Sequences: Piecewise Explicit
People have been doing research formally or informally since the beginning of time. We are always trying to figure out how to do this or why something is the way that it is. In this post, we will look at different ways to view and or conduct research. These perspectives are empirical, theoretical, and analytical.
Perhaps the most common form or approach to doing research is the empirical approach. This approach involves observing reality and developing hypotheses and theories based on what was observed. This is an inductive approach to doing research because the researcher starts with their observations to make a theory. In other words, you start with examples and abstract them to theories.
An example of this is found in the work of Charles Darwin and evolution. Darwin collected a lot of examples and observations of birds during his travels. Based on what he saw he inferred that animals evolved over time. This was his conclusion based on his interpretation of the data. Later, other researchers tried to further bolster Darwin’s theory by finding mathematical support for his claims.
The order in which empirical research is conducted is as follows…
You can see that hypotheses and theory are derived from data which is similar to qualitative research. However, steps 4 and 5 are were the equation developing and or statistical tools are used. As such the empirical view of research is valuable when there is a large amount of data available and can include many variables, which is again often common for quantitative methods.
To summarize this, empirical research is focused on what happened, which is one way in which scientific laws are derived.
The theoretical perspective is essentially the same process as empirical but moving in the opposite direction. For theorists, the will start with what they think about the phenomenon and how things should be. This approach starts with a general principle and then the researcher goes and looks for evidence that supports their general principle. Another way of stating this is that the theoretical approach is deductive in nature.
A classic example of this is Einstein’s theory of relativity. Apparently, he deduced this theory through logic and left it to others to determine if the theory was correct. To put it simply, he knew without knowing, if this makes sense. In this approach, the steps are as follows
You collect data to confirm the hypotheses. Common statistical tools can include simulations or any other method that is suitable in situations in which there is little data available. The caveat is that the data must match the phenomenon to have meaning. For example, if I am trying to understand some sort of phenomenon about women I cannot collect data from as this does not match the phenomenon.
In general, theoretical research is focused on why something happens which is the goal of most theories, explaining why.
Analytical research is probably the hardest to explain and understand. Essentially, analytical research is trying to understand how people develop their empirical or theoretical research. How did Darwin make this collection or how did Einstein develop his ideas.
In other words, analytical research is commonly used to judge the research of others. Examples of this can be people who spend a lot of time criticizing the works of others. An analytical approach is looking for the strengths and weaknesses of various research. Therefore, this approach is focused on how research is done and can use tools both from empirical and theoretical research.
The point here was to explain different views om conducting research. The goal was not to state that one is superior to the other. Rather, the goal was to show how different tools can be used in different ways
The post will talk about some of the characteristics and costs of university studies during the Medieval time period. Naturally, there are a lot of similarities to modern times. However, many aspects of university life took time to grow and develop as we will see.
Universities during the Middle Ages were distinct from what we see today. There were essentially no buildings that made up the university. This means that initially in many situations in Europe there ewer no libraries, no laboratories, no halls, no endowments or money, and even no sports. Today, we often think of universities in terms of there physical presence. In the past, universities were thought of in terms of the students and teachers who learned and taught regardless of the physical location.
A university was defined as the totality of students and teachers in a particular location. Both the teachers and the students organized themselves into groups for bargaining power. The university of students would work together to control rent, book price, and tuition. If local businesses tried to abuse them the students would threaten to leave. The students also placed expectations on the teachers such as no absences without permission, no leaving the city without leaving a deposit (this prevented crooks from taking tuition and running), maintain a regular schedule.
Professors formed their own guild called the college and set expectations for people who wanted to become professors. In addition to colleges, teachers would form themselves into faculty, which is several teaches from the same discipline. Faculties were allowed to confer degrees and promote students to the academic rank of masters. In addition, it was common for teachers to be celibate
The term “college” was also used to refer to the hospice or residence hall where students live. This is similar to the modern-day dormitories. Originally, colleges were for religious students and not for secular. To this day, institutions of higher learning are referred to as colleges and or universities. The success of universities put the cathedral, monastic and provincial schools a=out of business.
Textbooks were hard to find during the Middle Ages. This was before the printing press which means that books were copied by hand. this was highly time-consuming and kept the price of books high. To get around this, it was common for students to rent books rather than purchase them. This is a strategy that is stilled being used today, especially with ebooks.
Books were so valuable that they were not even supposed to leave the city. In addition, professors were expected to turn over their lecture notes occasionally so that they could be converted into books. Famous textbooks from this time include Peter Lombard’s “Sentences” a theological book and the jurist Gratian’s text “Decretum.” With the rental system, it actually postponed the need for libraries
Completing the degrees involved 3-4 for the BA which included completing an examination before 4 teachers. Since nobody owned books, memorizing was heavy. For many students, the BA was the end of their academic career but for those who wanted to continued they were often expected to teach for two years before taking the masters.
The masters was often focused on obtaining the license to teach. This process involved attending lectures until a student believed he was ready for the examinations. This varied by disciplined but after the BA a student could take 2-4 years after completing the BA for a total of 5-8 years
University life was different yet somewhat similar to the modern era. The features of the modern university crept in gradually as the schools adjusted to the demands of modern life. As such, we can be sure that higher education will continue to change as it continues to adapt to the needs of the students
Time management is a constant problem in teaching. How long should class periods be? How often should students meet for one class? These are just some questions that need to be addressed.
Despite the challenge and confusion, determining how much time students spend with a teacher has some flexibility to it. In this post, we will look at options in terms of scheduling the time that students spend with teachers.
Looping is a scheduling strategy that involves the teacher moving to the next grade or subject with their students. For example, if the teacher is a multi-subject teacher at the primary level he or she may move from 1st to 2nd grade with their students. If the teacher is a subject teacher they may move from Algebra to Geometry with their students. This experience can last anywhere from 2-5 years for the students and teacher.
One of the main benefits of this is the relationships that develop between the teacher and students. The students benefit from the continuity of expectations. The teacher does not have to reestablish routines and procedures every year and can move straight to teaching rather than classroom management. Lastly, the teacher also knows the strength and weaknesses of all the students and can adjust accordingly.
Among the problems with this is actually a prior benefit. If the students get along well with the teacher looping can be a fun experience but if the students and teacher do not get along well this can mean spending up to five years with students or a teacher that is disliked. This can lead to serious problems with performance and motivation as well as stress for the teacher.
Another problem is the workload for the teacher. Every year the teacher is preparing new materials, not for a familiar class but a completely new one. This is particularly challenging when the teacher is going through the loop the first time. Essentially it can take up to five years to make it through one loop, which is a substantial amount of time for a teaching career. This kind of context is almost impossible for a new teacher and difficult for an experienced one with constant year-to-year changes.
Block scheduling involves extending the time of a traditional period from 50-60 minutes to 80-90 minutes. Essentially, block scheduling involves extending the class period by 50%. This gives the teachers more time to go deeper into content, it reduces the amount of time spent on transitions, and provides students with a glimpse into what class periods are like at the college level.
There are two common variations of block scheduling the 4×4 plan and the A/B plan. The 4×4 plan involves taking four classes in the first semester using the block schedule and a different four classes for the second semester. For example, if a student is taking algebra first semester, using a block schedule they would not take algebra the second semester because they have already completed all the hours they need. This can be a problem because the students would not be exposed to any math for almost a year.
