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A New York City Tour Designed For Educational Group Travel

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New York City is well known for the number of artists who live and work there, and the quality of the art displayed in museums and galleries. In this article, I will give some details about the highlights of an art tour of New York City designed for students to enhance their curriculum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are important student tour destinations in New York City. I have written about them elsewhere. Visit the link above, where an article giving more information about these museums is posted.

Educational Benefits of an Art Tour of New York City

The contemplation and analysis of great works of art helps the art student or art history student to better understand the diversity and complexity of art across cultures and time periods. Art students gain insight into technical processes and gather ideas for future work. All students develop an appreciation for high degree of artistry exhibited and housed in museums and galleries in New York City.

Museum of American Illustration

This relatively new museum, opened in 1998, is located at Vernon Court, one of the most famous mansions of the 'gilded age' of American architecture. Vernon Court takes up one full block on Bellevue Avenue and the mansion grounds include a garden designed by America's first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, and revitalized in his honor. The museum houses the largest collection of illustrative art, which is defined as illustration produced for mass media such as books, magazines, advertisements, and new media. Some notable artists in the collection are Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, and Norman Rockwell. Educational student tour groups learn a great deal about art, architecture, and the history of illustration on a visit to this museum in New York - a worthwhile destination for an art tour.

Chinatown and Greenwich Village

For enthusiasts of literature and art, a tour of Greenwich Village in New York City is an absolute must. Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and Emma Thompson all performed here, visited, or lived in the Village. The heart of Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park, which borders New York University, and is always a bustle of performances and activities. Student tour groups will want to see the Centennial Arch, which commemorates the 100th Anniversary of our first president's inauguration. Educational groups will also want to visit historic homes in Greenwich Village with literary, architectural or historic significance, or maybe take in a meal at one of the Village's fine restaurants, shop, and most of all: breathe in the air of bohemia.

Whitney Museum of American Art

To give students an overview of 20th Century American Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art is a great place to begin. The Whitney was founded in 1931, and established a name for it based on acquiring the works of new, emerging visual artists. The museum houses over 22,000 works of art in its collection, which is expanding. The Frances Mulhall Achilles Library has more than 37,000 books and exhibition catalogues, and is an excellent place to conduct research on American art. Student travel groups may tour the museum and take in the special exhibits.

Solomon Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheims are perhaps the best known art collectors and philanthropists in the world. Educational tour groups headed to New York City do not want to miss this world class museum. Teachers will find the Arts Curriculum Online to be a great tool to prepare students for a visit to the Solomon Guggenheim Museum. The Solomon Guggenheim Museum does not highlight an era in art, or an aesthetic. The Guggenheim is a museum which grew out of a sophisticated private collection, and spans many periods and tastes in art worldwide.

Social Media for the Forgotten

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Social media is transforming the way that charitable organizations attract support from volunteers and potential funders. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are no longer just ways for teenagers to catch up with friends, but rather a way for businesses and organizations to expand their influence and capture the attention of larger audiences.

Social media can help your organization reach people that otherwise would have never known about your cause, and can help you build a reputation. As you build an online presence by becoming active with Facebook and Twitter, information about your mission will gain greater visibility and your organization will become more credible and funding worthy.

Increased Visibility = More Cash

Considering that successful fundraising is a huge component to any non-profit, it's important that your organization receives positive feedback that's observable by a large audience. You want a lot of people to see the great work you are doing how it is changing lives. Researchers have found that organizations that use social networking websites to communicate regularly with their audiences resulted in a 40% increase in fundraising profits.

For huge organizations that are well established such as the Red Cross, it's a lot easier to reach a large audience that is interested in their work. For smaller organizations, it is a lot harder to achieve this level of reputability, however social media can be a great tool for attracting the right kind of attention. Before the social networking explosion, it was a lot harder to for organizations to sustain themselves in small communities and reach out to the donors abroad.

Word of Mouth vs. Social Media

Many small non-profit organizations heavily rely on word of mouth to spread information about their mission within a given community. Social media helps expand this type of advocacy because as you receive more attention on social media websites, you will appeal to more volunteers that will help spread the word about your work. This in turn will attract more volunteers to your organization and increase your exposure to additional funding.

Additionally, with social media, the amount and quality of information that reaches the public is in your hands. By becoming active in social media websites such as Facebook, you can create a fan page for your organization so that people can get updates about the progress your organization has made and see how many more volunteers are becoming involved. Personalized recommendations from volunteers are also visible here, and people that come across the page are able to see that your organization is worth volunteering for.

Social Media Triumphs for a Cambodian Non-Profit

An example of how social media has helped one international non-profit succeed is the story behind Save Poor Children in Asia (SCAO). It's a small organization based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that was founded by a man named Sath Samith and his wife. They wanted to provide underprivileged children in the region with the opportunity to receive an education. It was a small organization with so much potential, however they relied mainly on passing travelers and word of mouth to attract volunteers and donations.

A couple years ago, the Web Success Team and other friends traveled to Southeast Asia and had the opportunity to visit SCAO and learn about what they were doing. Since then, the website was completely re-designed, online donations were made possible, and networking profiles were created. The SCAO Facebook group and page have proved to be wonderful ways for volunteers to connect, share their experiences, and stay updated with what has been going on at the orphanage.

Through the combined efforts of social media and many dedicated volunteers, SCAO raised enough money to expand their impact and build an additional school. Now, all the children have shoes and uniforms, they go to regular visits at the dentist, they are learning English and receiving an education that has inspired some to continue on to college.

Regardless of the quality of the organization, without the help of social networking sites to expand the visibility of SCAO's impact, perhaps the amount of volunteers supporting them today wouldn't be as abundant. The power and potential that social media has to change the world is endless - it's just a matter time before every small organization with a dream is able to become a credible, life-changing institution.

The Great Thumbnail Media Planner Advantage

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Media planners and media buyers are overworked. Yet the importance of Media planning and media buying has soared with the fragmentation of media audiences due the explosion of thousands of new media

The use of media advertising has grown to over $300 billion in the USA. New media technology has become rapid and quick. Never before has media been so much in the forefront of such business, marketing, information, entertainment and education. Companies want quick and profitable results for their business. Through media advertisements, information is easily disseminated, and it is far reaching. "The medium is the Message," so McLuhan said.

Much is demanded of media planning and media buying practitioners. To be able to come to expectations media planners have one thousand and one things to get done. They too are just humans. They need all the assistance they can get.

A marketing media reference can assist media planners and media buyers with their important media planning and media buying tasks. The Thumbnail Media Planner puts key ideas and facts into a coherent picture and helps implements cost effective projects more quickly. It is a media plan guide that takes into consideration the entire different media preparation aspects. The media planner allows for media rates and data in its entirety ensuring the success of the program. The piecemeal scenario plan almost always do not succeed.

A media plan guide for media people can smooth up their moves and they can easily go on to the phase. It is a guide. There will be no leafing back to the pages which are not easily understood. Everything is planned out well. It is a device to help you quickly develop media ideas and media plans and an advertising campaign-an important part of the marketing strategy.

As any person who concern with conceptualizing and implementing media ideas, needs a lot of planning. For the plan to materialize it has to undergo stages. And what best could make the move without hitches, is media plan guide. Moving from one stage to the next can use up a lot of sketches before arriving at an acceptable scenario. Make it the media plan guide for the right moves.

As a marketing media reference, it does unproblematic the task of marketing directors, entrepreneurs and agency personnel. Knowing the best technology at hand and using it to your advantage are essential to success. It is keeping in tune with the culture as it matures and changes values. Success in the first steps will lead to higher ones and success from these endeavors can lead to more clients and eventually profit.

No matter where you work, media practitioners can expect to good use the media guide plan and strive to put together proposals for clients in a very short amount of time. Advertising can be a stressful business but the profit and monetary consideration of seeing your work recompense the client is rewarding despite the ifficulties involved.

People behind media happening generally are also taking the responsibility as media buyer. This is to make themselves more marketable. The knack to plan and buy media time makes the media planner or buyer more efficacious. The thumbnail planner media planner affords strategic marketing solutions beyond the conventional.

To help you do your job better and more efficiently, the Thumbnail Media Planner will provide you with quick advertising rates, media costs, audience information, media ideas, for all of the major traditional media and non traditional media. This includes television advertising, radio advertising, magazine advertising, newspaper advertising, online advertising, direct mail, and outdoor advertising.

