Powered by Blogger.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Education in Theory and Perspective

What is the meaning of education?

Webster defines education as the process of educating or teaching. Educate is further defined as "to develop the knowledge, skill, or character of..." Thus, from these definitions, we might assume that the purpose of education is to develop the knowledge, skill, or character of students.

It is also defined in Oxford that education is the knowledge, abilities, and the development of character and mental powers that are resulted from intellectual, moral, and physical trainings. So, it can be said that someone who already got education will have additional knowledge, abilities and change in character and mental power.

While in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, it is stated that:
Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, positive judgment and well-developed wisdom. Education has as one of its fundamental aspects the imparting of culture from generation to generation (see socialization). Education means 'to draw out', facilitating realization of self-potential and latent talents of an individual. It is an application of pedagogy, a body of theoretical and applied research relating to teaching and learning and draws on many disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, computer science, linguistics, neuron-science, sociology and anthropology.

From the quotation above, it is assumed that education does not merely transfer knowledge or skill, but more specifically it trains people to have positive judgment and well-developed wisdom, better characters and mental powers. Through education, someone will be able to search through their natural talent and self-potential, empower them and finally will result in gaining their self-esteem and better life.

The history of education according to Dieter Lenten, president of the Free University Berlin 1994 "began either millions of years ago or at the end of 1770". Education as a science cannot be separated from the educational traditions that existed before. Education was the natural response of early civilizations to the struggle of surviving and thriving as a culture. Adults trained the young of their society in the knowledge and skills they would need to master and eventually pass on.

The education of an individual human begins since he was born and continues throughout his life. Even, some people believe that education begins even before birth, as evidenced by some parents' playing music or reading to the baby in the womb to hope it will influence the child's development. For some, the struggles and triumphs of daily life provide far more instruction than does formal. Family members may have a profound educational effect - often more profound than they realize - though family teaching may function very informally.

Education: the purpose, function and in practice

Theorists have made a distinction between the purpose of education and the functions of education. A purpose is the fundamental goal of the process-an end to be achieved, while Functions are other outcomes that may occur as a natural result of the process- byproducts or consequences of schooling. To elaborate these terms, it can be seen in reality that some teachers believe that the transfer of knowledge from teacher to students is the main purpose of education, while the transfer of knowledge from school to the real world or the application of what has been transferred is something that happens naturally as a consequence of possessing that knowledge; it is called a function of education.

Here are some quotations taking from The Meaning of Education:
"The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort" ~An Rand

"The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think-rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men." ~Bill Beattie

From the above information it can be said that the purpose of education is to prepare the students to be able to face their life by facilitating them to develop their mind and equip them with "hard skill" and "soft skill" to deal with reality. As the result of this education, they themselves will be able to think, to understand, to integrate and to prove their ability.

Talking about the purpose of education, there are some overviews about it. There are different outlooks between autocratic and democratic regarding education. It is quite clear that each type of world outlook demands its consistent type of education. The autocratic wants the education in the purpose of making docile followers. So, that is why they prefer a type of education whose purpose is to build docility and obedience. In the other hand, Democracy is different from them. Democracy wishes all people to be able and willing to judge wisely for themselves. The democratic will seek a type of education whose purpose is to build responsible, thinking, public-spirited citizenship in all people.

This is also different for the authoritarian society. For them, it is just enough for the leaders to know what they want without thinking about what their people want. It is quite in contrary to what a democratic society wants. For the democracy society, the leaders and the most important - the large majority of the people must see clearly the aims/purpose of the type of education they have. In other words, in a democracy it is essential that the leaders and people have clear philosophy of life and a clear philosophy of education.

Article Source:

Article Source:

How To Find The Best Distance Education Schools

Every time you browse using the World wide web, you shall stumble upon a brand-new net website that is offering and advertising essays to unwary college students all around the world. As a matter of fact, all of these businesses are disreputable, illegitimate and doing their consumers a main disservice and damaging them in the long run.

Questioning why purchasing an essay online is a poor notion? Continue reading for the answer to your query.

First and foremost, you should identify where these online, Custom College Essay creating products obtain their essays from. Even though, most such businesses will definitely strive to persuade you that they are just generating these essays using a qualified and also effective team of writers. On the contrary, most of these custom college essay writing services delegate their writing projects to different nations such as India, Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, among lots of others. Merely take into account it, an individual that has no technical or in depth awareness of your subject matter, inhabiting India or Bangladesh, is being paid a couple bucks per hour to produce your paper.

Presently you're quite possibly thinking just what's so unsatisfactory relating to picking an essay that was generated in a faraway nation? In addition to the clear waste of an opportunity to rise academically, in addition to the evident waste of your college instruction, a paper created by another inhabiting one more part of the planet simply are able to not match the your abilities as well as knowledge of the topic, neither can it live up to your tutor's hopes. There are several, excellent authors out there, however many of these suppliers don't find them because they in most cases charge a lot even more for academic papers.

In fact, many of the custom college essay producing products are going to supply you with a paper that is reused from an up until recently composed piece done for some other consumer. In the same manner, a couple of the essays are even reproduced over the Internet and it becomes a great deal simpler for an instructor to find out that it was copied and also is plagiarized.

University teachers have adequate experience to pinpoint plagiarized essays from their pupils and also may likewise deduce whether it was carried out by them, or whether they had another do it for them. It is certainly not that hard to do for them, due to the fact that they recognize the best way you communicate and also compose through the additional stuff you have actually tendered and also sometimes it is extremely visible. As a pupil, you should take into account this a minimum of thrice just before you think of making such a tremendous mistake. The following time you are thinking about skipping one of your assignments and trying to find an essay that is on purchase over the Internet, assume long and also hard pertaining to how you are losing your college fee. Not just are you squandering your funds, you are likewise presenting that your academic education and learning was a full waste of time also, not to mention what could happen if you obtained caught.

Schools in Greater Noida Promote Modernised Education

Every parent wants their child to get the best quality education at primary level so that at later stages no enough mentoring and guidance is required. Well, today most of the schools are on same pattern making their best efforts to provide an overall development to their students. In fact, parents are searching for such schools which can provide their kid with a multi talented persona. For all those parents who wanted their wards to receive modern education needs to understand what it actually stands for. It's just not mugging the text books and writing the same in the answer sheets; it's also not to over pressurize a 5 year old for studying four books for same subject. But it meant giving practical exposure to the things about which they are reading in the book.
What education signifies is the acquisition of knowledge or skills. So modern education can be understood us learning what is happening around you, getting the knowledge about the past, present and future and how to generate rationale thinking about it. It can also be through various tools and mediums like - Visual, audio or Kinesthetic (Practical).
It's different and difficult to find such institutions but BSE Board has affiliated those schools which are eligible for your trust and faith. There are many schools in Greater Nokia which not only promotes the generic thoughts and thinking, but gives a wider view of life to each of its students. Pupils studying here are allowed and encouraged to think out of the box as it is the only way to sustain the killing competition at the global level. Not just at primary level, but even secondary school Greater Nokia is more focused towards the quality of the education being possessed by the individual rather than just the results, percentage and society reputation.
Aster public School is the BSE School in Greater Nokia offering best education which can mold your child€™s future to sustain the ever changing modal of the society. It has great infrastructure to nurture your child€™s extracurricular interest and make him an all round personality of the future. Here the talent is encouraged to bloom and values are taught to make things understand better. At aster, they DNA€™t tell you what is wrong and what is right but they mold the thinking in the way that always the correct way is chosen with better confidence and rationale in the mind.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Treating Students Like Customers: Interview

Laura Palmer Noone was one of five speakers in a lecture series at Duke University called Re-imagining the Academy. She spoke with Faith & Leadership about the for-profit model of higher education and the University of Phoenix.

Q: Describe the difference between the traditional model and the for-profit model of higher education. 

LPN: It’s hard to say that there’s a for-profit model and a traditional model. Traditional education is not monolithic, nor is for-profit. I can only speak to the University of Phoenix and some of its peer institutions.

The University of Phoenix is very much focused on a different type of student. They’re first-generation college students. They’re older, maybe a single parent, probably working at least part time and maybe full time. There’s a pretty high likelihood they had at least one parent born outside the U.S. All those factors make for a different academic experience and different academic needs.

We focus on the needs of students, No. 1, and making sure they’ve learned what we wanted them to learn, as opposed to [putting] the needs of the institution first. [Traditional] institutions have a very important research component to them. But that’s not to say that one is better than the other. It’s just that they’re different and have different missions.

Q: You’ve previously said that you came to believe early on that there needed to be a different model for higher education. How did you come to believe that? 

LPN: I was a traditional student in the sense that I did my undergraduate work [at the University of Dubuque] and then went on to get my MBA and my law degree [both at the University of Iowa].

Although I went to very fine law and business schools, neither of those programs particularly suited me to what was going to happen when I was out in the real world. I didn’t really know how to practice law until I actually got into a law firm. I realized there was something missing. We were imparting knowledge but not necessarily imparting the skills that go with the knowledge. I was pleased to find that there was a focus on that at the University of Phoenix.

Q: How does the University of Phoenix do that? 

LPN: One of the things that businesses tell us is that they need people who can work in teams. Yet higher education has traditionally been an isolated event. You, as a student, go to class and do your own work; you never learn to work in a team. Then all of a sudden we take you out of higher education, put you in the real world and expect you to be able to work in a team. You have never had to function like that.

So why not teach that as part of the curriculum? Why not teach people how to function as a team and how to work to produce a greater product?

Q: What do you think other institutions can learn from the University of Phoenix? 

LPN: We treat adult students as customers and as consumers of education -- not in the sense that the customer is always right, but in the sense that they are entitled to timely, accurate information delivered in a courteous manner. We don’t need to make them wait in endless lines or walk across campus to go to some building. Their time is valuable to them, and we should treat them as such.

They also have real-world experiences and learning experiences that may have occurred outside the walls of higher education. We should honor those.

Q: When you talk to audiences about the for-profit model, what reaction do you usually get? 

LPN: It has changed some over time, and it definitely depends on the audience.

And I say this with all the love in my heart, but usually the most hostile reaction is from faculty. I think there’s a fear among them that what I’m talking about will spell an end to life as they know it.

Among administration, there is certainly a mixture of interest -- especially in how for-profits are able to move quickly to respond to changes -- and a little bit of jealousy, because it’s often harder to make sweeping changes in more traditional institutions. Then there’s the aspect of, “How did [the University of Phoenix] get so successful?”

Q: How do you know that the University of Phoenix model works and that it is successful? 

LPN: I’ve seen the results. I’ve seen the students who come out of the system. I started out as a faculty member at the university, and I know what my students learned. I know it was a rigorous and intense experience, and I know that I felt every bit as comfortable on what they were learning in that five-week period as when I was teaching 16-week semesters.

Q: Some questions have been raised about the academic quality, the dropout rate and students defaulting on their loans at the University of Phoenix. How do you respond to that? 

LPN: I’m no longer an official representative of the university, but the university takes great pride in measuring the academic outcomes of their students. They use nationally known exams, and [students at the University of Phoenix] always come out as being very equivalent.

I think the people who are saying that the university’s academic quality is inferior are doing so out of willful ignorance. They’re not analyzing the data to see that students are in fact learning at the same pace.

The dropout rate is a different sort of question. There’s a lot of research as to why students drop out or default on their loans. If you look at the demographics of the students who are likely to drop out or default, there are very identifiable factors. Institutions like the University of Phoenix have a lot of these students with those multiple risk factors. They have a lot of first-generation college students, students who have lower socioeconomic levels and students who are single parents. All those things make it far more difficult for people to complete [a degree].

The second thing is most everybody looks at the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) rates. They measure only first-time freshmen. So if you took even one course at a community college and then came to the University of Phoenix and finished up, you wouldn’t be counted in the graduation rate, because you aren’t a first-time student. I think that’s true of a lot of students at for-profits.

Q: What are areas for improvement at the University of Phoenix? 

LPN: The model is constantly being refined, and even to this day they’re refining aspects of it to make sure that it continues to evolve. That’s one of the things that I will give the university a great deal of credit for. They looked at the change in demographics and the change in the needs of their students, and they realized there were things they were going to have to make changes to in order to serve their needs.

Higher education overall has evolved as well, a little faster probably than sometimes it wanted to. I think it was forced to make some changes because of the success of institutions like University of Phoenix.

Q: The University of Phoenix was founded in 1976 and started with five-week courses taught on-site. What have been some of the changes there since then? 

LPN: Undergraduate classes are still five weeks for a three-credit-hour course; graduate courses are six weeks. But one of the changes is that the University of Phoenix used to be a degree-completion institution only. You had to come in with the first two years of coursework completed. Gradually, the admission requirements were changed so students could come in with fewer credits.

Another change occurred in 1989, when the university launched an online program -- long before online was popular. The whole idea was, “How can we better serve students’ needs?” There were some students who, even though we made this as convenient as possible to go to a campus, sometimes it wasn’t convenient and their schedule wouldn’t allow it.

A few years ago the university also decided that it needed to have more flexibility than to be tied to traditional textbooks. So the university changed to all-electronic resources, which allows you to take the best of this textbook and this textbook and this textbook and put them all together and add simulations to make a much more robust learning environment.

Q: What do you think higher education will look like in 10, 20 years? 

LPN: I hope that higher ed adapts to the point where it can understand that one size does not fit all. Not everybody has the ability to go to a traditional institution, but everybody should have the opportunity to better themselves through higher education.

Some institutions that have not been particularly selective and don’t have an identified mission or differentiating factor -- I think that there will be some failures of those institutions or a consolidation among their ranks.

I also think you’re going to see a lot more instructional technology.

I don’t think this is going to mean the end to residential education. All these institutions will be around for many years to come, but they serve a narrow section of the population. The needs of the American populace and workforce are much broader than that.

We need to have other vehicles to retrain people and to train people who didn’t go to college right out of high school or went for a semester or two and didn’t finish. There are millions of people in the U.S. who have some college and no degree, and they are ripe candidates for going back to school and becoming part of the solution to reigniting the economic engine.

Though the residential experience will not go away entirely, it will not be the norm. It will be the exception. And to a large extent, it probably already is. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Resurrecting Detroit

In the eyes of many, Detroit has become a joke. The news of the city’s bankruptcy in July quickly mutated from a national news headline to a Twitter and late night talk show punchline. I haven’t lived in “The D” since I graduated from high school, but for me, it will always be home. And I wasn’t laughing.

I grew up going to Tigers’ games with my dad; I relished the Bad Boys era of the Pistons and suffered through the Lions many, many seasons of defeat. I spent summers at Greek Town and Belle Isle; I lounged on our front porch when it was too hot to sleep in our non-air conditioned home on Littlefield Street. When others ridiculed my city, I came to her defense every time. 

But as much as I love Detroit, I am well-acquainted with her struggles. 

Our neighborhood public schools were woefully underperforming, and my parents had to work the system in order to find high-quality schools for my brother and me. And even though my Detroit public high school did a phenomenal job educating urban kids, our resources paled in comparison to wealthier suburban districts. We were just kids, but even we felt the burden of our city’s problems.

So in the midst of bankruptcy, that’s where my mind and heart linger: What does bankruptcy mean for the children of Detroit? If many of the city’s children were already facing crumbling facilities and overcrowded classrooms, what happens now that the municipal debt comes crashing down? 

Let’s start with the facts. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are primarily funded by the state of Michigan and function as a separate entity from the city. So, in the most pragmatic terms, the direct impact on the schools should be minimal. 

But Detroit’s schools were already underwater financially—even before the city filed for bankruptcy. In 2008 the state of Michigan took financial control of the school district and appointed an emergency financial manager. Ever since, the schools have been struggling to crawl out of a mountain of debt. The city’s population has shrunk by over a quarter of a million people in the last decade. Not only that, but the number of students in DPS will likely drop to just 40,000 by 2016, according to the Associated Press. In a city with residents under financial strain, the schools will have to increasingly do more with less money. 

Beyond the tangible bread and butter budget issues, there are more nuanced problems. One of the most important factors that influence a child’s education is the classroom teacher. And while all teachers want the best for their students, some teachers are more successful than others. The most skilled and successful teachers, not surprisingly, have more options. And, quite frankly, these teachers can work in suburban districts that have the budget to pay more (not tens of thousands of dollars more, of course—but more is more). Detroit teachers were already among the lowest paid in the state; filing for bankruptcy will not help increase salaries. 

When a city files Chapter 11 there is an unmistakable sense of uncertainty and fear surrounding its future. We’ve already heard talk of city employees losing pensions; beloved treasures at the Detroit Institute of Arts may be up for sale. Ambiguity does not motivate individuals to join your teaching workforce. Humans long for security; and Detroit cannot offer that in the foreseeable future. 

The city’s financial management and school district leadership have long been seized by the state. One Detroit’s recent mayor is serving his second prison sentence and still owes the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution. One can only imagine how things could get worse. 

As a Christian, I believe in the tried and true power of grace, redemption and resurrection. Detroit is poised to receive all three. God’s track record, as evidenced in the Bible, suggests he shows up when things are seemingly at their worst. 

For all of its failing infrastructure, the core of the city remains: its people. They are Detroit’s secret weapon. They are steadfast, resilient and full of faith. They will lead the city’s renaissance. They will revitalize schools and demonstrate what the children of Detroit are truly made of. But they cannot do it alone. 

The leaders, teachers, families and students in Detroit Public Schools deserve the best. As an advocate for educational equity, and a Detroiter at heart, I have to believe better times are in Detroit’s future. I have to believe that just when we seem to be hitting the worst of times, the best are yet to come. 

To be sure, this resurrection will require incredible hard work from multiple sectors. We need business leaders, community leaders, philanthropists and entrepreneurs. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Real Crisis in Higher Education

When Plato established his Academy in Athens in 387 BC, he laid a foundation for education in the West that regarded knowledge as inseparable from character. In the end, he said, a man's intellect or cleverness or skills couldn't help him if he lacked virtue. "A person with a bad soul will govern his life badly."

This Western ideal is worth recalling now, as more governments struggle to manage the costs of higher education. It has become a major issue during the US election season, as worries mount about escalating tuition fees and student debt to cover them. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 75 per cent of adults think higher education has become unaffordable — and most believe it's not worth the money.

Liberals see a "student loan crisis" and denounce cuts in government spending on education. Newspapers such as the New York Times blame for-profit colleges for "defrauding" students with deceptive recruitment policies. Conservatives, for their part, criticize the expansion of federal loan programs for encouraging inflated tuition rates and student indebtedness. 

Mostly missing from the discussion, however, is meaningful talk about the fundamental purposes of higher education and how best to achieve them.

So far, conservatives are not contributing much to this debate. Too many have focused narrowly on costs, techniques, and new technologies. Writing in National Affairs, the Heritage Foundation's Stuart Butler lauds the arrival of online degree courses as the savior of higher education. He writes: "Improvements in customized and sophisticated student-education data . . . make it easy to imagine the interaction quality of online tutorials surpassing the effectiveness of the traditional system." We are assured that nothing of enduring value would be lost in this brave new virtual world.

Here is a well-meaning approach to education reform that is as subversive as it is impoverished. Does anyone really imagine that, given the choice, teachers such as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Jesus and Maimonides would opt for the online tutorial?

The great minds of the Western tradition believed that real knowledge — including moral wisdom — is communicated through concrete, embodied relationships. It is the give-and-take of the classroom, the educator fully present with his students, which makes possible the highest purposes of the academy. For the aim is not only to nurture minds that can think for themselves, but which pursue with integrity the great truths about the human condition. It is here, in the bricks and mortar of the academy, that deep friendships are formed, the moral and spiritual relationships that help us on our life's journey.

Can we afford to remain ignorant of this legacy in the West? Butler shrugs it off. "For most young people today," he writes, "electronic friendships and networks are the norm." There is no hint that anything whatsoever may be amiss with this trend.

