Author Archives: Dr. Darrin

New Changes to Math Curriculum in California

The proposed mathematics framework in California has placed a heavy emphasis on equity in the teaching of math. The document makes several statements to support this, such as the following.

“All students are capable of making these contributions and achieving these abilities at the highest levels,”

In other words, all students can experience success in mathematics. Living in a subjective world of “lived experiences,” this statement does not appear to make sense alone. However, the document goes on to state that.

“We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents.”

Again this does not make sense. The world is full of highly talented people who obviously have superior abilities. Pick any field or industry, and you can find an Einstein, Newton, Mozart, Bach, Keynes, Shakespeare, or others. To reject natural gifts and talents is almost akin to dismissing reality.

The goal of the mathematics framework is summarized as follows

“to replace ideas of innate mathematics ‘talent’ and ‘giftedness’ with the recognition that every student is on a growth pathway.”

All students are indeed on their own “growth pathway” but given that there are differences in all students, it implies that the growth will be different. There is no such nonsense found in sports. Nobody will say everyone can play basketball at the highest level and that nobody has a natural talent at basketball. Playing professional basketball requires at the minimum unusual height and a plethora of other skills that can be partially developed. If someone is under six feet tall, it will be a long road to professional sports, even with supreme talent.

Athletes also receive special training and classes as it becomes apparent that they have potential. If someone can demonstrate superior athletic ability, is it not possible for someone to demonstrate exceptional mathematical ability and thus the need for specialized training and development?

The framework also disagrees with such ideas as

  • Finding the correct answer
  • Showing your work
  • Individual practice

Finding the correct answer is critical for anybody who wants to work in a math focus field. Who would feel comfortable flying in a plane designed by an engineer who was not worried about getting the “correct” answer? Showing your work helps students understand what they are doing and allows the teacher to see where mistakes were made and how to intervene. Again, who would want to go into surgery with a doctor who cannot explain what they will do? Lastly, individual practice means that the student can do the work and does not lean on friends.

Not allowing students to grow and demonstrate their innate talent and abilities is crippling for them. All students need to be challenged and pushed but how this is done depends on the students. All students have talent in something, and schools should helping students determine what they excel at and how to survive what they are weak at. Nobody excels at everything, and nobody fails at everything either.

States Push Back Against Critical Race Theory

In the state of Idaho, located in the United States, lawmakers have banned the teaching of critical race theory in class. Here is what one person had to say about critical race theory in Idaho education

We need to protect our teachers from being forced to teach this social justice garbage, including critical race theory.

The penalty for violating this law is the withholding of state funding. According to the NPR report,

So last month, lawmakers wrote a bill to withhold state funding from schools if teachers compel students to believe certain viewpoints, which lawmakers say are, quote, “often found in critical race theory.”

Conservatives primarily support this law, and Democrats had some criticism of this law. At least one lawmaker did not see the teaching of critical race theory as a problem as they were a former educator and administrator.

In my 32 years in two different school districts, a public charter school, I never saw any of this happening, and I still don’t see that happening.

Critical race theory has been in the news lately as the beliefs of this philosophy stress that race is the primary motivating factor in the world and has led to the systemic oppression of various races that done have power. As people have come to embrace this worldview, there appears to be a heightened push for social justice ideas by regular Americans and increased coverage of oppression and inequality by the media.

The history of critical race theory harkens back to Marxism and the struggle of the rich and poor. Marx’s ideas of a class struggle were mutated to develop critical race theory, which does not see a financial struggle but instead focuses more on a racial struggle. In other words, critical race theory is the expansion of Marxist ideas beyond economic and material concepts to other areas of culture such as race.

Many of the various movements of today are rooted in Marxist thought as they often pit one group that lacks “power” against another that has the power either through means or numerical advantage. Examples include feminism, postcolonialism (colonizers vs. colonized), and fat studies (overweight vs. not overweight).

Recently, there is a movement in Texas to ban critical race theory in schools there. The bill is currently in committee and has a strong chance of passing. The complaint against critical race theory in Texas is its divisive nature and the depiction of White Americans as implicitly racist and complicit in a system of oppression against minorities.

This struggle over critical race theory has also taken place at the federal level. Donald Trump removed critical race theory training among federal workers with an executive order as president. However, this executive order was overturned by an executive order by Joe Biden when he assumed the presidency.

The outcome of this battle is yet to be determined. People are still deciding if the values of critical theory are in agreement with theirs.

Companies are Dropping Bachelor Degree Expectation

Recently, there has been a rising trend in companies dropping the need to have a four-year college degree. This has raised several interesting questions as to whether this is a wise decision or not.

However, whenever a decision is made, it is essential to look at the pros and cons of the decision. As such, there is no benefit to attacking companies that have chosen to remove a four-year degree from their expectations. Instead, it is better to look at what is gained and what is lost when such a decision is made. This discussion will limit the pros and cons to businesses, workers, and higher education. There are other stakeholders in this situation, but they will not be covered here.


For business, dropping the requirements for a college degree opens up a much larger pool of workers. Some statistics estimate that about 35% of Americans have a degree. This means that companies are currently limited from considering almost 2/3 of the population if they stick to their degree requirement. By removing this standard many, more people can be considered for employment.

As the workforce expands, it will also provide many employers with more flexibility in hiring, firing, and perhaps wages. With so many more potential employees could potentially put in a stronger position of power in terms of employee relations. Of course, this assumes that people without degrees have the skills and training necessary to do the job.

For the worker, there is a reduction in the cost of school. Now, there is no need to spend thousands of dollars while often going into debt to secure a job. The price of college has skyrocketed to the point of being unreasonable priced for many individuals. As such, a shortcut into the tech field without spending time in school is an attractive idea for many people.

Barriers to entry is a term often discussed in business. For workers, a barrier to entering decent employment could be a degree. With companies removing this requirement, people can potentially find not just a job but a decent paying career through which they can support a family.

One benefit of higher education is that only students who want to go to college will continue to go. The current expectation of going to college has often coerced many students who do not want to be there to go because it was assumed to be the only way to find a decent job. This left colleges with many students who were “putting in the time” and pressuring schools to lower standards so that they could succeed. Grade inflation has also been an important topic in higher education, and this may be due in part to people studying who may not want to study.

Of course, those who want to study should study, and colleges should work with them to be successful. However, if a student is genuinely not interested in school, a pathway to employment should be available as well. It is not about having one answer for all people but many options for different types of people.


No plan is perfect, and dropping college is going to cause problems as well. For business, they will have to spend more time training workers for the various skills and knowledge they need, negating whatever savings they make on wages.

College is frequently criticized for not being practical. However, what college does provide is the development of communication skills, learning how to work with others, as well as a general body of theoretical knowledge that the student will learn to use upon graduation. Remove college from the equation, and developing these and other skills falls on the employer.

Another potential problem for both workers and employers is the lack of advanced skills. If someone does not have a bachelor’s degree, they obviously will not have a master’s or other forms of advanced training. This could lead to workers who are only good at one particular thing and cannot branch out and see connections among various concepts and skills related to their employment.

Lastly, there could be a loss of many students at college. This has not happened just yet, but if there are attractive careers out there that do not require a degree, many colleges could lose many students. This will impact professors, staff, administrators, and others who are connected with higher education. It is not clear how popular removing the bachelor’s degree requirement will become, but it could be financially disastrous for higher education institutions.


Dropping the requirement to go to college is not a bad idea in of its self. This idea will solve some problems, but like all solutions, it will also cause problems. Instead, multiple answers should be developed to help employers find workers and young people who may not be interested in higher education.

Power, Authority, & Leadership in the Classroom

Power, authority, and leadership are terms that are used frequently. In this post, we will look at these three terms in the context of the classroom.


Power is the ability to get something done despite resistance. In other words, a powerful person can get what they want. The assumption in education is that the teacher is the primary source of power in the classroom. However, a powerful person may not necessarily be in a leadership position. For example, a problematic student can be extremely powerful through disrupting class. Their behavior can grind instruction to a halt while the teacher looks for ways to remove the distraction.

There are several forms of power that a teacher or even a student can tap into in the classroom. Coercive power is the ability to make someone comply with orders. Such as when a parent makes a child do something they do not want to do. Normative power is a form of power that implies that the people in the organization or classroom should act a certain way. An example of this would be peer pressure which can get even adults to do crazy things.

Utilitarian power is a form of give and take. In other words, a student might cooperate to gain or avoid losing a privilege. These forms of power are derived from a teacher’s expertise, ability to reward, and there role as a teacher. What this means is that if a teacher knows their material, it can be a source of power. If Teachers can grant or take away, privileges students will notice this as well. Lastly, the position of the teacher ensures that whoever is the teacher will by their title have a specific power in the classroom.

Students can also tap into some of these forms of power. FOr example, athletic students have shown expert power in sports which is often an appreciated skill in school. Older students often have a form of legitimate power due in part to their age and, in some cases, size.


Authority is the context in which power can be exercised. For example, a teacher has the authority, or permission, to tell a student what to do. However, it is a rare situation in which a teacher can tell an administrator what to do. The same applies to students. Generally, students lack authority. Yet, there are situations in which a teacher will obey a student, such as when they are having problems with technology or their cellphone.

A common mistake teachers and students have is understanding the boundaries of their authority. There are times when a teacher has the right to exercise power, times when they can exercise power and shouldn’t, and times when they cannot exercise power. For example, teachers have the authority to give out assignments and homework. However, generally, a teacher has the authority but probably should not fail all the students on a given assignment because it indicates that the students were not adequately prepared for the assessment.

In addition, teachers have less authority over students who are not directly in their classes. As such, when one of these students is disruptive, the teacher should typically communicate with the disruptive student’s teacher. Crossing disciplinary lines like this can become confusing due to the lack of a prior relationship with the problem student.


One definition of leadership is the ability to get others to do things willingly. Leadership is more of a measure of a teacher’s soft skills when compared to power or authority. When students are choosing to cooperate because they want to, this is an example of leadership. When a student stops misbehaving of their own volition, this is another example of leadership.

Leadership is another tool along with power and authority that can mix to make each teacher’s unique approach to classroom management. It is impractical to say that power and authority are not acceptable tools for student compliance. The only mistake a teacher can make is to use any single approach exclusively. A one-tool teacher is always going to alienate students who do not respond well to the only tool the teacher has. Some students need coercion, while others need inspiration. A good teacher identifies the needs of the students and makes adjustments appropriately. This is yet another form of leadership.


This post look at power, authority, and leadership in the classroom. Each of these are practical ways to work with students. It is also important to realize that all of these tools work together to help students succeed in the classroom.

Leadership Substiutes and Neutralizers in the Classroom

Leading in the classroom is a serious challenge for even experienced teachers. However, teachers can take actions to enhance their leadership in ways that do not require more work. This post will look at leadership substitutes and leadership neutralizers and how these ideas help and hurt a teacher in the classroom.


Substitutes for leadership are things that are in place in the classroom that do not require leadership from the teacher. In other words, substitutes replace the teacher so that certain things run by themselves. The more substitutes a teacher can put in place, the less active management they have to do because the students already know what to thanks to the substitutes that are put in place by the teacher.

