Monthly Archives: March 2013

How Are You?

UnknownDear Readers,

“How are you?”  “How are ya?”  “How you doin’?” This is a question that I asked almost every customer when I worked in retail.  It is a question that I and most people ask strangers in greeting.  But here are the real questions: Do we mean that?  Do we really care how others are doing?  Think about it.  “How are you?” has become the same as “hello” or “hi.”  It is something that is said in passing, and is something that is not meant to truly be answered.  And when we do answer it, most of us simply and without thinking say “fine, thank you,” or “great,” etc.  Sometimes we really are “fine,” but how do you feel when someone truthfully answers the question of how they’re doing?  Taken aback?  Shocked?  Annoyed?  To be honest, I also tend to use this question as a simple greeting, but I am always pleasantly shocked and intrigued when someone gives me a true answer.  I was of course a little annoyed when they did so with a line of customers behind them, or if I was really busy and running a bunch of errands.  Even so, I made an attempt to look the person in the eye and tried to have small talk with them.  But it is because of these situations that I truly think about what I say, and mean what I say.  The same goes for the response of “and you?”  We once again tend to get surprised when a person actually gives us a truthful answer.  Instead of saying it to be polite, why not say it because you mean it?

Why is it that this phrase that allows us to be open and emphatic towards each other has become as simple as “hi?”  Does it signify society’s fear of compassion?  I once heard the story of a store clerk in a mall who asked a guy how he was doing.  The guy turned to him and said “do you really care?” and walked away.  The store clerk first thought about what a jerk the guy was and then thought to himself “wait, I really don’t care.”  I think about this story often when someone asks me how I am doing, and sometimes I feel compelled to ask if they really care.  But I don’t do so because I guess deep down I feel that they really don’t, and it kind of stings to think that.  Everyone wants to be cared for, don’t they?  So let’s care more and truly mean what we say when we ask “how are you?”  Don’t you think society needs more compassion?  I sure do.

Peace and Love

Sports & Education

Dear Readers,

I believe this to be another one of those topics that is not talked about enough.  At this time of year college basketball is extremely popular.  In the fall along with the NFL, college football and high school football are very popular as well.  Families and money-grubbing organizations are thrilled and excited about these sporting events and the players involved.  There is much happiness and honor for the families that watch their very own compete and win (hopefully), and there is happiness and honor for the players that are doing what they love and being good at it (hopefully).  Now if these high school and college athletes are indeed good at what they do, it is the hope that they will have the opportunity to be recruited by a college or a professional team.  More happiness and honor for the players and families.  This is great, but how important is education?  For example, if a high school football player is recruited by a college, is the decision to play for that school based on the school’s sporting reputation and “incentives”? Or is it based on the academics that the college has to offer?  Sure the recruiters will tell the player (namely, the parents) that the school has the best courses to offer, blah, blah, blah.  They’re a recruiter.  They’re suppose to tell you that. What about when a college athlete receives an offer for the pros that would mean leaving school early?  Do they forsake their education for the money, fame and the possible chance that they could be successful in the big league?

What if both the high schooler and college athlete end up doing terrible?  Where does that happiness and honor go?  There was the hope that they would be successful in their sport, and because so much emphasis was placed on that, they may have nothing to fall back on if that dream fails.  The questions of “what if I am not successful?” and “what if I don’t make it to the big leagues”? are not asked enough.  I truly believe in the saying that education is something that no one can take away.  One may eventually become successful, but that success fades.  Success may never even come.  One may be a great player at whatever sport, but what happens if they have a horrible injury?  What if they are successful and retire from their sport with great honor, but can’t write an essay or are poorly articulated?  Does it not matter because they have fame and money?  What happens when a player is great at their college sport, and is “loved” and looked up to, but then they do terrible in the pros and are ridiculed and rejected?  Where is the happiness and honor now?

I’m not saying that students shouldn’t have big dreams or that being a sports star is a ridiculous goal.  I am also not saying that all high school and college athletes forsake their education or never return to school.  What I am saying is that I feel like we are telling our students that education is a must, but if they have fame and money it does not matter.  I feel that society tends to idealize those who have fame and money.  And if fame and money do not come, “realistic” jobs  are negatively seen as a second choice.  As I have said in my other posts, the words “to be educated” means and does not mean a variety of things.  Education does not make one a good and nobel person.  Money does not make one a good and noble person.  You see, if my future son and/or daughter were to be placed in a situation that would have them make a decision between education and money/fame in sports, I would tell them that the choice is theirs to make.  The only words of advice that I would say is to do whatever you want as long as you help others and love God because that is your true purpose.  I do not care how much education, fame or money one has.  If they are living for themselves and have not done anything to help another, then their lives mean nothing.  Their fame means nothing.  Their money and education mean nothing.  And it is my hope that my future children and others reading this will understand that that is where true happiness and honor lie.

