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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)

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.

Hello Daytona State College Visitors!

If you typed in my web address from a print I gave you at Daytona State College, make yourself known by leaving a comment here.

I’ve been giving out a lot of prints I had made in 2007 when it was very cheap. These are the ones I backprinted in the same year, with my old and very long web address, richardxthripp.richardxthripp.com, which now forwards here. At the time other family members had other subdomains and the home page was a portal, but now I have thripp.com and I’m the only one left blogging.

If you come here again, type rxthripp.com instead which I use in all new print advertisements.

Have a look around at my photos and personal development articles. Feel free to comment on anything you see with the link at the end of each post; I read and respond to everything.

The photos I’ve given out so far are Leafy Droplets on Monday, Symmetry today (Wednesday), and on Friday I’ll be giving Ketchup and Ketchup 2 out as a set. This is on the Daytona State College main campus between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M.

If you need me to take photos for you, I am offering my services at a reduced rate of $20 per hour (min. $20) with free editing and a CD. The economy is bad now so we all have to pick up the slack. I have a DSLR with two good lenses (portrait and zoom).

Enjoy and keep studying!

Grade Creep

Especially in the last decade colleges have become biased toward giving higher grades for poorer results. For a trigonometry test several semesters back, I ended up with 30 bonus points for acing the advance quizzes. While I got a modest 84 on the test, this turned into a mighty 114 with the extras. Mind you, my grade was not capped at 100, but the 14 overage would apply to other sub-par test scores. The net effect was an easy A in the class. The standard for a good grade is steadily creeping downward.

The standard maximum GPA was a 4.0, but now with honors classes, which are supposedly harder than their traditional counterparts, GPAs can soar to 4.5 and beyond. These classes do not compare to the college-level English and arithmetic taught to the students of Lincoln’s day. No–it was in those days that the condescending moniker, “higher education,” truly lived up to its name. It was not uncommon for half of a pre-graduate class to miserably fail.

Nevertheless, test scores are plummeting–it seems the more bonuses and concessions we pile on, the WORSE students do. All of the sudden mediocrity is excellence and is awarded A’s. A new standard for success emerges, one far more base than that of yesterday’s scholars.

Some teachers find students skipping vital tests or even finals. This is due to a new practice where the lowest score for any test in the class is dropped, as if the failure never took place. Often, if the test score on the final exam is higher than the lowest score on the junior tests, the final counts for both, erasing the lowest test grade. All of the sudden, a final that counted for 20% of the class grade gets a boost to 30%. This allows for amazing comebacks gradewise, at the expense of seriously downgrading the standards for academic achievement. Sometimes, even the final will be dropped if the previous tests warrant it, resulting in students skipping the most important test of they merited high marks on all the others.

I’ve even seen professors whore out bonus points for making donations to charity, attending far-flung theatre events or presentations that may or may not require admission fees, or, get this–putting your name on a test. Assuming the coursework is not significantly harder than the classes of other instructors (it never is), this is the equivalent of taking a gigantic dump on the grade scale. Is it a C or is it a D? Who cares, give it an A! Everyone else is doing it. Grades mean nothing anyway. This way, the school makes more money as fewer people drop out! It’s all about profit! Everyone knows college is a fraud designed to waste your time and drain your bank account anyway. Why continue hiding it?

Is that not what it is all about, anyway? Draining bank accounts. My calculus class requires a book that retails for $200 and second-hands for $150. Tuition fees are increasing exponentially as the Florida BrightFutures scholarship program and countless others face the chopping block. Degree requirements become ever more stringent–today’s Master’s degree is tomorrow’s Bachelor’s degree.

Especially with the U.S. economy and dollar crashing due to the sprawling American Empire (Roman Empire pt. 2), the artifical system of certificate == huge pay increase is going to fall. When it does, you will have to provide real value to make money. Save for a few advanced fields, your degree means nothing because it doesn’t amount to one-tenth the equivalent time in real experience. There are so many jobs that can just as easily be mastered with apprenticeships rather than multiple-choice testing. Teachers, librarians, doctors (general practitioners), photographers, musicians, artists, philosophers, sociologists, surveyers, social workers, even engineers; the list of what does not require a four-year degree goes on and on. This is why technical colleges are taking off: they cut through the B.S.

Can’t we just admit it? Higher education is a fraud. The standards become progressively lower as students become progressively more disgraceful to match. The college experience is no more than a disgusting excuse to leech off one’s parents for far longer than one should. Your degree? A steaming pile of crap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even make good toilet paper.

I will be returning to Daytona State College 2009 fall for Calculus II. I will be using the $200 book that is also good for Calculus I and III. I bought the teacher’s edition (free to teachers, illegal to resell) online for $46.

The next time someone tells you how smart their college educated daughter is, show them this article and stick your nose up.

Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Returning to College

I went back to school yesterday. I’m blogging about my school life over at DaytonaState.org now, so take a look at that. The reason to split it up from here is because that site is more targeted, and ranks higher in Google and makes me more money. :grin: But I’ll be writing more here and posting a few photos this weekend. The learning is keeping me busy.

