The Green School – Bali

An amazing concept school that seems to work great in the secluded Bali environment. Keeping in mind the saying, “Bring Solutions, not Problems,” what would a Green School look like in your crowded part of the world?

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A New Way of Teaching How to Teach

I caught a quick listen to the following news story on NPR’s/American Public Radio’s business magazine Market Place. The main idea was to re-teach how to teach teachers in the public school system, or to emulate the medical training system where teachers get “residency” at a school to teach but also to get constructive feedback from the faculty and learn in a hands-on setting.

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Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

So Microsoft Live Spaces migrated to  I shall try it out and see if it inspires me to write more often.

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NPR – PRI – This American Life – Shouting Across the Divide

KQED Public Radio replayed this episode of This American Life this past weekend.  It is one of my favorites because of the theme it draws on – accepting and respecting others for who they are.

This whole episode is about the Muslim-American perspective of life in the United States, especially since the aftermath of 9/11.  There is a story of a little know statue of a depiction of Muhammad, the founder and original spiritual leader of the Islamic faith, in the United State Supreme Court.  Apparently the Supreme Court asked for his statue, as well as of other historical figures, to be inset in the main Court chamber as reminders of those who gave us Modern Law.  The second story is about a Muslim-American woman who married a Palestinian and encouraged him to move to the United States to live as it was supposed to be a safer and more encouraging environment for the whole family.  The final story is presented by an ad-man who was asked to be a part of an advertisement campaign to brand the United State to the Islamic world and the rest of the world.  As you can imagine, that would be quite a task.

By the end of the episode, the listener gets the idea of how big the divide is created from Anglo-Americans against Muslim-Americans even though we are all here for the same reason, to be in a country that protects our religious beliefs yet at the same time is a place where are supposed to be able to create a proactive dialogue with each other to make our collective home a better place.  This idea is also reflected in a very interesting documentary by Bettany Hughes about Islamic Spain before the Catholics drove them out; just before the forcible exit, Western Europeans flocked to the Islamic university of Toledo, Spain, to learn about numbers, algebra, sciences and philosophy, all of the Greek Thought once lost after the fall of the Roman Empire though was still being perpetuated by Islamic scholars (the argument is made that it is these Islamic scholars are the founders of the Renaissance as if they had not taught these ideas to Western Europe, the Renaissance could not exist).  With the connection of these two different cultures, something wonderful came out of it – the growth of the Sciences and Human Thought.

All Educators should be perpetuating this lesson, that by including people of different backgrounds can we all can become better than ourselves as individuals.  We should never shun others different from us.  People of different cultures and of different ideas can only help us towards the creation of something different than we could have ever conceived had we just remained isolated.

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Forum – KQED – Changes for College Loans

President Obama signed into law a major change to the federal college loan system.  No longer will college loans be serviced by private banks, but instead directly by the US Government.  To receive federal loans, a student went to a bank to open the loan and accept the terms of repayment and interest.  The student still had to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) and the actually funds came from the US Government, but were managed and serviced by a private bank or lender.  The idea was that the banks could offer competing interest rates and terms so that the student could find the best one for them.  Now, the student goes directly the the US Department of Education to apply and ask for the loan with set repayment and interest terms.

I would guess this is a backlash against banks and lenders that got us into the current financial crisis.  President Obama and his administration say that this changes will save money as there will no longer be a Middle Man, and these saved monies will go back into the loan system.  This change will offer more students a loan that were once never able to receive, and ultimately increase the number of college educated workers in the future.  What a great way to show commitment to Education!  Let’s see what else he has up his sleeve!

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Forum – KQED – Schools and Bullying

Forum had a powerful program about bullying, not only just how the victims of bullying are hurt but also about how bullies themselves typically have issues as well.  Listen to this program to get another perspective on the subject.

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Forum – KQED – Guest, “The Secret World of Girls”

The guests for this program, The Kitchen Sisters, talk about their new radio program, “The Secret World of Girls,” how girls and woman develop a positive image of Womanhood.  Listeners called in to describe their female role models, like teachers, grandmothers, and other people in their lives, and how these people inspired the listeners to be better human beings and mature women.  This is great program to share with teenage girls to start the conversation with them – what is a Woman, and how does a girl know when she is one?

