Re-Post — A Curious Fascination With Time

I admit that I have a curious fascination with time. What’s so curious about it? Well for starters, the fact that I don’t believe in its existence.

Nadda. Zero. Kind of like that song by Chicago.

I know a great many people on this planet believe in the existence of time, but for the small minority of lunatics like myself, it simply isn’t there. I don’t see it. There are many times in life (right now is a good example) that further reinforce such a theory.

The so-called ebbs and flows, the ups and downs. People will tell you that you need to live in the present moment and forget the past.

The past will hold you back young man,” they always say.

But when times of trouble arise (and they always do) the same people will blindly remind you to look into the future. And why?

Better days are coming young man,” they always say.

And you know what? They’re fucking right! Wow!

It’s amazing how that happens, how the perception of time allows for someone to see better days in the future, or remind themselves of the tribulations that put them through hell so many days and months and years ago. It’s beautiful, a miracle. A miracle that really isn’t a miracle at all, just a Freudian slip or a slip of the keys.

Life for me sucks right now, but I’m finally beginning to understand (remember kiddies, I’m only 23! Cut me some slack damnit!) that there are always better days ahead. I’m unemployed at the moment (not for long), my book isn’t selling, I don’t have a car because someone backed into my brother’s car with a snowplow and the car that I drive suddenly decided not to start up, my friends aren’t doing much better, I’m single (my own choice but I like the lifestyle) and I’m beginning to question certain decisions that I made that kept me from going places I probably should have gone to.

But then I remind myself that I’m still 23, I will be working again soon, my book will eventually sell because I know I won’t give up on it and I’m promoting the ever-loving shit out of it, the cars will be fixed, my friends will eventually get going, that not-so-lucky lady will someday meet a strangely fortunate guy who some people think looks like Liam Neeson, and I will remind myself that going to law school would’ve been a very stupid decision because I still know that the concept of “justice” is the biggest joke in the universe (another topic for another day).

But time will never exist, because all of these things have already taken place, be it in this universe or another. I’ve always believed that the particles we’re made of are timeless, luminous (to quote Yoda) wonders of a majestic existence that we are, for the most part, unaware of. Time is simply our way of trying to gain hold of it all, trying to control what cannot be controlled. And it is the greatest defeat (and victory) of any human being to realize that they are powerless to the nonexistent thing that we call Time.

 

Have a good evening and a timeless tomorrow,

bb

Re-Post — Socrates Never Saw This Coming

The future of public education is quite grim. In all honesty it looks like a nightmare from my perspective.

Some things never change, but when I graduated high school (2009) there were several strange similarities with today’s world of education that shouldn’t exist. For one, there is the constant reduction of public school budgets and the cutting of higher education support from state governments. This has a been a steady trend for as long as I’ve paid attention to it and things don’t seem to be changing.

The result?

Higher tuition costs, higher drop-out rates for high school students, crime remains steady if not increasing for the youth bracket of society, student loan debt over 1 trillion, the devaluation of the college degree, the devaluation of salaries and good-paying jobs, permanent school closings and an overall lack of hope and interest in the future with the youth generation.

And that’s just one topic of discussion.

There are several other areas of interest that we could carefully dissect: the lack of interest in school among young people, the trailing effort of technology in less-funded schools, the low quality of teachers, the low quality of the home environment, the curriculum being taught in schools, etc.

The list goes on and on and on.

But the point I’d like to try to get across is the fact that the future of education needs to–and will inevitably will–change. Not this second, or this year or this decade, but soon.

What kinds of changes you ask?

Well I have a few ideas I’d like to share that might make this post a bit more understandable. Two of the three ideas I propose are not original creations of my own but simple expansions of previous inventions that can help streamline education and bring humanity to a new apex. The first of which is called Data Input and Sensory Adaption Teaching (DISAT).

DISAT is designed to make use of the human brain’s ability to process information at both a conscious and subconscious level. One example of this is a story from my college days that seemed to be revolutionary at the time I discovered it, until of course my professor mentioned the counter example of what I did and completely shot my theory all to hell. Here it is:

During the final year of my junior year I was in the process of finishing my German foreign language requirement. I loved the language but hated the studying, particular the endless stream of vocab terms that pummeled my study habits every other work.