The A/B plan involves having students take all 8 subjects at the same time. The difference in this approach is that students will have the same classes every other day. For example, if a student is taking Algebra, they may have that class on Monday and Wednesday instead of every day. This allows the class to meet for the entire year, which helps to keep academic skills stronger.
The main complaint about block scheduling comes from non-core teachers. Subjects such as music and foreign languages benefit from meeting every day rather than every other day or for only one semester. The same can be said of PE as students need frequent exercise. Another problem is one similar to looping. If the teacher or students are bad it can be torture to have to deal with them for an additional 30 minutes.
Managing the time that teachers spend with students has several options to consider. There are strengths and weaknesses to all approaches but it is still important to know what your options are when making these decisions.
When universities began to sprout during the Middle Ages any things were not standardized. An example of something that was not standardized was the titles and degrees associated with the completion of one’s studies and working at a university.
As early as the 4th century AD there were people who were claiming academic titles they had not earned. As such schools began to examine the process of what constitutes a degree and how to earn one.
The universities loosely copied the guild system used by artisans. In the guild system, it is made up of three levels the apprentice, journeyman, and master. This is what the three tiers of education in universities may be inspired by (Bachelors, Masters, PhD). Bachelor students were called apprentices, masters were called assistants, and PhD were called companions. The word bachelor comes from baccalarius and is loosely translated as an assistant.
The first distinction was made between the bachelor’s degree and the masters and PhD. After this separation, a distinction was made between the master’s degree and PhD. Another degree common during this period and still today in some parts of the world was the licentiate. In some situations, the licentiate was the same as a Master’s degree while in others it was a step above a master’s degree.
Bachelor’s degrees students often completed their studies in their late teens. This was because for several centuries students started university studies at 12-13 years of age. Eventually, the content of this bachelor was placed at the high school level as educators thought that preteens were too young for higher education.
To complete their degree, a bachelor’s degree student had to study for several years and pass an examination before four professors. If they desired to continue on to the master’s degree, they had to agree to teach for two years while working on the master’s degree. This helped to provide them with practical experience in the art of teaching.
To complete a master’s, a student went through a similar yet more rigorous process to complete the degree. If they desired a doctorate they would teach for several more years while studying. In all, masters could be completed by mid-twenties and a doctorate by early to mid-thirties.
Upon the completion of studies, there was also confusion over titles. At first, professors, magister, and doctor were all synonyms and these titles were used for people with and without a doctoral degree. Certain disciplines gravitated more towards one title or the other. For example, it was more common to call theology professors doctors compared to the arts.
With time things become more formalized. Now there is a strong distinction between bachelor, master, and doctoral degree. In addition, there is also a clear hierarchy in terms of the titles for professors based on seniority and the highest degree completed. It would be considered strange to call someone with a bachelor’s degree “doctor” in the world today.
Whenever people come together to try and do something there is always some initial confusion. Rules and policies need to be established and people need to determine what is their function within this system. This can also be seen in the growth of the university system of education which has had its own growing pains as well.
The Roman Empire was like any other empire in that it was made up of families. These families raised their children so that the children would, in turn, one day serve or rule. Therefore, it is reasonable to make the conclusion that there was some style or way in which the Romans raised their children. This post will provide a brief look at how Rich and poor Romans went about approaching the challenge of early childhood education.
At birth, a child was swaddled for about two months. This was done to ensure strong limbs and prevent the child from poking at their eyes. During the first seven years of life rich parents had little contact with their child. This was because the infant mortality rate was so high. By avoiding the development of a relationship with the child rich parents avoided a large amount of the grief associated with a premature death of their child. Among the poor, this was not an option and they raised their children from the beginning.
The rich employed slaves nutrix and paedagog to look after their children. The nutrix was a wet nurse. She raised the child until about the age of seven. There were actually qualifications for this job. The nutrix had to have perfect Greek/Latin pronunciation because everyone knew that the child would imitate her speech. A child needed to sound like a Roman and not as a slave. This was important because there is a story of how Hadrian, before he became emperor, read a letter out loud to the senate. The problem is that Hadrian was from Spain and like the proper pronunciation of a Roman Senator. He was, therefore, ridiculed because of his pronunciation.
If a child survived to seven they would begin formal education. This is when the work of the nutrix decreased and the paedaog took over. His job was to be a bodyguard/servant of the child. The paedaog went everywhere with the child. Accompanying them to school, to the bathhouse, and to play with friends. One of their primary jobs was to protect the child from pedophiles.
Besides, the parents would become much more involved in the child’s life as the threat of death was normally much more reduced by this age. The purpose of education was to become an exemplary Roman citizen involved. A parent’s job was to provide an example of what that meant. Girls were taught to aspire towards marriages, having children and managing a home. Fathers had absolute authority over their children and could even lawfully put them to death.
Another key aspect of the early childhood experiences would have been practical matters such as the birth of a sibling or experiencing the entertainment of Roman. Gladiator fights, chariot races, and triumphs would have been experiences that all children would have had. Triumphs, in particular, could have a powerful effect on rich male boys who may have aspired to have their own one day
Childhood in Ancient Rome was really a time of separation from parents during the most formative years combined with the preparation of citizenship. Being a Roman was considered inherently valuable and parents invest a great deal in this for their children
New teachers often experience the shock of being a teacher. In this post, we will look at three common shocks new teachers face. These shocks are the shock of the classroom, administration, and peers.
Shock of the Classroom
A new teacher has to deal with the reality of the classroom. The problem here is that teachers are highly familiar with the classroom experience as students. This warps their perception of the classroom as they are no longer a student but a teacher. In other words, the student is now on the other side of the desk as a teacher.
This change can be difficult to adjust to. For example, it is common for new teachers to struggle with developing appropriate relationships with students. By appropriate it is meant avoiding the pitfall of trying to be buddies with the students. Cordial relationships are good as a teacher but the teacher is still an authority figure who needs to respected and obeyed by the students. This balance is difficult for many teachers to find as many new teachers want to be liked.
Another major challenge is the implementation of all the various teaching strategies that were acquired as a student-teacher. All teaching styles work but all teaching styles do not work for all teachers. It takes time to develop a personal style of teaching and this is learned mainly through trial and error. Unfortunately, the students are the guinea pigs in this process of instructional mastery.
Shock of Administration
Working with the principal also demands a shift in perspective. All teachers were students who interacted with principals before but at a larger social distance. Now as a teacher, the social distance is smaller but this can actually make things more confusing in terms of how to relate.
The principal is a colleague but also superior. They can support a teacher’s teaching with advice and counsel but could also, and even simultaneously, believe that a teacher is unfit for their school. This dual role of supporter and judge can be uncomfortable for many.
Some principals have an open door policy while others say they have an open-door policy because that is what they are supposed to say. Some will help while others will say they will help because that is what they are supposed to say. The mixed messages can be frustrating. However, if there are any significant problems at a school it is the principal who is the first to pay the price. Therefore, many leaders are not only looking at the teachers but also trying to watch their own back.
Shock of Peers
Another shift in perspective needed is dealing with peers. Again, a new teacher brings their viewpoint of being a former student with them when interacting with fellow teachers. Now as a teacher, a new teacher gets to see what teachers are really like. The gossip in the breakroom, politic intrigue with the administration, complaints about parents and students, and more. Sometimes the atmosphere can be somewhat negative, to say the least.