One example of leadership substitutes would be to have routine or procedures in the classroom. When students know what to do in various situations based on the training they received in the past, it is unnecessary for the teacher to actively control these situations, such as procedures for coming into the classroom or going to lunch.

Developing student leaders is another way to create substitutes for the teacher’s leadership. How this is done varies from school to school and from teacher to teacher. However, the point is that if students can assist in the supervision of the students, it can serve as another form of substitution of the teacher’s leadership.

There is a term in education call withitness, which means knowing almost subconsciously how to respond to a problem in the classroom or having “eyes in the back of one’s head.” If students understand that a teacher is “withit,” it can serve as another form of substitution of leadership in the classroom because students know they cannot get away with whatever they are thinking of doing.

There are also more intangible ways in which leadership substitutes can be established. If a teacher has a strong reputation for expertise and leadership among the students and the school, this reputation alone can serve as a substitute for leadership. The students know that this teacher is good and will sometimes modify their behavior because of the teacher’s leadership ability.


Neutralizers are the opposite of substitutes in that these are things that block leadership and lead the teacher to spend time trying to manage instead of leading. An example of a neutralizer would be the absence of any of the ideas presented in the substitute section of this post. When these ideas discussed above are missing from a classroom, a teacher cannot get many other things done because the focus of their work is on managing behavior.

Another neutralizer is a poor or a lack of communication. This is related to the previous paragraph. If students do not know what the teacher wants them to do, they will find something to do themselves. Again this takes away from the learning experience and leads to chaos in the classroom.

Some neutralizers are outside the teacher’s control. One example would be family problems in the homes of students. In this day and age of broken families, students often have unstable home situations that often bleed over into the classroom. There is little a teacher can do about the home setting, and if home problems impact student behavior, it will also neutralize leadership.


When there are a lot of neutralizers, this means that there will be little leadership. The teacher is not able to set aside management challenges and has to focus on controlling students. People generally do not like to be controlled but would instead manage themselves. If there is no system in place to allow this, the teacher has to be the one to control students. Rather the goal should be for the students to follow the example of the classroom through the expectation of the teacher and the standard of peers, which serve as substitutes to overt control of behavior.

What Teachers Hate about E-Learning

Hate is a strong word, but everyone has things that they dislike. The explosion of e-learning has left many teachers frustrated trying to determine what is going on? In this post, we will explore some of the significant changes that teachers hate about elearning.


The greatest enemy in e-learning for most teachers is technology. Everything must be in some sort of electronic format. Forums, chats, assignments, videos, powerpoints, etc., all must be upload to the mysterious LMS (learning management system.

Speaking of the LMS, it could Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas more something else. It could be something offered by Google, Microsoft, Zoom, loom, or else for video streaming. The average teacher has to learn some of this technology in a relatively short amount of time. However, all of the things mentioned so far relate to software. There are also concerns involving hardware.

Is the internet fast enough for streaming? Is the camera compatible? Is there a way to write on the screen? Many teachers also cut corners when it comes to their own personal technology devices. The laptop from 2012 problem won’t be helpful for teaching online (I’ve seen this attempted). This means spending money to update dead tech to teach in the 21st century.

Another problem is that if the larger institution doesn’t have a clear plan for teaching online, it leads to everybody doing whatever works for them. This torments students who have to adjust to 30 different websites for grades, ten different websites for videos, five websites for uploading material, etc. Each teacher borrows from some other teacher a neat idea, and it leads to an assortment of unique styles that tortures everyone connected to the institution.


The second great enemy of online teaching for teachers is planning. This is especially true for experienced teachers. When a teacher starts to become more experience, there is an immediate drop in planning because you just “know” what to do based on prior planning. However, online teaching is not as forgiving as improvisational teaching based on experience.

Units have to be planned and set up on the website in advance. Links must be there, along with instructions and additional resources. This cannot be set up during a live teaching session as it must be there preferably before the semester. What makes things even more frustrating is that the planning is slightly different in the context of online teaching because of how communication takes place, which is discussed below.

For someone who no longer plans or who was always bad at planning, this is discouraging. It takes a great deal of discipline to look ahead and plan in such a manner when you are used to a more informal way of doing things.


The human element of teaching is almost totally lost when teaching online. The looks of confusion, the smiles, the laughter, even discussion are lost partially online. Discussion is lost because we all know what happens when more than one person talks over the internet. This loss of interaction makes teaching and learning difficult for the teacher. It is hard to tell if the students are learning because many of the cues that we have used in the past as formative assessment are hard to use in the online context.

Another problem is the need for everything to be in the text. Whether it’s messaging, assignments, or grading, communication is through typing and not as much through talking. This can be draining for even the most enthusiastic typists.

Returning to planning, a teacher will often lean on student questions and discussions to clarify things, whether in the classroom or outside of it. For example, a student might come to your office, or you bump into them in the hallway. Whatever you reexplain is often shared with others. These random moments of informal communication are lost, and this obscures the communication process in social interaction is not possible.


Adapting is part of life, but the pace at which e-learning has become a standard teaching tool is remarkable. As teachers struggle with this new experience, there are naturally going to be concerns and complaints.

Identifying Leadership in the Classroom

It is always hard to predict who will make a great leader. Some students do not seem to show any potential for this but eventually become highly influential. Other students who show great promise never seem to reach the level that many anticipate. Despite this, there has been a great deal of research that tries to predicate who will become a great leader and who will not.

One overarching theory of leadership is called the “Great Man Theory of Leadership.” This view holds that some people are born with the traits of leadership. Essentially, this view holds that nature and not nurture are the primary factors in leadership development. Within this paradigm, scholars have wanted to know what these traits were, and we will look at some of them right now.

Leadership Research

One researcher in this field was Stogdill. This research found that leaders often exhibit such traits as a strong drive, problem-solving skills, persistence, initiative, self-confidence, tolerance of interpersonal stress and general frustration, a sense of personal responsibility, and are influential in others’ behavior.

The real question is whether these skills are skills students are born with or can be developed. This is a difficult question to answer. The teacher’s job is to put students in a situation in which these traits can be developed. Some students may grow in such situations, while others may not. In other words, it’s more important that students are allowed to develop leadership skills rather than that they become leaders. Everybody is not interested in influencing others, whether formally or informally.

Another researcher named Locke found results similar to Stogdill. Locke found that leaders are often driven, motivated to lead, display honesty, self-confidence, demonstrate expertise and cognitive ability. Lesser skills that leaders show are charisma and creativity.

What is essential for students regarding Locke’s research is that there are different ways to lead. Some students may be traditional leaders who are often people who always stand at the front and are at the center of the action. However, another way to lead is through expertise. For these types of leaders, the maybe in charge during certain situations are serve as advisors for the main leader. This is a way for people who don’t want the constant stress of leadership to have their moment in influencing the team. If students are not aware of this, they may believe that they are not cut out for leadership, which is rarely the case. Some people lead all the time, but everyone should lead some of the time.

Other traits that leaders often possess are high energy and enthusiasm. Energy is contagious, and enthusiasm helps people to keep pushing through discouragement because of the emotional boost. This implies that the cheerleader type personal can be advantageous. However, a leader cannot only be enthusiastic as they must show that they can work and have skills to offer the team besides encouragement.

There is also this idea of self-monitors. These are people who observe verbal and nonverbal cues and adjust their behavior to influence others. People who are highly sensitive to monitoring themselves are often better leaders because they are worried about influence. People who don’t care usually lack the popularity and social capital to be in leadership positions. Students tend to be highly sensitive to what others think, but only those who are the best at monitoring their actions will achieve the leadership positions in many situations.

What leaders do

So far, the focus has been on what leaders are. Now we will look at what leaders do. Leaders often show a willingness to trust others, which is difficult to do these days. Leaders also have a vision of what they want and either know how to make it happen or find someone else who can. Leaders also show a willingness to take risks and encourage others to do so. Failure is where learning begins, and this is something that many people do not like.

Leaders help teams focus on tasks and even encourage dissent or disagreement because challenging ideas help determine what works and doesn’t work. Lastly, many leaders can stay calm in the face of adversity, at least outwardly. This strengthens the team that may be experiencing strong emotions during a problem or crisis.

As teachers, we must show these actions in our classroom. Showing students that we know what we want and how to get there and that we want students to take risks in their learning is essential. Furthermore, teachers need to encourage discussion and dissent to develop critical thinking skills.


Perhaps the best way to develop leaders is for students to see excellent leadership. The real problem may be that it is so hard to see examples of leadership. If students can witness leadership rather than hear theories about it, this may lead to more leaders who can make a difference. The primary purpose is to provide students with the tools they need for success. However, it is always the students’ decision if they want to develop and use these tools to benefit themselves and others.

Classroom Leadership Styles

Classroom leadership can take one of many forms. Here we will look at several different leadership styles. The purpose is not to determine which is best but rather to suggest when it might be better to use one over another. Looking at these leadership styles may help teachers see what their preferred or natural leadership style is.

Tannenbaum and Schimdt

In the 1950s, researchers by the name of Tannenbaum and Schmidt created what they called a continuum of leadership styles. For them, leadership was a combination of one of the three below.

  • autocratic-Leader centered dictatorial style
  • participative-Workers are involved and consulted about decision-making
  • free-rein-Work is assigned, and the workers determine how to complete it

The three examples above are a part of a continuum that means that a leader can be somewhere between these categories in what could be considered a gray area.

In the classroom, depending on the context, any of these styles of leadership may be appropriate. Younger students may need more of an autocratic leadership style, while it may be appropriate to have more of a participative style of leadership for students such as high school. A free rein may also be right at times, such as with advanced or highly mature students.

Theory X and Y

Another older model of leadership is Theory X and Theory Y by Mcgregor. According to this theory, a theory X leader thinks that the average worker, or in our case, student, dislikes work and does not have the self-control to get things done. Therefore, the leader must maintain a high degree of control. Theory Y leaders believe the opposite that people motivate and desire self-control. Thus, theory Y leaders allow more participation and autonomy for their workers.

The context should dictate the leadership style. However, most leaders and perhaps teachers often support Theory X when dealing with students. Self-motivation and discipline are rare traits to find in many students today. Another concern is that participative leadership is a slow process, as anyone who has lived in a democracy may be familiar with. There are specific time constraints in teaching that make it difficult to allow for the democratic process to play out in the classroom, even with willing and cooperative students.

Directive/Permissive Leadership Style

The final model in this post is the Directive/Permissive Leadership style. This style involves four types of leadership, as explained below.

  • Directive Autocrat-High control in decision making and directing people. Applicable when there is little time for discussion, such as during a crisis or emergency. Also useful when the expertise of the followers is low.
  • Permissive autocrat-High control of decision-making but low power in directing the people. The leader makes the decision, but the workers decide how to get it done. Similar to the free rein style.
  • Directive democrat-Decision making involves participation, but the leader highly controls the execution. Useful when the followers have valuable expertise or opinions to strengthen decision making, but strong leadership is needed to make it happen.
  • Permissive democrat-Decision making involves participation, and followers are allowed the freedom to determine how to implement the decisions.

