Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Thursday, 26 April 2007 04:51

Some Educated Guesses about Education

Today I was inspired to write about education because I rediscovered in my old papers an essay I wrote when I was twelve years old. It was submitted in an essay contest for six-graders. I don’t think I won, because I would probably remember if I had, but I am struck by how closely it describes what I still believe about education sixty-three years later after surviving twenty-four years of education.

Whenever I think to write about a topic, I often look it up first on the internet. Even a cursory look at what Google says about education shows that there are almost as many opinions and controversies about what education is as there are educators and critics. There are many ways of looking at education. It can be the process of learning or what is learned. There are arguments about what should be taught and about how it should be taught. It is praised and vilified. It depends upon one’s point of view and especially on one’s ideals.

Is the purpose of education just the accumulating of information? to build character? To cram the mind with facts that will soon be forgotten? to teach how to think forming people who can discern and think for themselves? to empower people with the skills they need to obtain a livelihood? to impart culture and appreciation for literature, art and music? to develop imagination and creativity? to equip people for independence and action? To indoctrinate and brainwash, propagating some ism? to control the masses? to pass on the treasures of the past or to go beyond them? to pass on opinions, theories or hypotheses as facts? to turn everyone into identical moulds or to develop and enhance their individuality?

In a sense everything above is true sometimes somewhere. Schools teach what their Boards of Directors dictate, teachers impart their own ideas and opinions. Fortunate the students with the opportunity to attend schools with sound curricula and enlightened teachers. Fortunate those who manage to educate themselves without those helps.

Education should transmit information, but even more importantly how to interpret the data. Education should give us the skills and tools necessary for meaningful, satisfying livelihoods, not as jacks of all trades but expert in what is important for each individual’s goals and success. Education should prepare us for enjoying our leisure time, instilling interest and appreciation for art, literature, music, sports, hobbies. Education should develop our imaginations and creativity and open our eyes to worlds and possibilities beyond us, so at least we won’t mind others going there though we don’t. Education teaches us how to recognize what is true and what isn’t, to discern what is important and what is unimportant, to discriminate what is fact and what opinion, and to judge properly what should be done and what should not. Education should be tailored to the capacities of the students, but always aim just a little higher. Not everyone has the ability to go all the way, but even those with the lowest I.Q.s can be taught something to make their lives more pleasant and meaningful.

Not the best education system in the world will succeed if the students will not listen or learn. The secret to good teaching is the teacher’s ability to instill the appetite for learning and to make the process pleasant and entertaining and memorable. As Educator Gail Goodwin once said: “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.” Just as teachers have different ways of teaching, students have different ways of learning. Some rely primarily on what they hear, others on what the see, or what they read. The trick is to get them to think about what they are learning so it becomes part of them, because they have added something of themselves. Passive reception of what one is taught is not as effective as hands on participation and involvement and personal contribution. A goal of education should to enable the students to go on educating themselves the rest of their lives.

As usual I turned to the internet for meaningful quotes. Some are very critical of what is taught or how it is taught. Some are more positive expressing the goals that education should ideally aim for. Some are wordy and boring. I prefer the witty ones that come right to the point, but one long one really moved me. It was the words of Helen Keller who was both blind and deaf.

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. “Light! Give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.

Education, however is not just the shedding of light, but in being able to know and follow where the light leads. That is why I like the following quote from George Savile , English Marquis of Halifax in the 17th century:

Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught.

This echoed by Elbert Hubbard:

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.

As Alfred Lord Tennyson said:

Knowledge comes, but wisdom stays.

And by the poet William B. Yeats:

Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.

Finally in the same vein is a saying of Edmund S. Wilson who thinks one’s Q.Q. is more important than one’s I.Q.

Only the curious will learn and only the resolute will overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligence quotient.

There are quite a number of interesting proverbs and sayings that deal with education and learning.
Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand. (Native American saying)
Whatever is good to know is difficult to learn.
(Greek Proverb)
Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back. (Chinese Saying)
He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever. (Chinese Proverb)
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. (Lao-Tzu)
The final quote is my own, namely that essay I wrote when I was twelve. It was entitled “What Education Means to Me”.
Education should provide me with suitable instruction to fit me for the duties of adult life. It should cover such qualities as virtue, wisdom, good manners and knowledge.
Virtue is necessary for the true art of living. It should guide me in the right relation of things temporal as well as things spiritual. It should teach me courage and honesty.
Wisdom will give me understanding of truth and justice. A mind will give greater understanding of life and its problems.
The learning and practice of good manners will develop good behavior and consideration and kindness to others. Correct social forms are essential to be a part of good society.
Knowledge will help to perfect my natural abilities, so that they will provide me with a livelihood. The study of music and reading of good books will broaden my mind and help me to enjoy life to the fullest extent. Sports and recreation are essential for well being.
A good foundation based on the above should help me to carry out the duties of citizenship and to be a respected member of society. It will give me an appreciation of the better things of life.
I am amazed at how this still rings true today.

