The Big Guy and I were able to catch a couple of football games from my Alma Mater, Hardin-Simmons University. One of the things that impressed me was that both times the home teams took a knee in prayer before the game. (Game 1 Hardin-Simmons. Game 2 University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, pictured below.) Also during both games the teams, Hardin-Simmons, Howard Payne & UMHB stood during the national anthem.

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders praying before the game.

Like many others I have been appalled and offended by a “movement” started by one NFL player. His claims of racial injustice in this country are valid and should be addressed. Like everyone in this country he has the right to free speech.  I am not offended by his beliefs or desire to fight for injustice. I’m offended by his approach and actions. He hasn’t learned a very important lesson my dad taught me as a teenager.  Not only is it okay to be a dissenting voice it is often the necessary. However, it is extremely important to do so in a manner that is appropriate and respectful of others.

TDZ Retrospective — Distance Learning: A Substitute for College

books1.jpgOriginally posted July 3rd, 2007, taking classes on-line was a new thing. When I wrote this I remember that most of the on-line programs I found were from unaccredited programs. Now it is very common to take on-line classes.   Anyway it is an interesting read.

Can distance learning be a substitute for college? The answer is both yes and no.Yes it is possible to get a quality education through an on-line institution. Many respected colleges have been offering distance learning for years. In fact the classes may be a duplicate of what is taught in a traditional college setting.However it is not possible duplicate the “college experience” through distance learning. College marks the transition from being a teenager into adulthood. College is time of exploration and discovery. Participating in extra-curricular activities provides an opportunity to try out new things and meet new people.

Distance learning limits the amount of direction interaction with professors. One comment I heard about distance learning is that it is harder to pick-up on the subtleties of the course through distance learning. Also, sometimes the lack of direct contact with the professor can make some assignments harder.

Distance learning programs cannot provide the opportunity to develop relationships with professors, mentors and peers. Some of the most important lessons I learned during college where the ones I learned outside the classroom: talking with professors and other mentors in the student center, participating in community projects, and even just hanging out in the dorm. These experiences cannot be available via distance learning.

Distance learning is a viable option for obtaining a college education. However it is not a substitute for the total college experience. DH

Tips for Preparing for College

As a high school teacher, it always amazed me the number of juniors and seniors really had no plan for the future. Usually, they had a career goal in mind but no plan for achieving it. Other times the dream career was unrealistic. Other times I would see otherwise, good students enroll at the local community college only to leave after few semesters never really accomplishing anything. One common thread I observed was that the students had never really planned or thought of the future.

Begin planning early. I think sixth grade is a good time for many reason. Find out what types of careers interest your child. Spend time exploring careers. Help your child develop a plan to achieve their desired career goal.  Encourage your child to research high school and college or technical training needed to achieve these goals.  This helps your child take ownership of their education and future.

Select high school and middle school courses that give you a head start in college. It is good idea to know what high school courses required for college admission. Most colleges include a list of suggested and required courses students need to take in high school for admission. This is especially helpful if your child already has a college in mind. It is not uncommon for students to take pre-algebra in seventh grade and algebra in eighth grade. This makes it easier to meet the math requirements for college admission. This first year of Spanish or another foreign language are often taken in eighth grade. While taking algebra or foreign languages in eighth grade give you high school credit, they do not count in the high school GPA. Taking AP courses, dual enrollment and/or CLEP not only help get college credit they also reduce the cost of college. The Big Guy started college with 30 hours of college credit due to AP classes. He was able to start as  sophomore and complete his undergrad degree in three years.

Be a well-rounded student. The trend in college admissions is to de-emphasize test scores and consider other credentials like course selection, grades, community service and extra-curricular activities. As a note on community service, many colleges do not consider mission trips or other church activities as community service. One guideline I discovered is that church activities that involves teaching religion or evangelism will not count as community service. However, church sponsored service projects or even a mission trip spent building an orphanage or similar activities will count. It is better to describe what was done on the mission trip and not call it a mission trip. For example if your teen participated in a summer mission trip to build houses in Haiti. List this trip as a house building project not First Church Summer Mission trip 2010.

Have a plan for paying for college. Don’t count on getting scholarships especially athletic scholarships to pay for college. Be prepared to pay for at least part if not all of your child’s college. Consider state pre-pay tuition plans.

My Views on Technology

Disclaimer: If this sounds like a school essay, I know it is something I wrote for my class.

Technology plays an important role in my personal and professional life.  I worked in a technology related position for about ten years as a computer teacher, computer lab assistant and in tech support.

