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Sex Education: Its Importance and Need in the Society

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sex Education, as the term clearly indicates, refers to education which is based on human sexual behavior. Parents, schools or caretakers offer it in some parts of the world to educate the children, who are stepping into their adolescence. If formally received, sex education is either taught as a full course at high school or junior high school level or in biology, health, home economics classes. Teaching sex education is rather a controversial issue; debates have been going on for several decades discussing if it should be taught formally in schools or not. Sex education in schools should exist without any doubts and apprehensions as it offers many benefits.

Adolescence is called the "age of storm and stress". The young teenagers, during this phase of life are under deep psychological pressure. Mainly, this psychological pressure is the result of one's growing sexual needs and the biological changes and hormonal effects on the individuals. During this time, most of the children are observed to become easily irritable. They find it difficult in most situations to deal with the family members. They might not want to talk to them about the natural changes taking place in their body and mind. In such circumstances, one highly suitable option is that of the teachers who are able to teach them to control their urges until a proper age. In schools, trained teachers would help the students to know how to deal with their sexual impulses. This role can not be replaced by parents or other entities. A classroom discussion and lesson would make them feel it is natural, and they would also feel that they are being understood by someone. However, taking them individually to psychologists or other trained educators would not help. In such a situation they might consider themselves to be different and misunderstood by family and people around them. Therefore, it becomes crystal clear that the best way to offer sex education is always in school.

It is a psychological phenomenon that children at young age are under an immense peer pressure. Something that they learn in the class with their peer group is what makes a better impression on their minds than otherwise. They are more focused in the lessons that teachers offer and are more eager asking question to clear their ambiguities. They might feel embarrassed and uneasy questioning their parents about it, but it always differs in case of the teacher in the class. This is because everyone in the class is going through the same stage. A class discussion becomes healthy source of learning as it helps in enhancing the knowledge on the subject.

Many people advocate that sex education should only be restricted to families, that is, that parents should personally educate their children. This view is totally illogical and holds complications and questions. The first point is that not all the parents would be willing to do it or would be able to do it. Secondly, this education needs a proper channel through which it should reach its required learners. There could be many possible problems in the families so they might not be able to take the role of a teacher in educating their children regarding sex. The demand of annulment of sex education from the schools is highly conservative.

Most importantly, there are many single parents, how would they take up this challenge of educating their children on their own? Parents can not properly educate their children about sex also because they lack details that qualified sex educators convey in schools. Thus, the stance of abolishing sex education in school is not a favorable thought. In many observed cases where parents or children are embarrassed about talking over sexual matters with each other, it is most likely to be uneasy situation at both the ends. This keeps the children from learning the answers to the questions they might have in their minds. This can be a great flaw of shifting the duty of sexual education from teachers to the parents. It will leave the children only half or less educated about the issue and as they say "Little knowledge is a dangerous thing", this might end up in grave situations.

According to research, most of the parents also feel uneasy because they know that they are not equipped to provide the apt sexual information to their children. They also fail to comprehend what details and information should be concealed and what should be revealed, keeping in mind their children's age. On the other hand, there might also be parents who would feel comfortable talking to their children about sexual matters, but only when the children bring the matter up.

Most parents, around the world, may also lack role models to look up to as they would not have talked over sexual issues with their own parents in their adolescent. This makes them inefficient to trigger their roles of educating their children in an effective way as the assigned teachers are able to do in schools.

Sex education is not limited to only a single branch of knowledge. This education focuses on a number of significant sexual matters that are offered with especially designed courses and programs. Sex education covers the education of relationships, sexual abstinence at a certain level and teaching to practice safe sex to the level of children who are thought to be sexually active. Therefore, its claim for being appropriate and guiding holds strong base.

At a certain age of adolescence, growing children have problems facing relationships and controlling their personal emotions. Conflicts related to such matters persuade many youngsters to commit suicides or take part in other immoral activities. Proper sex education in schools also concentrates in making the youngsters emotionally stronger and in educating ways to cope with relationship problems. This argument strongly shows the immense benefit of sex education in schools.

Sex education is an important health strategy and this cannot be denied. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases can only be controlled if people are aware of precautions and have a vast knowledge in this case. This knowledge is conveyed through sex education, and if sex education is banned in schools and if parents have to educate their children, then it would not be as beneficial to the individuals and the society on the whole as teaching in school could be.

Sex education does not exist in all parts of the world. Asians are commonly regarded conservative when compared to westerners. It is not a part of their course in schools; this does not in any way mean that their teenage pregnancy rate is any lower if they are not exposed to sexual matters openly. In fact, this is one way how peers can mislead most of the youngsters and persuade them to bask in young age sexual relationships without any attempts for safety. This has resulted in serious problems such as the spread of fatal diseases like AIDS and has also increased rate of illegitimate births.

Researches have shown that the cause for ramification of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in the eras of 80s and 90s in the US and the UK is the lack of knowledge and information provided about sex in schools or home. Home and family has never and will never play an integral part in conveying sex education to teenagers, therefore to rely on the option of home, is to deceive your own self from the expected exigency in the future.

Some conservative groups assert that to discuss sexual issues openly is to devalue religion. No religion in the world abstain its followers from spreading the information that is so essential for human lives. Sexual behavior is natural and takes place through biological changes and this cannot be questioned as this is a part of human life. Thus people who take refuge under the religious shelter, to make their arguments strong, are misinterpreting religious ideas and laws.

Modern time is the time of internet and powerful media. Teenagers are exposed to Hollywood, TV and internet. These sources offer demonstration of sex which is highly thoughtless and casual; in this situation it is almost illogical to leave the teenagers on their sexual choices. They are young and fully excited; therefore they can not make a favorable choice. Sex education in school offers the information and knowledge they need to understand to know the responsibility that is accompanied by sexual relationships. The teacher in school helps the students to know the difference between a thoughtless and thoughtful sex. Having an urge for sex is not a problem; it is a natural process showing that the young people are developing to become adults; however the problem is having unsafe sex and hurting people through sexual choices.

People who claim that sex education in schools have more cons than pros, often come up with the statements suggesting that sex education in classroom should be avoided because the most effective tool for offering sex education, according to them is TV, films, magazines and media. Such people fail to understand that trained sex educators under especially designed programs teach sex education to children in schools. They are thus able to handle children's problems and clear their ambiguities in the best possible way, whereas magazines, films, TV and other channels and mediums of providing sex education are be reliable. They are most of the times urging the young people by encouraging their sexual promiscuity rather than effectively teaching and educating them. This wrong approach damages the society and the individuals in disguise of ameliorating them.

People contradicting the notion insist that sex education always makes the learners have sex and experience it personally, once they learn about it in school. The reality is that sexual urge for any human being is a natural occurrence. When children reach to a certain age, whether they find people to educated them about sex or not, they do have natural instincts about it, and therefore if provided a chance they would surely want to satisfy their urge. This natural reaction can not in any way be related to the outcome of sex education in schools. In fact, the best time for letting sex education play its role is when the sexual urge increases and the teenagers want to find a source for its satisfaction. It offers individuals with the required knowledge so that they are careful. It is only then that they understand the consequences of sex leading to child birth as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Thus sex education is basically a warning and a caution for such children who are stepping into the phase of life where they would need to know all this.

Some people who go against the topic also argue that even though sex education exists, it has still not decreased the rate of teenage pregnancies. I would rather not go deep in to the moral issue of the topic, but it is important here to discuss and point out the shortcomings of our society. Social values that insist that being single, pregnant and teenagers is fine, is what has to be changed. Through educating the children and making them aware that it is just not 'cool' to be pregnant when single or teenager, and just because 'others are also doing it' does not in any way justify their actions, this change can be achieved. There are many sexual education programs that teach the learners about the grave consequences that can result in having early sex. This type of sex education in schools is helpful and makes the learners responsible and mature enough to understand the difference between morality and immorality.

People, who are against the notion, repeatedly state the question that why sex education is given so much importance when there are also many other issues connected with juvenile delinquencies such as drugs, drinking and aggressive bullying. No doubt, there are also many other issues to consider important enough to be taught in school for awareness but psychological researches show that behind most of the juvenile behavioral problems, one main reason is always the active sexual urge which drives the young people to indulge themselves in harmful activities like drug abuse and alcoholism. It is also commonly observed that young teenagers who indulge into such activities are unaware of proper sex education. Once they are given a true picture of sex and its consequences their mental status relaxes and they are easily able to cope with other social taboos.

Parents, who believe that sex education pollutes the minds of their children, have in large number taken their children out of schools promoting sex education. In this process of instilling in their minds their religious and family values, they forget that the media, their children are largely exposed to can also lead them astray. Sex education in schools does not in any way offers them an invitation to have open sex by making them aware of the risks; it just educates them about the matter in the best way.

Apart from educating the students about safe sex, sex education in schools is also helpful as it helps students to learn proper terminology for reproductive system, STDs and birth contraceptives rather than the street lingo that is commonly used by laymen. Sex education classes are gender based and that is why the young learners are not embarrassed and are only taught what is related to their gender. Early inclusion of classes also helps the teenagers to either become abstinent for some time or to become responsible if they are already active. Therefore, many sexual problems that occur in adulthood can be controlled if effective and apt sex education is given at the right time.

A proper sex education which is holistic, nonjudgmental and comprehensive never misleads or misguides the teenagers. Such a curriculum should be imposed in all schools around the nation; it is an answer to many social problems and conflicts. Would any parent leave their kindergarten kids to walk alone on the streets without letting them know how to walk safely? No parent would actually do that, in the same way, letting your teenager children socialize with their peers and fellows without any proper sexual education is nothing contrary to the analogy mentioned above. It is hazardous and risky for their lives. Thus, proper sex education in schools should be encouraged so that they learn all the significant facts through trained teachers, who help and supports them in these matters of highly crucial value. Sex education should be taken as a positive aspect which promises healthier and better life for the youngsters. It therefore should be taken as a subject taught in schools to enhance knowledge on the subject matter; something merely as human anatomy or biology class. Sex education should be given in all schools to educate the children for their betterment, avoiding it will only result in emotional, social and health problems.

All Education is Great and Sometimes Life Experience is a Great Education

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Over the years, I have found wonderful sites for both real-life education, correspondence courses and online education. And the best opportunities there are for all people, no matter where or how they live are those that are at the sites for free online education. You can learn all types of subjects, from gardening, language, health, counseling, arts, music, collage art, power lifting, organizing, publishing and so many more topics, by just going online and doing the search for the topics. You will find correspondence courses, real-life courses at high schools, colleges and private schools and you will also find online courses. You can find religious, spiritual and Bible courses online also. Just keep on searching and you will come up with all the information that you need to take your education one step further than it is already.

Have you attended elementary school, only to have to quit due to lack of resources, money or transportation? Have you started high school but had to quit due to health reasons or family problems? Have you gone to some college but had to leave because the college was too expensive? Usually, during your life, you might have had to quit school at one time or another. And usually what happens is that it takes many long years to go back to be re-educated or for anyone to finish the education that they began already. I am living proof of that since I began college so many years ago but had to drop out due to lack of funds. Yes, I had the dream and the promise to myself that I would one day go back to finish college, but that had not happened for many years after the first drop out happened. And yes, some of us drop out of college, unwillingly, more than once, and usually it is due to lack of funds or lack of time, but never due to lack of ambition or yearnings.

Most who attend college see what an advantage college brings to their lives and they stick with it. And most who have even attended continuing education courses at the colleges or high school evening courses do know and realize that education opens up great doors in one's life. So, are you going to let any inconveniences or any lack of funds or time continue to stop you from getting the best education?

I urge you, if you ever dropped out of anywhere, any school, university, high school, elementary school or college, to get back to education in any form that you can get back there to. Right now, today, enroll in an online course. Or enroll in a correspondence course, or weekend course or in a course given at your local high schools. This is something that you should do for yourself to let your mind continue to grow but also to give your spirit wings and to give your personality a confidence boost. Here are some interesting schools that you might want to look into:

  • Check out the high schools and colleges in your area and inquire about continuing education courses, free courses and free courses at any city buildings, such as CAMBA or others.
  • Apply as paraprofessional in the Board of Education in New York city, any borough, and once hired, you receive your college education paid for by the city of New York.
  • Online courses (do a net search for free online education)
  • Check out the women's groups in your community. Many times there are education courses for displaced homemakers and for victims of violence.
  • Look up CAMBA online and inquire about their free courses in your own neighborhood.
  • Look for free Adobe-PhotoShop courses online
  • Check out YouTube and do a search for DIY (Do It Yourself courses). These are video instructions and most of them are excellent and in all topics.
  • If you live in New York, dail 311 and ask for referrals to free education courses.

Rule number one in your life should be never let anyone else stop you from getting that education. That means put education first and you will be rewarded for that. If you are living with someone who thinks that your education is not important, set them straight, and even if you cannot convince them otherwise, YOU TAKE your steps needed to continue your education. Do not let anyone give you negative ideas about your education. Remember this--it is YOUR education, so keep at it, keep on persisting and you will be successful.

There are many schools that I would recommend; here are a couple of them:

  1. National Institute of Photography
  2. National Radio Institute
  3. People over a certain age are eligible for free college courses in most cities. Ask about the MY TURN possibilities at your local city colleges.
  4. For reference material or more leads check out the page of http://www.refdesk.com


Your ears, eyes, imagination and mind are your best sources of education throughout your lifetime. Use them together with all the online sources and you will truly have your BEST FREE ONLINE EDUCATION

Sometimes education comes in the form of life experience or from advice from informed individuals. So, in that spirit, I give these little bits of information as part of a free online education quick-course in where to find adequate physical rehabilitation for yourself. Here in these next few lines is the QUICK COURSE:

  1. If you have no family or if you are on Medicare or Medicaid, never, ever take physical therapy inside a residential place such as a nursing home or physical rehabilitation and care center. INSTEAD, opt for having your therapy at home or living at your own home and apartment while going out a few times a week or day for your physical therapy.
  2. Insist onnotbeing admitted to a nursing home or rehab and care center if you have no relatives who will visit or if you have Medicaid or Medicare. (DO only what is safe for you to do; seek advice in this area).
  3. When at all possible and when recommended by a doctor, use a physical therapy place that uses water in the treatment (Some have pools, whirlpools and other water-related therapies to use to help you make progress.
  4. If you are considering being admitted to the New Vanderbilt Rehabilitation and Care Center but would rather have recommendations for other places instead, feel free to write to me (first leave a note here stating that you are contacting me and that you have sent an email to me) . I am glad that you are remembering that the choice of where you do your physical therapy is still your choice, not the hospital's choice. So if there is a place that you refuse to go to,stick to your ideas and choose other places. You can find a list of places on the net. But like I said, the best option is at your home or apartment. I will not answer any emails unless the writer leaves a public note here at this site for me.
  5. Know that if you are going to stay, even temporarily, in a physical rehabilitation and care center, they control every aspect of your life, including what time you get up, what time you have medicine, whether you take medicine or not, what time you can have visitors, what time you can have phone calls--if any, and what you eat, where you go, and what happens with your life in-between physical therapy sessions. Some places will even put you in diapers when you do not need to wear diapers--just because it is more convenient for the staff to change diapers when they feel like it than for them to gather staff to help you to go to the bathroom. So , know that sometimes in those facilities, control is the key issue and most times, the staff controls everything about your life, even whether you get admitted there or get discharged from there. So think twice before you decide to go into a physical rehabilitation and care center and if you decide to do so, even after reading this, please ask for MANY referrals to good places. Word of mouth is a remarkable advertising tool, so use it.

See that? In less than six paragraphs you have just received an education about physical therapy and rehabilitation and care centers. So, one of the ways that anyone can learn is by word-of-mouth, by consumer recommendation and just be listening and hearing the experiences of others who might have been through the same situation that might be in now.

Article updated November 17, 2008

Buying Educational Toys

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A baby starts learning at home by playing with familiar objects and exploring new ones. Children learn more during their early formative years by playing with educational toys. As children play with toys, they acquire new skills and improve their existing ones. This learning phase is vital for formal learning in the later stages of a child's life. Many educational toys provide an enjoyable medium to learn effectively. It is important to buy educational toys after a careful assessment of what role it will play in educating your child

An educational toy can be anything that provides knowledge and develops skills for learning. Books, games, toys or animated movies are some examples of educational toys. A few toys that children enjoy are organic stuffed animals, dolls, block-games, cars and wooden toys. These toys are carefully designed and crafted to help shape young minds.

There are educational toys available on the market for all age groups. There are certain criteria to understand before buying any educational toy. The age of the child is of foremost importance. A one year old who is given blocks of numbers to play with will only shake or throw them, not understanding the potential for learning numbers. There is an orderly sequence of physiological and physical growth in children and educational toys have to be bought based on this sequence.

When children play, they are active and perform actions with their eyes, hands and bodies. They manipulate objects and often tend to explore the objects with all their senses. When a six-year-old child is given a set of trains, he starts assembling the track and the train, based on his perception of how a train looks. Without this opportunity to act on the toy, and to explore it with his senses, the learning process becomes restrictive.

There are many companies that advertise products through magazines, newspapers or television. The purchase of toys should be based on an assessment of their utility rather than their brand. A wise purchase can also be done after a personal survey of what is on the market, and by seeking advice from other parents or teachers who regularly buy educational toys.

Social Media Basics For Work From Home Moms' Business Marketing

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Unless you have been hiding under a rock lately, you have heard the term "social media" at least once in a while. For work from home moms, word of mouth isn't sufficient for truly big success. Using social media is easy, usually free and primarily requires you to spend some time (preferably daily) in updating and monitoring your content.

Quick and Easy
Perhaps one of the easiest social media sites you can use is Twitter. In a matter of a few seconds, you get to send short bursts of useful information to those people who have joined your list of friends. It is important not to use this form of media as easy to use spam, because you can be deleted from someone's copy list very easily.

Concentrate on links that can be followed for more data, little blurbs about yourself or info related to affiliated products. Be careful not to inundate your following or they will shut you off to escape the barrage.

Articles and Blogs
Among the most popular ways to promote your business without really appearing to do so is to write articles and blogs that link people directly to your business after they have read something about a product that you offer. For example, if you are promoting a new diet program, then consider writing some articles about weight loss and link them back to your free offer.

Starting a blog that lets people know what you are doing is a great way to generate interest.

Networking Sites
Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace allow you to search for people with common interests. Once you find such individuals you request them to become your friends. This gives you the opportunity to reach them regularly with good, valuable information. Of course, if you include free offers that are only for members, you can seriously increase the flow of traffic to your website.

Each media is designed for a specific task, and understanding how to use each form takes some practice and can seem a bit overwhelming at first. This is one of the great things a mentor can help you with, saving you time and money when launching your new business.

If you want to be successful in today's economic climate you need to be savvy, well educated and prepared to do your work. No one will hand you success on a silver platter, but with your energy and a good coach's knowledge you will be able to achieve any dreams you might have.

Building a Career Through Online Education Courses

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Education is a systematic process of acquiring knowledge and skill necessary for personal growth and development. The practical application of education in a specific field of study can jumpstart a professional career or establish a foundation for possible business ventures. Making an investment in education can be one of your most significant and wisest decisions in life because of its immediate impact to your future. Distance education plays a vital role in connecting educators and learners worldwide, breaking the barriers imposed by time constraints, distance, disabilities and socio-economic status. Distance education courses are being offered by Open Institutions to answer the call for internationally recognised quality education and training. Whether you are a student who just started on the path of learning, a professional in your field of study and want to further your education through advanced and specialized programs, or a person who is restricted by travel or health concerns, online courses definitely have the answers for you.

Many individuals are asking on how effective distance education when delivering the methodologies of teaching. Online education classes are as effective as traditional face-to-face instruction done in colleges and universities. The keys to establishing a successful online study depend on the dedication and focus of the learner, and timely peer-support by the open institution. The people behind the curriculum and online support offered through distance education are professionals and experts in their field, so you can be sure of having the quality education and training that you are looking for. Online instruction is divided into four major classifications, namely: voice, video, data and print. Voice or use of audio as medium of communication includes the telephone, tapes, radio and audio-conferencing.

On the other hand, videos may come in the form of instructional tapes or CDs, or combined with voice and data as file attachments. Print media can be in the form of instructional books, guides, course outlines or assessments which are delivered through courier or mailing system. Data is the widely used form of instruction due to the advances in technology in computers and the internet. Information is transmitted electronically and may be in the form of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), Computer Managed Instruction (CMI), Computer Mediated Education (CME), or a combination of any of these. The delivery of education and training became better, faster and economical since all the instructional materials and methods of teaching are coursed through e-mail (electronic email) or e-fax (electronic facsimile), online conferencing and other World-Wide Web applications. This would include advances in communication by utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). By making use of all the available communication media, online learning study is delivered fast and efficient.

Distance learning has many advantages that individuals on different levels of learning can take advantage. It provides the flexibility of choice when you want to finish a course or where you want the training to take place. Assessments and projects are given at the end of a specified topic, submitted to education professionals and experts of their field for evaluation, and then feedback is given to determine if a learner is to advance to the next level or if further reading is required prior to advancement. You can never be too old or too young in order to start a life changing career, or build the basic foundation to start a new business. All you would need is the proper self-motivation and focus so you can look forward and fulfill your dreams in life.

5 Proven Steps To Create a Thriving Real Estate Business Using Social Media in 2012

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Do you agree that social media is a mixed blessing for Real Estate professionals?

On the one hand, it can be a great help in boosting your visibility and helping you reach new potential clients. On the other hand, Realtors tend to complain that social media is time-consuming, unpredictable, overwhelming and almost impossible to measure!

The good news is that there is a workaround all these challenges that can be summed in one word: Strategy.

In order to build a solid foundation for a thriving Real Estate business in 2012, you need to take the following steps in the right order:

1. Nail Your Target Market Definition!

Here is an old school marketing rule: You can NOT sell to everyone! Instead, you must narrow down your focus to a very specific niche. Here is a checklist of the questions you need to answer in order to determine if a specific market segment is right for you.

  • Who is your ideal client in terms of income, family size, age range, educational background...etc.?
  • What are the pain points and stressing problems that your services can solve for them?
  • Why would this particular niche favor you over your competition? (What's your unique selling point?)
  • Do you have a proven track record with that niche?

Answering these questions accurately will put you on the right track. In addition, social media can help you refine your target market definition and reach them effectively if (and only if) you...

2. Focus! Fish Where The Fish Are

If you think that social media is time-consuming, you may be wasting your time and resources across too many social media channels.

Spend some time to discover your target market's preferred social destination(s) and aim to establish a powerful presence there.

As a rule of thumb, it's better to be consistently active in few social networking sites than to have mediocre presence in many ones.

3. Leverage Social Media Automation/Analytics Tools

Social media automation tools can help you "listen" to potential customer's conversations. In addition, they can be very helpful in monitoring and measuring your social media marketing campaign. Here are just few examples:

  • You can use Google alerts to track potential customers
  • Twitter lists can be helpful in competitive analysis as you can You can create private lists to "spy" on your key competition
  • You can also create public Twitter lists for potential customers
  • You can use social media analytics tools to know your most popular(liked/shared) social updates and blog posts. This will help you refine your social content to meet your target market's expectations
  • Social automation tools can help you pinpoint your top fans who are showing genuine interest in your services

4. Blog Blog Blog!

Think of your blog as your evergreen social asset. We have seen many social networking sites come and go. You only have full control over your blog. Think of it as a stage where you can shine like a pro and build trust with your readers.

For example, home buyers would want to find a house that meets their needs with the best possible price. You can provide them interesting and somewhat scarce tips that are hard to find elsewhere and back it up with practical examples from your experience.

If the tips were really good, you will instantly earn your reader's trust. In addition, search engines love blogs so you will reap great visibility rewards in the process.

5.Do Not Neglect "Offline" Socialization

Smart Real Estate professionals use social media as an ice breaker and once they start bonding with their prospects, they meet them face-to-face.

Doing that will help strengthen your relationships with your prospects and increase the chances that they will favor you over your competition.

Also, you need to attend networking events and local social events that your potential clients are likely to be interested in. For example, if your target market is families with children, then a local parenting support group can be a great activity to join.

As you see, you need to start with the end in mind. Having a solid strategy and clearly defining your target market will ensure that the rest of the steps will yield optimal results. Good luck!

Class Dojo real-time behavior feedback platform Apps get updates

Friday, August 16, 2013




ClassDojo is a free online system that helps teachers promote positive behavior in their classroom by letting them track and share student progress and positive behaviors and areas of concern. It's easy to use and many teachers who use it have seen positive outcomes from using it with their students.


They had launched an iOS app this past September, and an Android app after that, to help teachers be able to use their tool while moving around the room, and even access it when not in the classroom. They have just announced an update to their iOS and Android apps to make them even better and more useful for teachers and students.


The full press release is below:



ClassDojo Mobilizes More Teachers to Build Students’ Character Anywhere with Version 2.0 of its Popular iOS and Android Apps

ClassDojo 2.0 now lets teacher manage, edit, share and sync up their students’ behavior reports from their mobile devices
SAN FRANCISCO – August 15th, 2013 - Today, ClassDojo, the free behavior development platform for teachers, students , and parents, is launching a major update - version 2.0 of its mobile apps for iOS and Android. ClassDojo, already used by over 15 million teachers and students in over 80 countries worldwide, will now offer teachers the full suite of ClassDojo’s web functionality on mobile devices, including setting up and customizing their classes, taking attendance, viewing progress reports, and inviting other teachers.

Download the iOS app here: www.classdojo.com/ios and the Android app here: www.classdojo.com/android

The original ClassDojo app was intended to be a lightweight ‘remote control’ for the website, making it easy for teachers to give students positive feedback on their behavior in real-time within their classroom. There were significant limitations, including the inability to customize classes, view reports or even set up a class. In effect, the app made teachers somewhat dependent on the web application to fully manage their classrooms. ClassDojo’s new iOS and Android apps will offer the full set of ClassDojo’s experience.

Now that roughly two in three teachers have a personal smart device, more teachers can access ClassDojo’s full set of experiences without using a laptop or desktop computer. For many teachers working at underfunded schools with limited school technology resources, this means for the first time they can use ClassDojo with their students to reinforce positive behaviors like persistence, curiosity, and teamwork - and indicates great promise for ClassDojo’s continued ubiquity.

The new version also allows teachers to give behavior feedback without needing to have a Wi-Fi connection (although they still need network coverage). This new feature meets one of teachers’ biggest needs: to be able to use ClassDojo in settings outside of the classroom - for example, in lunchrooms, the playground, on field trips, and even just in classrooms with poor Wi-Fi connections.

Today’s news reflects the company’s continued learnings about the ed-tech market. Classroom adoption of mobile devices is growing quickly, as is evident with the recent news that Apple partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide students 640,000 iPads. Accordingly, the company has built out its mobile capabilities to allow its mobile development to parallel its web efforts.

“For many teachers and in particular for students, education is now a ‘mobile first’ environment, and we’re excited that ClassDojo is leading the charge,” says Sam Chaudhary, co-founder of ClassDojo. “Our new mobile apps build upon our mission of helping teachers, parents, and students develop the behaviors and character strengths that are essential for lifetime success. Real-time reinforcement of positive behavior, especially when provided consistently across contexts, helps build the character strengths that influence students’ academic and lifetime success.”  

ClassDojo’s mission is to address the ‘other half of education’ that goes beyond just building good test scores, to actually helping students develop the character strengths that are essential for lifetime success. The company is a graduate of the ‘Y-combinator for education’, ImagineK12.

About ClassDojo:
ClassDojo is a real-time behavior feedback platform used by millions of teachers, students and parents to build specific positive behaviors like persistence, curiosity and teamwork at school. It helps teachers solve the most painful problem they face teachers: improving student behavior. It enables teachers to easily conduct their lesson and improve student behavior by providing students with visual and audio feedback triggered using a smartphone, tablet, or computer; it engages parents and students to effect changes in behavior outside of the classroom as well.

About the founders:
Sam Chaudhary worked as a high school teacher and McKinsey & Co education analyst, and has a degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge. Liam Don was an MMO game developer at Runescape (Jagex), and was doing a computer science PhD in Education Technology, which he left to start ClassDojo. ClassDojo was early-stage seed funded by the incubator ImagineK12.



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Falling Standard Of Education In Nigeria: Who Is To Be Blame?

INTRODUCTION

The concept " falling standard of Education" is a relative term because there is no well defined instruments to measure it with utmost reliability and validity. That is why scholars' views on the concept varies. These scholars view it at different perspectives, depending on the angle each of them is looking at it.

Babalola, A (2006) sees the concept from admission of Nigerian University products in developed countries universities. That the first six Nigerian Universities (University of Ibadan, Ile Ife, Lagos, Benin, Nsukka and Zaria) had their products competing favourably with any other University in the world as their products were sought for by University of Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and London for admission into their post-graduate courses. That these students record breaking performances and when they graduate are employed by the best multi-national companies and corporate bodies globally unlike today where no Nigerian University is among the top 6,000 Universities of the world (Adeniyi, Bello (2008) in Why no worry about rankings). He sees standard from how universities contribute to knowledge and solving problems besetting mankind.

