Monday, April 30, 2012

Home Education - Criticisms, Conformity and the Real World

Home education families and advocates are often criticized for isolating children and sheltering them from the 'real world'. Rare examples of children who have difficulty acclimating to a school environment after having formerly been home educated are used as fodder by critics in an attempt to prove that home education is faulty. Two main points are always raised, that the children are not given exposure to the 'real world' and that they are not properly socialized. I'd like to address these misunderstandings.
It is important that we first understand that the purpose of the modern government school system is indoctrination. This indoctrination process is performed using three main principles: Conformity, Training and Socialization. Once we understand this, we can begin to understand the weakness in the most popular Home Education criticisms.
Indeed there are some isolated cases where a formerly home educated kid is plunked into a government school setting and struggles to conform. Immediately we see this as "failure" because we are now holding the child to that public school standard. Let us step outside the thinking box for a moment though, where we can view the forest from outside the tree line and realize that this is not a failure to "perform" it is actually a failure to "conform". The child is not conforming to a very specific and narrow pre-selected and predetermined set of criteria, chosen by those elusive bureaucrats that run that government system. These bureaucrats are at the mercy of the corporate sponsors who provide financial support. So in essence it is the corporate giants that get to dictate what the average child should "learn" (and I use the word loosely here). When child does not smoothly fall into place with that agenda we call it "failure".
As exemplified in popular home education criticisms, the mainstream seems to be caught in this mentality of blindly trusting that the government school system is the high king of learning. We hold children to those standards and very rarely consider who or what industry developed those standards. We don't ponder what they are based on or for what purpose they were developed. We as a society fail to ask ourselves these questions and so we go on thinking that if a child does not fit into that very particular mold then he/she is a failure.
It is imperative that we begin to understand that a child who does not conform well when plunked into a public school setting, is not failing. They are simply used to living according to natural human nature and adhering to God's intent for spiritual freedom. This is why they struggle to assimilate. They are in essence, fighting to maintain their spiritual freedom and they are grasping to hold onto their natural intellectual curiosity; an organic human trait that the system will eventually school this right out of them. If there is any question as to whether the system is producing creative, intelligent adults, all that is necessary is a cursory glance at our modern culture and all that currently plagues humanity. It's quite clear that something is terribly amiss as uniqueness, and creative intelligence seem to have become endangered traits. Most of history's great thinkers - the great philosophers and profound minds that changed humanity, have died off. We've seen only scarce examples since the founding Fathers. (Interestingly, these folks were often home educated).
The system is producing alright, but what it is producing is an obedient army of efficiently conformed adults, who have accepted an artificial reality and are trained to stay on a conveyor belt for fear of some abstract idea of 'failure'.
"No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks!"is a popular chant that school children over several decades have sung at the onset of summer break. "School's out!" is always a celebratory statement. Why? It is because children hate school. They feel oppressed and stifled and frustrated. Even the "good performers" find great relief in summer break and vacation time. This is training for a lifetime of longing for and thus working toward collecting more 'vacation days' in the workforce.
We are systematically trained to accept that life sucks, that everything is a frustrating struggle and that is just the way it is. We accept misery, stress and debt as symptoms of existing. We are given years of preparation to acclimate to this idea so that we smoothly accept a life wherein we work a job that we dislike and just accept that this is the way it is. The reward is the vacation time during which we are released for a short burst of time and we rush to pack all the fun into a week before we have to return to the auto-driven conveyor belt that represents the only life we know and understand since pre-K.
The children (and adults) that escape this conformity are 'outcasts' and weirdos and hippies and rebels. Alas, life doesn't suck for us because we don't accept misery as reality and vacation time is irrelevant to our fun. However the majority of society rejects our notions because joy has been packed into an elusive and infrequent experience to be glimpsed only on special occasions.
The problem is that most of our modern culture has accepted pain as reality. It's not; we've just been in the system so long and thus have been so infused with it, that we believe that it is. However, perspective is really the key. All it takes is a single step outside the thinking box to see the true reality - which is that happiness is abundant and struggle does not have to be part of daily life. Once the true colors start to undulate it becomes pretty simple to recognize the beauty and joy in a real life.
The government school system provides an artificial reality wherein children of the same age are boxed together and force-fed a canned and packaged information bundle. If they are not able to regurgitate that information on command they are told that they've "failed". If they are not able to sit still and swallow that information they are diagnosed with a "disorder" and medicated to make them more docile and easy to feed. It's a prefabricated training program.
