Education has, since the early 1700s, been a fundamental right for all citizens of this country. We have always recognized education as necessary for the development of good citizenship, stable society and a secure country. Today, those virtues have given way to the concepts of accountability and fiscal responsibility. Will these new parameters serve the nation and larger society better in the coming decades?In earlier articles, I looked back at the beginnings of education in America, and the impact it has had on the nation’s development. From the creation of the first school systems to the spread of college education through summer programs by college professors, an early system for leveraging the limited number of colleges, which lead to the first junior colleges in this country, we have worked to make education available to the largest number of people. After World War II, a series of reports on the need for technological education spurred the growth of science and engineering programs opened the doors of universities to new classes of students to meet the need of the new technological world.Today, we look at accountability as the first of two central goals that will shape our education systems in the future. We need to hold teachers accountable, so the programs will deliver quality education to students? I ask this as a question because teachers do not, for the most part shape programs; administrators do. Yet, each administrator gets a contract for services, which must often be bought out before that person can be held accountable. Teachers on the other hand are little more than at-will employees, terminable for any reason, including political hubris.I acknowledge that tenure exists for a select group of college professors, a form of contract comparable to being an administrator. It is the exception rather than the rule. How can there be accountability if we hold only the teachers to a strict level of accountability and not the administration that create the programs? Even in for-profit education systems this holds true. If programs fail to perform all parties, teachers and administrators as well need to feel the sting of accountability. In a truly capitalist system, all parties would be on the same footing; produce or leave.Capitalism requires competition by all parties in order to show they are worthy to, or should survive. The true model of capitalism is a froth in which constant testing occurs. There are no exceptions, and only winners are allowed to continue the struggle. But everyone struggles. The current structure where some are excluded from the struggle is not a true business model, nor is it true capitalism. Only by putting everyone into the froth will we have a correct business model, and true accountability.The second pillar of the current business model is fiscal responsibility. Education systems must be held to account for the public dollars they spend. This is a fair measure of success applied poorly. We often hear the American Education system compared to other advanced nations, with less than a favorable outcome. By some measure, our system is in the thirtieth percentile when compared to other nations. Our students in grades K-12 are often placed in the fiftieth percentile, while we spend several times the amount of money on each student as other higher ranked countries. The question rings in the air; what are we paying for??The answer to this is complex, and I do not wish to diminish that complexity by being overly simplistic here. Yet, trying to compare students from different cultures, political systems and geographies is at best art, rather than science. Each time I hear the analysis of how expensive our system is by comparison to others, I ask so what. We ask so much more of our system than other countries. The average American student enters a competitive environment like no other. They live in a country that is the global leader in scientific research. From genetics to Nano- technology to advanced control systems this country is the undisputed leader. In Financial systems, from banking to the stock market, America leads the world.In Aerospace and Space systems, NASA is still the front runner. Medical treatment and research in this country has no equal. The American military is the dominant military on the planet. In the field of energy development and exploration, American Oil companies are without peer. The American school child cost more, because we demand so much more of them. If you buy a million dollar car to drive to work, you should not be upset when your neighbor pulls up beside you in his Hyundai to go to the same place. Despite all the claims of failure, the American success is still the gold standard for the world.That comes from people educated in the schools of this country. It is true there are problems, but that is a result of the increased complexity of an evolving technological society. That other nations are catching up to us in some areas is a complement to our success and the success of the educational system that got us here. Any and all systems must evolve, change, and face new challenges if the system is to survive. This process of adjustment is not always smooth and it does not come without cost. Just because your new and expensive car will occasionally need an oil change or tires is no reason to declare it obsolete. These adjustments will cause you to slip a position or two in the race, but you can still catch up and win, although it may still be costly.The true business model if applied to the education system will work, but it must be applied and evaluated fairly. The measure of accountability should fall on all participants, as the capitalism requires. If we want to live in the froth of true capitalism, then we must play by those rules. Everyone competes on the same basis. We must also stop making false comparisons between a dynamic, but mature system and younger less dynamic systems. The purpose of setting an example is to encourage others to follow it.We should not be disappointed, or displeased when others follow the example to success, sometimes at our expense. After all that was the reason we put the example there. Cost comparison should not be a part of evaluating differing educational systems, unless we are willing to acknowledge the comparison may be terminally flawed if we do not make allowances for the differences in achievements of older systems versus the younger systems and relative differences in complexity of the systems.America leads the world, not just by word, but in practice. The example we imposes on ourselves is a severe burden on our systems and a necessary burden for those that will lead. Neither I nor anyone else can promise the success or failure of so complex a system, but the goal is certainly worthy. The American education system moves a world, not just a nation forward, and I for one hope it continues to do so. However, we must make accountability on an equal basis for all parties in education, and recognize the large goals of the American system must be judged by different standards than those of other countries.