According to Gateway to the Nation (2010), University of Ibadan is ranked 6,340th University in the world. In Africa, University of Ibadan is ranked 57th, OAU 69th and South African Universities are leading the way in Africa.
He also use written and spoken English as a yardstick for measuring standard of education which University of London conducted a research in West Africa and the result showed that teachers trained by colonial masters were better of than those trained by indigenous teachers.

He also used staffing, funding, foundation, origin and students as standard of education.

Standard of education to Dike, V. (2003) is how education contribute to the public health (or sociopolitical and economic development of a Nation).

Standard of education to either passing or failing of external examinations like WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, JAMB,(NOW UTME) among others.

Teachers without Boarders (2006) looks at educational standard from how the products of schools can be measured in terms of outcome. That is how school leavers contribute to the society in terms of cognitive affective and psychomotor. I will be using students to refer to both students and pupils, I will use head teacher to refer to both principal and headmaster.

Which ever way you may view standard of education, for you to conclude whether the standard is falling or not, you must take into consideration all the aforementioned variables including achieving educational goals.

Equally, for justice to be done while measuring these standards one has to look at reliability where all the schools to be measured must have the same infrastructure, teaching materials, quality of teachers, level and degree of learners, condition within which learning takes place, some methods of assessment and some types of contribution to the society among others.

CAUSES OF FALLING STANDARDS

Haven discussed what makes up standard in education, may I crave your indulgence to some of the established facts that constitute falling standard of education in Nigeria.

(1) Discipline: This is one of the outstanding attributes of education when it is rightly observed.

a. Repeating: school no longer observe repeating as every student is promoted to the next class whether they understand or not gives room for falling standard.
b. Attendance: The 75% of attendance universally accepted as the bases for someone to sit for examination is no longer observed.
c. Late coming: Student that come late are no longer punished, which leads to their losing morning classes.
d. Misbehaviour: Students are no longer punished for misbehavior because of their parental influences (lost of jobs or unnecessary transfer).
e. Cultism: This could refer to rituals, usually under oath binding the members to a common course. They operate covertly in fulfillment of their objectives to the detriment of other people. Thus, planning secondary needs above primary needs.

These cults exist because of over population of students in schools, wrong admissions not based on merits, hence fear of examination failures and selfish worldly gains.

(2) Quest for paper qualification: Nigerians respect paper qualification above performance in the fields. Hence, cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains are supposed to be measured on the field.

(3) Politicizing education: Merit is no longer regarded as it is now " who you know" and not "what you can deliver" Technocrats (educationists are not appointed Commissioner of education and education board).

(4) Policy problem: Sometimes the type of policies government make on education adversely affects output. For instance, in College of Education, we have National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), competing with JAMB for admission as the two guidelines vary.

Equally, WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, JAMB ( now UTME) compete with qualifying pre-requisites and regulation of entries into tertiary institutions.

(5) Teachers not being part of the examination bodies. One wonders whether the continuous Assessment submitted by these teachers are used or not.

(6) Accessibility of Schools: The Nigerian population boom has outnumbered the existing schools as the existing schools have to over admit.

This point can be practically seen in the following areas:

(i) Teacher / Student ratio of 1:25 is no longer there as in my class, it is 1:3900.
(ii) Students / books / Journals ratio of 1:10 is no longer feasible.
(iii) Politics of admission: Schools can no longer set targets for admission to conform with their facilities as powerful notes from above will force the school authorities to either over admit or find themselves in the labour market again. Yet it is those that are giving these notes are suppose to build more schools or provide needed infrastructure etc. to accommodate those collecting these notes.

(7) Over-dependent on cognitive domain: Schools do not give regards to affective domain that will mould characters of our young ones. Little attention is given to psychomotor while no attention is given to affective domain.

(8) Shortage of qualified teachers: Some schools in the rural areas only have the headmaster as government employee while the rest that may be secondary school drop outs are PTA staff. What miracle can these staff perform? Dike, V. (2006) observed that only 23% out of the then 400,000 primary schools in Nigeria have grade II even when NCE is now the minimum qualification for teachers at primary and Junior Secondary schools.

(9) Teachers welfare: It is no longer news that

(a) Politicians do not have negotiation council to negotiate their salary increase.
(b) There is no disparity among political office holders from the federal, state and local governments.
(c) Their salaries are increased at astronomical manner.
(d) Their salaries are increased any time without recourse to whether the nation's economy can bear it or not.
(e) But for teachers, they must negotiate the 10 to 20% of an attempt to increase their salary with consideration of the economy of the nation. How can these teachers contribute and perform miracle when their family members are in the hospitals and the O.S. syndrome is written on their cards by pharmacists while they do not have money to treat.

(10) Constant Strikes: This is an impediment to smooth covering of syllabus. Oefule (2009) explained that one Nigerian guest asked a question on strike at Oxford University community but the vice chancellor could not even remember about strike, only the registrar remembered it for 17 years back. This is what governance means to the people.

(11) Long rule of the military; Education was not properly funded by the military regimes as according to Babalola, A(2006) Obasanjos administration inherited many left over problems of the military such as non- payment of pensions and gratuities of retired University staff, poor remuneration of university staff, dilapidating buildings of schools, libraries with outdated books, obsolete laboratory equipments, bad campus roads, inadequate water and power supply among others.

(12) In the secondary and primary schools levels, schools do not even have buildings talk less` of furniture's, equipments and reading materials. This is the level where the foundation of education should be laid. Any faulty foundation will lead to faulty structures. What do you expect from the tertiary level?

(13) Lack of training of teachers: Teachers are not trained to update their knowledge with latest discoveries based on research, then how can they give what they don't have?

(14) Poor state of Educational teaching facilities: Dike V. (2006) reported that research result shows that over 2015 primary schools in Nigeria do not have building but study under trees, talk less of teaching materials.

(15) Corruption: leaders of the schools and some Government officials either connive to buy equipments with loan money that cannot be of any use to the school or take such loans and do not even do anything with it.

(16) Poor budgetary allocation to education: A research work of 2001 shows that Nigeria only, allocate less than 20% to education it further reveals that Nigeria spends 0.76% to education as against Uganda 2.6%, Tanzania3.4%, Mozambique 4.1%, Angola 4.9%, Coted Ivore 5% Kenya 6.5% and South Africa 7.9% among others.

WHO IS TO BE BLAMED?

We have seen the causes of falling standards and from these causes we can deduce that the following are to be blamed:

1. Government suppose to carry the lion share of the blame because all the other variables are dependent variables to it.

2. Teachers also have their shares of the blame with regards to their diligent duties.

3. Parents: feeding has to be provided by parents. This is because parents do not leave schools to operate without interference.

4. Students: students who do not abide by school rules and regulations nor pay attention to their studies also contribute to falling standards. Students also seek for paper qualification and disregards to performance they also participate in cult activities that derail the progress of the academy.

5. The society is not left out as it is the way it sees and respects the products of these schools that recycles back again.

SOLUTION

Based on the problems or causes identified above, the following solutions are proffered: Schools should respect and restore back discipline to bring back the lost glory of our educational standards.

Performance should be regarded and respected more than just paper qualification. Equally, education should not be politicized for whatever reason.

