Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Education Needs to Emphasize Soft Skills that Translate into Hard Cold Cash

No Child Left Behind mandates have school systems scrambling to improve teaching, update curriculum, raise teacher quality and analyze data between different populations just to name a few of the many actions each school is facing. Yet, given the recently released Nation's Report Card, securing significant change is going to require some non-traditional solutions.

Maybe it is time for public education to take a lesson from corporate America who is just now also realizing the impact of soft skills on the bottom line. During the last two centuries, businesses focused on controlling their employees. The work environment was one of control where individual actions required a chain of approval that went vertically up, then vertically down. This type of management style produced excessive waste and failed to capitalize quickly when opportunities were presented.

According to annual Michigan State University's national college employment survey, today's knowledge worker must have the following skill sets:

Analytical ability

Communication including verbal and written

Decision Making

Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

Leadership both individual and group

Personal attributes including work ethics, flexibility, initiative and motivation

Problem Solving

Team Building

Time Management

Yet, looking at most curriculums the focus is on cognitive content specific to the academic disciplines. The presumption is that this knowledge and the supporting skill sets as mentioned above will easily transfer to the workplace. Unfortunately, American business owners know that this is a fallacy because of information that is retrieved from such surveys conducted by Michigan State and other organizations.

For example, American students spend 12 plus years learning how to read and write. Yet if communication is more non-verbal than verbal depending upon how much of Dr. Albert Mehrabrian's research you believe, then most young people except for those in speech and debate have already been set up to fail because they don't understand that effective communication extends far beyond reading and writing.

Time management is another great example. Many adults have issues with time management or rather with better self management since you can't manage a constant that being time. However, the osmosis learning strategy once again rears its inefficient and ineffective head during the kindergarten through high school learning experience. Can you remember as a young student when you actually had a class on effective time management? In today's classroom with the ever-expanding curriculum, would it not make more sense to actually instruct young people on such a valuable skill instead of leaving it to the osmosis learning strategy?

Developing and nurturing those critical soft skills are what employers know will translate into success for their employees and cold hard cash for them. If public education wants to be truly effective, then the leadership needs to get ahead of the ball and look at the desired end results. Practicing another 33 years of reform where nationally 17 year olds have not gained any reading improvement will absolutely remove us from being the number one world economic force.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rebirth of the One-Room Schoolhouse

You know you're onto something hot when you look over your shoulder and see Donald Trump smiling with the same idea. I could not have been happier. Ah, but wait, I'm getting ahead of my story.

A hundred years ago school was serious stuff. Everything had to be memorized. Students wrote on stone slates with slate pencils. In one-room schoolhouses they were seated by grade; boys on one side, girls on the other. Discipline was strict and punishments prompt. All students walked home or in rare cases, rode horses.

Today, children go to school by bus to modern buildings. Every class has a different teacher who is stationary in their own classroom. Discipline is slack and new laws make punishment nearly void. The only serious concern students have is their threads and popularity. The dropout rate is blamed on indifference or pregnancy, not the old reason of "needed on the farm".

Three years ago, a pilot program implemented by a school district in Salem, Oregon created a new vehicle for learning in their community. This online high school served an eclectic group of teenagers from dropouts to brainiacs, and of course the popular "home-schoolers". All students accessed courses on the Internet, submitted their homework assignments via email and communicated with their teachers by phone as needed.

This is one example of providing alternative learning options for kids today and is a great safety net for at-risk students. Allowed to work at their own pace, they are closely supervised to make sure they attend their cyber classes on a regular basis. Real benefits include attending classes at any time of the day, seven days a week.

This is an excellent opportunity for teen parents or medically challenged students when traditional learning options haven't worked. When these kids finish high school and begin planning their continued education a new idea is coming into fruition: Webucation!

Most new terms beginning with Web- have been short-lived but Webucation is showing signs of survival. Distance Learning is an idea seen to have great potential and has the close attention of nearly all educational institutions. Everyone is clamoring to be in the right place at the right time.

It would seem that the one-room schoolhouse has been reborn. These days it is the dining room, upstairs guest-room, or the converted garage. Some of the students are teen parents but there are an increasing number of stay-at-home moms and jobless dads. Add to this the thousands of nine-to-fivers who feel their jobs are shaky at best.

