Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why we have not learned from the past

Just before, during, and after world war two, the Jewish people were having a hard time everywhere. Europe did not protect them, United States did not want them, and both Germany and Russia (yes Russia our allies at the time) were actively jailing them, confiscating property, and killing them. We all know the numbers, or you can look it up yourself, but the death toll was genocide. Let me also add that Romani, also known as Gypsies were almost wiped out because they were confused with Jews and because Europe did not like them for the perceived way they lived.

Fast Forward 60 years later, it seems like religious intolerance is making a comeback when we have elected officials, some of them vying for the highest office in the nation, advocating discrimination, deportation, and registration of Muslims. Sound familiar? Islam is a religion not a people fools! Religion does not kill, people kill.

The world swore “never again”, but how quickly we forget. Innocents are dying in wars that are intertwined with our country; people are being attacked and killed in the street because they are perceived to be of a particular religion. Some of these folks such as the Sikhs are further away from Islam than Christianity is, but because of ignorance, they are being killed.

Are you paying attention? It is happening again!

Yes there are some very bad people who want to harm us, of this we agree, but before we make the mistakes of the past, perhaps we can forget the politics and remember that we are human beings first, and that United States is a country founded on freedom, of all kinds, and that the constitution is not something we pick and choose depending on who we like.

Take a deep breath America and step back, all politicians, if you truly believe in that hate you are spreading, please quit right now because we do not need that or want it. While you might unify everyone, it is your job to try.

We are better than this

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The internet age and the age of gimme: an education issue

I find myself talking about “back in my day” sometimes; this is scary because I am only middle aged, but things seem to have changed in education so quickly. The tools students have at their disposal can do so much, but they also seem to take away a lot as well.

Social media has also allowed students to publicly vent about a perceived injustices, and what is worse (in my opinion) is that they can do anonymously. I am not a fan of anonymous feedback, especially in the professional world.

Rate my professor, I am sure started off as a good idea because after all, it helps to know what you are getting in to; or so we thought…

End of course evaluations are never the best way to evaluate professors because not only are they usually highly subjective, but you usually only here from the angry students, and their feedback is rarely constructive in nature. Rate my professor, is 100 times worse.

I was recently told a story by a colleague about how he was approached by two students at the end of his first class, and the student said to him “hey professor we feel you went a little too fast, so I hope this will not affect our grade. We would hate for your really good rating on rate my professor to go down”. Sounds like a threat doesn’t it? That’s because it is and there is no other way to take this. In the street these would have bee fighting words, but in academia, it can apparently mean the difference between a job and no job.

Since when did we use social media to rate professionals? Since when did teaching become a popularity contest? Do you realize that on rate my professor they can also rate the attractiveness or “hotness” of a teacher? How is this remotely objective and what does any of that have to do with learning?

Great teaching is an art form, and every teacher can always improve, but at what point do we hold students accountable for their lack of participation in the teaching process? At what point do we treat students like adults and value the teacher for the job they do, and not for their rating?

If you are fortunate to teach in a place that values the evidence of your scholarship and teaching, feel blessed; if you work in place that actually takes rate my professor seriously, well I am sorry.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Are you a unifier or divider? An education question

I am going to pick on Chris Christie today, and for the simple reason that I needed some fodder and he gave it to me on a platter.  I will also say I have no party affiliations, I am simply interested in logical and sane politics, and this is in very short supply in this very early political campaign.
Here is some basic information and terms of presentations:
·         Ethos: An appeal based on character and credibility
·         Logos: An appeal based on logic and reasoning
·         Pathos: An appeal based on emotion

Emotional fallacies unfairly appeal to the audience’s emotions.
Ethical fallacies unreasonably advance the writer’s own authority or character.
Logical fallacies depend upon faulty logic
  • Ad Hominem arguments attack a person’s character rather than that person’s reasoning

These are typical campaign parlor tricks, and we are seeing it in droves right now, especially on the republican side because there are so many candidates and they are all running to the extreme for popularity reasons (it is happening on the democratic side as well but there are not as many candidates).

At some point all candidates have to decide whether they want to be a unifier or a divider, because like it or not you will be running the whole country not just the parts you like. It is a popular tactic to bash the previous president, but when is it enough?

Here are to gems from Chris Christie today:

“Chris Christie to Black Lives Matter: "Don't Call and Ask Me for a Meeting"

Why wouldn’t you talk with them? How will you learn what they are truly about if you do not talk with them? You say all live matter; than here are some lives you can talk about? You support law enforcement? Great, so give them the tools and training  they need to protect citizen’s lives as is the job description. The death penalty is supposed to be applied after a fair trial, for all lives. Do you believe that jaywalking or an no turn signal deserves deah?

“Chris Christie Says Obama's 'Lawlessness' Contributed To College Unrest”

You might not like the president, and that is your right, but since when has the president ever said he did not want to bring people together? The president is not a king; laws are made and enforced by congress, the states, and the courts, not the president. When has the president ever supported a group (proven group not an opinion about a group) that supported the death of police officers?

I am educator, so I like to educate and point out things that are obviously wrong. I am not a slick politician who can talk fast and sell you a three legged horse; I am a simple citizen who would like to see a clean, decent, and logical political process. That is not too much to ask.

I know there are going to be some who are going to want to rant, rave against me, try to call me out, etc. Save your breath because I am not playing with you, I am not playing this game, I am too blunt for that.

Governor Christie, I am disappointed, I know you do not care about my opinion, but remember, you are campaigning for all out votes, and I vote.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Educators please remember how you can affect a child’s future

I am fiercely protective of my children; I am that dad that you do not want on campus when my kids do not feel safe, when they feel threatened, belittled or demeaned as a student. This not to say I am violent because I am not, this is not to say that I start shouting at teachers because I do not, especially since I am an educator myself.

What it does mean is I believe the school and the profession of teaching owes my kids (all our kids) the right to succeed. They owe my kids the right to feel safe, appreciated, and encouraged.

As educators, we have to watch our words, are methods, and the message we are sending to kids. If you send them home because you do not like their haircut what does that tell them except how they look is more important than their education (not to mention it is 100% subjective). It can be worse for young ladies because they are being judged it seems on so many things.

If you tell a child that they will never be good at math, guess what is going to happen? If you tell a child they are disruptive simply because you do not like them, guess what is going to happen? If you put a kid in handcuffs at school for being defiant guess what is going to happen? What we do can affect how they feel and perform in school; and this can be a lifelong affect.

My kids are fortunate because my wife and I advocate fiercely for our kids, we were brought up in educated families and we never settle for mediocre if we know you can do better. We know how to navigate the sometimes murky waters. But what happens if you are a parent that does not?

Educators remember the power you possess, remember the responsibility you have been bestowed with, and remember that it is all about the kids not us.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam