Monday, December 20, 2010

School Break...

Well the holidays are coming upon fast.  The tinsel, the shopping, the wrapping, and all those 'great' little things that come along with Santa and Christmas.  School takes a short two-week break over the holidays, so I can hold back a bit on assignments.  I will still continue (of course!) to research for my paper, but the logging in everyday and checking on discussions, etc.  will not be needed!  I am glad for one, because I think I am becoming slightly obsessed with the login button on the university's homepage.  For instance, as students we are required to complete two posts per week (discussions) and then must respond to at least two other students in each discussion (just to clarify that's four people per week to response to), I have gone from responding to three or so to many more (up of 5 or 6 per discussion).  I have my reasons though.  One, I want to talk with different people all the time in the discussions and opening myself up by responding to them will hopefully open a communication between us and two, I like reading the posts and responding (when I something to respond to), sometimes I struggle at what to say if the post is rather short and brief, but it is interesting to hear all these different perspective on the same topic.  Sometimes, it's all the same information over and over again told, but sometimes, you come across a 'gem'.  Something that makes me think or laugh or just nod my head in understanding.

College is so much more today than simply being in a classroom and listening to a teacher.  We can communicate with each other, or more accurately, that's all we do.  Opening up our lines of communication with thought, opinion, and interest.  Sure, everyone can have a discussion in class, but not everyone participates.  Online, in the virtual classroom, we all participate and talk about our thoughts.  What a concept!  That's my kind of school.  I have to say I am enjoying the way online learning works.  I have been in traditional classrooms recently (my friend, the psychologist is a teacher and I help out from time to time), and although I am not there every time for class, participation is weaning at best.  I think the online experience opens up the communication on a different level.  It might not work with all people, but some of us, like me, enjoy the idea of it very much and do try to ask probing, thought provoking questions of my classmates. 

To everyone out there who has been kind enough to stop by this blog, read it, and/or comment on it ~ thanks!  I appreciate every word you type.  Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!

Until the New Year!!!  2011...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Final Week of Class...Yea!

          One thing I cannot stand is constantly striving to do the best and ending up finding mistakes with tests.  Here we go again...last week's quiz had another error.  I sent an email to my academic advisor, he sent an email back.  He is looking into the problem and he will get back to me in 24 hours (from yesterday).  I am certain he will.  He has been wonderful at contacting me and giving me direction.  I will have nothing but praise for him, however the class and the teacher I have right now is not getting the same "love" so to speak.  Over the course of the past four weeks, she has responded to two posts of mine, that's fine.  I really don't care about that, however in our class of 18 students we have done 9 posts (discussions) in four weeks.  Out of those, our instructor has responded an average of 3.7 times.  Does that seem like instruction?  I ask you.  On the other hand, our TA has been very helpful.  She is working on our reflective papers.  This is something we have worked on for the past five weeks.  She has given helpful advice, constructive criticism and a lot of comments.  So, I guess I would rather get help from her.  I am only stating these facts to get it off my chest and try somehow to understand how an instructor can be teaching when the responses have be like the following ones I got:

Hi Allison,
Very nice post!! I see that you understand your personality work type, and that you use them in your current field. It is great to know that you are able to define your characteristics.
Nice Work!!

Hi Allyson,

When you use critical thinking you will have the opportunity to think about the underlying causes of the issue at hand. I feel that you will use critical thinking to gain the best results within your environment. Critical thinking is a process of action that helps determine the decisions or solutions for problems/issues that have to have an ultimate result. I see that you also feel that communication is another area that accompanies your growth and development, communication is a major development factor as we grow and develop

Nice Post… 

I do not see the progress and help in these posts, but maybe I am not looking at the bigger picture.  After all, I do feel I wrote good posts, so why not believe that she had nothing more to say?  It is a testament. perhaps to my diligent work on these discussions.  Staying positive through this college experience is my new goal.  I am now onto Week Five and the final week of this class.  My last assignment is to turn in my final Reflective Paper.  Next, I move onto English Comp II class.  Oh, yea!  I will keep you posted as to what my Academic Adviser has to say about those quizzes.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adult Development Theories, Education, and Waiting for Superman to save us all...