Moving to the classroom again, each of the styles has a place as determined by the context. The maturity of the students plays a vital role in trying to decide which type to choose. As maturity increases, participation in decision-making and execution should be able to increase as well. As responsibility is placed on the students, it lessons the management of the teacher of the classroom. As such, looking for ways to switch to a more democratic leadership style empowers students and lowers the burden on the teacher. However, the students must be ready for the freedom unless chaos erupts, and this requires the teacher to switch styles as the students mature gradually.


There is no such thing as the “best” leadership style. A classroom leader must be able to adjust to whatever situation they are facing. At times, freedom is appropriate, but there is also a time when even a dictator is needed to maintain stability. In general, the less directing a teacher has to do, the less of a burden on them and also on the students who may have to suffer at times from a lack of autonomy that they may desire.

What Passive Students Hate about Online Learning

Educators have constantly been searching for ways to engage students in the traditional classroom. With the push towards e-learning, the focus has switched to finding ways to engage students online. What may surprise some teachers, or perhaps not, is that not all students want to be engaged and active in the classroom. Thanks in part to laziness or poor teaching, some students prefer to be passive in the classroom. This is even true when these students are online.

This post is going to discuss some of the teaching strategies passives students hate when studying online.

Interactive Videos

Interactive videos allow the student to click on things for various reasons, such as answering questions about the video. Passive students hate interactive videos because it forces them to pay attention. The problem is that every student has to answer the question rather than the student the teacher calls on during a Zoom meeting if teaching synchronously.

In other words, interactive videos compel participation for an individual who does not want to participate. There is no excuse for being shy because the student answers a question that the server grades. However, a passive student does not want to be engaged. Instead, they want to watch the video while doing other homework, surfing the web, or simply putting their head down. With the questions and the grading, the student has to be active, which leads to anger. There is no zoning out during interactive videos unless the student wants to keep watching the video over and over to get the points.


Forums are another enemy of the passive student. It follows the same thinking as interactive videos. Forums force everyone to participate and not just the one student a teacher may call on in class or during a Zoom meeting. However, what makes forums even more frustrating for the passive student is that the question has to be graded by a human generally. What this means is that the question can be more open-ended and involve critical thinking.

Passive students despise critical thinking because they cannot copy and paste an answer from the internet or repeat what the teacher said, like in an interactive video. In other words, critical thinking forces them to think, and they never thought they would have to think at school because they have never thought before (this applies even to university students). In addition, thinking takes time, which angers the students because they have other assignments that they need to complete through memorizing. They don’t want to have to form an opinion since there is no way to know if it’s right or wrong immediately.

It is okay to compel a class to think critically face-to-face or even synchronously because the teacher cannot engage every mind simultaneously. Since the teacher cannot check everyone every time, the passive students can hide or just say anything when working in groups. However, asynchronous online learning forces a higher level of participation in which the passive student cannot hide, which can be a source of complaints about the teacher.

Due Dates

Passive online students also hate due dates. This is because they don’t understand how to manage their time. For some reason, these students are convinced that online assignments should be submitted almost whenever as long as the assignment is not “too late.” However, for the teacher, students submitting work whenever means that feedback and grading are done whenever. When this happens, the teacher has to continuously check and add grades to the grade book, and students never really know how they are doing because everyone is doing what they want.

A key component of online teaching is communication and feedback. Students need to see their grades go up and, when necessary, go down as assignments are marked. This motivates students to continue doing the right thing or to reflect on their actions and make changes. When assignments are submitted chaotically, this crucial component of online learning is lost, which is celebrated by the passive student who wants more time to waste time.

Misunderstanding of Time

A major hurdle that I have encountered online is the passive and maybe even the active students’ misunderstanding of time. Since students have to be active online, they develop the impression that online learning takes more time. In reality, the time is the same, but the activity level has increased. This means that the student is mainly responsible for their learning while the teacher has become a facilitator or a coach rather than the sage on the stage. Since the student has to go through the material, it is now “heavier.”

Again passive students do not enjoy being active. They desire to be passive. They want the teacher to share the content while they memorize it for the exam. This teaching style is possible online, but it is hard to be passive in the real world. Active workers are the ones who get and keep employment.


Everybody has their preferred learning and teaching style. Online educators need to be aware of the pitfalls of dealing with passive students. When passive students are held responsible for being active, there will be some frustration and complaints. This means that teachers need to be prepared for this when they try to help students learn in a manner they are not comfortable with.

Classroom Leadership vs Classroom Management

Leadership and management are two skills teachers need as they work with students. We are now going to try and understand the similarities and differences between leading and managing, along with trying to understand the role of followers are.

Leadership Defined

Leadership is defined in a variety of ways. One way of looking at leadership is to see it as an interpersonal influence. In other words, great leaderships have great relationships with people. This focus on relationships means that it is common for leaders to focus on maintaining group needs in their position of leadership. This means supporting others with the skills they need, materials, and or supporting group norms of behavior. Often, a person will lose a leadership position when they are no longer able to meet group needs.

Leadership also involves making sure things get done and a vision for the followers to follow. In other words, a leader knows where they want to go and can find ways to inspire others to follow.

This naturally applies to a teacher as well. A classroom teacher, like a teacher, must be able to connect with students and support students to have academic success. This can involve providing a stable learning environment, expertise, ad social support for students. If any of these things are considered missing by the students, the students may reject the teacher’s leadership. A teacher also must make stuff happen in the classroom while inspiring students to enjoy the journey of learning.

Leader, Manager or both

managers and leaders have overlapping yet different functions and origins. Leaders often emerge while managers are appointed. Leaders are focused on influence, while managers are focused on control. This is because a manager’s power comes from the organization, while a leader’s power comes from their expertise, charisma, etc.

Perhaps it is clear that managers and leaders have a lot in common. Successful managers often have leadership ability, while successful leaders show some management ability. A teacher is appointed as a manager by the school but needs to be seen as a leader by the students. This requires the ability to both managed and lead.


Followers are generally the people who are not seen as having a leadership or management position. A follower’s primary role is to accept or reject leadership. Accepting is good news, but rejection may lead to the followers picking their own leader.

When dealing with followers, a leader must look at the group’s general characteristics because different types of people need different types of leadership. Some followers need authoritarian leadership, which is strong direct leadership. This type of individual needs a leader who tells them what to do, and there is little need for a large amount of choice. Followers who need authoritarian leadership also tend to have less self-confidence and require more motivation to have success.

The other extreme in terms of followers are followers who want autonomous leadership, which means they want to participate in decision-making. These followers are often more confident and require support from leadership. Rigidness in leading does not usually work with this group of people.

In the classroom, a teacher needs to determine what style of leadership their students need. In addition, the style may not always be the same with the same students. In some situations, the students may need authoritarian leadership while requiring autonomy in another situation. Furthermore, as the students mature over the school year, this may mean an adjustment in the leadership style.

It is also vital to avoid condemning any particular leadership style as inferior because the situation determines how to lead. Authoritarian styles are viewed negatively at times. However, what’s terrible is always using the same style no matter the situation. A leader needs to provide his followers with what they need, whether authoritarian or autonomous.


A teacher must possess skills in leadership and management to support and help students. However, these skills must also be flexible because different students have different needs at various times from their teacher. As such, few would say that excellent teaching is something that is easy to do.

Angle Types: VIDEO

Understanding the various angle types is important in geometry. At first, this is confusing, however, with time this becomes easier. This is important because completing more advanced analysis requires that identifying angle types is automatic for the student. Often, the only way to make this easier is through practice. In the video below, we will learn about various angle types.

Lines and More in Geometry VIDEO

Perpendicular & Parallel lines are basic ideas found in geometry. The video below explains the various types of lines a student will encounter in geometry. Some of the ideas discussed include parallel lines, perpendicular lines, midpoints, bisectors, etc. Be sure to leave a comment about the video below.

Roles of the Teacher

All teachers are called to a variety of responsibilities in their position. This post will look at the significant roles teachers play in their position as instructional leaders in and outside the classroom.

Interpersonal Role

The interpersonal roles of a teacher can be broken down into two main categories, and these are interpersonal roles within the classroom and outside the classroom. The primary interpersonal relationships a teacher has within the classroom involves their role with students. The teacher must find ways to balance being the classroom’s authority and disciplinary leader while also maintaining warm relations. This is generally difficult for even the most experienced teacher to do.

A teacher also has interpersonal relationships with people outside the classroom. This can include dealing with parents, school leadership, staff, the local community, and other teachers. Each of these unique relationships has slightly different rules for engagement and success regarding communication and interaction.

The dangers and pitfalls of dealing with any of these people are numerous, and a teacher much show caution. For example, how a teacher would communicate with a teacher is different from how they would speak with leadership or a parent. The context is influenced by the role of the person the teacher is talking to.

Informational Role

Teachers also have a role in conveying and obtaining information. A teacher can share and receive information in such context as the classroom, meetings, over the phone, through email, etc. Information can be formal or informal, or it can be announced or gossip. All these various forms of communication are challenges through which a teacher shares and receives information.

AS a conduit of information, teachers often serve as liaisons to several parties to transfer information between groups. For example, the leadership might have the teachers share something with students or parents. A community member may want the teacher to share something with the administration. The point is that information flows from and through the teacher to people in their immediate social network.

Decisional Role

One of the primary roles of a teacher is making decisions. Decision-making may be a primary role of the teacher. Teachers have to decide about policies, assignments, how and what to teach, classroom management, resource allocation, etc. Making these decisions involves communication and interacting with others.

Teachers must also make decisions about negotiating matters. This can involve gathering information and working with others to develop an agreeable plan for both sides. Decision-making is critical because a wrong decision can cause a lot of problems for a teacher and students. However, sound decisions usually are not noticed as it seems to be human nature to see negative situations over positive ones.


Versatility is a critical skill that a teacher needs to develop in order to help the people they come into contact with. Awareness of the roles a teacher plays can help anyone who finds themself in a position where teaching plays an important role.

Group Effectiveness in the Classroom

Teachers need to balance the joy of group work with the need for academic performance. This post will explain what group effectiveness is and what the teacher can do to make sure students produce while working in groups.

Group Effectiveness

Group effectiveness can be measured through the quantity/quality of the group’s output, the satisfaction of the individual group members, and the potential for future cooperation. If a group can produce a large amount of work, high-quality work, or the ideal, which is a huge quantity of high-quality work, this is a highly effective group. The challenge in the classroom may be to find ways to measure the amount and quality of a group’s work.

A hard-working group can still be a dysfunctional one if the members struggle to tolerate each other. Therefore, needs satisfaction is another way to measure a group’s effectiveness, especially in situations where production was not the primary purpose of the group.

Potential future cooperation is yet another way to measure the effectiveness of a group. If people look forward to working together again, it is reasonable to assume that the performance will be strong and the satisfaction of the needs met. As such, determining people’s willingness to work together in the future is a vital insight into effectiveness. However, with students who are not under the same performance pressures as adults, future cooperation may mean future socializing and off-task behavior.