Parent's Involvement in Children's Education

Monday, October 27, 2014

ABSTRACT

The importance of parental involvement as an accelerating and motivating factor in their children’s education is a worldwide-accepted fact. This research project provides an in depth explanation along with specific reasons, the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education. It also discusses the parenting techniques, their types and their consequences if neglected. It also describes the ways to measure the outcome of the positive parental involvement. Furthermore, it mentions the teachers involvement and the difficulties faced by the teachers in getting parents involved in their children’s (this is further supported by the examples of two teachers who with their deliberate efforts won the parents over to devote their maximum attention towards their children), single-parent involvement, children’s own efforts to improve their academic levels and joint home-school based interventions. A detailed analysis of the different main ideas is given, based on the findings from other research surveys and projects.

INTRODUCTION:

Parental involvement can be seen to fall into three types: 1) Behavioral, 2) Intellectual and 3) Personal. The research explores the effect of multi-dimensional participation of parents and the resulting progress of children in their studies when different parental resources were dedicated to them. Actively participating parents help their children in their academic development by going to schools and participating in open houses. By keenly observing the behavior of their children they can rightly judge the kind of behavior or the allocation of resources required by their children. Such caring parents can also motivate teachers to become more attentive towards a particular student, thus maintaining the cycle of parent-teacher involvement. Encourage Building up cognitive and perception abilities in a child is a major concern in the upbringing of the child. The way the parents involve their children in cognitive learning is by exposing them to different cognitively stimulating activities and materials such as books, electronic media and current events at home. This helps the child to practice all sorts of language comprehending skills at the school. The results show a remarkably positive behavior at the school and with peers.

Two parenting processes namely the Supportive Parenting (SP) and Harsh Parenting (HP) helped a lot in the research of parental involvement in their children’s education. By adjusting the levels of supportive parenting, different levels of successful outcomes were observed. Supportive parenting in even kindergarten students yielded positive results. Four measures of supportive parenting were used in the study, they were:

1. Proactive teaching.

2. Calm discussion in disciplinary encounters.

3. Warmth.

4. Interest and involvement in peer activities.

The assessments were conducted when children entered kindergarten and when they reached grade 6. There was a factor noted to hinder children’s development: family adversity. It was the result of a multipurpose negative process that included the risk of low socio-economic status, single-parenting and family stress. Child maladjustments were found to be more common in families with such adversities. No matter how much negative impacts were cast, SP was found to overcome the risks associated with family adversity. SP was strongly related to adjustment procedures in grade 6 children who had single parent family or experienced low socio-economic status (SES) in their early childhood.

In a way to socialize their children, parents adopted the techniques of calm discussion and proactive teaching. They helped lessen the behavioral problems by carrying long discussions with their children, cultivating in them a sense of respect, calmness and peace of mind. Mothers also participated actively in reducing the peer stress among their children. It is also a widely accepted fact that supportive parenting plays an important role in the children’s development of empathy, prosocial behavior and emotional competence. On the negative side, the absence of supportive parenting may be related to the development of internal problems such as anxiety and depression.

Lack of the necessary parental care and attention is the main factor for the subsequent rise in the percentage of juvenile delinquency (crime among children). The absence of parental instructions causes children to develop irreversible behavioral and emotional problems. They in order to seek attention, resort to crimes thinking that in this way they could fulfill their wishes. They may revert to uncontrolled violence if not kept an eye upon. Such criminal activities cannot be brought to a halt until their distressing symptoms of low self-esteem, depression, dysphonic mood, tension and worries, and other disturbances are relieved. And the importance of parents’ role in this regard cannot be over-emphasized.

In an effort to describe parental involvement, many researchers use a term “Transition”(Lombardi, Joan). “Transition” is used to describe the time period in which children move from home to school, from school to after school activities, from one activity to another within a pre-school, or from pre-school to kindergarten. The untiring endeavors of teachers in the phenomenon of transition cannot be ignored. They prepared the children and their parents to face the problems of adjusting to elementary school programs that had different psychology, teaching styles and structure than the programs offered at the kindergarten level. In the elementary level schools the teachers had to face serious challenges in motivating the parents to take interest in their children’s activities. The teachers adopted different methods to involve the parents in day-to-day classroom and home activities. They used to send notes, invitation of parent-teacher meetings, invitation of parental guidance sessions and training sessions, continuously directing the parent’s attention towards their children. Patricia Brown Clark suggests that it is very important to keep the line of communication between teachers and parents open, so that the parents can interact with the teachers and get up to date information of their children’s school activities. One way to involve parents is to schedule school events and arranging classroom activities such as volunteering for libraries, acting as classroom aides or efficiently organizing lunch breaks. The teachers also opt for making phone calls at the children’s houses to keep in touch with the parents and getting to know the extent to which they are contributing towards the welfare of their children. Apart from the above activities, the teachers also assign home activities for both the parents and their children so that the parents remain indulged in their children and the children get to study at home. However, it was a bad and disappointing experience for the teachers when many of the parents failed to respond as expected. Many of the parents were so overwhelmed with their official work that they could hardly take out some time for their beloved children.

Moreover, for some parents their schoolings were not positive and character-boosting experiences, therefore they preferred to keep a distance from their children’s school as well. This made it really difficult and at times impossible for teachers to bring the parental involvement to the desired level. Nevertheless, the activities of two teachers proved greatly fruitful in making parents involved in their children. They were Carlos Valdez, an art teacher and 8th grade class sponsor, and Mike Hogan, the school’s band director. They did it by involving parents in music festivals and other school ceremonies. They proved to be great examples for the future teachers to come.

If the children’s academic development programs are to prove successful they must share two characteristics:

1) Developmentally appropriate practice:

A child’s academic progress is clearly reflected by the appropriate practice he/she administers while in school life. During transitions from pre-school to kindergarten, a child if given the exact developmentally appropriate practice tends to learn a great deal of language and playing skills. He develops a keen interest in exploring his environments and interacting (without hesitation) with his adults.

2) Supportive services:

These include the assistance that the school provides to low-income family students. The services include health care, childcare and community care. This strengthens the relation between school and children and creates a sense of security and confidence among the children. They get to learn that their communities are a part of their school since the school’s supportive services strive to help community development.

It is commonly believed that children are good self-teachers. Their self-initiated strategies help improve their expression, creativity, intellectual capabilities and extra-curricular skills. This idea is proved by the documentation of young children’s work provided by Reggio Emilia :

“The Reggio Emilia educators highlight young children’s amazing capabilities and indicate that it is through the unity of thinking and feeling that young children can explore their world, represent their ideas, and communicate with others at their highest level.”(Edwards, Pope. C, Springate, Wright.K)

The climax rests in the fact that how the parents would know that their sincere involvements are really proving worthwhile for their children. The answer lies in the attitude of the children. The degree of parental involvement can be judged by a child’s attitude towards his school subjects, his academic desires and achievements. There is a direct relationship between academic achievements and the attitude towards school. Schunk in 1981 had the following idea of aspiration or academic desires:

“Level of aspiration is defined as one’s subjective probability that he or she will reach a certain level of education.”(Abu, H. & Maher, M)

As a result children who received adequate parental concern were found to be much more confident in their academic desires and achievements than those who could not get the right amount of parental concern.
The individual involvement of mothers and fathers also plays a vital role in the behavioral development of a child. Students from one-parent household were observed to show less positive attitude towards schools and studies as compared to students from two-parent households. One study aimed at investigating parental concern showed that despite mothers’ sincere endeavors, the role of fathers could not be ignored and both served as an important foundation for the future progress of the child. This can be proved from the following fact:

According to a recent report from the National Center for Educational Statistics (1997), compared to their counterparts, children with involved fathers are more likely to have participated in educational activities with their parents (e.g., to have visited a museum or a historical site with their parents in the past month), and are more likely to have access to multiple types of resources at home as well (as measured by the proportion of parents who belong to community or professional organizations, or regularly volunteer in the community). (Flouri, E. And Buchanan, A, Pg.142)

Also, the parental involvement has been discussed and implemented in terms of interventions or prevention programs, which are nothing but safety measures taken to assure healthy and perfect upbringing of the child. The study uses school-based and home-only intervention programs to find out the extent of intellectual capabilities found in children from different family backgrounds. The success of one school-based interventions can be proved from the following fact, which was a part of “Education Service Improvement Plan 2001-2005” of Edinburgh:

----The Scottish Executive Discipline Task Force, which studied the causes of poor behavior among pupils in schools produced a report of 'Better Behavior - Better Learning' in June 2001. The report included 36 recommendations for action, which were then turned into an Action Plan in 2002. Many of these have implications for the Education Authority. (Craig Millar Instep Project)

References

Abu, H. & Maher, M. (2000). A structural model of attitudes towards school subjects, academic aspiration and achievement. Educational Psychology, 20, 75-84.

