Blog #5 Is feeling offended the cost of freedom?

I constantly wrestle between feeling/being offended or offending somebody vs the freedom of speech. At times, it feels that we are all walking on eggshells all the time. No matter what one says is probably going to “ruffle someone’s feathers.” On the other hand, who wants to be on the receiving end of some free speech. The best way, I can break it down for my own sanity is that as long you are not threatening to harm someone physically through your speech, you have the right to speak freely. The recipient hast the right to be offended

 

 

into speech that threatens physical harm, the right to be offended, and the right to free speech that excludes threats to harm an individual physically, hate speech andhandle this colliding issues is to I think in some cases feeling offended doesgets curtailed on how that curtails our freedom to speak freedom between became interested in genealogy about 15 years ago. First, it was a desire to find out where I came from. I met my maternal and paternal grandparent and that is where my family’s history started. When I did my DNA, I confirmed that I had almost half indigenous DNA but It did not say from where. The closest match was with some Native Americans in New Mexico. I tried reaching out to them unsuccessfully. Even the group of Native Americans at Vtech was very unwelcoming.

I constantly wrestle between feeling/being offended or offending somebody vs the freedom of speech. At times, it feels that we are all walking on eggshells all the time. No matter what one says is probably going to “ruffle someone’s feathers.” On the other hand, who wants to be on the receiving end of some free speech. The best way, I can break it down for my own sanity is that as long you are not threatening to harm someone physically through your speech, you have the right to speak freely. The recipient hast the right to be offended

 

 

into speech that threatens physical harm, the right to be offended, and the right to free speech that excludes threats to harm an individual physically, hate speech andhandle this colliding issues is to I think in some cases feeling offended doesgets curtailed on how that curtails our freedom to speak freedom between became interested in genealogy about 15 years ago. First, it was a desire to find out where I came from. I met my maternal and paternal grandparent and that is where my family’s history started. When I did my DNA, I confirmed that I had almost half indigenous DNA but It did not say from where. The closest match was with some Native Americans in New Mexico. I tried reaching out to them unsuccessfully. Even the group of Native Americans at Vtech was very unwelcoming.

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So who’s protesting?

I find the idea of protesting the quarantine absolutely fascinating. Even a pandemic can’t unite America! But it is bringing some people together. I started to question who was protesting, my first assumption is always the deplorables. I watch NBC news because I feel like it’s the most honest news, but I also know it’s the most liberal. Most assuredly the most anti-trump but they do a good job of vetting their sources and not blowing a bunch of nonsense out of proportion like some of the other networks. However, I kind of get the feeling from watching that Trump is leading some sort of underground revolt against himself. So I started looking into who was protesting.

Living in Southwest Virginia, I’ve become more familiar with the “Libertarian” party. Many people have begun associating these people with white-supremacy but that’s really not fair. A libertarian is more interested in being left-the-hell-alone. They’re interested in civil liberties, less government control, and limiting the scope and scale of the government. So you can imagine as the government takes a huge step over the rights we never thought we’d have taken away as the right to just leave our home, go to work, make a living, feed our families, get a hair cut the libertarian in all of us might just be questioning what is going on.

https://www.lp.org/

I’ll admit it’s a little unnerving to go out and see no one on the roads. The idea that every restaurant worker in America that lives on tips for their wages isn’t going to have a job for the foreseeable future is unnerving! Social distancing sounds easy on TV but making an economy work, under those circumstances, is unrealistic and I don’t think America really understands the scope of this disease.

People that are against the government overreach are out protesting the stay-at-home orders issued by local governments. They’re being joined by some other players that pray on social liberty protests like anti-vaccination protesters. In an interesting article by NPR they bring up how Anti-Vaxxers joined in the protests in Sacramento in order to forward their own message as well as gain numbers by joining the people protesting the stay-at-home orders. Apparently, they go so far as to tell anti-abortionists that vaccines carry cells from aborted fetuses to get them to come to their side, which is something I don’t think I have time to even get into. That just blows my mind how incorrect and abhorrently ridiculous that is.

It turns out that the majority of Americans don’t think the restrictions go too far. The Associated Press did a poll and found that only 12% think they do. I’m afraid the problem isn’t that they go too far, but that they’re just not sustainable for the amount of time we’ll need for there to be a lack of threat so that we can get a vaccine or treatment. The other aspect of this is that while everyone is staying home, that’s great, and reduces the exposure, but what about the breeches. So as someone who knows way more about biosecurity than anyone would ever really want to, I know that half of what we’re doing is completely pointless. I really loved how there was a week or so when the Today Show was instructing people on how to sanitize their groceries. Come on people! Half of you use a Chlorox Wipe and then dry it off with a paper towel! You’re washing your hands and then drying it with a reusable towel and then opening the bathroom door with your bare hand! You’ve negated everything as soon as you’ve touched something dirty. Ok, I got a little rant-y and rambl-y there.

Anyway, those that are protesting are probably putting their heart in the right place but they’re probably not fully educated on the repercussions of not social distancing. We do need to keep the government open but we also need to distance. Reducing crowd size, increasing frequency of disinfecting, testing, and tracing would be great but unlikely to help. Keeping resources for laboratories and manufacturers to create, test, and manufacture drugs, vaccines, PPEs, and treatments need to be a number 1 priority. Not your next hair cut, sorry Mom.

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#5 How to choose your academic adviser

Oh, what a semester! I would like to thank Dr.Lee for making this semester great for us. I also would like to thank you all for sharing your thoughts and concerns on your blog posts and comments. I really enjoyed this class! I hope one day we will see each other in the classrooms. This was my last required class for my P.h.D. and Future Professoriate Certificate.

