5 Brilliant Ideas On How To Get Your Kids Excited For Back-To-School

A key focus of my blog is General Education. While returning to school is exciting for some kids, it’s a drag for others. With it having such large ramifications for the future, it’s important to generate as much excitement for school as possible. The following contributed post is entitled, 5 Brilliant Ideas On How To Get Your Kids Excited For Back-To-School.

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It is a new school year and back-to-school season is here. This means that parents need to get their kids excited for the new school year. How can you do this? Here are some suggestions on how to get your kids excited for the new school year!

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1) Get them a backpack that they like

It is always important to be prepared when you have to go back to school. This means that you need a good backpack. A good backpack should meet a few criteria: it should be durable, have plenty of compartments, and be large enough for all of your books. Just as clothes are one way for a child to express themselves, a backpack can also be a great way for them to express themselves too. So why not let them pick out one they like? This could include Fjallraven backpack (which was originally meant for kids), but this could just extend to a back that has their favorite TV or comic book character on it.

2) Plan out the first day of school with them and make it fun

This is the first day of school, and it’s really important. The first day sets the tone for the whole year, so it needs to be fun and engaging to make sure students are excited about going to school again tomorrow. Whether it’s Faith Academy, or any other school, just make sure that this can be something really fun for them. The first day for children can be really scary, so it’s best to hype them up.

3) Buy some new clothes that area appropriate for the new season and weather

You can’t let the seasonal change catch you unprepared. Make sure to update your child’s wardrobe with some new clothes that are appropriate for the new season and weather. While shopping for clothes can be boring, children do love getting to have a say in what they wear. Plus, this can also be a way to get them all hyped up for school as well. So make sure you let them choose.

4) Purchase a planner or agenda for their use in class

It’s vital that kids learn about staying organized, so why not get them a little planner? Usually, kids don’t have phones or else they’re not permitted in the classroom. So getting an old fashion planner or agenda booklet for them can be a great idea.

5) Make a list of all their favorite food so they have something to look forward to lunchtime

If you take your kid grocery shopping with you, and you buy their favorite snacks and foods, let them know that this is going to be their lunch when they go back. This alone is going to hype them up. You can even go as far as getting them a new lunch box to help hype them up too. Sure, the school system does have food options, but it’s not always the best, so why not pack up some food for them?

Successful Homeschooling Tips That Every Parent Should Know

A key focus of my blog is General Education. A topic that’s gaining more momentum today for various reasons is home schooling. Many parents who are dissatisfied with public schools are looking towards this option, but also need to be mindful of all the aspects. The following contributed post is entitled, Successful Homeschooling Tips That Every Parent Should Know.

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In the past, homeschooling was seen as something that would need a great amount of time and effort in order to pull off. This is because homeschooling required that the parent had a lot of resources for teaching. This could mean textbooks, study guides, and other materials that could help the parent set up meaningful lessons that their child could learn from. However, thanks to modern technology and new resources, it’s actually fairly easy for a parent to start teaching their child at home without assistance from their child’s school.

So in this post, we’ll be covering some extremely important homeschooling tips that might be a little different than what you’d expect. Instead of giving out basic information and advice that you can find elsewhere, we’ve prepared some unique advice that will help you change the way you see homeschooling.

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Create homeschooling materials with the resources available on the internet

Many parents believe that homeschooling is extremely difficult due to the lack of available resources. However, one tip that will certainly help is to create your own homeschooling materials instead of just using whatever is available on the internet. Do keep in mind that this can take a considerable amount of work, but there are a couple of ways to drastically shorten the time you spend creating them.

One such example is using your online resources to make homeschooling materials from scratch. For example, you can use templates for everything from quizzes to movie guides thanks to a number of online resources. You can even use online tools and a variety of different software to generate things like crosswords that can be really helpful study materials for children of certain ages.

Another way to create homeschooling materials is to take what’s already been made and then change it a little. For instance, if you want to create a quiz for your child, then you can take a couple of questions from past exam papers and quizzes that you can find on the internet, mix them up into your own quiz, then present it to your child. You can even take the questions and then alter them a little bit. As long as you know how to work out the answer yourself, this can be a fantastic way to create your own study materials.

In short, it’s a good idea to start looking at ways to develop your own study materials instead of just looking at what’s available and giving it to your child. Not only does this get you more involved and invested in the homeschooling process, but it could potentially save you a lot of money as well. We know that there are a lot of parents out there that simply don’t have the time to create their own homeschooling resources. However, if you want to do this properly and give your child the time and attention they need to be successful in their studies, then it helps to spend a few extra hours each week planning their homeschooling lessons.

Look for more interesting ways to educate your child instead of just using school methods

School typically goes something like this; you go in, you sit down, you read a book, and then you converse with the teacher for a while. Then after a while, you’ll be given a test to see how much you’ve learned. This is usually how things go in a regular classroom setting and it works for the most part. However, the way that we learn about new things and take in information can be greatly improved, especially if you’re willing to try out different methods of teaching.

A great example of this could be watching movies. Movies are a brilliant learning tool when used correctly because they can not only be used to teach new vocabulary and language, but it can also be used to teach analytical skills. For instance, you could watch a movie with your child as a fun way to bond with them, but you can also task them with identifying certain things in the movie such as themes in the story and characters. This can then be used as a way to improve your child’s analytical and observational skills while also teaching them valuable lessons that the movie can offer. It’s one of the best ways to grow several different skills at once and is also a lot more entertaining than just reading a book.

It’s also important to emphasize how good hands-on learning can be. When we start to learn something, it’s easy to lose sight of our progress because we’re not actively doing something with our hands. We can read all about something in a book or article, but until we actually try it ourselves we can’t build muscle memory and familiarity. So if you want to teach something to your children quickly, create a practical activity or experiment that they can try out. Doing this will greatly improve the rate at which they learn, and it’ll help them memorize things more easily.

So to conclude, don’t just use books and quizzes as methods of homeschooling. Instead, look at different ways that you can transform the learning experience by providing them with something a little more unique and interesting. However, that’s not to say that textbooks and quizzes don’t work anymore or aren’t effective. The key here is to mix things up so that your child always has something new to try.