Over the years, I have found wonderful sites for both real-life education, correspondence courses and online education. And the best opportunities there are for all people, no matter where or how they live are those that are at the sites for free online education. You can learn all types of subjects, from gardening, language, health, counseling, arts, music, collage art, power lifting, organizing, publishing and so many more topics, by just going online and doing the search for the topics. You will find correspondence courses, real-life courses at high schools, colleges and private schools and you will also find online courses. You can find religious, spiritual and Bible courses online also. Just keep on searching and you will come up with all the information that you need to take your education one step further than it is already.Have you attended elementary school, only to have to quit due to lack of resources, money or transportation? Have you started high school but had to quit due to health reasons or family problems? Have you gone to some college but had to leave because the college was too expensive? Usually, during your life, you might have had to quit school at one time or another. And usually what happens is that it takes many long years to go back to be re-educated or for anyone to finish the education that they began already. I am living proof of that since I began college so many years ago but had to drop out due to lack of funds. Yes, I had the dream and the promise to myself that I would one day go back to finish college, but that had not happened for many years after the first drop out happened. And yes, some of us drop out of college, unwillingly, more than once, and usually it is due to lack of funds or lack of time, but never due to lack of ambition or yearnings.Most who attend college see what an advantage college brings to their lives and they stick with it. And most who have even attended continuing education courses at the colleges or high school evening courses do know and realize that education opens up great doors in one’s life. So, are you going to let any inconveniences or any lack of funds or time continue to stop you from getting the best education?I urge you, if you ever dropped out of anywhere, any school, university, high school, elementary school or college, to get back to education in any form that you can get back there to. Right now, today, enroll in an online course. Or enroll in a correspondence course, or weekend course or in a course given at your local high schools. This is something that you should do for yourself to let your mind continue to grow but also to give your spirit wings and to give your personality a confidence boost. Here are some interesting schools that you might want to look into:
Check out the high schools and colleges in your area and inquire about continuing education courses, free courses and free courses at any city buildings, such as CAMBA or others.
Apply as paraprofessional in the Board of Education in New York city, any borough, and once hired, you receive your college education paid for by the city of New York.
Online courses (do a net search for free online education)
Check out the women’s groups in your community. Many times there are education courses for displaced homemakers and for victims of violence.
Look up CAMBA online and inquire about their free courses in your own neighborhood.
Look for free Adobe-PhotoShop courses online
Check out YouTube and do a search for DIY (Do It Yourself courses). These are video instructions and most of them are excellent and in all topics.
If you live in New York, dail 311 and ask for referrals to free education courses.
Rule number one in your life should be never let anyone else stop you from getting that education. That means put education first and you will be rewarded for that. If you are living with someone who thinks that your education is not important, set them straight, and even if you cannot convince them otherwise, YOU TAKE your steps needed to continue your education. Do not let anyone give you negative ideas about your education. Remember this–it is YOUR education, so keep at it, keep on persisting and you will be successful.There are many schools that I would recommend; here are a couple of them:
National Institute of Photography
National Radio Institute
People over a certain age are eligible for free college courses in most cities. Ask about the MY TURN possibilities at your local city colleges.
For reference material or more leads check out the page of http://www.refdesk.com
Check out this link for some online instruction
Your ears, eyes, imagination and mind are your best sources of education throughout your lifetime. Use them together with all the online sources and you will truly have your BEST FREE ONLINE EDUCATIONSometimes education comes in the form of life experience or from advice from informed individuals. So, in that spirit, I give these little bits of information as part of a free online education quick-course in where to find adequate physical rehabilitation for yourself. Here in these next few lines is the QUICK COURSE:
If you have no family or if you are on Medicare or Medicaid, never, ever take physical therapy inside a residential place such as a nursing home or physical rehabilitation and care center. INSTEAD, opt for having your therapy at home or living at your own home and apartment while going out a few times a week or day for your physical therapy.
Insist onnotbeing admitted to a nursing home or rehab and care center if you have no relatives who will visit or if you have Medicaid or Medicare. (DO only what is safe for you to do; seek advice in this area).
When at all possible and when recommended by a doctor, use a physical therapy place that uses water in the treatment (Some have pools, whirlpools and other water-related therapies to use to help you make progress.