The only thing this experience really trains a child for, is proper assimilation into a world where they must get their certificate of validation (degree) in order to work for someone else so that they can build credit to acquire substantial debt by consuming and taking loans to pay for their consumption. It trains young humans to be able to sit at a desk or in a cubical (box) for long hours (or some other monotonous task), without complaint. It gets children used to doing things that they dislike in order to gain a reward (passing grade, degree, paycheck, vacation time etc.).
Those who do not conform to this procedure are called "failures" and those who do are rewarded with higher limits on their credit cards so that can effectively perpetuate the system. We are taught to desire money and financial stability and are discouraged from desiring joy and divine connection. We are taught that those desires are for hippies and nut-jobs, and it's better to want a big house and nice car. In short, happiness is elusive, stuff is better. While I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with enjoying stuff, in my experience I've found that life is far more pleasurable when we unplug from that paradigm and perceive it more like this: Stuff is alright, Happiness is better.
As for socialization... my concern for the world is that we are filling up the population with clones that have been assimilated into a system that compartmentalizes them by age and/or gender and segregate them into boxes for several hours per day under the authority of a handful of adult strangers whom we blindly trust to deliver some sort of benefit to them.
My question is this -- how exactly does this 12-15 year experience reflect the "real world"? With the exception of the Holocaust and other war-time social experiments, in what normal situation in nature are humans forced into a room to be downloaded and indoctrinated? How does this pass as an effective social experience? It passes because we've blindly accepted it and that is because WE have been "socialized". Thankfully many of us have since unplugged from this, and we're the ones who have been labeled as oddballs.
The idea that the ability to interact with people is a learned skill that can only be acquired through practice is so sad to me-- and sadder yet is that there are still so many who believe it!
On the contrary, our ability to interact with other people is natural. We are born with it. It is a divine gift. It gets squashed and schooled out of us and then we struggle to find a fake process by which to recreate it. Interacting with others is not a skill that we are somehow naturally lacking and need to learn. It is a natural human trait that should be nurtured. But we don't nurture it. Instead we murder it and then attempt to recreate it by artificial stimulation as we drop our young children into a room full of similar people, leave them there feeling frightened and nervous and instruct them to "go make a friend".
Anxiety, fear and artificial relationships are fostered from the beginning. Conformity is encouraged and rewarded. Our individuality is suffocated. Our natural curiosity is strangled and our ability to love one another is killed. Then there is a great attempt to replace it with a preservative filled fake reality.
The Reality and Real World
Regarding those common criticisms mentioned above, I'm sure there are some children whose parents for whatever reason could not continue to educate them at home and so they enter them into government school. In my eyes it is the parents who have given up and failed to find a way to make it happen. Perhaps they themselves have had their sense of self-worth schooled out of them. I won't pretend to know what reasons parents give themselves. Whatever the reason may be however, the facts (according to statistical data) of the matter are that these cases are very rare and very far and few in between. There are far more children that are schooled all the way who arefailing within the system, than kids who enter from home education situations and then cannot cope.
We cannot use these rare cases as a litmus test because it's inadequate and weak. If we compare the social graces and academic performance (to scale) of the home educated population against the schooled population, then statistically the home educated population blows the schooled away by a huge margin. Statistically speaking, it's a landslide. Spotlighting one child who struggles to conform to his/her grade level when plopped into a classroom, is truly a very poor and feeble attempt to defend an obviously broken system. I often wonder if it is also an attempt made by those who have chosen the school system, to validate their own choice and soothe their insecurities about that choice. Something to consider indeed!
The minute we wake up each morning that Real World is right there! And it is filled with opportunities to interact with millions of people and experience unlimited wonders. The 'real world' is not inside a classroom. It's everywhere, waiting to teach us all we need to know about living in it.
In conclusion, the child that fails in school is not failing to perform, they are failing to conform. Perhaps we should take the hint.
An Unplugged Home Educator of her own children for nearly a decade, Laurette is passionate about helping people discover parenting in such a way that it resonates in their life, their children's lives and their world! Her objective is to help parents discover the benefits and joys of family life with Unplugged Education - an experience that goes beyond the logistics of academics and breaks free of the box of simply 'schooling' at home. It is a way of looking at parenting from outside the box and making deliberate informed choices for our family; a bold and audacious journey into the art of active Parenting that shakes the foundation of 'normal' as we learn to unplug from the doldrums of status quo and begin to dramatically improve the entire family dynamic!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Looking Into College Majors and Beyond: The Top Ten Most Popular College Majors in the US

Choosing the right college major is essential in obtaining the adequate knowledge and skills to achieve success in future career paths and employment opportunities. In pursuing most college degrees, deciding on a major may be done during a student's sophomore year to ensure graduating on time, provided that all courses are taken at the designated schedule. It is important for any college student to identify which courses to take and maintain focus on his or her long-term goal and ambition.