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Encourage your child to make more decisions for themselves instead of just directing them every step of the way

Lastly, we have to mention how we guide our children when it comes to teaching them new skills. It’s important to understand that while we do need to give our children some kind of direction so that they can navigate a new subject or topic more easily, we must not strip the control from them entirely. We have to start thinking about how we can encourage them to make their own decisions so that they can be prepared for future academic pursuits which are far more self-reliant than early schooling.

One way to do this would be to present your child with a number of different subjects to tackle at the start of the week. Your child can do them in any order and they can pick their preferred ones. This will help them establish some form of preference which you can then analyze to help you create a more tailored study plan for them later. For example; do they prefer tasks that are more hands-on, or do they seem to prefer studying by reading books and looking at examples? Do they prefer science and math as subjects, or do they gravitate towards more creative and expressive subjects? Every child has their own preference and it’s important that you encourage them to make their own decisions.

Once you start doing this, you’ll notice that your child will be a lot more engaged with homeschooling. Unlike regular school where all the decisions are made for them, homeschool gives them an opportunity to be more self-reliant and expressive with their tastes and preferences. So the next time you put together a lesson plan, make sure you give them some time to choose what they want to do instead of making every decision for them.

We hope that this article has given you some new ideas on how to approach homeschooling, and hopefully even solved a few of the difficulties you’ve had with it.

Home Schooling: Set Up The Ideal Space With These Tips

A key focus of my blog is General Education. Many parents are decided to home school these days. While you may be able to do educate your youngsters more effectively than the schools system, there are some things you need to consider. The following contributed post is entitled, Home Schooling: Set Up The Ideal Space With These Tips.

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Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Many new homeschoolers ask how to best set up their classroom. The options can be overwhelming. Here are some suggestions for creating a comfortable and productive homeschooling environment.

Keep Your Mind Open

It doesn’t have to be a classroom! You’ll need a work surface, comfortable seating, good lighting, and storage space. It should be near the parent or home teacher so they can answer questions when not directly involved in the student’s work.

Choose The Right Worksurface

If possible, set aside a large table or desk where work can be spread out and returned to as needed. Consider employing a table that is only used occasionally or for one purpose. Keep a shared surface clean and uncluttered, and make it a family habit to clean thoroughly between uses.

Make It Comfortable

Choose a chair that you can sit in comfortably. Afraid of their seats? So are their parents! Ensure that each student and the adult(s) assisting them to have enough space and comfortable sitting. Consider extra seating for colleagues.

Build Up Supplies And Materials

Some families set up a homeschooling area in a separate room, while others use the kitchen table. Large chalkboards are used for lessons or seasonal drawings. Keep your stuff organized and have your kids help you.

Locate shelves and storage containers for easy access to resources. To keep supplies organized, use a mix of shelves, drawers, and other storage solutions. Storage for curriculum, reference, and library materials is also required. Using an inbox and outbox or dividers can help organize work in progress. All of the classroom resources require a place to live.

Keep Clutter And Distraction To A Minimum

Having a clutter-free homeschool and playroom for your child can be really relaxing. Rotating play pieces frees up space and allows for more imaginative usage. Some toys may be stored for many seasons and only be used for a few weeks. Year-round toys (like blocks and dolls) can be neatly stored each afternoon. Even very young children can learn to help “put the toys to bed” at the end of the day.

Minimizing noise can also help. Avoid background noises like music, TV, and computers while in class. Singing a song between activities is simple and can be found in the library, online, or in our bookstore under K-8 Resource Books.

The Decor

Aesthetics are also vital when planning your homeschooling space. Are the colours appealing to the primary users? If you can repaint the walls, choose a soothing colour like pale green, light blue, or muted lavender. Paint a portion of one wall chalkboard.

Display current academic and artistic work in a visible homemade art gallery. To keep the learning area simple and uncluttered, choose a wall away from the learning area. If you want to decorate a specific wall, use a large bulletin board or cork wall tiles to define it. Have a look at Miss Jacobs’s succulent classroom theme for some inspiration.

Above all, don’t stress if your space isn’t ideal! Follow your emotions, creativity, and experience. Homeschooling is like life. Do you have any other tips that could help? Please share some of them in the comments below.

Landing A Place At The College Of Your Dreams!

A key focus of my blog is General Education. The higher education landscape is significantly different than what it was years ago. In addition to become more costly, it has also become much more competitive. As such, college prospects must make themselves as competitive as possible. The following contributed post is entitled, Landing A Place At The College Of Your Dreams!

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Getting into college may seem like a monumental process when you begin, but a place in the intuition of your dreams is within your grasp. There are even some things you can do, in particular, that will help make the application process easier and more effective, and make landing that place much more likely. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Maintain a high GPA in high school

Yes, that’s right; no one gets into their dream college without maintaining a high GPA throughout all four years of high school. You will find that students that meet these criteria will be among the first that colleges consider.

Of course, this means consistently hard work, although there are some things you can do to help maximize your chances of keeping your grades up. The first is to embrace organization, yes that’s right if you know what classes you need to be at, and what homework is due when you are much more likely to be able to stay on top of things.

Additionally, picking a high school that provides students with a customized learning pathway, tailored to their strengths and needs can make all the difference when it comes to keeping grades high. The good news is that many charter schools now offer the opportunity to follow a customized learning path online. Something that means you can get the optimum K12 school science from the comfort of your very own home, even during the pandemic.

Picture found at Pixabay – License CC0

Understand the application process

Next, if you want to max out your chances of getting into the college you want, you must make an effort to grasp the ins and outs of the application process.

For example, most students don’t realize that many colleges will take either an SAT or an ACT score. Therefore you can take both tests and then only use the one in which you did the best, thus increasing your chance of being accepted.

Create a brag sheet to help teachers make recommendations for you

Picture sourced at Pixabay – License CC0

Finally, it is essential to remember that teachers and other recommendations can go a long way when it comes to securing a place in your dream college. Unfortunately, educational staff will be asked to complete many recommendations over the application period, which means they might not always have a good handle on what makes you stand out among the best and brightest in your year.

