Education

Reading Should Be Without Rules

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Reading Without RulesAbout a year and half ago, I decided to start reading before I went to bed every night. I had long given up reading anything more than a magazine or a quick web article and realized I missed having some quiet, yet productive time each day. I don’t really have any sort of rules about what I read — and when I don’t feel like starting something new, I reread one of my favorite Outlander books. (I love them!)  I prefer reading books that help me escape into new worlds and experience different lives – Escape Fiction. Some people think that we shouldn’t read to escape reality. I’m not on board with that — sometimes a great story is the only thing that helps you hold on. Recently, I came across this quote:

“reading books is a waste of time if you don’t let them change you. If books really are “portals” then they should leave you somewhere you weren’t when you finish them. Somewhere enlightened.”  

My take: Read because you want to — no rules, no parameters. Read because you love it, you enjoy a story, relate to characters, it helps you cope with whatever is going on in your life, you love reading the written word. READ with no rules! I think reading changes you whether you are cognizant of it or not.

And turns out it’s healthy for you:

I loved this recent article about President Obama, who said reading helped him survive the White House.

“…talked about the indispensable role that books have played during his presidency and throughout his life — from his peripatetic and sometimes lonely boyhood, when “these worlds that were portable” provided companionship, to his youth when they helped him to figure out who he was, what he thought and what was important.”

When Breath Becomes Air

 

I just finished a book that has stayed with me, When Breath Becomes Air. It’s a non-fiction autobiographical book written by Paul Kalanithi, about his life and illness, battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It’s a quick read that packs a powerful punch. Sad, poignant, introspective — all words to describe it. I went back and reread parts after I was done because I wanted to feel the feelings again after reading the closing chapter which was written by his wife, Lucy.

Education: Doing Right By Our Kids

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I’m going to stray from my usual theme, so be forewarned…

Education - Live Fit and SoreEarlier this week, I read a short article by Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University, regarding educational fraud.  As many of you know, I spent seven years at K12, an online education company that offers an alternative to students who, for many different reasons, are not able to thrive in a traditional school setting.

While there are issues with the way online educational companies are being run, the issues they are trying to address are very real. And the long term effects of not addressing the needs of today’s students has serious ramifications to their future. 

Professor Williams’s thoughts, which I agree with, really hit a nerve. We are not doing right by our kids.

“Focusing solely on the academic problems of blacks at the college level misses the point. It is virtually impossible to repair 12 years of rotten primary and secondary education in the space of four or five years of college … That’s evidence that primary and secondary education deficiencies have not been repaired during undergraduate years.

The academic achievement level for white students is nothing to write home about. Only 25 percent of white high-school graduates taking the 2011 ACT met its benchmarks for college readiness in all subjects for which it tests.  

The high academic failure rate among blacks means one of two things. Either black students cannot learn or primary and secondary schools, parental choices, black student attitudes, and cultural values regarding education are not conducive to what young blacks need for academic excellence. Colleges admitting underperforming black students conceal, foster and perpetuate the educational damages done to these youngsters in their earlier education.

Speaking of primary and secondary education, my county is now being forced to consider having parents pay for busing their kids to their local schools because of the drastic budget cuts being proposed. The belts are too tight as it is. Trying to squeeze blood from a turnip is going to do nothing to begin to rectify to the educational damage we have already caused our kids.

Obesity at Disney: A Snapshot of Our World

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It was changeconfront6 years ago, during my last trip to Disney,  I started to get my ass in gear and began taking care of myself. Having just gotten back a few days ago from my family’s latest trip there, it became clear to me how many people in the world need to do the same.

Before I go off on a rant about my observations, I want to preface it with the following: Everyone, no matter who they are, what size they are, where they come from, how much money they make, deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.

It seemed to me that something like 80% of the visitors to Disney were overweight. Every park, every hotel; There was an exorbitant amount of seriously obese people everywhere I went. And 9 out of 10 people who were using scooters, were obese.

