I hope you choose to read this blog because that decision is yours.
From my limited research on the Internet, it is estimated that every adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Our choices can be something as trivial as what socks to wear, what to have for lunch, or whether to watch a particular show or movie on TV. However, I want to focus this post on decisions that matter, because some of the choices we make do have a significant impact on our lives.
Whenever I have a decision to make of significance between viable alternatives, I have learned to use four steps in the decision-making process and in evaluating the results.
First, I want to do what is right. This starts with asking myself, “Are any of the possibilities dealing with a right or wrong choice?” It is important to me to be a person of integrity and I want to eliminate any alternatives that would compromise my values.
Secondly, once my alternatives have been set, I list the pros and cons of each possibility. This helps me to potentially eliminate certain choices based on my review of the possible negative and positive outcomes.
Next, I have found it is important to involve the opinions of others. If there are people in your life whose words of wisdom you value, it makes sense to get their advice. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but your consultants may think of something that may be of importance or give you feedback on something you did not consider.
Finally, after the decision has been made and I have had ample time to review the results, it is always a good practice to evaluate whether it was a good or bad choice. Obviously, you are not always going to make the best decision each time and it is important if we can learn from the positive and negative outcomes.
So if you have to make a decision that matters today, I hope these four strategies can help you with making the best choice!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
For some of us, a trip back to high school means going back in time, for some (like myself) at least 40 years! What’s interesting though, is that I have a very vivid memory of those high school years. I can easily remember my many wonderful teachers and friends, but it was the high school experience that really stuck with me and pushed me to further my education.
I feel fortunate to be able to hold onto those great memories of fun times and great friends, and not look back wishing that I could redo my experience.
Much of this has to do with my experience during this time. High school was a time of expanding my knowledge base beyond the core academics of English, math, science and social studies. I had the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded public education that included many electives in areas outside my core classes. Forty years later, I am still proud of what I accomplished during my time, but even more grateful for the excellent teachers who invested in me during this time in my life.
To avoid the pitfall of wishing for a redo, I offer this advice: Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Venture into the unknown areas of the curriculum that you never thought you’d try. Take as many advantages of this learning experience as you can, because you can. No one can stop you from trying out for any of the sport teams or plays, or speech debates that are available to all students.
This advice may seem intimidating, but it starts with small steps:
Start early. If there is any way you can get into a program at your future high school the summer following your last year in middle school, do it. This could be participating in a weight lifting program during the summer. If the school offers drama, music or speech opportunities during this time, take advantage of them. This will give you a chance to meet fellow students before the school year starts, it also gets you involved right away in activities offered at your high school.
Each quarter or semester, remind yourself of your priorities and goals. You are there to get the best education and learning the school has to offer. What grades will you demand of yourself? Build a study schedule and then adjust according to degree of difficulty as you go through the year. Once you reach a goal, cross it off and establish a new one. Push yourself to accomplish any goals set.
Take advantage of unexpected experiences as they come your way. You never know when an opportunity becomes available and if it does, be willing to take advantage of it. For example, school announcements mention great experiences for students, whether it is an opportunity to volunteer at the recycling center or to audition for a school play. Take a chance, get involved and you’ll find that stretching your experiences pays a benefit to yourself and usually expands your skill set.
Keep a record of your “beyond the classroom” experiences. After high school, you may be looking for employment before taking on the next educational experience, so keeping track of any community or volunteering activities you participated in, can put you in the driver’s seat of employment opportunities.
High school is a time to grow your experiences, your own learning opportunities and develop social and developmental relationships all around yourself. Forty years from now, you do not want to be that person that says, “I should have participated in the band. I should have gone out for wrestling. I should have participated in debate.”