Regrets Only

Ray
Raymond Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

Regrets only,
On some invitations to special events, the person who sends the invite is asking for “regrets only” or just wanting to be notified if the invited person is unable to attend. If the host or hostess doesn’t hear back that the invitee cannot show up, the event coordinator expects the invited guest to be a part of the festivity.

Have you ever received this type of invitation?

If you do not have an obvious conflict or an unplanned emergency and if you really want to attend, you most likely will enjoy going to the special event.

Relating this reply to other everyday situations, I hope your life is not filled with many “regrets only” responses if you really want to be a part of something. Using a sports analogy, I hope you choose to “get in the game” by being an active participant, not a bystander.

As you may well know, there are some obvious risks for participating, both good and bad, and usually, we focus on the negative. Adverse outcomes like failure and criticism (it is especially easy to criticize today with the availability of many types of social media) are not uncommon.  Some choose not to participate because they do not want to deal with these possible unfavorable results.

However, experiencing failure and withstanding criticism can actually help a person in many ways. What is the impetus for improvement if you never fail or are criticized? The by-product of learning successful problem solving and coping skills can only be developed by overcoming these obstacles as well.

I particularly like former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt’s perspective on involvement:

“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… Who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Please consider this blog an invitation to participation in the life arena of your passion and choice.

And I hope you CHOOSE to get in the game,

No reply necessary.

The Future of Education

 

Barbara
Barbara Shousha, UNHS Director

Recently I have been asked by friends and family what I see for the future of education given changes in technology, changes in society and changes in the political environment. I think people approach me with this question because of my years in education and because I am making a formal study of education. But the short answer is:  No one knows.

 

In the future, education will look completely different. Also, in the future, education will look exactly like it always has. How can both be true? If you think of education as policy, technology and funding, then education in the future will look wildly different. If however, you think of education as the very human endeavor of sharing and acquiring knowledge, then it will look just like it always has.

Trends in Education

I am not a futurist. I admire people who attempt to thoroughly explore the possibilities of the future and how these possibilities may arise from the present. But I am a bit cynical on what can be predicted.  When people look to the future, they often start with current trends. This is flawed in my opinion. Trends are indicators, but they are superficial. Just as I cannot tell you what kind of pie I’m sampling by tasting only the meringue, I cannot tell you what the future of education holds by looking at trends.

Additionally, the trends which bubble up to the general public’s awareness are often driven by technology and money. A trend in education may arise because technology makes something possible and money is available to promote it. If there is no real need for the trend or no real problem that it solves, it is likely to fizzle as a fad rather than continue as a sustainable part of education. More than a decade ago, when technology made online course delivery possible, the trend suggested that classrooms of students would create personas to learn in virtual environments as avatars with knowledge “gamified” and levels of learning achieved by characters which they would direct. Um… Not so much.

Back to the Future

So, I am not a futurist. In reality, I am more of a historian. I have written a history of a school and I am currently working on biographical pieces about educators at that school. It is instructive to look at educational trends in the historical sense.

Education became formalized because societies became increasingly complex. The oral tradition of ancient cultures was no longer sufficient to preserve knowledge and heritage. So writing and reading came into being and as these were not daily life skills, they were taught in a separate environment which came to be known as school. Thank you ancient civilizations! Since then, education has been a swinging pendulum of forces.

“We educate only certain classes who will lead society!” “No, we educate all!”

“Education is the responsibility of the family.” “No, Education is the responsibility of the state.”

“Education should be standardized and taught in a factory model.” “No, education should be individualized and taught in a progressive manner.”

Education is to prepare citizens for basic life functioning.” “No!  Education is to inspire youth to transcend daily life.”

You can probably hear these arguments echoing from ancient Babylonia all the way to today’s current education debates. Along the way, students continued to learn, teachers developed and shared ways of teaching, and societies made practical decisions about structuring and funding education. We will continue to do this.

But aren’t you worried?

So, we find ourselves today and my friends express concern regarding the current state of education and the technological, society and political forces at work. Am I not kept awake at night by what I see in Education?

No. I am not fretful. I am energized by current discussions around education. When my neighbor who farms is as interested in the discussion of education as the professionals at my state department of education, I am a happy person! There is a recognition that education is too important to be left up to politicians and professionals only. Even though it is a challenge to sort through all of the rhetoric and argument, the pendulum of forces has been swinging back and forth long enough that we can see certain truths stand fast.

