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Archive for February, 2015

The Calculator

February 28, 2015 4 comments

When I entered college some years ago, the calculator was not in major use. The popular calculator then was the old TI-30. This calculator is still in my possession today. The value of the calculator has been worth it weight in gold. I continue to use this fine calculator even though it does not have the features of the new calculators. The best part is the joy of knowing I don’t have to charge or replace batteries.

Calculators are a necessity in today’s educational world. Long gone are the slide rules which I believe is better for learning. Now we have calculators to do the simple math I used to do it my head. This truly is not an advancement for humanity. These calculators are pushing us downward towards ignorance and stupidity. Look at our youth and see how many can do mathematics in their head. I still function faster than their attempts to use a calculator. Unlike my days in college where a calculator was primarily used to speed the work up and seldom if ever used during a math test. Today it is expected.

This brings me to a requirement for students going into the sciences or engineering fields. You need a good calculator but not one that is too good. Look at the SAT approved calculators for what a student should own. I have one child using a TI-83 and another using TI-84. Each of my sons has used this calculator since their high school years. Precalculus is one such class and AP statistics is another. You can get away without using one in precalculus but the textbooks and lesson plans are no longer geared for a calculatorless student. Even at the universities, there are classes where the calculator is a primary tool.

This is where I hoped parents emphasized what I call mental math during the students early math years. This would include algebra and early trigonometry. If your child can do calculations in their head then I would say the parent did well. Sadly, I do not see this with the public school students I interact with. They don’t have the ability to do the math in their head.

I highly recommend students using the TI-83 or TI-84 calculator if they are going into the fields of science or engineering. Use these calculator well before you need it. These are complicated computers that need understanding. It is painful to take a class and struggle using the calculator. Go to online sites where tutorials are given. My youngest struggled early on with his AP statistics class, because he was unfamiliar with the calculator.

Calculators are nice objects to have. I won’t deny that. Like any other tool, these items can cause unforeseen issues down the road. We become to reliant upon technology and cannot effectively integrate ourselves in a way to get the most out of ourselves. We lose the understanding and ability thus opening up the possibilities of failure whether it is upon us or what we design.

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Stop the texting!!

February 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Youth 2 has been a strong speller since birth. Yeah, I’m using birth. Believe it or not, he was able to spell at a very early age. Indeed, his older brother relied on him for years to help spell words. This went on for a period of time until my youngest started to get close to the teenage years. Having the sense of humor, my youngest began to have fun with his older brother. You may have guess it. The youngest was beginning to provide bogus spellings to his brother much to all of our laughter. Some of the words were really, really funny. Yes, we did have to correct our youngest and plead with our oldest to concentrate on spelling while not relying on spell check. That is another story and a funny one, too.

Youth 2 converses with quite a few friends through the use of a phone, XBox (there are some good things about this), computer and an iPod Touch. The touch is mostly used for texting. After school is finished and his friends get home, the communication begins. Soccer has been the biggest initiator of this mass communication. There is one side effect – my youngest is losing his writing skills. He no longer capitalizes, punctuates properly and spelling occasionally goes awry. The Educator has noticed a similarity between texts and essays. What is normally texted is written in the essay. Spelling suffers because of the shortcuts in texting. We have a growing problem as my ninth grader is entering the important years of education. He needs to communicate through writing. His AP class requires his writing, and these errors cannot be tolerated.

There is a upside to this story. Unlike a public or private school where a teacher has more difficulty in directly influencing the student, we have direct access to my son. We can work on his regaining the skill that has deteriorated more efficiently and effectively than a school teacher. His work is monitored by us and if no improvement is made, the iPod goes away. In fact, we can remove the cause in order to ensure his writing skills no only improve but return to normal.

I was aware of this issue about texting. There have been many articles over the years about this subject. It was never an issue, so I didn’t bother thinking about it. When his grammar grades slipped, no started off poorly and differently than what his standard is, the Educator and I needed to take action. Fortunately, we caught on very quickly. This serves as a reminder to us parents that we must keep vigilant on education.

My thoughts on my limited knowledge of AP History

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

I see some AP history classes require a textbook. I do not know if all of these classes require a textbook. The fact a textbook is required has me wondering the value of AP History. Only one college history course I took or my son has taken required a textbook. The professor of this textbook explained there were no books that explain the period and therefore the textbook was more of a reference for the students.

As an undergraduate, I was required to read multiple books for a history course. My oldest have five or six books for his class. I had as many. We listened to lectures and read books. I was expected to follow the syllabus. We didn’t always discuss the book in class. Names and dates were important, but it was the concepts that held most value in class. Sadly, I was struggling with names and dates.