Dealing with other teachers is not always negative. There are opportunities for collaboration and learning from more experienced teachers. However, it is important to know both sides of the experience so that a new teacher is not disappointed with what they see.
The main problem here is that a new teacher has to deal with changing their perspective on how they see education. Going forward, a new teacher is an authority figure and not a friend and a colleague/employee and not a student. With this transition comes confusion that can be overcome with time.
Paraphrasing is an absolute skill in a professional setting. By paraphrasing, it is meant to have the ability to take someone else’s words and rephrase them while giving credit for the original source. Whenever a student fails to do this it is called plagiarism which is a major problem in academia. In this post, we will look at several tips on how to paraphrase.
The ability to paraphrase academically takes almost near-native writing ability. This is because you have to be able to play with the language in a highly complex manner. To be able to do this after a few semesters of ESL is difficult for the typical student. Despite this, there are several ways to try to make paraphrase work. Below are just some ideas.
One tip not mentioned is reading. Next, to actually writing, nothing will improve writing skills like reading. Being exposed to different texts helps you develop an intuitive understanding of the second language in a way that copying and pasting never will.
Using synonyms is a first step in paraphrasing an idea but this approach cannot be used by itself as that is considered to be plagiarism by many people. With synonyms, you replace some words with others. The easiest words to replace are adjectives and verbs, followed by nouns. Below is an example. The first sentence is the original one and the second is the paraphrase.
The man loves to play guitar
The man likes to play guitar
In the example above all we did was change the word “loves” to “like”. This is a superficial change that is often still considered plagiarism because of how easy it is to do. We can take this a step further by modifying the infinitive verb “to play.”
The man loves to play guitar
The man likes to play guitar
The man likes playing guitar
Again this is superficial but a step above the first example. In addition, most word processors will provide synonyms if you right-click on the word and off course there are online options as well. Remember that this is a beginning and is a tool you use in addition to more complex approaches.
Change the Syntax
Changing the syntax has to do with the word order of the sentence or sentences. Below is an example
The man loves to play guitar
Playing the guitar is something the man loves
In this example, we move the infinitive phrase “to play” to the front and change it to a present participle. There were other adjustments that needed to be made to maintain the flow of the sentence. This example is a more advanced form of paraphrasing and it may be enough to only do this to avoid plagiarism. However, you can combine synonyms and syntax as shown in the example below
The man loves to play guitar
Playing the guitar is something the man likes
Make Several Sentences
Another approach is to convert a sentence(s) into several more sentences. As shown below
The man loves to play guitar
This man has a hobby. He likes playing guitar.
You can see that there are two sentences now. The first sentence indicates the man has a hobby and the second explains what the hobby is and how much he likes it. In addition, in the second sentence, the verb “to play” was changed to the present participle of “playing.”
Condensing or summarizing is not considered by everyone to be paraphrasing. The separation between paraphrasing and summarizing is fuzzy and it is more of a continuum than black and white. With this technique, you try to reduce the length of the statement you are paraphrasing as shown below.
The man loves to play guitar
He likes guitar
This was a difficult sentence to summarizes because it was already so short. However, we were able to shrink it from six to three words by removing what it was about the guitar he liked.
We will now look at several academic examples to show the applications of these rules in a real context. The passage below is some academic text
There is also a push within Southeast Asia for college graduates to have
interpersonal skills. For example, Malaysia is calling for graduates to
have soft skills and that these need to be part of the curriculum of tertiary schools.
In addition, a lack of these skills has been found to limit graduates’ employability.
Example 1: Paraphrase with synonyms and syntax changes
There are several skills graduates need for employability in Southeast Asia. For example, people skills are needed. The ability to relate to others is being pushed for inclusion in higher education from parts of Southeast Asia (Thomas, 2018).
You can see how difficult this can be. We rearranged several concepts and changed several verbs to try and make this our own sentence. Below is an example of condensing.
Example 2: Condensing
There is demand in Southeast Asia for higher education to develop the interpersonal skills of their students as this is limiting the employability of graduates (Thomas, 2018).
With this example, we reduced the paragraph to one sentence.
Culture and Plagiarism
There are majors differences in terms of how plagiarism is viewed based on culture. In the West, plagiarism is universally condemned both in and out of academia as essentially stealing ideas from other people. However, in other places, the idea of plagiarism is much more nuanced or even okay.
In some cultures, one way to honor what someone has said or taught is to literally repeat it verbatim. The thought process goes something like this
Of course, everyone does not think like this but I have experienced enough to know that it does happen.
Whether the West likes it or not plagiarism is a cultural position rather than an ethical one. To reduce plagiarism requires to show students how it is culturally unacceptable in an academic/professional setting to do this. The tips in this post will at least provide tools for how to support students to overcome this habit
Universities during the Middle Ages could grow quite large. Some estimates put universities with populations of up to 30,000. However, this number includes not only students but also faculty, staff, administration, and even servants of students. Naturally, with such a large population of people and primarily young people, there were going to be challenges with student behavior.
It was common for university students to be boys between the ages of 12-15. In order to enroll, a young person had to bring with them a letter that attests to their character, similar to a letter of recommendation. In addition, they also needed to indicate what the planned to study, which we would call declaring a major today. If students were disruptive enough they would be whipped and sent home.
Many of these young students were sponsored by the church to serve as clergy in the future. However, it was common and even okay for young scholars to beg in order to support their studies. The idea of the starving students is much older then many of us knew.
Even though many students were essentially pre-teens the older students began to organize into groups based on the country or region they were from and make demands of the school and local government. Among the demands were the following.
TO achieve these means, students would shift their loyalty to whoever supported them whether it was Pope, King or Emperor. Generally, everyone wanted the support of the students for political and or economic reasons. The Pope and Emperor want the political backing of students in order to have greater influence. The King wanted the students support because universities boosted the local economy.
Despite the best efforts of universities, students still found ways to get into considerable trouble. An example of this is taken from the 13th century at the University of Paris and is one of many instances of what were called “Town-Gown Riots” with town representing the community and gown representing the students.
In this particular instance, a servant of the archdeacon of the university goes to a tavern to get wine for their master. While the servant is at the tavern, he gets into an argument, is beaten, and the master’s flask (bottle) is broken. The archdeacon was English and this led to English students beating the tavern-keeper in revenge for the injury to their countrymen (remember that students live in communities by country).
To avenge the beating of their Parisian brother, the Parisian citizens attack the English boarding house and kill several students including the archdeacon. The university teachers responded by going to the king and complain about the death of the archdeacon who was their peer. Of course, they were also a little concerned about the dead students.
King was afraid of losing the university so he punished the leader of the city and gave the university more autonomy by giving it all freedom from civic authority. However, a second riot happened a few years later and led to many teachers and students leaving Paris to return to England and this contributed to the founding of both Oxford and Cambridge.
One reason for this chaos was that many universities did not own any buildings. Classes and living arrangements were chaotic and spread all over. This lack of centralization made it easy for such violence to take place.
Student life has always been full of challenges. For ages, students have made demands and caused trouble. Perhaps for the stressed administrator, it is reassuring that these problems are not new.
This post will look at the symbiotic relationship between memorization and critical thinking. Both forms of thinking need each other as they serve different purposes in learning. Memorization is a passive skill while critical thinking is an active skill
Memorizing is the process of retaining information. In other words, a person is not only experiencing something but actively trying to remember it for future recall. This can be something as simple as a phone number or as complicated as the plot to a movie. Our minds do not retain everything that stimulates us but rather what we choose to notice.