Peace and Love



Memorizing Versus Learning

Hello Everyone,

The topic of memorizing versus learning is something that I believe is greatly overlooked in education.  I was inspired to write today’s topic based on a blog post that I read from moderndaychris titled “The Truth About Testing.”  Understanding the difference between memorization and learning can give educators a different point of view on what they teach and how they teach it.  The best way that I can explain these aspects is by using myself as an example.  In my years of schooling I was an A student.  I did extremely well, but that was of course not without hours and hours of devotion to studying (memorizing).  There were times when I dreaded school because I did not look forward to taking exams or studying for them.  Courses such as science, history and math were the hardest and my least favorite.  Most of my time was spent memorizing dates, formulas, facts, facts and more facts.  And you know what happened after the test was over?  I forgot almost every single piece of information.  I forced it out of my brain so that I could prepare myself and make room for the memorization of more dates, formulas, facts, facts and more facts.  I also believed that there was no point in storing said information since I would never use it again.  All to pass the test.  Is this considered learning because I got an A on my exams?  I personally don’t think so.  As a student, I immediately knew when I was learning something.  I knew that I was learning when I looked forward to going to a class that I would normally be more than happy to skip.  I knew that was learning when I took interest in the what the teacher or professor was saying instead of worrying about what would be on the exam.  I knew that I was learning when I conducted further research on a topic on my own time.  I knew that I had learned something when years later I can still remember the name, occupation and significance of Cardinal Richelieu.  I knew that I was learning when I wasn’t thinking “why the hell are we studying this?” or “what is the purpose of talking about this?”

Now all of the above pertains to courses that were my least favorite, as I mentioned.  It is important for educators to recognize that if a student feels a connection to a subject, they are most likely to excel and breeze through it.  That is how it was for me and English.  I always felt like I was learning in English class.  It was not only because I knew and felt that what I was learning would be used for the rest of my life, but because I enjoyed the feeling that writing and English Studies gave me.  You see, one is not memorizing in English Studies.  English Studies is more about creating.  Students are creating their own words, and using their minds to analyze and interpret words that are not their own.  English studies is not all about facts because you can never be wrong.  As long as the writer provides evidence and examples, their beliefs and their theories are never wrong.  English studies also gave me a sense of power in that I could make people see and believe things about a text that they did not notice before.  I could change opinions and inspire arguments and thoughts by simply stating an observation or interpretation.

There is always so much talk about how the United States is falling behind in the math and science placement standings, and I laugh every single time I hear that.  You know why?  There are high schoolers that cannot even write correct sentences, and literally struggle to write a five-paragraph essay.  There are grown adults who do not know the difference between “there” and “their,” “its” and “it’s” and so on.  There are people who use words like “supposivley” and “conversate” and think that “thru” is a formal word.  Need I go on?  And so this brings me back to the wonderful question of “why?”  Why do students need to learn about photosynthesis and trigonometry?  Why?  Why isn’t there more emphasis placed on grammar and writing?  Why doesn’t the education system see or understand that these elements of English Studies are what students will need and use for the rest of their lives?  Why can’t certain subjects be taught for specific training and career purposes? All that I needed to know about math and science I learned in elementary school.  Everything that I was taught after that was never used again.  Interesting.

We are always taught that it is okay to ask “why?”  “Why am I being taught this?” Asking myself this question made it aware that I wasn’t learning.  It made it aware that whatever I was being taught would never be used again.  It is a question that is often asked by students and overlooked by the educators who hear them.  Is it a question that is not taken seriously. Is it a question that provides insight into what is wrong with the system. So what is more important to educators?  Learning or the numbers?

Peace and Love

Education Versus Experience

UnknownHello Everyone,

Although I have been thinking about this topic for a long time, the will to actually write today’s post was inspired by a recent comment.  My book is currently in its formatting stage, so I also have some down time from that as well.  More on this soon…

The topic of education versus experience is of such great significance in society and I feel that because most of us are so used to believing what we are told about education, it is not really discussed or analyzed.  We are told, no fed, that if we go to college we will get a great job, right?  Then why is it that so many graduates cannot find work?  Why is it that college graduates are going back to work at jobs that they did in high school?  Why is it that employers are expecting job applicants to have the degree, yet they want them to have several years of experience as well?  Please tell me how this makes sense.  Because what these employers are telling me is that along with the degree that these graduates have spent thousands of dollars for, they must somehow miraculously find some time within those 4-6 years of school to have the “experience” needed for the job.  What these employers are also telling me is that a college degree is not enough.  Somehow, someway, these graduates must be provided with the necessary “experience” for their career choice.  So what does that mean?   Mandatory vocational school (which means more money that these students don’t have)? Or perhaps a reconstruction of the education system in which students are given the necessary courses and training for their career choice.  Why is this not being done already?  I feel that it’s because it is not the students that truly benefit from this twisted system.  They are told that they must go to college to get a good job, and when they graduate and cannot find a job, they go back to school in the hopes that an advanced degree will get them somewhere.  Yet, that doesn’t work because they are still lacking the “experience,” and so in the end they are forced to work at low-rate jobs in order to pay back loans that accrued throughout the years. Crushed and Shattered dreams.   It is so heart-breaking when I listen to stories of college graduates that had big dreams and much hope after school only to have them crushed and destroyed by the contradictions of the “real world.”  And with that goes their happiness and the increased rate of depression in college graduates.