Policy makers should be mindful of policies that affect education .eg JAMB(UTME) regulation in admissions.

Teachers should be involved in examination activities and examination bodies should always publish examination reports and distribute it to various schools for them to hold school workshop for training of subject teachers on their areas of weaknesses observed in the students' scripts with regards to following the marking scheme.

More schools should be built to increase accessibility by all. Cognitive, affective and psychomotor domain should be used for assessment of students.

Teachers' welfare should be given priority by government to avoid unnecessary strikes in our educational sector while more qualified teachers should be employed to curb the present shortage of teachers in our schools.

Our civilian government should prove to the people that they are better than military government.

Teachers should be trained so that they can meet up with any new challenges Educational facilities should be upgraded to modern standards while teaching facilities should be adequately provided.

Corruption should be eliminated to the barest minimum by all stakeholders while government should increase its budgetary allocations to education to improve the standard of education in Nigeria.

Interview with Dr Renato C Nicolai, Author of "The Nightmare That Is Public Education"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A retired teacher and principal with thirty-eight years of experience in public education, Renato C. Nicolai, Ed.D., taught 6th through 12th grade and was both an elementary and middle school principal. In education circles, he was known as Dr. Nicolai, which eventually was shortened to Dr. Nick, and has stuck ever since.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Dr. Nick. Obviously, the state of public education in the United States is of great concern to many people. To begin, will you tell us what you think is wrong with the public education system?

Dr. Nick: Wow! What an opportunity! Yes, I would be pleased to tell you what I think is wrong with the public education system. My thoughts aren't in any order of priority; I'm telling you about them as they come to mind.

What I think of first is what I wrote about as the main emphasis in my book. Teachers desperately need to improve the quality of their teaching, so, specifically, what's wrong is that too many teachers are either incompetent or mediocre instructors at best. Yes, if you had the opportunity to stand by my side in the hundreds of classrooms I've visited in my career, you would be both amazed and horrified at how much poor quality teaching there is in our public schools. If parents only knew how much more their children could be learning with instruction from superb teachers compared to what they are most likely learning now from incompetent teachers, they would be flabbergasted. That's how bad it really is. This indictment of teachers, however, is not a major problem at the elementary school, but is a serious and rampant problem for sure at the middle school, junior high school, and especially the high school level of education. Parents, you'll want to read about the eight essential qualities most teachers don't possess. I've listed and described them in the first chapter of my book.

Tenure is another critical problem. Once tenure is granted by a school district, an incompetent teacher is a teacher for life. It's extremely difficult to dismiss a teacher who has tenure. What's wrong with tenure is that it's achievable so soon in a teacher's career (after only three years in most cases), so final (once it's granted it's irrevocable), and so long lasting (the teacher keeps it for as long as he/she teaches). What happens is that some teachers work very hard during their first few years on the job, receive tenure, and then slack off in their performance because they know they can almost never lose their job. Instead of tenure, public education should promote a system of performance reviews that teachers are required to pass periodically in order to keep their teaching position for the next two or three years.

The way a teacher is evaluated is all wrong within the education system. It's basically a sham and a joke. Collective bargaining contracts and union involvement in teacher evaluations has watered down the process of teacher evaluations to the degree that practically nothing worthwhile results from the process. In my book, I have a chapter titled "What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You," and the concept of teacher evaluation is discussed in that chapter. If parents and the public at large knew how ineffective and unproductive teacher evaluations are, they would demand a more efficient system. The system as it exists in most school districts today is a tactful process of saying the right words, doing what's anticipated, and not ruffling anyone's feelings. What it should do is help teachers improve the quality of their teaching to the degree that they help students learn better, but it doesn't do that at all.

The public education system is rooted in the false notion that all teachers are qualified educators who can be trusted to make good decisions, follow school district rules and regulations, work together in a spirit of collegiality, promote the welfare of students as a priority, and, generally, do what is just, moral, and professional. What's wrong is that this description is simply not true; yet, school districts throughout the United States allow teachers the freedom to work unsupervised because they are assumed to be well-intentioned, professional persons who have the best interests of students at heart. Don't misunderstand me, please. Of course, there are many conscientious teachers who do work well with each other and do have the best interests of students at heart, but I believe that there are many more who take advantage of academic freedom, collegiality, and lack of supervision to do whatever they want within the four walls of their classrooms. This is actually a very serious problem that is covered up by the educational hierarchy.

Another very serious wrong is the way in which school districts manage the use of substitute teachers. Substitute teachers are rarely observed to determine their competence, frequently assigned to subject areas they have no qualifications to teach, and regularly subjected to unbelievable disrespect and insolence from students. When a substitute teacher is present in a middle school, junior high school, or high school classroom, little or no learning takes place. That class is a waste of instructional time, the students' time, and the substitute's time as well. The three most common activities that take place when a substitute takes over a regular teacher's class are the showing of videos or DVDs, the administration of tests, and the supervision of long, boring written or reading assignments left by the regular teacher. The lesson plans left by most regular teachers for substitute teachers to follow are generally a set of instructions on how to occupy the time students have in class. The entire substitute teacher system needs to be completely overhauled. Students must be taught to respect substitute teachers, to assist them with the lesson, and to be responsible for their own learning. Expectations that students will cooperate with substitute teachers, that regular teachers will conscientiously prepare quality lesson plans, that substitutes will teach, and that administrators will monitor substitutes are so miserably low, currently, that the education system simply accepts the status quo of chaos, lack of learning, and disgraceful substitute teacher academic and professional performance.

Tyler, the public education system in the United States is really in trouble. It's inundated with problems; there are many things wrong with it. I could have written about lack of student discipline, emphasis on sports over academics, permissiveness throughout the culture of public schools, reticence about the problems that exist, and much more. I believe that it has deteriorated so much over the last fifty years, that mediocrity and incompetence are the status quo. Parents don't even realize that the system is so bad. What they see and experience is what they think is how the system should be. They don't understand how much better it could be and how their children could be receiving a more superior educational experience.

Tyler: Dr. Nick, will you tell us a little bit about your background in education-where you taught and the subjects you taught, as well as your experience as a middle school principal. What personal experiences have led to your current viewpoints?

Dr. Nick: My first full time position in public schools was as a 9th and 11th grade teacher of English at El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California (a city separate from San Francisco). After teaching two years, my assignment changed to teaching English half the school day and counseling the other half. In my third year as a teacher at this school, I was elected president of the local teachers' union and the following year chairman of the School District Negotiating Council. In my fifth year, I was appointed Assistant Principal of Parkway Junior High School (7-9) in the same school district.

During the seven years I held this position as assistant principal, I enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Southern California, and from 1969-1972 I achieved a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration and Secondary Curriculum. My dissertation, which researched the administrative behavior of superintendents of schools, was the first dissertation sponsored by the newly formed Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).