Personally, I see the computer as both a cool toy and a vital tool. One of my earliest experiences with the computer was my dad bringing home a stack of floppies with games and other programs from school. He gave me a few basic lessons on how to get them to work. After that it was up to me to figure out how to run the programs. I approached the task of learning to use the computer like a puzzle. Most of my computer skills have been self-taught. As a first year teacher I was discovered that the computers (Apple IIEs) in my classroom were broken and there was no money to replace or repair them. So, once again I was left on my own to find a solution. I rebuilt both machines and was even given access to a closet full of other non-working machines for spare parts. Soon, I had a several working machines and was often called to repair other machines. While I quickly learned to make computers or software work there were huge gaps in my knowledge and skills. I often knew how to do things but did not know the way to accomplish a task. This is where technology literacy is important. As a computer teacher, I often had parents and students that did not understand that being computer/technology literate was more than being able to surf the web, play games or even type a paper. For example when teaching students to use MS Word for I insisted they learn how to use styles and formatting rather than just manual formatting each piece of information.

Professionally, I rely on computers to complete my job.  Outlook helps me stay one top of meetings that I must attend, communicate with colleagues and schedule meetings with students. Currently, my job is as a consultant rather than a classroom teacher. On a daily basis I use a database to monitor student’s progress and placement.

So Long and Good Luck, Timmy

Last Friday’s Sugar bowl marked the end of an era for Gator Nation.  It was the last game for one of most accomplished classes in Gator Football history.  Tim Tebow had an amazing run as the quarterback for the University of Florida. He won the Heisman as a sophomore. I really wasn’t in favor of Tebow winning the Heisman as a sophomore because I believe the award should be reserved for seniors. Yes, I think players shouldn’t be allowed to go to the NFL until at least after their junior year.  Tebow also graduated in December 2009. Graduating in 3 1/2 years is accomplishment for any student especially an athlete.

Quarterbacks are supposed to be the field general and a team leader. Tebow embraced that role both on and off the field. Under Tebow’s leadership the Gators went 35-6. After the Gator’s only loss in 2008, Tebow took responsibility for the loss and promised to do better. Tebow was not the only player on the field but as the quarterback he accepted responsibility.  Tebow is very humble after a win sharing the glory with teammate. Off the field the Gators have volunteered more since Timmy became the starting quarterback. Even Urban Meyer and his family participated in a mission trip.

I have heard a lot of talk in the media about how Tebow isn’t cut out to be a quarterback on a pro team. The Big Guy has tried to explain it to me. Tebow has proven that if given a chance he will work hard and I believe excel. Personally, I would like to see more good guys like Tebow in professional sports rather than spoiled brats who cause problems.

Way to Go HSU!

Alumni Wall that contains the name of every graduate from the first class to the most recent class.

In July, my alma mater Hardin-Simmons University received two well deserved honors.  Yes, that is my unbiased opinion.

The Chronicle for Higher Education named HSU one of the top ten colleges to work for in the small school division (under 3,000). The results were based upon a nationwide survey of  about 41,000 employees on 247 campuses.

The Princeton Review selected HSU as one of its Best of The West regional schools. Each year the Princeton Review selects about 25 percent of the nations colleges and universities as top regional schools. My time on the 40 acres was a good time. For me Hardin-Simmons was the right school. I gained far more than just a good education.


schoolbusLast night I overheard a conversation from a couple of college students regarding teaching. It seems that the young lady is an education major. Her friend was loudly proclaiming how teachers were really over paid. He thought that teachers had a very easy job because they only work 8 to 3 with a lunch break and an hour off period. Further teachers get two months off a year. The young man had obviously never been on the other side of the desk.

There are many who think because they have been students that they must know about teaching. Further there are still many misconceptions about teaching. First teaching is not an 8 to 3  job; those are just the hours that students are there. For me teaching was more like 7:30-5:00 and then I took several hours of work home each night. While teachers are supposed to get a half hour lunch and conference period each day there is often so much to do during those time that it is rarely free time. I was always doing good to get fifteen minutes to inhale my lunch. It is ironic that the gentleman thought teachers were being over paid was in the one of the, if not lowest paying counties in Florida. Florida’s teachers are some of the lowest paid teachers in the country.

One of the things that has always frustrated about teaching was that those who made the policies (ie politicians) had for the most part never taught. In our society grown men are paid millions of dollars to play with a ball but teachers barely make a decent wage. In many areas education is so underfunded that teachers must spend large amounts of their own limited resources for classroom supplies. In Florida, the education funding situation is so bad that many school districts are looking at drastic measures to reduce spending including shortening the school week to 4 days and reducing electives.

If we really wanted to improve education in this country maybe we should provide better funding instead of just adding more regulations. Give teachers the respect that college educated professionals deserve rather than always blaming teachers.