This blog is to give the instructor's perspective on the college experience - so if you have questions or need advice - post a comment and I will try to get back with you within 48 hours.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Reports of the Demise of the Union are Greatly Exaggerated

I have very little respect for people taking quotes out of context and mixing references – to suit an agenda. Thomas Jefferson warned us about the power of banks/financiers of that time (but the 'good old boy' system IS alive and well all over the world, unfortunately) –mixed with other more recent quotes about the Federal Reserve which was created about 100 years later to take power away from the individual banks – to a more standardized system (as if centralized anything is better – it’s just easier to police) do not combine to illuminate anything.  For more info about the Fed read - .   It isn't and was never meant to be unsupervised by Congress. In fact, it is when corrupt politicians interfere with 'equilibrium' by telling it to print more money (so they can get re-elected) and extend more credit (to those unable to repay in order to buy more votes) that the system collapses. This interference of loopholes laid the groundwork for the greedy to prey on the vulnerable with the government's tacit approval.

Both the politicians and the greedy must be exposed and punished which is only possible in a free nation of empowered people. Empowered people are educated, self-reliant, moral, and courageous. Government is not 'their daddy.' Some people look and see the capitalist system as the boogey-man which can only be stopped by more laws and regulation. I look and see the breakdown of morality as the culprit - it is part of the same thing that brought down the Roman Empire (the super power of its time). 'Truth' has become only a version of spin by politicians or media 'talking heads' or simply ignored if the truth is inconvenient. There is no right or wrong - it's all become relative. We cry because we want people to behave morally or ethically but by whose definition? We don't want to be hindered by Christian morality anymore (that was the foundation of our prosperity) - it may interfere with our selfish desires and laziness which is being masked by people crying about their right to “the pursuit of happiness.” But happiness for these people means someone else working and paying for them (welfare, food stamps, Social Security Disability, etc.) while they play all day. Do you remember Aesop’s Fable of the ant and the grasshopper? – These people (not the truly handicapped) have earned the right to starve – as businesses have the right to fail.

People are naturally selfish (anyone who says differently, has never raised children) – they must be trained to abide by a code of honor based on a clearly defined sense of right and wrong. However, even the most well trained sometimes succumb to corruption from the excess of money and power – which often leads to greed and debauchery – unless they are people of unshakable moral character which only comes from a belief in being accountable to God.

I also see our nation's deterioration resulting from an untrustworthy government which in turn breeds a nation that does not believe in itself anymore and national pride is scorned - where even our current President apologizes for our being a successful super power around the world (though the whole world cries when they need our help). Read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. We cannot go back and (as a nation) return to a simpler agrarian lifestyle, we are too many.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Behind schedule already...

Here we go and already we are behind on the apparently overly optimistic schedule for the summer session. Already had to postpone the first exam - that starts a chain reaction of schedule adjustments that teeters on the brink of pushing due dates after the course has ended :-).  There just isn't room in this shortened scenario to absorb much change.  I couldn't be more delighted with the enthusiasm of my current class of students.  They want to know "everything that there is to know about computers, but were afraid to ask" in one day! I want to share all the tips and tricks that I have learned from working with technology over my many years, but there simply isn't time for it all. 

Come to think of it, adjusting the schedule has become a regular occurrence no matter what semester or course that I am teaching.  There have been a couple of times that I actually had to 'speed up' the due dates to accommodate some students who had 'mad' skills. Mostly alterations to the schedule happen due to inclement weather or when there is more to cover than there is time to cover it.  I would like to put to rest the notion that instructor's love to disrupt our students' world by making 'arbitrary' changes - we would prefer not to create the extra work for ourselves!

How well the students handle 'change' has mostly to do with personality types.  The people most comfortable with 'going with the flow' are the least disturbed, however, the people who want everything to go exactly as planned - usually have difficulty with every announced modification.  My personality type enjoys change, cultivates it, in fact, so that nothing becomes stale and boring.  Other personality types resist change to the point of resentment toward the instructor over each change which is seen as a 'slight'.  It is best if both extremes meet in the middle - the 'change artist' in me has to work to limit the changes whenever possible and the 'brick wall' of resistance in others, needs to find a kinder, gentler material for the wall - say, plexiglass.  Life is change - but get out of my rut, I just had it recarpeted.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where does the time go?

