimate desire of every society is to be great, this lofty ambition of greatness can only be achieved when the people recognize the power of information. Concepts such as information and library science emerged as we know them today due to an effort of various societies to organize or manage the growing level of information. These concepts help to control information and keep it in an organized manner for easy retrieval and reviews.

However, Mass Communication has actually helped in the areas of career choices and knowledge of one’s environment. Since communication helps us to understand ourselves, keep in touch with other people, understand them and be able to predict their responses to situations, it becomes clear to us that society ignore its power to their own peril.

Source by Vitus Ejiogu