I was thinking about what else to leave in this blog post. Definitely not COVID-19 updates, and frustration while we are at the end of this semester. I am enjoying my experience with my research lab and my adviser even during this difficult time we are facing. Then, I thought of how difficult it was for me to find my space in this great research group. So I wanted to search what is recommended online to find your academic adviser.

To start with my own experience, I did not have a good experience in that I had to sacrifice some of my academic years and also research. However, it was worth it to end up in my current group. I am leaving my adviser’s TEDx talk to give you an idea of what my group works on and there is more indeed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKgnKrDErWY&feature=emb_title

My adviser’s name is Dr.Pablo Tarazaga. I call him “my academic healer.” When I met him I was feeling I was stuck under a collapsed building and each of the concrete blocks I was feeling on me was the unfortunate experiences I had had in my previous research group. What was my mistake with this experience? I did self-criticize. I was coming from another country that has a different educational culture. I did not have any experience in graduate school either in my home country or states. When I was applying for graduate programs in different schools, I was so stressed with getting accepted. I was trying to convince the graduate schools with my TOEFL and GRA scores that were meeting the requirements. I did not even think about how I should find my adviser which is the key point of the graduate programs. I admitted that I was TOO RECKLESS.

So now I assume that I am a prospective student and what should I do when I look for graduate programs and prospective adviser.

  • Read the graduate program policy. For Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech is : me.vt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019-2020_MEDept_GraduateProgramsPolicy_Oct2019-.pdf. I was only checking the graduate school websites and the department websites before I applied and I was not really aware of what the policy of the department for the graduate program. I did not know I have a chance to find my adviser after I enroll in the program. I forced myself to find an adviser prior to my first semester started. Lack of information made me stick with one prospective adviser and I thought I can not change my adviser and I have to deal with the issues rather than looking up other options.

I searched for some guidelines for how to choose your academic supervisor on google and there are many articles provided by several universities and professionals. One of the articles I really like to enjoy reading was written by Matthew Killeya on https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19726442-500-the-phd-journey-how-to-choose-a-good-supervisor/

On his article, his key points are as follows a supervisor should

  • shared similar interests
  • challenge you sometimes
  • excite you
  • have personal chemistry with you

He also recommends

  • explore your options
  • be unique
  • give as much as you take

 

I wish I read at least one article like this before I chose my first adviser. I was like Yaayyyyy! I got accepted. I have this professor who helped me during the acceptance process so I can get along with him no matter what. It did not work that way though. I learned with experiencing how important to have similar interests with your adviser. I was not able to find healthy communication. People are very different from various backgrounds and you need to make sure they are matching with yours.

Explore your options is the key for me that could lead me to success from the beginning. You need to make sure you meet people you will work with. Mostly we spend more time in our working environment and while we work we also socialize with people in our work environment.

Currently, I am in the best group I could be in. I feel lucky and I appreciate every support I receive from my colleagues. When you are in a healthy environment you think healthy and it leads you to success.

 

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The Fibers of Diversity

Last year, my little community of online knitters, crocheters, makers, and dyers were rocked by our own shifting in the growing pains of society and faced ourselves in the mirror about diversity, inclusion, and racism. Just like any group of influencers and their followers on Instagram we have created this community around the fiber arts which has existed for hundreds of years but has conveniently collected itself online now. There are some heavy hitters that have a large number of followers due to the product they sell, or their designs, yarns, or just their cool-ass-selves and they grasp the attention of their followers just like the makeup goddesses and the workout queens on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.

In January of 2019, the fanciest of bag makers designed purely for holding half knitted items wrote a blog post about a trip to India she was planning. She talked about how excited she was but how it would be like visiting another planet. A woman of Indian descent commented on her blog and asked her to reread her post and think about how this would come off to someone that is actually from there. It sparked a huge racial debate amongst our community which brought to light how much bias the knitting community really showed towards white models, pattern designers, yarn dyers. We took a really deep look at ourselves.

https://fringeassociation.com/

Meanwhile, I’m over here crocheting, following whoever has nice designs to offer. One of my favorite designers that I spend a lot of time communicating with happens to be black. One of my fiber pen-pals and now kind of mentor happens to be black, I started following a number of “BIPOC” members of the fiber community because of these women before our earth-shattering racial discussion last January so I was pretty confused when everyone started talking about “inclusion”. I thought we were talking about knitters vs. crocheters! Which is a thing, but really not as serious as racial inclusion, obviously.

Then things began to spiral. Since everyone has a mouthpiece, all of the BIPOC members of our community were able to speak their truth. And so were the non-BIPOC members of our community. Our tone-deaf members of the knitting community spoke up in a number of different ways. Either in solidarity but with ignorance, just plain ignorance, and a few with some actual helpful things to say. People got angry, people came together, people left, people came together. All the things.

Then some crazy girl posted a MAGA hat pattern on Ravelry and the community banned Donald Trump. Just like that, they banned the mentioning of the president! I found this hilarious, unhelpful, but I support it. Ravelry is an online community where crafters post patterns for purchase and communicate via message boards, etc. The ban consisted of Trump’s policies that discriminated against marginalized groups but it was blown up by the media to be straight “Knitters are anti-Trump” so there was a stark line drawn down through the community. Just Ravelry’s landing page for this conversation makes me chuckle “content/no-trump” I mean, come on.

https://www.ravelry.com/content/no-trump

Anyway, the fiber community is not unique to this situation, I just thought I’d bring up a group of people that no one else in our class has probably heard about. I’m an avid crocheter so I live and breathe these people on my social media accounts. Instagram is my happy place because I’ve flooded it with yarn people. Since the discussion has cooled down many people have begun to become more aware of BIPOC members of our community. Which is a good thing, for sure, it’s a shame it’s taken this long. Or maybe we were aware and just didn’t point it out. At least I know I was.