Cicero sounded the alarm when he saw republican ideals fading from the public consciousness: "Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things." Our historical amnesia about the ends of the academy is widespread. We no longer treasure or guard those things once considered essential to education. No wonder we produce so many graduates with bad souls who cannot govern themselves.

Yet if we do not recover our cultural memory — if we worship at the altar of efficiency and economy — the explosive costs of a college degree will become a footnote in the crisis of the West.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where are the Christians in Academia?

Gabe Lyons: The Academy is unique in a lot of ways, both as a place of opportunity and also complexity and challenge for people of faith. I'm here with Duane Grobman, Executive Director of the Mustard Seed Foundation and Director of the Harvey Fellows Program. When you talk to Duane, you realize just how strategically he and some others have been thinking about the role of believers in the academy and the importance of developing great scholars, the importance of thinking long-term, not just short-term, and thinking about, "What does the next 20 to 30 years of philosophy look like in major campuses around the U.S. and the world?"

Duane, tell us about the Harvey Fellows Program.

Duane Grobman: Sure. The Harvey Fellows Program began in 1992 and it was started, and it's continued to be funded by, the Mustard Seed Foundation. They founded the Fellows Program because they wanted to encourage Christians to innovate their faith with their vocation and also to encourage them to pursue leadership positions in what we call strategic fields where Christians appear to be underrepresented. And so, their hope was that through the program they would encourage students to pursue culturally influential vocations, that they would actually help equip students with tools necessary to lead integrated lives and that they actually help validate exceptional abilities and academic leadership and gifts as gifts from God worthy of cultivation development. Because, often times the church hasn't been terrific at validating individual's abilities in the areas of leadership and academics.

Gabe: I loved the log-term thinking that obviously has gone into this entire program. Really, this is a pretty strategic attempt to connect with some of the most astute leaders in society for the long-term. Right?

Duane: That is correct. To our knowledge, we're the only program of this kind. You hit the nail on the head there, in that, I think one of the reasons is because it is so long-term. We've often said that it's sort of a 20-year experiment, that we won't fully know the effects of the program culturally and its impact for 20 years. And so, there's not a lot of foundations that are willing to invest in that long-term vision. But given, now, that we're in our 16th year, from the fruit that we see and the impact, we find this incredibly encouraging. So we're feeling really confident that it's a worthwhile investment.

Gabe: Yes—It sounds like it's very worthwhile. Duane, tell us a little bit about you. What drove you into wanting to lead a project like this and why is this so important to you personally?

Duane: I got into the leadership program because I received a Harvey Fellowship to receive my doctorate in education from Harvard. It was a profound blessing for me as an individual to receive this fellowship from this foundation and from a collection of individuals. For some reason, in my application, they saw gifts and potential there that they wanted to invest in and that was deeply meaningful. We hold an institute each summer where we bring the fellows together and we talk about issues of integrating faith and vocation and coming to that institute had a great impact on me and my thinking. And so, going back to my university, going back to Harvard and to my work, it just deepened my understanding of vocation and my sense of calling.

And so, as I progressed through my own degree program, which is in education, I already had a strong focus and passion for this field. I really saw the fellowship as a cultivator of hope, as I often call it, that when they approached me a number of years later to direct the program, with a lot of enthusiasm, I said yes, I would love to be able to further the program as well as to work with the Fellows and encouraging them in their own giftings and passions and callings.

Gabe: That's awesome. One of the things that we talked about a lot with Q is talking about the different sectors of culture. We talk about politics and businessmediaarts and entertainment,the social sector and the church, but it’s the education channel that is really where this project is focused. I know you believe this is probably one of the most strategic places to focus when we're thinking about how the future of culture is shaped. Could you give us an example of how this world of education actually shapes the culture that we all live and breathe within? And what are, maybe, some examples of where the education world ends up impacting the way the rest of us live?

Duane: Well, there is an oft-quoted adage that says ideas have consequences, and I think that's really true. As someone who has worked with this program but also views education through a university lens, because that's what I studied, I can think of a couple different examples. For one, the change and shift in people's view of the environment is powerful. How education has been a key in changing people's understanding about the environment and how we're called to care for creation and have a redemptive view of it and that changes our behavior in how we use it, how we live our lives and the choices that we make and how we live together. So the whole sense of the environment, I think, is one where education has had a key role in shaping people's thoughts. But that’s just one example. I mean, I could go on.

Gabe: And that's what's good. I think we're always craving to understand. I think the environmental discussion is a great one because it has so affected the discussion and the broader conversation and given it the credibility to go with that discussion as to why we should care about creation. James Hunter, who's a great student of culture, talks a lot about the idea of cultural capital. I am curious to ask you, Duane, about this idea of cultural capital. We hear about all kinds of different social capital and real capital. But when you look at cultural capital, it's this idea that, maybe when you have a degree from a certain set of specific schools, that gives you a certain cultural capital and entrance into any environment.

Part of the program you structured is based a little on that idea, isn't it? You want people to get degrees from very specific institutions because those institutions carry a certain level of credibility in our culture today.

