Educational Paradigm

I saw a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson called Changing Educational Paradigm, which I thought was really interesting. He discusses how every country in the world is trying to reform their public education. Robinson claims there are two reasons for it. The first one is economic; people are trying to figure out how to educate children so they can take their parts in the economies of the twenty-first century. The second reason is cultural; every country is trying to figure out how to educate their children so that they have a sense cultural identity and be able to pass down their cultural genes while being in the process of globalization. Robinson argues the problem is that they are trying to solve the problem by doing what they did in the past and by doing so they are alienating millions of kids that do not see any purpose in going to school. He states that today the youth is not motivated to go to school because having a degree is no longer a guarantee that one will get a job.

Robinson claims the problem is that the current education system was designed, structured and conceived for different age. It was conceived during the enlightenment and industrial revolution. People before did not think it was possible to educate society. Along with that idea are built in assumptions about social structure and capacity. The idea of education was driven by an economic imperative of the time creating an “intellectual model of the mind,” as Robinson puts it. He claims that academic ability is deeply imbedded in public education creating two types of people: academic and non-academic; smart people and non-smart people. The consequence of that, as Robinson states, is that many brilliant people consider themselves not smart because they are being judged against these particular standards.

He feels that this “model of the mind” has created chaos because only a few have benefited from it. Most people have not. What Robinson is arguing is that today society needs a new form of education. Educational standards should be raised and they should benefit the majority of the population. The education our youth is facing today is not an education they can benefit from. When the individual is being judged by standards that are irrational to their lives, education takes on a whole different meaning. It becomes a system of filtration that only benefits the few. And I agree with Sir Ken Robinson and his view on education. I definitely agree that the educational paradigms should be changed to benefit the majority. People need a sense of identity while being part of the global economies of the world.

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In an essay called “Work Rules,” William Greider argues that although Americans value democracy and freedom, these beliefs are falsified by the workplace’s “socialization of powerlessness” (215). He describes the American workplace as authoritative, illustrating how individuals attend work and follow a set of rules that define their everyday behavior and their status. Greider claims that “the arrangement for work in contemporaryAmericaresembles the same terms that functioned during feudalism” (213). He discusses how the imbalance of power is embedded in terms of employment as a master-servant relationship; where individuals are subject to the rule of their employers.

When it comes to the workplace, Greider argues individuals do not have control over their own actions or decisions, instead they submit to the rules and regulations set by those in power. In other words, in order to achieve efficiency employees must be obedient and follow directions. This method of productivity deteriorates divergent thinking making individuals less creative and less critical about their working environment. This is a definite reminder of our discussion of “McDonaldization” and how it affects the status of the individual making her or him less valuable to the workforce.

Greider claims that if people had more control of their own behaviors and decisions they would be more productive employees; providing consistent solutions to problems affecting their own workplace. This lack of power within employees does not allow them to make decisions about matters that affect their lives on a daily basis. They have no choice but to continue working hard without providing feedback about their working conditions, which they have to deal with as part of their jobs. This issue of workplace is starting to diminish what most Americans value as the “American Dream,” which basically claims that if one works hard, one can make a great living. Being a great hard working employee is not enough anymore when corporations recycle employees like water bottles.

Greider, Williams. “Work Rules.” The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003. 212-31. Print.

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Eliminating Tax Loopholes Would Relief College Tuition in California

            I decided to read an article that does not pertain to this weeks lecture because I felt it was an important topic discussing college tuition. I saw this article called “A College Bargain for Californians” on the LA Times website and thought it was good information for all college students. Assembly speaker John A. Perez wants to close a tax loophole and provide tuition relief forCalifornia’s higher-education. By providing a pair of legislative proposals, SB 1500 and 1501, Perez would eliminate a tax loophole for businesses and use the resulting revenue to provide large scholarships to middle-class students in the state’s colleges and universities. If approved tuition would be reduced by two-thirds of the current cost.

            It is said that the proposal is flawed because the tuition relief would be provided to middle-class families earning $80,000 and $150,000 a year. According to this flaw middle-class families can afford college tuition as it is; so why help college students when the money can be used to create a properly fund welfare-to-work programs or medical care for poor children and the impoverished elderly.

            Perez claims that in order to obtain the votes required to eliminate the tax loophole, he has to come up with a use for the money that will appeal to at least a couple of Republicans as well as more moderate Democrats. The article state that closing a tax loophole is easier when politicians can go to the districts and show off to the citizens they’ll be providing thousands of dollars in tuition relief for kids and in the states public colleges and universities.

            I feel that although there are other ways of properly using the extra money, this is a great opportunity to helpCalifornia’s student population. It is a little disappointing that the help would only go to middle-class citizens but our education system has received a great financial impact over the past few years that this only provides hope for our academic future. I feel big businesses should be provide more financial relief in our education system seeing how today’s students will soon be handling the future. 