Angoff, W.H. (1988). The nature-nurture debate, aptitudes and group differences. American Psychologist, 43, 713-720
Berger, D. (2003). The Developing Person, Worth Publishers

Brown, P. C. (1989). Involving Parents in the Education of Their Children. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL.

“Craig Millar Instep Project” [http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/CEC/Recreation/Libraries/] Local_Organisations/local_Craigmillar_Instep_Project.html&
http://www.inspire.edin.org/pages/paperA.htm - context

DeKlyen, M., Speltz, M.L., & Greenberg, M.T. (1998).
Fathering and early onset conduct problems: Positive and negative parenting, father-son attachment, and the marital context. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1, 3-21.

Edwards, Carolyn Pope; Springate, Kay Wright (1995), Encouraging Creativity in Early Childhood Classrooms, Eric Digest.

Flouri, E. & Buchanan, A. (2004). Early father's and mothers involvement and child's later educational outcomes. Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Oxford, UK, British Journal of Educational Psychology 74, 141-153

Fortier, M.S., Vallerand, R.J., & Guay, F. (1995). Academic motivation and school performance: Toward a structural model. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 20, 257-274.

Ganzach, Y. (2000). Parents’ education, cognitive ability, educational expectations and educational attainment: Interactive effects. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 419-441.

Georgiou, S. (1999). Parental attributions as predictors of involvement and influences on child achievement. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 69, 409-429.

Grolnick, W.S., & Slowiaczek, M.L. (1994). Parents’ involvement in children’s schooling: A multidimensional conceptualization and motivational model. Child Development, 65, 237-252.

Halsey, P. (2004). Nurturing the Parent Involvement, Two middle Level Teachers Share their Secrets. Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Vol 77, No. 4, pages 135-137 WN: 04062038590002

Lombardi, Joan (1992), Beyond Transition: Ensuring Continuity in Early Childhood Services, Eric Digest.

Masse, L.C., & Tremblay, R.E. (1999). Kindergarten disruptive behavior, family adversity, gender and elementary school failure. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 23, 225-240.

Mulkey, L.M., Crain, R.L, & Harrington, A.J.C. (1992). One parent households and achievement: Economic and behavioral explanations of a small effect. Sociology & Education, 65, 48-65.

Pamela A. Halsey (2004) Nurturing the Parent Involvement, Two middle Level Teachers Share their Secrets. Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Vol 77, No. 4, pages 135-137 WN: 04062038590002.

Pettit, G.S., Bates, J.E., & Dodge, K.A. (1997). Supportive parenting ecological context and children’s adjustment: A seven year longitudinal study. Child Development, 68, 908-923.

Ramey, C.T., Campbell, F.A, & Ramey, S.L, (1999). Early intervention: Successful pathways to improving intellectual development. Developmental Neuropsychology, 16, 385-392.
Shepard, J. & Carlson, J.S. (2003).

An Empirical Evaluation of School-Based Prevention Programs that Involve Parents. Oklahoma State University and, Michigan State University, copyright, Wiley Periodicals, Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 40 (6), pages 641-656

Updegraff, K.A., McHale, S.M., Crouter, A.C. (1996). Gender roles in marriage: What do they mean for girls’ and boys’ school achievement? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 25, 73-88.

Yongman, M.W., Kindlon, D., & Earls, F. (1995). Father involvement and cognitive/behavioral outcomes of preterm infants. Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 58-66.

Business - Understanding Your Value and How to Market it -Ten Things to Know About the Media

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Often sole professionals are contacted by radio, television, newspapers or magazines and asked to contribute to the "story" they are working on. It is very important that you understand what you are doing so you will not say things you will regret but instead will benefit from the promotion and help the audience. Following are some basic facts that will help you get started.

1. Goals - The media want to educate and entertain their audience. They want to draw the attention of the audience, get the "scoop" and sell themselves to the world. Your goals may not mesh with these so you will have to be clear about whether you will participate when you are called and how you will contribute.

2. Timelines - Most times, journalists and reporters are on a very short timeline and need to have your interview or information immediately. You do not have to respond or participate - especially if you do not have time to think about what you will say.

3. Competency - Media personnel are not trained about your area of expertise and therefore may ask you about things out of your competency. This is your opportunity to educate them and do appropriate referrals.

4. Boundaries - One of the slogans for media is "What bleeds - leads". Another is "sex sells". You might be asked questions that seem to pressure you to say things that are inaccurate, confusing or misleading. Don't get trapped. Think about the question and your answer carefully.

5. Clarity - Ensure that you correct any errors that the media make immediately. It is better to explain things to the journalist or reporter while you are on air or during the interview than to try to correct the mistakes after they are aired or in print.

6. Honesty - If you don't know - say you don't know. If you don't have information that has been requested, be clear about the fact that you don't have the information.. Just tell the truth in a simple manner.

7. Confidentiality - There are many things that are not acceptable to share with the media. Be very cautious to protect those the facts and details. Saying too much will not only hurt your client but may actually destroy your reputation and business.

8. Speculation - If you haven't seen a person professionally, you cannot comment on their condition. (If you have seen them, you cannot comment because of confidentiality). You will therefore need to stick to answering questions using research or general patterns rather than specifics. Be careful! Don't get trapped into saying something you didn't mean to say!

9. Your Professional Profile - Prepare and gather together information that the media can use repeatedly. I have a website and blog with pages designed for the media. They include my bio, high resolution pictures, a Media Release and Media Page. They also include my past media involvement and a listing of the speaking engagements that I have done over the past three years. When you set up a site, the journalist or reporter has access to the information needed to support your expertise - and saves you a great deal of time!

10. Preparation - The media is not interested in everything you have to say about a topic. In fact, they tend to focus on "sound bytes" or "quotes" and it is therefore important that you offer them good information in the proper format. Consider the questions that might be asked and write down carefully worded answers. Practice explaining things in short, complete sentences. If you have advance notice of the topic, quickly write down the points that you want to cover during the interview before it begins.

Working with the media can be a rich and rewarding aspect of your business - or a nightmare - depending on how you answer the questions and how your information is used. You may want to study and prepare with someone like Wayne Kelly at www.onairpublicity.com/ He will help you to understand the system and prepare so that both you and the media will do well because of your involvement.

Just like any aspect of your business, building relationships with the media takes time and respect. I have built a good reputation with personnel and when I am contacted for an interview I can enjoy it as part of the wonderful adventure of having my own business.

Importance of a Complementary Educational Agenda for DR-CAFTA

Thursday, October 23, 2014

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK

In September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. That document served as the launching pad for the public declaration of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - which include everything from goal one of halving extreme poverty to goal two of providing universal primary education; all to be accomplished before the year 2015. Progress towards the first seven goals are dependent upon the success of goal eight - which emphasizes the need for rich countries to commit to assisting with the development of "an open, rule-based trading and financial system, more generous aid to countries committed to poverty reduction, and relief for the debt problems of developing countries."1

At first glance, the recent actions of Central American countries and the United States to liberalize trade seem to support, at least partially, successful realization of MDG Eight. However, upon closer examination, the picture blurs and the outcome seems uncertain.

Following only a year of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its recent inclusion of the Dominican Republic), was signed by the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States in 2004. The agreement, committing each country to reduce its trade barriers with the other DR-CAFTA countries, was ratified by the United States Congress on July 28, 2005.2

Rather than attempting to analyze all of the specific economic and social intricacies associated with liberalizing trade in Central America, this brief aims solely to cast light upon the overlap between countries' efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goal Two/Education for All and their need to implement a complementary CAFTA agenda.

Specifically, this document highlights the importance of educational priorities if economic development efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis by Central American countries, multilateral organizations and targeted donor countries on a complementary agenda that directs resources towards education infrastructure, CAFTA will never succeed in assisting these countries in reaching an ever elusive state of "economic prosperity." In fact, it may deter them from fully accomplishing the MDGs as well.

CURRENT STATE OF EDUCATION

With the need for collaboration between economic and educational efforts in mind, let us examine the current status of MDG Two implementation and broader educational reform in Central America:

Over the past fifteen years, most Central American countries have implemented at least basic forms of educational reform. As a result, more children are entering school and spending more days and years enrolled than ever before. On an aggregate level, the larger Latin American and Caribbean region has made considerable progress toward the goal of universal primary education enrollment and according to the most recent UN Millennium Development Goals report, "Net enrollment rates at the primary level rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001. The region's pace of progress in this indicator has been faster than the developing world average (which rose from 80 percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment rates in 23 countries of the region (12 in Latin America and 11 in the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent." 3 The reality is that, large scale disaster or other unforeseen event aside, all six countries are on target to reach the MDG enrollment targets.