I guess I live somewhat of a sheltered life in that my social circles – it’s not the norm. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of people who could stand to lose some weight and/or get moving but that’s not what I am talking about. The shock was how many out of control obese people were there.  Before someone points out that it’s an economic thing – these were people visiting Disney! It’s not exactly the definition of affordable.

There are a few things that upset me about seeing this microcosm of our world:

  1. For a majority of the morbidly obese, something in their lives is out of control. It’s not about the food, it’s about what’s going on in their head. To see how many people are so out of control in their lives was shocking.
  2. I understand that everyone has a story and you can’t tell what’s going on in someone else’s world by looking, but it appeared that many of them seem resigned to accept their circumstances. They are obese, it is what it is and they ‘live’ with it. They eat the processed, crap, junk food as if that’s how you should eat.
  3. To add on to my second point above, renting scooters instead of walking isn’t going to help anyone’s situation. I pointed out to my daughter that the average human skeleton isn’t designed to carry a ton of extra weight. It’s hard on the knees, feet – joints in general so I understand the reasons for renting a scooter but there were so many of them in the parks during my visit. So many of the obese people I saw were also in scooters.
  4. They are passing bad habits on to their children. Obviously, being at Disney, there are a ton of parents. It was clear that children are growing up learning their parents’ bad habits. Many of the obese adults I saw had children who were also dealing with their own obesity issues.
  5. While everyone is free to live the way they want, it’s a fact that obesity costs everyone. “The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.”  PhitAmerica compiled 10 Flabbergasting Costs of America’s Obesity Epidemic that really highlights how obesity isn’t just a personal issue.

While I am totally for splurging while on vacation and Disney is a great place to do that – it is possible to eat healthy there…

The resort we stayed at Port Orleans: French Quarter had a fridge that had containers of fresh fruit and veggies available during all hours in their restaurant. I also noticed that each ‘quick snack’ store also had some options available. Also, if you have any special dietary needs, you simply ask for the Chef. The Chef will come out to discuss your needs and try his/her best to accommodate what you need. We tested it each and every morning with my son’s gluten allergy. I also brought some single serve Justin’s Almond Butter with me so I could dip fresh apples or celery in it for a quick, healthy breakfast or snack during the trip.

So, what’s my point? It was shock to me to see how many people are so out of control in their lives that they let themselves go to that extent. It was shocking, sad and made me angry too. We all have to take personal responsibility for who we are in this world.

Is the obesity epidemic caused by lack of education? is it because of economics?  Is it generational? Yes, yes and yes but does that make it right? No.

We need to participate in the discussion and come up with innovative, strong ways to address it – together.

Fake it Until You Become It

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Fake it till you make it is a phrase all of us have heard before. But what if that’s not enough — What about Fake it until you BECOME it?

This Tedtalk from Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy talks about power positions and Body Language. It’s a really interesting look into the science behind what our bodies say about us to others we interact with and how sometimes acting as the person you want to be actually helps you get on the road to becoming that person —

Really interesting stuff —

If you want a great summary of the talk read it here from Business Insider.

Seeing Struggle As An Opportunity

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Take about 9 minutes to listen to this story about “struggle in relation to learning.” It resonated with me very much as an adult even though its focused on talking about how kids and students perceive the act of struggling.

 

good stuff.

 

Profiled as a Global Hero In Disrupting Education

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I am beyond honored to be profiled today by Anthony Salcito @Microsoft VP Worldwide #Education as a Global Hero in Education http://ow.ly/bPXWT

25 Years After Disaster, Keeping the Challenger Spirit Alive

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On the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, there was a collective gasp as Americans watched the space shuttle Challenger break apart just 73 seconds after it lifted off from Florida on what was supposed to be a mission of discovery and education.

All seven astronauts died, including Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher chosen to go into space.

via 25 Years After Disaster, Keeping the Challenger Spirit Alive.

Live Webcast: Drive Customer Retention with Social Marketing

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This is great exposure for me and the company I work for – K12, Inc and the out of the box thinking we did to create a successful community for our online school families using their software. Register and Attend if you can – Thursday, December 9, 2010!

