Education and Real Life Challenges

In contemporary times, almost as a cultural practice, education has been elevated to the level of an initiation rite into the modern world. With the aid of formal educational training, people acquire the skills of reading and writing. It is obvious that literacy, the ability to read and write, has become a requisite for coping with numerous challenges of modern times. As a strategy for ensuring that no child is denied the opportunity of acquiring formal education, not sending a child to school is a criminal offence in some parts of the world, especially in the West. In addition, some governments assist their citizens to acquire formal education by either subsidising the cost or making it available at no cost (at the basic level, at least).

It is impossible to fit into the modern times if one does not go to school. Consequently, education is a necessity, not a luxury. People’s attitude to education in contemporary time appears to suggest, in fidelity to Platonism, that it is better to be unborn than to be uneducated. The demand for education in different parts of the world is unarguably on daily increase. People make numerous sacrifices to acquire education. Parents are willing to give all they have in order to see their children through school. Some people travel to foreign countries in order to acquire quality educational training. Acquiring formal education has become one of the greatest priorities in life today.

However, despite the wide acceptance formal education has gained all over the world, one of the most significant questions about education that is often not asked is, “What is the relevance of education to practical life?’ In other words, to what extent is education helpful in addressing practical life challenges? This question needs to be asked because the expected impacts of education are absent is the life of many educated people. One of the factors that speak very eloquently on this is that education has continuously remained unable to improve the standard of living of numerous graduates.

It is imperative to remark that education is a means to an end, but not an end in itself. The implication of this is that education is a process that leads to the making of a product. The process is incomplete without the product. It is the product that gives value to the means. The quality of the process can be inferred from the quality of the product. As a means, education is incomplete without the end of the process. This end is the purpose it (education) is designed to serve (under ideal situation). Let us justify our claim that the expected impacts of education are absent is the life of many educated people by examining a very sensitive aspect of life of educated people, their finances.

How many educated people are truly financially successful? Most graduates struggle all through life to make ends meet, but to no avail. There are numerous people who graduated from tertiary institutions (even at the top of the class), but who are far below many people with lower educational training (academic intelligence and scholarly ability) than theirs in the ladder of financial success. Perhaps, financial struggles and crises are worse among educated people. Most educated people struggle all through their working years merely to make ends meet, but to no avail, and end as liabilities during their retirement.

The inability of education to assist graduates in managing real life challenges is rooted in the fact that most people are ignorant of the purpose of education. Why do we go to school? Why should people go to school? What is the purpose of education? What is the rationale of education? What are the objectives of education? Why should parents send their children to school? Education is one of the most abused or, rather, misunderstood human experiences. Unless the purpose of education is understood and clarified, the continuity of its abuse (by most people) will remain inevitable. Many people go to school for the wrong reasons. In addition, most parents send their children to school for the wrong reasons. Most people have erroneous conceptions about the objectives of education.

It is imperative to remark that this problem is rooted in the fact that the major incentive for going to school in the earliest days of its inception in different parts of the world was that it was a ticket to prosperity. This was possible then because employment opportunities abound for educated people then. But things have changed, and very significantly. In most parts of the world today, there is high level of unemployment among educated people. Thus, education does not guarantee financial success anymore. In fact, education has become a major cause of poverty, considering the fact that it has no provision for instilling the knowledge of wealth creation principles in students.

It is high time the purpose of education is reconsidered. The idea of going to school in order to acquire certificate should be denounced, if the training will improve the life of educated people. The idea of going to school in order to prepare for gainful employment should also be denounced because there are limited employment opportunities for unlimited graduates. If school prepares graduates for employment, but there are limited employment opportunities for unlimited graduates, it means that school prepares students for unemployment. This is why the conception that school merely prepares students for gainful employment is unacceptable.

The ideal purpose of education is to facilitate an integral development of the human person – the intellectual, moral, physical, social, spiritual, psychical and psychological dimensions of man. Going to school should facilitate the optimum development of all the aspects of the human person. An ideal educational system should not isolate any aspect of man in the training process, nor consider some aspects more important than others. Anything short of this is an aberration, and is unacceptable.

Every educational process should be able to assist students to develop their latent potential. Any educational process that does not fulfill this objective is useless. When the mind is developed, it is able to identify and solve problems for humanity and, consequently, be compensated with reward. Money is merely the reward for solving problems. Any graduate who cannot solve problems in the society lacks the capacity for wealth creation. This is a fact most graduates are ignorant of.