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Blog #5: F*ck The Vote?

One of my earliest memories of politics was Barack Obama’s Speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention—or rather my mom’s reaction to his speech that July. I can remember her repeating his iconic phrase

“There is not a liberal America or a conservative America

but the United States of America”

over and over again that entire summer. She and my father would canvass the neighborhood to get others to register to vote, take us with them to the Pima County Democratic Headquarters to phone bank, and of course that was the start of the never-ending news cycle taking precedence over our weeknight cartoons. As a nine-year-old it was lost on me what kind of impact seeing a man like Obama thrust upon such a large platform, but my parents made sure I understood to look at that man, because “that’s the future of America right there”.

Rewinding for a while my mother is the child of a founding father for Somalia, my maternal grandfather was one of the first men to graduate from a university in the United Kingdom; returning to Somalia with big dreams of uniting the country and achieving independence from the British. He was an ambassador for his motherland, and as a result she was born in Germany and my aunts and uncles lived a large portion of their childhood in London. Eventually she needed to take the leap that her older cousins have made and immigrate to America. Like so many others, education was the only real pathway to success, and she devoted her teenage years to excelling in school, eventually going to college and majoring in Political Science.

 

My parents shared that journey although they started in different locations. After college they met and moved around the east coast, eventually getting married, having my older brother, and moving to Arizona so my dad could get his PhD. Their lives are similar to so many other immigrants who arrived in this country throughout the 70s and 80s. A land of opportunity that presented them just that—the chance to succeed and a means to thrive through education. Seeing Obama on that stage in 2004 was in essence seeing what the son of an immigrant from East Africa can accomplish in America. They weren’t just seeing themselves for the first time, but seeing what was in store for their children as well. In retrospect, I can see why that election sent my parents into political overdrive.

I remember my dad pulling my sister and I out of school (for the one and only time) to go see one of Obama’s rallies in Phoenix. Making the unique sacrifice of education for a greater cause; although we had to do our math homework on 2hour drive. My parents campaigned harder than ever, my mom read countless blogs all day keeping up to date on every facet of the election and eventually our entire family huddled around the television all day to witness Obama’s first win in 2008. Being the only Black house in our neighborhood, with most of our neighbors as openly Republican that night was euphoric, jumping on couches, running around the house, driving back to campus and cars were driving on the wrong side of the road. It was a culturally significant moment for the world.

My first engagement in politics was around the 2012 election. As a senior in high school, a 17-year-old unable to vote I made it a mission to make sure as many others could as possible. Our small team of seniors spent weekdays at the phones in the PCDHQ and weekends canvassing votes door to door; eventually the Obama campaign started sending teams of volunteers to swing states and our small group got the call to drive up to Las Vegas for the weekend just before the general election. It was an incredible feeling back then; everyone was rallying together around 2 simple words “Hope” and “Change”. Wherever we went to organize the groups were diverse and lively; since this was the time I started to become more and more perceptive of race and politics, it meant a lot for me to not stick out like a sore thumb.

That Tuesday Las Vegas turned blue, Obama won a second term and all of our hard work felt affirmed! After graduation I took my gap year abroad, only keeping up with the news based off Aljazeera and BBC updates. It was beyond fascinating to see and hear unbiased reporting based only on facts, a small peek at the US from the rest of the world’s point of view. A few months after coming back Mike Brown was killed, resulting in a major shift of my worldview. I saw how quickly every media outlet moved to paint him as an unstoppable beast that had to be put down, while his 18-year-old body baked on the asphalt under a tarp for hours before being put in an unmarked van. I had to desperately search for some kind of recognition that this was a human life unnecessarily taken far too soon. I could see the same disruption in my parents as well, the same news outlets they trusted since 2004 made decisions that put that trust in jeopardy. That’s when I stopped watching news on TV and outsourced that information to a collection of politically minded blogs on the internet run by millennials my age.

 

A lot has changed since the 43-year-old Senator Barack stood on that stage in Boston. I began to realize my homeland, Somalia, was being bombed into oblivion along with most of the middle east, drone strikes increasing 10-fold during Obama’s administration (563 strikes compared to 57 by Bush). Engaging with a diverse group of politically active classmates and friends in activist circles from college helped me understand that 3 million immigrants were deported or put in detention facilities from 2008-2016. Although much of it is complex, in one term alone a democratic president deported more immigrants than a republican one. While the Trump administration has found new abhorrent ways to put young lives around the world at further risk, many of the tools he is using have been used frequently by every president before him; and likely will continue to be used after his term is over.

 

In the past four years, my parents and I began to diverge politically and especially this year it’s been difficult to have that conversation. All of the tension in our house surrounds one name “Bernie”, my parents have much disdain for how his campaign was run in 2016 and can’t find anything redeeming about him; and by association, any of his policies. He’s a lone wolf in his party, nobody likes him, his ideas aren’t realistic. Although much of what I believe to be true is completely different to that, it points to how our ideals are a reflection of the media we consume. You can be as skeptical as you want but you can only process whatever information you are given, you are what you eat read.

 

In my life, college debt increased astronomically and the prospect that a bachelor’s degree would land a better, more secure job for our generation was revealed to be a lie. All of the major financial milestones (car, house, family) associated with the American dream are completely inaccessible to us. Healthcare or lack thereof is a pivotal marker for my peers, either hanging onto our parents plan for a few more years or (in most cases) having no plan at all. In both situations, none of us can truly afford a medical emergency without increasing the already massive amount of debt we have.

