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.

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!

“Go Ahead, Make My Day”

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

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!

As you start this New Year, please consider one of your resolutions to show more kindness in 2017. You may find how simple it can be. You can find some examples to spark the kindness in yourself and others here.

Hopefully, it will also have a ripple effect on others to follow your example!

So go ahead, make someone’s day!

What’s Your Hangtag?

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Along with academic advising of students and parents at the UNHS, I enjoy shopping and comparing products and services in stores and online. Of course, it is exciting when I have found the best price, but I also make sure to look at the merchandise or service carefully. The hangtag always grabs my attention, because it usually conveys the price, the designer or manufacturer of the product and much more important information needed to make your buying decision.

So how do you convey to someone why they should “buy” into what you are saying? I personally think we each have an invisible hangtag that explains our professional branding image to each person we meet. I personally want my hangtag to tell others that I am a hard worker and that I care about my students. Everyone’s hangtags are different—we all have unique styles and brand images that separate us from others.

Even though we cannot all wear a physical hangtag, we can all take steps to make sure we are communicating to others our positive and professional brand image, one that stands out from the others.

How to live your hangtag:

  • Actively think about how you want others to see you.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Separate your professional life and personal opinions.
  • Learn from your coworkers or colleagues.
  • Surround yourself with those who can help you grow.
  • Talk positively.
  • Ask for constructive feedback and make changes accordingly.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have great online etiquette.

What would your hangtag say?

Facing Adversity

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

This statement is first credited to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in 1888, but in the not too distant past (2011) was used repeatedly in a song by Kelly Clarkson called Stronger. I don’t believe this quote is true in all circumstances, but in many cases there are some obvious benefits of going through trials and tribulations.

Although not many people would choose struggles over prosperity, going through difficult times can help develop important character qualities. To illustrate the importance of facing adversity, I would like to share a brief synopsis of a couple famous Americans and their ability in overcoming obstacles:

One of the most beloved United States Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, lost eight different elections, had two failed business ventures and had a nervous breakdown before he became our sixteenth President in 1860.

Talk show star, Oprah Winfrey, was born to single teenage mother in Mississippi; was physically abused; became pregnant at 14 and lost her baby; and was shuttled back and forth to various family members.  Today, Oprah has her own cable network and became the first African-American billionaire.

Abraham Lincoln and Oprah Winfrey are just two examples of people who have faced adversity and were able to use their setbacks as fuel for success.

How did they do it and how can you get through tough situations?

Below are three principles that should help:

  1. Work hard! Nothing can take the place of putting forth great effort. You would be surprised what you can overcome with just giving your best.
  2. Get help! It is not a sign of weakness to ask for assistance. If a situation is overwhelming or you need someone else’s perspective, be sure to enlist their help.
  3. Don’t give up! This may be the most difficult, because in our high tech world we are used to instant results. This is not always the way of life. Many great things take time. Remember this wise saying by William Edward Hickson: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

One of my students at the University of Nebraska High School recently shared an important perspective on facing adversity: “I believe the struggles you have do not determine the kind of person you are or will be, but rather are an influence on your outlook on the world—which is why our struggles make us wiser.”

Who doesn’t want to become wiser?