The good news is that you can make it easy for them to remember all your best qualities by creating a brag sheet and distributing this along with your request for a recommendation. The great thing about using this tactic is that you not only will ensure all your personal qualities are covered, but it makes writing a recommendation faster and easier for the staff to which you give it.

Consequently, your recommendation is likely to be more positive, and on time too, because it is less of a chore for the staff member to complete. It’s a win-win for everyone involved and could just tip the scales in your favour and get you a place at your coveted dream college.

Applying to Colleges

A key focus of my blog is General Education. For those high school students who are aspiring to go off to college, it can be one of their biggest life decisions. There are a couple of factors to consider when applying to colleges. The following sponsored post is entitled, Applying to Colleges.

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The final year of high school has arrived or you are looking to begin a new career path. There are many steps for you to accomplish before you get your acceptance letter from the college of your choice. Here are a few to consider as you get started.

Look Into Your Grades

Contact your guidance counselor and ask for a copy of your transcript. If you have taken a standardized test, such as the PSAT, ACT, or SAT, find out the scores for those as well. You will need this information as you are looking into the colleges you are interested in. Many of these institutions require that you have a minimum grade point average to enroll. They will also ask for this data when you apply. However, they will only accept it from your high school or the testing corporation.

Evaluate Schools

Determine what you want to do after college and research schools that offer the majors required to accomplish this. If you are considering a position in the medical field, learn more about health degrees offered by these institutions and if they will help you get the job you want in the future. You should thoroughly investigate which college is best for you if you are looking for more traditional degrees as well. Set up a time to tour the campus and speak to an admissions counselor to get more information. However, with the precautions put into place with the Covid-19 virus, this might be done over the phone or by video chat.

Narrow Your Choices

Develop personal criteria along with the course of study that you plan to take to shorten the list of schools you have an interest in. This can include the cost to attend there, the scholarships that they offer, extracurricular activities that they may have, the number of students in the classroom, how far it is from your home, and other options. This should narrow down your selections to a manageable number to send your applications to.

Ask Your Current Instructors For Their Recommendation

When you send in your applications for admission, you will have to send in letters of recommendation from a few of your teachers as well. Consider ones that instruct classes that are similar to the major you plan to take or ones that you have a good rapport with. Ask for a time to meet with the teachers that you have chosen and make your request. You will need to provide an email or physical address to send the letter to. You might want to follow up with either the college or the instructor to ensure that they have been sent.

Write Your Essay

Many colleges and universities require that you submit an essay with your application. This document is normally a few hundred words about yourself. It gives the institution insight into how well you can write and what type of student you are. Start constructing this early in your senior year and ask others to edit it before you send it to the schools that you are interested in.

Dr. Cedric Bright discusses his path towards medicine and the current medical landscape

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘Healthcare Profession’, its foundations are rooted in the Basic Sciences. Medical Doctors/Physicians are likewise scientists who specialize in patient care and healing sicknesses.

I recently met Dr. Cedric Bright in person through a mutual acquaintance at a family gathering. I’d heard of him through conversation, and I think I’d previously seen him before, as he was among the many physicians on Twitter using the ‘hashtag’ ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’. It turns out that Dr. Bright, the Associate Dean of Admissions at the East Carolina University School of Medicine , coincidentally knew Dr. Qiunn Capers, IV, whom I first saw using the hashtag.

At the gathering, Dr. Bright eagerly answered the questions of numerous medical school hopefuls who were in attendance. As they asked him questions, he in turn asked them questions about their preparation, their academic performance, standardized test scores, experiences in clinics and overall ambitions. At the recommendation of the host of the gathering, I listened in on Dr. Bright’s discussions and was fascinated by what he had to say.

With my blog having both education and a science focuses, and with me also knowing many medical school hopefuls, I seized the opportunity to ask Dr. Bright for an interview and he agreed. In the following interview with Dr. Cedric Bright, we discuss his background, his path into medical school and his career, and finally the current landscape of medical education – specifically what medical schools are looking for in prospects. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Dr. Bright. Medical school has long been the destination for many undergraduates, and many people will love to hear what you have to say about what the journey towards practicing medicine entails. With that, can you talk briefly about yourself? Where are you from? What got you interested in medicine?

Cedric Bright: I’m originally from Winston-Salem, NC. I grew up there and attended a private boarding school. My parents were both public school teachers and believed in trying to give me and my brother every advantage we could have to be the best that we could be. They were of the ilk where, ‘This generation needs to do better than the last generation,’ and my parents made sacrifices for us so that we could go to private boarding schools.

From there I was accepted to Brown University for my undergraduate studies. I returned to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). I did my ‘Residency’ back at Brown. I stayed on as faculty there for four years, and I wrote a paper which was published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, looking at perceived barriers in medical education by race and gender. That led to me being recruited to Duke University and the Durham VA-Medical Center. I spent 13 years there before I was recruited to come back to Carolina (UNC). I spent eight years at Carolina, and just left three weeks ago to come here to East Carolina.

AD: So, let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Your parents – were they science teachers or were they teaching other subjects?

CB: They were general public school teachers. My father taught math and science in middle school, and my mother taught second grade in elementary school.

AD: What inspired you to become a medical doctor? Did you have a mentor in medicine? Also, are you the first medical doctor in your family?

CB: I’ll tell you that I’m not the first doctor in my family, but I also never met the person who was. He is a distant cousin on my grandmother’s side. I don’t recall hearing stories of him, though I’ve seen pictures. In terms of myself, my father being an educator brought home books for me and my brother to read. It was a series describing what doctors, nurses, engineers, fireman, police, etc., “do”. After reading those books, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, and my brother wanted to be an engineer. Fast forward 20 years, he’s become an engineer. Fast forward 25 years, I’ve become a doctor.

AD: During your journey, were there any challenges in your undergraduate studies or throughout medical school itself? Or were you a ‘straight A’ student where the road was all set for you?

CB: I was nowhere near a straight A student, but I was a hard worker. My parents put me in some courses that taught me how to study. In doing so, they helped me with my concentration. I probably would’ve been diagnosed as “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADHD). I still have lot of ADHD tendencies now in my old life.