Education is the transmission of culture. We may disagree as to what cultural lessons are shared and in which ways. But “We, The People” will ensure that education serves this need to bring our human heritage along with us as we move forward.

Standards are for packaging, not people. We use the device of educational standards as a practical way to package up information and set guidelines. We are packaging up knowledge for the development of people. We should not believe that we can package up people in a standard way. We The People will always need to address human differences even as we create guidelines and goals.

Learning is a human endeavor. No app, no technology can open your heart and mind to learning. Even a skilled teacher needs a student willing to learn. A teacher without a willing student is a performance artist.  Education is something We The People do together.

The view from my desk

A current trend that is being noticed in education is the trend toward personalized learning. This is an extension from competency-based learning and stems from the idea that students are individuals whose educational progress will vary. Various groups will descend upon this idea to either promote it or decry it for political purposes. Any number of for-profit enterprises are already seeking ways to monetize this idea.

Saying Yes or No to a College

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

After the work you have put into the college application process, acceptance letters finally start to arrive. Now that you have your options laid out in front of you, how do you know which college will be the best fit for you? For some students, one school sticks out from the rest and it’s an easy decision. For others, they may feel torn between schools.

Take a deep breath and be grateful for choices.

  1. Compare all opportunities for final decision-making.
  • Make a pros and cons list for each college choice.
  • Compare your initial reasons for applying to a specific college to how you might feel about the opportunities after you graduate.
  • Remember that your college campus will become your home away from home. Select a campus that will make you feel happy, confident and challenged.
  1. Practice etiquette when accepting an admission offer.
  • Sign the acceptance letter and submit the required college deposits on time. Keep in mind that May 1st is the deadline for most colleges.
  • Housing, financial aid and scholarship forms must be returned before deadlines.
  • Order a final transcript and AP scores to send to the college.
  • Make notes on the calendar when tuition and room and board fees are due so that you don’t forget to pay them.
  • Attend pre-admission college events to meet future classmates and get to know the campus.
  1. Remember to inform other colleges that you’ve decided to decline their offers.
  • Send a written note (preferably not email) prior to May 1st.
  • Be grateful for their consideration.
  • Provide which college you will be attending and why.
  • Thank staff members who assisted you with the college admissions.
  • Note if there was a specific recruitment effort that sparked your interest to apply to their college.
  1. Check out the UNL/UNO/UNK Tips for the Education Journey concerning housing, financial aid and scholarships.

Lots of choices can be overwhelming, but with the right process, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.

The Reality Check: “The Wait and See List”

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Colleges want to make sure that they will have a full freshman class, so their admissions offices often create “wait lists” to make a plan on how to fulfill that goal if fewer students than predicted accept admission offers.

Receiving a college acceptance letter is an ego boost; receiving a college “wait list letter” may momentarily feel quite the opposite. Emily Dickinson wrote, “Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.”

The first thing to remember is that the sun will rise tomorrow. With a positive outlook, future opportunities may require perseverance and, like Milton Berle once said, “If the opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

  1. Remain calm in adversity; remember that being on the wait list is not a rejection. A wait list letter is just saying that you haven’t been accepted at this time, be patient. Time may allow you to be accepted or you might find the perfect opportunity elsewhere.
  2. As students notify colleges with their enrollment decisions, colleges may begin seeing more room for freshman students. This is when colleges send students on the “wait and see” list acceptance letters.
  3. Reviewing your options is important. Contacting the admissions department will help you develop a clear understanding of the size of the wait list and may encourage you to compare other options.
  4. If you feel the school is your only perfect match, write an upbeat letter to your college admissions adviser indicating your very strong interest. Explain why their school is the best fit for you and give specific examples that meet your needs, wants and desires to build the door.

Don’t depend on a wait list letter to get accepted into a college; keep your other options in mind.

Remember being put on a wait list is not a rejection; it’s merely a test of your patience and a chance for you to evaluate your options thoroughly one more time.

 

From One Procrastinator to Another

 

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

I almost did not write this blog, I just kept putting it off, putting it off and putting it off.  I finally decided to make a procrastination acrostic with statements and thoughts that hopefully can be helpful to you if you have issues with being a procrastinator.

 

Procrastination is a problem of self-regulation.

Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is an important step.

Opt out of putting things off by saying, “I will do it tomorrow.”

Coping mechanism for a lot of people.

Really would rather play video games or do something else.

All people procrastinate sometimes, you are not alone.