 

The economy has had 2 once-in-a-lifetime recessions in 12 years, the globe is on the verge of literal collapse, racial injustice is more visible and gut-wrenching than ever, and islamophobia is eternally on the rise.

The America that welcomed my parents as teenagers and provided them a wonderful life (under mostly republican administrations) in complete honesty DOES NOT EXIST.

With all of these implications, the Democratic Party has shifted from “change” to a “return to normalcy” from “hope” to “electability”. Marginalized Americans (particularly millennials) have been taken for granted while the party overtly caters to the conservative voters that may or may not vote for Trump again. They lean on the fact that they don’t need to provide widespread change, just enough to make concerned (white) republicans more comfortable.

 

It’s a gamble in every sense of the word because millennials are not children anymore, at the youngest they are in their early 20s, witnessing a concerted effort by the DNC to ignore advocates for substantial reform, disregard the overwhelming evidence that there is a ticking clock on climate change before irreparable damage is done to the earth, and silence survivors of sexual assault in order to make America “normal” again. We have seen congress habitually resist change or bipartisanship for over a decade, leading to the first impeached president to finish their term and run for another one. The “youth vote” is taken for granted, while millennials are increasingly shifting towards not voting whatsoever, abandoning a system that never served them in the first place.

 

The “radical left” defined by universal healthcare, livable wages, renewable energy—and yes, nationalized services funded by tax dollars—have been seen as a bridge too far for the previous generation so they are doing what every generation has done before. Leave it for somebody else to fix. Desperate times call for desperate measures, this country has not faced as many problems (foreign or domestic) as it does today, and our government has made its decision. Like we have our entire lives millennials are forced to wait and see; but this time, we do it knowing that we could have had so much more. That a country clinging to the past is not prepared for what the future has in store. That in many ways we’ve already run out of time.

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School’s Out For Summer (#5)

Those First Day Jitters

Do you remember that feeling of the first day of school? -the excitement of getting to see your friends again; and the butterflies in your tummy in the hope that you all wound up in the same homeroom together?….It’s the last few days of summer, you have new sparkly pencils and a Lisa Frank notebook (obviously I’m a 90’s kid) that you can’t wait to write all of your most thought-provoking notes in.

You wake up extra early the morning of the first day because your excitement won’t let you sleep. You put on the new shoes mom got you at Famous Footwear (For me, they were pleather Mary Janes with two bows and a small heal. I looked FABULOUS). You feel so ready to take on the world! Nothing will stand in your way.

But what happens when you are called upon to read the next paragraph of the textbook out loud to the rest of your class; and you can’t read as well as the rest of the students? What happens when you are handed a pop quiz on multiplication and division and you are the last one to finish?….I can tell you from personal experience that the excited little girl with the sparkly pencils and bows on her shoes loses her confidence. Her Lisa Frank notebook becomes covered in doodles rather than actual comprehensive notes. And she begins to tell her mom every morning that she is too sick to go to school (which never worked by the way).

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Learning is Personal

I was the last one in my Kindergarten class to learn how to read. When I moved on from first through third grade my reading level was still far behind the rest of my class. I didn’t know that I was dyslexic or even what dyslexia was. I was always humiliated when we would do “popcorn reading” in class- when every student takes turns reading a paragraph out loud. Kids would snicker at how often I stumbled on words; and eventually the teacher would embarrass me further by telling me “Never mind. Karen you finish her paragraph.”

Throughout my grade school years I struggled tremendously. Teachers would suggest to my parents that maybe I needed to be held back a year. I had a tutor that I met with weekly over the summer months. My mom took to reading to me on a nightly basis. She read anything to me from my assignments to books she thought I might love but was too overwhelmed by to read myself. Eventually, I would read out loud to her. She was able to make sure I wasn’t skipping words or phrases, and pronouncing words correctly. She created a loving, safe environment for me to learn in.… Honestly, thank goodness for her. She is the reason why I was able to overcome these challenges; and why I love reading today.

IMG_9F3599450934-1

Here’s the thing, I may have struggled with literacy when I was a child. That didn’t make me illiterate. More so, it does not mean that I was not intelligent. For some reason, though, the teachers at my school were ill equipped to create a classroom that was able to accommodate that I required different methods in order to learn. I was never unable to learn; but I was never going to gain anything from reading paragraphs out loud to my peers.

This is just my story. I wasn’t the only one in my class-or in any class- that struggled with the “one size fits all” approach to learning. Some kids need to learn through visualizations- pictures and diagrams. Some kids need to learn by standing up and moving their body and connecting motions to new information. And some kids learn best by incorporating new information into a song by putting it with a melody and rhyme.

The Personalities of Learning

In 1983 Dr. Howard Gardner proposed his theory of multiple intelligences. His theory is that there are 9 different types of intelligence; and every human possesses one or more of these types.  The 9 types are as follows:

1: Verbal-linguistic intelligence

2: Logical-Mathematical intelligence

3: Visual-Spatial intelligence

4: Musical intelligence

5: Naturalistic intelligence

6: Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence

7: Interpersonal intelligence

8: Intrapersonal intelligence

9: Existential intelligence

9-types-of-intelligence-infographic

If there are 9 different types of intelligence out there, then why do school systems incorporate this “one size fits all” mentality into their teaching styles? Maybe things have changed since I was in grade school. But, as a PhD student I can say that college classrooms do not provide opportunities for all types of learners to be successful in college. Perhaps this is where the “College isn’t for everyone” mindset came from.