Other determinates of group effectiveness include effort, knowledge/skill, and strategies for performance. Students who are willing to work hard are often students who will help groups be more effective in terms of the quantity/quality of the output. Naturally, the more knowledgeable a student is, the increased effectiveness of the group as these skills the student possesses help to achieve goals. Performance strategies are essentially specific skills that are used to enhance the efficiency of the group.

Teachers and Group Effectiveness

There are several things that teachers can do to improve the effectiveness of groups working in the classroom. Withitness is an idea in which the teacher is always aware of what is happening in the classroom. It is similar to having “eyes in the back of one’s head.” When students know that the teacher knows what is going on, they are more likely to be on-task and contributing.

Setting general rules is another beneficial way to improve group effectiveness. Basic protocols like how to act in a group, the roles of group members, how to handle off-task behavior or conflicts, etc., can all be used to give the students clues about how to proceed. In addition, directions for completing the assignment are also essential, and it may seem obvious that this is needed. However, many teachers forget to provide this kind of crucial information.

Despite having general rules, each group must establish its own set of norms. These can be such things as who is the leader and the quality or quantity of work the group wants to produce. It often takes time for these norms to work themselves out. Therefore, complex projects need more time for these norms to be developed than more straightforward projects.

Encouraging cohesiveness is another useful tool. This means making sure the group frequently meets, is not too big, has clear goals, etc. Are all beneficial in improving effectiveness. When students have relationships with one another and have a clear sense of purpose, good things can happen.


Maintaining productivity and effectiveness in groups can be challenging for many teachers. However, understanding some of the fundamental underlying factors for encouraging effectiveness can help teachers know where to look when there is a problem.

Group Norms & Cohesiveness

Groups often have norms, and a measure of cohesiveness, Both of these concepts will be discussed so that their importance becomes more apparent.

Group Norms

Norms are rules for standard behavior in a group. For example, one group may value being on-time while another may value avoiding confrontation. Norms can be written, but they are often unwritten and grow overtime naturally in response to different situations are problems within the group.

All norms may not apply to all members. For example, new members often have to undergo a socialization process by completing a less desirable task. In contrast, seniors members are expected to set a good example and guide new members. This is highly common in social groups found in sports.

Group norms serve several purposes. First, the development of norms enhances the survival of a group by ensuring goal-directed behavior. If a group is under stress, it will focus on the norms to survive the stressful situation. Norms also help the group to know what is important or valued by that group. For example, if a group prides itself on high standards, this becomes a way to identify this group’s members.

Third, norms help members to avoid embarrassing actions. When it becomes clear what is acceptable behavior, it also becomes clear what is unacceptable behavior. If members know they are in a high-standard group, they will not dare submit low-quality work to the team. This prevents such a person from embarrassing themselves.

So far, it has been assumed that groups would have positive norms. However, this is not always the case as criminals also form groups with norms that encourage lawless behavior. Students can also create groups that are antithetical to learning. Despite their negative connotation, even bad groups must have some form of norms to survive.

Group Cohesiveness

Group cohesiveness is the level of closeness or camaraderie in a group. Several factors can affect group cohesiveness. For example, homogeneity or how similar members are to each other. If all the members are female and from the same country, the cohesiveness could be higher than if they are mixed because members already have a similar background.

The size of the group affects cohesiveness as well. A smaller group will usually have higher cohesiveness than larger ones. This is due in part to another factor of group cohesiveness and this interaction. The more time people can interact with each other, the better the cohesiveness is. Maturity is another factor. As time goes by, groups develop more robust relationships through having endured various hardships and successes together.

Goals also improve cohesiveness. When group members know why they are coming together and have a shared mission, this can strengthen the bonds within the group. Lastly, external threats can rally a group together to defeat an obstacle that endangers the team. For example, the danger of a department closer will bring people together to protect their jobs. Even people who may not like each other.

Benefits of cohesiveness

Group cohesiveness can lead to several benefits. Satisfaction is a significant benefit of group cohesiveness. People are social creatures, and the pleasure of a strong relationship is delightful for most. Loyalty is yet another result. When people enjoy a particular group, they will often find ways to maintain membership whenever possible and defend themselves from outsiders.

A darker benefit to group cohesiveness is the power the group has over other members. When group membership becomes too valuable for members, they can be pushed to do things that may be questionable. Anyone who has fallen victim to peer pressure knows what this is about. Other examples could include the rise of various violent groups that some people commit acts of violence to maintain membership.


Norms and cohesiveness are two dynamics in a group that people need to be aware of to succeed when collaborating with others. Groups need clear rules as well as other things such as interaction while being mindful of the size. When group membership is enjoyable, production is also often higher.

Group Roles and Size in the Classroom

Working in groups is a part of the educational experience and, naturally, the real world. For educators, understanding the roles within a group and how size can affect performance is vital so that educators can put students in situations where they can succeed. We will look at the roles within groups and their size in this post.

Roles in Groups

There are at least three different roles in groups, and these are all based on what a member chooses to focus on as a member. These three roles are task-orientation, relations-orientation, and self-orientation.

Task-oriented group members are focused on getting things done and achieving group performance goals. Often it is hard to find task-oriented students, but high-performing students may fill this role in a group. Generally, focusing on the task can irritate peers who believe that other things are essential. However, when the work is not done, it can also lead to friction with the task-oriented person.

Relation-orientated members are focus on the social harmony and cohesiveness of the group. They are focus on being sure that people are happy. Completing the task or achieving the mission is secondary to the socio-emotional state of the group. Task-orientated members might call relation-orientated members “slackers” or non-performers. However, if work is what makes everyone happy, a relation-orientated person will work for the sake of harmony. It seems like most students fit this role.

Lastly, self-oriented individuals only care about their own goals, even at the expense of the group. They only see the group in terms of what they can get out of it. Such individuals can be high performers or social loafers. What makes them unique is their motivation to benefit themselves. Task and relationship-oriented members often do not even see these people as team players and have some disdain for them when their motivates are exposed.

Success with a group requires having a balance between task and relation-oriented people and avoidance of self-oriented people. A teacher may want to avoid a group where everyone is relation-oriented because nothing will get done as everyone is focused on the people’s happiness. A group that is is heavily task-oriented or has a minority of relation-orientated people may have success. Any combination of self-oriented people can be a problem unless the other group members can get them to buy into the group’s mission.

Group Size

When forming groups and determining their size, a teacher must think about how the size affects performance. The size of a group is relative. What is a large group to one person is a small or medium group to another. However, despite this ambiguity, certain things tend to happen as a group’s size is modified.

When a group becomes larger, the interaction between members decreases due to the higher number of relationships. In addition, the cohesiveness or strength of the group also goes down as people have less personal responsibility. Other things that decline include satisfaction while absenteeism and social loafing increase.

This indicates that smaller groups may be better as they increase all of these dimensions that have already been discussed. For students who are already struggling with maturity and performance. Smaller groups may be critical for academic success. If groups get too big, the lack of individual accountability could become a problem.


People are people just as students are students. When working groups, they have different motivates and reasons for being there. As a teacher, it is crucial to find the right balance between the various roles in a group and the group’s size needed for success.

Groups types and the Classroom

Groups are an essential part of the classroom and learning experience of students. As teachers, we often form groups and or even disband them. In this post, we will look at the different types of groups that develop in a class and the reasons students join groups.

Types of Groups

The types of groups that develop organizationally can be defined in terms of two dimensions: formal vs. informal and permanent versus temporary. This means that there are four potential types of groups which are listed below.

  • Formal and permanent
  • Formal and temporary
  • Informal and permanent
  • Informal and temporary

Formal groups are usually set up by the teacher, while informal groups develop naturally due to student preference. How long a group lasts often depends on the purpose of the group. We will now go through each of these four group types in detail.

Formal & Permanent 

Formal and permanent groups are called a command or functional groups. The teacher develops this type of group to complete a specific long-term task. Examples of this would include assignments, projects, or even teams for sports competitions.

Formal & Temporary

Formal and temporary groups have the same criteria as formal and permanent groups. The main difference is how long the group is together. Therefore, the difference between the first two groups is how long the group will exist. In addition, what is considered permanent or temporary will vary from teacher to teacher and from student to student.

Informal & Permanent

Informal and permanent groups are also called friendship groups. The purpose of this type of group is for socializing and generally having a good time. This type of group will develop naturally without the influence of the teacher. However, sometimes this type of group’s interest can clash with the teacher’s goals in the classroom when socializing becomes too important.

Informal & Temporary

Informal and temporary groups are also called interest groups. These groups often last as long as the members have a similar interest—for example, a book club or a study group.

Reasons for Group Membership

There are several reasons why people join groups. The teacher creates formal groups, but for informal groups, there are distinct reasons.

Socializing is the main reason for group membership. Students are social creatures like everyone, and they enjoy each other and even the teacher at times. Therefore, students will join groups just to appreciate being around each other.

As mentioned previously, students will join groups to enjoy various shared interests. Some activities require more than one person (i.e., basketball), which provides an opportunity for an informal group to develop to pursue this shared interest.

Sometimes groups are joined because of proximity. Students who may not become members of the same group may do so because of physical proximity. For example, students from foreign countries may socialize together because they share the same foreign experience that local students do not.

Lastly, protection is another driving factor for joining groups. The perils of high school and even college can be filled with experiences of bullying and taunting. Nothing helps to quell such negative experiences, such as having a group of friends who will protect you from such treatment. Of course, some students join groups not so much for protection as for the opportunity to torment other students.


Group types are just ways for teachers to be aware of another unique dynamic of students’ social experience. Some groups are top-down while others are bottom-up. In addition, the motivation behind joining a group can vary from student to student. Either way, understanding this can help teachers to help students.

Robert Koch: Proving Germ Theory

Robert Koch (1843-1910) was a poor country doctor in Germany. One day his life took a new direction when an epidemic struck the local farm animals. The culprit was anthrax. Even though Koch was a doctor for humans, he decided to study this disease that is commonly associated with animals.

The Germ

Anthrax is a disease that can strike suddenly and seemingly without warning. Animals will be healthy one day and dead the next. It was also possible for the disease to sicken and kill humans. There was no cure for the disease outside of killing the animals.

Koch began his research on anthrax with a microscope his wife had given him and no other equipment. If he needed something, he would make it himself or use common everyday items such as dinner plates. As Koch examined the blood of the dead animals, he continued to notice the presence of a bacteria in the blood of the dead animals. He never found these bacteria in healthy animals.

At this time, there was still controversy over whether germs caused disease. Therefore, it was not clear if the bacteria were causing anthrax. This means that Koch had to investigate more closely as to what the bacteria in the blood meant. To confirm his findings, Koch conducted an experiment.

The Experiment

The experiment involved growing anthrax outside of the blood. Then the cultured anthrax was placed inside living mice. The mice were killed by anthrax with their blood containing the bacteria. This was the proof Koch needed that anthrax was the killer.

