Prescription to learn

While reading the article on UVA’s med school learning style, I was struck by one table embedded within the photos of operation tables and surgery smocks.



….and, thanks to the glory of copy and paste, here it is:


Applying knowledge

Problem solving



Critical thinking



Hands on

Individualized learning

Self-directed learning


Regurgitating facts

Rote learning





Sole practitioners

Passive listening


Top-down learning

Let’s think about this. Would you like a doctor from column one? Or column two? Who do YOU think would do a better job?

I know what I would pick.

Old dog, new tricks?

These past couple, and coming weeks, have been obnoxiously full of visits to low socioeconomic schools in southwest Virginia… and these visits has been unbelievably eye-opening.
I have noticed that these students are being trained, not taught. They are shown how to bubble in forms, hold themselves to SOLs that are established by school boards and reject thinking for themselves. It’s disturbing.
Classrooms are composed of children from varying levels of learning, troublemakers are addressed as such and ignored. Teachers are trying, but in the system they are in…. rock and a hard place.
Once these students  (hopefully) make it to the college level we, as professors, have to untrain first before we teach.
I’d rather have a blank slate. I have learned with horses that having an older horse with prior training can actually be more difficult than a green (inexperienced) horse with no training. The prior you have to work backwords before going forwards and the latter is just a blank slate, starting fresh. A new opportunity.
Similarly, this situation we’re in is like cancer. This way of thinking from their spoon-fed experiences are so ingrained in some students by the time the “doctors” get hold of them that it may be untreatable. Prevention is better. A drastic comparison? Yes. See the connection?
Prevention and early treatment is key. Why are we waiting until the later stages to encourage creativity?

No Service, revisited

After reading this article published in The Atlantic, I was reminded of a blog post I had previously written for my ethics class. This post, titled “no service“, discusses cell phone use and how distracted we often become… and how crucial it is to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into our real world lives.

Think about the last time you were conversing with someone and they, while you’re spilling your guts about your latest life dramas, pick up their phone to answer a text. Or, better yet, pick up their phone to check facebook. What message does that send you? How does this affect your view of them as a person?

While the article in The Atlantic argues that our phones can help us connect with our environment, I take a different view. I think, more often than not, they intercept our tangible in-person interactions. However, I also believe the aforementioned article has a point: there are ways that these tiny little devices can enhance the world around us: increasing our understanding of what we are seeing and enriching our experiences when they are used appropriately.

We just need to know where to draw the line.