Reah's Blog | Education, Language, Technology

10 Good Books to Read for Teachers

By on Jul 13, 2012 in Education |

The following article is a guest post from Ryan De Guzman, a fellow writer and colleague. Visit his own blog Nevermore Nonsense to read more of his posts. Admit it, shaping the minds of the children is one of the highest calling there is. It is the enormous responsibility teachers are bearing in the classroom daily. And since big jobs demand big relaxations, here are seven of the best books that pay tribute to that profession; best enjoyed on those weekend breaks from the class. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. (The Freedom Writers, 1999) A non-fiction authored by The Freedom Writers, a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, and their teacher, Erin Gruwell. Everything started when Gruwell first met her band of “unteachable, at-risk” students, and next is a story about violence, drug abuse, and racism, and how each student changed and overcame those obstacles. These are their memoirs. Get this:  This inspired the 2007 movie Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank.   Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy (Helen Keller, 1985) We all know how Helen Keller, a deafblind girl who worked her way to become the acclaimed author, political activist, and lecturer, through the help of her teacher. Well, Anne Sullivan Macy is that teacher. The fantastic book tells the story of how the Irish-American teacher from Massachusetts conquered hindrances in her life to become Helen’s savior, instructor, and constant companion. Written by no other than the famous student herself. Get this: Anne herself was also blind due to untreated trachoma.   Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom, 1997) This modern literary classic undoubtedly put teachers and professors alike in the pedestal. Told from the perspective of one of his students, Morrie Schwartz is a retired, 78-year-old sociology professor from Brandeis University dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Being reconnected after 16 years, Albom, now a flourishing sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press, visited and met with Morrie during the last 14 Tuesdays of his life. The old mentor recounted the past, and imparted his student lessons about life, death, and the gem of acceptance, essential things that university life will never cover. Get this:  This non-fiction masterpiece topped The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers of 2000.   To Sir, With Love (E. R. Braithwaite, 1959) This autobiographical novel delves into racism and challenges the rules of conventional education, set in post-World War II Great Britain. Ricky Braithwaite is a British Guiana-born engineer struggling to find a job to no avail due to anti-black attitudes. Once he found one, he faced with a group of utterly disconcerted, semiliterate, and semi-articulate students. Trying a new approach and with an ironclad persistence, he treated the students with much respect and eventually won their hearts. Get this: The novel also tackles interracial marriages, another sensitive issue during the 1950’s.   Anne of Avonlea (Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1909) We all had read (or watched) how Anne Shirley survived and made her way with the Cuthberts, and changed everyone in Green Gables. Now, follow the redhaired, freckled, and bright heroine as she expanded her sphere of enlightening from their humble farm to the local school of the town of Avonlea. But teaching is not easy as she constantly faced repulsions and withstood prejudices from the community. Get this: As with the first book, Anne has a lot of run-ins here; one including selling her neighbor’s cow, having mistaken it for her own.   Goodbye, Mr. Chips (James Hilton, 1934) Set in Great Britain as it marches towards World War II. Mr. Chirping was a teacher to an all-boys British public boarding school, who needed to prevail over his apprehensions of teaching to a big class of 500 boys and married a young woman along the way. The opening “When you are getting on in years… you get very sleepy at times, and the hours seem to pass like lazy cattle moving across a landscape.” will move you as it is poetic and foreboding as the entire book. Get this: Hilton admitted that he modeled Mr. Chirping (or Chips)’s character after William Henry Balgarnie, schoolmaster at The Leys School, where the author attended college.   Pnin (Vladimir Nabokov, 1957) A clash of culture and language disguised in a soft-hearted, funny, and otherwise convoluted facade of being a stranger in a strange land. Timofey Pnin is an old Russian professor teaching (in his native tongue, that is) at the Waindell College in upstate New York. Emigrating from Soviet Union to avoid what he calls “Hitler War”, he found the school and the country an alien landscape. And next is a succession of hilarious, yet sympathetic episodes of dealing with language barrier and the complexities of American life. Get this: Pnin also turned up as a minor character in one of Nabokov’s novel, Pale Fire.   Wonder Boys (Michael Chabon, 1995) Not purely a book about academic life, but a brilliant novel about a teacher’s life nonetheless. Grady Tripp is a Pittsburgh professor and author on the way of completing another masterpiece novel. Everything is fantastic, but the night before the college-sponsored WordFest, Tripp’s world turned upside down when his wife left him and her mistress (the Chancellor and wife of the College Dean) turned up to be pregnant with his child. To make matters worse, one of his students, a promising writer as well, was...

