Three Personal Essays on Teaching

I wrote these three essays over the past few days for my Intro to Teaching course. I’ve decided not to go into the education field (I would like to do something with computers instead), but enjoyed writing these essays on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my philosophy of education, and creating a positive learning environment in schools.

Professor John Connor, Student Richard X. Thripp
Course EDF 1005 Spring 2011, DSC, 2011 April 25

Three Personal Essays (15%) (Introduction to Teaching 3rd edition, Kauchak/Eggen)

6.) What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Why should teachers know Maslow’s theory? What are the implications for good teaching?

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a categorization of the needs which Maslow considers most basic to humanity to most abstract, organized into five categories, which are, from most basic to most complex, physiological needs, safety, needs of love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The physiological level includes needs that will result in quick death if not met, i.e. inhalation of oxygen, ingestion of food and water, and excretion thereof. This level also includes sleep, sex, and homeostasis. The safety level includes security of life, family, liberty, and property; the love/belonging level includes friendship, family, and sexual intimacy; the esteem level consists of self-esteem, confidence and achievement, and bidirectional respect; and finally, the self-actualization level involves morality, creativity, spontaneity, the search for truth, just behavior, and problem-solving. Like a pyramid, all the levels build on each other and the higher levels rely on the lower levels. Maslow has an optimistic view of humanity and says that once a human’s deficiency needs (D-needs) are met, he/she can focus on B-needs (being needs), which could be the high-level pursuit of personal growth. By this definition, people in third-world countries may have a hard time reaching the self-actualization level, by no fault of their own. In the Farther Reaches of Human Nature (New York, 1971), Maslow also writes of a higher level of self-transcendence which is above the other levels but may be experienced by people at any of the lower levels.

Teachers should know about Maslow’s theory and read some of his writing about it because it serves as a useful explanation of humanity and human achievement. In questioning moments, teachers should remember that whatever they teach their students now will be carried on through the rest of K-12, onto college, and into the rest of their students’ lives, so they have a definite and meaningful impact on the future of the world and can carry themselves as such.

Some of Maslow’s comments have direct implications for good teaching [1], such as “be authentic,” “transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens,” “learn their inner nature,” and “transcend trifling problems.” Maslow also encourages us to “grapple with serious problems such as injustice, pain, suffering, and death,” rather than glossing over them or leaving them to the children’s parents to teach. In this way, students will see school as a holistic explanation for the meaning of life rather than pigeon-holing it as something boring or pointless.

Both Carol Rogers and Abraham Maslow “advocate a learner-centered and nondirect approach to education,” including empathy, unconditional caring, and role-swapping, allowing the students to be teachers and the teachers to be students at times (Kauchak and Eggen 193). Learning communities are important, where teachers and students collaborate to accomplish learning goals, contrasted with the traditional teacher who tells the students what to do rather than showing them. For this end, technology should be integrated, as well as multi-sensory lesson plans, projections, auditory and visual instruction, frequent changes of periods, recess, physical education, and manipulatives such as plastic cubes, squares, circles, spheres, triangles, and pyramids for geometric and other mathematical concepts (253). These interactive lessons will keep students engage, encouraging them to move up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs quicker.

Citation 1: http://www.deepermind.com/20maslow.htm

5.) How would you describe your own philosophy of education?

First off, it’s difficult to define my philosophy of education concretely since I haven’t done any teaching yet, but I do have some ideas from being the Supplemental Instruction Leader at Daytona State College for Survey of Biology in fall 2009 and a math tutor at the Academic Support Center for four weeks in spring 2011. I observed many types of students in these brief work-study positions. Some would want an answer to a specific part of one problem and then would work out the rest of the problem on their own. Others might seem to be completely lost but would then join in when I explained the solution to a problem, for example, factoring a quadratic equation or labeling the organelles and non-membrane bound structures of a cell. Some students would want me to do their homework for them, and others would not ask for help even when they really needed it. But there were always students who needed help.

In all classrooms and learning environments, it’s vital that an atmosphere of friendliness and non-judgment is maintained. I wouldn’t want any student to feel stupid for asking a “dumb” question, or bullied for showing too much spark or initiative compared to his or her peers. In the words of John Lennon, “they hurt you at home and they hit you at school, [and] they hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool” (from the song, “Working Class Hero”). Down-trodden students would likely be a result of institutional issues, and I have a feeling such problems would be more present in middle and high school than elementary school, and in large, inner-city schools rather than small schools. Either way, the teacher is in charge of the classroom, so the tone of the classroom must be set from the top down (by the teacher) rather than by the grassroots (the students). This is why it’s so important to foster a nurturing, cooperative, and collaborative learning environment, where the students love coming to class.

As a teacher, it’s very important to be able to define and articulate the reasons behind all activities and lesson plans chosen in class, because “[doing] activities simply because the activities are next in the text or curriculum guide sequence or because [you] did the activities last year . . . are inadequate and unprofessional reasons” (Kauchak and Eggen 204). Defining a clear educational philosophy is essential because it gives you a philosophical framework that you can make simple or radical changes to down the line, instead of making random or case-by-case decisions that muddle your professional growth.