Duane: Yes, that's right. First, I would say that we believe that God can use anyone from any background from any school context and position them where He wants. But, we also believe that we live in a culture that does operate with what you're talking about—cultural capital—and that degrees from specific schools in specific fields of study open doors. And through those open doors, you have an opportunity to meet with people who you can potentially work with who share similar set of passions and interests and who you can solve problems with.

One of the things that I saw in my own studies and in working with the Harvey Fellows is how the introduction to these people and walking through those doors gives you access to a culture of synergy where you meet with others who can move forward your ideas, and your callings, and your passions. So I affirm what James Hunter has said because I think it is a real thing.

Gabe: What are some examples of this in the top five schools? I know that's where you guys focus on specific disciplines. What are some of those key schools that make sense for specific industries?

Duane: Sure. And again, we target what we call premier schools, which to give a guide we say a roughly top five. It's not a rigid rule but it is a general rule that we looked at. Because these are the schools that have been acknowledged by scholars and researchers and practitioners and individuals in those specialties saying, "If you're going to get the best training, these are the schools to go to." So they vary according to your specific field of study. For example, law. There will be schools like Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, NYU. But say you're a filmmaker, and so the schools are different for film. It'll be like UCLA, USC, NYU, AFI. Say you have a desire to go into architecture, then it's going to be schools like Harvard, Yale, Penn, Columbia, M.I.T. And then, for a final example, say you have an interest and passion in engineering. Well, then it'll be schools like M.I.T, Stanford, CalTech, UC Berkeley, Purdue, GeorgiaTech.

Gabe: One of things I thought was really great about this is that you allow people to apply for the fellowship. There's a major process that you guys have put in place to evaluate and critique applicants and then choose which ones for each year you're going to be able to get behind. Tell us a little bit about what are parts of the application process that allow you to determine who you're going to choose and who you don't choose?

Duane: Each applicant is required to write a series of six essays. One of the essays asks them to “share your statement of faith.” And so, we look at the evidence of an individual's Christian faith, its strength and maturity. We also look for an individual's commitment to the local church because we think that's really important for the nurturing of faith. We then want to hear an applicant share about why they think their field of study is so strategic. What kind of thinking have they done about the influential nature of their field? 

We want to hear why they think their field is underrepresented by Christians? Because, again, part of the goal of the program is to encourage and equip individuals who have a calling in the field where there's not a Christian voice. What's their awareness of the underrepresented nature of their field?

We're looking for what kind of leadership roles that they have already served in. We're looking for why they've chosen their specific school and degree program and what the strength in that program is. For example, even though I just listed top five schools, we do make exceptions to that rule.

When it comes to an individual's choice to study with a scholar or a researcher who is world-renowned in that specialty but for whatever reason that researcher or scholar has chosen to teach at a school that's not highly ranked but everyone widely recognizes that he or she is the top or among the top. When an applicant writes and tells us they've chosen to study with this person and these are the reasons why, we'll say that's terrific. We will affirm that and even though it's not rigidly in the top five, they've demonstrated to us the thinking and why they want to study with that person and why they're going to that school. So those are things that we look at.

Gabe: One of the things you mentioned when you were describing the different factors was fields that are underrepresented by a Christian presence. What are maybe some examples of those kinds of fields that you're finding have an under-representation?

Duane: Well, we think teaching at the university in an R-1 school, a secular university, is very underrepresented by Christians, so we really affirm the role of academia, like research, teaching and administration at premiere universities and colleges. We also think public policy and federal/state governments are a strategic, underrepresented field. Film production and the visual and performing arts, journalism and media. We would love to see more Christians go into those fields. International diplomacy, international economics and finance would be some others.

Gabe: I think it's really interesting to get that perspective because it gives us a good sense of where people are focused and where they're not. The intentionality you put into this is awesome. So for listeners who know people who might be pursuing graduate degrees in these different fields or have a passion or energy for some of what we just heard Duane describe, they actually can apply for this program, right, Duane? Where would they go if they were interested in applying or even referring others to apply for the Harvey Fellows Program?

Duane: Sure. They can go to our website which is It's a pretty extensive website that gives you a lot of information about who we are. It gives you actually a list of all the Fellows, all 283, along with their field of study that we have funded since 1992.

Gabe: You mentioned the 283 Harvey Fellows that you funded. What are some examples of the few who are making a really significant contribution in the way that this vision for the Harvey Fellows Program was birthed?

Duane: Sure. Bacl to the example of the environment and the role education has played in that. Susan Emerick, a fellow, heads up at Emerick Environmental Consulting and is also a filmmaker and educator. She does extraordinary work. I’ve often heard her on BBC. She's highly sought-after as an individual who speaks on environmental issues. Also, Jacquelline Fuller is one of our Fellows who has worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is part of the leadership team of the philanthropic arm of Google. We actually have quite a few of our Fellows working at Google.
Another individual I'll share about is Nicole Jordan, who is an engineer. She works for NASA and when the most recent space shuttle a number of years ago tragically exploded, she was the one who was called upon to design a new repair kit given the issues that were identified that caused the explosion. She finished that and now she's been tasked to design the first new space suit for NASA. It's the first one designed in over a decade or more.