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Legalizing Certain Crimes Can Help Eliminate Organized Crimes

I recently read an interesting article by Gore Vidal called “Drugs: Case for Legalizing Marijuana,” arguing that it is possible to eliminate most drug addiction in theUnited Statessimply by legalizing drugs and selling them at a cost. This article was written on September 26, 1970 and although it is not current, it still relates to issues that our system faces today. Vidal implies that theUnited Statesis a nation that was created by men who believed that each individual has the right to do what he or she wants with his or her life. He claims that at the time this was a startling notion for many young Americans, who reflected upon the system of public education which made the Bill of Rights unacceptable to a majority of high school graduates. Vidal argues that if drugs were legalized, labeled appropriately with the affects of the drugs, and sold at a cost it may allow the system to concentrate on more heinous crimes that affect individual’s property as well as their lives. Legalizing drugs, as Vidal states, would help eliminate other crimes like organized crimes that provide most of the drugs being consumed.He claims that both the Bureau of Narcotics and the Mafia want strong laws against the sale and use of drugs because if drugs are sold at a cost no one would benefit from profit.I feel this is an interesting perspective and I think Vidal has a good argument. If certain crimes were legalized, like the sale of drugs, organized criminals would no longer be able to hide its investments and profits. Overall most of these crimes are victimless crimes or moral order crimes meaning that in some cases people choose to harm themselves by using drugs or other ways of self-inflicting damage.  

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Destroying Ethics Through Corporate Culture

I read an article by Paul Sweeney, called “White-Collar Criminals Tend to Be Victims of Corporate Culture,” discussing how most businesspeople are honest individuals who risk going to prison for covering up frauds that are enforced by the increased competition of major corporations. As a result of the viciously competitive nature of modern business culture, many of these individuals find themselves obligated to cover up illegal, unethical actions of their superiors. These individuals risk the consequences of doing prison time in order to keep their jobs. Many business people are not only confronted by illegal, unethical acts but are forced to take action themselves.

 

When a company’s chief financial officer (CFO) meets with Wall Street analysts, they vividly totter off an array of statistics painting a great picture of growth revenues and net earnings. Although the numbers are inflated and untrue a mid-level financial manager has to agree with his boss in order to keep his or her job. Outsized financial frauds have landed top executives in jail, driven companies into bankruptcy, deprived investors of their life savings and turned the financial markets into turmoil—all this done by an honest individual who wants to keep his or her job.

 

As we can see nothing stands in the way of major corporations and their brutal competition. They suck the life out of honest individuals destroying their moral behavior and rewarding unethical actions. I feel that white collar crimes are the root of many social problems. Greed is the soul of corporateAmerica, a vicious machine that not only promotes environmental degradation but also destroys morals—the essence of humanity. 

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The Disabled Leading the Able

 

            In an article called “Quality through Equality: People with Disabilities as Employees and Costumers,” Dale S. Brown illustrates how trying to achieve equality has led to the improvement of quality in many workplaces and public facilities. Brown claims that considering disability issues is an important part of policy development that can improve quality of performance and responsiveness to programs. He argues that people with disabilities who apply for jobs have a deep desire to work. Therefore, people with disabilities who are employed provide measureable results in quality and productivity. He states that people with disabilities who are applying for work would not be looking for a job unless they had a strong work ethic. Brown elaborates, explaining that two out of three people with disabilities who do not work want to work. Providing a job opportunity to someone who really wants it usually results in a hard working person. Many people with disabilities make up a great part of the workforce as well as the cliental. Nonetheless there is great discrimination against people with disabilities. In today’s system of public benefits many disabled individuals are discouraged from work.

            People who work in a disability-friendly environment tend to make their needs known, which allows them to serve the public with a higher degree of excellence. Brown argues that the true advantage of reasonable accommodations goes beyond the productivity of the individuals—the advantage of accommodations helps all people. Brown provides several great examples of how accommodations have not only benefited disabled individuals but also the majority of people. One great example is the one of Alexander Graham Bell who came up with the idea of the telephone in order to communicate with his def niece. Another example of accommodating innovations can be seen through the Jacuzzi. A father invented the Jacuzzi because his son who had arthritis needed to take warm baths. An interesting example was how a historic site created a map with larger print, better contrast, and simpler language made to benefit people with intellectual impairments ended up being used by everyone who visited this historical site. When we see results like this, we must take into consideration how important people with disabilities are to our society. Everyone plays and equal role in the development and the functionality of our society, therefore people must be regarded as equal regardless of their disabilities. 

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Taking Sexual Orientations Seriously

It is surprising to see how many people do not take sexual orientation seriously. In an article entitled “Gay Teens Are at Risk,” Matthew S. Robinson illustrates the harassment and bullying that gay teens encounter at their schools. Robinson argues that academic institutions must provide a safer environment for gay and lesbian students.

According to the Harris Interactive Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) 84 percent of the people reported hearing derogatory remarks such as “faggot” and “dyke” at school. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed reported hearing gay in a derogatory manner. When I read this I felt like I can totally relate to these numbers. It is true people do use this language in an insulting way. I always hear people saying “that’s so gay” in a belittling manner.

I remember having a conversation with an old friend about how using terms like gay or fag in a derogatory manner can be extremely offensive to others and at first I really was not aware of that. After that conversation I started listening to how people express themselves and how I expressed myself. I realized this kind of language was everywhere. Even movies and TV shows convey this language.