Unfortunately, progress towards the target of completing five years of primary education has been slower and few countries in the region can boast success in this arena. The lack of progress towards completion of this target is most directly related to inefficiencies in the education system and the socioeconomic conditions of poor children - both situations that result in high repetition and desertion rates and both situations that must be ameliorated if CAFTA is to succeed. Furthermore, while the number of children initially enrolling in school has increased, the poor quality of education throughout Central America is also certainly a factor in children's failure to complete their primary education. Quality must therefore also be taken into account when considering educational infrastructure needs.

While not necessarily relevant to MDG Two but quite possibly relevant from the CAFTA perspective of needing a skilled workforce, Central America's educational woes most definitely extend beyond the primary school environment. In response to the recent Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank representative wrote "It is difficult to avoid the impression that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling behind with regard to secondary education. Although this is not included in the MDGs, it is the single most important educational indicator separating upper and lower income groups in the region." 4
When less than one third of a country's urban workforce has completed the twelve years of schooling that your or I take for granted, how can they hope to compete in today's technology-dense free trade environment?

HISTORY LESSON -HAPPENING AGAIN?

Upon an examination of the Mexico of today as compared to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) times, a rise in the Mexican poverty rate over the last decade or so is apparent. Rather than being directly due to the implementation of NAFTA, it is more likely that this increase in the poverty rate is attributable to Mexico's failure to simultaneously implement a complementary agenda; specifically, the inability of Mexico's poorer southern States to improve their poorly trained workforce, infrastructural deficiencies and weak institutions in order to participate meaningfully in a liberalized trade environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states lost even as the northern states benefited from the liberalized trade environment created by NAFTA.

Dr. Daniel Lederman, co-author of the World Bank report entitled "NAFTA is Not Enough" (and issued ten years after NAFTA was originally enacted) explained in an National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2003 that Mexico's financial crisis in the 1990s was bound to deepen poverty there with or without NAFTA. Dr. Lederman said:

Mexican income dropped in one year, 1995, by six percent. Wages across the board for all Mexican workers, on average, fell by 25 percent in less than a year...Still, NAFTA helped Mexico limit the damage, lifting per capita income at least 4 percentage points above where it would have been otherwise. The bottom line is, Mexico would be poorer without NAFTA today. Clearly trade alone won't alleviate poverty. But if Mexico makes the right investments, especially in education, the next decade should be better. 5

POTENTIAL FOR ECONOMIC SUCCESS

As was the case in Mexico, it is likely that the majority of households in Central American countries stand to ultimately gain from the price changes associated with removing trade barriers for sensitive agricultural commodities and other goods. However, in order for this to happen, as Dr. Lederman suggests above, each country must now make appropriate investments in development efforts (most especially in education) in order to guarantee an equitable distribution of the benefits of these efforts in the future.

Simultaneously, it is of critical importance that each country provides for the needs of their most at-risk citizens. In order to guarantee that the children of these families are given the opportunity to be counted among those in school, countries must identify resources, both internally and externally, to provide incentives for families "to invest in the human capital of their children." 6Examples of such incentives have been implemented through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and several other organizations in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social). Most immediately, these incentives (often in the form of conditional cash transfers) serve to increase food consumption, school attendance and use of preventive health care among the extremely poor. In the long run they are intended to assist with poverty and malnutrition reduction and to improve schooling completion rates. As reported by the IDB, "results are proving that it is possible to increase a family's accumulation of human capital (measured by increased educational attainment and reduced mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, also raise potential labor market returns for the beneficiaries, as well as overall productivity. The programs have had a substantial positive long-term impact on the education, nutrition and health of its beneficiaries, especially children." 7

In the World Bank's expansive document analyzing CAFTA's potential impact on Central America, entitled "DR-CAFTA - Challenges and Opportunities for Central America" the authors repeatedly reference technology and emphasize the importance of a complementary educational agenda that is tied to each country's stage of development and innovation. For example, "for those countries farthest away from the technological frontier -such as Honduras and Nicaragua-- the best technology policy is likely to be simply sound education policy... in the more advanced settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, where adaptation and creation of new technologies is more important, issues of education quality and completion of secondary schooling are more important." 8 In fact, without ever making specific reference to the MDGs, the authors recommend that the former countries focus on the goal of achieving universal primary education while the latter countries focus their energy on expanding and improving secondary level education. Failing to do so is choosing failure in the open market.

Ultimately, rather than seeing CAFTA as a first class ticket to a better economic end - with no strings attached, countries must acknowledge the critical importance of first implementing MDG Two - target three. This target, which says "by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling" 9 is a critically important step towards guaranteeing the emergence of a workforce that can respond to increased marketplace demand and evolving technologies. Without immediate investment in that future workforce via the education system, CAFTA will surely flounder and drag MDG Two along with it.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, educational infrastructure must be put into place now that will not only guarantee a higher quality education but will also be made accessible and desirable to Central America's most at-risk citizens. After all, based on Mexico's experience, the likelihood of a positive outcome for both CAFTA and MPG Two is slim. Yet the possibility of economic success does exist if we agree to truly choose "Education For All."

CITATIONS

1) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Eight, http://www.un.org

2) At the time this brief was written (Dec 2005), the agreement still hadn't been ratified by the Parliaments of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

3) The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mi/pdf/MDG%20Book.pdf

4) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, Aug 05, http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=591088

5) National Public Radio, All Things Considered, Interview with Daniel Lederman, Monday, December 8, 2003 http://web.lexis-nexis.com/

6) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, ibid

7) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, August 2005, p. 56

8) DR-CAFTA - Challenges and Opportunities for Central America, Chapter VII: Obtaining the Pay-off From DR-CAFTA, p199.

9) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Two, http://www.un.org

Essential Bookmarks - Finding Educational Resources on the Web

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding educational resources on the web is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. Whether you are a teacher or a student looking, you will find a ton of resources on the Internet, most of them free of charge. Every subject you can imagine is explored in depth on the web. Just be sure to credit your sources properly if you use them in a research paper or a lesson plan and always double check your source to make sure it's reliable.

Below, you will find a compilation of links that are compilations of more links, all educational, all offering resources for students, teachers, and kids. Enjoy!

Weasel World Education Index – A host of links provided for over 30 different subjects. http://www.educationindex.com/education_resources.html

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence – Offers links to great curriculum, homework sheets, and lessons on a variety of subjects.
http://www.ed.gov/free/index.html

Special Education Resources on the Internet – Offers links to those interested in the field of special education, separated into more than 25 categories.
http://seriweb.com/

K-12 Resources for Music Educators – Choral teachers, classroom music teachers, orchestra teachers and more. A list of links divided up by musical focus. Updated frequently.
[http://www.isd77.k12.mn.us/resources/staffpages/shirk/k12.music.html]

Microsoft in Education – This is Microsoft's page of links to technological tools, programs, and solutions to educational challenges for both students and teachers.
http://www.microsoft.com/education/default.mspx

NASA Education Enterprise – This is NASA's page of links for its Education Program with tons of activities for all levels education.
http://education.nasa.gov/home/index.html

The EnviroLink Network – This is a compilation of thousands of online environmental resources divided up by environmental topic.
http://www.envirolink.org/

The Educator's Reference Desk – More than 2000 lesson plans, 3000 links to online education information, and 200 question responses for the education community from the Information Institute of Syracuse.
http://www.eduref.org/

Education Index – An index of links to the best online education-related sites sorted by subject and life stage of the student. Search for educational information and links in over 50 categories.
http://www.educationindex.com/

BBC Learning Network – Resources for home and school divided by age group. Sections for teachers and parents.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/

Smithsonian Education – This is the education website for the Smithsonian Institution with educational resources for educators, families, and students that include lesson plans, field trips, and interactive activities.
http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/

SearchERIC – A bibliographic database with over 1.1 million education topic citations dating back to 1966. There are more than 100,000 documents that can be downloaded for free by anyone.
http://searcheric.org/

Documentary Educational Resources – This site has a huge collection of documentaries focused on cross-cultural understanding. Search by title, subject, or geography.
http://www.der.org/

National Geographic Education Subject Guides – For teachers, kids, and students. Find lesson plans, maps and geography, photography, news, adventure and exploration, history and culture and more.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/education/

Discovery Education's Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators – This is a categorized list of sites for teaching and learning to enhance curriculum.
http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/

Social Media for Business (4) - 3 Tips to Become a Lead Generation Magnet on Social Media

Sunday, October 19, 2014

If you are in business, then you want to generate leads. It is like saying "sun rises everyday" or what I often call a "duh sentence"!

