Sunday, August 26, 2012

Educators "Teaching To The Test" Are Destroying Student Learning & Teacher Individuality

I'm a Kindergarten Teacher and my partner is very open to allowing me to "do things according to my own style" of teaching. However, statewide and nationwide that doesn't seem to be the norm anymore, and it's destroying teaching and student learning as we know it.
Just take a look at your own "best" teachers growing up. Didn't they all kind of "do their own thing" rather than just read out of a textbook to peak your interest?
We've got to get back to letting teachers teach as they see fit! Would you go into a doctor's office, and say hey, don't use that knife, use the new one put out by Dupont, it'll cut faster. Only this doctor is comfortable with this blade and has used it for years to set records for surgery and recovery time.
Yet, in in our education system, we are letting top officials tell our teachers exactly what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it, and regimenting time slots for learning to spelling 30 min, math 60 min, etc. When does it ever stop? The newest one in our district is "there will be one hour of ELD" every single day and you will have a time slot for it, or you will be called to the carpet on it.
I've got news for all the government know-it-alls out there. None of us grew up with such regimentation, and the best teachers on the planet, aren't going to stay regimented into instructional time slots and mandated teaching styles.
Listen to what my teachers did to forever leave their mark. There was Mr. K who had us do a virtual country simulation in the 5th grade. We all had to create our own country on paper. I think Mr. K was the only one who owned a computer at that time, and I think it was Bill Gates' first ever PC. It had a black and white screen with gold letters on it. But Mr. K didn't let that stop him!
Mr. K gave me the assignment of being the president of "Bilmore" the smallest of all the countries, and I was in charge of it's military, it's economy, it's communication with other countries, and it's budget. I was thrilled, and I had to learn about running a country in a big hurry!
Well, long story short, I, and my team of five other friends had to daily handle little papers or "memos" that Mr. K would hand us that were country challenges or rewards on a daily basis. Based on the fact that our country, "Bilmore" was the smallest geographically in the world, and the economy of some of the other countries was at risk, all of the other countries had written on their papers as a goal: Destroy Bilmore and take it over.
Well, I remember the day I received the paper from Mr. K that we had just had war declared on us by every single country, and that we were due to be attacked at 8am the following morning. Thus, as president, I was given the task, with our limited military (which did have a few good weapons, but a small fighting force) of protecting my country from a worldwide attack.
Well, I did what the best president's have done in this situation, and I got some advice from the smartest person in my life: my best friend "Chip." I called him, as young people do, on the phone as usual to see what's up, and I explained this Bilmore problem to him, and my need to make a presidential decision. His quick intellect amazed me. Chip told me "Take five of your biggest tanks, and place them on the Islands out from the shoreline of each port. Then order them to fire at a missile that you will launch at the same time that will detonate over the oncoming armies. Follow that through the smoke with all of your best F-15 fighters and have them shoot through the fog, so that the oncoming armies will not be aware of how many fighters are shooting at them, fooling them into thinking they are being counterattacked by a massive air strike.
Then he said, take some submarines and place them underneath the water at the same time, but also have several smaller military boats on the top of the water, making it look like you are undermanned and outgunned, so that the armies will come close enough to the tanks to destroy the oncoming enemy.
Chip's plan worked, and I ordered the tanks to fire at 8:00 am as five separate armies airborne and by sea attacked us full force. When the tanks fired they blew the first ships to smithereens and the smoke rose up higher than eyesight. I also ordered a full air strike by my best F-15 fighters, and they were all brand new planes, since we had such a small military force. The F-15's destroyed a dozen or so planes in the smoke, and then every single army retreated due to the smoke screen and they took evasive maneuvers to retreat at light speed. I also ordered my submarines to fire as soon as their huge ships had our small boats in their radar.
I saved my country that day. Bilmore went on to thrive and also become one of the strongest countries in the entire world, because we done of the armies to surrender, and took over there entire economy, money, oil, everything. That country was the one who swore an oath to one another: "We will destroy Billmore." Actually our F-15's cut them all down from the south side of the country and they were forced to surrender at gun and helicopter point!
Anyhow, I said all this to just make a point, this "Country Simulation" took about two months to complete. Yet, when all was said and done, I hand hands on experience about how to run a country and serve it well as President and Commander-In-Chief!
We need to stop making our teachers teach according to the textbook, and teach toward these state tests and nothing else. No Child Left Behind has incredible goals, but the implementation of those goals may be creating students who are more like learning robots, than those who can really deal with society at large.
My point is to remind officials that we can no more take the individuality out of teachers, than we can to say "All kids can and will act the same." Isn't that kind of like Communism? Yet, it's crept in, and here we are, as educators, being told that we "must increase test scores" at any cost.
Test scores will rise far above where they are now, when we give teachers the freedom to be themselves and yes, follow district mandates for increased test scores, but do it in a creative manner that only that individual teacher can express.
My next teacher I'll never forget was Mrs. Mercer. She had us do an 85 page research paper in high school! I never had to do that big of a paper in college or in my masters program. She prepared us. She locked us into success because she believed in us. She taught us how to stand up straight and walk into a room. She had others comment on our posture and demeanor.
Mrs. Mercer wrote a reference letter to a future employer for me that I keep as a part of every resume package I've ever submitted. It said: "It is the Don Alexander's of this world, that make it great. I've never seen someone before that exemplifies the term "gentleman" as much as Don Alexander does. Those words changed my life. Those words were the reason I graduated from college with a 3.9 GPA and went on to become a Teacher and an Assistant Principal.
Yet today, it seems in this mad world, we are so all consumed with test scores, test scores, and test scores! Yes, we need to score high on tests. But we also need to look harder at the individuality of the learner, and most of all the individuality of the teachers.
I fear God that if we don't stop taking the individuality out of our teachers, we may become like some third world country that has no real direction or dreams for our students. If this is America, and we know that it is our country, we must defend it from those who would come into our classrooms, and force our teachers to teach how they see fit.
And...if we don't do something quickly about it, it'll be our grandkids that will suffer the most. Thus I urge you, write your congressman, get involved at School District Meetings, and do everything you can to insure that our teachers are not being told how to teach. That is the greatest "disservice" I can think of to our precious students.
Protect American education and vote this year for a candidate who will give teachers back their creative freedoms, but most of all, vote and pray daily for your child to get the Mr. K's and Mrs. Mercers of this world, and pray that our government doesn't do anything to discourage them from doing what they do best: "Teach."
Don Alexander is a writer and published poet and has two online missions: Sharing his writing and also helping "all to succeed" in online business. Don feels that online home business is the financial answer for the average American today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Educate Consciousness