LIS and more

I’ve been impressed by the progress the LISWiki (library and information science) has been making, so I’ve opened an account and started contributing to articles; stuff like digitization, renew, checkout, and open stacks.

I’m also blogging about library service now; I wrote my first article yesterday, 10 Tips for Reference Dialogues (digg). If you’ve read my about page, you know librarianship is my choice career, so it’s inevitable I start writing about it. This will be mixed in with my photography here, though there will be more photos of books to accompany my entries.

Other news: the spring ’08 semester is over. I got an A in everything but photography, where I got a B+. Do you see the irony there? I did the assignments and missed no classes, and had nice stuff including Wine Bottles, The Rebel, and The Gaze for my presentation, but my teacher is afraid of A’s.

My cousin’s blogging again. I set up my photography archive using Gallery2, but it’s just for family and friends since my family is afraid of the public. I changed all the Google ads here to orange; I like it because they stand out yet complement the olive green links and banner. 2008-05-16 Update: Switched back; orange was getting no clicks. Check out the “printable view” links on each post now, such as the one for 10 Tips for Reference Dialogues. I messed with the WP-Print code so that the footnote markers come after links instead of before, the printed from URI is just the article, and the links are black instead of the default blue or purple (that’s CSS though). What I don’t like about the defaults, is that links are blue, but if you’ve clicked them (a:visited), they’re purple, and this shows up if you print in color. When you print, they should be all the same. I picked black over blue, so in multi-page articles headlined with a color photo, I can print page one on my color laser and the rest on the monochrome, and there is consistency. When I print stuff out, I use Internet Explorer instead of Firefox, because it formats margins and text nicer.

Also, the print pages don’t say “Brilliant Photography” now, cuz it makes no sense for LIS articles. It’s just richardxthripp.thripp.com now, which is short and sweet.

That’s it for now; thanks for reading.

End of Semester

I’m almost done with the spring 2008 semester! I finished QUANTA yesterday, have my trigonometry final tomorrow (I need a 60 to pass with an A), and my photography presentation Thursday. It’s at Daytona Beach College, Building 530, Room 120, from 5 to 7 P.M. (2008-05-08). I’ll be showing my gelatin silver prints, and some digital work (this stuff).

I’ll be glad to be getting back to digital photography over the summer, though I have pre-calculus to learn for six weeks. I have my most controversial photo ever to post; stay tuned for it tomorrow. :surprised:

Leaving deviantART Forever

Yesterday I was contemplating what’s been holding me back in my photography and online publishing of my photography, and I’ve decided it’s maintaining my deviantart.com gallery. Since I started my own website at richardxthripp.thripp.com in December, I’ve continued to post photos to deviantART, because of my many followers there. Unfortunately, this kind of multi-casting derails too much of my time. I post each photo as prints for sale at deviantART, such as Bubble in the Sea, and that takes fifteen minutes because of their tedious interface for cropping and presentation (no one buys them). The other inconvenience is making keyword lists and linking between photos on each site (which I do manually). While I could continue to post photos to deviantART without these frills, the root of the issue is having to go to two places when I should be putting all my efforts here, my home on the Internet forever.

So, I’m breaking it off. I’m never going back to deviantART again. This is a huge step forward. I won’t be hassling myself to publicate my photos, and I’ll be focusing my efforts in one direction instead of splitting them in two. I’ve been at deviantART for two and a half years, and have had 116,000 views for my artwork. But if I’m every going to become solvent here, that won’t cut it. My last photo at deviantART was Night Meets Day. The end.

I’m finishing up my classes for Spring; last day is May 9. If you read my back to school entry from the start of the semester, you know all the crazy courses I’m taking (sixteen credit hours). Unfortunately, most of the assignments are bunched up now, with tests, essays, and projects due every class day. That’s my excuse for my limited appearances here. I wanted to take the summer off, but in order to enter Florida State University’s computer science studies (my intention, as mentioned in the about me page), I have to go through pre-calculus, calculus one, and calculus two. Since I’m learning trigonometry now, and those must be done in order, I can’t do the classes by spring of ’09 (my deadline for my AA degree) without taking pre-calculus this summer. Six weeks in May and June. I’m paying out of pocket (BrightFutures doesn’t like summer-schoolers), but at least the book is the same as trigonometry (college textbooks cost hundreds of dollars per semester). And I’ve chosen my fall ’08 courses: calculus / physics / speech / biology. It’s nice to have a plan.