10 Modern Philosophers and their Contribution to Education

By on Jul 10, 2012 in Education | 8 comments

The following article is a guest post from Ryan De Guzman, a fellow writer and colleague. Visit his own blog Nevermore Nonsense to read more of his posts. Two and a half millenniums ago, Plato stated that knowledge is justified true belief, an influential notion that shaped educational theories across time. Since then, modern thinkers had never stopped seeking knowledge about the human psychology, development, and education. Here, are the ten greatest. John Locke and the Tabula Rasa Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher and physician, proposed that the mind was a blank slate or  tabula rasa. This states that men are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge comes from experience and perception, as opposed to predetermined good and evil nature, as believed by other thinkers. On his treatise “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”, he emphasized that the knowledge taught during younger years are more influential than those during maturity because they will be the foundations of the human mind. Due to this process of associations of ideas, he stressed out that punishments are unhealthy and educators should teach by examples rather than rules. This theory on education puts him on a clash with another widely accepted philosophy, backed by another brilliant mind   Immanuel Kant and Idealism They never lived at the same time, but history always put Locke and Kant on a dust up. A famed German thinker, Kant (1724–1804) was an advocate of public education and of learning by doing, a process we call training. As he reasons that these are two vastly different things. He postulated “Above all things, obedience is an essential feature in the character of a child…”. As opposed to Locke, he surmises that children should always obey and learn the virtue of duty, because children’s inclination to earn or do something is something unreliable. And transgressions should always be dealt with punishment, thus enforcing obedience. Also, he theorized that man, naturally, has a radical evil in their nature. And learning and duty can erase this.   Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emile Plato said that each individual is born with skills appropriate to different castes, or functions of society. Though Rousseau (1712-1778), a Genevan intellect and writer, paid respects to the ancient philosopher, he rejected this thinking. He believed that there was one developmental procedure common to man; it was a built-in, natural process which the main behavioral manifestation is curiosity. On his book, Emile, Rousseau outlines the process of an ideal education through a hypothetical boy of the titular name, from twelve years of age to the time he marries a woman. Critics said this work of his foreshadowed most modern system of education we have now.   Mortimer J. Adler and the Educational Perrenialism Adler (1902- 2001) was an American philosopher and educator, and a proponent of Educational Perennialism. He believed that one should teach the things that one deems to be of perpetual importance. He proposed that one should teach principles, not facts, since details of facts change constantly.  And since people are humans, one should teach them about humans also, not about machines, or theories. He argues that one should validate the reasoning with the primary descriptions of popular experiments. This provides students with a human side to the scientific discipline, and demonstrates the reasoning in deed.   William James and Pragmatism William James (1842-1910), an American psychologist and philosopher, ascribed to the philosophy of pragmatism.  He believed that the value of any truth was utterly dependent upon its use to the person who held it. He maintained that the world is like a mosaic of different experiences that can only be interpreted through what he calls as “Radical empiricism”. This means that no observation is completely objective. As the mind of the observer and the act of observing will simply just affect the outcome of the observation.   John Dewey and the Progressivism Dewey (1859-1952), an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer, was a proponent of Educational Progressivism. He held that education is a “participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race”, and that it has two sides; the psychological, which forms the basis of the child’s instincts,  and the sociological, on which the instinct will be used to form the basis of what is around him. He postulated that one cannot learn without motivation.   Nel Noddings and the Ethics of Care A notable American feminist, educationalist, and philosopher, Noddings (1929-Present) is best known in her work Ethics of Care . The Ethic s of Care establishes the obligation, and the sense, to do something right when others address us. We do so because either we love and respect those that address us or we have significant regard for them. In that way, the recipients of care must respond in a way that authenticates their caring has been received. The same goes for education. As teachers respond to the needs of students, they may design a differentiated curriculum because as teachers work closely with students, they should respond to the students’ different needs and interests. This response should not be based on a one time virtuous decision but an ongoing interest in the student’s welfare.   Jean Piaget and the Genetic Epistemology Piaget (1896-1980), a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher, was recognized for his epistemological studies with children, and the establishment of Genetic epistemology. It aims to explain knowledge, on the basis of its history, its sociogenesis, and particularly, the psychological origins...