Yes, all businesses strive to generate massive leads but some of them often drag old lead generation techniques from traditional marketing drop them into social media marketing! That's a huge mistake and the fastest recipe for failure. So, how can you do it right?

Tip 1: Focus on Brand Awareness BEFORE Lead Generation

Social media has the "Do NOT bore me to tears with your sales pitch!" sign written all over it! Therefore, your social media lead generation strategy should be warm, subtle and long-term. In fact, if you are SMM newbie, do NOT focus on lead generation in the beginning. Instead, try to boost your brand awareness by consistently offering high quality and educational content. This will eventually translate into massive lead generation. In other words, effective brand awareness = long-term lead generation

Tip 2: Think of Social Media as a Three-step Advertising

Once you established yourself as a sought after expert in your field and managed to build a high level of trust with whom I like to call hot prospects,you will automatically gain permission to market to your social media networks/ contacts. I strongly believe that SMM, in essence, is the ultimate three-step advertising mechanism. First, you need to mingle and engage with your niche market by LISTENING to their needs. Second, you will consistently offer AWESOME solutions to which they would give rave reviews like: "Aha! I didn't know that before" or "Yeah, it really worked!".

Having said that, I am definitely not asking you to spill all your beans or throw all your cards on the table because if you do, you will have nothing to sell! But if you managed to figure out one small thing that your niche is hungry for and hand it to them, you will build the expert image instantly.

Finally, the door will be wide open for you to market your services to your devoted fans. If you master these 3 steps, lead generation will be a piece of cake and sales generation will follow.

Tip 3: Not Sure What to Say? Spy on your Competitors

For this tip to work, you need to invest some time in figuring out which of your key competitors is playing the social media game well and follow their tracks. You may subscribe to their blogs, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their newsletters, you name it. The rest is easy: learn how they interact and engage with your niche, what messages are they sending, and above all, how they are creating the expert image.

Start mimicking them in the beginning, keeping in mind that you will outperform them once you learn the ropes.

The thing about SMM is that it does require hard work and patience in the beginning which could be a major turnoff for the ones after instant results. Do NOT fall into this trap. Dive into the SMM deep sea slowly but surely. You will be happy that you did!

Education Jobs - The Top 10 Jobs In Education

Friday, October 17, 2014

There are 3 main classifications into which the education sector can be divided. They are:

• School education
• Further education
• Higher education

Sometimes, education is carried out in a non-classroom background. It may take place in a prison or in a hospital. Education jobs are not only comprised of teaching jobs. Other people are working behind the running of the education sector. For example, there are people to look after the administration of an educational institute; there are people in the finance department, people are present to lend technical support to the institute, there are teaching assistants and also educational psychologists associated with the sector.

ABOUT DIFFERENT COUNTRIES:

The education sector in countries like England, Wales and in Northern Ireland is quite similar in administration. However, Scotland has different ways of running this sector. The rules and laws concerning the educational sector are different in this country.

THE DEMAND OF PEOPLE IN EDUCATION JOBS:

Graduates are in high demand as far as education jobs are concerned. Sometimes, there are a dearth of teachers in subjects like mathematics and science. Survey says that the primary schools are filled with teachers while the secondary schools still have vacancies.

THE TOP 10 EDUCATION JOBS ARE:

• Primary school teacher: the primary school starts from class 1 up to class 5. The teachers are required to teach subjects like English, mathematics, basic science, history, geography and another language. Other things like art and crafts and physical education are also taught. So not only subject teachers are required, there are places for education jobs too.

HIGHER EDUCATION JOBS:

• Secondary school teacher: the secondary school starts from class 6 and extends up till class 12. There are several subjects taught to the students at the secondary level. The students receive physical education training as well.

• Teacher in further education or in the college level: after passing out schools students enter colleges. Teachers train these students on specialized areas of their choice.

• University lecturer: they train students who seek admissions in universities.

• School Liberian: a Liberian is in charge of the entire library. He keeps an account of the books and lends them out to the students.

• Teacher of adult education: this type of job concerns adults. A teacher has to teach a few skills to students.

• Teacher in a prison or in a hospital: these teachers are required to impart education to the prisoners and the patients in a hospital.

• Educational psychologists: different educational institutes have psychologists who are engaged in counseling the students. They discuss problems of the students and motivate them and help them to deal with issues better.

• English teacher teaching in a foreign school or in a college: English is much in demand throughout the world. Those countries who are not well versed with the language hire teachers for educating them.

• A bruiser who looks after the financial affairs of a particular school.

Admission to Private Further Education Colleges

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Admission to private further education colleges is usually highly selective and a high level of commitment is typically expected from both GCSE and A-level students; however, this allows independent colleges to maintain high standards, so they can offer their students a stimulating environment that is conducive to achieving top grades and gaining admission at top UK universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge.

Students wishing to obtain a place at a private college to prepare for their sixth form/A-level and GCSE exams will usually be required to complete an application form. Additionally, they will be asked to provide copies of recent academic reports, or predicted GCSE grades. For overseas A-level or GCSE students, a personal statement outlining the student's achievements, interests and ambitions regarding their further education may also be requested.

Students will then be asked to attend an interview; for some A-level subjects, an admission test may also be required, such as an audition for drama students. Interviews for a place at an independent college of further education are usually held at the college; however, for overseas students wishing to apply for a place at a private college in the UK, interviews may take place in the student's country of residence or over the phone. The interview focuses on the A-level or GCSE student's ambitions and interests, not only concerning the academic curriculum, but also beyond it. In interviewing the student, the aim of the college staff is to determine that the student has been and will be able to achieve above-average grades.

Open Days or Open Evenings are often offered by the college to further education students and their parents. At these meetings, parents and students have the opportunity to meet teachers and college staff and to attend presentations and exhibitions of students' work. This allows them to get a feel of the activities offered by the independent college they are considering to enrol at.

A full range of courses in all A-level subjects is usually available at private further education colleges: arts and media, finance and computing, humanities, languages, social sciences and traditional sciences. At GCSE level, courses are available in core subjects (maths, science, English literature, English language and ICT) as well as subjects such as arts and languages.

Additionally, exam revision courses may be offered over the Easter period to both GCSE and A-level students.

Private further education colleges for GCSE and A-level preparation typically provide extra services to their students. For example, classes and tutorials are held in smaller groups; this makes it possible to offer GCSE and A-level students more individual attention as well as a more stimulating and interactive environment, with the aim to improve their learning ability and skills. For example, at Ashbourne College, an independent A-levels and further education college in Kensington, Central London, group sizes rarely exceed ten. Additionally, private further education colleges usually offer a great choice of facilities (such as computer, media or arts equipment) as well as a range of extracurricular activities to their pupils, like sports, cultural visits and international travel.

Costs vary depending on the length of the course. Courses available at independent further education colleges may range from two-year A-level courses to one-year and 18 month A-level courses, two-year GCSE courses, one-year GCSE courses, etc. There are also Examination and Tuition fees that the parents of students wishing to pursue further education at a private college need to take into consideration.

However, bursaries and scholarships are often offered to highly achieving A-level and GCSE students who wish to study at an independent college of further education and would otherwise be unable to afford a place. As well as outstanding academic ability, a strong interest towards further education and an ambition to be admitted at a top UK university (such as Oxford or Cambridge) is required to qualify for a further education scholarship at a private A-levels and GCSE college. So, students who can demonstrate the ability to comfortably achieve top grades at their GCSE and A-level exams, which makes them more likely to obtain a place at top UK universities, will typically be eligible for an A-level or GCSE scholarship.

So, although the admission to private further education colleges is selective and preparation for A-levels and GCSE exams at these colleges usually comes at a high cost, high-achieving students who wish to obtain a place at a top university may still qualify to receive a scholarship and enjoy the benefits offered by independent colleges, such as smaller class sizes and a stimulating environment, which will help them make the most of their academic abilities.

Online Education - Work and Learn

Monday, October 13, 2014

Online education is a fast emerging trend today in this information age of delivery education opportunities transverse distance and access to education contents barriers. It has afforded many who with the constraint of distance barrier and traveling costs would not have been able to afford a quality education to be open to many opportunities of quality access to better and enriched education contents and career option.