To keep things as simple as possible we have working memory and long-term memory. Working memory is where new information comes into the mind. After something has been in the working memory long enough, emphasized, or rehearsed enough, it will become a part of long term memory.
Working memory is also used to complete tasks. For example, you are using working memory to read this post. You know how to read as this is in your long-term memory but working memory is used to do the actual reading. However, because reading is something so familiar for most of us it does not take up as much concentration as it used to. This allows us to focus on other things such as comprehension or reading faster.
Within education, memorizing is a part of the learning process. It is a passive skill in that you do not produce anything new when memorizing but just repeat what was seen, said/written. Students have to memorize steps, dates, numbers, directions, etc. This memorization is used to complete assignments, pass quizzes, prepare for a test, etc. In other words, memorizing is an important and crucial aspect of the learning process. As such, students go to elaborate lengths to try to retain information such as staying up late rote memorizing, using various memorization techniques, and or working with friends to retain knowledge. There are even times when students resort to cheating to achieve their goals.
Critical thinking is the process of judging/manipulating information in various ways. For example, information can be compared and contrasted, synthesize, analyzed, evaluated, etc. All the verbs mentions involve either judging the information or in some way creating new knowledge such as by comparison. Critical thinking is an active skill in that something new is created through this thought process.
One of the primary goals of critical thinking is to be able to develop a position and support that position with evidence. For example, if someone loves to travel, critical thinking would involve providing evidence for why they love to travel. This is harder for students then it seems as they often supply emotional arguments rather than rational ones.
Therefore, it could be said that critical thinking is an extension of memorizing. You cannot think critically unless you have something to think about. Also, you will have nothing in your head unless it has been memorized in one way or another. However, critical thinking is not about the discussion of petty facts like dates. Rather, critical thinking often involves looking at the big picture and trying to explain major events. It’s the forest rather than the trees often.
An example of this would be a discussion on WWII. You can ask students to try to explain what do they think was motivating Hitler to start WWII. A question such as this assumes knowledge of Hitler, Germany, WWII and more. However, such a question as this is not asking you to ponder the day the war started or ended or the hair color of Hitler. In other words, there are things that a student needs to know to think critically about their response but it needs to be substantial information.
Now we may be moving in a circle. If critical thinking involves using substantial information that is memorized who determines what is substantial? Unfortunately, critical thinking determines what is important and not important. This means that we need to be critical about what we memorize and critical about how we use what we have memorized. The only way to learn how to do this is with practice. By exposing yourself to the information you learn how to retain what is important and what is not. Sometimes you remember what the book is about while other times you remember the name of the book so you can find it later. It all depends on the context.
Memorizing and critical thinking are a team when it comes to learning. Learning often begins with memorizing something. However, what we memorize can depend on what we think is important and this involves critical thinking at least hopefully. Critical thinking is the process of using what we already know to evaluate it or create a different perspective on something.
In this post, we will take a look at some strategies to support the development of reading skills in small children. Reading is such a fundamental skill that it is important that students are provided with opportunities to develop this important talent.
Let them See You Reading
In order to establish a culture of reading in the home/school children need to see people reading. When something is common it naturally becomes an expectation in terms of behavior. Children need to know that reading is a part of being a member of a household/classroom and that everyone is expected to do this.
What is meant by reading is reading from a book. We can do lots of reading online but reading online establishes a culture of being online rather than reading a book. It is common to believe that how one reads makes no difference. However, this may not be true when applied o children.
Read with them
Nothing will inspire perseverance in learning something for a child than having an adult with them when they are struggling. It seems as if anything can be learned with support. Therefore, it is critical that parents/teachers read with children. The feedback and correction that they receive while reading one-on-one builds reading skills. Furthermore, Reading together provides accountability for young readers.
It is tempting to have a child go read only. However, given the naturally social nature of many children, coupled with their desire for attention, sending them off alone will simply make reading boring for many children.
In order to develop comprehension, it is important to ask children questions about what they are reading. It is common for kids to read a text but not really know what it is about or what is going on. This can be especially true for abstract texts such as textbooks that usually lack a narrative that is found in a story.
Younger students who are learning to read, struggle so much with the mechanics of reading that they will neglect comprehension. These are just a few reasons why it is important to ask children questions when they are reading. Asking questions forces the child to be aware of what they are reading rather just on reading it. This is one example of developing thinking strategies
As children get older, they often begin to have questions about what they are reading. Therefore, it is important to encourage children to ask questions and to be sure to provide answers to them.
It’s not necessary to answer the questions directly. For example, you can point the child back to the text to look for the answer or ask another question that might help them find the answer to their own question. One goal of teaching is to make students autonomous learners and this means that providing the answer to every question may not be beneficial.
Reading provides foundational skills for learning throughout life. Children need to be provided with opportunities to experience reading and interact with others in this learning experience.
Finding that first teaching job and signing that first contract is the dream of many young students. Another goal for many is to achieve tenure. In this post, we will look at the teacher’s contract and tenure.
A contract is an agreement with obligations between two or more peoples or parties. It clearly explains the duties and rights of both sides. From the teacher’s perspective, duties can include such things as the teaching assignment, length of the school day, and length of the school year. In terms of rights for the teacher, it may address such items as salary, max class size, and the process for grievances. A grievance is a way to complain about working conditions such as classes that are too large or neglect of building maintenance.
All teachers, including teachers with tenure, sign a contract. The contract is generally of one academic year in length. One reason for this length is because budgets are generally year-to-year and it may be necessary to not renew contracts of teachers. Another reason is that if a teacher who does not have tenure is not performing it is easier to let go of them after a year than if they are signed to a multi-year contract.
Once a contract is signed, it needs to be approved by the school board, the principal or HR Director represents the school board but the contract is generally not considered official until the school board approves it. This is often a formality as the school board usually empowers the local administration to select the faculty.
A breach of contract takes place when either party does not fulfill its obligations in the contract. For example, a school does not pay a teacher or a teacher stops working for the school. The penalties for this vary. For the teacher, it is possible to have your teaching license suspended or revoked. A school that breaches a contract can be fined. However, this varies from state to state.
If it is ever necessary to breach a contract as a teacher it is best to ask for a release through a resignation letter. Often, employers avoid keeping workers who no longer want to be there and the release is granted. Also, the administrative headache of keeping someone employed who does not want to be there is not worth it. Most contracts have some explanation of how either party can get out of it.
Tenure is a removal of the probationary status of a new teacher. With tenure, a teacher moves to what is called a continuing contract, which stays in effect until further notice. This means that signing a yearly contract is mainly a formality until otherwise. Obtaining tenure varies by state. In some places, it based on time serve while in others it takes an action from the school board.
The primary purpose behind tenure is to allow the teacher to focus on teaching without concerns with interference. One example of interference would be worrying if you had a job next year because of philosophical differences with the administration.
Tenure is not a guaranteed job, rather it means that there must be grounds for dismissal. There must be a strong reason to dismiss a tenured teacher as the job now belongs to the teacher. Examples of ways to get fired for teachers with tenure include gross negligence, clear incompetence, or inappropriate behavior with students. Even when a tenured teacher should be dismissed many states require that the tenured teacher is given a chance to change their behavior. The exception being for highly offensive behavior such as being convicted of a crime.
