Category Archives: Education

What is the Average Cost of a College Credit?

alex atkins bookshelf educationCollege students are some of the worst consumers in America, flipping the commonsense frugal strategy on its head: rather than “pay less for more” they “pay more for less.” It’s like prepaying for an elegant steak and wine dinner and then choosing a hot dog and chips for your meal. Expressed another way, college students (or more accurately, their parents) pay a very high price for an undergraduate education, while college students choose to take the minimal amount of courses, and often the least challenging courses to graduate. But the biggest waste of money occurs when college students — without parents to nag them about it — cut classes for whatever reason (hangover, went to bed at 4:00 am, the dog ate my homework, etc.). When you consider the average cost of a college credit, you might want to reconsider whether it makes sense to skip those classes.

The staff at Student Loan Hero used data from the Department of Education to calculate the average cost per college credit. There are significant differences of course between 4-year and 2-year schools, and whether the schools are public, private, or for- profit. Four-year colleges typically require 120 credits to earn an undergraduate degree. Thus, to earn a degree at a public school, tuition will cost $39,000; at a private school, the tuition adds up to a staggering $77,640. Here are the average cost per credit hour for colleges across these four sectors:

2-Year Public College: $135

4-Year Public College: $325

4-Year for Profit College: $647

4-Year Private College: $1,039

Average Cost of a College Credit: $594

So the next time you want to sleep in and skip morning classes, you may want to consider the actual hit to your pocketbook and decide if that is a wise use (or misuse) of your money.

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Read related posts: Getting the Most Out of College
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For further reading: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/cost-per-credit-hour-study/


The Six Types of Courage

alex atkins bookshelf educationYou cannot imagine a more unlikely trio for an important life journey: an empty-headed scarecrow, a rusty tin woodman, and a cowardly lion. But those are Dorothy’s companions on the famous yellow brick road to the Land of Oz — from the imagination of L. Frank Baum. While Dorothy seeks to return home, the scarecrow wants a brain, the woodman longs for a heart, and the lion desires courage. When Dorothy accuses the lion of being a coward, he responds: “You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.” We can presume, that the Cowardly Lion seeks physical courage, that is, “acting intentionally in the face of risks, threats, or obstacles in the pursuit of morally worthy goals.” The classic example is the fireman who rushes into a burning house to save a helpless infant. In mythology and literature, the lion is traditionally a symbol of power, wisdom, confidence, bravery, and pride. Baum’s lion lacking courage, of course, is dramatically ironic. But despite what the Cowardly Lion believes, there is much more to courage than physical strength and bravado.

Dr. Lisa Dungate, PsyD, a parenting coach and child/family therapist, along with best friend Jennifer Armstrong, an award-winning author of historical fiction for children and teens, created Lion’s Whiskers, a fascinating blog that shares compelling stories and insight to help parents and their children to develop courage to meet the many challenges that life presents; they state: “We have found one of the best ways to inspire courage is through story — traditional stories, family stories, true stories from history — and by giving our children opportunities to practice courage every day.” [Incidentally, the title of the blog was inspired by a charming and instructive Ethiopian folk tale about a healer who teaches a woman how to be courageous.] Dungate and Armstrong provide a new insight into the understanding of courage. First, by definition: “Courage, very broadly, involves making a decision or taking action where a risk is involved — something actual or imagined to fear. Courage is the necessary force ensuring growth rather than retreat.” Second, by classification: they believe that there are six types of courage — and, taken together, are critical to deal with the inevitable slings and arrows of life. Briefly, here is their classification of courage:

Physical courage.  This is the courage most people think of first:  bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death.  It involves developing physical strength, resiliency, and awareness.

Social courage.  This type of courage is also very familiar to most of us as it involves the risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection.  It also involves leadership.

Intellectual courage.  This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to the risk of making mistakes.  It means discerning and telling the truth.

Moral courage.  This involves doing the right thing, particularly when risks involve shame, opposition, or the disapproval of others.  Here we enter into ethics and integrity, the resolution to match word and action with values and ideals.  It is not about who we claim to be to our children and to others, but who we reveal ourselves to be through our words and actions.

Emotional courage.  This type of courage opens us to feeling the full spectrum of positive emotions, at the risk of encountering the negative ones.  It is strongly correlated with happiness.

Spiritual courage.  This fortifies us when we grapple with questions about faith, purpose, and meaning, either in a religious or nonreligious framework.