This is a major issue when many of students are dropping out of school. Harassment due to sexual orientation should not be tolerated anywhere. People need to feel secure in order to function properly and I do not believe their sexual orientation should limit them from the basic needs. I definitely support this issue and I feel we must all take into consideration by becoming aware that gays and lesbians are not a new creation, gays and lesbians have been with us through out history.

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It’s Not a Choice, It’s Discrimination

I read an interesting article by Stephanie Seguino, a professor of economics at theUniversityofVermont, in which she argues that women do not choose to be paid less or decide to get lower paying jobs. In her article “Women Do Not Choose to Make Less Than Men,” Seguino claims that women are discriminated against in the work force, where acquiring higher paying job positions can seem impossible for many women.

There is a major pay gap between women and men and it is mainly due to discrimination. Some blame policies and social institution for the wide pay gap and others blame women for “choosing” to work in lower paying jobs. We can see a system blame approach as well as a person blame approach when it comes to this unequal pay amongst women and men. I personally would take the system blame approach when dissecting the inequality in pay.

Seguino goes on illustrating that many institutions discriminate against women who are qualified for certain positions, offering jobs to unqualified men who have no experience in the field. Another issue addressed by this article is how employers pay lower wages to women than men in the same workplace. One way this is executed, Seguino points out, is by segregating women and men into different jobs, making the wage discrimination less obvious. She claims that sex segregation is a dominant feature of our economy. A great example she provides depicts how a visit to the dentist can define discrimination towards women in the workplace. She elaborates on the gender of the office illustrating that usually dental hygienist and staff are female, while most dentist are male. Seguino goes on arguing that pilots, clergy, engineers, firefighters are almost entirely male.

I can definitely see a trend with this issue of discrimination towards women. The segregation between women and men in the workplace is an obvious issue that after reading this article and chapter 9 of our text I find it easy to point out this division of labor. For example, most pilots are male while almost all flight attendants are female.

Seguino also points out how gender norms portray women as being at the bottom of the hierarchy. I don not believe women belong at the bottom of the hierarchy, in fact I believe women have greater potential than men when it comes to certain traits.

I feel that as a humans we must redefine gender norms in order to produce a more stable and functional society. Women are human beings just like men, so why should they be treated any different?

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Race as a Myth: An Anthropological Perspective

             In an article called “Mixed Blood” Jeffrey M. Fish argues that race is nothing but a social construct. Fish demonstrates the cultural basis of race by comparing how races are defined in the United States and Brazil. People in the United States are classified into different races based on their heritage and not their physical appearance. In Brazil, people are classified into a series of tipos based on how they look. From an anthropological perspective race does not exist. Many anthropologists have argued that U.S. racial groups are American cultural constructions. Racial groups are not genetically determined and only represent the way cultures classify people. Fish implies that race is a myth.

            Anthropologists argue that race does not exist because it is not a biological entity. When taking into consideration U.S. and Brazilian customs both classify people differently, and the same goes with other cultures as well. Fish claims that physical variations among people are adaptive traits that enhance their survival within their environment. This does not mean that people from China cannot survive in the U.S. Race implies that we are biologically different.

            Fish elaborates illustrating that humans are a species; therefore we cannot be genetically different. This means that people from anywhere on the planet can mate with others from anywhere else and produce fertile offspring. Unlike a horse and a donkey, if they were to reproduce their offspring (mules) would be unfertile. The human species evolved in Africa and eventually spread out populating different regions of the planet. Many of the differences within our physical features occurred through three major pathways: mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.

            I think it is fascinating to look at race from an anthropological perspective because it provides a greater understanding of what race really is. I feel Jeffrey Fish does a great job explaining race as a myth.

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Taking the Land from the Poor and Giving it to the Rich

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Taking the Land from the Poor and Giving it to the Rich

A recent article by Vincent Bevins of the Los Angeles Times reports that a poor community living in the slum of Sao Jose Dos Campos, Brazil, was kicked off the land by 1,800 police officers who raided the location. Last month in Pinheirinho, Brazil 8,000 squatters had been living there illegally since 2004. After clashing with residents, officers bulldozed the community. Bevins claims, “Since then, Pinheirinho has become a smoldering symbol of the divide between Brazil’s haves and have-nots.” I think this is an interesting quote that we addressed in class when discussing how close together the rich and the poor live. Where on one side of town we can see great big cities with sky scrapers and what seems to be a booming economy, while just across the street we find ourselves in a slum where thousands of people sleep on the street and have gone days with hunger. The article illustrates that Brazil has been moving forward taking many out of poverty and creating a greater middle class. The problem is that many of the poor and marginalized people are being cast aside in the race for profit and growth. This means that international corporations are the ones who benefit the most from getting rid of the poor populations in certain locations. This also intensifies the issue of poverty. Instead of addressing poverty head on it is being pushed aside leaving many in distress for the benefit of the haves. Poor people are not being helped when kicked off the land that will be used for the benefit of the rich. I can see this creating an even greater issue within poverty worldwide.

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