If you are considering being admitted to the New Vanderbilt Rehabilitation and Care Center but would rather have recommendations for other places instead, feel free to write to me (first leave a note here stating that you are contacting me and that you have sent an email to me) . I am glad that you are remembering that the choice of where you do your physical therapy is still your choice, not the hospital’s choice. So if there is a place that you refuse to go to,stick to your ideas and choose other places. You can find a list of places on the net. But like I said, the best option is at your home or apartment. I will not answer any emails unless the writer leaves a public note here at this site for me.
Know that if you are going to stay, even temporarily, in a physical rehabilitation and care center, they control every aspect of your life, including what time you get up, what time you have medicine, whether you take medicine or not, what time you can have visitors, what time you can have phone calls–if any, and what you eat, where you go, and what happens with your life in-between physical therapy sessions. Some places will even put you in diapers when you do not need to wear diapers–just because it is more convenient for the staff to change diapers when they feel like it than for them to gather staff to help you to go to the bathroom. So , know that sometimes in those facilities, control is the key issue and most times, the staff controls everything about your life, even whether you get admitted there or get discharged from there. So think twice before you decide to go into a physical rehabilitation and care center and if you decide to do so, even after reading this, please ask for MANY referrals to good places. Word of mouth is a remarkable advertising tool, so use it.
See that? In less than six paragraphs you have just received an education about physical therapy and rehabilitation and care centers. So, one of the ways that anyone can learn is by word-of-mouth, by consumer recommendation and just be listening and hearing the experiences of others who might have been through the same situation that might be in now.Article updated November 17, 2008
When you are assigned a class and students arrive, do you view yourself as a teacher, instructor, or educator? Is your role a function, one which completes tasks and responsibilities, or do you aspire to accomplish more with your students? Do you consider the instructional strategies you use now to be transformative in some manner, or would you like to somehow transform the students you teach?A person enters the field of education as a profession, either full-time in a traditional academic institution or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. A traditional full-time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students within the field of higher education, he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as you won’t find a job title with the word educator in it.Does this mean that everyone who is a teacher, professor, instructor, faculty member, or adjunct, is also an educator? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that everyone who is in one of these roles is doing their best to teach and guide a learning process, whether they are involved in undergraduate or graduate degree courses. However, someone who considers themselves to be an educator is a person who goes beyond the role of teaching and seeks to lead a transformational learning process. I have learned myself that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. It takes time, practice, and dedication to become an engaging and transformative educator.A Basic Definition of a TeacherTeaching is generally associated with traditional, primary education. Classes at this level are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instruction continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture, and students will study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content or subject matter expertise. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional universities, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed.Here is something to consider: If this is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between teaching and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?Basic Definitions of an EducatorI would like for you to consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone skilled in teaching; and “teaching” is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge, along with knowledge of adult education principles.• Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development.An experienced educator develops methods which will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.• Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator must include all forms of messages communicated. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.• Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base consisting of their subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow them to teach the course, provided they take time to read the required textbook or materials, and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.Many schools hire adjuncts with work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. When I have worked with faculty who do have studied adult education theory, they generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal when I decided on a major for my doctorate degree, to understand how adults learn so I could transform my role and become an educator.4 Strategies to Become a Transformative EducatorI do not believe many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development.Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely upon their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator.For anyone who would like to become an engaging and transformative educator, there are strategies which can be can be implemented.Strategy #1: Transform Through Development of Your Instructional PracticeWhile any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups which will allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter which allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class has concluded. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students, whether or not every survey submitted was positive. Students tend to submit a survey response either when they are happy or greatly unhappy about the course. Either way, I can learn something about what my students have experienced during the class.Strategy #2: Transform Through Development of Your Academic SkillsI know from my work with online faculty development this is an area of development many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students.For online instructors, this has an even greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.Strategy #3: Transform Through Development of Your Subject Matter ExpertiseEvery educator has subject matter expertise they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping this knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is find resources which allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field.This is essential to your instructional practice as students can easily tell whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks or resources does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.Strategy #4: Transform Through Development of Your Knowledge of Adult LearningThe last step or strategy I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are not familiar with the basics there are concepts you can research and includes critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition.My suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and this will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks, or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important. Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and transformative educator occurs when you decide teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.When you transform your teaching or faculty role and become an educator, regardless of your job title, you also transform the learning experience of your students. You provide for them the critical element necessary for real learning to occur, substantive instructor involvement and engagement. More importantly, you humanize the learning experience and you can help to nurture their developmental needs. Students will leave your class transformed in some manner, having learned something they can apply to their academic pursuits, life, and/or career. You will be transformed and so will your students.