The evolving trends of the asynchronous technologies for delivering education through media such e-mail, audio and video devices like MP3, cassettes,CDs, DVDs, blogs, social network media and hosts of others has made learning very easy for the distance learner. You can enroll for a course while you work as long as you are personally motivated and well disciplined, it is very likely that you will outperformed your colleague in the traditional classroom setting in a conventional institution.

Many works and research on this subjects have some convincing studies to back this trend that those who work and learn especially in their career path do better as they have practical and real life scenarios to experiment what they are taught in classroom with. Again, the distance learner who works in a sales and marketing department will learn faster and relate sales and marketing issues/topics practically better than the classroom student who has no such an experience.

In fact, from experience the working students in the distance learning mode provides a lot of teaching and learning aids for the online instructor and the instructional education technologist. They provide avenue for the instructional technologist to give practical and life substance to the education contents and materials. Real life encounters are easily capture in audio or video by these distance learners which after succinct scrutiny are incorporated into the learning materials to give Live credence to what is taught in the classroom.

This is what has made online learning, online education, e-learning - variant of what distance education is called today very popular and first cost effective consideration in furthering your career if you are still gainfully employed. All you need is the discipline and will to learn on your own and with the support and student learning support that comes with most of these distance learning institution, you are not likely to miss much of the classroom interaction that the traditional students missed.

A fresh distance learner and an advanced elearner will find these tools very useful in computer training and online learning. With this product you need No books or software needed - Just a windows PC with Internet Explorer/Firefox. Print certificates of completion, with your name on them - great for resumes. Learn what you need to know to pass certification exams. Company managers can view progress reports for employees. 100% 7 day money back guarantee. Pay one time. No hidden fees!

Can Social Media-Networking For Kids Be Educational?

As you know although I use both social media and networking sites, I dislike the way they can make certain users 'anti-social' because they become almost addicted to the social media world rather than living in the real one. However is this the same for children or can social sites be educational?

My own children use social networking sites specifically designed for younger children (under 13's). They use Neopets, Whyville and MoshiMonsters. They use Neopets less and less now as they concentrate on Whyville the most. If you ask them why they like Whyville, their answers differ. My eldest likes the joining all the clubs within Whyville itself and my youngest likes chatting to other children in the US, as we are in the UK she finds it amazing that she can talk to other kids around the world. But is this doing them more harm then good?

I am quite an old-fashioned Mum. I like my kids to be polite, to eat all their food (you don't eat your dinner, you don't get your pudding!), to do their homework as soon as they get in from school so it's over and done with etc. But I do let them use the family computer a lot as they use laptops at school and they need to know how to use one, not to mention, the need to learn internet safety.

The reason why I like Whyville, more than the rest of these 'kiddie safe' social networking sites is because each child has to go to Whyville School before they can use the site, the school teaches them internet safety and they have to pass a test before they can use the site.

But do kids social networking sites offer any other educational purpose? Suprisingly yes. Most of these sites, use a form of currency to buy things in and around the site. For example, Neopets uses Neopoints which you earn from playing games, selling items and going to work. Whyville uses clams, earning them by playing games and working. MoshiMonsters uses rox, again earned by playing games and working. This teaches children the value of 'money'. In each of these sites their are a multitude of games to play, this helps with co-ordination, reactions and spacial awareness. Some of the games are trivia based so this also helps to get them thinking.

All of these sites have methods of communication, whether it is talking directly to a person on Whyville or using 'neomail', Neopets own email system, to talk to one another. This helps with basic PC and typing skills, not to mention spelling, grammar, social interaction and internet safety awareness.

My children are 'timed' on the PC. This way I can see and limit how much time they are spending on these sites and because I have two children, it is a fair way of giving them equal time on the computer.

So as long as you kids are internet aware and you can sit down and supervise them, they can actually learn from these sites, although don't tell them that!

The Montessori Education System and the Desire to Learn

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire talks about what he calls the banking system of education. In the banking system the student is seen as an object in which the teacher must place information. The student has no responsibility for cognition of any sort; the student must simply memorize or internalize what the teacher tells him or her. Paulo Freire was very much opposed to the banking system. He argued that the banking system is a system of control and not a system meant to successfully educate. In the banking system the teacher is meant to mold and change the behavior of the students, sometimes in a way that almost resembles a fight. The teacher tries to force information down the student's throat that the student may not believe or care about.

This process eventually leads most students to dislike school. It also leads them to develop a resistance and a negative attitude towards learning in general, to the point where most people won't seek knowledge unless it is required for a grade in a class. Freire thought that the only way to have a real education, in which the students engage in cognition, was to change from the banking system into what he defined as problem-posing education. Freire described how a problem-posing educational system could work in Pedagogy of the Oppressed by saying, "Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge. Because they apprehend the challenge as interrelated to other problems within a total context not as a theoretical question, the resulting comprehension tends to be increasingly critical and thus constantly less alienated"(81). The educational system developed by the Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori presents a tested and effective form of problem-posing education that leads its students to increase their desire to learn as opposed to inhibiting it.

Freire presents two major problems with the banking concept. The first one is that in the banking concept a student is not required to be cognitively active. The student is meant to simply memorize and repeat information, not to understand it. This inhibits the students' creativity, destroys their interest in the subject, and transforms them into passive learners who don't understand or believe what they are being taught but accept and repeat it because they have no other option. The second and more dramatic consequence of the banking concept is that it gives an enormous power to those who choose what is being taught to oppress those who are obliged to learn it and accept it. Freire explains that the problems lies in that the teacher holds all the keys, has all the answers and does all the thinking. The Montessori approach to education does the exact opposite. It makes students do all the thinking and problem solving so that they arrive at their own conclusions. The teachers simply help guide the student, but they do not tell the student what is true or false or how a problem can be solved.

In the Montessori system, even if a student finds a way to solve a problem that is slower or less effective than a standard mechanical way of solving the problem, the teacher will not intervene with the student's process because this way the student learns to find solutions by himself or herself and to think of creative ways to work on different problems.

The educational system in the United States, especially from grade school to the end of high school, is almost identical to the banking approach to education that Freire described. During high school most of what students do is sit in a class and take notes. They are then graded on how well they complete homework and projects and finally they are tested to show that they can reproduce or use the knowledge which was taught. Most of the time the students are only receptors of information and they take no part in the creation of knowledge. Another way in which the U.S. education system is practically identical to the banking system of education is the grading system. The grades of students mostly reflect how much they comply with the teacher's ideas and how much they are willing to follow directions. Grades reflect submission to authority and the willingness to do what is told more than they reflect one's intelligence, interest in the class, or understanding of the material that is being taught. For instance, in a government class in the United States a student who does not agree that a representative democracy is superior to any other form of government will do worse than a student who simply accepts that a representative democracy is better than a direct democracy, socialism, communism, or another form of social system. The U.S. education system rewards those who agree with what is being taught and punishes those who do not.

Furthermore, it discourages students from questioning and doing any thinking of their own. Because of the repetitive and insipid nature of our education system, most students dislike high school, and if they do well on their work, it is merely for the purpose of obtaining a grade as opposed to learning or exploring a new idea.

The Montessori Method advocates child based teaching, letting the students take control of their own education. In E.M Standing's The Montessori Revolution in Education, Standing says that the Montessori Method "is a method based on the principle of freedom in a prepared environment"(5). Studies done on two groups of students of the ages of 6 and 12 comparing those who learn in a Montessori to those who learn in a standard school environment show that despite the Montessori system having no grading system and no obligatory work load, it does as well as the standard system in both English and social sciences; but Montessori students do much better in mathematics, sciences, and problem solving. The Montessori system allows for students to be able to explore their interests and curiosity freely. Because of this the Montessori system pushes students toward the active pursuit of knowledge for pleasure, meaning that students will want to learn and will find out about things that interest them simply because it is fun to do so.
Maria Montessori started to develop what is now known as the Montessori Method of education in the early twentieth century.

The Montessori Method focuses on the relations between the child, the adult, and the environment. The child is seen as an individual in development. The Montessori system has an implied notion of letting the child be what the child would naturally be. Montessori believed the standard education system causes children to lose many childish traits, some of which are considered to be virtues. In Loeffler's Montessori in Contemporary American Culture, Loeffler states that "among the traits that disappear are not only untidiness, disobedience, sloth, greed, egoism, quarrelsomeness, and instability, but also the so-called 'creative imagination', delight in stories, attachment to individuals, play, submissiveness and so forth". Because of this perceived loss of the child, the Montessori system works to enable a child to naturally develop self-confidence as well as the ability and willingness to actively seek knowledge and find unique solutions to problems by thinking creatively. Another important difference in how children learn in the Montessori system is that in the Montessori system a child has no defined time slot in which to perform a task. Instead the child is allowed to perform a task for as long as he wants. This leads children to have a better capacity to concentrate and focus on a single task for an extended period of time than children have in the standard education system.