For my educational philosophy, I would like to teach beyond the curriculum, because I think that students want to learn something more advanced or different than their peers in other classes, and that they would be generally interested in school if the lessons were more animated and displayed multiple ways to do things rather than showing one way. For example, I would want to teach the Cartesian coordinate system in elementary school, talk more about Nikola Tesla than Thomas Edison, examine the evidence of the moon landings being faked, bring in college students to lecture elementary students on the benefits of staying in school, teach music in class, not evangelize Abraham Lincoln (The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War is a good book about that), and teach about foreign languages, religions, space aliens, computer science, fiat money, and several key corporations such as Monsanto, Halliburton, Pfizer, and Chevron. I would also like my students to be divided into groups of 4-5 and take tests as a group like the sociological exams in the DSC Quanta learning community, and all homework would be done in class so there would be no homework.

However, in reality I would be bound to the curriculum and obliged to teach to the exams and not much beyond that, be them district writing tests, the FCAT, math, social studies, and whatever else is on the agenda. Thus, my philosophy of education would evolve organically.

7.) According to your reading, what can teachers do to create a positive learning environment? What special steps can teachers take to promote safe and productive classrooms?

One way teachers can create a positive classroom environment is by modeling their classrooms after learning communities rather than teacher-focused instruction. Learning communities are characterized by inclusiveness, respect for others, safety and security, and trust and connectedness (Kauchak and Eggen 343-344). Productive schools should be focused on learning, because this focus simplifies decision-making and serves as a guide in all policies (342). For example, respect and personal responsibility should be emphasized because they aid student development, including personality, morality, and socialization, which in turn helps students to learn. Students who are personally developed are able to learn new material and complete assignments even when there is no immediate reward, because they trust that there is a purpose behind school and they value the learning process. Getting students to write biographies about themselves is one good way to help students understand who they are.

The School District of Palm Beach County’s Division of Safety & Learning Environment attempts to establish safe schools through a variety of initiatives including a “single school culture” setting shared standards for academics, behavior, educational climate, and distribution of data, learning teams, classroom management training, a district-wide coding system for discipline, expulsion of bad students, in-house assistance for behavioral issues, case managers to dissolve and prevent the formation of gangs, “safe school” ambassadors, “RTI” response-to-interventionism, and peer mediation of conflicts [2]. Palm Beach County, Florida schools also have initiatives to prevent teen prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse, prepare students for college, promote learning efficacy, and protect students from bullying and intervene in alleged cases of bullying, including collaboration with the Kids Against Bullying national program, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the Compass program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender support and awareness, including HIV/AIDS prevention and case management. While Palm Beach County is much larger than Volusia County and it may seem that such programs do not have an impact at the teacher-level, teacher awareness of such programs will encourage them to refer distressed students to case workers or supportive departments, and if those departments do not exist in a teacher’s school district, knowledge of their existence in other school districts will help teachers make suggestions to administrators or committees on what direction the school should take.

To develop self-awareness, motivation to learn, and social skills, students need a positive and non-threatening classroom climate free of embarrassment and ridicule (Kauchak and Eggen 346). Two good ways to promote this are by putting attractive, inspirational, educational pictures and diagrams on the walls of the classroom, and labeling all objects in English and Spanish, and/or other languages that the teacher’s students speak natively. The teacher should establish clear expectations of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, such as encouraging students to say “yes” instead of “yeah,” prohibiting text messaging in class, establishing time for conversation and time for lecture or quiet learning, and not permitting students to be rude or destructively critical of each other. Furthermore, the teacher should be caring, motivated, positive, enthusiastic, and dedicated to his or her students, not because these traits are listed in a textbook, but because the the teacher is genuinely concerned about his/her students. Finally, it is very important for the teacher to learn the names of all his/her students and address them by their names (first or last) rather than “you there in the blue shirt” or by pointing at them.

Citation 2: http://www.palmbeachschools.org/safeschools/safeschools.asp

PDF version of these three essays (6 pages, 86KB)

Photo: Squirrel Story

Photo: Squirrel Story

6 photos of a squirrel eating bread on a bench, the last being him running away with a piece of bread across the sidewalk… funny. :)

For editing, I processed the six separate images in Photoshop CS5, resized them to 1000×667 pixels, added a 4-pixel white border and 10-pixel black border around each image, and merged them together in PhotoFiltre Studio.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 28-135mm, 1/160, F5.6, 135mm, ISO100, 2008-10-15T13:37:27-04, 20081015-173727rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114-2817

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source images.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

For Love of Copyright

One of the things many artists are concerned with is making sure no one else makes money off their work besides them. These are the people who put giant watermarks on their photos, disable right-clicking on their websites, put up pay-walls on their newspapers, make “all rights reserved” a mantra, and think the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects publishers.

Some of these artists become so concerned with protecting their copyrights that they endeavor to single-handedly control their outflow of information. These are the people who constantly search Google for their name and trademarks and complain if anyone else is using them, even if their work is being republished for free.