Another Fellow of ours works with legal work, dealing with anti-human trafficking in India, Ashley Varghese. Gregg Helvey, who's one of our filmmakers, made a feature film on child slavery where he filmed it in India. Over half of the Ivy League schools have a Harvey Fellow who is on the faculty.

I'll also mention that this fellowship is not just for Americans. We welcome international students. We really encourage applications from international students. We have faculty members who serve on universities in India and in Ethiopia. Samuel Rizk, who's actually one of our Fellows, is Egyptian but he helps lead a center dealing with dialogue and development and culture in the Middle East.

Gabe: That's great! Well, I tell you, Duane, it's really impressive to see that for so many years there's been somebody who had a really long-term vision for this and now to see how that's playing itself out. I just applaud you and the whole team that's working on the Harvey Fellows Program. I hope we can just continue to learn more about the program. 

The people who are leading this have been doing it for quite some time do so with a lot of credibility. Duane, thanks again for being a part of this community, and for just contributing your thoughts and ideas.

Duane: Thanks, Gabe. It's been my pleasure.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Which American Cities are Education Reform-Friendly?

We all want better educations for our communities and children. But are some cities more “reform-friendly” than others? A new study by The Thomas B. Fordham Institute in conjunction with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research says so. 

As the press release for the study points out, education entrepreneurialism is all the rage right now. Organizations like Teach for America, EdisonLearning, New Leaders for New Schools, and Wireless Generation are big players today but relatively new upstarts. Such a trend produced a need for research into which cities are most ready reform the way they approach education.

In this study, six areas were considered when judging the nation’s 25 largest cities plus five smaller communities:

1.    Access to an ample supply of human talent
2.    A pipeline of readily accessible funding—venture capital and operating donors alike—from private and public sources
3.    A thriving charter-school sector
4.    Attention to quality metrics to guide and regulate entrepreneurial ventures
5.    Receptivity to non-traditional providers and to reforms at the district level
6.    Similar receptivity at the municipal level

True to their educational paradigm, cities were given a grade from A (extremely reform-friendly) to F (extremely reform-unfriendly). What were the results?

No city surveyed received an A, but eight received Bs: Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, Jacksonville, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington D.C. These cities are hotbeds of entrepreneurship where exciting reforms are already underway. Six cities fell into the bottom of the reform heap, earning Ds or Fs: Albany, Detroit, Gary, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Jose. These cities aren’t attracting large sums of money or innovators, and few are enacting significant reforms. 

What does this mean for those who inhabit the education space and want to be a force for restoration? It means we should focus energy on those places where we have great chances to succeed in reform efforts without neglecting those cities where there is a great need for entrepreneurship. 

The cities at the bottom of the pile aren’t bankrupt. They are simply in need of a few innovative restorers. As the researchers involved with this study said,

“Is there hope for the laggards? Indeed, yes. This study outlines enormous opportunities for mayors, school systems, and business leaders to turn things around, though such transformations won’t come easily or fast. But then, Silicon Valley did not become a hotbed of innovation over night. It took decades to infuse the region with the financial capital, talent, networks, and expertise that make it what it has become.”

Such words are instructive for any reformer. Change will not come overnight or without hard work, but if those of us who have been called to this work will persist in our efforts, transformation is possible. And who knows? Maybe your city is just a few reformers away from climbing from the bottom of the list to the top.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Faith of a Teacher

When you’re an elementary teacher, each year is a new panorama of people and personalities. You have students who walk in confident and students who walk in unsure. You have students who walk in dressed to the nines and students who walk in wearing rags. However, on the first day, almost everyone walks in quiet and a little reserved.

Not so for Gary.

Gary spent the first six weeks of this year in the district’s alternative school for kids with behavior problems. When he returned to school and came into my class he was loud, mad at the world, and he let everyone know it. I instinctively sprang into Drill Sergeant mode. 

“Son!  You are NOT going to walk in my class like that ever again…is that clear?”


“I said, is that clear?”


“What was that?”

“Yes sir.”

And that was how our mornings began for the next 12 weeks.

Drill Sergeant is not a role that I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I play it well, but it’s very out of character for me. And one of my biggest fears is getting lost in that role. If you get lost in Drill Sergeant mode your teaching effectiveness and joy fly right out the window. 

Because I needed my Drill Sergeant role to keep Gary in line, I started getting lost. Luckily I had enough students who didn’t need Drill Sergeant Hugh to help me see what was happening. I made a conscious effort to let go of that role and fight anger with kindness and acceptance. 

It was sometime in late November when I got my first peek into Gary’s personality. He had been in my class about 10 weeks and I had never seen anything resembling a smile on his face. I walked up behind him, patted him on the back and made some kind of goofy remark. A huge grin spread across his face and he even laughed a little. 

Over the next several months Gary and I bonded. I learned that if I used a calm voice and expressed my disappointment with his behavior, then drill sergeant Hugh usually wasn’t needed.

Gary is smart…really smart. However, his behavior usually gets in the way of his learning, so I don’t believe his previous teachers had been able to see it. 