I learned techniques on how to manage my thoughts, my ability to focus, and even with that I had some academic difficulties. I learned how to use the system – how to ask for help – how to not be afraid to admit that I didn’t know something. I learned how to visit teachers during their office hours, and how to spend time after class working on things. I learned how to ask my colleagues who were willing to help – all those types of things.

I did reasonably well in high school. I particularly did well in Chemistry; my teacher was my football coach. I was quite fond of him and he helped me understand Chemistry very well, such that I did very well in it in college.

I did quite well my freshman year in college. Subsequently, I had the ‘sophomore slump’. I pledged a fraternity the spring semester of my freshman year, and I came back and ‘acted’ that fraternity the first semester of my sophomore year, and my grades summarily crashed. At that same point in time, I decided that I didn’t like Biology anymore and I didn’t want to do Chemistry. I decided that there must be something else that I could major in. Low and behold I’d taken some courses in Film because I’d been interested in it, and so I decided that I’d major in it.

AD: Oh, interesting.

CB: My Pre-Med Advisor said, ‘You don’t have to major in a science to go to medical school,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you at your word on that!’ So, I ended up majoring in Film (Semiotics), and what it taught me was how to understand non-verbal communication, understanding how the body moves and when a person’s body is or isn’t reflective of their verbal statements. Being able to interpret my patients better, I think that helped me in the long-term.

AD: Interesting.

CB: So, I pulled my grades up my next two years after my sophomore year, and I think that’s why I got into medical school. My grade point average (GPA) wasn’t great – it was less than a 3.0 and I’ll leave it at that. I had to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) three times to get a score that would at least get me noticed. I think the final score that I got was a 27. I only applied to two medical schools and I got into the UNC, which was crazy.

After getting in, I was advised to do a summer program and I’m grateful that I was. It surrounded me with like-minded individuals. The first thing I tell young people today is to make sure you do some type of summer program to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. They become your colleagues of the future.

AD: Interesting.

CB: The program also helped me to understand the difference between undergraduate-level and graduate-level studying. Had I not done the program, I’m sure that I would’ve had more academic difficulty during my first year.

AD: So, you’re referring to the complexity of thought and….

CB: And the amount of time you must put into it. For instance, I was used to studying maybe an hour or two a day, and then ‘cramming’ towards the end and still being able to get a good grade. You can’t do that in medical school. In medical school you must put in four to five hours every day. You must put in six to eight hours on the weekend – it’s a ‘grind’ and you must get used to that grind. You have to become disciplined and not fall prey to the ‘Jedi-Mind Tricks’ that your classmates would throw on you by saying that they spent the whole weekend hiking the Appalachians. They might have hiked a mile, but they spent the rest of the time studying. They want you to think they didn’t. So learn not to fall for the Jedi-Mind Tricks. Everyone is working hard in medical school.

AD: Jedi-Mind Tricks (laughing). What was your ‘specialty’?

CB: My specialty ended up being ‘Internal Medicine’, but that’s another story.

AD: Okay.

CB: Let me finish this point. I prayed before I got into medical school. I said, ‘Lord, don’t let get into medical school if I’m not going to graduate!’ So, when I got in, that took a load off me because I knew that I’d prayed and that he’d answered my prayers and I knew that I would graduate. The question then became how. I’d done the summer program, but my first semester of medical school, seemingly on every test I was one to two points above passing and I wasn’t ‘killing’ it by any means.

I was the last man on the totem pole probably every time and on every test. At the end of my first semester, I passed three of my courses, but I failed one by less than a half a point. So, I ended up having to remediate that course during the summer, but after coming back from the Christmas break, I realized that I couldn’t do the same work that I’d been doing and working the same way. I had to change my study habits.

For the most part, I’d studied with one of my frat brothers. It worked well, but it didn’t work well enough. So I said let me branch out and see if I can study with some other people. So I started studying with some other people who didn’t look like me and I started finding ways in which they studied that reminded me of the study programs my father had put me in back in the day. I started re-utilizing those study techniques and suddenly, I began to thrive. I had to make an adjustment and go back to a study technique that really helped me out when I was younger, and it turned out to be the elixir that I needed in medical school.

From that point on in my second year, I moved into a house with six to seven other medical students. Each night we’d study until about 10 to 10:30 at night and we’d come out to the common area of this house and have this massive ‘Quiz Bowl’. The whole point of the Quiz Bowl was for me to take the most esoteric fact that I knew and try to stump them, and for them to take the most esoteric fact that they knew and try to stump me.

Now here’s the key Dr. Dunbar. If I stumped them, I had to teach them. And if they stumped me, they had to teach me. The effect of that was that by the time we got to the exam, we’d asked so many questions of each other from so many different perspectives that there weren’t too many questions on the exam that we hadn’t already discussed. So like a ‘rising tide’, we all did very well. What that speaks to is how you work in medical school to get the ‘volume’. It’s not aptitude that impedes people’s progress in medical school, it’s dealing with the volume.

It’s kind of like trying to eat an elephant. If you’ve got one person trying to eat an elephant, it takes a long time to do it. But if you’ve got seven to eight people trying to eat the elephant with everyone describing what they’re biting and how it tastes, the texture of it, you get to know the whole elephant, but you just ate a part of it. Does that make sense to you, sir?

AD: Yes.

CB: So that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned about approaching large volumes of work. If you approached it first being responsible for taking care of your own individual preparation and coming together and working with other individuals who have put in their own individual preparation, you can work very effectively as a group. But it first starts with individual preparation.

AD: Okay, so there’s a component there that requires individual preparation and then there’s a teamwork component there.

CB: That’s correct. The individual preparation gets you to 50%, but that team component gets you to 90%.

AD: That makes sense. When I first got to graduate school, I was used to working by myself, and I discovered that I couldn’t do that and get the grades that I needed. Just quickly, which fraternity did you pledge?

CB: I pledged Omega Psi Phi.