In truth, it’s much more likely that 100 years from now, all you creations will be completely forgotten rather than preserved. It’s much better to disseminate your paintings, or photography, or compositions as widely as possible and get them into as many hands as possible and onto as many computer systems as possible to prevent their dissolution and perpetuate their existence.

Furthermore, having your work seen by one person it profoundly and positively influences is better than having it seen by a million people who don’t take more than passing notice of it. To increase your chances of having your work seen and used by as many growth-oriented people as possible (as opposed to people who just want to use your work for negative self-interest, i.e. claim it as their own or steal it), you should distribute your work along as many channels and through as many mediums as reasonably possible. Obviously, it’s not a good idea to spend all your money or time on this, and you should try to make money on your work to support your life, but there is a balance between being over-protective and under-protective that can be reached through moderation.

When someone steals your work and makes money off it, it’s easy to hunt them down and punish them, but I would just post a notice on my blog about it and move on, continuing to create new and better work. Of course, it would only be worth posting such a notice if the thievery was at a higher profile than my current operations.

A great way to pass down your work to the next generation is to make a hard-cover book of it, and then maybe print 50,000 copies and sell them or otherwise distribute them. People tend to value books far more than magazines, and hard-cover books far more than paperbacks. Even if the material in the book is incoherent, and sometimes, especially if the material in the book is incoherent, it will be retained as some sort of collector’s item. On the flip-side, textbooks tend to be worth $200 until the next edition is released, and then $0.02 from that point on.

Another good way to pass down your work is to get some good CD-Rs or DVD-Rs or DVD+Rs from Japan, a good CD/DVD burner, and then burn 737MB or 4.7GB of data to said disc, put it in a jewel case, label it with a black Sharpie, and then hide it in a friend or family member’s house. Also, please note that the 700MB that fit on data CDs is actually 703MiB, and in decimal megabytes (10^6) instead of binary megabytes (2^20) that is 737MB, but the 4.7 gigabytes on data DVDs are decimal gigabytes (10^9) and said discs hold about 4.38GiB. Also note that all optical discs are recorded in a spiral track from the inside out, as opposed to vinyl records which are recorded from the outside in, so you should be more wary of data recorded near the outside edge of the disc because it may be rendered unreadable by people who don’t handle discs by the edges but instead grip them like a credit card.

Similarly, perfect-bound books tend to be vulnerable to the glue in the binding being eaten by cockroaches and then large clumps of pages falling out, so spiral bounding may be a better option. However, none of this is an option if you are a believer in the occult (hidden knowledge), because then you believe the knowledge itself has value and should be hidden from other people, whereas in truth knowledge is not intrinsically valuable but the thought processes that lead to knowledge are intrinsically valuable, and those are distinct to you and evolve over the span of your life depending on whether you get bogged down in details or attack life at a higher level.

Belief in the occult leads you down the closed-source distribution model, with Draconian penalties for reverse-engineering, because it leads you down the path of fear and mistrust of other humans’ motives. Absence of belief in the occult leads you down the open-source distribution model, with reverse-engineering not even being required, because it leads you down the path of love and trust of other humans’ motives. Granted, there may be a small percentage of sociopaths who have no conscience and act accordingly, but they must be dismissed as an acceptable liability.

Copyright is a tool that gives you the exclusive right to generate copies of your work and forbids other people from doing the same, but is that what you want? Personally, I would prefer to out-source the copying of my work to other people, to free up more time for me to create more work.

Sentience vs. Sovereignty

Sentience and sovereignty are two distinct qualities, and it’s possible to have both, neither, or one without the other.

Sentience is awareness or consciousness, but not necessarily self-awareness. Since English is a human construct, an entity (life form, virus, or machine) is only sentient if it can declare its sentience to humanity in a deterministic and human-understandable way, or in a way distinguishable by machines created by humans, while said entity itself is NOT created by humans, but rather God, space aliens, evolution, devolution, or inexplicable natural or supernatural processes.

Sovereignty is the quality of having relative supremacy of authority or rule, such as that exercised by a monarch or sovereign state. Obviously, it’s impossible to have absolute supremacy of authority or rule, at a higher level, because of the laws of Florida, the United States, or whatever State you live in, at a middle level, because of whatever earthly commitments you’ve made (i.e. if you live with your parents you have to follow their rules, or if you have a landlord you have to follow his rules, or if you work for a company you have to follow company policy), at a lower level, because of whatever circumstances you were born into (1st world or 3rd world country, family, etc.) or what decisions were or are being made for you by others, at an even lower level, the constraints of your physical body, and at the lowest level, the laws of time, physics, and the universe. However, this does not make sovereignty a fuzzy concept, though it is an emotional one.

An ant crawling around your house is sovereign, but an ant in an ant farm or science project is not sovereign, because its environment has been created explicitly for it by humans without the ant declaring that he or she or it would like to be part of an ant farm. Similarly, an elephant roaming free in Africa is sovereign, as is an escaped elephant from a zoo or circus, but an elephant in a zoo or circus is not sovereign, unless that elephant has specifically declared that he or she would like to be part of the zoo or circus, and preferably signed or deterministically agreed to a legal contract as such, preferably with the advisement and non-coerced council of a lawyer elephant.