If you saw this trend coming, as did Donald Trump publishing Trump University online, you would definitely be in the right place at the right time. Public education needs a lot of help and this may well be in the form of web-based education. I can think of fifty reasons why this would be advantageous for primary and high school grades, but in this case it still has miles to go.

Career courses are exploding as this trend matures and becomes the next billion-dollar industry. Villanova, Tulane, Notre Dame are only a few offering degrees online boasting: "accelerated, affordable, accredited, anytime training, anywhere knowledge". Streaming video lectures - just watch and listen to Professors on CDs and review as many times as desired. Learning doesn't get any easier than this.

Fortunes were made selling shovels to the gold rush miners. Obviously you don't have to have quality material that would make an online course worth publishing... sell the shovels, or in this case sell the courses. Hard to sell? Not at all! On-the-job experience doesn't go half the distance of a degree or certificate. Demand for skilled professionals has never been greater than it is today.

The idea of Webucation appeals to busy adults. It is perfect because unlike conventional courses with set time schedules they will be buying courses the other way round; adjusting them to fit their spare time. And all from the comfort of home. With a degree or certificate in hand they will be a much sought-after skilled professional and their earning potential increased tenfold.

Here's a bonus: sell these educational courses and take advantage of that by getting certified yourself. While you certainly can make a fortune selling the "shovels" it doesn't hurt to arm yourself with new wisdom on how to use this new wealth. A degree in Financial Planning, Tax Preparation or Real Estate will make you the person to see in a crowded room.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Student Leadership Program Should Create Future Knowledge Workers and Deliver Positive ROI

Leadership is a popular topic both in the business and education worlds. The main reason for this popularity is that effective leadership is a primary factor for the success of any organization. By implementing leadership at the middle school and high school grades, the belief is that this earlier intervention will ultimately help not only the students, but the local communities, small businesses and larger corporate citizens.

What constitutes an effective middle school or high school system wide leadership program that delivers a positive return on your investment? These 10 pointers may help you better answer that question.

1. All staff must be developed at leaders to ensure consistency of behaviors through modeling. From bus drivers to superintendents, these individuals become role models for many young people. If their behavior is not consistent with any curriculum, then the likelihood of sustained success is doubtful. Using a student leadership program that evolved from a proven adult leadership process is probably a better way to proceed.

2. The desired end results for this leadership program should be clearly articulated before adoption of any curriculum. Simple benchmarks could be improved grades, improved high school retention and less discipline referrals. All benchmarks need to be measurable because as the old adage goes "if you can measure it, you can't manage it." This is the beginning to determine a positive or negative return on your investment for the leadership program or any change initiative.

3. The curriculum should focus on the affective learning domain especially interpersonal skills. Additionally, the cognitive and psychomotor domains should include: communication, conflict resolution, goal setting and goal achievement, higher order thinking skills, team building and time management.

4. Alignment between the leadership curriculum and the other academic disciplines is also necessary to the success of such a program. There needs to be numerous opportunities to apply newly learned concepts outside of the leadership classroom.

5. A goal setting and goal achievement Action Plan is probably the most critical piece to the success of this program. This Action Plan for success should allow for all students to self-evaluate themselves and provide a mechanism to prioritize and organize current and future goals.

6. A mentoring or alumni program should follow the student leadership development program. At this juncture is when the youth can fully participate in community projects as well as mentor younger students.

7. Parents need to be informed and if possible included within this leadership program. With many parents lacking the necessary skills and tools to help their children, by proactively working with parents helps both the young people and the school.

8. Local small business owners to larger corporate citizens need to be also involved. These companies can help by participating as keynote speakers as well as work to fund scholarships to help offset the cost of the leadership program and employing the graduates.

9. The curriculum should be highly interactive, highly adaptable and flexible and modeled after the best corporate training and development programs. Also, this curriculum should be researched based and should reinforce sound educational research including emotional intelligence, cognitive retention, etc.

10. Any student leadership program should also include pre and post assessments both cognitive and attitudinal. Additionally, a mechanism should be included to track these students for longitudinal data collection. These assessments show both the short-term return on investments as well as the long-term investments.

Finally, this leadership program should be for the majority of your student body and not just the high performing students. The success of our country is due to the as much if not more so to the every day efforts of the average citizen.