Education will assist graduates to become happy and fulfilled in life if it is structured to facilitate the optimum development of their minds. If this is done, education will equip graduates with the requisite skills to survive the economic battles and challenges of real life. It is very painful to remark that education has remained unable to serve practical purpose because most of the things the school system teach students are things they do not need to survive in the real life. In other words, most students spend years in school learning things that will not be useful to them when school days are over. The crux of this deficiency in the educational system is that the people who are most concerned in the educational sector are ignorant of its existence.

One of the key objectives of education is empowerment. If the educational system is restructured to achieve this purpose, graduates will become assets, but not liabilities, no matter the circumstances. Such an educational process will assist students to create jobs if they are unable to get jobs when they become graduates. As earlier remarked, education is a process, and every process is incomplete without a product. The quality of a product is the most reliable standard for ascertaining the quality of the process that produced it. There is urgent need to restructure the educational system to ensure that that the training it instills in students adequately empowers them to effectively confront life challenges, especially when school days are over.

Despite the fact that the consequences of the deficiencies of the educational system in its present form accounts for the ugly experiences of most graduates in the real life, the government has continuously demonstrated increasing incompetence in addressing this challenge. Consequently, it has become obvious that graduates who conscientiously desire a bright, refreshing and happy life must acquire Supplementary Education on their own before their school training will have the desired effect in their life. It also implies that students should also go beyond what they are taught in the class if they are sincerely passionate about happy in the real world (I.e life after school).

The Importance of Living a Healthy Lifestyle As a Family

The importance of living a healthy lifestyle for maintaining general good health and preventing chronic diseases has been well established. A healthy lifestyle is quite simple to achieve – one does not need to do anything “crazy” to adopt a healthy lifestyle. I will say that a certain amount of independent thinking is required to separate truth from fiction in most modern health advice currently being delivered.

The most important thing you can do is eat well. Avoid toxins in your food as much as possible and consume plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains; exercise moderately a few times per week; avoid smoking, including secondhand smoke; and avoid gaining too much weight (which should come naturally if you eat right and exercise). While it is not always possible to eat all Organic food – the EWG recommends 12 fruits and vegetables that should be organic because of their higher levels of pesticide residue. Avoiding environmental toxins as much as you can is an important part of achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Our modern lifestyle is very convenient – but it can also be extremely unhealthy. Most of us eat too many processed foods and too few fruit and veggies; we rarely exercise; and when we develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, we rely on conventional medications to make us feel better – but these medications often have devastating side effects. Instead of accepting the importance of living a healthy lifestyle for us and for future generations, we continue with our bad habits – then take potent, toxic medication to treat our inevitable symptoms.

Of course, not all aspects of living a healthy lifestyle are in our control. We are going to be exposed to certain environmental toxins whether we like it or not. But many of these factors are absolutely in our control. Whenever we can, we should be responsible and make the right choices.

This is why it is so important to be sure you eat well as the key factor in achieving a healthy LIFESTYLE.

I say “lifestyle” because what I know is that “eating well” can sometimes be something a person does with resentment because they feel “sacrifice” is required to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

I remember when people who ate poor foods used to joke with me and say I was not really living because I chose not to eat pizza and drink beer – and I always replied “how much LIVING can you do when your body is recovering from what you put in it?

Shifting from an Unhealthy to a Healthy Lifestyle

The reason I discuss the healthy lifestyle tip of simply EATING WELL on my blog is because it has been so effective for my health.

It was not always like this though. I remember when I was addicted to a chocolate bar each day and I always had headaches or an infection or illness of some kind.

In addition to excessive sugar cravings (eating a chocolate bar each day) I also suffered from many unhealthy symptoms that were challenging to resolve through traditional medicine: Frequent headaches, Skin problems (ie. eczema, acne, hives, Bloating, Gas, Bad Breath, Weak or brittle hair and nails, Fatigue and lethargy, Excessive stress, Candida overgrowth, Yeast infections, Food or Environmental Allergies, Anxiety or depression, Diarrhea, Constipation, Memory loss, Mood swings, Frequent colds or infections, PMS or bad menstrual cramps, Bladder infection, Loss of sex drive…etc

Ughhh! No fun at all!