In 1974, I was selected Principal of Isaac Newton Graham Middle School (7-8) in Mountain View, California. You asked me to share my experience as a middle school principal, and I'm pleased to do so, but I want you to know that I could easily write another book about those experiences alone. So, I'll try to give you an encapsulated answer. I think I could best describe my experiences as a middle school principal as a continuing five year roller coaster ride because I never knew when my feelings, emotions, and experiences would be up or down. On the up side, I was thrilled to see many students learn to their potential as a result of the excellent teaching of some superb teachers. After all, helping young people learn is what education is all about. I also observed some outstanding teachers whose skills and methods motivated students to excel beyond their own personal expectations. That was extremely exciting. As the leader of a neighborhood school, I grew personally as an educator because I had the opportunity to influence curriculum, work for the educational benefits of students, and associate often with community leaders in various agencies (fire department, police department, recreation department, mayor's office, and so on). These experiences made me a better principal. On the down side, I learned quickly that many teachers should never have been allowed to enter a classroom to teach. They were not suited to interact with adolescents and teenagers; they didn't have the skills needed to help young minds understand concepts and ideas; they failed to devote themselves to learning how to teach expertly; they didn't know how to control and manage a class of thirty students. I also realized what some of the problems were that I had to deal with (incompetent teachers, low quality curriculum, collective bargaining contracts to name a few) but that I didn't have the power to bring about effective change. That was frustrating to no end. Finally, the lowest possible experience for me was to meet so-called teachers who had literally given up; that is, they had decided to go through the motions of teaching only. They were no longer eager to teach, didn't look forward to meeting their classes, and did as little as possible to meet their professional responsibilities. I left out so much that I feel my answer is inadequate. I can see the joy on the faces of students who won academic and sports awards, the enthusiasm of both staff and student body at our annual soft ball game, the annual parent club barbecue, and so much more.

I remained at Graham for five years and then moved on to an opportunity in southern California as the Administrative Director (Superintendent/Principal) of Chatsworth Hills Academy, a private school in Chatsworth, California. I preferred serving in public education, so I returned to Graham as a 7th grade core teacher, teaching English and social studies (world history). In October of my second year back from southern California, I was asked by three Santa Clara County superintendents to head up a "joint powers" school named The Institute of Computer Technology as an on-loan school administrator. Along with an on-loan administrator from IBM (Ken Butler), I helped this new educational enterprise get its feet off the ground. It was exciting work and I enjoyed hiring teachers, meeting technology experts at Apple and IBM, developing curriculum, outfitting a school with security systems, working with school superintendents, learning how to protect valuable hardware and software, and a lot more. After doing what I was hired to do, I returned to Graham, teaching English, social studies, and geography to 7th and 8th graders, including the 8th Grade Honors English program. I remained at Graham for the next twenty years and retired in 2001.

During my career, I've been a presenter at various conferences, in-service sessions, and conventions. My presentation topics were usually in the areas of teaching methods, literature-based instruction, discipline, and classroom management. I've also been a master teacher, chairman or member of numerous curriculum committees, and an adjunct professor in the teacher training program at National University.

My current viewpoints and attitudes toward public education developed throughout my career based upon my personal experiences as a teacher and principal, what I saw other educators do and heard them say, what I read, what I learned best helped young people reach their learning potential, what political reforms failed, and what I learned about how young minds gain knowledge. For instance, there was a time when I opposed vouchers; I'm adamantly in favor of them now. The more choices parents have in the education of their children, the better. I was a staunch supporter of tenure at the beginning of my career until I witnessed how many deficient teachers hide their incompetence under the protection of this law. Tenure should be abolished. I'm sure you get the idea. I hold the views, attitudes, and feelings that I do about education as a result of a life-long career in schools. You know, children aren't the only ones who learn while at school.

Tyler: You mention that many teachers are not competent? What is the reason for this, and why does the school system allow them to remain in the classroom?

Dr. Nick: Why are many teachers incompetent? Here are some reasons to contemplate:

Because they don't possess the personality needed to interact well with young people. If a person doesn't like kids, doesn't enjoy being with them all day long, doesn't look forward to teaching them, doesn't accept their immaturity and want to help them become more mature, can't stand constantly answering questions, can't accept individual differences (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc), can't cope with special needs (hyperactivity, behavior problems, and so on), then that person will never be a competent teacher.

Because they don't possess, exhibit, use, and treasure enthusiasm, and, so, they are truly boring to most of their students. Ask any kid at a middle school, junior high school, or high school in your community what they dislike the most about their teachers, and, I guarantee you the answer will overwhelmingly be that they are boring. And you know something, Tyler; the kids are right. Most teachers are insufferably boring in how they teach. Enthusiasm is a sine qua non for all competent teachers.

Because they don't know how to get concepts and ideas across clearly to their students. They don't possess the knowledge and skills needed to help students learn. They just don't know what to do and end up quite often being frustrated and saying something like, "Oh, those kids just can't learn this stuff." That's an expression equivalent to defeatism and incompetence. If the learning material is age appropriate and part of the accepted curriculum, of course a normal, healthy student can learn it. It isn't the student who is at fault; it's the teacher who doesn't have the competence to design lessons, activities, and programs to help students learn. The reason for this is that many teachers tell students but don't show and teach.

Because they can't manage and control student behavior. Teachers daily face challenging disciplinary and behavior problems. If a teacher can't effectively handle these problems, that teacher will never be a competent instructor-never! In this case, the incompetence is in not knowing what to do when a disciplinary or behavior problem presents itself because the teacher hasn't thought out a personal Educational Philosophy for Control of Student Behavior. Every teacher needs to do this to harmonize his/her personality with methods of discipline. I explain this in detail in my book.

Because many teachers don't manage classroom time efficiently. I devote an entire chapter to this topic: "Wasted Time - Inept Instruction (Euphemism: Teaching Mistakes). How can anyone consider a teacher competent when that teacher tries to teach over the noise of unruly students, doesn't know how to quell effectively unnecessary noise at the change of a classroom activity, and allows students to talk whenever they want. This inability to control noise leads to as much as 25% of each class period being wasted. Many teachers can't even control the time at the end of class when students get ready to leave and waste the ten or fifteen minutes left.

Because many teachers can't effectively control group learning. One of the most effective ways for students to learn is to interact with each other, allowing students to help each other learn in groups. Sometimes, students have just the right words and explanations to help a fellow student understand a lesson. However, most teachers don't control student groups effectively and so waste tremendous amounts of instructional time.

Because many teachers don't have high enough academic and behavioral expectations and standards. In other words, many teachers don't challenge their students enough academically and don't expect them to learn to the level of their potential. Teachers must project an attitude of high expectations to motivate their charges adequately. Most teachers don't even understand this concept and need to learn it themselves. Not putting it into effect in classrooms is indicative of ignorance and incompetence. In Chapter Three, I wrote a seven-page description of the most important strategies used by teachers who truly understand how to teach high academic and behavioral standards. Teachers, you've never seen anything come close to this practical list of how to teach standards.

Because some teachers don't have a sufficient knowledge of the subjects they teach. They don't! They are assigned to teach a subject they don't know adequately or they don't even like. Many teachers are teaching subjects and they don't have either a major in that field or a valid certificate to teach it.

There are other reasons as well, but the few I mentioned are really significant ones, aren't they? Now, what are the reasons for these incompetencies and why do school systems allow these incompetent teachers to remain in the classroom? Well, the first part of the question can be answered easily. Students learning how to teach are not being prepared adequately by schools of education. You know who should teach prospective teachers how to teach? Not education professors! No! Excellent, experienced, current and retired teachers who know what a classroom is all about and who have a love for kids and teaching in their hearts should teach candidates for teaching. Give me proven experts at teaching young people, a group of twenty teacher candidates for a year, and I know we could do a much better job of teaching them how to be good teachers than any school of education in the country.