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Thursday, 26 April 2007 03:18

淘金聲中的慈善苗

上海,現代淘金地。閃耀輝煌,通權達變,霧茫人迷。上海是未來之都,大家都這麼說…
世人的眼睛緊盯著上海不放,從高地俯瞰,從台灣眺望,從紐約遙視,從印度張望;投資家、藝術家、銀行家都來這裡獵夢。上海等著2010年世界博覽會到來,到時候全世界的聚光燈聚焦上海,上海大展鴻圖,上海身價百倍。
上海,靈魂被軟禁的城市。人人追求財富,追逐權勢,社會天平一端往下沉,儘管另一端利他的靈性砝碼加在秤盤上,社會天平緩緩挪移。想到上海,不免聯想到貪婪、交易、工作狂。上海似乎留不住詩人與哲人的腳步。看著上海這個城市,我們想起《雙城記》的開場白:「這是個最好的時代,這是個最壞的時代…」繁華中的上海人是否正在吞食下一代的靈魂,啃食未來的血肉?
上海,仁慈與善心的苗圃,這是本期《人籟》專輯要告訴您的。人籟團隊幾年來與許多人結下友誼,這些人讓上海變得不一樣。這些人關心鄰近的人,關注弱勢者權益,善待無助的人,這些人與不同文化背景的團體相處,懂得珍愛與重視文化差異。這些人是上海人。這些人感動了非本土的團體,彼此相助,彼此攜手成長。許多人喜歡到上海發展,貢獻自己的專業才能,得到高報酬率的回饋,但也有人跳脫這樣的邏輯思維,寫下上海的慈善行動力。這一期專輯您將見到這些團體、這些人。
這些人這些事讓我們想想,到上海發展是否只為了圖利自己,出賣了這個城市的靈魂?我們是否有慷慨的氣度、開放的心靈,使得當地社會走向成熟與團結,幫助當地市民找到內在的平靜?我們在利用上海,還是為上海的人文發展做出貢獻?或許,我們要用新的眼光看上海,用不同的力量轉動上海…
我們關注全球華人社會及其未來,期盼多元而一體的特質能被人尊重、善待、傳遞。慈善苗木重視人的價值,使文明社會更宜人居,將人文社會往前推展,讓市民社會對他國更加友善。希望,忽暗忽明。「另類上海」只是一個起點。

附加的多媒體:
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Thursday, 26 April 2007 03:18

淘金声中的慈善苗

淘金声中的慈善苗

上海,现代淘金地。闪耀辉煌,通权达变,雾茫人迷。上海是未来之都,大家都这么说…
世人的眼睛紧盯著上海不放,从高地俯瞰,从台湾眺望,从纽约遥视,从印度张望;投资家、艺术家、银行家都来这里猎梦。上海等著2010年世界博览会到来,到时候全世界的聚光灯聚焦上海,上海大展鸿图,上海身价百倍。
上海,灵魂被软禁的城市。人人追求财富,追逐权势,社会天平一端往下沉,尽管另一端利他的灵性砝码加在秤盘上,社会天平缓缓挪移。想到上海,不免联想到贪婪、交易、工作狂。上海似乎留不住诗人与哲人的脚步。看著上海这个城市,我们想起《双城记》的开场白:「这是个最好的时代,这是个最坏的时代…」繁华中的上海人是否正在吞食下一代的灵魂,啃食未来的血肉?
上海,仁慈与善心的苗圃,这是本期《人籁》专辑要告诉您的。人籁团队几年来与许多人结下友谊,这些人让上海变得不一样。这些人关心邻近的人,关注弱势者权益,善待无助的人,这些人与不同文化背景的团体相处,懂得珍爱与重视文化差异。这些人是上海人。这些人感动了非本土的团体,彼此相助,彼此携手成长。许多人喜欢到上海发展,贡献自己的专业才能,得到高报酬率的回馈,但也有人跳脱这样的逻辑思维,写下上海的慈善行动力。这一期专辑您将见到这些团体、这些人。
这些人这些事让我们想想,到上海发展是否只为了图利自己,出卖了这个城市的灵魂?我们是否有慷慨的气度、开放的心灵,使得当地社会走向成熟与团结,帮助当地市民找到内在的平静?我们在利用上海,还是为上海的人文发展做出贡献?或许,我们要用新的眼光看上海,用不同的力量转动上海…
我们关注全球华人社会及其未来,期盼多元而一体的特质能被人尊重、善待、传递。慈善苗木重视人的价值,使文明社会更宜人居,将人文社会往前推展,让市民社会对他国更加友善。希望,忽暗忽明。「另类上海」只是一个起点。

附加的多媒体:
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Wednesday, 25 April 2007 12:55

Weathering the Weather

If one could change the direction of the wind or alter atmospheric pressure or manipulate the temperature or the amount of moisture in the air, one could control the weather and prevent catastrophic storms. A few have tried with questionable and sometimes tragic results. Would we then have ideal weather all the time, if they could succeed? I doubt it because everyone wants different weather; what is advantageous for the farmer may not be advantageous for city folk. There would be struggles to see who controls what weather and the world might end up with weather wars more devastating than natural disasters.

Temperature progresses from frozen to freezing to frigid to cold to cool to pleasant to warm to hot to torrid to burning to boiling to inferno, all relative to the material or persons experiencing it. The wind goes from calm to breeze to gust to gale, moisture from dry to humid, barometric pressure from way below normal that seems to spawn the worst weather to high associated with finer weather.

The trouble with weather is not that it changes, but that the changes don’t come when we desire or need them the most, sometimes overstay their welcome and often get out of hand. Why does it rain when I want to go out and the sun come out when I can’t go out? Some people go through life as though they always had a rain cloud over their heads drenching them. Other people seem to enjoy only sunshine and rainbows because it is raining somewhere else.

(Picture by Liang Zhun)
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Want to know more about Bob’s weathering weather? Click here to read it in pdf!

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