Monday, October 27, 2014

Higher Education in America: Or Why I Love it When My Students Surprise Me

I love higher education (go figure) but I do still have some problems with it. My love affair with higher education is based on my love of learning. This is also my root problem with higher ed - for most, it has become about getting a job and not about learning... Or so I had assumed.

I got this impression due to the proliferation of employers that now require a degree despite the jobs not needing one, and the seeming focus of universities on career training. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that career training is bad or that no jobs need college, but I feel that learning has taken a backseat to other concerns. I had assumed this was employer/ student driven due to requiring degrees for jobs and the students reacting to this. 

Furthermore, the trend towards universities working on a business model, with students as the customer, I saw as exacerbating this downfall of higher education. Certainly, some students do buy into this bullshit, as when they try to sharply remind my coworkers and I that they pay our salaries, or when they talk about deserving a degree based on how much money they've spent (as opposed to, I don't know, say, how much work they have put towards it).

Of course I knew that not all people see higher education in this way, but nor did I think many held as nostalgic or idealistic view as I hold... And then I did a section on education for my culture class. We were looking at cross cultural perceptions of intelligence and learning. I asked my students how many of them were in college because they wanted a good job. Everyone raised their hand - no surprises there. Then some explanations started to roll in. A few students told me they like learning, but with the cost of school they couldn't afford to go if it wasn't for the hope of a better job. So I asked a follow up question - how many of you would continue in school if money were no object, if you won the lottery or something like that? 

Almost everyone raised their hands. Now this surprised me. Perhaps I've been misreading this quiet group. 

And the class ended with an exercise in the zombie apocalypse.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Food, Sleep, Sex, & Play

Welcome to my latest thought experiment. Play is natural, work is not.

I have decided that play is a natural positive activity for humans and this can be shown in part by comparing it with the other natural positive activities of humans, of which I have come up with four. These four are based on what I can think of as the only things humans want to do and enjoy doing - beyond the fact that they contribute to a healthy life. These four are eating, sleeping, having sex, and playing. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Geek Awkwardness - It's All in the Context

Here are some definitions I found of the word geek from the magically wise Intertubes:

"part of what makes someone a geek/nerd is having poor social skills..."*

"It's kind of the defining characteristic - being into a particular thing to the exclusion of social intercourse."*

"a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual."**

"The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult"***

The cliche of the socially awkward gamer is well known and old by now. In my own experiences with geeks (which is quite a bit) some of the stereotypes are truer than others for some people and not so for others. In my experiences with "normal" people or non-geeks, however, it is the same. Some people are just socially awkward and others are not. Is there a higher proportion of this phenomenon with geeks? Maybe, but maybe not. The issue is really about context.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Because Money.

Money is the cheapest form of justification used in social science research. Now that 90%* of you reading this are too offended and pissed off to think straight, let me explain.


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Most Important Major in the World

Is your goal in life to graduate from college and become a mountain hermit? Do you plan to live off the land surrounding your hermit hut so that you never have to see another human being for the rest of your life?

If you answered to “no” to both of these questions, then keep reading… (If you answered yes then why are you even reading this blog in the first place?)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness: Why Forgetting this Old Adage is Hurting America (and maybe some other places too)

When I was in grade school adults used to tell me things like, you can be a doctor and help people, or you can be an astronaut and fly to the stars, or a dancer and bring beauty to the lives of millions. By the time I got to high school “adult” attitudes had greatly changed. You should be a doctor or lawyer because you can make a lot of money. Don’t go into theater, you’ll end up as a waitress. Having now been in college for several years it has become, What are you going to do with that degree? How much can you make with that?

This coming from a demographic that boasts a 70% dissatisfaction with their jobs. Yep – these are the people that want me to listen to them about employment.

Monday, May 5, 2014

hai ... i want 2 c other ppl: Dumping via Tech

A friend of mine recently contacted me to tell me one of those "omg" stories (you know the ones, the stories that begin, "OMG you won't believe what just happened!). It just so turns out that he randomly ran into another friend of ours and had the unfortunate experience of watching our mutal friend get dumped via text.

Now this story will probably sound familar to a few of my friends reading this, so let me assure you now; I am talking about you and I am not. This same story has happened multiple times, in various locations and implemented by both genders. Yet, almost everyone I know and all of the forums I checked in research for this post agree that dumping via text, or any other electronic means, is unequivically unexceptable - with a few very specific exceptions that generally relate to ideas of safety or if the relationship in less than a month long. Still this happens. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NSFW: When culture is your focus, what is off limits?

"So I was in this S&M club ...."

Is how one of the most interesting conversations I had at the AAAs this year started.