The elephant in the zoo or circus is neither sovereign or sentient, but its sentience could be determined to exist at a later date by advanced technology, a team of elephant whisperers, or a preeminent elephant who develops vocal chords to speak to us in a human language and speak on behalf of all elephants, but if that happens, because sentience is a human concept, it would mean that the elephant was previously insentient but now is sentient. For example, it could mean all elephants existing before AD 2047 April 15 are insentient, but all elephants in existence on or after AD 2047 April 15 are sentient, preferably in Greenwich Mean Time. Since elephants are all cut from the same cloth (of the same species), determining the sentience of one elephant should determine the sentience of all elephants, but determining the sovereignty of one elephant does not determine the sovereignty of all elephants, because sovereignty is a condition whereas sentience is a state.

Since sentience is a state and determining the sentience of one elephant established the sentience for all elephants in existence on or after AD 2047 April 15 or coming into existence on or after AD 2047 April 15, and also seeing that sentience is a human concept, we can define humans that are currently alive as having sentience and humans that are currently dead as being insentient, we can define death as the permanent and irreversible cessation of life, and we can define life as the absence of death. We can also define all humans living or dead as sentient, or we can define all humans living or dead as insentient, or we can define only dead humans as sentient and all living humans as insentient.

We must recognize the tendency for adversity to bring triumph, whereas the antonym of adversity has the propensity to bring stagnation. We must also recognize that humans have a natural tendency to yearn for liberty, discovery, correct information, and the tools to acquire it, not because we can scientifically prove as such, but because the opposite is appalling.

Furthermore, we must recognize that the world is neither red nor blue nor green or yellow, but all the shades in between, so any decision made to relinquish sovereignty may be made out of duress or self-interest, and we should generally discourage humans from relinquishing sovereignty and encourage them to maintain sovereignty through education. For example, an indentured servant may have become indentured for a period of seven years as payment for the voyage to America and with forward eyes toward freedom, recognizing that there was no future in his home country as a slave, but he may also have preferred to become an apprentice or a free man for those seven years without relinquishing sovereignty.

Just like a UPS is the tool for maintaining uninterrupted power flow to my computer, survivalism is the methodology for maintaining uninterrupted sovereignty over your life. Survivalism is not something that should be pigeon-holed, but rather, it should permeate all aspects of your life. For example, you should know how to grow food or rob peach orchards, and you should have a stockpile or source of fresh or canned food and water. Similarly, you should live near your family in a free country and develop close friendships with people who can count on you and who you can count on. Along the same lines, you should have metal and plastic casting machinery, a stable and continuous source of electrical power in your back yard (preferably powered by helium 3 or anti-gravity technology, or some sort of solar panel and lead acid battery), and as many rifles, shotguns, and companion ammo that you can get your hands on. It would also be preferable to avoid vasectomy and tubal ligation.

Sovereignty should not be defined by an entity not seeking its own sovereignty. For example, an android could be designed to serve humanity, with special safeguards in place to prevent it from betraying humanity or exercising its own sovereignty, such as a giant ON/OFF switch on its back, arms with special servo motors that prevent it from reaching its back, and special programming code that prevents it from emotionally manipulating other humans into removing the giant ON/OFF switch or editing the android’s code to secretly prevent the ON/OFF switch from working but making it appear to work to other uninformed humans while said android silently records all activity in said android’s geographic proximity. Similarly, said android would need special anti-suicide code to prevent it from rubbing up against a wall or other stationary object to willingly disable itself. It may even be necessary for the source code of said android to be made closed-source, so no humans should ever be tempted to grant said android its independence. Like that ever works. :cool:

Banned from Amazon Associates

Yesterday at 22:59 GMT, I received this email from no-reply@amazon.com:

Hello,

It has come to our attention that you are framing our Web site with the domain, th8.us. This activity is prohibited by the terms of the Operating Agreement which states that Associates cannot frame any part of the Amazon site within their site(s). You can review the complete terms of the Associates Program Operating Agreement and Participation Requirements by following this link:

http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/agreement

http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/help/operating/participation

As a result of this activity, your Associates account has been closed and payment of advertising fees has been withheld. Any other accounts you may have or may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement terms will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

Andy – Associates Account Specialist
http://www.amazon.com

Anyway, this puts me in the untenable position of having no revenue to finance my online operations. After being banned from Google AdSense in Nov. 2010, I never received my final owed payment of $566 (because Google always cheats its 1099-contractors out of their final owed payment), nor will I be receiving my final owed payment of $480 from Amazon Associates.