AD: In term of my next question, you discussed this at the gathering where we met, and it really resonated with me. When I was an undergraduate student at Johnson C. Smith University in the late-1990s, many of us pondered practicing medicine, but few of us thoroughly understood what it took to get into medical school. Aside from the academic credentials, what are some of the personal qualities aspiring medical students need to be successful and, in general, what are you all looking for? I remember you saying that you want them to have touched patients before.

CB: That’s true. We want to see that you’ve had a journey of learning about the didactics and the science component, yes, but also about the humanity – doing volunteer service for people less fortunate than yourself. This helps you to understand the social determinants and sometimes the behavioral determinants of health, and how they manifest themselves in our community.

We want you to have spent some time doing some type of hands on patient care, whether its learning how to take blood pressure, learning how to take vital signs in the doctor’s office, or being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and helping to triage patients and get them to the emergency room. Or it could be just driving an ambulance to take people to their regular hospital visits, being a nurse, or being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) doing the hands-on dirty work in the hospital. Lastly, it could be being a pharmacy tech spending time working in a pharmacy where people are coming in asking questions about their medications. And helping them understand the side effects, and reactions from other drugs and things of that nature or being a hospice volunteer to helping people with end of life issues.

These are the types of things we’re looking for hands-on wise. There are a lot of smart people in the world, but there’s a difference between being smart and having intelligence. We’re looking for more intelligent people than we are smart people. Smart people know how to answer questions. They can get a question right all the time, but they don’t know how to talk to people. They don’t know how to deal with the ‘human component’. Intelligence is knowing what you know and being able to apply it to the people in front of you at the right time, for the right person, for the right reasons.

AD: Now in that same vein, if I recall correctly, in terms of determining why students want to attend medical school, you’re not looking for canned, ‘cookie cutter’ answers. You want to hear some depth to their answers, right?

CB: Yes. The ‘depth’ comes in multiple ways. For example, when someone writes about their experiences, I don’t care so much about what they did, I want to know how it made them feel. I want them to be able to share with me if there was a significance that changed their view of death if they worked in a hospice; how they think the healthcare system works as the ‘donut hole’ as it goes to prescription drugs.

I want them to be able to share if they know the significance of how nurses are so overworked and have too many patients, such that a CNA becomes so very important; how to take care of people in the hospital, or how to take care of people in the clinic as a medical assistant. Why (what was your motivation)? What did you feel? What did you observe? What did you learn? That’s more important to me than what you did.

AD: So, this is my last question. The landscape of medical education and medical school, has it changed since you were a student yourself? We have a lot of technology now. People communicate differently. I’m sure the actual medical approaches have changed. Can you talk about how things have changed from then to now?

CB: I think when I was coming through, we didn’t have as many imaging tests and diagnostic procedures, so our touch to the patient became more important. Doing the appropriate physical exam was enough for you to come to a diagnosis. You didn’t have to have an X-ray. You didn’t have to have a ‘CT’, because if you did your exam right, you knew what your exam told you. Now we depend too much on technology to tell us what’s wrong with a person, and it doesn’t always equate to us finding the right answers on how to take care of people.

I also think that our technology and having to ‘keyboard’ so much on these electronic records takes us away from the human touch – the humanity of medicine which is the one-on-one conversation with our patients because we’re too busy ‘charting’. Our eyes don’t meet enough. Patients wait months to come see a doctor, not watch a doctor type. Seeing a doctor means we have eye-to-eye contact and we talk as two human beings intimately in one setting, and I think that’s becoming a lost art in medicine. Doctors are under time crunches to see more patients and to make the same amount of money, or to make more money.

AD: I think that rolls into my last two questions. I know that every student is different, but on average, what are the major learning points for the medical students when they come in, because I imagine that these are all very bright individuals. What are the main things they must learn? Is it what you described for yourself? Or is it something else?

CB: I think the main thing they need to learn is that it’s not their aptitude that’s going to determine their altitude, it’s their attitude. If they come in with the right attitude of wanting to learn, and sacrifice whatever it takes to learn, and not come in with the attitude of, ‘I’m not doing this or, I’m not doing that’. That just doesn’t work in medicine. They also must learn how to deal with failure. The thing about medicine as with all walks of life, Dr. Dunbar, is that we all fall down. There’s no shame in falling down and we shouldn’t fall apart the first time we fail.

But what we should do is learn from the mistakes that we’ve made. Learn from what has occurred, grow and move forward, and get back up. I like to say that there’s no shame in falling down. There is shame in laying there. And don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that their life is perfect. All that is, is a mask. We all fall down. We all have imperfections. We all fall short of the glory.

AD: My high school basketball coach used to tell us that exact same thing about attitude and altitude. My last question is going to be a little more global. Under the Obama Administration, we had the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and now that’s kind of been stripped down. In terms of the medical field itself, do we still have enough doctors? Is it still a thriving field?

CB: It’s very much a thriving field, and there will always be a need for doctors. I wholeheartedly believe in that. Artificial Intelligence will never be able to replace doctors, because they don’t have the touch. There’s more than enough need for physicians and, in many places, we’ve said there’s going to be a shortage of physicians in the future. That’s because we have areas where more physicians are passing away than physicians are being made.

The ‘Baby Boomers’ are probably a third of our physicians that we have in the workforce and they’re retiring at a rate of almost 1,000 every month. So, we’re going into a crisis of having more physicians retiring than those who are graduating. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and the American Association of Medical Colleges has been preparing different reports to show that. I was actually looking at one the other day.

The bottom line is that there’s a two-fold problem. We’re not making enough doctors and doctors are retiring, or we have enough doctors and there’s a maldistribution of doctors. Some would argue that theory. We have enough doctors, but all of our doctors want to practice where there are other doctors. But in actuality, we may need to redistribute them so that they practice in other areas that are rural and have less physicians in that area.

AD: Well, Dr. Bright that’s all the questions that I have. Thank you for your time and for sharing your path and knowledge and expertise about the medical field. A lot of people will benefit from this, and I look forward to doing it again.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign
Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

The Importance of Music in Schools

A key focus of my blog is General Education. I recent years, music and the arts have been de-emphasized in many curricula around the country. While there is a new emphasis on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, should music be forsaken altogether? The following contributed post is entitled, The Importance of Music in Schools.