Courage is multifaceted, and as such, a sticky wicket for research. Dungate and Armstrong elaborate: “Courage remains a difficult construct to accurately and categorically define for social researchers, psychologists, theologians, and philosophers alike (Woodard & Pury, 2007; Goud, 2005).  [We] are in the process of conducting research to compile an accurate definition for courage for the Lion’s Whiskers blog.  At this point, we fully acknowledge that our perspective is wholly Western and we look forward to a more multicultural, and thus universal, definition of courage as we develop this blog.

The study they cite, Courage: Its Nature and Development (ResearchGate, March 2005), psychologist Nelson Goud identifies three dimensions of courage (fear, appropriate response, and a higher purpose) as well as three main themes in the developmental process for learning courage: 1. building confidence and self-trust; 2. perceiving a worthy purpose; and 3. managing fear. (Gould also cites research that suggests six different types of courage: physical, moral, civil, vital, psychological, and existential.) In terms of learning courage, Dungate and Armstrong believe that four more themes need to be added: 4. empowering decision-making; 5. intention and willing action; 6. opportunities to practice and persevere; and 7. ensuring a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Indeed, Dungate and Armstrong as the pied-pipers of courage, weave the strands of myths, fables, folklore, as well as true stories to form a sort of “courage cloak” to wrap around yourselves and your children, “to help you muster courage in the face of fear, to be an inspirational parent to your children, and foster the security and hope for your children’s future.” These are exactly the types of stories that the world needs now, particularly in America, where spineless, feckless politicians, that pull the levers behind the curtain, present dreadful role models. And these are the stories, passed on from generation to generation, that never get old.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Four Qualities of Empathy
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For further reading: http://www.lionswhiskers.com/p/six-types-of-courage.html
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264805603_Courage_Its_Nature_and_Development
Penguin Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier

 


The Four Qualities of Empathy

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsOne of the central lessons of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-Prize winning classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, is the importance of empathy. The most famous and memorable quotes occurs in chapter three, when Atticus Finch, a respected lawyer, is sharing an important life lesson with his daughter, Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Finch is defining empathy — sharing how another person feels, identifying with the struggles of a fellow human being — through the metaphor of walking in another person’s skin. That particular image is, perhaps, a bit too gruesome. Of course, he could have easily said, “you never really understand someone until you walk in their shoes.” But we can all agree that Finch’s image is much more memorable in a “Silence of the Lambs” kind of way. Can you feel me?

Empathy is often confused with sympathy or compassion. However, Finch’s compelling imagery helps to understand the key difference between empathy and sympathy. As we have noted, feeling empathy is stepping inside someone else’s shoes — being them, understanding their emotions, feeling their distress, and seeing things from their perspective. Sympathy is feeling concern or sorrow for someone as you stand on the sidelines, watching them muddle along a rough patch in life. You do not step out of your shoes and step into theirs. Psychiatrist Neel Burton elaborates: “[Sympathy], unlike empathy, does not involve a shared perspective or shared emotions, and while the facial expressions of sympathy do convey caring and concern, they do not convey shared distress.” Compassion, on the other hand, is more transformative, leading to action. Burton continues: “Compassion is more engaged than simple empathy, and is associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of its object. With empathy, I share your emotions; with compassion I not only share your emotions but also elevate them into a universal and transcending experience. Compassion, which builds upon empathy, is one of the main motivators of altruism.” [emphasis added]

Brene Brown is an expert at walking in other people’s shoes. Brown, who is a research professor at the University of Houston, has spent the last two decades studying vulnerability, empathy, shame, and courage; she has written five books about her findings. One of her TED Talks, “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the most viewed talks of all time. Brown defines empathy as “feeling with others” and believes that empathy is taught primarily by role modeling (specifically by parents, teachers, friends, and peers) and reading (eg, literature, history). To that list, legendary film critic Roger Ebert would add film; he wrote: “Movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.” According to Brown, there are four qualities of empathy: 1. taking the perspective of another person; 2. suspending judgment; 3. recognizing emotion in others; and 4. communicating emotion.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

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For further reading: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown
Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions by Neel Burton
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201505/empathy-vs-sympathy

 


Write Your Obituary And Live Your Life Inspired by It

alex atkins bookshelf educationIf you are fortunate, you will have at least one high school or college professor who contributed immeasurably to your life. I can recall one college professor, Fr. P., a brilliant, witty Jesuit who taught one of the most popular classes on campus: Moral Philosophy. In all my years in the academe, he was the only professor to receive warm applause on the first day of class and a heartfelt and resounding standing ovation at the end of the semester — bringing him and eventually us to tears.