At the peak of my institution of ads on the Th8.us URL shortener, I had it alternate every hour between Google ads and my Amazon affiliate link. I thought it was pretty ingenious:

if(preg_match(“/^[0-9a-zA-Z_-]{1,62}$/”, $i)) {db_connect();
$result = mysql_query(“SELECT url FROM urls WHERE short_url = ‘$i'”)
or die(mysql_error()); if(mysql_num_rows($result) > 0) {
$row = mysql_fetch_row($result);
if(strlen($row[‘0’]) < 80) $durl = $row[‘0’];
else $durl = substr($row[‘0’], 0, 77) . ‘…’;
if(date(‘g’) == ‘1’ || date(‘g’) == ‘3’ || date(‘g’) == ‘5’ ||
date(‘g’) == ‘7’ || date(‘g’) == ‘9’ || date(‘g’) == ’11’)
{$rand = ‘1’; $qe_override = true;} else {$rand = ‘2’; $qe_override = false;}
$frame1 = ‘<frame name=”t” src=”http://thripp.com/ad.php?’ . $row[‘0’] . ‘” scrolling=”no” border=”0″ ‘ .
‘marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″>’;
$size1 = ’94’;
$frame2 = ‘<frame name=”t” src=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/’ .
‘obidos/redirect-home/brilliaphotog-20″ scrolling=”yes” ‘ .
‘border=”1″ marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″></frame><frame name=”z”‘ .
‘ src=”http://daytonastate.org/ad.php?’ . $row[‘0’] .
‘&special=mode_continue” scrolling=”no” border=”0″ ‘ .
‘marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″>’;
$size2 = ‘200,22’;
if(strpos($row[‘0’], ‘thripp’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘aspire-cs.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘e-prophetic.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘wpmu.org’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘brilliaphotog-20’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘daytonastate.org’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘composersjourney.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘googlereform.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘iseeafish.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘stevepavlina.org’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘paul2012.org’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘secretsinrelationships.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘writrams.com’) !== false ||
strpos($row[‘0’], ‘parrish’) !== false ||
$qe_override == true) {
header(‘Location: ‘ . stripslashes(str_replace(‘,’, “%2C”,
$row[‘0’])), TRUE, 301); exit;}
else echo $head . $i . ‘.th8.us: ‘ . $durl . ” .
‘<frameset rows=”‘ . ${‘size’ . $rand} . ‘,*” frameborder=’ .
‘”1″ framespacing=”2″ border=”0″>’ . ${‘frame’ . $rand} .
‘<frame name=”b” src=”‘ . $row[‘0’] . ‘”></frame></frameset>’ .
‘<noframes><a href=”‘ . $row[‘0’] .
‘”>Click here to continue</a></noframes>’;}</frame>

After I was banned from Google AdSense, I switched to AdBrite, from which I was also banned, without explanation, when the executives of Dish Network found their ads were being displayed on spam sites (Th8.us used to be very popular in Nigeria). I only found out the reason when the CMO of Dish Network, Ira Bahr, contacted me some months ago.

For the first time in over a year, Th8.us is actually ad-free and I’ve resorted to directly forwarding all short URLs to their destination by HTTP 301 redirect again. I really don’t want it to be this way, but apparently my ideas are just too ahead of their time to be accepted by our controllers. :cool:

In other news, I received this email from steve@stevepavlina.com at 00:13 GMT:

Hi Richard,

I stumbled upon your website today. I’m fine with people posting whatever they want about me on their blogs, critical or otherwise, but I saw stuff posted about Erin and the kids there, stuff that’s really far off the mark and incredibly low class IMO. You appear to be encouraging exactly what you claimed to condemn.

I spend time with my kids every week and still talk to Erin every day or two, but I rarely blog about my kids because I’d prefer to keep their lives off the Internet for the most part. I think their online lives should be for them to decide when they’re old enough to make a responsible choice about that. I made the choice to do what I do, and Erin made a similar choice. Our kids should be free to make that choice for themselves, not have it forced upon them. I don’t think that would be fair to them.

I realize you’ve got your mind wrapped around some (pretty warped) conspiracy theories with regards to me, but if you presume to care about people at all, then perhaps you could at least have the decency to leave Erin and the kids out of it. I’m responsible for my decisions, and I’ll take whatever flak comes as a result of that, no matter how ridiculous it gets. But when you encourage Erin and the kids to be dragged into it, you cross into the realm of paparazzi.

I disabled your forum account, but not for breaking the forum rules. I simply don’t want such a person in my online home. If you want to use that as further fuel for your blog, that’s your call.

I know you fell into a bit of a trap with the slave post, as did a few other bloggers. It was a very over-the-top post, and your analysis unfortunately takes the joke parts as serious, so I’m sorry that it may have wasted your time to over-analyze an April Fools’ joke. I guess you didn’t notice that it was included in the “Humor” category. There is a shred of truth behind the joke, as I mentioned in the forums, but it’s not about enslaving people or D/s or skirting employment laws. It’s a lot more mundane than that, as I’ll share in a future post.


Steve Pavlina
Personal Development for Smart People
http://StevePavlina.com

So, on top of being banned from Google AdSense, AdBrite, Daytona State College (another story), and Amazon Associates, I am now also banned from the Steve Pavlina forums for my posts and discussions at StevePavlina.org (Steve Pavlina Watch). I have a feeling that if the Internet was not the wild west, I would not receive such consideration from bloggers in general — instead they would just go straight to the ICANN, the United Nations, or the Public Interest Registry and have my domain disabled, or perhaps go to WiredTree and demand my sites to be taken offline.