Set goals and list the steps needed to meet them.

Time management skills development (use a planning device).

I work better under pressure! Is that really true for you?

Nice to have someone who will help keep you on track (an accountability partner).

Adopt anti-procrastination strategies like a daily to-do list.

Treat or reward yourself for getting something done early or on time.

Idleness is okay sometimes (we all need a break from our pressures).

Opt out of looking for distractions, so you don’t have to do your needed task.

Never give up on improving your procrastination habits!

Famous American patriot, Ben Franklin, once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” but well-known American author, Mark Twain, also stated, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

It’s your choice which advice you will follow!  All the best to my fellow procrastinators!

Note to High School Educators: Consider Slowing Down that Start Time

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

The most recent Phi Delta Kappan issue (December/January, 2017) contains an excellent article championing the cause for high schools to start school at later times. The idea isn’t new, but the research keeps getting more convincing that a later start time is certainly in the best interest of  students and carries many benefits for them. This article, written by Kyla L. Wahlstrom, looked at some earlier studies in Edina and Minneapolis schools. The author points out that what we know about the teenage brain is that the need for more sleep is “a matter of biology, not choice,” and many teens are not able to fall asleep before about 10:45 p.m. and remain in a sleep mode until about 8 a.m. This appears to be connected to the circadian rhythm and is directly related to hormonal changes during puberty and eventually disappears as teens enter their 20s.

start-time

Wahlstrom points out that medical research (Carskadon, Acebo, & Jenni, 2004; Jenni Achermann, & Carskadon, 2005) shows negative effects of sleep deprivation such as depression, obesity, substance use and abuse and increased car crashes (this should concern all of us!). Early research showed that absences, tardiness and sleepiness in school had significantly declined with later start times, and that moods and feelings of student efficacy had improved (Wahlstrom, 2002).

Wahlstrom went on to study eight high schools in five school districts in three states—Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming, from 2010 to 2013 (Wahlstrom et al., 2014). It was found that in those schools that implemented the latest school start times of 8:35 and 8:55 a.m., there was a significant decrease in absences and tardiness in grades 9-12.

Finally, the study indicated that  those students who slept eight or more hours each night were significantly less likely to report symptoms of depression, fall asleep in class, drink caffeinated beverages, have a phone or computer in their bedroom and do dangerous things.

At UNHS, we are fortunate that students who are working through their online courses can choose when and how much time they spend on their coursework. They have much more control over starting their work later in the day to match their circadian rhythms. The ultimate expectation remains the same—the work must get done and having a regular routine study time is an important part of making progress. Aligning a teen’s brain efficiency with their work schedule is a plan for better academic performance. I encourage you to read the entire article in the Kappan as it goes further in discussing how best to approach your school board and community about making a later start time a possibility. It begs our attention.

(“Later start time for teens improves grades, mood, and safety”, Phi Delta Kappan, December, 2016/January, 2017).

Celebrating Differences

Barbara
Barbara Wolf Shousha, UNHS Director

Recently my best friend and I celebrated a special birthday together! It was fun and exciting and a wonder that we even pulled it off. Rarely do you find two friends more different than my best friend and I. She loves adventure while I love the quiet life. She is a night owl; I am a morning person. Her idea of a great birthday included sky-diving and riding roller coasters. My thoughts tended toward art galleries or a contemplative retreat.

Science has proven the benefits of diversity over and over again. In biology, greater diversity leads to healthier ecosystems and increased sustainability. Science also informs us that there are social benefits to diversity as well. The publication, Scientific American, cites research showing that interacting with others different from us requires us to prepare better, anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that effort will be required to reach agreement.

This was certainly the case in celebrating our birthdays! Together, we traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We were within driving distance of both nightlife and nature. I spent a terrifying afternoon on a ski lift up into the mountains and navigated steep trails on horseback. She indulged me with an afternoon of viewing pottery and a quiet nature walk. We each had experiences we would never have had on our own. Our differences became a source of humor and memories that will last forever. Believe it or not, we both enjoyed the other’s chosen activities, because our different preferences helped us experience things we would not have otherwise.

UNHS courses feature much diversity across the disciplines. In each of the areas of study, there are many different types of courses for whatever your passions are. Check out Biology, World Cultures, Multicultural Literature, International Relations and more.

I hope you have many reasons to celebrate differences in life!

 

 

Phillips, K. (2014) How Diversity Makes us Smarter. Scientific American.  Retrieved from

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/