Although he was advanced in his age, his gray hair notwithstanding, he was a youthful as any undergraduate student. He was lively, engaged, and walked with a bounce in his step; and he was always smiling. He began the course with a dramatic moment: he placed on oversized off-white safari hat with a leather band on his head. The sight of this diminutive priest with a large hat, making him appear like some humanoid lamp, elicited hearty chuckles from the students. Despite his comical appearance, Fr. P. addressed us in a serious tone: “For the rest of the semester I will be your guide through the vast jungle of life. Although I have traveled through it many times, there are still many parts that are unknown. The paths we will walk on are generally narrow ones, carved out by the footsteps of many students that have preceded you. Yet, there are many paths that have not been thoroughly explored; moreover, there are many paths awaiting to be made…” Fr. P. explained that his role as a guide was not to know the answer to every question we asked, but to lead us the foundational knowledge and values that would help us ask the right questions and learn where and how to seek the right answers. He took off his hat, and our fascinating journey of discovery began.

One day, after a engaging discussion on mortality, he turned to the class and captivated us with this lesson: “I want each of you to write your obituary — and live your life inspired by it; if you do this correctly, you will never get lost.” Unfortunately, back then we were sophomores, wise fools, and not having enough wisdom and life experience, we thought that this was a routine homework assignment to be completed in an hour, crossed it off the day’s to-do list, and then promptly forgotten. But the truth is, that homework assignment has pleasantly haunted me throughout my life because it underscores one of life’s great truisms: you are your choices. It is that obituary that I wrote as a young man that has remained mostly unchanged decades later. Like a reliable compass, it has guided my life, through calm and tempest-tossed seas, to bring me to the steady shores that I now walk on. Now with the wisdom of age, I can appreciate the tremendous gift that Fr. P. gave each of us. Perhaps, this was the source of his warm smile: I am giving you something so precious, but it will take you years to find out how important it is, as you discover yourself and the world around you.

I suppose if Fr. P. were still teaching now, given that education has been transformed by the digital revolution, he might approach this exercise a little differently. Perhaps, today, he would say, “Write your word cloud, and live your life inspired by it. ” But no matter how you write it, as obituary or word cloud, it will be your guide through the jungle. And as Fr. P. promised, you will never get lost.

Class dismissed.

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What is the Purpose of Education?

alex atkins bookshelf educationNoam Chomsky, known as “the father of modern linguistics” and the “man without a pause” (for his social and political activism), has written over 100 books about linguistics, philosophy, history, politics, education, cognitive science, and modern culture. Remarkably, he taught at MIT for more than 60 years, but what really makes him stand out from other famous college professors was his generosity in sharing his insights with anyone who asked. If you emailed Chomsky, whether or not you were a colleague or student at MIT, he would respond to your email; and many times he made time to meet for an interview. He considered it his obligation as a teacher, although he felt that “obligation” was “too august” a word. In several interviews, Chomsky has discussed one of the most enduring questions in pedagogy: what is the purpose of education? The question is even more critical today, because as many critics of higher education note, a college degree burdens students with overwhelming financial debt that will impact them negatively for decades. Furthermore, the Trump administration is attempting to remove some of the safeguards that protect students or that make paying back that debt manageable. Here are excerpts from two interviews that Chomsky gave on the subject of education:

“We can ask ourselves what the purpose of an educational system is and of course there are sharp differences on this matter. There’s the traditional and interpretation that comes from the Enlightenment which holds that the highest goal in life is to inquire and create, to search the riches of the past, [to] try to internalize the parts of them that are significant to you [to] carry that quest for understanding further in your own way. The purpose of education from that point of view is just to help people determine how to learn on their own. It’s you the learner who is going to achieve in the course of education and it’s really up to you what you’ll master, where you go, how you use it, how you’ll go on to produce something new and exciting for yourself, maybe for others. That’s one concept of education.