During one long and endless week of reading, writing and more writing, I decided that I would experiment with my laptop and try something that I thought might invigorate my lack of interest in studying German vocab terms. With the microphone on my laptop I read the twenty-something new vocab terms to myself in German, then their definitions, in what might possibly be the best version of my monotone voice that I’ve ever done. I then took the sample of the vocab reading (which I recorded in an mp3 converting software) and sent it to my Itunes library. I then took the mp3 and transferred it to my Ipod.

Gutes arbeit, ja?

Well, that night–and the rest of the nights leading up to the quiz–I played that stupid, dull-voiced recording of myself reading out the vocab terms, on repeat, throughout the night and into the morning. I did this for what accounted to be six nights, and it worked wonders for my grade on the quiz: 25/25.

I was so ho-hummed and delighted over myself that I couldn’t help but tell my professor after class (that’s when he passed the papers back) about the new study method I stumbled upon. He then preceded to tell of his days as a young German student and how he was able to remember the weekly vocabulary terms.

“Singing in the shower.”

“Huh?”

Apparently there truly is more than one way to skin a cat, and it turns out that both methods aren’t so far apart on the similarity spectrum. Instead of using subconscious repetition, my professor used conscious vocal repetition to implant into his head the very important material that he needed to learn. Well that’s nice and all but for the purposes of this post, I’m gonna give full credit to my method (not that the conscious method is bad or useless or anything of that sort).

Remember our little creation, DISAT? Well, that’s just what my story deals with. Like my German vocab, DISAT would act as a reinforcement teaching technique (or a primary teaching technique, depending on the subject matter) that would utilize the subconscious processing of information that occurs during sleep.

Imagine dreaming in algebraic functions (of course dreams like those might be nightmares for many people).

Still, the process of using sleep time as teaching time can greatly help any student in their developmental process. To me it makes sense, since every student nowadays has an mp3 player or some sort of device that can play an mp3 file. So imagine having a teacher distribute an mp3 file containing their voice (or the dull voice of a company-paid actor hired to teach math through the mp3 file). The student listens to it, then comes to school the next day with the subconscious imprint of yesterday’s lesson. They go to take a test or quiz or fill out a worksheet and BAM!: they somehow, know how, to do it!

These files already exist in some shape or form, but the second part of DISAT is where students use touch screens (mini black boards) to follow along with the lesson plan being taught. This could be especially helpful for math courses.

The technology and method for this is already there and in use, but having students follow along visually, digitally (with their digits) and orally (repeating it to themselves or along with the teacher) is the sensory part of the teaching. Utilizing the senses to create a repetitive imprint in the brain, followed by a subconscious reinforcement to the conscious teaching would allow for the best possible outcome of any student’s learning process. Gone should be the days where watching your teacher scribble on the board is the common form of learning.

Remember the best teachers you had? They got you engaged in what you were learning. What could be more engaging that incorporating the all the senses in your learning process?

Another great thing about DISAT is that it allows for students who have little–if not any–time after they get home from after-school activities to engage in their subjects without a great deal of effort or time. Lulling yourself to sleep to basic quadratic functions after a long basketball game would work wonders.

We also have to consider the possible future developments that could evolve from DISAT. Imprinting data files into the brain via a USB-type connection (wired into the brain stem) would eventually replace the obsolete method of mp3 integration into night-time sleep. Humans would become a walking computer capable of downloading information into their brains either at a price or at birth.

If you’ve seen the movie The Matrix then you’ll remember the training of Neo. It’s commercialized education on a biological and subconscious scale. Both fascinating and ultimately unavoidable in the long term if you ask me.

That of course is just one method of teaching that I believe should be (or could be) utilized in the future. There are two others that I will discuss in this post, both of which are already being used: Youtube and targeted teaching.

Anyone can teach themselves via Youtube today. Try it now and give yourselves a rest from this post: go to Youtube and search for any subject that you can think of, be it quantum mechanics or the alphabet. Whatever you’re looking to learn, it’s there, and chances are the video is just as good–if not better–than the actual teacher in the classroom.

