Monday, January 31, 2011

Is College an Industrial Degree Factory?

I found this Op-Ed in my alma mater's student newspaper (Pipe Dream, Binghamton University)

Two quotes caught my attention - perceived cynicism mixed with personal optimism:

Sadly, the fact that college is hardly about learning or getting an education is old news. Rather, it is widely accepted that college serves the primary purpose of qualifying students for professional positions.

College is, or at least should be, about personal development. As cliché as it sounds, it is important to remember that, more often than not, real growth takes place outside of the classroom.

So you tell me - what is/was college really all about for you?

Read Binghamton University: An industrial degree factory
Michael Snow

Thursday, January 27, 2011

8 Things Your Prof Cares (or Doesn't Care) About in Class

With the recent huff over college students not learning a darn thing (45% Of Students Don't Learn Much In College), I figured it was time to offer what goes on in the mind of a college professor. This is what I care about and don't care about in class:

1. DON'T CARE if your cell phone goes off, as long as I get to answer it. These days, I'm having trouble distinguishing incoming calls from texts. Droid!

2. DO CARE when you distract other students. This coming from someone who as a college freshman once launched a mini toy helicopter which circled the classroom and soft crashed on his professor's head. I was surprised and relieved that the professor didn't get all Cornell prof on me.

3. DON'T CARE if you text or surf the web in class (except during exams). Show me that you are a multi-tasker, especially if I have nothing relevant or funny to offer.

4. DO CARE that you view writing as a craft (not as a "spell check" exercise). True story: In a legal document, an attorney asked the judge for a delay in his case because he was undergoing a delicate medical procedure on his back: Disk surgery. However, he mistakenly typed a different four letter word that looked like DISK, inserting an unfortunate "C" rather than the needed "S." Spell check won't catch that!


8 Things Your Prof Cares (or Doesn't Care) About in Class

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lessons of Justice and Empathy - On Coal River

This weekend, I previewed On Coal River (tells the story of Marsh Fork Elementary and its fight for a new school), awesome documentary! I purchased a license for the film and will be showing it in my Introduction to Law class in a few weeks, as we discuss lessons of justice and empathy. On Coal River is receiving numerous awards, including the Gotham Award for the “Best Film Not Playing (yet?) at a Theater Near You.”

Variety Review: West Virginians "best a corporate Goliath… Keenly observed… Respectful, thorough, and relevant.”

For new Crazy Classroom blog readers, I have followed the plight of Marsh Fork for years. Here is my most recent post on the subject, re-published in The Huffington Post:

Lessons of Justice for College Students: Grandpa versus Big Coal

by Perry Binder

This is not an environmental issue. This is about a little human being.
-- Ed Wiley (Grandpa) speaking to then West Virginia Governor Manchin (now U.S. Senator)

While the media insults and labels the youth of every generation like an X or Y or Z (oh you Slackers, Echoes, and Netters), I instead see college students bringing energy and a common message of hope to the table: to make a difference in their lives and those of others. And in an Introduction to Law class, it is my job to find them real world cases to teach lessons of justice and injustice. So let's meet Ed Wiley and the kids at Marsh Fork Elementary School.

Continue reading at Crazy Classroom and The Huffington Post:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Teacher Training, Taught by Students

Interesting teacher training program in low performing NJ schools ...

Syidah O’Bryant scribbled notes in a composition book, trying to keep up with a lesson about why teenagers are so sleepy in the morning.

Usually Ms. O’Bryant, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, is the one talking. But on Tuesday, it was her student, Kare Spencer, 14.

“She’s the boss of me; she’s teaching me,” Ms. O’Bryant said.

In a role reversal, Ms. O’Bryant and other teachers at Brick Avon Academy are getting pointers from their students this year as part of an unusual teacher training program at 19 low-performing Newark schools.

The lesson learned by Ms. O’Bryant? “It makes you think about really hearing the kids,” she said. “You can learn from them. They have their own language.”

Continue Reading Teacher Training, Taught by Students

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Learning to Manage College Finances and Debt

A topic we don't discuss enough - managing debt in college and down the road. Here's a good article on why college students should take a personal finance course:
In College, Learning About Money

Every college student should consider enrolling in such a class. For example, here are Personal Finance courses offered by my department at Georgia State University:

As a side note, I am proud of my alma mata, Binghamton University - selected again by Kiplingers as "ranked among the nation’s top 10, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance on the magazine’s new list of 100 Best Values in Public Colleges."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adaptive PE teacher inspires athlete

Everywhere Debi Anderson goes, she inspires and amazes. Her most recent show of talent and confidence was on "Skating with the Stars" on ABC. While doing a promo for Special Olympics, she was offered the opportunity to skate with one of the semi-finalists, John Moseley, in a show that aired a couple weeks ago.

She also recently competed in the Special Olympics Fall Games and won a gold medal in bowling. While there, Bill Shumard, CEO president of Special Olympics in Southern California, asked her if she would serve on the board of directors as an athlete representative. ... Soon, she started working at George Key School as an aide, and she got more involved with softball. She went to her first summer games in 2004, where she did track and field. She came away with three gold medals and a bronze. Through the encouragement and direction of George Key's Adaptive PE teacher Windy McGinnis, Anderson got into rhythmic gymnastics, using balls, hoops and ropes.

Continue reading: ON CAMPUS: District grad inspiring others