The exception to this is when a school has to reduce the size of its workforce. When a school is struggling financially even tenured teachers are not safe. The school simply needs to demonstrate that they do not have the finances to support all of their current teachers.
A teacher needs to be aware of the hiring and dismissal policies for their own protection. Failure to be aware of the ideas covered in this post could put the teacher in a bad situation in which there appears to be no solution.
Conflict is a natural result of interacting with people. Whether in the home or job there are times when rules are ignored and subordinates clash with leadership. In the context of the school, it is important that certain processes are respected and observed when it may be necessary to discipline or terminate a teacher. In this post, we will look specifically at due processes and it’s role in administrative concerns with teachers.
Due process within the context of education means that teachers are treated fairly and their rights should not be violated. Of course, there is always a problem with determining what is fair and what is a violation of a teacher’s rights. Determining these two things is left to the courts to decide for each case.
The idea of due process is derived from the 5th and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution. The fifth amendment speaks of how a person will not be deprived of life, liberty, or property with due process of law. The 14th amendment essentially says the same thing but indicates that the state governments also cannot take away things without due process.
When attempting to determine the fairness of an action an administrator may take against a teacher. There are two forms of due process that need to be considered which are substantive due process and procedural due process.
Substantive due process is essentially how big of a deal the issue/problem is and whether the action of the administration is reasonable for the issue/problem. An example of a substantive process being unfair is if a teacher is terminated from their employment for being 10 minutes late one time. The problem in this example is tardiness and the action was termination. The question to consider is whether being late one time for ten minutes is substantive, or a big enough of a deal, to justify termination?
Procedural due process relates to how fair the process was for making a decision about a teacher. Returning to the example of the late teacher, if the teacher was dismissed without even hearing their side of the story, many would see that as a violation of procedures. This is because the teacher was not given an opportunity to explain what happened.
The definition of due process varies from one state to the other. However, below are some examples of proper due process when needing to handle disciplinary measures with a teacher.
This is not an exhaustive list. Rather, it is just some of the ideas that one needs to be aware of.
The ideas presented here are primarily limited to the United States. Due process is found in other countries. However, in some contexts, the law is on the books but not enforced. This can leave a teacher in a bad situation without help. This is especially true if foreign teachers who often have no protection when working abroad.
Due process is a tool meant to not only protect the teacher but to also protect the school as well. If a process is conducted fairly the teacher cannot make false claims against the school. As such, both sides need to be familiar with this process just in case it is necessary to make decisions that may appear to be detrimental to one of the parties.
As a teacher or even as an administrator, it will be necessary to consider the role of computers in the school or classroom. Some things to consider are how many computers will be available and how the will be distributed within the school. There can also be concerns with cost and supporting faculty and staff in helping students with technology.
In this post, we will look at different options for distributing computers within a school. There are essentially three choices to consider when distributing computers within a school, and they are computer labs, computer clusters, and a single computer.
Computer labs are probably the most popular choice for integrating computers into the classroom. With the computer lab, students go to where the computers are. The benefit of this is all the computers are in one place which allows all students to use a computer. It also should make it easier to monitor the students as they all have their own resources so it should, in theory, be easier for them to focus. In addition, it is common for the computer lab to have a computer technician who can provide technical support.
There are also problems with a computer lab. There must be a schedule which means that usually, only one class can use the computer lab at a time. The startup cost of a computer lab can be high has well. Buying 5 computers vs 50 can be a big deal for many institutions. Behavior can still be a problem because even though the student has their own computer it doesn’t mean they are using it to learn. Lastly, with numerous computers comes a need to provide technical support through hiring staff.
Computer clusters are essentially combining the computer lab with the regular classroom. Computer clusters involve having several computers in the regular classroom. How many computers make a cluster depends on the school. If we exclude the teacher’s computer it safe to say at least two computers would be considered the minimum for a cluster.
A variation of computer clusters is computer carts. Computer carts are carts that contain laptops. These carts can be checked out by the teacher for student use. You can think of them as a mobile computer lab. This allows the teacher to infuse their own classroom with technology rather than having to go to the lab. Depending on the school there can be enough laptops for everybody or simply to make clusters. In addition, instead of laptops, the school may have tablets or other technology available.
The benefits of computer clusters are that they are available all the time. Computer labs are book and taken but the cluster should be at the discretion of the teacher. Several students can collaborate on their computers to complete a project or other tasks. The downside is that it is not possible for everyone to be on the computers so there must be some way to manage the students who are not using them. Computers are generally popular with kids, so they will all want to be on the computers when possible.
Single Computer Classrooms
A single computer classroom has one computer. Generally, this is the teacher’s computer and or their laptop. This may seem counterintuitive but having only one computer helps to keep the cost down. However, the use of technology is limited to teach led actions because not all the students can use one computer at the same time. This means using such tools as videos, PowerPoints, demonstrations, etc. Activities that require more passivity from students.
The purpose is not to claim that any of the options discussed are better than the other. The purpose was to explain the options that are available for educators who are training to match their resources with their technology. Any of the choices mentioned here can work with appropriate support and cooperation.
Universities have been around under many names for over a Millennium. What they all have in common is a desire to train primarily young adults for scholar and professional service. In this post, we will look at three early medieval universities along with the influence of the Catholic Church in higher education at that time.
The school that became the University of Bologna was initially a law school. There was a need for experts in Roman Law, particularly the Justinian code, due to the influence of the Catholic Church. The school was officially recognized in 1158 by Frederick I.
By the 13th century, there were over 10,000 students. This led to a need for better organization among the students. This was done through the development of organizations that represented students by country of origin. The country representation then joined one of two campus-wide groups. The two main organizations in Bologna were the universitas citranontanorum and universitas ultramontanorum.
With organization began a push for social justice. There was often tension between students and teachers as well as students and the local community. As college kids of today, sometimes the university kids could cause the local community behavioral problems. There were scuffles between students and the local community that were called town and gown riots. “Town” refers to the non-academic and “gown” to students. In other parts of Europe, the fighting could be deadly.
At Bologna, the students pushed for and won the right to be judged by the university for their misdeeds. At this time, there were no official university buildings. This led to classes being held all over the city in random places. If there were any disagreements with the locals the students and or even the teachers would threaten to leave.
Salernum was another early university. Some have suggested that it was started in the 9th century. Salernum focused on medicine and was supported by Constantine of Carthage. Constantine was a scholar who studied music, math, medicine, and even necromancy.
Salernum was also associated with the crusades. The famous Robert de Guiscard, the father of the crusader Bohemond, supported this institution. Wounded crusaders would visit the school as they returned from battle in the Middle East. As the school grew, eventually students who wanted to practice medicine had to pass a government exam and serve under an experienced doctor for at least one year.
The school that became the University of Naples was organized in the 13th century as a law school. Naples was originally just several independent schools and teachers who were group together to make one academic community. The word “university” means one community.
By creating a single corporate body it was possible for the government to give privileges to the university such as conferring degrees. This prevented just anyone from starting a university and conferring degrees. Even the title of professor was controlled. A professor was a magister or doctor/teacher while a medicus was a practitioner
Role of the Church
The church was always looking for ways to extend its influence. When teachers, students, and the local community were fighting, the Pope was often serving as an intermediary. This naturally increased the influence and prestige of the papacy.
The church was also eager to recognize universities officially. This was similar to accreditation today and allowed students and teachers to work or study all over Europe at other schools. As such, both sides benefited from this transaction. However, the goal was not so much to asses the quality of the school as it was to gain influence over universities. As such, papal approval did not necessarily mean an excellent school but a school that the church had influence over.
