Green Dot on Community Participation

Great blog post by Green Dot Public Schools. Reformers don’t emphasize familial and community involvement…they seem to hardly mention it! Let’s continue to pretend that teachers are the main, if not only, source of impact in students lives! When we put all the pressure on teachers, we’re saying that the family and school don’t affect student learning, whether it is positive or negative.

Greed & Law School Indebtness

This NYT article discusses why both for-profit & non-profit schools jack their tuition up and graduate students who wont be able to find a job.

The following quote from the article summarizes what allows schools to do this:

In 2006, Congress extended the federal Direct PLUS Loan program to allow a graduate or professional student to borrow the full amount of tuition, no matter how high, and living expenses. The idea was to give more people access to higher education and thus, in theory, higher lifetime earnings. But broader access doesn’t mean much if degrees lead not to well-paying jobs but to heavy debt burdens. That is all too often the result with PLUS loans.

What’s happening here seems to be, in part, true for colleges. Who’s responsibility is it to present students with a current, true, blunt and comprehensive view of what loans, schools, career and desire really mean?

If schools are fudging with the numbers, they clearly know that they’re doing something wrong. Schools and students shouldn’t receive federal loans until the school can actually produce a 67% field-related employment rate for their students.

Most Likely to Get a Menial Job Post Graduation

Tiny Dintersmith and Ted Wagner write, “‘You can either get your college degree or end up with a menial job.’ But the reality in America today?  Millions of adults end up with both.”

It’s upsetting that leaders in the higher education community won’t acknowledge this.

It’s even more absurd that colleges with gross price stickers take money from middle income families that have to take out loans to pay the school, but end up with a degree that can’t get them anywhere.

Our students aren’t counseled enough to understand their “investment” both in high school and throughout college. Diane Ravitch has said that college isn’t necessarily for those seeking to make tons of money, which must be true because graduates are coming out with tons of debt and low jobs–there debt far exceeds there income.

Some people say college is a lifetime investment, so even though one may not make much right after college, the gains will come later in life. But that can’t be the case for, say, art history at middle rate college.

I thinks students are conditioned to believe that to believe that hard work in first high school, then college, is the key to “success” but they’re not told that there’s so much more that goes into that, including finding what one wants to do with their life in order to make these loops worth it.

We put too much pressure on students to perform well academically and tell them that going to college but they’re too young and have been conditioned to theoritical learning to fully understand what kind of real investment they’re making. The schools certainly won’t stop and tell them.

Part of me thinks students should pay the amount economists predicts what a students major will garner, not necessarily throughout their lifetime but maybe expected salary in the current job market. It seems to be fair for the students because one ridiculous high price tag does not benefit all. We sadly go under the assumption that it does.

Schools Should Help Students Hands On Experience

Dintersmith and Tony Wagner  suggest that colleges should work with their own students to create school’s marketing materials, such as the school website and videos. The fact that schools aren’t doing this, reiterates how ineffective they are at preparing students for the real world. Are schools aware that a large percentage of their graduates aren’t going into academia and could use real-world, practical, hands-on challenges to succeed in life post-college? Clearly not. Colleges are out of touch with the real world and, oddly enough, aren’t critically thinking about their curriculum and the ways in which they prepare students for the work force. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think that they’re aware of this but are more selfseving than they make themselves out to be.

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Most Likely to Succeed with Creative Writing

I finished Most Likely to Succeed this past weekend. I’ll do a longer review on the book as a whole in a later post, but I want to comment on one of the themes that stuck to me. The authors are clearly huge advocates for the hands-on, tangible and pursposeful experiences as part of the curriculum at every school, at every level. I wholeheartedly agree with them and loved the constant emphasis on both presentation skills and the opportunity for self-directed assignments in schools.

I am more than content with my decision to major in English. But, I had a hard time choosing a minor. Ia wanted to minor in Creative Writing, Economics and Theology, however, because I loved what I was learning in all three subject areas, I didn’t pick one minor; I split my elective credits between the three. It was in my first creative writing class that I realized  I could have been attending a different college, perhaps a “better” college, had I received more self-driven, experimental classes or assignments, such as writing a play. When I was a freshman in high school, I read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Everything from the wrongful and vivid murder of Giles to it’s historical background pulled me in and led me to reading it several times a year for the next two years. There was something about the the setting, writing style, character detail and overall tone that made this piece of work seem so lively. I wanted to create something that is both historical and makes the reader feel as if it were unfolding in her presence. What stopped me? I didn’t really know I could do something like that. I didn’t know I had the capability or the time. I didn’t know where to start. But, more importantly, I didn’t have the right tools or instruction. The first few lessons of my college creative writing class were spent learning the ingredients of a good short story and reading as many short stories as possible. With each story, we identified “what was working” and “what could use work”. We then wrote our own short stories and had the entire class read and crit our work. There was an entire hour and fifteen minutes dedicated to helping me improve my work. My classmates provided marked-up copies of my story and highlighted example sentences that point to how a literary device, say tone, is used to make the main characters desires more clear. Classmates would iften higlight a line that they liked for no particular reason. At the end of each session, the author would defend their work. I worked tirelessly to make sure every sentence was grammatically correct and flowed from one to the other. Every sentence was thought out. I wanted my story to be clear, unique, witty and powerful. I knew every word and punctuation mark mattered in order to leave the reader with a sentimental feeling. After this creative writing class, my writing in all my classes became stronger. I taught myself to be actively aware of which sentences were initially too clunky and wordy and which sentences were fluff and superficial. I wish I had this opportunity in high school, specifically after reading The Crucible. My English and History grades would have been higher. My AP scores as well. When I think back on it, I knew I could have improved my writing had I been exposed to a class like creative writing sooner. You see, making up my own story about something I cared about brought the importance of concise, proper writing to life. I probably would have made it a challenge to make my other papers more focused and clear. I was too young to identify and act on what my mind and soul desired. But it’s mostly because my school had very few electives and only one AP course by my Senior year.

Creative writing gives students the opportunity to in vision whatever it is they think about, whatever it is they like or who they want to be. There must be a clear demonstration of how punctuation and dictation work in a story that’s uses these elements of writing to touch a student, but after that’s done, the rest is history. While, maybe not. Consistent renforcement of creative, non- judgemental but accurate writing is key.

I’ve previously wrote about the need for at least two in depth economics courses in high school and have agreed with Dintersmith and Wagner on the need for Civics and Financial Literacy in high school. As you can tell from this post, I feel the same way about creative writing.

If schools want students to communicate well through writing, than replace or add creative writing to the high school curriculum. Schools should perform an experiment and have one class take a creative writing class while another class takes a normal english class and see if there’s a difference. Perhaps it’s something that’s introduced during the summer months, instead of not requiring students to do anything academic (which makes no sense for growth).