The role which the adult or teacher has in the Montessori system marks another fundamental difference between the Montessori s Method and the standard education system. With the Montessori Method the adult is not meant to constantly teach and order the student. The adult's job is to guide the child so that the child will continue to pursue his curiosities and develop his or her own notions of what is real, right, and true. Montessori describes the child as an individual in intense, constant change. From observation Montessori concluded that if allowed to develop by himself, a child would always find equilibrium with his environment, meaning he would learn not to mistreat others, for example, and to interact positively with his peers. This is important because it leads to one of the Montessori Method's most deep-seated ideas, which is that adults should not let their presence be felt by the children. This means that although an adult is in the environment with the students, the adult does not necessarily interact with the students unless the students ask the adult a question or request help. Furthermore, the adult must make it so that the students do not feel like they are being observed or judged in any way. The adult can make suggestions to the children, but never orders them or tells them what to do or how to do it. The adult must not be felt as an authority figure, but rather almost as another peer of the children.

The consequence of this, not surprisingly, is that a lot less 'work' gets done by the students. Nevertheless, the students' development is dramatically better in the Montessori system than in a standard education system. But how can students who have no obligation to do any work possibly compete with students who are taught in the standard system and do much more work in class and at home? I believe the answer lies in that while students taught in the standard way are constantly being pushed towards disliking school and doing things mechanically without really thinking about it, Montessori students are led to actively explore their interests and enjoy doing so. Furthermore, Montessori students are constantly engaged in cognition. They are continuously learning to think in different ways and creating solutions to problems from scratch, as opposed to students in the standard method of education who only solve problems with the tools or information that the teacher gives them to use.

The final important aspect of the Montessori Method is the environment in which the student learns and explores. As mentioned before, it is of utmost importance that the children feel like they are safe and free to do what they want for as long as they want. It is also important for the children to have a variety of didactic material to play and learn with. These can be as simple as cards with different letters which the students use to make different words with. In this way the student can get the idea of the letter being a physical object which can be moved and manipulated to formulate words as opposed to simply an abstract concept which he must write repeatedly on a piece of paper. Montessori describes a copious amount of didactic materials that she used. She also describes how effective they were at helping the children grasp concepts such as the formation of sentences, square roots, and division. The didactic materials do not just help the students grasp the concept of different abstractions from reality, they also make learning a game and this makes students develop a natural joy for learning and thinking about abstract concepts. In The Montessori Revolution in Education, Standing talks about a young girl who was learning to read and played a game in which she attempted to read words from cards containing different words marked with different levels of difficulty. Standing states about the girl, "She was fairly rushing at this intellectual food. But even in Set 2 most of the words seemed beyond her. At last she had made out one, M - A - N, MAN. How delighted she was! With what joy did she place the card triumphantly under the picture of the man!"(173). This aspect of the Montessori method, in which children are left to play different learning games at their will, creates a hunger and excitement for learning.

Especially at a young age, it is much easier and enjoyable for children to learn with didactic materials instead of simply sitting in a classroom and taking notes when the children are wishing they were somewhere else or doing something else the entire time they are meant to be learning. With the use of didactic materials and by allowing students to use them or not use them whenever they want to, the Montessori system gives the students the freedom to learn what they want to when they want to. This is especially important when we think about how the standard method of education, like the banking system, forces students to 'learn' even when the students don't want the information being shoved down their throats, and this leads to a form of artificial learning where students memorize information or to a mechanical process where students do not internalize the information and forget it as soon as they are not being graded on it.

Montessori criticized the standard method of education greatly. In addition to seeing it as inefficient and outdated, Montessori, like Freire, believed that it was oppressive to the students. In her book The Montessori Method, Montessori writes, "The principle of slavery still pervades pedagogy, and therefore, the same principle pervades the school"(16). Montessori then goes on to describe a simple example which illustrates her point. She talks about how chairs are especially designed for classrooms. These classroom chairs, Montessori posits, are made to restrict as much movement as possible, force the children to look forward towards the teacher, and make them as visible as possible to the teacher so the children always feel like they are being watched and must behave properly.

Montessori views the standard method of education as an antagonistic model in which the teacher is basically fighting the student, constantly trying to control him and repress his childish behavior while attempting to force feed him knowledge that the student does not want. Despite the many studies which have shown that the Montessori Method is more effective and humane than the standard method, and even though more than 100 years have passed since it was introduced to the United States, very little has changed in the way children are educated here.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire says that education is used as a tool to manipulate and control masses. He proposes that the banking system of education exists and persists not because of its effectiveness at getting students to learn, but rather its effectiveness at indoctrinating children into believing something that the people who control the schools want them to believe. This leads to an important question. What is more important for the United States: that children grow up being able to think for themselves, or that they grow up believing what others deem correct? Here, especially in public high schools, there is a strong emphasis on nationalism and many ideas are taught as inherently inferior to others. For example, it is not only taught in schools that capitalism is better and more humane than, for instance, socialism and communism, but rather students are also taught to fear these concepts and to fear the very idea of questioning or thinking about social structures other than capitalism and economic models other than the free market. Furthermore, teachers often promote the false portrayal of the United States as the hero and police of the entire world. The U.S. education system is not meant to liberate students and inspire them to seek knowledge, but rather it is meant to keep them in line and is used as a tool to shape a kind of person who thinks only as far as is socially acceptable. How much our education system is manipulated by the interests of the people who control it is questionable. However, it is clear that whether or not our education system is being used to control the masses, it lends itself well to do so and can be used to sway people's opinion and repress ideas that might go against the establishment.

Our current education system is closer to the banking system than to something like the Montessori Method in which the development of the child is put first and children are presented with a form of problem-posing education. It is likely difficult to change to a way of teaching that allows students to learn for themselves and be inspired to actively seek knowledge. A good place to start would be to use didactic materials to the extent that is possible and to present students with differing sides of arguments in a judgment-free manner. Another important point is that creative thought should always be encouraged and dissenting ideas should be welcome and debated thoroughly. By making the transition to an education system that is problem-posing, students would be encouraged to think critically and create different, unique and inventive ways to solve problems. This change would lead to enormous growth in innovation and scientific development, as well as giving students a more humane and interactive way of learning.

How Social Media Increases the Marketing Mix

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tweets and Wall writings are now part of the 21st Century marketing mix. These social media sites (Twitter and Facebook) have experienced almost exponential growth during the last year according to a report just released pm social networking stats by ComScore.

Depending upon your own target market, if your business is not including social media in your marketing action plan then you may be missing a significant opportunity to increase awareness, attraction attention and begin to build those critical relationships necessary to increase sales. One reason these social networks have taken off is because they are engaged in formal and informal education based marketing.

Learning research continues to reaffirm that people learn best from each other (informal learning). And with the doubling of information, finding those resources that can help the consumer begins to build levels of trust. Since people buy first from people they know and trust, this medium appears so to speak to be a "no-brainer."

If you decide to add social media to your marketing mix in your efforts to increase sales, these quick tips may help you:

  1. Determine what sites have the greatest value to your. Facebook is more about business to retail (B2R) or business to consumer (B2C) while LinkedIn is more about business to business (B2B). Twitter can be used in all three arenas.
  2. Construct your education based marketing messages. For example, I write articles and then Tweet them with a link to the article. Additionally, I tweet my sales blog or will update my LinkedIn profile.
  3. Schedule a calendar of when you will take action. From daily tweets to writing or updating your Facebook profile along with micro-blogging all take time. This is why a schedule is definitely required.
  4. Consider hiring someone to help you. If you have a son or daughter who enjoys social media, you may enlist their help.
  5. Monitor your results. For example, on February 2, 2010 I started my sales blog. My Alexa ranking was around 410,000. By the end of March, 2010 the ranking was below 350,000. By monitoring this real time traffic monitor, I can quickly see more traffic coming to my website. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Download the free Toolbar from Alexa and you can quickly learn the traffic of other sites including your competitors. The lower the rating the better it is. Note: This is not the only tool to monitor and measure your results.

Today in business especially in marketing you must be ahead of the flow as I write in my book on sales success - Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits. To handle this challenge does require devoting time to understanding marketing, observing market trends and further expanding your own knowledge. By taking this actions, you can be that Red Jacket and secure your own competitive advantage.