These three universities played a critical role in the development of higher education in Europe, in particular, the continental side. Each school was reacting to the needs of the local community whether that was teaching law medicine or some other subject. The church was aware of the growth of this model of education and was sure to have influence in its development.
Some would say that success in the classroom begins in the mind. What and how a teacher thinks about the world around him can play a role in their success as a teacher. It’s within our minds that our attitudes are formed. By attitudes, we are talking about how one thinks or feels about something. What we think about something could have a serious influence on how we do oi ourselves. In this post, we look at several forms of relationships that teachers often develop attitudes about and these are attitudes towards self, students, peers, and the subject
Teaching is a profession that requires a lot of people skills and extroversion. However, to reach out to others a teacher needs to understand who they are as a person as well. If a teacher does not keep track of their own mental and emotional health it can quickly lead to burnout. This means that a teacher needs to be aware of their own emotions and stress in addition to the needs of the students.
A teacher needs to also reflect on how they are doing in terms of their teaching. There should be an internal desire to improve to help students to be successful. Many teachers neglect this as they focus on the social side of teaching.
What a teacher thinks about other students matters as well. If a teacher believes a student is dumb that students will often find ways to confirm this as stated by the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. However, sometimes a negative view of a student will motivate the student to excel in a desire to prove a teacher wrong. This is generally rare as students tend to succumb to the expectations of those around them.
Similarly, it is important for a teacher to consider their attitude towards parents. Demanding parents can have a negative effect on a teacher that can shape attitudes. The same can also be said of parents who are indifferent to their children’s studies. In both situations, a teacher wants to avoid a negative comment because the attitude you have towards a parent can spill over into the relationship/interaction with the student.
As with any other institution, schools have people who see things differently. Teachers will sometimes get along and will some times try to undermine each other. There will be disagreements and even fights over the use/allocation of resources, responsibilities, teaching styles, etc. Gossiping and forms of passive backstabbing do occur as well.
It is not all negative. There is laughing and camaraderie, sharing of ideas, and support when there are problems. Through the ups and downs of dealing with other teachers, it is important to try to maintain a positive attitude towards the people around and the institution we are working at.
It is also important that a teacher show interest and enthusiasm for their subject. This is normally not a problem as a teacher goes to school to learn this subject that they like. However, there are times when a teacher’s attitude towards a subject can become negative. If the teacher is asked to teach something they are not interested in or weak as it could cause a loss of enthusiasm. For example, a music teacher who is asked to cover PE. The music teacher might love music but would lack enthusiasm for PE.
Moving a teacher to a different grade or a subject within their expertise could also lead to this. For example, moving a 2nd-grade teacher to 4th grade my influence enthusiasm or moving a geometry teacher to teaching trigonometry. In both these situations, the teacher is competent for the assignment but not interested.
Lastly, any of the ideas present in the previous sections can influence enthusiasm for the subject. Lack of reflection, bad kids, bad parents, bad peers, can all drain the life of a teacher. This can carry over into the classroom and affect the enthusiasm of a subject that a teacher loves.
Success begins in the mind. For a teacher to be successful they must begin with monitoring their attitudes about themselves and the surrounding people.
There has been a surge in demand for online teaching resources due to school closures for health concerns. Many teachers are being thrust into online teaching with almost no notice or preparation. This post will provide educators with an awareness of some of the tools that are available.
To make things as simple as possible, you will need essentially some sort of online presence that allows for the following two things
True online teaching can be much richer than this. However, for someone who is struggling with short notice to make this happen this is the bare minimum. We will first look at available platforms before looking at communication methods. As an aside many of the platforms have integrated communications tools, however, sometimes they do not meet the needs for various situations.
An Elearning platform serves as a base of operation on the internet. Not all learning has to take place within the online platform. However, the students’ learning experience often begins here before branching of based on the activities that are involved. Generally, the platform provides a place for submission of assignments and asynchronous communication ie forum posts and announcements. Of course, you can extend the functionality based on expertise and or support. There are several free online platforms that require no support from your IT department. The first we will discuss is Google classroom
Google classrooms provides a basic interface for teaching online. You can post announcements assignments and there is a basic gradebook as well. You can post links as much as you want to other places on the web as well. You can also arrange a google hangout with your students through the posting of a link. This is a great resource for short notice. The functionality is limited for more advance actions but this works in a pinch.
The layout for Schoology is similar to Google Classrooms but with more features such as attendance and a great way to organize content using folders. There is a free package and there is also a subscription option. Although Schoology wasn’t specifically designed for higher education it is a superior choice to what Google Classroom is offered right now. One downside is there is no integrated system for face-to-face communication with Schoology, which means you would have to employ some sort of third party communication.
Microsoft Teams will not be an option for you unless you or your organization are subscribed to Office 365. Teams is a great resource that combines all the features of Schoology with embedded communication features and the integration of Microsoft products. There is a section for assignments, files, grades, and even a notebook. Students can also be placed into groups for online discussions. In addition, Teams is not limited to the classroom and can be used by the larger organization as well. Since Teams has more features, it can be a little harder to learn initial so it might not be the best choice in a last-minute situation.
Moodle my be the mother of online platforms. The question is not so much what Moodle can do but rather what it cannot do. There are so many features and choices that it would be impossible to explain them all. Moodle requires extensive It support as it must be downloaded on the local server with all the other hassles of mandating a website. A such, unless you are already familiar with how it works Moodle would not be choice on short notice.
Communication in this post is defined as some sort of sc=ycrhonous interaction with at least the teacher providing audio and video. Below are some choices for doing this.
Youtube provides the ability to upload videos and to stream. Uploading videos is not that complicated and essentially you make the video and upload it to Youtube. You can share content or communicate about assignment expectations or other announcements. You can also take the link and insert it into whatever online platform you are using
For streaming, it is a little bit more complicated. You will some encoder software such as OBS Studio. The details of how to stream on Youtube are beyond this post’s purpose but your IT or AV support should be able to help you make this happen. There is also a live chat feature now which can allow you to discuss things with students in real-time. The benefit of Youtube is there is a small delay and only the teacher is producing audio and video which helps with slow internet connections.
Another problem with Youtube is that the content is available to everyone. Whoever has the link can see. This can be a problem of there is a desire to keep some information confidential.
Google Hangouts is another choice. It does not take a great deal of knowledge to maneuver using this software. The main problem is that only 25 people can participate in one hangout. This means that Google Hangouts is best for smaller classes. Other features allow you to share your desktop while communicating. There is not a large dealy but my own experience shows that student frequently loses their connection and have to keep rejoining the hangout.
Skype is similar to Google Hangouts except for up to 50 people who can participate. This will work for large classes.
If you are a gamer you might be familiar with Discord. Discord was designed to allow gamers to communicate online. However, it now has a second life as a communication tool for online learning. The setup is a little weird if you are not in technology and there is also a 50 person limit on this communication tool as well.
Stream looks exactly like Youtube but it is software with the Microsoft ecosystem. You can upload videos or stream live if you have the right subscription with Microsoft. The benefit of Stream is that it can be used in collaboration with Microsoft Teams which makes it an absolute plus. In addition, because it is being used within a company the video is not available for all eyes to see which can be a problem with Youtube videos.