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NPR – The Rules About How Parents Should Make Rules

Here is a very good, concise story about what kinds of rules children understand and have no problem obeying:

1) Moral/Ethical
2) Safety
3) Social Convention

and the type of rules they push back on:

4) Rules that impede on personal choice (friends, clothing, bathing are given examples).

Listeners posted their comments to the story, with most saying that the study is nothing new to parents and was a waste of time doing.  On the contrary, most parents could use this kind of advice as raising kids is not as easy as it seems and the teaching of how to be a parent does not always come from your own family.

From my own experiences, I would argue that most modern parents do not even make an issue of this fourth kind of rules by not even making them.  Modern parents seem to allow maximum freedom when it comes to personal choice (who they want to hang out, what clothes they want to wear, what cell phone they want to have, what time they want to come home).  As a consequence, however, these children are growing up with little consequence when these personal choices cross-over into Moral choices, Safety concerns, and Social Convention.  We are starting to hear of more issues of how the freedom of the cell phone and friends is leading to new forms of bullying.  Freedom of fashion leads to shunning others for not wearing the “correct” style.  We are seeing more and more how Personal Freedom is becoming the Greatest end to parenting and the loss of Morality, Public Safety and Social Niceties.

Personal choices grows one’s one sense of Self and Personality, but parents need to teach their children how to balance it with Morals, Public Safety and Social Norms.  The tips from Nucci are a good start to this.

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Promote a Positive Sense of Self & Community

Yesterday, I caught part of Talk of the Nation of NPR where the guest was Tom Burell, author of a new book called Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiortiy.  The book talks about how images in Media, that still exist today, which portray African-Americans in an inferior or self-deprecating manner, as well as its relation to the decline in family relationships in the African-American community.

What caught my interest in the program was a caller who was describing some wonderful alternatives for this issue.  She limits television viewing for her children to just programs that show positive portrayals of African-Americans as well as encourage book reading and visiting the library.  This is a parent who is taking responsibility for what her children do, and encourage them towards the positive activities and to be proud of who they are.  Any parent of any community should be doing this.  We are charged with raising our children to be positive forces in the future, and it starts with instilling pride in the community and self-respect.

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School Counselling in the UK

I find it difficult to explain to my international friends what is a Master’s degree in School Counseling and what is a School Counselor.  The Counseling field is not unknown to them, as most people understand the benefit of a helpful mental health Counselor, but as to what a Counselor can do at a school-setting.  I take this ignorance to mean that the School Counseling profession is unique to the United States.

Out of curiosity, I poked around on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s news website to see if there were any stories on school counseling.  Lo and behold, I found an old story from 2002 about the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) publishing a study on how counseling services in school settings can benefit students.  The study came about due to increased interest by parents and school officials. Just last year, the BACP began a test run of school counseling services in Wales to see how a program would work.  I have listed the pertinent links below.

A celebration of school-based counselling

School Counselling in Wales

Counselling in Schools Research Consortium (CSRC)

It seems that their goal for this test program is to figure out which four established Counseling models would work best in a school setting: 1) Counselling as part of a multi-agency team; 2) School-based healthcare staff (to train school nurses in Counseling techniques); 3) Teaching staff (to train teachers in Counseling techniques); and 4) In-house peer support (to train students and implement a peer Counseling program among students).

In comparison to American national Counseling standards by the American School Counselor Assoication (ASCA) , the UK view just fits one need of students.  American standards are three-fold – academic, personal/social mental heath, and career.  In essence, American School Counselors, while also work to improve the mental health of students in partnership with school psychologists and other healthcare professionals, they also ensure students meet their academic goals and career goals.  Yet, at the same time, the UK view does coincide with the more typical role of the Licensed Professional Counselor that most states have.  The UK is on the right track to start reaching out to young people as to heal mental health issues before the issues become worse when they reach adulthood.  Their next step would be to also ensure their students leave school with the proper education, and an education that leads them to the career and a life they hope for.

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