We must educate to alleviate the problem of prejudism in our society. Prejudism is a worldwide phenomenon which has come along way since slavery, yet still we have light years of change to make as human beings. Our minds are trained to judge; we are constantly critiquing the news broadcaster, or an outfit a model is wearing on T.V. We are so blind to prejudice that most of us walk around with our eyes closed, and our judge robes tied tight. Whether we meet a stranger, or just pass one on the street, there is always at least a flicker of judgment, either conscious or unconscious, influenced by each person's inlaid prejudism.
It is this smoldering fire that lies beneath the eye level of everyday consciousness; as life progresses the fire grows and the human race burns on with stereotypes and hatred. Human self expression is all too often discouraged, while our right to freedom is being suppressed by society, how are we to keep our human dignity as individuals? What can be done to stop such ignorant behavior? Well, the first step towards change is acceptance, and awareness of the problem through education.
Sometimes acceptance of your own flaws is necessary before others can learn to accept them. Once everyone is aware of the flaws, it is somehow easier to cope with them and learn to change the behavior. Sadly, most of America (by choice or by accident) is still oblivious to the flaw in society we call prejudism.
It's simple; just take a look at your thought process when you come across a homosexual, an African American, a drug-addict, a transsexual, a gang-member, a disabled veteran, an ex-convict, a pushy preacher, or a prejudice southerner. What is your reaction to them? Do you feel uneasy, are you afraid, disgusted, or do you feel no different then you did moments before you met them?
Do you think that is something these stereotyped people face everyday? Well, it is, and there is something we can all do to help. We can talk about racism and stereotyping within our families, our jobs, our communities, and teach proper ways to handle these difficult situations. We must educate consciousness to alleviate the problem of prejudism within our society.
Acceptance is powerful; it can change an entire community for the better. Our society encourages its citizens at a very young age to conform, and be more comfortable with themselves once they act like everyone else. Individuality is something to be proud of; it is not an expendable human asset. Loss of our individuality as a country will result in defamation of our Constitution.
In the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution congress enforces that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
America may accept all ages, races, creeds, religions, and sexual orientations, yet somehow we as a society manage to stifle the progress of our citizens as individuals, by restricting their social rights to be an individual in the first place. Conform; choose the "right" way to live, as expressed by the popular culture of our time. Or welcome consciousness; accept who you are, be proud of your own personal diversity, make it a part of you that you cannot live with out. That is the way to true freedom and respect for our individual human dignity.
Our society and popular culture encourages us to stick with the masses, and conform to society, yet all of our instincts tell us to rear against the norm, and become an individual. So where do our spirits lie? In the depths of our souls we now that each person carries a future and has a purpose for their lives, so why does society become "paranoid" or make a show of those of us who are different? Are we bored? Have we nothing better to do as a society but make a mockery of our underlying diversity? This is something we should all be proud of, not belittle and objectify amongst ourselves. Why not use all that energy to focus on educating consciousness throughout the masses. Bringing home the fact that we are all in this together for the greater good of our society, and it's impending future!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