Although I have 21 days 'off' from the day that spring semester grades are due until the first day of summer classes - it takes several days a couple hours per day to get the semester set up. In fact, I have been keeping track of the number of hours it takes to set up just one class on Blackboard, MyITLab, and do the syllabus and scheduling. So far - 12.25 hours. I imagine that it will take at least 15 more hours over the next three days to be fully prepared for Monday's kick-off. Why, the class will practically teach itself when I get done! Now come on, if a car can park itself, why can't I teach on autopilot?

The best part is that I can work on this on my laptop wherever I go - even at the local pool (as long as there is a place to plug in). By the way, can you believe that there are many pools that don't have easy access to electricity close by? :-) I really need a better battery in my laptop - or a new laptop, but that's a subject for another day.

As for my students, they have some prep to do too, such as registering for the class, buying the textbook, arranging their schedules so that they don't have to miss my scintillating lectures and demonstrations, and the hours spent figuring out which excuses to try out on their new instructor.

Oh, by the way, I have taken myself out of the lie detector business - I offer some 'freebies' that the students can use when 'life happens' AND they don't even have to tell me the lies/reasons for using them, hence the name 'free'bies as in, free of BS. Everyone should be happy right? There are still some students that want even more 'special treatment.' I am sorry to say that I don't have time for them - if they need more considerations then they are not getting what they paid for - perhaps they should reconsider taking college classes at a more advantageous time in their lives.

Back to the grind - sipping a frozen drink by the pool and thinking up new ways to teach/torture my students!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The College Summer Session. But don't be fooled by its benign name, its college at mach 2. Students often pick a subject that they are not familiar with or one that they struggle with to take during this time. BIG MISTAKE! They are fooled into thinking that they won't have other subjects to take their attention and time. So let me ask you, when, if you are struggling with any task or understanding, does having less time to learn it and less time to practice it make for a formula for success? For a very, very few, being able to focus/concentrate on one or two extremely difficult subjects in a concentrated setting will work. But ask yourself, realistically:
This is the formula it takes to be successful in difficult classes in the summer session!
  • Are you self-motivated every single day?
  • Will you go to class every single time without excuses?
  • Are you organized? Daily calendar and schedule?
    Are you pro-active! - doing your reading and assignments ahead of time?
  • Are you really interested enough in this subject to want to learn it?
  • Can you afford to work only a few part-time hours at your job during these 8 weeks in order to have adequate time for homework/practice and study?
  • Do you have a great attitude toward going to classes during the summer?
  • Are you willing to drop the class if it is not working out for you?

If, on the other hand, you can take classes that you feel you have historically done well in and that you are comfortable with - then I say "Go for it!" Keep in mind that this is still a condensed program and you cannot be nearly as laid back as you might have been during a full semester of 16 weeks.
This is the formula it takes to get an "A" in the less difficult classes during the summer!
  • Do your homework - every day - this still counts for alot of points and will kill your grade if you sluff off
  • Do your reading in advance - every day - this will serve as a review of this familiar topic and make you aware of the new material.
  • Practice any technical skills you are learning every day - plan to learn the new 'best practices' way of doing everything.
  • Review and study along the way - at least twice per week to solidify the new information in your mind.
  • Don't assume that you 'know it all' - this has doomed many a student when faced with college level exams - so study and get prepared for each test. (There are sometimes fewer tests in the summer, so their impact on your grade is significantly higher.)
  • Don't make excuses and don't miss a single class (that's like missing a whole week of instruction)!
  • Drop it! If it is not working out for you.

I know you already know all this - but it doesn't hurt to hear it one more time - from someone who sees people drowning every summer - and not in a pool or lake.