Several college majors have earned a certain amount of popularity among students, usually depending on how lucrative the careers ensuing from these majors may be. A report from the National Center for Education of the US Department of Education indicates that the majors that are most in demand are in the categories of business, social sciences, education, and health sciences.
The following is a list of majors that are sought after by a majority of college students and short descriptions of what students may expect in the included courses:
Programs relating to Biology and Biological Sciences include a variation of courses relevant to the fields of genetics, botany, zoology, biochemistry, molecular biology; along with other similar disciplines. A degree in Biology may be pursued by students intending to take up further studies in medicine, advanced medical research, molecular biology, and the like.
Business Administration and Management includes the general study of what a business encompasses, its organizational structure, guidance on its operation and effective supervision of its resources. Courses may also include the discussion of entrepreneurship, economics, applicable laws and ethics in business, corporate communications as well as the utilization of appropriate communication and information systems.
Majors in Communications deal with theories and contexts of both verbal and non-verbal, interpersonal, mass, and organizational communication. Courses in effective public speaking and public relations also contribute to this study. Communication research, both qualitative and quantitative, as well as the employment of applicable research methods are offered by some institutions.
Pursuing a degree in Computer Science may involve delving into the basic principles of computing, programming, software development, networking, system design, architecture, and various computing applications. Graphics generation, web design and programming, algorithm creation, and robotics may also be offered under this major.
Criminal Justice covers the identification and operation of institutions with reference to the justice system which includes corrections, courts, and law enforcement units in either local, state or federal jurisdictions. Courses in criminal law, criminal investigation, security, and forensic science are among those offered by various colleges for this field.
A major in Elementary Education entails the study of theories and methods similar to those of the broader discipline of Education. The courses, however, are tailored distinctly for elementary students and conducting lessons designed for educating at the primary level. Theories on developmental learning and assessment along with techniques in imparting information on various subjects are explored in this program.
Engineering majors are introduced to a wider array of industry-specific courses relating to mechanical, electrical, civil, materials, environmental engineering; among others. Concepts on Linear Algebra, Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, as well as general coursework on technical writing and engineering design are required of all students in this field.
A popular choice in the field of Health Sciences, a major in Nursing will include the fundamentals, laws, and ethics of the nursing profession, familiarization with healthcare systems, identification and care of ailments, and the like. Also taken up under this major are lessons in proper interaction with patients and sensitivity to cultural diversity.
Psychology courses delve in the study of human behavior, its development, surrounding environment, and aspects of mental health. It is toward the understanding and treatment of behavioral and mental disorders that majors in Psychology are geared, undergoing coursework on behavior management, application of theories in providing treatment, as well as conducting research and analyses of psychological issues as may be related to various factors.
Under the field of Social Sciences, a major in Political Science allows a student to study the principles influencing the matters of politics and government; their foundations and the issues surrounding them. Courses on political thinking, human rights, international relations, global politics, and foreign relations are among those that are provided, in addition to the study of the US government and constitution.
It is important to stress that successful careers are not dictated solely by being able to finally identify what course to take and especially not in going with what may be the popular options at the moment. College majors that are in demand may also mean tougher competition and a higher possibility of attaining a mediocre standing should a major be taken up based only on popularity instead of genuine interest and suitability to a student's skills. What will truly measure a successful career is being able to choose the course of study that a college student will be intent on pursuing and will lead to the most suitable and enticing opportunities after graduating.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Education Structure in New Zealand

You may often find yourself in a bewildering situations when it comes to where to study abroad. This is true US and UK have been the most preferred locations for education but now it is changing gradually. A good number of students are also making New Zealand a hub for their higher education. Today New Zealand has also become as one of the most selected destination after US and UK. New Zealand is not only famous for its scenic beauty, outdoor location, various culture and nationalities but it is also an epicenter of quality education. The world class education of New Zealand recently been discovered. Students from many European and Asian countries have made New Zealand an incredible destination for education.