Koch also found that the bacteria could survive outside a liquid in a state Koch called spores. In this state, anthrax could survive extreme conditions—this helped to explain how contagious the disease. Killing animals was not enough. They needed to be burned or buried deep in the ground to prevent infection.

Sharing Results

The next step for Koch was to take pictures of the bacteria. Then he decided to share his findings. Koch was an outsider to academic life, and working in the countryside did not warrant the respect he needed at this moment. Nevertheless, he contacted a university, and they agreed to let him share his results. Koch didn’t lecture; instead, he repeated his experiments at the university. Students and teachers saw the mice die along with the pictures of anthrax.

The impact was unquestioned. Koch had shown that germ clearly caused disease. This laid to rest what was, at one time, a controversial idea that unseen microbes could make people sick. These ideas are far removed from what Galen was proposing several thousand years ago.


Koch did not necessarily find a cure for anthrax. Instead, he was able to confirm the theory of germs. This may not have been the goal, but it was a significant contribution to medicine that convinced skeptical experts. The person who would defeat anthrax was Louis Pasteur, the same person who developed germ theory.

James Lind: The Scourge of Scurvy

Scurvy was at one time a serious problem for sailors who spent a long time at sea. Scurvy, which means “scaly skin,” causes weight loss, fatigue, bleeding gums, and tooth loss. The underlying problem is a weakening of the connective fibers that hold the body together.

During the 1700s, the British empire spread worldwide and required a massive navy for commercial and military reasons. Scurvy was wearing down the strength of the empire.

Naval Doctor

The answer for scurvy was found by James Lind (1716-1794), a Scottish physician. He began his career as a surgeon in the British navy and was surprised by the amount of suffering that scurvy was causing in the navy. As Lind started to examine this problem, he began to see the context.

During this time, voyages on ships for sailors could last more than a year. Storing food was always a problem for such long trips. Most food was dried and or preserved with salt. There was almost no access to fruits and vegetables. Lind began to suspect that the lack of fruit and vegetables was a contributing factor in scurvy.

To confirm his suspicion, Lind conducted an experiment. He created several different groups of sailors suffering from scurvy, and he gave each group a different diet. He found that the group of men who were given oranges or lemons could recover and return to work. This indicated that there was a relationship between scurvy and citrus fruits.

The Test

The famous explorer James Cook heard of Lind’s work. Cook wanted to explore the Pacific Ocean. The problem was such a trip would take over four years. This meant that the risk of scurvy would be high for him and his crew. Cook as Lind what he could do, and Lind recommended taking citrus fruits and stopping at ports whenever possible to purchase fresh food. With this advice, Cook made his trip and outline several countries along with parts of Antarctica.

Despite the success of citrus fruit in addressing scurvy, British navy leaders and other medical professionals were not supportive of Lind’s findings. It was mainly a matter of pride as the navy thought it provided the best food possible for their sailors. It would take ten years for them to implement the changes proposed by Lind regarding the use of citrus fruit.

Medical professionals were also doubtful of Lind’s recommendations. This was during a time when there were still question about the connection between diet and disease. This skepticism continued for much longer than the doubts of the navy.


Lind had found the answer for scurvy, but he did not know why citrus fruit helped to prevent or cure this disease. The reason why eating citrus fruits found this works about 100 years later. It was found that the body needs vitamin C. Scurvy was a sign that someone was a deficiency in vitamin C. When food is preserved through drying, salting, it destroys vitamin C. It is important to remember that sometimes the answer doesn’t necessarily have to be understood at the time that it is used.

Performance Appraisals and the Classroom

Performance appraisals are commonly associated with a supervisor assessing the performance of a subordinate. However, performance appraisals can also be used in the classroom to provide students with feedback about their behavior and academic progress. We will look at the uses and problems of performance appraisals in the classroom as well as how to avoid common mistakes.

Uses of Performance Appraisals

Performance appraisals can be used to give students feedback about their progress in terms of behavior or academics. In addition, Appraisals can provide students with insights into their strengths and weaknesses. For example, a student might be solid academically, but the teacher may notice they struggle with interacting with others.

Appraisals can also be useful when determining rewards among students. Depending on the employed system, this can be one of many ways to assess honor and praise for students. Lastly, appraisals can help teachers be aware of what they need to do to help students academically or in other areas that need development.

Problems with Appraisals

There are several problems with appraisals. These problems may not all apply to the classroom but are common when performance appraisals are conducted in other settings such as business.

First, there can be problems with the instrument. The tool used to perform the assessment must be assessed for validity and reliability. Another common concern is something called the central tendency error. This happens when a teacher gives everybody a score in the middle and thus makes all students average. This is an example of a human error rather than a problem with the instrument itself. Teachers must remind themselves to recognize both excellent and abysmal performance.

An equally dangerous trap teachers may fall into is strictness or leniency error. This happens when a teacher is too mean or too nice, which can skew scores. Being too strict hurts excellent students while being too lenient rewards poor-performing students.

The halo effect involves giving good or bad scores in one component of an appraisal and continuing this scoring in another element. For example, if a student has excellent leadership skills and is marked highly for this. The teacher may also mark this same student as excellent in other categories when there is no evidence to support this.

The final two problems are recency error and personal bias. Recency error involves only remember the latest behavior of the student to the exclusion of older actions. Suppose the student is having a good day this beneficial. However, if a student has struggled recently for whatever reason (personal, health, etc.) and the teacher does not think of the overall trend, this can be detrimental.

Personal biases happen when a teacher does not get along with a student, which affects the scores the student earns in an appraisal. It is often not popular to speak about this, but all people have varying capacities to tolerate each other’s behavior and attitudes, and sometimes the clash of personalities rather than performance can influence how teachers assess a student.

Overcoming the Problems

Outside of validity and reliability, the majority of the problems with performance appraisals involve the human aspect. This means that the appraisers need to be aware of the mistakes they could make and make a conscious effort not to make these common errors as they can have a negative effect on students.

This means that teachers need to be aware of these pitfalls so that they do not make them. As such, necessary awareness is required to ensure that appraisals are fair and accurately measure the teacher’s perception of a student’s performance.


Everything that a teacher does has to be weighed in terms of pros and cons. Performance appraisals are another tool that a teacher can use in their classroom to provide feedback and support for students. However, a teacher must be aware of the drawbacks to using such a tool, which does not mean that the device should not be used even if it has some disadvantages.

Andreas Vesalius: Learning by Doing

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) was an influential English-Belgian doctor of the 16th century. He came from a medical family as he had several family members who were doctors, and his father was an apothecary (pharmacist). Vesalius decided early in life that he wanted to follow the family tradition of medical practice.


At the age of 17, Vesalius went to university. He studied at at least three different universities. The first was the University of Paris. While in Paris, Vesalius was able to attend lectures by the famous Jacobus Sylvius. However, Vesalius grew bored over listening to Sylvius read aloud the books of Galen. Vesalius believed in a more active learning approach to doing medicine rather than listening to it. In other words, Vesalius thought that the teacher should do the dissections rather than only talk about them.

Due to war, Vesalius continued his studies in Belgium at the University of Louvain. While at Louvain, Vesalius found a human skeleton that he was able to observe and learn from. He also noted some discrepancies between the human skeleton he possessed at the teachings of Galen. For example, Galen claimed that the breastbone has seven segments, but Vesalius could only find three segments in the human skeleton. This discrepancy is because Galen dissected apes and not humans.

Vesalius’ next school was Padua University in Italy and perhaps the most prestigious school in Europe at the time. In Padua, Vesalius completes his education and becomes a faculty member at the tender age of 22.


Vesalius’ teaching was revolutionary at the time. He believed in doing the dissections himself in front of the students. Many people thought that the book was enough to learn anatomy, and there was no need for dissections. However, students loved Vesalius’ demonstration-style approach, and his classes were packed with up to 400 students.

Having such a large class led to other problems. It was hard for students to see the dissections. This was before videos and LCD projectors. Another problem was the dead body. After a day or two, the body Vesalius was dissecting would begin to rot. To solve these problems, Vesalius started making drawings of his dissections that students could study.

As Vesalius continued teaching, he began to make corrections to the works of Galen. This was unspeakable given the status of Galen. However, Vesalius could not find several of Galen’s observations in animals in people. These corrections were put into a book by Vesalius with help from an artist. Other doctors objected to Vesalius’ modifications and the use of an artist. However, artists often knew more about the body than doctors as they wanted their drawings and paintings to be as realistic as possible, which meant knowledge of anatomy.

Vesalius’ reforms were too much for his colleagues. He was attacked continuously, and he took things too personally. In addition, his books were so popular that people pirated them, which meant Vesalius never received much profit from his innovations. Eventually, all this became too much for Vesalius, and he would leave teaching and eventually died somewhere around 50 years of age.


Experiential learning was Vesalius’ main gift to education in his field. Before Vesalius, teachers talked about the body. After Vesalius, teachers showed the body to their students. This shift from talk to action created a much more engaging learning experience. Such an approach benefited many students much to the chagrin of other teachers. Vesalius gave his students practical experience versus head knowledge, which is critical when working with living people.

Intro to Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory is a framework used by many to see the world in terms of race and power. Based on postmodernism, this concept is a significant influence on how many people see the world today. Primarily this relates to the difference in power and privilege between people who are white and black.


Some proponents of critical race theory believe that race is a social construct developed to maintain the supremacy of white people. In addition, color was also at one time used to justify slavery. However, many also say that race is central when dealing with any issues of power and oppression. A significant problem is that it is difficult to define precisely what critical race theory is, and as with all definitions, there is no consensus.

Other significant tenets of critical race theory are the idea of white supremacy and white privilege, which means that people who are white have certain advantages due to their skin color. Another tenet is the need to give people of color a voice. By voice, it may mean being a part of decision-making and sharing grievances from oppression.

A final central tenet of critical race theory is the idea of intersectionality. Intersectionality is the idea that a person can be a member of more than one oppressed group. A classic example of this is a black woman. Such a person may experience oppression due to their race (black) or sex (female). As such, you can add more and more groups if a person continues to fight them based on the traits that are a part of their being.


There are at least two types of critical theorists, and these are the materialists and the postmodern. The materialist look at how economic, legal, and politics affect race and may be considered to align more with communism. The postmodern focuses more on linguistics, deconstructing discourse to find power imbalances, and searching for implicit bias. Examples of what the postmodern critical race theorists do is look for things as microaggression, hate speech, cultural appropriation. These terms are used every day to attack people on social media. For example, being surprised that someone who is black is married because of the high out of wedlock birth rate would be considered microaggression by some and maybe even hate speech by others. The postmodern camp is generally more common today.

Both of these schools of thought have in common that they both dislike or even hate liberalism with its focus on incremental change. For example, many view Martin Luther King Jr as a liberal because he wanted to downplay color and focus on character. In critical race theory, it is all about color first and then some consideration of character.

Another trait of agreement is the view of knowledge as a social construct. This means that the marginalized groups determine what is true and not some external standard such as science or religion. To determine who is right, look for which group is more oppressed in a particular situation. This can be insanely confusing if it is taken seriously.