Perhaps one of the kings of Voice over Internet platform is Zoom. Zoom allows real-time interaction among up to 100 participants or more depending on the package you signup for. It also allows you to separate students in discussion groups like in a real class. You can share your screen or have the students share theirs. Also, the communication is secured and only available to participants. However, if you want decent service you have to pay as the free package comes with a lot of restrictions. For the Moodle users, there is an extension so that you can integrate it into Moodle.
Hopefully, the information provided here will allow you to explore whatever combination of features work best for you. This is not in anyways an exhaustive list of what is possible. The point to remember is that whatever you do you need a way to communicate and receive assignments from the students.
There are challenges and issues in teaching any subject. Math is no exception to the challenge of teaching. In this post, we will look at a brief history of math teaching in the United States and how math is taught in many parts of America today.
Brief History of Math Teaching
Talk to most students, and they while share how it is difficult to learn math. One of the biggest challenges may be how abstract it is. When studying math it is often more of a mixture of drilling with an expectation to solve problems that have no context or relevancy for the student. For example, solving 2x + 4 = 10 lacks a connection for many students.
Prior to the 1960s mathematics was taught in the United States with an emphasis on computation. Calculate over and over until you get was one of the main philosophies of this approach. During the 1960s, there was a change to an approach called “new math” which focused on the structure or the components/theories of mathematics. This made math even more abstract. In addition, at least with the focus on computation a student could memorize the steps to complete problems, with the “new math” approach the focus on theories without heavy computational practice made learning difficult.
Teaching Math Today
Today, whether to focus on computation or structure depends more on the level of math the students are studying. College bound students are still exposed more to structure while those who are not are often taught using more of a computational focus. The challenge with this is that everyone wants every child to be college bound which means essentially that most students are taught with a focus on the structure and theories of mathematics with a goal of understanding why certain steps are taken when calculating something.
Generally, it is common for math teachers at the high school level and above to focus on teaching conceptual understanding first before procedural steps (elementary is usually hands-on). In other words, explaining theory and the why of the steps before actually using the steps to solve problems. This can sometimes lead to the teaching of long complicated mathematical proofs for various concepts such as the quadratic formula. For a math expert, proofs are critical to knowing why a certain approach works, however, for the average person, proofs can be incredible confusing because they involve math that the learner is not total comfortable with in many situations with little practical application.
The downside of learning procedural steps first is that it becomes difficult to apply them in different situations or to transfer the knowledge to new contexts. For example, in my own experience, it was common for a math teacher to teach the steps of how to solve a problem but then when it was time to practice, the problems were always slightly different from what the teacher taught. I would need to square something that the teacher did not square or factor something that the teacher did not factor in order to have success. The focus on the steps made it impossible to bring in other tools or handle situations that called for other steps.
For the math teacher, who was a natural expert, seeing a problem and bringing in other tools and adding and taking away steps was easy because of their understanding of theory. However, for the rest of us, there is a need to drill and become comfortable before expanding the use of the concepts to unknown situations.
The goal is not to indicate that there is one particular way of teaching math. The challenge is really how to help non-math students have success at math. This involves using both concepts and drill in a combination that allows weaker students to survive or even succeed in a difficult academic situation for them.
During the 9th and 10th centuries, there were several types of schools available for the education of young people. The schools mentioned in this post were primarily connected with and controlled by the church. These schools are the Claustral/Inner school, the Outer school, and the Cathedral/Episcopal school
Types of School
The Claustral or inner school was a school run within the monasteries of Europe. The inner school was inside the monastery and was for the training of future monks. In relation to cost, tuition was free since these boys were dedicating their lives to the church. The behavior of the students was strictly monitored and controlled due to their future vocation as a monk. As such, there was little individualism as uniformity was the expectation. This was probably not an education for the free-spirited.
A second school associated with monasteries was the outer school. The outer school gets its name from being outside the monastery but often near one. These were schools for future priests. However, it was also common for laypeople to send their children for education there as well. Since these schools had a dual purpose, costs were covered through tuition and also scholarships.
The final school was the cathedral or episcopal school. Each diocese of the church had episcopal schools scatter throughout it. The cathedral and episcopal schools were for the laity. Teachers came from the main cathedral school to the episcopal schools. To do this, the teacher needed to pay for a “facultas” or license to teach from the head of the cathedral school. This word “facultas” is where the word faculty comes from.
Curriculum & Instruction
The Bible, or what people said about the Bible, was one of the chief subjects of these schools, especially the monastic schools. The church did not support the study of the classics or other forms of secular literature at this time. Instead, the focus was always on what the church said was spiritual truth because this was considered immortal and unchanging. This dogmatic position stifled thinking and development in the sciences.
However, this position would change with the reemergence of Greek thought with the Reconquista of Spain and the crusades. When Aristotle was encounter among the writings of the Arabs, he was translated from Arabic into Latin and began to influence Europe. This left the church in a challenging situation in which the world wanted more secular thought that was not considered beneficial by the church elite.
Discipline in school would be considered harsh by today’s standards. Children were frequently beaten for minor problems. For example, it was common for students to be beaten for failing to memorize something. At this time, the only way a person knew something was from their ability to remember it. This may have been one reason for the severity of forgetting.
By the end of the 10th century, many within Europe were convinced the world would end in 1000. This is similar to how people thought the world would end in the year 2000. With this focus on the impending end of the world, churches, houses, farming and schools were neglected. This contributed to a temporary decline in education.
Education was primarily focused on spiritual development rather than for secular means. This does not mean that people were not educated for other more mundane reasons. With the focus on clerical training, there were certain restrictions placed on learning. With the reemergence of ancient secular thought led to a change in learning that would be weakened with a focus on the end of time.
Among educators who specialized in reading instruction there has been a long controversy over how to teach students to read. Generally, the two main schools of thought are phonics on one side and the whole language approach on the other side. In this post, we will look at both of these approaches as well as a compromise position.
Phonics is an approach that has the students decode the words that they see by sounding out individual letters and letter combinations. By blending the individual sounds of a word together the students is able to read the word. This requires that the student know what sounds different letters make. Without this phonemic awareness there is no hope for reading.
The benefits of this is that it is clear if a student can do this or not. This makes it easy to provide the needed support in order to help the students. This means that it is easy to assess the students development. Another benefit of this approach is that it focuses on the smallest aspects of speech sound. This helps a child to keep track of one thing at a time.
Problems with a phonic-based approach is that the importance of the context is lost because students only focus on sounding out the words rather than developing reading comprehension. This can lead to students who can read and sound out well but have no idea what they read nor the meaning of the text. The idea of seeing the passage as a whole is lost.
Whole language is a literature based approach that emphasizes the relevancy for the student and culture. Activities used include oral reading, silent reading, journal writing, group activities, etc. Students do not focus on sounded out words but rather on knowing the whole word through a knowledge of the context. There is even allowance made for inventive spelling in which students make for up their own words for spelling to avoid discouraging them through frequent correction of misspelled words.
An extreme example of whole language approach is when students are allowed to use substitute words in a text they are reading rather than the word the author wrote in the book. For example, if in the story the author mentions the word “pony” and the student does not understand this word. The student can substitute the word “horse with “pony” in the author’s story and this is considered okay by whole language approach standards.
Some benefits of this approach is that it is much more enjoyable in comparison to the phonics approach. Students begin reading immediately content that is relevant to their lives and interesting and their prior knowledge supposedly helps with understanding.