I’ve mostly abandoned digital photography in the last two months, as my film photography teacher demands undivided efforts. I’ll post a couple some time (scanning them in and removing the dust specks is time-consuming; even if they look fine by eye, the scanner seems to add dust). I’m elated to be abandoning film forever in a couple weeks. There will be nice, shiny digital photos only. I’m glad I’m not subjecting myself to Daytona Beach College’s photography program; I couldn’t put up with such a structured approach.

my photos on my bookshelves

I’ve cleared the junk in my room and dedicated my bookshelves to my photography. My Dad (God bless him) added the shelves on the left recently, where I house my best prints. There are stacks of them, because I have many and give them out all the time, to promote photography as an art form (too often, photographs are cooped up in big frames with $200 price tags to look respectable). I used to be unable to keep track of them, but now I can just wake up and pick up one of each to give out on a walk whatever. Life is clear.

On my about page, I talk about why I’m going into library science. I’ve been employed at the Holly Hill library since 2006-11 (part of Volusia County’s libraries). In January of this year, Lisa (the librarian of three years) was transferred out, and the assistant librarian (Sharon) retired last week. Those were the only full-timers, so it’s interesting to see people come and go. Sad too when they’re friends, like here. The new lady doesn’t like photography (it’s a shame, because photography should be beloved by all :wink: ). I did have a table set up in February, like the bookshelves above. I gave away nice photos such as Leafy Droplets and Simplicity. The ones in my shop are nicer because I mat them on white cardstock and put my signature on the back.

I still get comments from our patrons now about how they enjoyed my work and have it on their fridge or in an album. That’s why I love being a photographer.

The Return + Film is Pointless

I’m coming back. I mentioned way back on the 7th that I had a sore throat, but was recovering. That turned into a cold; I’d recovered by the 11th, but on Wednesday, March 12, I woke up with an awful sore throat, headache, and fever. Two days later, I noticed the white patch at the back of my throat, so Dad took me to the doctor (it’s expensive without health insurance), who proscribed one gram of amoxicillin (a sister of penicillin), twice per day. He assumed it to be strep throat, skipping the test. My Grandma notes how large the dose is; it’s interesting to read that doctors now proscribe super-doses to everyone because the bacteria has mutated, developing antibiotic resistance from decades of being slaughtered. Obviously, this can’t be a long-term solution, as just like with the Borg, the enemy’s adaptability requires an ever-changing attack strategy.

I’ve been on antibiotics since Friday; I wasn’t well enough to go to school today (Monday), though. The white patch is down to specks, and it hurts less to swallow, so I’m targeting Wednesday to return (no classes on Tuesday, though I’ll miss work). No school missed last week, because it was spring break. But plenty of lost money and grades. Instead of studying, I spent five days suffering on a couch, watching the shameful wart that is network television, sipping from a bottle of dry ginger ale when the pain of dehydration would surpass the pain of swallowing.

I’m thinking I’ll get a B in photography class (there’s no formal feedback, though). I need Monday to develop film and print, but missed today, and my teacher said I was below the standard last week because I developed one roll of film instead of two. Apparently it doesn’t matter that the roll is 36 exposures instead of 20 or 24, or that I put time and/or creativity into each image instead of shooting three dozen images of a tree. I’m so glad I’m not going into photography as a career. Not in the neo-traditional, professionalized sense. Or perhaps, I should trudge through the program, commanding worship and respect for graduating from a community college. Then, I can open a studio, get a little plaque saying I’m a Certified Professional Photographer to hang on the wall, and then print up plain-white business cards saying that I’m a qualified professional photographer and imaging specialist. There will be no images on the cards, of course. That would be unprofessional. There will only be promises of terribly professional conduct.

What I do hate most, is being told that film unlocks my creativity. It’s a lie. It LIMITS my creativity. If you use it, you’re being held back, too. It’s terribly expensive, dust-prone, time-consuming, et cetera. Non-zooming (prime) lenses limit your creativity too. Not doctoring your photos in Photoshop limits your creativity. But we’re fed the same rubbish argument from higher math: “it teaches you how to think.” Would we put up with four years of classes of brain-teasers? If any subject does anything, “teaching you how to think” needs to be secondary, lest the whole thing be a diversion. When Jefferson proscribed reading, writing, and arithmetic, he didn’t mean algebraic theory and calculus.

So how do they say film teaches us to think? First, we’re forced to learn the basics of metering, aperture, shutter speed, etc. Then, we put more time and thought into our compositions, because of the terrible expense of film. This logic is putting the cart before the horse. It’s like trying to first learn the alphabet backwards so you’ll be more prepared to learn it forwards. What we need to do, is to take a ton of photos on a digital camera (even a cheap one), without reading dozens of technical pages from textbooks. If we’re making our photos horribly blurry, or overexposed, or off center, or there’s a trash can in the background, we see it right away and correct it, and from practical experience comes expertise. What could be better for teaching us to think? The professionalized model for “learning” photography is like learning how to drive a car from a year-long technical course. It’s hard to believe that standardized education can make fascinating subjects so boring.

One note on the site: I out-sourced to FeedBurner for my email newsletter, instead of running software on my server. I’m on shared hosting, so this will be more reliable, and free up computing resources for visitors. Sign up today; it’s the same stuff that’s in the RSS feed, which is the same stuff that’s on my website.

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