            This past week we learned about Adult Developmental Theories.  Erik Erickson, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Sigmund Freud and many others were a part of it.  First, I would like to set forth something about my beliefs.  I choose Lev Vygotsky as my theorist that I can most identify with.  Here is a section of my discussion about him from class:

Lev Vygotsky, creator of the Sociocultural Theory of development felt discovering the zone of proximal development, and utilizing it in education was the best way to teach children. “The difference between the level of solved tasks that can be performed with adult guidance and help and the level of independently solved tasks is the zone of proximal development.”[i]  The theory was developed during war torn Russia in the 1920s.  He “believed social interaction and culture led to the best cognitive development. Vygotsky wanted to know where a child could be; not where a child is developmentally.” (Ch 1, pg. 15)  His theory also introduces the concept of ‘scaffolding’, where a teacher or mentor gives assistance to a child to complete a task, but does not do more than is necessary.  His theory opened up the pathways to schools in Russia to educate their children based on these principles. However, it was suppressed under Stalin’s Rule. Even in adult development we can see Vygotsky’s work.  Each task that we learn for a new job or even in returning to school emphasizes the need for ‘scaffolding’.  We build upon our skills by being mentored or taught by others.  Jerome S. Bruner, a social psychologist who became involved with education in the 1960s, was influenced by Vygotsky's concept of "scaffolding.”  He developed a new theory of cognitive development through the MACOS (Man: A Course of Study) project, bringing Vygotsky’s work to America in a new theory.

Vygotsky’s work of ‘scaffolding’ and the zone of proximal development is exactly what I believe should be the first priority of education.  Today, the educational system, at early ages ‘teaches to the tests.’  I find this concept frustrating.  Since many students will not reach their potential due to the gross lack of misjudgment in using this method.  Vygotsky believed in the potential of a student, not merely ‘where they are now’, but rather ‘where can they be’.  Education has changed dramatically. When I was in school during the 70s and 80s the way we learned was much different than my daughter experienced.  While I was rewarded for my accomplishments with Advanced Placement and Honor courses providing a level of challenge reaching my potential, her high school removed all of these courses due to budget cuts.  The other big factor in education today is what I call (and many psychologists in the field) ‘over diagnosis.’  Many children are being diagnosed with learning disabilities, particularly Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when they may be simply not challenged, and therefore ‘bored’ of their school work.  This is a sad fact in today’s educational world.  ADHD soared in the mid-90s. “The 700% increase in psycho stimulant use that occurred in the 1990s justifies concern about potential over diagnosis and inappropriate treatment of child behavior problems.” [ii] Thus, creating an environment where everyone, including children have a label, but I ask, is it accurate or is it the product of over diagnosis? Vygotsky would see the potential in a child and work through ‘scaffolding’ to reach it.  We seem to see a problem in American children and work towards medication to get rid of it.

            Having said that, what do you think?  Is Vygotsky the way to go?  Or should we continue to teach our children within the education system’s version of where they are now, not where they could be?

            I find the system of education extremely frustrating today as indicated above.  There is so much need and room for improvement.  I was informed by one of my friends that a new documentary Waiting for Superman has come out in theaters.  I am anxious to see this film and what they have to say about education, who’s to blame, and what can be done. Also, I found a BBC news clip about Finland, yes, Finland.  Apparently they have the best educational systems in the world.  Interestingly enough, they use ‘scaffolding’ in it.  Here’s that clip:

            Here is the trailer about the new documentary, Waiting for Superman:  Enjoy!  

            Here is a review on the film also (in case you were interested):,8599,2021951,00.html

            Until next time…

[i]Daniels, Harry (Author). Introduction to Vygotsky.  London, GBR: Routledge, 1996. p 172.

[ii] Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quizzes, papers and college...oh my!

It's was a trying week (last week).  I don't know why but sometimes I feel like life just hits you out of nowhere and you are powerless to stop the momentum.  Sometimes we can 'muddle' through and sometimes we are fighting it, kicking and screaming, however it always seems like we learn a lesson.  This is the story of mine.