Education and the Unemployment Rate

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I read a couple of interesting statistics the other day in an article about the widening talent shortage among many American companies. The first was a citing about a study done by ManpowerGroup, a Milwaukee-based workforce consultant, showing that 52 % of employers can't recruit skilled workers for their open positions. The other stat, this time by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that of the 9.2% of American currently unemployed, 78% have only a high school education or less.

These numbers are surprising and they tell me a couple of things worth noting regarding our stubbornly high unemployment rate. One is that the rate might not be so high if Americans would get educated and trained in areas of shortage and need. The other is that thinking you are going to get ahead in the 21st century with just a high school education is not preparation for the future.

The public and their proxy the media love to play the blame game for the high unemployment rate. It's the Democrats fault or the Republicans fault. It's greedy Wall Street or lazy Europeans and so on and so on. Instead of finding fault, perhaps we need to hold up a mirror and look into it. We could lower the unemployment rate and all of the misery associated with it significantly if we would further our education in strategic ways. Education is one of the best ways out of this mess.

I rarely hear or read the mainstream media report about this lurking education gap as being a contributor to the unemployment rate and I pay attention to a lot of news. Why do you think that is? Why is the national anchorperson hesitant to say that too many of the unemployed are lacking in the right kinds of education? Perhaps there is a concern that to say so might be perceived as elitist or that someone's feelings may be hurt. There is an elephant in the unemployment room that is being ignored and not fully discussed. And we as a country do ourselves no favors to avoid it.

We should address this issue head on. If we could be delivered news we could really use such as where the human resource shortages are and what is involved in preparing to fill them we could be much better informed. Let's hear more reports about the skills deficit for a change instead of this constant obsession about budget deficits. Let's agree that without a vigorous push for high quality education at all levels, then our chances of competing in the world marketplace are greatly diminished.

School districts and universities need to be more engaged in this conversation as well. Of course their mission is to provide a broad range of learning opportunities to the greatest number of people. But by not identifying and shifting resources to address critical shortage areas of the economy they are denying our workforce significant solutions needed now. Academic advisors and counselors need to work more aggressively aligning emerging talent with areas of employment need.

And let's try harder to see education as the benefit that it is. There is too much of an attitude that views education more as a cost than as an investment. Education can provide individuals with practical skills, a critical thinking ability, and confidence to succeed. It's among the best self-help techniques society can do for itself.

We can do more to reduce unemployment than to just wait for banks, corporations, or government to release more money. We can be smarter about creating a congruence between hiring gaps and workforce development.

How to Obtain the Accelerated Christian Education in the Christian Higher Educational Establishment?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When a person decides to obtain further education, he or she usually thinks a lot about the field he or she wants to work in and about the institution in which he or she would like to study. This is not an easy question and it requires a lot of time. Also a person usually thinks about the way of receiving the education. There are two ways of getting the education: it can be obtained by attending the full-time courses or by taking the online programs. Besides you can receive the degree in the accelerated way. All the possibilities of getting the education in such ways are offered by almost all higher educational establishments.

One of the educations which you can receive is the Christian education. One may obtain it in the online Christian Colleges by taking the online accelerated programs. This category of education comprises articles pertaining to education about Christian principles, or spiritual or secular education conducted by Christian organizations. After the graduation from the Christian colleges you will be prepared for the work with the knowledge of the degree program.

How to Earn a Degree in the Christian Colleges?

Almost all students, who would like to continue their education in the higher educational establishments, prefer to receive their education by means of online programs. The online programs give a lot of opportunities and possibilities. The online programs, which give you an opportunity to receive the degree, are the most convenient way of studying.

There are a lot of Christian Colleges which provide students with the online degree programs. Online Christian Colleges give students an opportunity to study by the very comfortable conditions. The only thing they should have is the working computer and the connection with the Internet. They can study just at home, office or at their favorite place and at the same time they can earn their education. While studying at the online Christian colleges students have to obtain the knowledge about different Christian principles and attains. To be able to study all those things, students have to know how to chat online and how to use an email. Also they should have the idea about the basics of the internet.

Almost all online universities and colleges offer the online accelerated education. It is the way of studying by which students can receive their online degrees in advance. But in this case they should be ready to be patient and reserved. It is the well-known fact that great effort at the beginning brings fruitful and pleasant conclusion of the matter. It means that while receiving your degree by the accelerated program, you will work a lot at the beginning in order to obtain the degree in advance. But then you will get the degree earlier than the students who study attending the full-time courses.

Online Christian Colleges also provide students with the accelerated online degree programs. These colleges have special accelerated curricula which give students an opportunity to finish their education in advance. Usually these programs are taken by students who have jobs or families. In these cases they don't have time to cope with all the assignments and housework, but the online accelerated programs allows them to study and work at the same time. But the only problem of the online accelerated programs in the Christian Colleges is that the obtaining, for example, the Bachelor's degree will require four years of studying - the same time in which campus graduates will finish their education. Nowadays in some Christian institutions the question which concerns the shortening of the courses is regarded. And the accelerated Christian education will soon be obtained in less than four years.

The Kinds of Degrees which can be provided in the Christian Colleges

A lot of different higher educational establishments provide students with various kinds of degrees in different fields. The Online Christian Colleges are not the exceptions. All of them can offer different courses in graduate and post-graduate degrees. Some higher educational establishments can prepare students for the obtaining the degrees in the fields of Christian Counseling, Ministry, Theology and Biblical Studies. At the same time other institutions provide students with non-sectarian courses in business, engineering, education and liberal arts.

After getting the idea from this article you can guess if you like the field of Christian education or not. It is the well-known fact that the future must be clarified beforehand. You have to make a decision about your future career or profession. You have to be sure about the choice of higher educational establishment and the kind of degree which you want to obtain. If you consider the accelerated Christian degree to be the best choice for you, then you have to move forward to your aim and enter the Online Christian College. This institution will provide you with the convenience and ease of studying. There you will be treated like the individuality and the attitude to you will have the spiritual value.

Christian education is at the very heart of the church. In the educational process the Spirit of God encounters people of all ages so that they are nurtured in faith, grow in knowledge and experience, and are inspired and empowered to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. This call to discipleship compels us to share our faith and serve others in the home, the community, and in God's world.

So make your choice and you are welcome to study in the Online Christian Colleges where you can easily get the accelerated Christian education.

3 Lies Told by Some Special Education Personnel About Autism and How You Can Fight Back!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Are you concerned that your young child may have autism even though you have you been told by special education personnel that he or she doesn't? Would you like to know 3 of the lies told by many special education personnel about this disorder? Would you also like to learn advocacy strategies to overcome these lies? This article will address 3 of the most common lies told to parents about autism!

Lie 1: Your child does not have autism, they are emotionally disturbed! This is the most common lie that I see as an educational advocate. Most children with autism do have emotional and behavioral difficulty, but this is caused by the disorder. To truly be emotionally disturbed, the child cannot have any other disability causing the behavioral difficulty; which of course is not true in this case.

The reason that this is important is because if a child has autism, they will probably need extensive related and special education services, to benefit from their education. If the school district can convince you that your child does not have autism but is emotionally disturbed, they can try and deny all of the educational, services that your child needs.

You can advocate for your child by having them tested privately, with a psychologist specifically trained in this area. Bring these results to the school district and ask that your child be found eligible for special education under the category of autism; not emotionally disturbed (if the evaluation shows that this is true).

Lie 2: Your child does not have autism because they do not have the repetitive behavior that is a symptom of autism. I hear this a lot too, especially for children that have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children do not have the typical features associated with this disorder. Over the years I have had many special education personnel tell me that a certain child did not have a certain disability; without testing them. The child needs to be given an autism rating scale by a qualified professional.

The one that I recommend is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). It is easy to fill out and to come up with a score. The higher the score is the greater chance that the child has the disorder.

There is also an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) that can be given again by a qualified trained professional. Insist that your child receive an Autism Rating Scale (CARS), or the ADOS.

Lie 3: Okay so your child has autism; but they are not eligible for special education services because the autism does not affect their education.

The federal law governing special education is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). In 2004 the act was reauthorized, and the language stating that the child's disability must negatively affect the child's education, was taken out. It now states that for a child to be eligible for special education services, they must have a disability and have educational needs. No mention of disability negatively affecting the child's education.

You should ask the special education personnel, to please show you in Federal Law where it states that special education eligibility, depends on the child's disability negatively affecting their education. It does not exist and they will not be able to show you. As an advocacy technique keep repeating that it is your opinion that your child has autism and has educational needs. This is all that is required for a child to be found eligible.

You are the advocate for your child; stand up to special education personnel because your child is depending on you!

 

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