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There’s been a lot in the news in recent years about a lack of arts and creativity in schools. Subjects that were once cherished, like music and dance and being replaced with more sciences, a great emphasis on computers and the addition of things like coding and networking. Even children in elementary school, aren’t being given a chance to learn music in lessons or take extra classes to learn how to play an instrument.

Music and subjects like it are quickly being erased from many curriculums. New subjects are becoming more important, and there’s no denying that children today need to learn more new skills. They’ll spend much of their life working on a computer, and things like coding, networking, and even digital marketing are essential in the modern world. It wouldn’t be right to deny our children the chance to learn them in schools. But, with only so many hours in the day, is it ok to deny them the chance to musical education, a chance to be creative, and even upload music? Shouldn’t we still be offering a rounded education, with music in the middle? Here are some of the benefits of teaching music in school.

Credit – https://unsplash.com/photos/HwU5H9Y6aL8

It Gives Children Greater Expression

Young children struggle to communicate their feelings and needs. Music gives them a new way. They can play instruments to channel how they are feeling, without having to find the right words. Frankly, this can be great for moody teenagers too.

It Makes School Fun

School is hard work. Today’s children are under more pressure than any previous generation. They sit exams much earlier, and much more frequently. A greater emphasis is put on academic achievements. They take more work home, they study for longer hours, and much more is expected of them. Even at a young age, this doesn’t leave a great deal of time for fun.

All this hard work, without any kind of balance can leave children feeling overwhelmed, struggling with anxiety and even facing depression. Even those that cope well can grow up hating school and resenting education. It certainly doesn’t create a positive learning environment.

Creative subjects, with a less academic focus, like music and the arts, adds some fun. It gives children a chance to break free. To be creative, to express themselves, to improve their social skills, to find something that they love doing, and most importantly, to be a child and enjoy themselves. This can reduce pressure massively, improving children mental health and well-being, and even increasing attendance rates.

To Encourage Social Skills

Most children are naturally very social. If they spend their time at school sat working quietly, next to people but not with them and then they go home and sit in front of the TV or playing on devices, these social skills aren’t being encouraged. In fact, they are being stunted. Music encourages friendships, teamwork and gives their social skills a big boost.

It Boosts Brain Power

Learning music boosts their brains. It uses a different part of their brains and gives them a kick start. Kids that learn music or play an instrument are often faster learners, better readers and have better memories.

Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

I originally published this piece on the Examiner back in January of 2013. It discussed some simple, but valuable career advice a professor from my undergraduate institution gave me and my classmates. If followed, this advice would likely save the student, their family and their schools money, time, and heartache.

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Though their importance is questioned by some today, there are advantages to attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Two big advantages are small class sizes and the personal relationships that can be developed with the faculty. These two factors were integral to my success at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU).

It isn’t just the close relationships with the faculty that are advantageous, but also the “tell it like is” mentality with which they taught us. The instructors felt as though they had to be hard on us students in order to make us competitive, to help us reach our potential, and ultimately, to achieve our dreams. Some students rejected this approach, while others embraced the guidance and the coaching.

Many students who major in the biological sciences do so with hopes of going to medical school and becoming a physician. Not only is being a medical doctor a well-respected profession, but it is also believed to lead to a life of wealth and prosperity; something many doctors and the author of The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Thomas Stanley, would debate.

During my first year at JCSU, a very simple but important piece of advice was passed along to the students in our Concepts of Modern Biology class. That advice was simply that we students should take some time to research our careers of interest. Again it was simple but very powerful advice.

“You all keep saying that you want to go to medical school, but you don’t have the slightest idea as to what it takes to get into medical school, or what’s going to happen once you get there,” our professor, a Ph.D. of Cell Biology, passionately said to us. She was small in stature but was a very tough-minded professor.

“What you all need to do is to go to the library, pull out a book on the healthcare professions and read up on what it will take to become a medical doctor,” she further advised us. She’d often say, “the slots are limited,” meaning that it was very competitive to get into medical school and they would only take the best of the best. A couple of driven, motivated and talented students from JCSU in that era did in fact go on to medical school to pursue their dreams.

It was debated quite a bit at the time whether or not students from a small HBCU like JCSU could get into medical school. The students who made it in proved that it could be done, but again they were some of the best and brightest that our Natural Sciences Department had to offer.

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I took my professor’s advice and investigated the path towards becoming a medical doctor. In between semesters, I visited Buffalo’s downtown public library and pulled out a book on the healthcare professions. Some of what I discovered in my research, I’d heard before; applicants needing a competitive score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a competitive grade point average (GPA) particularly in the sciences, letters of recommendation, and scientific research or volunteer experience in a clinic or hospital.

What I read next though were the real eye openers. Financially, many medical students offset their tuition with loans and graduated with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Medical school graduates are required to complete something called a “Residency” which usually involved them getting little sleep over long periods of time, depending on their specialization. They further had to be willing to move to often remote and undesirable locations in some instances initially. Finally, most don’t start making significant money until long after they’ve graduated or completed their training.

After doing the research, I decided that I didn’t want to go to medical school to be a physician. I stayed in science but decided to go into research which itself had its own notable challenges and struggles, though ultimately quite a few rewards. See my post on that.

The point of this story is not to discourage anyone from going to medical school, especially if treating and caring for patients is a student’s underlying motivation, dream and passion. A career is a personal choice and must be decided by the individual. That being said, it’s important to do the research, study the process and figure out all that will be involved when pursuing a particular career path.

At one point, being a medical doctor may have been a very lucrative profession to pursue, but as with most areas of life, things seldom stay the same. Significant factors that medical doctors have to contend with today that they didn’t worry about as much in years past, is the impact of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) on the degree of care patients can receive, and the threat of malpractice lawsuits.

“You want to do something that you’re going to enjoy doing every day. If you’re doing something just for the money, it’s not a good thing,” a mentor advised me. In general, careers should be pursued not simply for the money, but based upon what a student is passionate about and has a natural talent for.