Even when there are attempts to end racism, this is viewed with suspicion by critical theorists. There have been accusations that white people give rights and opportunities to blacks only when it benefits them. In addition, legislation that is anti-racist supports racism. If these two beliefs are commonly believed, it makes it difficult for there ever to be any solution to justice and oppression.


Critical race theory is one of many schools of thought that has seized the minds of many. People who adhere to this worldview see race and oppression in most aspects of life. When a person sees problems of oppression everywhere, it is natural to wonder how they can have any sense of happiness or peace.

Goal Theory and the Classroom

Goal theory is almost a self-explanatory term. Essentially, goal theory states that people are motivated when they have goals. This seems obvious, yet many people do not have goals and thus often lack motivation. As such, goal theory can be useful for people who lack motivation or who perhaps need help in clarifying the goals they have but cannot achieve.

Principles of Goal Theory

There are several principles related to goal theory. First, as has already been stated, is that people perform better when they have goals. Second, and this one needs explanation, the goals must be personal goals that the person wants to achieve. It is hard to be motivated by someone else’s goals. Goals must come from the individual. Many students struggle in school because all the goals come from the curriculum or teacher and rarely from the student. When all actions are coming from the top down, and it could lead to a loss of motivation.

A third principle similar and related to the second is that people have to commit to the goal(s). In other words, it cannot only be in the person’s head but must be followed with action. Procrastination is a sign of a lack of commitment. Such behavior is seen by everyone when they make a goal, maybe a reasonable goal, but never actually do anything to make it happen.

The fourth principle of goal theory is that challenging goals encourage better performance than easy goals. A struggling helps people to perform better, whether adult or child. In the classroom, goals need to elicit moderate to hard struggle because this motivates a student to push themselves. Of course, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and this means that goals should be challenging but attainable; otherwise, people will give up and be even less motivated.

Fifth, goals need to specific rather than broad. This is a good point. However, different people have different views on broad and specific. Determining whether a goal is broad or specific can be done by assessing a person’s ability to achieve the goal if it is not apparent to the person what they need to succeed. This means that the goal may require refinement in the form of breaking a goal into several subgoals, defining what it means to complete the goal, or setting boundaries such as a timeframe in which the goal is pursued.


The consequences of setting goals are not necessarily negative. When adults or students achieve goals, there is a sense of satisfaction in achieving them. Achieving goals brings a sense of autonomy and even self-actualization as a person sees that they can do something and have an impact, no matter how small, on their environment.

There can also be rewards when involving goals. Students can be given various privileges fr achieving goals. This is a more extrinsic matter, but providing external rewards can be beneficial for students on occasion.

There are also problems with goal setting. When goals are set in one area, other areas may be ignored. For example, a student set a goal of doing their math homework at the exclusion of other homework. To achieve this one goal meant to create problems in another area.

Another problem is when goal setting is abuse. An example of this is when a child sets goals that are easy to achieve their real goal of being lazy. It takes experience on the part of a teacher to know when the students’ goals are reasonable and not too hard or too easy.


Children need goals. It breaks the learning experience of school into small measurable steps that they can achieve little by little. These goals must be negotiated at least partially so that students have ownership in the process. When this is done, cooperation may be achieved.

Ignaz Semmelweiss: Cleanliness

Ignaz Semmelweiss (1818-1865) initially went to university to become a lawyer. However, a friend invited him to a lecture and medicine. Becoming fascinated with medicine Semmelweiss switch his studies to become a physician.

Death in the Maternity Ward

In 1844, Semmelweiss graduated from the University of Vienna as a medical doctor. After graduation, Semmelweiss accepted a position as a doctor at a charity hospital for poor women. The hospital had two wards. One ward was for training doctors, while the second ward was for training midwives. For some strange reason, pregnant women would beg to be sent to the midwife ward to have their baby.

Semmelweiss was curious about this but could not get a straight answer from the women about why they preferred midwives to medical doctors. Eventually, he heard rumors that people believed that more women died from the doctors than the midwives. Semmelweiss began to investigate this. He found that about 1% of the women who went to the midwives died while about 25% of the women who went to the doctors died. In other words, it was safer to go to a midwife than a highly trained medical doctor for childbirth.

Many of the women who died among the doctors died from childbed fever, a type of infection. Semmelweiss was trying to figure out what was causing this infection. During this time, one of Semmelweiss’ best friends died. His friend died from childbed fever. What made this strange was that Semmelweiss’ friend was a man and had not had a baby.

The Problem Found

It turns out that his friend had been performing an autopsy one week before his death on one of the many women who had died from childbed fever. During the procedure, the careless student accidentally nicked Semmelweiss’ friend’s finger. The injury caused some minor bleeding, which eventually led to the infection that caused his death.

Semmelweiss figure that childbed fever was contagious and that doctors were spreading this infection around through uncleanliness. It was common for a doctor to go from the morgue to the operating room to visiting patients while wearing the same blood-soaked clothes. On the other hand, the midwives never performed autopsies (they weren’t qualified) and always made sure everything was clean.

Semmelweiss concluded that doctors needed to wash their hands and keep their clothes clean. When he shared this with his colleagues and students, they thought it was embarrassing because being clean was for midwives. After all, they were doctors. Others thought this was a joke. The hospital administrator called Semmelweiss’ idea foolish and claimed there was no budget for the soap and water Semmelweiss was wasting.

Success and Failure

With time, and through Semmelweiss’s stubbornness, the death rate fell from 25% to 1%. In line with the midwives’ results. The administrator called the decline a coincidence, students claimed that Semmelweiss was calling them murderers, and they disagreed with him. This all was happening in the mid 1840’s at the beginning of Semmelwiess’s career.

Despite the 1840ss benefit of handwashing, the students and the leadership continued to resist Semmelweiss’ innovation. This eventually led to Semmelweiss leaving the hospital. Once he was gone, the handwashing stopped, and the death rate soared again. However, the doctors did not care as long as they did not have to wash their hands like midwives.

Handwashing was not accepted as standard practice until the late 1860s. This means that this basic idea of cleanliness was ignored for about 20 years by the medical establishment. Semmelweiss was never able to see this happen as he died in the mid-1860s from an infection he received from cutting his finger during a surgical procedure.


A central lesson drawn from this story is how slow people are, despite their intelligence, training, and experience, to change. The doctors thought they knew what was best based on social conventions rather than evidence. They were more worried about looking like doctors (bloodstained clothes and dirty hands) than working to save lives. This is not unique to doctors as people often will fall victim to their pride. Fortunately, most of us do not deal with life and death daily, so our shortcomings do not have the same impact on people.

Christian Eijkman: Fighting Beriberi

Berberi disease was the scourge of settlers sent to Asia by the Dutch East India Company. The mysterious illness led to general fatigue, inability to eat, heart weakness, paralysis, and death. Beriberi got its name from the locals and is translated as “cannot.”

At first, the Dutch East India Company contacted Robert Koch, the physician who did groundbreaking work on anthrax, to come to Asia and help. Koch claimed he was too busy and recommended his former student Christian Eijkman (1858-1930) to help with this problem.

Enter Eijkman

Eijkman, who was Dutch, was a part of a medical team that went to Java (Indonesia) to battle with beriberi in 1886. At this time, Germ theory was all the rage in the medical world, and many people thought that germs cause all disease. Eijkman came to Java with his assumption that there was some sort of microbe that was making everyone sick. Success would involve finding the microbe and eliminating it.

As Eijkman began to work, he noticed that the hospitals had clean beds and good food, with beriberi as a significant problem. Outside the hospital, the locals lived in squalid conditions with inadequate nutrition but no beriberi. Eijkman began to wonder what was the difference.

Eijkman looked at the water, blood samples, and even more closely at the food. After some time, the other doctors on the medical team with him left out of discouragement. Eijkman stayed behind. Money was becoming a problem, and he knew he could not stay much longer.

Enter the Chickens

Eijkman decided to conduct an experiment in which he would take blood from a beriberi patient and inject it into a chicken. Eijkman fully expected the chicken to develop the disease. However, the chicken did not get sick, to Eijkman’s surprise as this contradicted Germ theory. This led Eijkam to the conclusion that germs do not cause beriberi.

However, with time the chickens did actually get sick. Yet they also recovered, which furthered confuses, Eijkman. Eijkman asked the cook what did he feed the chickens. The cook replied that he usually feed them brown rice. During the week that the chickens were sick, he used white rice because all the brown was going. One week later, he switched back to brown rice, and that was when the chickens recovered.

Eijkman confirmed this observation with additional experiments. He also found that the locals ate brown rice while the settlers ate white rice. Something in the brown rice protected a person from beriberi that was lost when the rice was processed to be white.

Enter the Rejection

When Eijkman shared his results with the hospital, the leadership thought it was ridiculous. Everyone was convinced that only germs caused disease and not diet. Eijkman’s breakthrough was ignored for years before US doctors tried it in the Philippines with great success.

Further research found that the husk of rice contains a vitamin called thiamine. This vitamin was inadvertently removed when the rice was processed. Soon it was found that other diseases are caused by a lack of vital minerals and nutrients such as goiter,


For his hard work and persistence, Eijkman won the Nobel Prize in medicine. When he first made his discovery, it was mocked, but decades later, he received the highest award possible in his field.

Equity Theory and the Classroom

Equity theory essential tries to explain how people view their effort versus what they received in return for their effort. A more straightforward way to state this is that people monitor whether they think their situation is “fair.” Students, especially children, are positively obsessed with fairness

In equity theory, inputs are anything that person believes they are contributing to further the organization. It could be experience, performance, education, time, etc. For children, many of the examples listed so far may not be applicable. For students, inputs might be appropriate behavior, completing assignments, staying on task, etc.

Inputs & Outputs

Outputs in equity theory can involve pay, working conditions, job status, achievement, etc. Outcomes are essentially what an individual thinks they are getting back from the organization in return for the inputs. Outcomes for children can be such things as special privileges, good grades, praise, etc.

According to equity theory, what happens over time is that people compare the inputs to the outputs over time to see if they are balanced and fair. If they are people are satisfied, if not there could be problems. How we decide what is reasonable is by comparing our input to output ratio with someone else’s. These people are called referent others.

Returning to the classroom, children determine what is fair not so much by some external standard but by how they are treated when looking at how others are treated. If one student does not have to do homework and another does, the student who has to complete the task can only say it’s not fair compared to the student who did not get the assignment. If both were required to do homework, they would need a different argument than comparing themselves to each other.

The Results of Comparing

Three situations can result from the comparison of one’s self to others according to equity theory. When people believe the input to output is fair, it is called a state of equity. When a person is convinced that their inputs are less than the outputs when comparing, this is called over-reward equity. When the inputs are more than the outputs, this is an example of under-reward equity.

If people feel over-rewarded, they seldom complain or show concern for this. This is similar to what can be seen in children who are favored in one way or another. An exception to this may be if the over-rewarding causes social tension. Then some people and many children may sacrifice the excess reward to regain harmony and group acceptance.

