Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blog Assignment #2

Did You Know? 3.0

There is no greater shock than to learn most of what you think you know ends up a lie. This statement seems to place the majority of my reaction to Did You Know? 3.0 - A John Strange 2012 Version and Did You Know? 3.0 by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod. Society makes the United States out to be this almighty place that ultimately acts as the "boss" of the world. That may have been true in years past; however, this just is not the case in our quickly changing world. I was not surprised by the estimation that there will be more English-speaking Chinese than the entire United States population by 2025. I can thank my parents for providing this information to me prior to even knowing I was going to enroll in this course. My mother has made some of the same predictions, but for a short time frame. For years I have been told to take interest in mastering the Spanish language, which I have no interest in perfecting. More recently I have been advised to consider one of the more prominent of Chinese vernaculars.

Another fact that stood out to me was the comparison of newborns in the United States, India, and China that were born at the same time. It is almost humbling to realize that while we think of our country as high and mighty, we are really drawing closer to the lowly status of mediocre. Let's look more specific at what Mr. Fisch and Mr. McLeod were trying to convey to us. According to the facts in their video 67 babies were born in the U.S., 274 in China, and 395 in India! Both India and China have a substantial difference than the U.S.. If hundreds of lives are being brought into the world in less than five minutes, can you possibly begin to imagine how truly outnumbered our feeble nation really is?

On another note, should we really act as if this information is a shock? I want to take a quick moment and ask you to do a simple task right now. Look around you. How many objects have that little, white sticker that says "Made in China"? What about the clothing you are wearing? When I look at the few items that are within arms length, not one of them was manufactured in the United States. Even the computer that I am using says, "Assembled in China". We are no longer at the head of the pack in the world we live in. This is the unfortunate truth, and the big picture.

Mr. Winkle Wakes

Mr. Winkle Wakes is a twist to the age old tale of Rip Van Winkle. After awakening from his 100 year rest, he begins to wander about to discover the changes in his surroundings. The first place he came upon was an office building with many odd machines and noises that were baffling. People were using some of these same objects to speak with others thousands of miles away as if they were sitting in the chair next across from them. As confused as Mr. Winkle had become, he began to wander to a hospital when he felt ill. Here too, he found an abundance of bleeping and humming unknown machines. He could not fathom that such things were possible before he laid his head to rest.

Feeling overwhelmed by all of these foreign sights and sounds, Mr. Winkle continued his adventure into a nearby school. Inside the classrooms, he finally found something that was familiar. Eager minds still sat neatly in their rows, focusing on the teacher that provided them with a wealth of information. Although the world outside of the classroom was constantly changing and evolving, education will remain a firm foundation for the basics. We will always need to provide younger generations with fundamental skills and knowledge before they can venture out and be able to find the rest on their own. I feel like education does evolve with the rest of the world, but you cannot escape the basics. It is like learning to walk before you can run. You have to know your "ABC's and 123's" before you can put them towards much higher applications. However, you must also include the leadership for students to want to learn on their own. We cannot allow students to believe we will do the work for them. After all, our job as educators is to prepare them for the future, and I believe that includes a level of education to teach students how to be self-sufficient.

Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity

When I first ventured to watch Sir Ken Robinson's talk Sir Ken Robinson: The Importance of Creativity, I was almost immediately confused by the title. Above the video was a separate title that read, "Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity". I was baffled. How on earth could someone propose such a statement? Once I was a few minutes into his lecture, I began to understand his direction. Mr. Robinson said, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original," and I could not agree more. I feel that I am highly creative, but I can bring my ideas to life because they do not match what I see in my head. Those images are almost always derived from original things other people were able to create. Does this make me any less creative? No, I do not believe it does, but I do not have the ability to take the risks that others used to their benefit.

Mr. Robinson goes on to explain that our education systems are focused on academic ability. He always suggests that education became more firm in order to meet industrial needs. When I sit back and ponder this, I certainly have to agree with him. Just as I am understanding his exact point, he discusses that, as students, we are pushed towards subjects that will provide the highest success rate and away from those that may play up our individual strengths. I have even heard his exact phrase, "Don't do music, you are not going to be a musician. Don't do art, you won't be an artist". Beyond this, Mr. Robinson states that "many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not. Because the thing they were good at in school wasn't valued". When I heard these words, it was almost as if a bell went off in my head. I cannot recall how many times I felt these exact emotions. I still feel this way frequently because I am not a "math-wiz" or a scientific "braniac". I highly recommend anyone who has not heard Mr. Robinson's speeches to look into them. They are intriguing, comical, and extremely thought provoking.

The Future At Our Fingertips

With so many resources becoming available over the internet, one of my favorites lately has been Pinterest. Pinterest is a virtual pin board that offers a plethora of posts to meet your every desire. I have been familiar with Pinterest for about a year now, and have found many education related ideas. When I read Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education, I found that I had already been drawn to posts that fulfilled all four uses. Whether you are searching for lesson plans, organization, or spreading the word to your students or other educators, every idea under the sun is conveniently located in its own "Education" category.