5 Tips on Learning Forex Trading To Win

This article is all about getting the right forex education to win. It's a fact 95% of traders learn forex trading the wrong way and lose but learn these tips and you will have a head start on the road to currency trading success.
1. Forex Trading is NOT Easy
You wouldn't expect it to be either with the rewards on offer - which can be life changing. On the other hand it's not hard either, you simply have to learn the right knowledge and get a forex trading strategy to win.
Today, traders try and take the easy route in all aspects of life and they think they can buy success. All for $100 they can get a trading system which will make them $10,000 a month - The advice to these people is get in the real world.
The good news is:
If you accept that forex trading is not easy but can be hugely rewarding for the effort you put in then you will make the required effort to succeed.
2. Don't Work Hard Work Smart
Many people think the more knowledge they acquire the better when learning currency exchange - but the fact is:
You don't get paid for effort; you get paid for being right with your market timing and trading signal and that it.
It doesn't matter if you spend 20 minutes on it or 20 hours, it's the outcome of the execution of your trade that determines how much money you make.
You need to work smart and learn the right knowledge and this should only take you a few weeks or less (see our other articles for full breakdown) you're then ready to trade forex and win.
After your initial forex training it should take you 20 minutes or less per day to trade and that's it.
3. Keep It Simple
Many people that not only is it good to put in a lot of effort, it's a great idea to be clever and build complicated forex trading systems, as they are likely to have more chance of success - Wrong!
Just like in the application of time to currency trading, you need to learn not to over complicate it - keep it simple.
It's a fact that simple trading systems work best, as they are more robust in the brutal world of real trading and have fewer elements to break, than complicated ones.
4. Find Your Own Road
No one else is going to make you rich - its all on your shoulders, your alone and that's the best place to be, remember the 95% of losing traders cant accept responsibility for their actions trust a mentor, guru or broker and lose so being away from the losing herd and trade in isolation. You will even if you take advice know exactly how your forex trading strategy is going to work.
The above is essential because from understanding comes from confidence and from this combination comes discipline. Discipline is vital to your forex trading success because if you can't apply a forex trading method with discipline - you don't have one!
5. Your Trading Edge
This is what will separate you from the losing majority of forex traders and allow you to enter the elite 5% of winners that make the big profits.
The edge can be anything you like but it must give the confidence to beat the majority and win. If you don't know what it is - then continue your forex education until you do.
Learning currency exchange is easy but learning the discipline to apply your method is hard and will only come from understanding exactly what you are doing and trading on your own.
If you understand all the above about getting the right forex education then congratulations you have taken your first step on the road to currency trading success.