What we are not telling our students is the truth. It’s not all about the economy as we are told. A degree will only get one so far.  Once one graduates they may have to start at the “bottom” in order to get where they want and gain the “experience.”  And if they don’t want to start at the “bottom” they better do a lot of praying or depend on the ridiculous, unfair but true scenario that someone they know will them get in. What I don’t understand about the necessity to have experience for a career is why companies will not take the time to train their new employees.  There are of course the select few that will train the new employee for up to two weeks, and that’s great, but not all companies are the same.  One may say that this is because companies do not have the time to do so.  And what I say to that is this is one of the issues that we have as a community: we are not taking the time to help each other, and it’s always one person for themselves.  There are so many college graduates that are eager and longing to get out in the working field, and therefore I can assure you that most will do whatever it takes to make sure that they do their work right and learn quickly because of the happiness and relief of being in a job.  Besides, if one is educated, they will surely learn quickly, correct?

Because of the issue with needing experience with education, a lot of people are lying on their resumes. Say for example that you were reading Mr. Doe’s resume and he has all the experience and education needed for the position, and the interview went great, and you decided that you want to hire him right away. Even so, you still take the time to interview the rest of the candidates. In the end, you do in fact hire Mr. Doe.  Now because Mr. Doe lied on his resume, he knows absolutely nothing about the job that you hired him for.  You noticed this a little and decided to give him some time to get his act together, but that doesn’t work.  Then you spend some more time contemplating the fact that you hired someone who had no idea what they were doing, and some more time in figuring out what you should do next.  Eventually you fire Mr. Doe and you have start the hiring process all over again or try to recollect candidates that were runner ups.  How’s that for a waste of time? I’m not saying that this happens all the time, but I have seen something very similar to this situation in my own life.

There are times when education is not that significant.  For example, there are several people working for the state that do not have a degree or have an associates degree and they are making much more money than those who went to college. That is because some commenced working for the State as a clerk or what not, and over time, much time, they receive a higher position due to their experience (and knowing people for some).  These type of workers are deemed successful by societal standards and are respected based on their experience and job position. Not their education.  How interesting. Then there are those (who count for many people in my life) who did not go to college, and are working what in society deems as “lowly” or “blue collar” careers.  I’m talking about the construction workers,  waiters/waitresses, store associates, etc.  Most assume that because these people did not get a “proper education” that their thoughts and words and hearts and passion are insignificant, meaningless and pointless.  As I have mentioned in my previous posts, these people, and I’m speaking for those in my life, are the most intelligent, kind and wise people that I have ever known. They work harder than those in a “good job” and their viewpoints on life are so much more interesting and thought-provoking than those with an “education.”  It makes me so angry to see the way these workers are portrayed in the media.  It makes me even angrier when customers don’t even look a waiter/waitress or store associate in the eye when addressing them.  The giving and receipt honor and respect should not be based on education or on what one does for living.  It should be based on the actions of the person and their character.  You can tell so much about a person by the way they speak and address other people.

One of my commenters pointed out that you can always tell when one has been formally educated.  I say that this is true on some levels.  If one were to talk in-depth about the stars and moon and they’re composition, exact names and coordinate placement in the galaxy then one would probably say that that person is formally educated in astrology.  Now if a waiter who did not go to college, but studied astrology for a hobby (I did so when I was younger, so yes people do this) were to speak to you about the same topic would you assume the same thing? What does it mean to tell if one is “formally educated?”  “Formally” as in going to college?  Although we learn plenty of things in college, there are several, as I’m sure you know, that leave college not knowing anymore than when they went in because they were too busy doing other things.  So even though they have a “formal education” does this make them better than the waiter that did not receive any? There are many doctors that receive a “formal education” but give their patients drugs they have no business taking and a diagnosis that make no sense.

Hope and honor are such a big part of this topic, and I can go on and on.  But I’ll leave it here for now.  Thank you Urban for your comment and for igniting the flame of today’s discussion.  I hope to hear what the rest of you think as well.

Peace and Love

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