In terms of under-reward, people tend to become frustrated and focused on the injustice of their situation. One practical solution is a passive-aggressive one and involves reducing the inputs. If working long hours is not being rewarded, a person can reduce their hours to the minimum. By doing this, they can gain time that was not reaping any additional salary or praise. Children will also work less if they are not convinced it will make a difference in their academic performance.

However, one common problem people had when they compared themselves to others is that they tend to overrate their performance and underrate their peers’ performance. This means that a large amount of frustration people have is their misperception of the situation. Therefore, it may not always be fair to address another person’s or student’s sense of unfairness.

Points for the Classroom

There are many ways a teacher can be fair or unfair. However, two common problems are marking assignments and classroom management. If these two teaching duties are not done in a fair and balanced way, there could be push-back from the students in terms of their views of equity.

Teachers have to be careful about how they approach marking or grading. Tests that are considered too hard can lead to problems of under-reward. Subjective assignments, such as essays that need grading, require tools such as rubrics to increase the consistency of the marks.

Policies must also be consistently enforced. If there is a penalty for late assignments, it must be applied every time and not based on one’s emotions or situation. It only takes one exception to encourage everyone to demand the same. Otherwise, it is not fair. When it is necessary to discipline students, the penalty must fit the crime regardless of who was involved. In general, when exceptions are made, it can lead to problems, and when inconsistency reigns supreme, it can lead to the same frustration as found in under-reward.


Being fair is an expectation of teaching but is not always easy. Students, like employees, want to work in an environment that is considered fair. Therefore, teachers need to be aware of the consequences of unfairness and how it may manifest itself in the classroom.

Independent Learning through Asynchronous Instruction

The current state of education has provided educators with an opportunity to teach in a whole new way. Most teachers have decided to teach remotely, which involves primarily teaching through a video conferencing tool such as skype. However, some teachers have chosen to be a little more adventurous and use asynchronous learning through prerecorded videos, which allows students to learn independently.

This post will go over the pros and cons of using prerecorded videos and tips for how to be successful when using this approach.


There are several benefits to going entirely into e-learning with prerecorded videos. The most substantial benefit, and this post’s theme, is the benefit of students becoming totally independent learners. When students are expected to log in, watch videos, and complete assignments without supervision, it provides them with an experience of being almost totally in charge of their learning. For many students, this is an unusual experience. Most students are used to the teacher being right there to share content, motivate, and provide instantaneous informal feedback. As such, students cannot learn on their own in many situations.

For many teachers, education aims to develop students who can learn independently without the teacher after their students. People are looking for individuals who can acquire information and judge its validity based on their thought processes. Developing these skills needs to be guided, but there is also a benefit to a sink and swim experience.

A second significant benefit of prerecorded videos is the avoidance of zoom fatigue. Remote learning has its own set of challenges and among them is how draining the experience can be. When students are expected to sit through a live lecture online, it is hard to stay focused. We have all fallen to the temptation of checking emails, surfing the web, or even merely logging in and walking away during online meetings or video conferencing.

With prerecorded videos, this is no longer a problem. Students watch 10-15 minutes worth of videos, complete some activity and move to the next video. If they want a break, they can take it whenever they wish in-between videos or even during the videos by hitting the pause button.

A final benefit of prerecorded videos is the engagement. When making prerecorded videos, it is often possible to insert questions during the video that the student has to answer. Having to answer these simple questions forces a student to pay attention and be engaged. In a regular classroom, a teacher might ask one student a question while everyone else is disengaged. With prerecorded videos, everyone is asked the question and responds appropriately to earn the points they want for their grade.


There are naturally some drawbacks to an entirely asynchronous experience. The biggest problem may be student frustration. Most students have never had such an experience, as mentioned earlier. This can lead to a shock experience for students who are new to this. They may conclude that the teacher is not doing their job or does not care etc. However, when the experience is over and everything is explained, students are often more supported by this type of learning when they see the skills they have developed.

A common problem for the teacher is not having a strong sense of how the students are doing. Of course, the teacher marks assignments, but something is unnerving of not answer questions directly or seeing that look of confusion on a student’s face when they do not understand. Many teachers cannot tolerate this and will use videoconferencing just to be in “touch” with the students. This is not wrong, but a unique opportunity for developing autonomy is missed in such a situation.

Another problem is that students take longer to do everything when they have to do it themselves. This leads to a perception that the teacher has given more work when the content is asynchronous, even if the teacher timed how long it should take to do something. It is important to remember that now all students have to do everything themselves, and this heightened responsibility gives the impression of more work. This needs to be explained to the students, so they do not overreact to the autonomous learning process.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is something that mainly affects the teacher, and this is the massive amount of preparation that goes into planning and developing prerecorded videos. Unless you have help, a teacher will have to do the following to make prerecorded videos

  • Plan all content for each video
  • Determine the approximate length of each video
  • Edit videos when necessary
  • Make sure not to go over the lecture hours in a given week of the syllabus
  • Upload videos
  • Embed videos into the LMS
  • Insert the questions into the videos to encourage interaction
  • Mark all related assignments

Most of this is already part of the job. However, with videoconferencing, there is more of a free flow to completing much of this as it is happening in real-time. AS such, the amount of prep work can be too much for many people to do alone. However, once it’s done, the content only needs minor revisions and can be useful for awhile.


Here are some tips to help students have success with asynchronous learning.

Set a schedule. Encourage students to study during the regular class time that was set aside in the course schedule. They are already used to this, and it will help them to manage their time. Of course, they can complete assignments whenever they want as long as they complete them before they are due.

Be Strict. The teacher must make sure the students are moving together through the content. This means that assignments need to be submitted on time. It is easy for students to be spread out with different people working on other chapters or weeks in the course, and the teacher has to keep track of people who are all over the place. In addition, once a student falls behind several weeks, there is little hope they will catch up.

To alleviate this, assignments from last week should be submitted during the current week so that students are up to date. Therefore, a ruthless late policy is needed to motivate students to stay current on assignments. It is also necessary to contact students when they do not complete assignments so they know they are being held responsible.

Give feedback quickly. Students are alone and isolated. They want to do how they are doing, and it is the teacher’s job to provide this. Therefore, the teacher has to be updating the grade book weekly as this serves as a form of communication with the students. This helps the teacher know how everyone is doing so that struggling students can be contacted through messaging or email for follow-up.

Communicate Frequently. Constant communication is needed when teaching 100% asynchronously. When students ask questions, they should be answered immediately, especially during regular business hours. The teacher also needs to provide frequent announcements to the class about major assignments are adjustments to the course. Teaching online means being at your desk and dealing with inquiries in real-time because this establishes a presence in the online learning environment.

Fix problems Fast. If something is not working in the LMS or the course, the teacher needs to immediately deal with this. Remember that frustration grows fast when students are alone like this, and it is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure everything is running smoothly. Let the students be your eyes and ears for broken links and other tech problems while you address how to solve them.


Online learning provides an opportunity for students to learn in a way that is unfamiliar to them. A natural extension of this point is that online learning is a new experience for many teachers. This medium of instruction provides students with a chance to learn independently and for the teacher to focus more on being a facilitator of learning rather than the controller of it.

Joseph Lister: Fight Against Infection

Joseph Lister (1827-1912) dreamed of becoming a physician. When he entered college in 1846, Lister saw the powerful effect that ether had on people who needed surgery. After this experience, Lister decided to focus specifically on becoming a surgeon.

During this time, surgery was still hazardous. Progress was being made in regards to the problems of pain during surgery. However, the main concern now was with an infection after surgery. Lister removed a simple mole from a man’s face before his wedding only to have the man die from an infection. This led Lister to question the benefits of surgery if death by infection was the result.


Infection at this time had reached almost epidemic proportions. Anywhere from 40-80% of surgery patients died from infections. Infections were so bad that one hospital was threatened with being burned to the ground if things did not improve. Many doctors still believed Galen that infection was good. They even went so far as to encourage the development of pus (a sign of infection).

Lister was seeking a solution, and he received insights from treating broken bones. Broken bones are either simple or compound. Simple fractures are broken bones that do not break through the skin. Compound fractures are broken bones that pierce the skin. Lister observed that people who suffered simple fractures rarely develop infections, while those who suffered compound fractures commonly developed infections.

Lister suspected that simple compound fractures lead to infection because the broken bones are exposed to germs in the air. This idea came from Louis Pasteur’s work in Germ Theory. Lister determined that if he can find a chemical that kills germs, he can save lives from infection.

Many Solutions

Lister, with the help of a friend, decided to try carbolic acid to kill germs. Soon, a boy came to his office with a compound fracture of his leg. Lister fixed the leg and applied the carbolic acid to the wound to prevent infection. Fortunately, the boy recovered, and there was no infection.

Carbolic acid was not Lister’s only innovation. He also washed his hands before surgery rather than after. In addition, when tying arteries, he would soak the string in carbolic acid before tying the arteries shut. When performing surgery, Lister never wore old blood-stained clothes but always clean white ones. Lister could even get hospitals to stop using old bandages and donated ones and only use sterile, fresh dressings. Many hospitals hated the cost of clean bandages.

Lister’s success at reducing infections was so impressive that many doctors thought he was lying. In the hospital with a fatality rate of 80%, when they adopted Lister’s method, they reduced the death rate to 0.5%. This naturally saved the hospital from being burned to the ground.

One innovation that was made was boiling surgical tools rather than dipping them in carbolic acid. Lister tried this and stated that it didn’t matter as much the method as long as the germs were killed. Regardless, Lister’s methods created a new form of surgery called antiseptic surgery.

Carbolic acid was terrific, but it still had problems. For example, it was harsh on the skin even though it was a mild acid. Chemists came up with new solutions. Joseph Lawrence developed one antiseptic that killed germs without harming human flesh. He named it Listerine in honor of Joseph Lister.


Lister is considered by many to be one of the most excellent surgeons of all time. His contributions lay in his revolutionary insight into saving human life in a reasonable, cost-effective way. His impact is still felt to this day whenever someone has to face the stress of surgery.

Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene Theory in the Classroom

Fredrick Herzberg developed his theory on motivation based on the work of Maslow. Traditionally, Herzberg’s approach has been applied in the world of business and management. In this post, we will explain Herzberg’s theory and show applications of it in the classroom.

Motivator-Hygiene Theory

Herzberg’s theory suggests that there are two sets of needs for individual workers: motivators and hygienes. Motivators can be a person’s sense of achievement through performing various functions that are a part of their job. People often need to grow as a function of their career, and this is what motivates them. Hygienes are things people want to avoid and are associated with pain in one way or the other. For example, dealing with poor leadership is something most people want to avoid and is an example of a hygiene factor.

Additional examples of motivators can include recognition for hard work, which will often inspire people to continue working hard. In addition, anything that leads to the development of additional skills that are causing growth is often associated with motivators.

Additional examples of hygiene include such factors as pay, working conditions, and supervision. In other words, a challenging job with low pay will probably lack motivation because of the low salary. The same can apply to a great job with poor working conditions or terrible supervision. We all know people who left meaningful and engaging occupations because these hygiene factors caused too much dissatisfaction.