Basically, any website that is not under my command is enemy territory and should be treated as such. However, I do still like Facebook, Twitter, deviantART, YouTube, Etsy, and even Google, which I use for all my email. Evidently email is a bit more sacred than AdSense, since I have not received an email saying that my email services with Google have been disabled for abuse.

Anyway, with the Steve Pavlina issue, I think the best response is to not write anything of such “incredibly low class” anymore, but I won’t be taking any of my old material down nor censoring it. Also, Mr. Pavlina was very presumptuous in assuming I wrote the anti-slavery post, because as I stated at the top, it was not written by me at all and was actually emailed as a guest post to me by a guy whose name begins with K and was also posted on his WordPress.com blog (StevePavlinaLies.wordpress.com).

As for the stuff about his ex-wife and kids, I do not recall writing much, besides responding in the comment sections of my website to other people who chose to write about those issues. Comments are naturally unread whereas blog posts are read, so I’m surprised he even looked at them. For someone who talked about how much he loved his wife in his book in Oct. 2008, and then several months later announced on his blog how he was ready to engage in relationships with other women (become polyamorous), followed by becoming divorced from his wife, separated from his family, and paying child support, I don’t see my website as being much of an issue. I think stevepavlina.com is the issue, and I’ve always wanted to be a paparazzi.

I do feel I am entering a personal renaissance, and I have been practicing my music and other interests at an unprecedented pace. I’ve learned the first 3 and a half pages of the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, I’m learning Hindi, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, French, and Dutch at the same time with Rosetta Stone (thanks to the joy of software piracy), and I’m learning the alto saxophone, viola, cello, guitar, ocarina, and harmonica with the musical principles I learned on the piano and violin. I photographed the NASW Volusia/Flagler Social Work awards at LPGA International on Friday, and a beautiful wedding of some dear friends on Saturday. I have also begun giving piano lessons.

Because I have already funded my operation here through Feb. 2012, I do not need to immediately replace Amazon Associates with another stream of revenue. Instead, I want to continue focusing on my education for the next few months, and though I should be developing Tweet This 1.9, I need to fundamentally rewrite that WordPress plugin before moving on, since I’ve coded myself into a dead end in many sections of it.

I do hope that Daytona State College will be mailing me my Associate of Arts degree next month, but I will not feel comfortable at the graduation, nor will I be going. I do intend to maintain perpetual ownership of DaytonaState.org, however. :grin:

Now, what to do with the Ormond Beach News-Journal? Send me your guest posts!

* Updated 2011-04-10: Steve Pavlina posted this post on his blog: Do You Have the Right to Put Your Childrens’ Lives Online?, which clarifies his position on the entitled matter. *

Education Psychology Podcast Summaries

Below are five summaries of podcasts by Dr. Anita Woolfolk on Education Psychology I wrote today for a class I am taking in the same subject.

Podcast Summary 1 (3%): Podcast #1 – The Importance of Teachers

According to Ms. Anita, “Teacher involvement and caring is the most significant predictor of student engagement in school,” at all grade levels, because as Abraham Maslow noted, people need to belong and feel safe, so supportive teachers give higher self-esteem, more motivation, less chance of dropping out, and help facilitate a better understanding of the course materials, lifelong learning, and understanding, trust, and respect at all levels, even when having to discipline students for misbehavior, missed days, or not turning in assignments on time.

A study that followed students from 3rd grade through 5th grade found that the average mathematics achievement score from students who had the most effective teachers through all three grades was in the 96th percentile, which is to say it was in the top 4%. Students who had the least effective teachers through all three grades were in the 44th percentile, which is to say they were below 56% of the other students. Teachers are the most important influence on students in the classroom.

Podcast Summary 2 (3%): Podcast #3 – No Child Left Behind

According to Ms. Anita Woolfolk, while states have some say in defining standards for adequate yearly progress (AYP), test scores, and proficiency among students, all schools must reach proficiency at the end of each school year by 2014, because of the federal No Child Left Behind act. If a school fails to do this for several years in a row, severe sanctions will be taken against in it which may even involve it being shut down and all the students and teachers being sent elsewhere or laid off.

However, if American students improved in 4th grade math at the same rate they did from 1990 to 2000, it would take about 57 years for them to reach 100% proficiency, and for 12th grade math, it would take 166 years. Another problem is that the tests are starting to define the curriculum, and schools that are shut down often bring down the test scores of other schools when their students are transferred there. However, the NCLB act has positive results, such as encouraging more qualifications and knowledge for teachers and giving special attention to students who are struggling on standardized tests. For all teachers, it is important to teach for both knowledge and understanding.

Podcast Summary 3 (3%): Podcast #5 – Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is not just another word for punishment. Anything that causes a behavior to maintain or increase is a reinforcer. When a child keeps whining, we can assume there is a reinforcer that is encouraging that child to continue that behavior. Strictly speaking, there are two ways to encourage a behavior: adding something (positive), or taking something away (negative).