Last week, I took the second week quizzes for my college class.   We learned all about developmental theories and the theorists who created them.  It was challenging, interesting and even a little fun.  (Well, maybe more than a little.  I have a difficult time talking about school being fun, because I let all those ‘downers’ from high school ruin it for me.  Anyway, it was lots of fun. I loved it!)  We had two quizzes that we had to take.  One on the topic of the week, Theories of Development and one on our Writing essay due in three weeks.  It’s called our ‘Reflective Paper’.  I told you about that, I think all ready.  So here goes, the problem started for me when I sat down to take the quiz.  I have horrible test anxiety and since I got a 90 on the last test (Yes, I wanted a 100%, if I can’t be perfect, why bother.  I am trying to learn to curb this problem), I was worried.  So I took it.  I couldn’t understand what happened.  I got 90 again.  I checked all my answers and I consulted my friend, a psychology professor and clinical psychologist.  This is his field and he knows these things.  Where do I go wrong?  Apparently, I hadn’t.  The answer was wrong and no correct answer was given.  I had answered none of the above to the question, because I couldn’t find the correct answer either.  Well, he went into “it’s a problem’ mode and it needs to be fixed, so I went into overload mode.  Now, I had to email the instructor and tell her that their quiz was wrong. I gathered my facts, taken from our book, and about a million psychologists out there and sent it all to her.  Then waited… (and freaked out!)  You see, I am always worried about teacher retaliation on students who are diligent and bring up problems.  (If any of you have a story about this to share, I would love to hear it!)  I can’t see her, I don’t know her, and I will never meet her (being an online student, of course), but now I was worried about what she would say about me, how she would react, etc.  And not just worried, very, very anxious.  I stared checking email every hour or more.  Nothing.

Second day comes. I take the second quiz (About the writing essay).  You would not believe it?!   Another problem.  One question has answers that are confusing to the instructions we were given.  Two separate instructions (one from the universities writing lab, the other from my instructor) and they contradict each other.  How is this possible????  Now, I’m upset and really worried.  I can’t send her another email about this?  Can I?  My loving, wonderful husband was with me when this came down and he suggested (I love him!) calling my academic adviser about the problem.  I did.  About an hour or so later I get a phone call. (I was in Christmas Tree Shop at the time – long story).  He agrees that it’s a problem, the university does not take these things lightly and please would I write an email to my instructor outlining the problem and send him a copy.  When I got home, I did just that.  Yea!  Sent him both emails about both problems, all done.  Feeling a little better now, because my adviser was not pleased about the errors and felt I was correct in pointing them out.  I had validation.  Now, I’m just waiting for the return email from my instructor.  And waiting…I get a reply.  Yea!  I get a point for one of the quizzes.  Then I send back an email saying thank you and I hope she got the other email I sent.  And then another reply and Yea! I get a point for that.  Ok, all’s good, except I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Is she mad at me?  Uncomfortable?  Too busy?  Not happy? Because the first email was friendly.  You know, hi, thanks, etc.  The second email was very short.  I realize this was a crazy thing to have two quizzes have two issues, but I didn’t do it.  So here comes my ‘freak out’ (as usual):  What if she doesn’t like me because I did that?  Or…no, I don’t want to think about it. 

As I was writing this blog, I realized I’m being irrational.  In looking over the emails again, the first one was friendly and helpful.  The second one was short, yes, however it doesn’t sound as bad as I first thought.  Guess I was ‘raw’ from doing all that emailing and researching to back up my claims.   Now, the only thing that preys on my mind is, should I tell the other students about the quizzes?  After all, if they got something wrong because of this, shouldn’t they be corrected, too?  Or should I leave that up to the faculty and staff of the college.  And even more so, the quizzes I think are computer generated and are randomized, so everyone might not have gotten these questions.  To make this long story finally end.  I am in my third week of classes.  Yea!

That’s it for now. I said I would be open and honest on this blog.  So there it is. 

Until next time…