Every day I hear from parents who worry about the safety, health, happiness, and confidence of their children and teens, as well as the quality of their education. I completely understand these feelings not only from the perspective of a parent, but as a grandmother too. I have worked as a University of Nebraska High School academic adviser for eleven years and one important skill I have learned is that it is important to apply wisdom over worry for the most difficult situations and planning for the future.
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Commonly attributed to Winston Churchill
Our life experiences have taught us as parents to use our strengths and common sense to make the best decisions. As we are currently facing unprecedented times, we have had to use common sense to make decisions for the health and safety of our families. We have discovered our talents for making masks, exercising wisely in our neighborhoods, socializing with distance and precautions, all the while rediscovering the gifts of having more time with immediate family members. We, as parents and grandparents, can teach the same principles of lifelong wisdom and rationality to our children and teens. COVID-19 has reminded us to lead with examples in self-care, self-motivation, self-regulation, self-organization, and self-confidence.
Schooling at home is not for everyone, but if it feels right for your family, the opportunity for your children to study independently with a well-written curriculum can help to reinforce their strengths and talents. Advance thinking and planning allows the University of Nebraska High School diploma program to affirm that students are successful now and will continue to be in the future. They will take the life experiences of living through a worldwide pandemic and come out stronger. They will know how to be resilient, how to use their independent-thinking skills to make good decisions, will hang onto the memories of having more time with family, and take this with them to someday be our future leaders.
With a myriad of opportunities, expectations, and results, your high school experience and graduation can stir many different emotions and feelings.
At the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS), we look forward to honoring and celebrating our graduates. Here I want share some of my random thoughts on high school graduation and specifically graduating from UNHS.
Graduating from high school is a part of the transition of becoming an adult. It is an important milestone to celebrate and also a good time to . . . .
Reflect on your high school experience and recall the good, and not so good, times. However, whatever you have for past memories it is soon time to get on to the next step, which could be . . .
Attending a two or four year college. Since UNHS is a college preparatory high school, this is the path for most of our students, but not for everyone. Some students . . .
Do something else. Whether it is joining the workforce, the military, taking a gap year, or another route, for their life path. This happens because . . .
Unique individuals make up a graduation class. Isn’t it great that students are distinctive and do not all have the same interests? In fact, at UNHS our graduation class is made up of . . .
Athletes, visual and fine art students, homeschoolers, students from public and private schools, students with health conditions, highly gifted, and don’t forget we serve . . .
Traditional and non-traditional students. Many UNHS students complete their high school program in the typical four years or less, but some graduate later in life. Also, not all are U.S. students . . .
International Students are an essential part of UNHS. At least half of our UNHS graduates are located outside the United States. No matter where our graduates are from, they have this in common . . .
Online courses with the University of Nebraska High School. The state of Nebraska currently has a tourism slogan of “Honestly, it is . . .
Not for everyone.” This statement may also be true for some students who may be considering UNHS, but UNHS is an integral pathway for our honored graduates.
So back to my initial question . . . What does high school graduation mean to you?
Do you agree with the idiom that seeing is believing?
Although it may not be true in every situation, sometimes you do need to see something to accept that it really exists or determine what just occurred. It is particularly important in the athletic realm.
I had the pleasure of playing and coaching football for about four decades. An essential and very valuable tool was the study of practice and game film. I have heard more than one coach or athlete remark, “Let’s not make a decision or judgement until we see what the film shows.”
With the advances of technology, being able to critique an athlete’s performance has greatly improved over the years. My initial study as a player was with 16 mm film in which the game film had to be processed and a projector would be used play back the game as a teaching tool. I specifically remember my coaches running a play over and over again to emphasize a particular point. New advancements soon came via video tapes and DVDs. Today, we have video review and performance analysis tools available for athletes and coaches that far surpass previous methods. Besides the game competitions, many coaches can now video record practice situations and use that as a teaching tool with the athletes.
For example, this allows football coaches to not only see a play from the sideline view, but also from an end zone view to see spacing and blocking angles. This added detail can give players and coaches a fresh look at the same play from a different perspective.
Just like seeing is believing in sports analysis, the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) has passed the eye test for almost 90 years. UNHS was established in 1929 and was first a paper-based correspondence study. Since UNHS became online in 2001, it has become one of most reliable, respected, and recommended online accredited high schools in the United States.
UNHS has a well-constructed curriculum of over 100 courses for students to enroll in. If you are interested in earning additional credits, want to get ahead for next school year, or just learn something new, the courses at UNHS are available to our students any time of day and any day of the year.
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.
Clint Eastwood’s popular character in many of his movies was Dirty Harry (Detective Harry Callahan). A tough law enforcer, Harry was well known for the catchphrase, “Go ahead, make my day”. This phrase usually came out at a pivotal time in the film where Dirty Harry was ready to dispatch a bad guy if they drew their weapon or did not back down.
In direct contrast to this well-known quote, we do have the opportunity each day to encourage people in a positive way with kindness.
Have you recently benefited from someone else’s acts of kindness?
I know I have. Whether it is someone who allows me to merge in traffic, flashes an accepting smile or shares an encouraging word, I daily reap the rewards from others’ kind gestures.
The size of the act really does not matter. It is important to remember that something you may consider as a very small deed might mean a lot to someone who needed that boost—even if it is just a warm smile.
What are the qualifications for being kind?
Good news! Kindness has no requirements at all, including age. You do not have to have a degree in kindness or have unlimited resources to be kind. It is simply being friendly, generous, considerate and putting that concern for others into action.
It can also improve your health! Did you know that engaging in acts of kindness benefits not only the person who receives, but also the giver? Researchers have found that helping others actually reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and decreases anxiety. The by-product of improving the day of another can also make yours better!