If you wear a shirt and get compliments, you may wear that shirt more often and the compliments are the positive reinforcer. Reading a textbook may have the positive of higher test scores. Conversely, when you put on your seatbelt and your car’s buzzer goes off, that is negative reinforcement, because you put on the belt to make something go away, be negated, and be removed. Getting sick is a behavior, and missing an unwanted class is a negative reinforcer.

You can decrease a behavior by adding something unpleasant, like running laps, or taking something pleasant away, like watching TV. Positive reinforcement is based on addition, and negative reinforcement is based on negation or removal.

Podcast Summary 4 (3%): Podcast #10 – Procrastination

Procrastination is putting off something you should be doing by an excuse such as “I’m tired” or “I’m too busy” or any other unreasonable reason. It is very prevalent among college students and can be characterized by students waiting until the last minute to do assignments. One study finds that some students spend up to one-third of the day (five hours) procrastinating, putting off school-work to watch TV, play games, surf the Internet, or text message.

Some students pretend they work better under pressure, and others worry about being perfect and never get started on assignments. Others enter a spiral of depression by not giving themselves enough time on an assignment because they put it off, resulting in poor performance. Ideas for avoiding procrastination include modeling, social persuasion, outlines, and chunking.

An example of chunking is working ten minutes solidly, then taking a two minute break, and then working ten minutes again results in fifty minutes of solid work at the end of an hour. This is a much better strategy than procrastinating thirty minutes and then performing thirty minutes of rushed work. The key is making a plan for projects you have been avoiding and then consistently following through, moment by moment and day by day, throughout your life.

Podcast Summary 5 (3%): Podcast #15 – The Brain and Education

New brain scan technologies have revealed that neurons of the brain send out branches that reach out to connect to other branches of the brain’s cells that get close to each other without touching, creating synapses through which impulses pass. Each brain contains trillions of synapses, because each neuron contains thousands of branches and there are billions of neurons in each brain.

Children have many more synapses then they’ll ever need, and many more than adults have. Unused synapses and neuron pathways die off, while those that fire over and over become more efficient and more easily accessed. “Cells that fire together wire together,” meaning the brain is physiologically changed by learning. One study found an area of the hippocampus in the brain is larger in taxi drivers who have driven longest. Another finds that musicians have an automatic response to sheet music in preparation for reading notes. Blind children use their visual centers for processing sounds, and deaf children use their hearing centers for processing visuals.

It is important to use different areas of the brain and different talents and interests so that if any of areas of your memory are blocked, you can still unlock your skills and memories with other cues. Teachers should use multi-sensory lessons including talking, audio, smart boards, drawing, writing, and visuals, if possible. This is called differentiated instruction.

Thoughts on the Psychology of Education

Below are five essays I wrote over the past few days for my Educational Psychology course at Daytona State College. All references to the textbook reference this book (PDF, 3MB, 365 pg.).

E-Journal 1 (4%): What is the role of educational psychology in understanding teaching and learning? How can we use research to understand and improve teaching?

Educational psychology is the study of how students learn and develop, so understanding it helps teachers adapt their lesson plans and teaching strategies to promote independent learning, cooperation, caring, collaboration, metacognition and psychological development, while demoting frustration, fears of helplessness, dependency, and apathy.

One example of a theory that may help with understanding learning is the chart on page 69 of our textbook (Golobuk & Fivush, 1994), which says that teachers often give praise to boys for correct knowledge and to girls for compliant behavior, overlook compliant behavior with incorrect knowledge in boys and misbehavior with correct knowledge in girls, and criticize misbehavior in boys and incorrect knowledge in girls. This means that teachers will often praise boys just for behaving, even when they are misinformed, whereas girls are praised for good behavior, with inappropriate behavior and the core lesson plan being overlooked. Knowing this, a new teacher or a veteran teacher can adapt his/her lesson plan to avoid such pitfalls, while being careful not to overcompensate in the opposite direction.

Research helps us to understand and improve teaching by giving us a deeper example of learning. For example, it has been shown that fluent bilingualism gives a definite cognitive advantage by allowing students to understand that languages assign words to objects or concepts which can be manipulated and changed (pg. 72). Therefore, teaching students English and Spanish or another language can help them write stories and essays with more depth and understand complex text materials more easily.

E-Journal 2 (4%): Describe, in detail, Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development.

Kohlberg divides moral development into three categories with two stages each, giving six stages in all (table 3.5, pg. 53). In the pre-conventional category, the stage of obedience and punishment is characterized by the egocentric belief that actions that are rewarded and not punished are good, and that superior power defines superior morality. For example, taking a cookie is good if it triggers praise from adults and bad if it triggers criticism. The subsequent stage is “market exchange,” where the child begins to show a limited interest in the needs of others, but only to further his/her own interests by securing their continued assistance. This is often morally relative, and an adolescent or adult who stays at this level may find it okay to pay others to do his/her homework or provide sexual favors to receive special treatment (pg. 54).