Years later, I LOVE good food and I am rarely sick. Eating well is the perfect way to get in tune with your body and really get back to basics of what your body needs. It challenges you to give up the vices that you take for granted, break your addictive eating habits and start again from the beginning. Eating well is a healthy lifestyle choice that gives you clarity on what your body really needs, not craves and becomes the foundation for all other healthy lifestyle choices.

An important thing to remember with eating well is to really examine your root philosophy for adapting more healthy foods into your lifestyle.

This is SO IMPORTANT!

If it’s simply to loose a few pounds – I personally feel that this is not enough of a motivator and you will set yourself up for “failure” however, if you choose to eat well to enjoy a better quality of life, to do things you have not done in years and to not get sick anymore, then this is a wonderful motivator that will likely last!

So, getting really practical, eating well obviously involves making a few changes to the foods you prepare and enjoy.

I always listen to my body when I eat. I do not calorie count, measure my fist, use ratio’s or anything that causes me to separate myself form the food I eat.

The main reason I enjoy excellent health is because I am critical of what I eat – I choose to eat REAL food.

Because of this, I do not need expensive supplements or challenging programs to maintain my weight.

Delicious menus of real, whole foods allow me to enjoy the things so many diet plans warn against.

This sounds simple enough, but what I have learned is that many people simply do not know what a healthy lifestyle consists of, especially when it comes to food!

I try to keep things as simple as possible. I shop from the perimeter of the grocery store, eat mostly wild and free range chicken, very little meat and mostly raw organic fruits and vegetables, with beans and rice. It’s not practical to list everything I eat here, but feel free to visit my blog and download your FREE Healthy Grocery List while you are here!

The Future Depends on our Health Living a healthy lifestyle, free as much as possible of toxins (in our environment and in our food) and of stress, is important to us – but it’s also important for future generations. Scientists are also now discovering the impact nutrition has on our DNA! Healthy trees bear healthy fruit. A continued lifestyle of sickness will have a lasting effect on future generations and on our planet.

The results of years of living an unhealthy lifestyle are obvious. We are currently faced with a sharp increase in chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, with an obesity rate so high it’s considered an epidemic, and with growing rates of infertility. The number of children diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s syndrome or ADHD is alarmingly high.

We should also remember that our children carefully watch us and emulate us. If they see us act responsibly now, they will likely adopt a similar approach of taking care of themselves and of the planet when they become adults.

We must each ask ourselves if we are modeling the importance of a healthy lifestyle to our children. If we do not show them how to care for themselves, they will likely turn to the food corporations instead. How will they know the difference between real food, “food like” substances?

I keep about 6 – 8 fantastic cookbooks on hand. From these books, I create simple meal plans that I rotate each month based on about 15 simple meal ideas.

In addition to eating Delicious Food (that is real and healthy!) I suggest the following ways to help model a positive approach to food in our children:

Young children especially learn about the world through imitation. How do you feel each day as you prepare your family’s meals? Are you hurried, frustrated, and disconnected? We can show our children that eating healthy is important by the way we approach our meal times. If we are happy and engaged in making a meal, and then take pleasure in eating together we affirm that food is more than something to fill the hole but is a necessary part of a happy and healthy family life. In short, your children will imitate what they see so make sure you are placing a positive value around the activities involving healthy living.
Involve your children in meal preparation, even once or twice a week. By discussing how good certain foods taste and by letting them help you cook you will show that it’s important to take the time to prepare a healthy meal instead of throwing something in the microwave. You never know, you may inspire a future chef!
Make a plan to eat together as a family as often as possible. By each decision you make to eat together, you are casting a value judgment on the importance of healthy living and that it involves more than just eating a few more vegetables.

We can and should make an effort to change our habits and accept the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. If society won’t make changes, then we as individuals need to make them. After all, if we leave our health to someone else guess what they have planned for you? Not much.

I have absolute confidence that you can make the switch to living a healthy lifestyle and eliminating the nuisance symptoms that result from a body that is overloaded with toxins from our North American lifestyle. I was able to do this by following simple strategies, cooking from informative books that helped me switch my lifestyle over and enjoying life!

In all this talk about living a healthy lifestyle – we cannot overlook simply choosing to ENJOY LIFE!

Please visit my blog to view specific recommendations and download your FREE healthy grocery list!