Top 10 Greek Goddesses: The Beautiful and the Wicked

By on Jul 4, 2012 in Literature | 1 comment

The following article is a guest post from Ryan De Guzman, a fellow writer and colleague. Visit his own blog Nevermore Nonsense to read more of his posts. If there is one group that runs the Greek Mythology universe, it would be the goddesses. They are intellectually complex, physically splendid, and most of the time, morally volatile. There are quite a lot of them, but here are the ten that lead the pact with their elegance and  villainy. 1. Hera The Beautiful The Queen of the Gods. She is the Goddess of Women and Marriage, both wife and sister to Zeus, the chief god. Being the Olympian prima donna, she is of almost unequaled appeal. She even once competed toe to toe with the alluring Athena, and with the Goddess of Beauty herself, Aphrodite. The Wicked Historically, she is the most atrocious of goddess. She constantly posed as a villain for Hercules, also casted her son out of heaven, and always castigating Zeus’ mistresses. She might be a patron of matrimony, but her marriage issues with the chief god are few of the best highlights that shape Greek Mythology. 2. Pallas Athena The Beautiful The Goddess of Wisdom, War, and Justice; and patron of the Greek Heroes. The Parthenon was constructed in her honor. The Wicked Athena was born from the head of Zeus, fully grown and armor-clad. Given that, she mingled in affairs dominated by men (and won). She locked horns with Poseidon for the dominion of Athens (which she obviously nailed), joined the War of the Giants (threw an island to one of them), and turned one mortal into a spider out of hubris. 3. Aphrodite The Beautiful She herself is an epitome of Beauty, also Goddess of Love, Pleasure, and Procreation; and the mother of Eros (Cupid). She was born out of the sea foam in a shell, as famously detailed by Sandro Botticelli in the painting, The Birth of Venus.  Despite her beauty, a lot of unpleasant things came out, like… The Wicked …inadvertently starting the Trojan War, the destruction of Hippolytos, and of course, the agonizing of the mortal Psyche (for loving her son). 4. Artemis The Beautiful Goddess of Hunting, Wilderness, and the Moon. She is twin-sister to Apollo. Given quite a boyish personality, Artemis’ myth is brimming with retribution. The Wicked She punished the hunter Actaeon by turning him into a stag then releasing the hounds on him, murdered her hunting companion Orion, and turned one of her cohorts, Callisto, into a bear. 5. Demeter The Beautiful The least volatile among the Olympians. She is the Goddess of Harvest and Agriculture.  She taught mankind farming and crop cultivation, thus marking the start of civilization. The Wicked Kind, but a Goddess and a mother nonetheless. Her grief for the loss of her daughter, Persephone, causes vegetation to wither and fall, inducing the autumn season. 6. Hestia The Beautiful Goddess of Hearth Fire and Domestic Life, eldest sister to Zeus, and the gentlest among the goddesses. Though she had no throne, she oversaw the sacred fire in Olympus, and every hearth on Earth is her altar. The Wicked Nothing so terrible about her, except that despite many suitors (the gods Poseidon and Apollo included), she decided to be a heart breaker and just swore to be a virgin. 7. Gaia The Beautiful The Goddess and Personification of the Earth, she was one of the first beings in the Cosmos. Her offsprings included Pontus (the Sea), Uranus (the Sky), and the Titans, who later descended the Olympians. The Wicked She also gave birth to the Cyclopes, Erinyes, and Gigantes; monsters that constantly pestered the Greek universe. 8. Rhea The Beautiful Daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the Mother of the Olympians. Technically a Titaness, but revered as the Goddess of Female fertility and Motherhood. The Wicked She tricked her husband, Cronus, by hiding their son Zeus in from him, so that he can  have his vengeance when he grows up, thus igniting the Titan War. 9. Persephone The Beautiful The Goddess of Springtime and Vegetation, she is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Ironically, she is also the Queen of the Underworld.  You might ask why. This is because… The Wicked …Hades, God of the Underworld,  abducted  her at some point. Thus, dooming her to return to the dark realm every third of the year, ending the Spring season. 10. Nike The Beautiful The Winged Goddess of Victory.  During the Titan War, Zeus brought her to his aid for the dominion of Olympus. She assumed the role of the divine charioteer for the gods. The Wicked Nike never acquired a cult or myth of her own, though by Classical Times, most gods had their wings already shed, but she retained hers, thus her famous name (and in turn, that famous shoe brand)....