Posts Tagged ‘education’


Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Josh Sager posted this on his blog first, but I must also share. I think most people would be able to identify with at least one aspect of this video, and probably more if you’ve been in school in the last ten years.

Alas, I’ve never had the pleasure of the classic, college lecture where you and 200 of your classmates fill an auditorium to learn for grades; but I know without a doubt that it wouldn’t have been conducive to my education. It certainly wouldn’t have done anything for me socially. I was never a class star, but having some level of human interaction with teachers fought my natural instincts to wallflower. I have seen speakers in the lecture setting, but that was for undocumented personal benefit, without any sort of papers or class submissions for grading. Seeing what I do of Josh’s workload as a teacher, I can’t imagine having to grade for that many — his time is consumed so much as it is trying to grade for classes of 20 to 35.

He’s been preaching about education’s outdated model for a while now, and his position lends itself to some flexibility in how the information he needs to share is broadcast. He’s always stretching the model a little. I imagine a 4+ year institution would be much, much harder to stray from the system that’s been making it money for decades and possibly longer.

I feel that all levels of education — K-12, technical or traditional college, etc — should above all instill the desire and ability to continue learning after you leave the institution, despite the major or whether you actually acquire the piece of paper that said you were there the amount of time you intended to be. I suppose some of the kids in the above video must have that drive out of necessity, but does surfing the web and facebook for hours a day allow for that urge to foster?

I’m not looking for answers, exactly. It’s merely food for thought. In my humble opinion, it is an individual’s responsibility to continue their own education after leaving whatever formal schooling they are able to secure for ourselves; especially when some fields — like graphic design — that degree means significantly less than your talent, potential and portfolio. There’s independent legwork needed in growing/maintaining knowledge, whether personally or professionally.

On a related note: After being involved with two Podcamp Pittsburghs (+ one bootcamp), I have finally begun to embrace one of the featured medias discussed there. Again. Podcasts pretty much rock my world, and once upon a time, I had subscribed to several. But they began to steal room on my hard drive, I wasn’t listening to them as much as I should have and, lamest of all excuses: my iPod didn’t have a screen. I never knew what I was listening to.

Between you and me, I still don’t know the names of half the songs in my library.

I was planning on taking a brush up course in French in the next six months. Instead, armed with a shiny new screen and some inspiration, I checked to see if there were any “Learn French” podcasts out there. iTunes lists nine beautiful options, and all are free downloads. There’s german, spanish, japanese, and more. I’m test driving two of them right now, and I may just start at the beginning to get my brain back into the swing of things. There’s a broad range of levels, too, depending on where you’d like to start.

J’adore l’internet.

Education = Power

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Wikipedia is the downfall of my productivity at work.

I will read about most everything with some level of interest, although history oftentimes wins out. Why? It’s the stories, made even more powerful because of the reality behind them. My genre of choice might be fantasy for entertainment, but I can’t ignore the human factor of our past — the actions, inactions, passions, and what people are willing to risk their life over.

I did some link hopping from a chocolate company to underground teaching and opened up a facet of WWII knowledge that I’d never thought about or been aware of; concerning a subject I most certainly take for granted everyday.

In 1939, the invasion and subsequent occupation of Poland marked the start of World War II. The Nazi doctrine determined that the Slavs would serve as manual labor to the Germans, and they did not require an education. All education in the country was banned. The punishment for breaking Nazi law was, as in so many cases, death.

Symbol for Polish freedom from

Those who escaped the deportation to concentration camps or the Nazi’s murder of the nation’s leaders, politicians, artists, and potential trouble-makers organized a network of underground universities. They arranged lectures in basements and crowded apartments. Underground printers were established to provide them with materials and books. In 1944, there were hundreds of teachers and thousands of students. High school students risked their lives to learn grammar, geography and mathematics, receiving certificates from their “non-existent” schools that they could use to enter “non-existent” colleges.

The moral of the story? Knowledge is power. The Nazis understood that, seeing as how they tried to take it away from the Poles; and the Poles recognized what losing education would mean and held onto it even at the risk of execution. Whether it’s formal or not, don’t take your access to information for granted — you never know when you won’t have it anymore.