Answering the second part of the question leaves me with a heavy heart. The reason is that most school districts don't effectively monitor and evaluate the progress, competence, and teaching skills of new teachers. The procedures to do this are woefully inadequate and rarely result in new teachers being dismissed if they are incompetent. Teachers new to the profession learn more about teaching from their own personal experiences the first three years on the job and from other, experienced teachers than they do from any program presented by the school district they work for. School districts don't really know if a new teacher is mediocre or, worse yet, incompetent so they grant tenure because they need a body in the classroom. There is a tremendous shortage of teachers throughout our country today. Once tenure is granted, it is virtually impossible to dismiss a teacher on the basis of incompetence.

(Due to space constraints a portion of this review was omitted -- please see Reader Views website for the entire interview.)

Dr. Nick: Parents must be involved in their children's education from preschool right through high school and, perhaps, even into college. The tendency is for parents to step back from involvement when their teenagers start high school. This is a serious mistake. Parental involvement is critical during high school because the high schooler is under tremendous pressure from peers mainly to experiment in many different areas: drugs, alcohol, sex, ideology, cults, etc. That involvement should take the form of proactive participation, diligent observation, and ardent questioning. I recommend that parents do the following to ensure that their children receive a quality education:

Parents must communicate regularly in person, over the phone, and via e-mail with the teacher throughout the school year about every aspect of their child's learning by asking questions and seeking information about these and other important aspects of schooling:

homework

math skills

language arts skills (reading, spelling, grammar, writing)

testing

behavior

grades

listening skills

attitude

participation and cooperation

Parents must frequently monitor the progress of their child's learning at home and act as the most important teacher in their child's life.

Parents should observe their child's teacher(s) to assess the teacher's quality of instruction. My book is filled with tips for parents to do just that. It also contains lists of questions for parents to ask and what to look for in a classroom to determine if a classroom's physical environment is organized as a valuable learning tool.

Parents should participate in the life of the school, if possible:

join the PTA or parent club and participate in its activities and governance

volunteer as an aide at school

offer to assist the teacher with paperwork

Parents must attend school functions: Back-to-School Night, Open House, music programs, special events, sports contests, fund raisers.

Parents must meet with the teacher at parent conferences and ask questions about their child's educational progress.

Parents should introduce themselves to the principal and other persons in key positions at the school to know who they are and to make sure these school personnel know who the parents are.

Parents should communicate their ideas and opinions to their elected school board members, and, on occasion, attend a school board meeting.

Parents must be sure their child is equipped to do the best possible work at school by providing:

necessary school supplies

a nutritious and balanced diet

enough sleep and rest

a positive attitude toward school and teachers

a distraction-free place for homework

Tyler: Does the concern over public education have a place outside the school system? What about people who do not have children? Why should they care about things like millage elections, or want to pay more taxes, or support the school system?

Dr. Nick: Yes, concern over public education does have a place outside the school system. Most people who don't have children, are retired and have no contact with children, or whose children are now adults pay taxes and generally want a school system that produces an educated person. These people are automatically invested in the public school system as a result of their taxpayer status and expect to receive good value for their tax money. I know I do because 62% of my annual property taxes (nearly $3,800) goes to public schools in the community where I live.

Tyler: Students often do not value the education they receive until years later. As a former college English professor, I taught many lazy students, and I was constantly in dismay that so many of them were even admitted to college when they could not write a complete sentence. I frequently wondered what they had done for thirteen years in the public schools? Do you think the college system is in any way responsible for the decline of public education in the elementary and high schools? Should entrance requirements into colleges be raised?

Dr. Nick: I don't blame our college system in any way at all for the decline of public education in the elementary and high schools. State colleges and universities, community colleges, private and religious colleges and universities-all provide opportunities for students who are qualified to pursue them. It's the responsibility of the elementary and secondary schools to prepare students to take advantage of those opportunities and meet those qualifications. I do think these colleges and universities should regularly evaluate their entrance requirements, as I'm sure they do, to ensure that they maintain high standards of academic expectations.

These colleges and universities have a responsibility to graduate well-educated and highly competent young people. Watering down the entrance requirements to fill classrooms would be a disgrace and morally reprehensible. Not all high school students should be expected to attend a four-year college, although that's what many high school counselors and administrators tell them is possible. I do blame some schools of education, however, for the poorly prepared teachers they seem to turn out by the thousands each year. School of education reforms in recent years in teacher training programs, curriculum standards, course content, and subject matter proficiency have not produced quality teachers. If they had, our elementary and secondary school students would be exceptionally successful learners and you would not have asked this question. After all, teachers are supposed to help students learn to their capacity.

Tyler: Dr. Nick, how long do you think the public school system has been declining? Do you believe it has affected the American job force and economy?

Dr. Nick: The American public school system has been declining over the last fifty to sixty years. All you have to do is look at the statistics to see that the reforms attempted during the past half century have not resulted in significant changes in learning, test scores, and student achievement. In fact, in most curricular areas, there has been little or no change at all, and in math and English there has been decline.

Perhaps your readers would be interested in an excellent article published in the September 2007 edition of Harper's magazine. It's titled "Schoolhouse Crock (Fifty years of blaming America's educational system for our stupidity) and presents an excellent analysis of educational reform over the past fifty years.

This decline continues to affect the American job force, businesses, and our national economy as well. Many businesses and corporations have instituted their own systems of internal education to train their work force properly to do the work expected of them because they can't rely on the public schools.

Tyler: The ones who suffer the most in this situation are the children, yet as children, students are unlikely to know what they are not learning and how it will be detrimental for them. Furthermore, they may be too intimidated by teachers to complain when they are given more free time or fruitless assignments or actual lessons. What if anything, can students do to improve the quality of their own education?

Dr. Nick: At the elementary school, middle school, and junior high school levels of education, there is probably very little if anything the young people who attend these schools can do to improve the quality of their own education. They are too young, inexperienced, and immature. At the high school, however, some students are mature and serious enough about their own schooling to do something. I might add, though, that there are most likely very few who would actually challenge the powers that be (teachers, principals, superintendents, boards of education) for a variety of reasons. The two most significant ones, in my opinion, would be peer pressure and fear of retribution or retaliation on the part of teachers or administrators. Nonetheless, here are some actions mature, serious, intelligent, concerned high school students could do:

Go to your principal and complain about the poor quality teaching you're experiencing. Nothing will happen the first time, so go a second and third time. Bring other concerned students with you.

Be polite but assertive, telling your principal that you have a right to quality instruction but aren't receiving it. Clearly state your areas of complaint: too much classroom noise, inadequate instruction, lack of teacher interest, and so on.
Make an appointment with the superintendent to voice your concerns. Present a plan of how your grievances can be redressed. Bring other concerned students with you. Request permission to speak at a board meeting and present your complaints to these elected officials.

Phone and/or e-mail board members.

Form a committee of concerned students who weekly report to the principal about what is going on in your classrooms that should be improved or changed in the best interest of your education.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Dr. Nick. Before we go, will you tell us a little bit about your website and what additional information can be found there about "The Nightmare That is Public Education"?

Dr. Nick: My website, http://www.drnickweb.com, is currently being updated. However, there is information about my book that your readers will enjoy, I'm sure, but I'm working on including much more.

Tyler: Thank you, Dr. Nick. I hope you have many parents and educators visiting your website and reading "The Nightmare That is Public Education."

Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is honored to speak with Renato C. Nicolai (Dr. Nick) about his new book "The Nightmare That is Public Education: An Expose of What Really Happens in Public Schools."

 

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