The other concept is essentially indoctrination. People have the idea that from childhood, young people have to be placed into a framework in which they’ll follow orders, accept existing frameworks, and not challenge, and so on. And this is often quite explicit. So for example after the activism of the 1960s, there was great concern across much of the educated spectrum that young people were just getting too free and independent, that the country was becoming too democratic and so on, and in fact there’s an important study on what’s called the crisis of too much democracy, arguing that… certain institutions [that are] responsible for the indoctrination of the young… are not doing their job properly — so that’s schools, universities, churches. We have to change [these institutions] so that they carry out the job of indoctrination control more effectively. That’s actually coming from the liberal internationalist end of the spectrum of… the educated opinion. In fact since that time, there have been many measures taken to try to turn the educational system towards more control, more indoctrination, or vocational training — imposing a debt which traps students, young people into a life of conformity and so on. That’s the exact opposite of what I referred to as the tradition that comes out of the Enlightenment.

And there’s a constant struggle between those in the colleges and schools… Do you train for passing tests or do you train for creative inquiry pursuing interests that are aroused by a material that’s presented [that] you want to pursue either on your own or [in] cooperation with others.

——–

There are two competing images about education during the Enlightenment. One of the them is like pouring water into a vessel, which happens to be a very leaky vessel. The other image comes from the founder of the modern educational system, Wilhelm von Humboldt [a German humanist and friend of Goethe and Schiller]; he said that education is like laying out a string, along which the student progresses in their own ways. There’s a structure to what the student is being introduced to, it’s not any random thing — and the students explore it and create in their own way… Humboldt argued, I think, very plausibly, that the core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively, independently, without external controls.”

There is a famous physicist at MIT [Water Lewin] who, when asked by students what is being covered in his class, responds: “It’s not important what we cover in the class; it’s important what you discover.”

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For further reading: http://www.openculture.com/2012/11/noam_chomsky_spells_out_the_purpose_of_education.html
http://www.openculture.com/2016/04/noam-chomsky-defines-what-it-means-to-be-a-truly-educated-person.html


We Are Drowning in Information, While Starving for Wisdom

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsWe are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.

From Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by Edward Osborne Wilson, Pulitzer Prize winning author, biologist, and naturalist. He is considered “the father of sociobiology”, “the father of biodiversity”, as well as the leading authority on ants. The Ants, co-written with Bert Holldobler, is considered the definitive scientific study of ant behavior; it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991. He taught at Harvard from 1956 to 1996.


The History of the World According to Student Bloopers

alex atkins bookshelf educationRichard Lederer, a life-long word lover and prolific author (more than 30 books on the English language), has been collecting unique and fascinating words for decades. He also enjoys collecting verbal bloopers and malapropisms, the innocent goofs and gaffes that most people make in their daily speech and writing, unaware that they are mangling the English language, as well as important facts. Lederer writes “One of the fringe benefits of being an English or History teacher is receiving the occasional jewel of a student blooper in an essay. I have pasted together the following history of the world from certifiably genuine student bloopers collected by teachers throughout the United States, from eighth grade through college level.” This history of the world according to student bloopers will elicit either a hearty laugh or utter shock (these students actually graduated?), depending on your perspective:

“The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the Pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube. The Pramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinesses, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, once asked, “Am I my brother’s son?” God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother’s birth mark. Jacob was a patriarch who brought up his twelve sons to be patriarchs, but they did not take to it. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 500 wives and 500 porcupines.

Without the Greeks we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks invented three kinds of columns–Corinthian, Doric, and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a female moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the River Stynx until he became intolerable. Achilles appears in The Iliad, by Homer. Homer also wrote The Oddity, in which Penelope was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull. It was the painter Donatello’s interest in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible. SirWalter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Danes, King Arthur lived in the Age of Shivery, King Harold mustarded his troups before the Battle of Hastings, Joan of Arc was cannonized by Bernard Shaw, and victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. Finally, Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

During the RenaissanceAmerica began. Christo-pher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe. Later, the Pilgrims crossed the Ocean, and this was known as Pilgrims Progress.

George Washington married Martha Curtis and in due time became the Father of Our Country.Then the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the Constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Prec-edent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. When Lincoln was President, he wore only a tall silk hat. He said, “In onion there is strength.” Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.

The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West. Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. Her reclining years and finally the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality. Her death was the final event which ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts. The invention of the steam boat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Samuel Morse invented a code of telepathy. Louis Pasteur invented a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of Species. Madman Curie discovered radium. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx brothers.

The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by a surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.”

Even if you enjoyed this historical narrative, don’t expect to see it on the History Channel or a Ken Burns documentary.

Read related posts: Bloopers in English: Excuse Notes Written to Teachers
Fowl Language
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For further reading: Verbatim by Erin McKean


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