Drive Customer Retention with Social Marketing.

Learn real-life online community strategies for proactively engaging customers, to boost satisfaction and loyalty.

Increase customer retention with social business:

The choice between business as usual, and social business, was clear for K12 Inc. K12, a leading online curriculum provider with thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of students, chose social business to proactively engage with customers to resolve issues, increase satisfaction, and drive loyalty through a connected, educated community. Rather than trying to rely solely on consumer social tools like Facebook, the company built a community to foster an engaged, loyal customer base and drive sustainable competitive advantage.

When you attend, you’ll hear the insights and best practices that K12 learned when implementing their social business strategy, such as:

  • Leveraging social marketing tools to drive customer retention
  • Engaging proactively with customers to boost satisfaction and gather feedback
  • Driving viral adoption, not just among students, but also a less socially-savvy demographic — their parents
  • Thursday, December 9, 2010
  • 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern

It’s time for an Education Revolution

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I am the Community Program Manager for the country’s leading online education provider, K12, Inc. They provide online education options for grades K-12 in many states and internationally via public and private schools.  Everyday I get to interact and meet the community of parents who choose this option for their families. It’s one of the most satisfying aspects of my job — getting to hear and see the opportunity and benefit that this provides to many families. I knew next to nothing about online education when I began working here almost 4 years ago. Our company has had tremendous growth — and is really an idea whose time has come!  And like many people I know, I had a pre-conceived notion of the type of families that would choose online education. But now, I know that any thoughts I had about the community of families were completely wrong. The truth is — there is no one type of family –there are a ton of reasons why someone would choose this option. I have met them all — and it has opened my mind to what online education has to offer everyone.

With this push for an Education Revolution by Oprah, Bill Gates and other innovative thought leaders – I believe online education’s time has come! It’s an exciting time for all of us — time to change the way we all have thought about education and learning and there is room for everyone that wants to join it.

As a part of my role, I also get to represent the company using social media tools. I am on a team of corporate bloggers that get to share our thoughts and musings directly with those we are helping.  How lucky am I?  I am a parent with school aged kids. I get to meet other parents and share experiences and also share my personal experience on a national level. Every day I realize how fortunate I am  — So here is my latest blog post at k12.com/blog the thinktanK

No Such Thing as a Typical Online Education Family

Childhood Nutrition a Serious Issue in Schools

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Childhood Nutrition a Serious Issue in Schools | Fresh Healthy Vending.

Childhood nutrition plays a very big role in a child’s well being physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. A child who is not properly nourished can have difficulties in focusing with his/her academic performance in school. His/her physical appearance especially those who are overweight can also lead to low self-esteem because they are most likely to be teased or bullied by other children. Children with low-self esteem often have a hard time interacting with other kids which greatly affects their social life.As more cases of obesity increase year by year, schools have been paying more attention to their student’s health. Most schools have been making a big makeover with the food they offer in their ala carte and school vending options. More fruits and vegetables are being offered and less of the fried and greasy foods. Sugared sodas have also been banned in schools. With the joint efforts of schools and the government, children are being educated with what healthy eating can do for them and how it can help them become healthier and better individuals.Aside from offering healthier food choices, schools are also encouraged to provide physical activities for their students. Most students don’t get daily physical education.

About eight percent of elementary schools, 6.4 percent of middle school and only 5.8 percent of high schools have daily physical education each school year. If the school increases physical education even just by having an hour per week, then children will learn more about their health and will know how to take care of their selves better.Parents believe that educating children about exercise and proper nutrition is very important. More physical education means less risk of childhood obesity. The amount of physical education recommended by the federal government per week is five hours.Another way to teach kids about food is by getting the kids involved with planting gardens in schools. Studies show that children who are involved with planting food have higher vegetable intake than children who do not have garden programs in their schools. Growing food also promotes environmental awareness to kids. This activity can be both beneficial for our children’s health and the environment’s health as well.

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