However, teachers are already making use of this tool and I can imagine that, to some extent, it works as a solid reinforcement tool to the related subject material. Visual learning is very poplar and highly useful for many subjects, so there’s a natural draw to it. I know several professors also use the website to upload their lectures and I think it’s a great idea as well.

But try to imagine a world where a Youtube-type website (or Youtube itself) is the primary teaching mechanism for all young people. No schools, no books, no classrooms. Everything self taught and (perhaps) reinforced by the parents or a private tutor. Sound like a possible future?

The last target and potential future from this post is selective teaching. We might know this better as trade schools.

Selective teaching seeks to identify and isolate the subject matters that students are most inclined to learn and study for their careers in life. This is identified at a young age by way of genetics and structured testing and observation over a period of several years. By the time high school rolls along, students should have a concrete understanding of what they want to do with their life. The remaining four years of pre-college schooling are then devoted to this subject area.

This process assumes that public schooling will survive and adapt through the decades ahead, which is an assumption that could prove as nothing more than a silly proposition.

It also leads into the closing statements from this post, and that is the evolution of education over the centuries. Starting with antiquity and the Ancient Greek civilization (as I like to do often), education has seen changes that have been both for the better and for the worse.

Like the process of selective teaching, the ancients often had their citizens focus on a primary area (artisans or merchants) that benefited the community as a whole. Your education was your craft, whether it was pottery, metallurgy or soldiering. As the sciences came to life, education changed to focus on a more fluent study of what elders deemed “necessary” for a well-rounded education.

Of course the ancients had scientific discoveries of their own, but their work was often grouped in what was deemed philosophical notions rather than scientific thought or truth.

Now, states and federal establishments decide what needs to be taught and how much money is dedicated to the learning of it. This leads to the level of one’s education coming from how much is dedicated to the annual budget. Very little is improved but everything is kept in the barren state of what is deemed allowable in that particular region that you find yourself and your child in. As a result there is very little fluidity in the realm of education in the United States today, and the overall future for public education is dim at best because of such a lack of proper structuring.

Personally, my own money is on commercialized data incorporation where people eventually pay for–or steal–knowledge in order to better their lives. Knowledge in the information age is indeed king, but the reign of this particular king has yet to see its throne. Be wary when he takes control.

 

Best,

bb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Post — Choice (To A Degree)

When you’re in the process of getting your college degree or searching for a job after college, everyone will ask you what your degree is and what you want to do. For some people it’s easy; accounting, engineering or law or medical school.

For me it’s a different story. I have to tell them “Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy (PTCD)” every time they ask. No one remembers it, not even my own parents after several dozen times.

In today’s world if you don’t have the popular degree you’re immediately asked what the hell you’re going to do once you graduate. To paraphrase my wonderful aunt Bertha: “So what are you going to with that degree, work at McDonalds?”

Sadly enough, I’m considering it.

I see it as a problem of choice. As you age you realize certain things that you like to do, or certain things that you’re good at. Usually you start by idolizing your parent’s profession, then turn to your own dreams once you enter adolescence. Of course this isn’t always the case as some people dream of doing what their parents do for a living.

But the same is usually true once you enter college or begin to enter college: you look for the profession that will make you the most money, as fast as possible. Your dreams take a backseat to what job market is best, what degree program is easiest or most profitable. Like his predecessors the current President has called for more of math and science degrees to fill the rapidly advancing fields of technology that most college grads aren’t qualified for. Of course this is a logical goal for education, but the trade offs of such a goal are devastating to the ambitions of future generations. Being told what you should go for in your education instead of pursuing your dreams is counter-intuitive on many levels, primarily creative thinking and expression.

I know for one that many schools are cutting back on athletic and art programs within their districts to provide funding for other areas. Colleges are doing the same. This trend will likely continue, unfortunately at the cost of displacing the ambitions of young students and replacing them with high expectations and a demanding curricular structure. I’m not sure how the students of tomorrow can enjoy going to school any more than they already do, especially when politicians are planning their future.

 

bb