None of my exams were multiple choice. I remember one test where I had a choice of five problems of which I needed to answer three. I had two of the Blue Books with me for the test. I had to write a bloody essay on each problem. My high school never prepared me for this, and I never truly got the hang of it. I was too busy with the wrong concepts. In fact, I was not prepared.

Interestingly, I didn’t do many papers for history. I am not sure why and thankfully I didn’t. Again my public school failed me there. I got a B on one paper. This was the history class that used a textbook. It could be that they recognized the lower history courses were fillers for students and not the main subject of study.

In graduate school, reading is a main part of the class.  I do a lot of reading and then discuss the reading. In fact, I feel like I’m studying philosophy more than history. Another part of graduate school are the essays I write. For one class I wrote seven or eight essay and one thesis. After the fact I enjoyed the class.

From what I have discovered in AP history, it is not so much a college history course. Some do require a fifteen page paper, but I wonder what the format must be in. I am held to strict standards which I believe should be taught in high school. Chicago style if you want to know. Times New Roman, 12 font and 1.5 spacing. As for textbooks, I don’t see the value since you need to read from a variety of sources. I guess I should investigate this course in more detail.

Categories: Education, History Tags: ,

What NOT to do on a resume

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

It has been a while since I last posted. Graduate school, hard drive crash (still working on it) and other parts of life will do that to you.

It is resume and interview time for me. Right now, I am at the resume reviewing period. These are the resumes that get through the first round of cuts before they come to me. I am the person that will determine whether or not we should take time out to talk to you. This is my second resume to review and it is a doozy. So, if you are a college student take note.

First, if indeed you are a college student USE your school for resume work. Many schools even offer practice interview sessions. Take the opportunity to do this!

Now onto this resume. Keep in mind your resume is like a puzzle to me. I am putting pieces together to get an idea of you.

1. Though I can google the state you are from, I won’t do it. If you are going to include your address the by all means include the state. Yes, I notice these little errors as do others. If you choose to leave out where you live at least include our phone number.

2. Your summary of qualifications or additional skills are best when done with bullets. I’m busy and do not want to rummage through a poorly written paragraph to determine your skills. I’d rather surf the web than continue with your resume.

3. If you are going to tell me when and where you graduate as well as your major, keep them together. It is easy for me to miss your multiple degrees in your summary. See, I only skimmed because I want to walk the halls. You don’t have to provide your gpa if you have had ten years of experience or more. Fresh out of school, your gpa tells me something.

4. Skills, experience and professional experience. If you separate these I am liable to not understand what you did. Having a list of companies and dates without information means nothing to me. So you did stuff with computers or digital communications, and electrical design. If these aren’t tied to anything I’m not really caring.

5. You may think writing an eleven line paragraph for each task is appropriate. Refer to number 2. You lose me very quickly, and I skim over your gibberish. I want to hit the vending machine for a snack. The only good thing about my not covering your paragraph like an English professor grading a paper is I do not see the poorly written sentences that work best with bullets.

6. If you job hop I am likely to be wary of you. I don’t want someone that disappears after two years. Five jobs in a little over nine years is another strike against you. I don’t need someone leaving a half finished job for me to handle when I want to be talking with a friend in a nearby cubicle.

You want to catch my eye. Keep it simple and stay to the facts. I don’t understand the context of the word “commissioning” as you write it four times in the paragraph. It has no meaning, so keep the words easy to understand. If I have to take time and study what you write, it becomes easier for me to delete your resume. This is why I like bullets with a phrase attached or at least a short sentence. It is easier for me to read. Oh, try not to have a resume the size of a book. I am likely to not even read it beyond your name.

Try resume building sites online. You can do a few for free in a limited way. A professional looking resume may get you the interview. Don’t pad your resume with unnecessary baloney. I don’t care that you washed cars at a dealership during your summers. If it is not pertinent to what you are applying then I don’t care. Eagle Scouts! Do not believe in the myth that this helps you get a job. It will if the interviewee is scout related and values titles. My son is an Eagle Scout, but I don’t care if you were unless it relates to the job. I can tell you that I interview zero Eagle Scouts even though we had quite a few resumes from Eagle Scouts. What you did at ages 14 to 17 have little meaning ten years later. Besides, I know how much of the work was your effort. I was involved in helping out on many projects, and as a reminder my son is an Eagle Scout.

Now back to “work.”

Categories: Education, Uncategorized Tags: , ,