Of the four suggestions that I read, lesson plans and organization stood out the most to me. I thoroughly enjoy finding creative ways to be organized whenever it comes to my work or education. I also find that using unique forms of learning helps me to retain more information. Who wants to learn something that practically bores them to tears? The ideas that I have found on Pinterest give a new meaning to education. They provide lessons that are hands-on, fun, and interesting.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blog Assignment #1

About Me

Hello world! My name is Leah Garvens, I am 19 years young, and a Sophomore at the University of South Alabama. I was born and, still being, raised in Mobile, AL. Like most people who have lived in the same city all of their lives, I too, have found myself wanting to get out and explore bigger, better, and more fulfilling places. However, there is one thing that I have grown to have a passion for. That, ladies and gentlemen, would be the "Southern" way of life. I have had the luxury of traveling to my mother's home state of Connecticut, and just about everywhere in between, except a few states, and let me tell you, there just isn't a place like it anywhere else. I absolutely love every single aspect of it. Okay, there are a select few downsides, but they are only because of Hollywood's interpretation of those below the good ol' Mason-Dixon. With all of this being said, I certainly see myself leaving Mobile at one point or another; however, there is no way on this Earth that I will leave the South.

How did I find myself at South Alabama? I have always followed in the athletic footsteps of my big brother for as long as I can remember. When athletics began to become more "serious" as I got older, I found an post season volleyball club that called South Alabama "home". Being around the campus virtually all of my life in one way or another I felt compelled to stick with what I knew, and two and a half years later here I am.

I found no greater happiness than stepping onto a soccer field or a volleyball court. Somehow, I always knew that I wanted to be apart of athletics for the rest of my life. In the latter years of high school, I was given the opportunity to coach volleyball teams for a younger club. I feel these experiences are what led me to choose the major I am pursuing, which is Secondary Education with a focus in Biology.

Some of you may be wondering how in the world coaching an athletics team and teaching sciences could possibly connect. Well, I will tell you. To spend months with a group of girls TEACHING them skills they never knew they could hone in on, and then to see those same girls make a varsity team their first year of high school gave me an indescribable feeling of contentment. Is that not one of the joys of teaching our students? To provide them with the ability to obtain information and skills that you teach them so that they can reach higher goals for themselves. Goals that they may not have known were possible before. Furthermore, what greater joy is there in the world than seeing someone excel because of something that you gave them? To me, there is none, and this is the reason I am here.

As you may have picked up on in the beginning of this post, family is extremely important to me. My family is not limited to blood relation; instead, it includes my dearest friends that are no less family than my birth mother and father. These people constitute my heart and my soul. Without them, I most likely would not be the person I am. My older brother, Erich, is my rock. I have chased his tracks my entire life. My parents will always be my support and my teachers. They never miss out on an opportunity to teach me something vital for the roller coaster that we call "life".

My roller coaster is very fast, and I never know what is lurking around each twist, corkscrew, or loop. As a full time student with, not one, but two jobs, it tends to be an intense ride. Since I can show my blonde roots at times and "space out", my Lilly Pulitzer agenda never goes anywhere I don't go. As far as college, there are few things I don't love about it. Sure, it can get hectic and frustrating at times, but who said anything worth having in life was easily come by? I live by two quotes my parents have always taught me: "This too shall pass.", and "He who doesn't listen, must feel." With such a growing interest in the new technologies becoming available, I'm eager and excited to see what this course holds for me this semester. Are you coming along for the ride?

Randy Pausch on Time Management

After watching this video, I am sad to say that I have never had the opportunity to hear his words of wisdom sooner. In the beginning while he explained the purpose of his first topic, he said one thing that seemed to jump out and yell, "HEY! YOU!" He mentioned that his children seemed to always be asking "why". Immediately, I thought back to conversation I heard when I was much younger. Unfortunately I do not recall who or where I heard this. A woman was speaking along the lines of listening to your parents, or elders, without asking questions. She then explained a situation that you were standing in the woods with a poisonous snake lying behind your feet and your mother told you very firmly to slowly walk towards her. The speaker went on to say that if you took the time to continuously ask "why", you were placing yourself in greater danger of being bitten. Therefore, what I received when I heard Randy Pausch's words about people often asking themselves this question, linked directly back to that memory. Don't ask so many questions, trust those around you, trust yourself, and just do.

Another thing that Mr. Pausch mentioned seemed to also "strike the right chord" with me. Lately, I have found myself making more frequent use of to-do lists. I am not certain why this is just now resonating so strongly after 19 years, but it is. I feel that I can concentrate much more on getting things done when I have everything laid out in front of me. I may not be the biggest "clean freak" normally, but when it comes to work and school I love finding ways to be organized. I will absolutely be applying more of what he said to further improve my time management and organizational capabilities. It's not always easy, and we aren't perfect. Like Mr. Pausch said, "experience comes from bad judgement". Hopefully I won't make frequent bad judgement, but I will learn from anything regardless.