However, removing bad hygiene does not make a job great if the motivators are not there. In other words, hygiene and motivators must be positive, but they are not enough in many situations.

In the Classroom

For the teacher, they need to be aware of motivators and hygienes as the deal with their students. Examples of things that motivate students are praise, engaging classwork, making the curriculum relevant, and autonomy. Younger children are often more motivated with less effort when compared to older such as teenagers.

In terms of hygiene factors, classroom management is perhaps one of the most significant factors. If a teacher cannot maintain order in a just and reasonable way, even highly motivated students will quickly turn off to learning. For older students and college, the marking of assignments can also become demotivating if the teacher is not clear in their expectations and communication. Lastly, the teacher needs to show an example of expertise and organization as students have much higher standards for their teacher than they often have for themselves.


Herzberg’s theory can be another way of viewing classroom management. Teachers often deal with the same problems as managers, just with individuals who are not adults. As such, some of Herzberg’s ideas may be useful, but some may not be, but looking for additional insights into managing students is never a bad idea.

William Morton and Anesthesia

William Morton (1819-1868) was a New Englander who, as a boy, wanted to be a doctor. However, he was poor, and this dream became unrealistic financially. Therefore, Morton switched his goal to becoming a dentist. He soon married but kept his ambition of becoming a doctor one day.

From Dentistry to Medicine

As a dentist, Morton developed one of the best sets of false teeth of his day. The only problem was that in order to use the false teeth, he had to pull all the teeth in someone’s mouth. Naturally, people did not like this idea, not so much because they loved all of their rotten teeth, but because they did not want to experience all of the pain of losing so many teeth at once. Rather than thinking his false teeth was a terrible idea, Morton began to look for a way to lessen the pain medically so he could pull teeth.

From the money he made as a dentist, Morton went to medical school. He enrolled at Harvard medical school. While at the school, Morton witness an amputation. During the surgery, the patient was writhing and screaming in agony. This was disconcerting for many students, including Morton. This experience convinced Morton to focus not just on painless dental surgery but to remove pain from all surgeries.


Morton’s first attempt at anesthesia was with ether. Through the help of a friend Charles Jackson, he quickly realized that diethyl ether was the best choice for putting people to sleep. Morton experiment on animals and finally on himself to see if the gas would work. Next, Morton used the gas to put a patient asleep while pulling a tooth. Morton then proceeded to pull the tooth out, and the patient was shocked to see that the tooth was removed while he was unconscious.

Morton’s next goal was to use his methods on actual surgery. To do this, he had to convince the head of the Massachusetts General Hospital to use ether. The doctor was concerned about his reputation if something went wrong but granted permission.

The Operation & End

On the day of the operation, Morton put the patient to sleep with ether, and the doctor was able to perform the surgery without a problem. When the patient awoke, he said he felt no pain. With this success, the practice of anesthesia spread all over the USA and Europe.

Morton patented his idea but never really receive compensation. The actual process was easy to copy, and many doctors did it without permission. In addition, one of Morton’s friends, Charles Jackson, claimed that he invented Morton’s method. This battle with a former friend cause Morton to spend most of his time proving that he was the inventor of this method.

The stress of this battle took a toll on Morton’s health, and he would die from a stroke. His enemy Jackson would suffer a similar break down in his mental health. Thus was the tragic end to two men who made a significant contribution to medicine.

Steps Towards Anesthesia

We will take a look at the history of pain and how doctors try to nullify this problem through various procedures. In particular, we will look at two pioneers in this work who are Humphrey Davy and James Simpson.

Pain has always been a pain when doctors have tried to treat patients. At one point, doctors tried opium to deaden the pain. Opium worked but would often leave the patient addicted to the drug, which was not feasible. Other doctors tried alcohol. Alcohol did not work either when the surgery or procedure began, and the patient was screaming in agony.

The next approach involved speed. The faster the doctor could cut and pull, the better. Before anesthesia, surgeries often lasted less than 5 minutes, and some doctors could cut off an entire leg in less than a minute. Naturally, complex operations were impossible under such circumstances. At this point, it was clear that whether drugs, alcohol, or speed was used, an alternative was needed to help patients with pain during medical procedures.

Humphrey Davy

Many doctors in the 18th century believed that various gases could help patients deal with pain. This lead to the development of pneumatic hospitals. This is where a young man named Humphrey Davy worked as a teenager in England. After being exposed to the power of gases as a teenager, Davy became a druggist before switching entirely to chemistry.

As a chemist, Davy worked for the physician Thomas Beddoes to develop new gases. This was both challenging and dangerous because Davey had a foolish habit of smelling his new gases rather than testing them on animals first. Such a practice as this nearly killed him several times. Eventually, he would become disable and almost blind from his careless experiments.

Despite his disregard for safety, one of Davy’s discoveries was what we call today laughing gas or nitrous oxide. Davy gave talks and lectures on his work and helped him to become somewhat famous in England.

Davy suspected that his laughing gas might be useful for surgery. This turned out to be false as laughing gas was not strong enough. However, dentists have used laughing gas for pulling teeth as the gas is a strong enough sedative for that kind of procedure. The goal of painless surgery was partially solved, but further help was needed to complete this mission.

James Simpson

The next step in this journey was taken by James Simpson, another young man from England. Growing up poor, Simpson’s family invested everything in him to go to college and medical school. Eventually, not only was Simpson a doctor, but he also was a college lecture of medicine.

Simpson heard that in the US, doctors were using ether as an anesthetic. Simpson tried this but had problems. Ether did not act the same from patient to patient, it smelled terrible and was highly explosive or flammable.

To deal with these problems, Simpson switched to chloroform. Chloroform solved all of Simpson’s problems. It was consistent in how it acted, had a sweet smell, and was not explosive or flammable. Despite this, many resisted Simpson’s innovations, and he had to work hard to persuade them.

However, the battle for an anesthetic was not over. Chloroform had other problems besides those of ether. For example, chloroform is carcinogenic. In addition, some people suffer heart attacks when they breathe it. Therefore, the journey continued in finding a cure for pain.

Theories of Motivation and the Classroom

Motivation is a crucial driver for success in education. This post will look at two theories of motivation and briefly connect them when appropriate to the classroom. These two theories are Manifest Needs Theory and ERG Theory.

Manifest Needs Theory

Henry Murray developed a theory of motivation called Manifest Needs theory. For Murray, needs are divided into two broad categories called primary and secondary needs. Primary needs are physiological needs, such as food, water, shelter, etc. Secondary needs are needs that people acquire or learn about through life. Examples of secondary needs are achievement, affiliation, etc.

This theory assumes that people are driven to satisfy these needs. If a student is talkative, they probably need affiliation. If a student is hard-working, they probably need achievement. People’s behavior is often an indication of what they need. There is an exception to this, and this is what Murray calls a latent need.

A latent need is a need that cannot be inferred by a person’s behavior. This is probably because the person is not able to satisfy this need. For example, a student may be disruptive because they are bored in class. The behavior indicates a need for affiliation, but the real need is achievement.

The point is that the behavior of a student can often be a clue to what motivates them. However, this comes with exceptions, as was already discussed.

ERG Theory

Clayton Alderfer took a different view of motivation. Alderfer proposes three categories of needs, which are existence, relatedness, growth. These three categories are where the acronym ERG comes from. Existence needs are physiological and material in nature, such as food, water, safety, etc. Relatedness needs are social and include esteem and interpersonal opportunities. Growth needs are related to personal development and include self-esteem and self-actualization.

These categories are ranked. In other words, existence needs must be met first, followed by existence, and lastly by growth. There are four different ways to move or stay in a particular category. Satisfaction progression involves satisfying the needs in one category and then focusing on the next category. For example, if food, water, and safety are taken care of, many students will focus more on relationships.

Frustration happens when people want to satisfy a need but cannot satisfying the needs that belong to a category. This can lead to over-focusing on the need. For example, a student needs attention and interaction but is told to be quiet in class. Being forced to be silent makes the need for socializing even stronger.

The third form is frustration regression. Frustration regression happens when a person cannot satisfy higher needs, so they double down on satisfying lower needs. If a student is not allowed to talk, they may focus on eating or drinking or asking to go to the bathroom. Since socializing is blocked, there is a greater focus on existence needs such as food and hygiene.

The final form is aspiration. This form explains the inherent satisfaction in growth. As people are allowed to grow, they become more and more satisfied with growing.


People are motivated by similar things, but there may be a difference in their behavior and how they satisfy their needs. As teachers, we need to be able to look at our students and determine ways to motivate them to succeed.

William Harvey: Blood Circulation

William Harvey (1578-1657) was an influential doctor whose main contributions came through his work in the circulatory system of the body. In this post, we will take a brief look at his life.

Life as a Student

William Harvey was an English man who decided as a young man that he wanted to be a doctor. This desire led him to Padua, Italy, where he studied medicine. During Harvey’s studies, Galileo was also a teacher at the same university. Some of Galileo’s views towards science would have a strong influence on Harvey.

For example, Galileo insisted that experiments were the way to learn about anything. This was during a time when people would blindly obey authority in many matters. The authority of the past was not the final answer. People needed to explore for themselves. Harvey applied these ideas that Galileo had in the non-living science in the medical sciences.

During his studies, Harvey read all the works of the great physicians of the past, such as Hippocrates, Galen, and most recently, Vesalius. Vesalius mentions Galen’s mistakes, yet doctors still clung to Galen in matters that had not been questioned.

Some of the errors that doctors clung to include the ideas that veins carried blood away from the heart, the liver made blood, blood ebbed and flowed like the ocean in the body, and that the blood caused the heart to beat. This was all based on speculation rather than observation through experiments.

As a student, Harvey attended many dissections. During these demonstrations, he was allowed to see the veins, arteries, and heart. Inside the veins are little trap doors that help with the flow of blood. However, Harvey noticed that these doors were on the wrong side if blood was supposed to flow to the heart.

Life as a Doctor

After finishing medical school, Harvey did several experiments involving blood circulation. In these experiments, he would tie off veins and arteries in the body. His conclusion from this was that veins carried blood to the heart, and arteries carried blood away from the heart. In addition, Harvey concluded that blood was reused and not created by the liver.

When Harvey shared his results, not too many people seemed to care. People did not see how this knowledge would help with the prevention of disease. Doctors at this time did not know that understanding circulation was the key to many forms of disease. Harvey demonstrated this when he tied off the arteries to a tumor on a person. With the loss of blood, the tumor withered away.

One question Harvey was never able to answer was how blood flowed from arteries to veins. This question was answered a few years before Harvey’s death thanks to the use of a microscope that discovered tiny blood vessels called capillaries.

During his life, Harvey was often attacked by other doctors for his discoveries. These critics were never able to prove that Harvey was wrong; instead, they quoted Galen as the final word. Despite this, Harvey became the King of England’s physician and was elected president of the College of Physicians even though he turned this down.


Curiosity may be one of the most essential traits of innovation. Authority is not wrong; however, it can be abused and lead to people sacrificing their responsibility to think for themselves. Harvey was an individual who decided he would see for himself if what others said was true.