It’s a shame, really. All people deserve to learn. It’s a part of human nature. From the second we are born we begin learning. We absorb the world from a brand new set of eyes. We listen to people “oooh” and “aaah” over how cute and tiny we are. As we grow we become fascinated with new types of learning like how to grip something in one hand, or that first time we discover our toes. Really though, while we can’t remember the discovery of our toes we all did discover them at one point and probably thought “WOAH, WTF are these weird things? I wonder if they’ll fit in my mouth… Yup. They fit in my mouth.” It’s a lifetime that we spend learning and discovering. And we all deserve to love the process, not be intimidated by it.

Learning Is Everyone’s Style

In addition to different forms of intelligence, there are 7 different learning styles. And it just so happens that these learning styles pretty much go hand in hand with the 9 different types of intelligence. They are as follows:

7-Different-Learning-Styles

1: Visual

2: Aural

3: Verbal

4: Physical

5: Logical

6: Social

7: Solitary

Perhaps instead of other forms of standardized testing, each year students should take tests on their learning styles so that teachers know how to adapt to each years group of students for whom they are responsible for shaping and preparing for the future. Your type of learning style should be something we all are aware of. This will allow us to remove any mentality of “I’m not smart enough.” or “I can’t do that.” Additionally, it would allow us to remove the stigmatization associated how struggling in a classroom could be linked to mental incompetency.

The woman that sits here today writing this is a different person than the little girl who struggled to read. While I do still love decked out school supplies and fabulous shoes, I have spent years becoming a different type of learner so that I could successful in the classrooms I sat in. If I had gotten it my way, though, I would of spent my childhood learning how to read through music. Maybe math would’ve been easier if I had had something physical to use and hold to understand what fractions were rather than numbers written on a chalk board.  

 

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I’m thankful for my mom for recognizing my struggles early on; and for taking on the burden of helping me overcome them by herself. She’s a true warrior; and in honor of Mother’s Day this post is dedicated to her. You inspired my loves of art, reading, music and shoe shopping.

Thank you for creating such a colorfully artistic world that fostered my every curiosity and random, sometimes fleeting, passions (Remember when I was a gymnast?).. You saw my intelligence and potential. You saw my true colors. Because of you, I’m two years away from earning my doctorate. And because of you, I will be a great mother too.

Sources

https://www.verywellmind.com/gardners-theory-of-multiple-intelligences-2795161

9 Types Of Intelligence – Infographic

https://www.startschoolnow.org/7-different-learning-styles/  

The Seven Learning Styles
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Blog #5 – Global Educational Disparity During COVID-19

The global educational system is facing a serious crisis with the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease. Preventive measures and interventions, such as social distancing and self-quarantine, to reduce the spread of coronavirus have triggered the extensive shutdown of schools in many countries. According to the UN, the disease has forced schools to shut down in more than 190 countries, affecting at a minimum 1.5 billion students worldwide.

While the schools’ closure will reduce the spread of the disease, extended closures will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable students negatively. According to the World Bank, students from low-income families and countries are affected disproportionately because “they have fewer opportunities for learning at home, and their time out of school may present economic burdens for parents who may face challenges finding prolonged childcare, or even adequate food in the absence of school meals”. The fewer opportunities for vulnerable students to learn from home is due to the low access to technology and inadequate support for their teachers.

Low access to technology

The shutdown of schools in response to the coronavirus disease outbreak have revealed many problems related to access to education, education inequity and socio-economic disparity among students and countries. With the disease outbreak, health officials have recommended that people should practice social distancing and self-quarantine which have forced closures of schools globally. Many schools have quickly transitioned to online learning; however, this move has exposed the disparity or inequity in education within and between countries worldwide. Students from low-income families and poorer countries are more severely affected by schools’ closure because they disproportionately lack access to technology and internet.

In the United States, for example, many students from low-income families who rely on computers and internet access provided by their schools have been forced to return home where they may not have access to the facilities provided by their schools. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that only 56 percent of poor households in California have broadband subscription.

Globally, African countries rank least in terms of access to technology and internet. According to the United Nations, almost 90 percent of students in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to household computers while 82 percent lack access to internet. Also, it is estimated that half of students in sub-Saharan Africa (i.e. about 56 million students) live in locality where access to mobile phone networks is lacking, thereby limiting their ability to access educational information and to connect with teachers. These challenges have made transitioning to online education almost impossible for majority of people in low-income countries.

While schools in developed and high-income countries have rapidly transitioned to online education, less developed and low-income countries have been slow or unable to transition to online or other form of remote learning. According to Brookings, less than 25 percent of low-income countries currently offer any form of remote learning (Figure 1). Among these low-income countries, the majority are using television (TV) and radio. This contrasts with about 90 percent of high-income countries that are offering remote learning opportunities to students, most of which are offered online (Figure 1). Even if government and schools of low-income countries try to provide online education, they will be unable to reach majority of students as more than half of residents (about 36 percent according to Brookings) do not have access to the internet. This percentage will be difficult to improve during the coronavirus pandemic, making emergency measures that depend solely on technology unlikely to provide poorer students with continuity in  learning.

a)

b)

Figure 1: Shares of countries responding to school closures with different forms of remote learning, by (a) income group and (b) countries (Source: Brookings).

Inadequate support for teachers

Teachers are very important in the education of students. With the current schools’ closure, many schools are unable to function properly and in low-income countries there is a high risk of teachers quitting or losing their jobs if the closure continues for long. Where teachers are able to function, many of them are struggling with the rapid transition to distance and online education. Hence, there is the need to adequately support and train teachers so that they can support and offer the best training to their students remotely.