Furthermore, the cost of seeking a professional education such as attending medical, dental or law school, for example, should be strongly considered before pursuing a given career. Specifically, the amount of debt that will have to be repaid should be one of the major considerations as it will impact an individual’s lifestyle for a potentially significant amount of time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree
A look at STEM: What are the Basic Sciences and Basic Research?
A look at STEM: What is Regulatory Science?
The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. Please check out my original YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

The keys to learning college-level Physics

“Physics is a different way of looking at the world.”

A key principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is awareness of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Several years ago, I tutored in the former Northern Virginia Tutoring Service to earn some extra income outside of my federal science career. The subject that gave me the most business year after year was International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) General Chemistry for high school students – both college-level courses.

On a few occasions I tutored some students in Physics – the ‘Grandfather’ of all the sciences. Physics has a special place in my heart as it was a milestone for me during my growth as a student. I didn’t take to ‘Physical Science’ as an eighth grader, and I struggled with high school Physics as a junior. Midway through my junior year, I figured out what was going on and ended the year respectably. I discovered that I could succeed in a ‘quantitative’ science course.

With a younger cousin now taking IB Physics as a freshman in high school and struggling early on herself, I’ve decided to craft a piece about the keys to learning college-level Physics. As a Pharmacologist/Toxicologist, I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible in this piece. Please excuse me if I’ve misspoken about anything or even leave a comment below this post.

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“Physics is a different way of looking at the world,” my father, a Physics major himself in college said when I was a junior in high school and didn’t understand the class initially. It was a vague explanation and I still didn’t get it. My teacher at Hutch-Tech High School in Buffalo, NY also didn’t give a nice comprehensive explanation of what the class was about before going into his discussion of “Scalars” and “Vectors”. He was a very robot-like, studious-looking, middle-aged gentleman, with a graying beard and glasses who almost never blinked as one classmate humorously pointed out one day.  To give him the benefit of the doubt, I’ll say that he might’ve given us a nice introduction and perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention.

In terms of my cousin who is struggling with Physics, one of the first questions I asked her coincidentally was if she knew what Physics was all about. She of course quickly answered, “No.” When learning anything, I believe that context is critical because it lets us know the ‘why’ and makes attacking the ‘how’ much easier. I explained to her that Physics itself is a broad field, but most importantly that it’s a way of mathematically explaining the natural world around us: calculating the masses of things, the speeds of objects, understanding how light and sound travel, understanding gravity, etc.

When NASA, SpaceX or their collaborators and competitors send astronauts and rockets into space for example, there’s a whole series of calculations that need to be performed and worked out ahead of time. Understanding “Time Dilation” in outer space requires some knowledge of how gravity and light work together. This gives us insight as to why individuals age more slowly in low-gravity environments. Calculating how fast a football ball travels, understanding the acceleration of cars, building high-speed rail systems, building bridges and buildings, and understanding how cell phones work – this all involves Physics.

Partway through my junior year struggles, something ‘clicked’ and I realized that we were being asked ‘word problems’ – problems where we were given multiple pieces of evidence and then having to solve for an unknown – usually having to use an Algebraic equation. I’ll use an example from the ‘Mechanics’ chapter of most Physics curricula. Mechanics deals with the movement and speeds of objects and thus involves concepts like: ‘Force’, ‘Momentum’, ‘Velocity’, ‘Acceleration’, ‘Friction’, and ‘Inertia’. The word problems typically involve giving two to three pieces of the puzzle and then asking the student to solve for the unknown.

An example is being given the mass of car, the speed of the car and then being asked to determine its Momentum (p). To answer the question, students must understand what Momentum is in terms of ‘units of measure’. In this case, Momentum is represented as: mass (m) * velocity (v) – the units usually being kilograms (kg) for mass and meters per second (m/s) for velocity:

p = m (kg) * v (m/s)

The measurement of speed is a ‘rate’ and in the United States, we typically measure speed in miles per hour (m/h). Canada uses kilometers per hour (km/h). Most Physics curricula express it as m/s. Underneath the Mechanics umbrella there is also Acceleration (a) which is very, very close to Velocity except for one subtle difference – the units are meters per second squared (m/s²). Instead of Momentum (kg*m/s) this one little change creates the unit for Force (F) (kg*m/s²) which is referred to as the “Newton”. The actual formula is:

F = m (kg) * a (m/s²)

This is just a piece of Mechanics. There are many more calculations in the: Circuits and Electricity, Dynamics, Kinematics, and Thermodynamics chapters just to name a few. This meticulousness with formulas and units of measure is what my father meant by, “looking at the world differently.” He meant looking at the world mathematically and in terms of formulas, laws and ‘constants’. And with that, I’ll discuss some simple keys to excelling at college-level Physics. They are as follows:

Understanding Physics at a high level: While the goal is to understand the world in a mathematical way, context is critical in my opinion because otherwise you’re just needlessly doing calculation after calculation. Again, my high school Physics teacher may have given us a nice comprehensive introduction and I was either daydreaming about basketball or girls, but my first memories of the class were ‘Scalars’ and ‘Vectors’ as described above. Once I got older and understood that Physics is everywhere, and its great history, I developed a great respect for the field and those who work in it.

Understanding the scientific and mathematical relationships: At some point during my junior year of high school, the ‘light bulb’ in my brain turned on. I realized that most of the questions we were being asked involved a principle of some sort and there were corresponding equations and formulas. The examples cited above involved Mechanics but there are many other modules in Physics. Students must be able to quickly read a question and identify which principle and the corresponding formula/equation being called upon. From there it’s pretty much ‘plugging and playing’.

Students must become meticulous about the units measure and your calculator must become your ‘best friend’ just like in Chemistry. Some questions give the student two different units of measure and the units for the answer may be a combination of the two, a constituent of the two, or something completely different if a ‘physical constant’ value is involved – the speed of light or sound for example or the Earth’s gravitational constant. Some questions even involve multiple equations. You get the point, and this is what makes the final key is so important; practice. By the way, many teachers and professors allow their students to write down their equations and formulas and bring them to the tests eliminating the need to memorize them.