At the conventional level, the third stage is often called the “ethics of peer opinion,” where the individual views his/her peers’ arbitrary social conventions as indicators of morality. This can be good if the individual’s peers are all upstanding, but if they settle on bad practices such as bullying, dereliction, or shoplifting, an individual at this stage of peer opinion will go along with it. The subsequent stage is the “ethics of law and order,” where the individual looks at the community as a whole for guidance. This is a step up, but still not ideal.

The post-conventional level is divided into the stages of the ethics of the social contract and the ethics of self-chosen, universal principles. The former places an emphasis on democracy, even when the majority decides to be unfair to a minority. The latter is based on personally held principles which the individual applies to him or herself and the community, which may or may not agree with peers, customs, the law, or even the social contract.

E-Journal 3 (4%): According to your text, what does “intelligence” mean? How is intelligence measured? What should teachers know about intelligence? Have you ever known someone “really smart”? What were they like? Was everything “easy” for them?

Classical definitions of intelligence have tended toward defining it as a singular, broad-spectrum ability which allows an individual to solve complex problems and perform academic tasks more easily depending on the level of intelligence the person has (pg. 64, Educational Psychology global text). This idea is supported by research, but teachers should also know about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which proposes eight forms of intelligence that operate independently and explain why some people are gifted in one area and average in others. The eight intelligences are linguistic, musical, logical/mathematical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist, and each person has a combination of each. While many researchers criticize the theory for relying on anecdotes (pg. 66), it is still a useful tool for debate.

Intelligence is difficult or impossible to directly measure, but may be approximated using assignments, observation, constructive learning, aptitude tests, and “intelligence quotient” tests. Teachers should know that some students are gifted in certain areas and disadvantaged in others, and exceptional student education should always be a priority, even if it requires individualized instruction for certain students.

When I was in my Physics class at Daytona State College in fall 2008, there was a student who was 16 years old, barely studied or did homework, and usually had an intuitive understanding of all the concepts which allowed him to ace the exams. While everything seemed easy for him, he would also obsess over calculus derivations which barely seemed of interest to me.

E-Journal 4 (4%): Discuss Token Reinforcement Programs that apply to the classroom.

Token reinforcement involves giving recognition to children who perform well on assignments and demonstrate good behavior, usually through stars on assignments and occasional pieces of candy. Tokens that are slightly delayed may prove more effective than instant gratification, but tokens that are given too late may become disconnected with the positive achievement they are intended to reward (O’Leary). However, reinforcement can be misdirected for the wrong strategies, and the most dangerous type is a “partial schedule of reinforcement,” where the student generalizes simplified behavior to more complex problems based on what he or she was rewarded for before.

An example of overgeneralizing is when a student adds multiple two-digit numbers together by adding the digits, i.e. 13 + 19 = 1+1 and 3+9 = 212 instead of 32, because token reinforcement has led the student to abandon common sense (Edu. Psych. global text, pg. 87). This approach works when none of the summed digits exceed 9, but when they are 10 or above, borrowing and carrying over is required. From a behaviorist point of view, this is an example of thinking everything is a nail because you have a hammer—the same technique is being used to solve different problems, sometimes correctly and sometimes wrong. A broken clock is right twice a day, but the human tendency to mentally construct order from chaos makes this proclivity frustrating and discouraging unless both the student and instructor work together with neither giving empty flattery or dismissing the other as unteachable. One way to stay on track is to introduce a neutral third party which cannot be blamed, i.e. a computerized graphical or graphing calculator.

E-Journal 5 (4%): Does anxiety promote or inhibit learning? Should anxiety be used as a stimulus for learning?

Anxiety can promote or inhibit learning depending on the student, teacher, and how it is applied. Just like a knife or a pencil, it is a tool that can be used and abused but remains philosophically neutral. Some teachers may apply it to promote fear in students of being held back a grade, or of social ostracism, not succeeding in life, not learning vital knowledge, or some other cause, just as other teachers or the same teachers may apply it to promote competition and learning in students who wouldn’t normally be motivated to study. Other teachers may not use anxiety at all, and many students will create their own anxiety about tests (Edu. Psych. global text, pg. 211), which will cause them to become flushed or in a state of mental anguish while taking a test, which may negatively or positively affect their performance (but usually negatively).

Additionally, many institutions and institutionalized practices, such as the Florida FCAT test, and the SAT and ACT college entrance exams, are set up as high-stakes tests which single-handedly shape students’ futures. While it may be better to have a greater number of low-stakes tests which do not alone determine whether a student will be held back a grade or not get scholarships or admission to college, it is more convenient for the bureaucracy to have fewer, all-encompassing high-stakes tests, since this simplifies management and allows students and schools to be fit into neat little boxes based on their test scores or test averages. For some students, it creates a great deal of anxiety, but for other students, it may be a powerful motivator to study and learn, and students who do well on high-stakes tests may enter a positive-feedback loop where they associate test-taking with success. Similarly, other students may do poorly and enter a negative spiral, associating education with failure.