The support and training teachers are receiving varies by country and region, with teachers in high-income countries getting the most support and training while those in low-income countries are getting the least. The Brookings reported that more than 50 percent of countries in Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa provide guidance and training to teachers on how to engage with students during the pandemic (Figure 2). In comparison, 50 percent in South Asia, 48 percent in Latin America and Caribbean, and 40 percent in East Asia and the Pacific offer guidance and training to teachers. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa encounter the greatest challenges in teachers’ support. While a third of them promotes or mandates teachers to communicate with students, none of them is providing them with the needed guidance or training to effectively function (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Shares of countries providing official guidance and training to teachers for remote teaching, by region (Source: Brookings).

To meet the learning needs of students during the pandemic, low-income countries and their school systems might consider developing more educational TV and radio programming, since they already have the infrastructures, to reach out to students. This could be more beneficial to the students than rushing to invest in developing new and expensive educational technologies. In addition, teachers should be supported by ensuring that they continue to be paid by the government or their employer and be provided the guidance and training they need to effectively engage with their students.

References

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_of_the_COVID-19_pandemic_on_education, 2020, May 8.

Lee, C., Goss, J., and Gao, N. (2019, April 25). How California digital divide affects students. https://www.ppic.org/blog/how-californias-digital-divide-affects-students/

Mundy, K., and Hares, S. (2020, April 16). Equity-focused approaches to learning loss during COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.cgdev.org/blog/equity-focused-approaches-learning-loss-during-covid-19

The Inclusive Internet Index 2020. Retrieved from https://theinclusiveinternet.eiu.com/explore/countries/SE/performance/indicators/availability, 2020, May, 8.

The United Nations (2020, April 21). Startling disparity in digital learning emerge as COVID-19 spreads. UN education agency. Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1062232

The World Bank (2020, April 30). World Bank Education and COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/data/interactive/2020/03/24/world-bank-education-and-covid-19

Thomas, C. (2020, April 13). Coronavirus and challenging times for education in developing countries. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2020/04/13/coronavirus-and-challenging-times-for-education-in-developing-countries/

Vegas, E (2020, April 14). School closures, government responses, and learning inequality around the world during COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/school-closures-government-responses-and-learning-inequality-around-the-world-during-covid-19/

 

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Global Educational Disparity During COVID-19

The global educational system is facing a serious crisis with the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease. Preventive measures and interventions, such as social distancing and self-quarantine, to reduce the spread of coronavirus have triggered the extensive shutdown of schools in many countries. According to the UN, the disease has forced schools to shut down in more than 190 countries, affecting at a minimum 1.5 billion students worldwide.

While the schools’ closure will reduce the spread of the disease, extended closures will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable students negatively. According to the World Bank, students from low-income families and countries are affected disproportionately because “they have fewer opportunities for learning at home, and their time out of school may present economic burdens for parents who may face challenges finding prolonged childcare, or even adequate food in the absence of school meals”. The fewer opportunities for vulnerable students to learn from home is due to the low access to technology and inadequate support systems for their teachers.

Low access to technology

The shutdown of schools in response to the coronavirus disease outbreak have revealed many problems related to access to education, education inequity and socio-economic disparity among students. With the disease outbreak, health officials have recommended that people should practice social distancing and self-quarantine which have forced closures of schools globally. Many schools have quickly transitioned to online learning; however, this move has exposed the disparity or inequity in education within and between countries worldwide. Students from low-income families and poorer countries are more severely affected by schools’ closure because they disproportionately lack access to technology and internet.

In the United States, for example, many students from low-income families who rely on computers and internet access provided by their schools have been forced to return home where they may not have access to the facilities provided by their schools. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that only 56 percent of poor households in California have broadband subscription.

Globally, African countries rank least in terms of access to technology and internet. According to the United Nations, almost 90 percent of students in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to household computers while 82 percent lack access to internet. Also, it is estimated that half of students in sub-Saharan Africa (i.e. about 56 million students) live in locality where access to mobile phone networks is lacking, thereby limiting their ability to access educational information and to connect with teachers. These challenges have made transitioning to online education almost impossible for majority of people in low-income countries.

While schools in developed and high-income countries have rapidly transitioned to online education, less developed and low-income countries have been slow or unable to transition to online or other form of remote learning. According to Brookings, less than 25 percent of low-income countries currently offer any form of remote learning (Figure 1). Among these low-income countries, the majority are using television (TV) and radio. This contrasts with about 90 percent of high-income countries that are offering remote learning opportunities to students, most of which are offered online (Figure 1). Even if government and schools of low-income countries try to provide online education, they will be unable to reach majority of students as more than half of residents (about 36 percent according to Brookings) do not have access to the internet. This percentage will be difficult to improve during the coronavirus pandemic, making emergency measures that depend solely on technology unlikely to provide poorer students with continuity in  learning.

a)

b)

Figure 1: Shares of countries responding to school closures with different forms of remote learning, by (a) income group and (b) countries (Source: Brookings).

Inadequate support for teachers

Teachers are very important in the education of students. With the current schools’ closure, many schools are unable to function properly and in low-income countries there is a high risk of teachers quitting or losing their jobs if the closure continues for long. Where teachers are able to function, many of them are struggling with the rapid transition to distance and online education. Therefore, there is the need to adequately support and train teachers so that they can support and offer the best training to their students remotely. The support and training teachers are receiving varies by country and region, with teachers in high-income countries getting the most support and training while those in low-income countries are getting the least.

The Brookings reported that more than 50 percent of countries in Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa provide guidance and training to teachers on how to engage with students during the pandemic (Figure 2). In comparison, 50 percent in South Asia, 48 percent in Latin America and Caribbean, and 40 percent in East Asia and the Pacific offer guidance and training to teachers. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa encounter the greatest challenges in teachers’ support. While a third of them promotes or mandates teachers to communicate with students, none of them is providing them with the needed guidance or training to effectively function (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Shares of countries providing official guidance and training to teachers for remote teaching, by region (Source: Brookings).