Being disciplined about practicing the problems and seeking help: The final important key in my opinion, is taking the time outside of class to go over the practice problems and being ruthless about it. Depending on how long a given test is, students will usually only have about an hour to complete the questions. For that reason, it’s critical to be able to identify what’s being asked quickly, and then being able to quickly calculate the answer. To do that, students must practice as many problems as possible in their spare time – if the teacher assigns only the odd numbers in a chapter, then the student must also be willing to do the even numbered questions to master the principle.

Religiously doing the practice problems takes a certain amount of discipline, foresight and drive. More importantly it also builds confidence. This is the point I tried to drive home to my cousin and others in her situation. If students are confused about something when practicing their problems, they should seek out their teacher or a knowledgeable peer for more help. Once again, a key pillar of science is asking questions and knowing when you’ve arrived at the boundaries of your own personal knowledge.

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“I want to congratulate you. You’ve really turned things around this year,” my high school Physics teacher said to me late in my junior year. His words surprised me, and they showed that he was paying attention to how his students were doing. He saw me flounder early in the year, and then start to grasp the material as time went on. My early grades in the class were in the mid- to high-60s, but I recovered to finish in the high-70s to low-80s. As an undergraduate, I knew what to do immediately and scored in the 90s both semesters.

So, there you have it. Keep in mind that this is for high school and college-level Physics and it can get much more complex. There is for example “Calculus-Based Physics“, which gives me the chills just thinking about it. I imagine that the keys I gave still apply though the material is far more complex.  Lastly Physics in addition to being a prerequisite class for many STEM-hopefuls, it’s also a bit of ‘gatekeeper’ course which can derail the dreams of many Medical School hopefuls and other aspiring healthcare professionals.

Undergraduate Physics is as far as I went, though some of the principles did come into play once I started my graduate research. For the sake of this piece though, like Chemistry, students can get overwhelmed and lose hope once they fall behind early, which is dangerous because some may never want to participate in the STEMs afterwards.

Thank you for taking the time read this blog post. If you enjoyed this piece, you might also enjoy:

The keys to learning college-level Chemistry
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
The transferrable skills from a STEM degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?
A look at STEM: What is Inhalation Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Reflections On The Classroom From A Veteran Of The School System Revisited

“Somewhere there was a disconnection between the parents and what the students should’ve been doing at home, particularly their homework. The parents should’ve been helping to reinforce our program at home. If we could’ve just gotten the parents on board, things would’ve gone more smoothly.”

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is Education. Dad was a critical piece of my journey towards my earning my STEM degree and starting my career. I originally published this piece in the Examiner back in 2012, shortly after he retired from education. I lived with him for almost three years prior to starting my federal science career, and learned some things about his career in education simply through watching, observing and talking to him.

Dad taught in one of the ‘lower’ two districts in New York State’s “Capital Region”, and this account captures what it’s like for some teachers who work in ‘lower income’ communities. While Dad agreed to let me publish this piece, there was some deliberation over its content as he wanted to be truthful while not offending anyone. This piece raises several key questions. Do parents have a role in their child’s education? Is it the school’s job to do everything? Lastly, what are the ramifications for kids getting passed through the system without doing the work, and what ultimately happens to them?

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Dad retired from education after 20 years of teaching Life Science in junior high in one of New York State’s eastern central school districts. When asked about being an educator and the daily issues he faced, he focused mainly on the attitudes and preparedness of his students and their parents. He also focused on an administration that highly emphasized passing its students, probably due to outside pressure which eventually trickled down the to its faculty. The issues he discussed were not unique to his district, and were common in lower income communities across the nation.

“One of the hardest parts of the job was getting the students to believe that I knew what I was talking about,” he said. The adolescent years are known to be the start of a rebellious period in the lives of young people. It’s not only challenging for parents, but also for educators. He further added, “Many of my students came to school hungry and without having breakfast. It’s hard to learn that way!”

Dad spent a lot of time discussing parenting saying, “Somewhere there was a disconnection between the parents and what the students should’ve been doing at home, particularly their homework. The parents should’ve been helping to reinforce our program at home. If we could’ve just gotten the parents on board, things would’ve gone more smoothly.”

“Parents aren’t what they used to be. They seem to act as though they can just make babies and it’s the school’s job to raise them,” he lamented about parents who weren’t proactive and vigilant about their children’s education.

“When I came home, I frequently saw my father reading,” he continued. “In some families, kids come home and see Mom and Dad watching TV and not reading, and will do the same thing. For African American and Latino kids, reading is very, very important,” he said passionately.

Whether it’s a low income district or a high income district as described in the writings of Dr. Ralph G. Perrino of the former Northern Virginia Tutoring Service, strong parental involvement seems to be a key ingredient in the success of students.

When he visited the University of Michigan when I was in graduate school, the famous (and now maligned) neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson, originally from inner-city Detroit, openly acknowledged that he wasn’t a strong student early on in his life. He further acknowledges that it was his mother’s insistence that he read and continually expand his mind that set the stage for his successes.

Dad finally voiced his frustrations with the school system itself saying, “In many districts there is a lot of pressure on teachers to pass students who may not be measuring up to the teacher’s expectations and what’s outlined in the curriculum.” In short, whether intended or not, the expectations for his students were being lowered. He further encountered quite a few students and parents who expected passing grades without the work being done.

“The school district was phasing out effort, good behavior, homework, and classroom participation. My students’ grades were eventually based mostly on tests and quizzes,” he said. He closed by saying (with conviction), “The problem is that when these students go out into the real world, they’ll be in trouble in job settings.”

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I want to close by acknowledging all the educators who go to work every day preparing our future generations. It’s a very important and sometimes underappreciated career/job. I’ll always remember seeing Dad go away to school every day, grading papers on the weekends, and enjoying his summer vacations. His experiences weren’t unique, and they applied to many schools in other cities across the country.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in academic achievement
The benefits and challenges of using articulate speech
Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in class, household income, wealth and privilege
Who will benefit from Apple’s $350 billion investment?
Father’s Day 2018: Dad’s doctor and his lawyer, and a discussion on careers
Father’s Day 2017: Reflections on some of Dad’s money and life lessons

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.