The Impact of Technology in the Classroom

How has the use of technology impacted teaching and learning in the PK-16 classroom?When is comes to behaviorism technology has made it even easier. It used to be just like Pavlov’s dog, when the student does something right they get praised verbally or with a good grade versus a treat or a scratch behind the ear. Shaping behavior is important and we need to ensure there is a baseline. Technology almost guarantees that specific learning will take place as the objectives are determined by the teacher. Teachers can set specific goals and the students will know what they need to do to get there. Benjamin Bloom first came up with the idea that the student will succeed in learning the task if they are given a specific time to do it. Technology allows for you to more easily chunk lessons into specific times. Students will perform better, especially when they succeed and get the praise of the teacher. Although the stimulus is provided by the teacher, it will do no good if the students do not receive it equally. (Snowman & Biehler, 2003)
Other ways computers assist is that they offer the ability for repetition and feedback to the student. Teachers can also incorporate the appropriate enforcer’s to the lesson whether it is text, video or audio. The student does the task right they can get a smiley face , text telling them they are “Correct” or audio saying “Good Job!”. (Parkay & Stanford 2004)Social Learning is learning occurs when students learn from each other whether it be through modeling, imitation or observing within the social context. How can you do that with technology? Normally the students work on their own computer, but you can have them do a group project. When students do a project together they will observe how other groups are proceeding and imitate them if it is working well. The teacher usually also models what they are requiring the students to accomplish. Even when working individually the students will assist each other as one knows more than another.There are cognitive factors in social learning as well as behaviorism. There is a clear line between learning by observation and student imitation. The cognitive process maintains that the attention of the student is the critical factor in the learning process. The expectations and consequences that are reinforced will bring about similar future behavior. (Ornstien & Lasley 2000)
Cognitive learning is learning that occurs when a learner process information. This is similar to behaviorism but the student has more input to accomplish how they reach the planned outcome. The teacher can model a project but the student may have other information that will aid them in accomplishing the outcome. An example would be how I instructed my students how to set up an Excel spreadsheet. I had them set up a basic spreadsheet showing how much their parents spent on them in a month. This was relevant to the students and caught their interest. They went beyond the initial project and had boarders, colors, etc. on their spreadsheets. The students who did this were praised aloud and the other students wanted to know what they did and how. This tied in the social learning as well as the behaviorism theory (Didn’t even realize it at the time).When is comes to designing and developing lessons to incorporate technology the constructionist have the nod. Seymour Papert of the MIT Media Lab stated,”Constructionism holds that children learn best when they are in the active role of the designer and constructor.” When the student is actively involved they have the buy-in to the success of the project or assignment. The students will be more apt to complete and learn more from it when they have some ownership. The students in turn will share their new found information when doing the assignment with the other students allowing for the constructionist learning. This form of teaching eliminates the grade and goes more with a go, no go process. Teachers assess the students by the completion of the assignment or lack of completion. This is better because of students being able to play a greater role in the process and assessing their own progress.We teach ourselves how to learn. This is the constructivism theory on how we learn. With technology this couldn’t be truer. Most students have a basic understanding of the computer. They can download songs, play games and set up Myspace web page. What they can not do is build a spreadsheet or power point presentation. The teacher will give them a basic understanding but the students will learn from trial and error and construct their own learning.History of the computer use in the classroom started off slow. Saloman and Globerson (1987) suggested that underachievement in schools is because of the lower expectations on the part of the teachers, parents, and society. That was because the teachers themselves really hadn’t been exposed to the marvels of what a computer and the associated software could do for them. The Commodore 64, Apple II along with the Macintosh began their strong emergence in the early 80′s. Software programmers had a vision about the computer and how it could be used in the classroom. They developed software that teachers could use along with their instruction. Apple began teaching the teachers and Macintosh soon followed suit. This was the beginning of incorporating the use of computers in the classroom. (Jonassen 2000)Using computers in the classroom allows for all the learning theories to come to fruition. A computer allows for the cognitive process to bloom and brings about the social learning as well. When a student is given an assignment or project on the computer they will strive to complete it. The different things they learn they will share with other students especially if they think it is the bomb, cool or whack. On the flip side it can inhibit learning if the student is completely computer illiterate as frustration sets in as they cannot proceed as well as others. The computer also allows the teacher to develop lessons for all the multiple intelligences.With the advances computers and programs are taking on a daily basis, it is allowing for more interaction in the classroom(s). It is even allowing students from different schools to interact. Technology also allows for time to be better utilized, the outcomes of the objectives to be more easily determined and goals easy to implement and automate.