The higher education in New Zealand is a billion dollar industry and there has been paramount growth in the last 5 years. The safe learning environment of the country also lure lot of students to its universities. There are number of courses you can find in New Zealand universities; some of them are listed as hotel management, Journalism, HR (human resource) management etc. If you are an Indian you enjoy one year to search job after graduation. As a student you are permitted to work part time while studying full time; it not only helps you to earn some extra cash and support yourself financially but also you can utilize your spare time in a better way. You may also take help from overseas education consultants who have a good experience of education system of New Zealand.
As an international student to study in New Zealand you are required to get student visa and permit to study there. You may also need another permit which does not allow you to stay in New Zealand.
Students who are interested studying in New Zealand may seek admission in the following prestigious universities- University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, University of of Otago, Lincoln University, Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington.
University of Auckland is the biggest university at present. More than 38000 students are studying here it has one main campus at the heart of Auckland. This university offers varieties of courses like education, arts, science, engineering, bio-engineering, business administration, medical and health science. According to popular rating agency, The University of Auckland has earned the top position among the world's best universities A bachelor degree takes three years and for honors one more year is added.
Besides the regular degrees of medical, engineering New Zealand is also popular for its vocational courses or polytechnic courses. After acquiring a diploma of vocational studies from New Zealand your chances of employment naturally increases. New Zealand government provides polytechnic courses and these courses are also quite popular among international students. These polytechnic institutes offer diploma or certificate which generally takes 1 year. The main courses offered are- tourism, hospitality, nursing, and Information Technology. The main purpose of these polytechnic is to provide training which is not available in public sector. However, these vocational courses have a hefty fees ranging 8 to 9 lakh.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Educational Wii Games

Wii games are known to be extremely entertaining, which is their most basic appeal.  This is also the case when it comes to the category of Educational Wii Games - they are not boring or trite my any means, and it's this aspect of the educational style of games that makes them quite popular with kids and adults alike.
At this point of writing (May 2009), there are just a few educational Wii games on the market to choose from, but the ones that are available have a number of appealing factors about them.  Here are two of the top sellers in terms of popularity and high consumer ratings:
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree - This set of games focuses on a few areas including math, visual recognition and various memory activities.  In all of these activities, players are made to think quickly which is part of the overall challenge.  It's good for kids as well as adults and is a popular game for families to play together as well as providing "mental challenge competitions" for group gatherings.
Smarty Pants for Wii - Rather than having one or a few specific focuses in terms of learning, this is a general information trivia type of a game.  This is my personal favorite of the Wii educational games specifically for kids to play since it bases its questions upon age (entered early on in the game), making it specific to a particular learning level.  This makes it a great choice for kids and adults too.
Both of these educational Wii games are created for players approximately 8 years and older, and are a great choice whether you're looking for fun and mentally challenging games for kids or adults.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Children's Educational Games

There is a common perception that children's educational games are always boring and uninteresting. But this perception is not true at all. On the contrary, there are many children's educational games which not only appeal to kids but many adults also love to play them. Children's educational games come in different levels of difficulty and you can choose them according to the age of your child.
Depending on your child's likes and dislikes, you can choose from a plethora of educational games available in the market. These days, educational games also come in the version of a popular cartoon character or children's movie. For example, you can find an educational game with "Shrek" theme etc. Such games are especially popular among kids.
Children's educational games are also a great addition to any classroom or day care centre. Instead of giving useless toys or letting them play on their own, teachers can engage the class with some interesting educational games. There are many benefits of playing such games in the class. Apart from teaching something good to the children, such games also increase the sense of belonging among children. They start to feel like they are a team and this reduces the problem of loneliness which is very common among children these days.
Children's education games involve almost every subject taught in school. Therefore, one look in the market and you will realize that you can teach your kid any subject from vocabulary to math, from science to geography with the help of educational games. You can also increase your child's concentration by providing him with such games.
There are many computer educational games also available in the market. These games are especially popular among preteens and teenagers as these provide a very exciting experience for kids. Many computer educational games provide information in an arcade style setting where kids have to solve problems in order to reach the next level. Such games are the best way to help your child improve his performance in a particular subject.
Internet has also become a great provider of children's educational games. The best thing about playing such games on internet is that it allows you to play as many different games as you want. There is no limit to these available online. Most of such sites are free to use and you can encourage your kid to play games on them. But before letting your kid play an educational game on the internet, you must make sure that whether the game actually any help for the kid or not.