To meet the learning needs of students during the pandemic, low-income countries and their school systems might consider developing more educational TV and radio programming, since they already have the infrastructures, to reach out to students. This could be more beneficial to the students than rushing to invest in developing new and expensive educational technologies. In addition, teachers should be supported by ensuring that they continue to be paid by the government or their employer and be provided the guidance and training they need to effectively engage with their students.

References

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_of_the_COVID-19_pandemic_on_education, 2020, May 8.

Lee, C., Goss, J., and Gao, N. (2019, April 25). How California digital divide affects students. https://www.ppic.org/blog/how-californias-digital-divide-affects-students/

Mundy, K., and Hares, S. (2020, April 16). Equity-focused approaches to learning loss during COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.cgdev.org/blog/equity-focused-approaches-learning-loss-during-covid-19

The Inclusive Internet Index 2020. Retrieved from https://theinclusiveinternet.eiu.com/explore/countries/SE/performance/indicators/availability, 2020, May, 8.

The United Nations (2020, April 21). Startling disparity in digital learning emerge as COVID-19 spreads. UN education agency. Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1062232

The World Bank (2020, April 30). World Bank Education and COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/data/interactive/2020/03/24/world-bank-education-and-covid-19

Thomas, C. (2020, April 13). Coronavirus and challenging times for education in developing countries. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2020/04/13/coronavirus-and-challenging-times-for-education-in-developing-countries/

Vegas, E (2020, April 14). School closures, government responses, and learning inequality around the world during COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/school-closures-government-responses-and-learning-inequality-around-the-world-during-covid-19/

 

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Blog #5 The Narrative

As I become more aware of what diversity and inclusion is, as well as my role in it, it is fascinating (and disgusting) to realize how inherently racist our society is when it comes to commentary and actions related to different people of color. For my final blog, I want to discuss The Narrative, and perhaps release a little of my frustration.

In 2016, when professional American football player, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during the U.S. National Anthem in a form of peaceful, silent protest to raise awareness of racism and police brutality against people of color, my first thought was wow, an interesting move. I respected the player/individual for using his platform on a national stage to take a stand (or kneel as it were) for injustice. To me, it was no different than the sit-in/sit-downs used by supporters of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s – you know, a part of history that only comes up in February, but is touted by America as an amazing and beautiful tactic of creating change. Seeing the images of Mr. Kaepernick (sorry, I don’t watch football, so I learned about it later), was an interesting moment, one that I truly, and naively, thought would boost conversation and spark positive change (I know, I know, this is my white girl privilege right here). I mean, how could people be insulted by a quiet, peaceful gesture when millions of Americans around the nation who watch sporting events on tv or online, don’t stand during the National Anthem?

Holy crap bags, was I wrong! The explosion of anger was shocking, the commentary that Mr. Kaepernick was un-American, surprising. Here was this man, enacting his constitutional right of freedom of speech, and using it to not say a thing, but take an action. And people (including the current American President) were calling for him to be fired, blackballed from his career, even beaten and killed (some of these requests actually being illegal in the U.S. by the way – something his actions were not). The commentary I witnessed from people I thought I knew from my childhood was astounding – ragging on the Mr. Kaepernick’s skills, his intelligence, saying that he should stick with what he’s “supposedly” good at instead of entering into political commentary (side note – interesting that a football player should not make any political comments, but a landscaper, an office assistant, and a janitor – to name a few – are totally allowed to do so). My small-minded world exploded, and suddenly I was drifting in a much wider universe, realizing that this beautiful society I was trained to love and promote was simply a façade. Everyone’s masks had come off, their true identities being shown in all their gruesomeness to the world.

Fast forward to 2020, and the world is facing a pandemic that has not been seen in a century. One would think that public health and safety would be important to people, particularly when we don’t know the true impact of what we are facing yet. I honestly believe that in the beginning, people did focus on that. I also recognize that people are scared, not only about this unknown illness, but losing their jobs, not being able to pay their bills or feed themselves and their children. I truly understand, and I truly believe that our government and society should step up. What I don’t agree with is people (mostly white from what I’ve seen) taking to the streets to protest that the government is taking away people’s constitutional right to get a haircut, nails done, etc. What I don’t agree with is people (again mostly white from what I’ve seen) swarming State Capitals with anger and threatening violence. What I don’t agree with is people (you guessed it – mostly white) showing up with guns to protest shelter-at-home directives. Seriously, why the hell do people think they need to bring guns to a protest that has nothing to do with guns? JEEZ!!!

And what comments do we hear for such aggressive behavior? Well, the current U.S. President said these were “good people”. Wait what? Mr. Kaepernick who quietly took a knee during the U.S. National Anthem was a “son of a bitch”, but white people storming government property with guns and hurling violent commentary are “good people”? This narrative is inherently racist. While people argued that Mr. Kaepernick’s career should be over because of his actions, those same people are currently encouraging State Governments to talk with and negotiate with these aggressive white protestors. This narrative is inherently racist. And those people I mentioned growing up with, who verbally attacked Mr. Kaepernick for his behavior, burning his jersey, calling him a crappy player, and one that should focus on being a better athlete instead of participating in politics – what happened to those people? Oh yeah, those people are now posting on social media about how we as a society need to be NICE to the gun touting, violence promoting protestors who are forcing their way onto government property. Yup, those same people that said a football player has no say in politics, completely support the white grocery store worker, the white, small business owner, the white garbage man, etc. taking a political stand. This narrative is inherently racist. (Note, I totally feel that all of these people, INCLUDING football players should be able to actively participate in political activities – it’s what our democracy was founded on).