And changes were happening in me too. This boy who took every ounce of my strength and patience was chipping away at my heart. I learned that you can’t fight anger with kindness and acceptance without opening up your heart. When your heart is open - I mean wide open - you don’t get to choose the people you’re going to let in. If the door is open, all kinds of people - good and bad alike - come shuffling in. 

One day, after a problem in the hallway, I pulled Gary aside and said, "Pal, I thought we had gotten past this kind of behavior.  When you first came to my class this is how you acted.  I want the new Gary back.  New Gary has become one of my favorite students.”

I don’t think Gary had ever heard anything like that from a teacher. He sat down in the hallway and cried. He tried to talk, but his blubbering lips couldn’t form words. I put my arm around him and told him to walk to the restroom and pull himself together. 

I walked back to class wiping tears from my eyes. 

Gary was actually an overflow student from another school in my district. A few days later Gary’s mother formally requested a transfer to our school for his fifth grade year. She talked about all the positive changes she had seen in Gary and how happy both she and Gary were about finally having a good school year. I told the principal it would be a mistake not to give Gary the transfer. 

Yep, when you’re an elementary teacher each year is a new panorama of people and personalities. You have students who walk in confident and students who walk in unsure. You have students who walk in dressed to the nines and students who walk in wearing rags. 

And sometimes the most unexpected students can change your life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Learning for the Common Good

n the last two years, InterVarsity Press has invited serious reflection on how a reasonable Christian worldview would effect the foundations of various academic disciplines, from business to philosophy to communications. IVP has released a series of books with uniform covers, plainly designed, but laden with explosive insights. This recent release in the “Christian Worldview Integration” series is remarkable for several reasons and deserves to be widely discussed. Firstly, education is perhaps one of the most commonly experienced aspects of life in the Western world: we all have been educated, and anyone who is a parent simply must attend to the complexities, joys and frustrations of helping their children learn (in one manner or another.) Oddly, there have been few serious books written to think deeply about the nature of schooling and what education is for; even fewer bring an integrated Christian frame of reference to the project of pondering these very real concerns. So this is a strategic, necessary resource.

It is written by two professors of educational philosophy—one from Biola University, the other from Wheaton College—who make the case that education is a foundation for the flourishing of people within any society. If we offer a failing vision, it hurts not only the students of our public schools but all of society.  In the context of a typically pluralistic public school setting, what might people of Christian faith have to offer? How might our view of human nature, especially, influence our understanding of the point and nature of education, and how might we offer that Godly insight within the broader conversations about the public good? Admittedly, this is a serious read, not a simple set of inspiring devotions to help nervous parents. Rather, it is a robust and decidedly intellectual Christian set of convictions about our information economy, the needs of 21st century students, the teaching of social ethics, and how a critical reconsideration of the deepest influences from the history of education might help us offer new visions for educational policy and practice. It includes ongoing conversations with classics in the field, from Aristotle or C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man, to John Dewey or the latest documentation on the difficulties of contemporary schools. One reviewer says that “Spears and Loomis have crafted an erudite, refreshingly honest and comprehensive critique of our educational system.” It is a rare book, serious and important.


The End of Education; Redefining the Value of School Neil Postman (Random House; 1995) $15.00

Although this book is not even two decades old, it seems to have come from a place a long time ago. Indeed, Mr. Postman, the late and greatly esteemed professor of media at NYU, once wrote a book about “building a bridge to the 18th century” suggesting that there may be great wisdom in learning about an earlier era. Postman was a jolly and good man although his writing was appreciated not for its levity but for its gravity. He was a cultural critic par excellence—learned, thoughtful, provocative, and wise about the (deformed) ways of the world. His first book, written in the heady days of the 1960’s, suggested that the act of good teaching was “subversive.” Here, in this splendid, readable call to sustainable values in schooling, based on significant aims, he tells us why. First, Postman exposes that which we must subvert—the pointlessness of shallow education. It is based on an American educational myth that suggests that knowing a lot of random stuff matters in life. Or that education comprises mostly of passing the right sorts of tests to enable one to get to the right kind of college whereby one can (of course) be done with learning and enter a lucrative career.

This “end”—the Greek word he employs is telos—of education is surely the beginning of the end of meaningful education since that goal is patently bankrupt. It is not that in this bad economy, education for a well-paying job and entrance to the well-heeled set is unlikely, it is that Postman maintains, with the authority of a Hebrew prophet, that this is simply not a good enough end. We need a better, more human, and more lasting telos. And herein lies the essence of the book: Postman reminds us of the need for an overarching vision, a reason for having kids go to school, and he suggest that this end simply must be better than the current options animating most educational reforms. If we don’t have the right “end”, he insists, we will soon reach the “end” of meaningful education. This wise, feisty book is a must read for parents, educators, school leaders and college students, anyone grappling with the well ordered goals, anyone wanting to learn deeply, for reasons more potent than that a good education will help you fit in to the American dream of upward mobility. This is not an overtly religious book but for those of us eager to allow our faith convictions to shape our lives—even our views about learning, education, and schooling, and the very reason for education—Postman’s wisdom about a plausible and coherent telos is wisdom we simply must take to heart. This is a not-too-ancient classic with old wisdom that we need for today.