The drawbacks of whole language is that at times students struggle to generalize their reading skills to new contexts. In addition, the replacement of unknown to known words of the student with their own words can make it difficult for the teacher to understand where the students are struggling. If all students are doing this, it becomes difficult for them to communicate with each other about a commonly read text. This may be one reason why whole language has been reject over the pass 30 years with an emphasis on phonics.
Currently, there is more of a push for a mixture of both methods. Phonics can be taught to enhance a bottom up approach while whole language is more of a use for bottom down approach to reading. By blending the two method it is possible to capture the strengths of both approaches without the corresponding weaknesses.
How this may look in the classroom may be relevant literature for the student with reading teaching that matches the needs of the students. If the student can reading without extensive phonemic awareness, training whole word might be more appropriate. When the student cannot read a word, phonics may be beneficial;.
It is better to match the system to the student than to match the student to the system. Whenever extreme positions are taken it helps some while hurting others. A teacher needs to have the flexibility to find the best tool for the context they are working in rather than based on what they were taught as students.
The university, as we know them today, arose sometime during the 12th century. Of course, it is not exactly clear in terms of the exact date. The universities followed the example and traditions laid down by the Romano-Hellenic schools of the Roman Empire and the monastic/episcopal schools of the church. This post will look at factors that led to universities, characteristics of universities, and the church’s view of the growing influence of universities.
Factors Leading to Universities
Several things had changed over the centuries from the fall of the Roman empire that led to the development of universities. First, the crusades had exposed Europeans to many Arab/Middle East ideas. Among these ideas was Aristotle, concepts related to medicine, and the possibility of some form of higher education.
There were also economic factors such as the establishment of free towns. Free towns were essentially free of feudalism in which you had independent artisans and other free people. With the rise of an independent middle class came a correlated need for specialization in some areas of expertise, especially medicine, law or even theology. The freeman seemed to always have issues with the nobility and clergy and wanted people who were trained separately from the monastic schools. The priest/monks lacked the expertise to thoroughly train people for practical occupations such as doctors or lawyers.
Furthermore, universities provided an education the was free from the rules and oppression of the monastic orders. The rules for monastic life can be highly arduous for a layperson. Waking up early, eating in silence, harsh living conditions, physical labor, all this was a part of the educational experiences in a way that was bewildering to the laity at times. Universities offered a similar education in a secular environment which naturally led to the release of a high amount of licentious behavior that the universities had to suppress eventually. In other words, whereas the monastics schools were too strict the universities were initially to lenient.
Despite the disdain that many had for the church, the church itself helped to contribute to the growth of universities through the stability it provided. Supposedly, if someone was a priest or scholar, they were safe to travel throughout Europe unmolested. The accuracy of this is hard to assess but if scholars could move freely it would have made it easy to start schools and move to the best positions rather than being trapped in a single place due to safety issues.
The church also provided the closes thing to an international language that Europe had through its use of Latin. Latin became the language of government and scholarship. Its influence is still felt today in the Latin names that are used in science for the classification of animals.
A major difference between the universities compared to monastics schools involves the leadership style. Monastic schools were monarchies in nature in that one person made the decisions. Universities are run by a community, which is a more democratic style of leadership. Universities were also founded by major European leaders such as kings, emperors, and popes. Monastic schools were founded by lesser leaders.
In addition to the specialization, universities emphasis the three R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic). Philosophy would eventually join as well. The course of study was four years, which is supposedly an idea from ancient Greece.
The church supported learning that supported the church. Other lines of thought were either ignored if non-threatening or discourage if they poised a problem. The primary goal was normally the preservation of existing knowledge and the transfer of this knowledge through education. When universities first arose, the church did not have any control over them, as they were independent.
Universities initially had a large number of clergy faculty. However, this slowly changed and the clergy facility disappeared and were replaced by secular facility. With time, the church would begin to have their clergy teach in the secular universities along with starting their own universities. This is especially true with the rise of the Jesuits several centuries later. During this time, priest and monks were still trained by the monastic/episcopal schools
Universities are a standard part of life in the modern world. However, this was not always the case. What first began as a way to escape the power of the church eventually became an expensive requirement in the training of the middle class.
Academic dishonesty, in the form of cheating and or plagiarism, is one of the unfortunate consequences of education. For example, in Southeast Asia, a group of students were caught cheating on an exam to enter medical school. Their strategy involved the use of smartwatches. People outside the building were sending wireless messages to the students through their smartwatches with prospective correct answers. The students who were caught paid around $30,000 for the illicit support, which is about 10 times the yearly minimum wage in the country.
Another example involves students wearing what has been referred to as “anti-cheating hats”. These hats essentially involve wearing paper on one’s head to block your view of all the people around you so you can only see your own answer sheet. Locally, this is done as a joke to remove the stress of the exam. However, when international media found a photo of this on social media they took it as a sign of intense cheating and dishonesty, which embarrassed the school.
The majority of high school and college students have admitted to cheating in one form or another. This includes critical fields such as medical school. Such rampant behavior must have some causes. At such, in this post, we will look at causes and simple solutions for cheating. In this post, we will look at motivations for cheating as well as solutions to alleviate the problem.
One reason for the large amounts of cheating is that it is highly successful with less than 2% of students being caught when teaching. With a success rate of almost 100%, there is almost no reason to be honest if your grade is in danger. If an adult knew that there was almost a 99% chance of getting away with a crime, such a crime is highly likely to increase.
Another factor is the fact the students can be inattentive to their studies. With all the distractions of friends, family, work, and entertainment it can be hard for students to exercise the discipline to study. Besides, when students do study it is often for the goal of memorization rather than comprehension. Understanding is hard to forget but the memory is weak. Add to this the belief of cramming and staying up late before exams and students will experience intense anxiety when they cannot recall a key idea or concept.
Teachers can also contribute to cheating. If a teacher is unclear, heavily focused on memorizing, provides little feedback, these can all contribute to students cheating to “survive.” If students think a teacher is unfair in their assessment and or instruction they will try to even the playing field through cheating.
Clear communication of what to expect on exams as well as preparation through reviewing can help to reduce cheating. If students know what to expect and believe they are prepared there is less pressure to cheat in order to control things students think they cannot control. However, it is up to the teacher that they understand the importance of consistency between what is taught and assessed in their classroom to establish the trust necessary that the teacher is not looking to fail students but to help students excel.
Another strategy is to move away from heavy memorizing closed question exams to critical thinking open-ended exams. Multiple choice, matching, true/false, etc. are all examples of questions with one answer. If there is only one answer, a student simply needs to memorize the one answer.
Open-ended questions require critical thinking and the development of a unique answer based on the student’s prior experience. Essay questions are one example of this. It is extremely difficult to memorize an essay question answer in advance. This naturally helps to reduce the temptation to cheat do to the hopelessness of that at the moment.
Providing alternative forms of assessment can also help. Some students just do not do well with exams. Considering that at some universities the mid-term and final exam can account for over 60% of the final grade such high stakes testing can encourage cheating. Through providing smaller more frequent assignments teachers can support learning while decreasing high stakes testing.
Cheating will always be a challenge in education. With the distractions that young people face, the culture of accepting academic dishonesty, and the incredible inability to catch students who do this. There is little hope that the current situation will change. A student cannot cheat without opportunity. Therefore, the use of preventive measures that help to reduce the risk of academic dishonesty.