What this class and life experience has taught me over the past few years is that not only do the rules NOT APPLY equally between white people and, well, basically everyone else, but that we can’t even have an unbiased narrative that approaches the same general issues equally. Our society will continue to write a narrative that negatively describes people of color (primarily Black and Hispanic) as evil, and white people as good Americans, while pretending to claim we aren’t racist and “we don’t see color.” As someone that see color very clearly, I say we need to DO BETTER and BE BETTER. My father always says, “You are either part of the cause or part of the cure.” Well, this white girl has chosen the part I will play. I hope you will join me!

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Blog Post #5, School Bullying

Bullying in schools has become a complicated international phenomenon. Whether schools are elementary or secondary, small or large, same-sex or mixed-sex, bullying behavior has spread and presents a threat to the well-being of students and the health of schools in countries around the world (Kennedy et al., 2012).

What is bullying?

Researchers of student bullying have recognized this behavior as a violation of other students’ rights (Olweus, 2011). Bullying is defined as the “tendency for some children to frequently oppress, harass or intimidate other children, verbally, physically or both in and out of school” (Alika, 2012, p. 523). Bullying is also described as the repeated exposure of one student to negative actions on the part of one or more other students (Olweus, 2003). These negative actions are intentionally inflicted and can consist of physical abuse that causes physical discomfort or injury and/or verbal abuse that causes feelings of inferiority or mental anguish. One student or group of students can initiate the bullying of another student or group of students, either physically or verbally or both, in order to cause unwarranted distress (Olweus, 2003). According to Olweus (2003), boys tend to use direct bullying more than girls while girls tend to practice indirect bullying more than boys. In general, bullying has been increasingly considered to be a subset of direct or indirect violence (Strohmeier & Noam, 2012).

Consequence of bullying:

Bullying has negative impact on the bullied or victimized. Studies show that bullied students have low academic achievement, self-esteem, self-confidence, numerous health problems, and high anxiety. Unfortunately, bullying also has led to a rise in suicides among elementary and secondary school students and some students more likely to drop out of school than their peers who are not subjected to any form of bullying (Alika, 2012). When a student is persistently exposed to bullying, he or she was more likely to suffer from a severe and long-term impact that sometimes lasted for years after school (Olweus, 2003). In fact, bullying has been used as predictor of later criminality (Olweus, 2011).

Reasons behind bullying:

To understand the bullying behavior, we have to understand why the students do bully others? Prejudice is one of the top reasons behind the bullying. Students bully other students for being different in some way for their color, race, religion, culture, abilities and disabilities, height, weight, or sexual orientation. This type of bullying is reflected to prejudices that students learn from their family and social community about the value of diversity in the community especially because these students (kids or young people) find it hard to understand the diversity of others and can only see it as a difference which can lead to prejudice bullying.

According to National Center for Educational Statistics (2016), more than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied. The following table shows the number and percentage distribution of students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school: school year 2024-2015.

33% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year (NCES, 2016). The following figure shows the percentage reporting various frequency of bullying among students ages 12-18 during the school year 2015.

The role of educators for preventing bullying:

So, how educators interact with this major concern and what their roles in protecting students from bullying in schools!! There are lots of people can help stop bullying such as teachers, school counselor, school principal, school superintendent and state department of education. https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/get-help-now. I agree all these people can make efforts to combat and prevent bullying in schools I think more emphasis should be put on the role of teachers because they are in the frontline of observing student behavior. It seems reasonable to assume that when teachers notice bullying, they are more likely to intervene and stop this behavior. Teachers daily contact with students and are at the forefront of ensuring a safe learning environment, including protecting students from bullying and reporting bullying problems to administrators. Thus, teachers should to be trained about what bullying is, what the school’s rules are, and how to deal with bullying. For example, teachers can support a victim and a bully. For the victim, show her or him that the care and they have a friend. In the same time teachers can advise the bully that he or she is wrong without getting involved in an argument. Actually, the interaction will be based on the bullying situation.

Whitted and Dupper (2005) provided a guideline for teachers to prevent bullying:

  • Regular classroom meetings are held to discuss bullying.
  • Students are involved in developing rules against bullying.
  • The concept of bullying is integrated into curriculum.
  • All school personnel model positive interpersonal skills and cooperative learning and do not set a bad example by exhibiting dominating or authoritarian behavior with students.
  • Teachers encourage the reporting of bullying incidents and consistently follow school bullying policies.
  • Teachers respond swiftly and consistently and are sympathetic to students who need support.
  • Teachers encourage students to include all students in play and activities.
  • Teachers send clear messages that bullying is not tolerated.
  • Consistent enforcement of nonpunitive, graduated consequences for bullying behaviors are used.
  • Corporal punishment is avoided.
  • Parents are encouraged to contact the school if they suspect their child is involved in bullying.

Thank you!!

References:

Alika, H. I. (2012). Bullying as a correlate of dropout from school among adolescents in Delta State: Implication for counselling. Education, 132(3), 523– 532.

Kennedy, T. D., Russom, A. G., Kevorkian, M. M. (2012). Teacher and administrator perceptions of bullying in schools. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 7(5), 1–12.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016.U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017064.pdf

Olweus, D. (2003). A profile of bullying at school. Educational Leadership, 60(6), 12–17.

Olweus, D. (2011). Bullying at school and later criminality: Findings from three Swedish

community samples of males. Criminal Behaviour & Mental Health, 21(2), 151–156.

Strohmeier, D. & Noam, G. G. (2012). Bullying in schools: What is the problem, and how can educators solve it? New Directions for Youth Development, 2012 (133), 7–13.

Whitted, K. S., & Dupper, D. R. (2005). Best practices for preventing or reducing bullying in schools. Children & Schools, 27(3), 167–175.

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