Racism exists now?

Last week, we read an article about the hidden brain,where Vedantam states that unconscious messages are actually far more influential than conscious messages and will always tell us people’s races, even from a very young age. I agree with his statement, but I think the recognization/awareness of races is not unconscious because it’s easy for normal human beings to tell the differences of skin color, white, black or yellow. It’s apparent, not hidden anywhere. People are aware of it, while they just choose to avoid talking about it most of the time.

Races are there. How about racism? From my own observations and experiences,I tend to believe that racism still exists even though racial discrimination has been improved, just as  William Faulkner said, which is also cited in the Whistling Vivaldi’s book, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” As a Chinese, who came to US for graduate study about 2 years ago, I know that Chinese immigrants were banned from entering the United States until 1943. Also, Chinese were prohibited from testifying against whites and were often assigned more dangerous jobs at some points. Now, situations has been improved a lot, Chinese people can apply H1 visa and have a good job and also apply for green card or citizenship. However, did the racism against Asian disappear? I guess it’s very hard. It’s not something superficial, it’s something deep inside your heart. Of course Asians can work, talk, or have dinner with whites, but you can still feel the subtle difference. One of my old friend who have lived in US for more than 30 years told me that it’s impossible to eliminate racism. One of my other friend who had his son in US told me that even his son speaks native English, it’s still very hard for him to have good White friends.

Racism is of course bad. Nobody can choose which country to be born. Nobody can choose his/her parents. Nobody can choose his/her historical epoch nor the circumstances of upbringing. But, we can choose how we shall live, how we shall deal with different races. Let’s be fair to everybody and treat everyone equally.

diversity is everywhere

Let’s look at a orchestra. It consists of at least one guitarist, one bassist, one keyboardist/pianist, and a drummer, and the lead singer. If everyone played drums and no guitars, nor singer, nor keyboardist or bassist, you can imagine the boring situation instead of a orchestra. This is the diversity in a orchestra.

In a classroom, some students are white, some are black, some are yellow. Some are male, some are female. Some are relatively young, some are older. They also differ in physical appearance, beautiful or normal-looking, tall or short, wearing dresses or jeans, etc. More over, they differ in language, personality, strengths or weaknesses, hobbies and so on so forth. This is the diversity in a classroom.

In a workplace, people are also different in those aspects mentioned for a classroom. Researches show that the diversity of a workplace enhances the positive business outcomes, increasing sales revenue, customer numbers and therefore profits. This is the diversity in a workplace.

Now, let’s expand to a larger view, a country. Apparently, citizens are all different. Also, there are different organizations, institutes or companies that play different roles in the whole society and that interlink and cooperate with each other.

Diversity is everywhere and important. Get along with and respect others and embrace the diversity.

Why technologies?

Before we talk about the reasons why to use technologies in education, I’d like to share the following interesting video about the history of technology in education, where simple drawings are used to describe different ages of education in a timeline ranging from 30,000 BC to the year of 2000. Everything has been developing along history, so does the technologies in education.

Why do we need technologies in education?

Many people, including teachers,students,researchers, and policy-makers, keep talking about the vital role of technologies in education. And as a matter of fact, more and more instructors are experiencing new technologies in their classrooms. There are many advantages of using technologies:

1.Technologies have made the delivery or explanation of knowledge easier and more convenient for teachers. Besides traditional chalks and books, now they can use powerpoint presentations,do digital photography, make a video, blog, etc, which actually also make the understanding of knowledge easier.

2.Students are able to get access to the teacher’s course materials and  free online resources anytime and anywhere. Nowadays, each student has his/her own laptop and can get internet very easily. They don’t have to limit their studies to a particular classroom or to 45 minutes.

3.Each student can study at his own pace and order that will work best for him/her. Since individuals are different, some are fast while some are slow. Plus it is impractical or too expensive for one-to-one teaching. Information technologies make it possible that students can repeat some topics that are tough for them or can explore deeper on a certain subject without disturbing the whole class.

4.Students can interact and collaborate with classmates better with the help of technologies. Take Course Networking (CN), the website we are using right now for example, classmates can discuss on a topic, share interesting links or information, or ask questions anytime and anywhere, which builds a virtual community among classmates and therefore reinforce the connection between each other.

5.Technologies are of great importance in sharing with the world. Instead of being isolated from the rest of the world in old days, classrooms can all be interconnected with other experts nationally or internationally nowadays to share experiences, discuss or learn together via the use of tools such as Skype, Google talk, blogs or websites. Distance learning course is a good example for this.









Blogging to me

Blogging, oh my god, never thought about doing it in English,  my second language, especially after my advisor joked on my report, saying that it’s bleeding (you know when people review a paper, the changes will usually become red; so after my advisor reviewed my report, most of the fonts were changed from black to red.). I’m sure that my writing is very poor. It’s just a headache, frustrating, time-consuming and confidence-destroying. Blogging sounds intimidating. Nevertheless, GEDI is providing the opportunity for blogging and kind of makes me force myself to do it. It won’t be easy for me (I even google search to see whether I’m using the right word and I may still use wrong words), but on the other hand I’d love to try and I believe a good start is half the battle. So here I am, where I never expected to be. Such is how people grow. Keep an open heart, drag myself out of my comfort zone, and try things that I think I’ll never do.

Back to blogging itself, it’s not new at all, why still many instructors don’t blog to better teach a class? In fact, some students (yes, I do) even prefer old-fashioned ways of teaching, e.g. writing on a blackboard. Can blogging really be useful and effective for teaching? Will students tend to read pages of mathematical derivations on a website? Won’t it be easier if someone can actually show you how to use a equipment than watching a video on line? In the point of my view, in-person teaching is still the most effective way that will engage with students the most. However, blogging do share knowledge and experiences and provide free resources which you can turn to when you don’t have anyone to ask and which can save time and effort. Therefore, it might be a good supplement to face-to-face teaching, particularly for certain subjects. After all, you don’t have to learn everything face-to-face. So should I question the role of blogging in education or just trust those who state that blogging can change a person’s life? If blogging is useful, to what extent could it be applied to teaching and how to appropriately take advantage of it? Here I am, to answer these questions, by experimenting on myself and communicating with colleagues.