If constructing a viable and sustainable student world-class leadership program is in your current or future plans, then these pointers should catapult you ahead of the class because you now know that you have created self-leaders who are capable of being the knowledge workers needed in the 21st century workforce.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Education - Improve Learning, Test Scores and Performance Through 10 Universal Laws of Learning

In the effort to meet No Child Left Behind mandates as well as to increase performance through corporate training and development, how to make students or participants learn continues to vex highly trained educators and professional facilitators. From my 25 plus years of experience in business and education, I have come to accept and believe in these 10 Universal Laws of Learning.

Universal Learning Law #1 -

Learning is an innate desire within ALL human beings. To ignore this first law of learning is what makes any student disengage themselves from the learning environment.

Universal Learning Law #2 -

Learning is multi-dimensional for ALL human beings. We have numerous senses from which to learn.

Universal Learning Law #3 -

Learning is an ongoing process for ALL human beings. Learning should never be an event, but a continuum.

Universal Learning Law #4-

Learning is a separate behavior from performance. Learning is the acquisition of knowledge. Performance is the application of knowledge.

Universal Learning Law #5 -

Learning needs to be relevant to each individual based upon his or her existing experiences or schema. Bordeom is a symptom of this law.

Universal Learning Law #6 -

Learning is a bridge between new information and the students' or participants' existing schema. The goal is to build the strongest and most flexible bridge possible.

Universal Learning Law #7 -

Each learning objective requires a one to one correspondence to each testing statement to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Do not play "gotcha" with your students.

Universal Learning Law #8 -

Learning is delivered in short sessions to allow time for interaction between students or participants.

Universal Learning Law #9 -

Learning must avoid the "Osmosis Factor" where a presumption exists that the students or participants will acquire certain knowledge and skills without direct instruction.

Universal Learning Law #10 -

The brain will only absorb what the butt will endure.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Education is a Kill Joy

We all sure have suffered in the hands of the "latest educational fads." Forty years ago, children would fail one subject and consequently had to repeat the whole year again. Sometimes, they would fail for missing as little as .25 points on a final exam.

Dedication, hard work, good participation in class, a positive attitude...nothing would count towards making the grade. They were considered failures, not of the system, but individual failures; it was their fault that they didn't make it.

I have a friend who is a sad example of this system. When he was in 5th grade, he failed Latin for, perhaps, half a point. He needed to repeat the entire year because of Latin, only, the discipline Latin was removed from the roll and was no longer part of the system.

In other words, he was held back for something that didn't exist any longer. How tragic is this? And worst, how did that make him feel?

Later on, the system determined that children were not supposed to be "punished" in such way. In came the theory that recuperation was a better approach to dealing with those who couldn't pass the class.

They would study during vacations to make up for lost work. Then they could go on, provided they made the grade. In my opinion this is a far better way to evaluate the students. And fairer too.

But the system kept moving forward until we arrived at today's democratic education, for lack of a better term. This system, though gentler to the student's self-esteem, is another disaster, for now, we have happier students who get into college without the ability to read and write.

Too many college students are in the "7th grade bracket." Now, when we think that these are the people controlling every single aspect of our lives in the near future, one wonders how we will ever survive the flood of semi-literate people leading our country.

The trouble is now that we have two extremes. If, on one hand we have competent people who have suffered because they were called "impaired," "dumb," "idiotic" and "slow" to say the least, we also have extra inflated egos who can barely write their own names.

So, what are we to do? How can we solve this paradox, and, not only prepare our students for a great and realistic world, but also to do so in a way that each one will have his place and be happy for it?

The educational system has failed us, the aggravation being that we think that everyone should go to college. I disagree; college education, for example, is not for everyone.

In today's society, only 25% of college graduates work on their chosen field. So, why waste resources, personal and governmental, in pursuing an education that will be useless from an occupational standpoint?

My point is that, as with every society in the world, ancient or modern, literate or illiterate, there is a place for everyone. Even in Brave New World the expression "to each, his own" applies. This means that, in the same way that we are not all made to be lawyers, politicians or artists, we are not all made to be janitors, mechanics, or truck drivers.

In a truly democratic society, where education inspires the individual to do his best in whatever occupation he or she chooses, everyone is a winner, because everyone is truly happy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

College Books - Tips and Tricks for Saving Money

College books are getting more and more expensive every year. University course textbooks are one of the biggest expenses of attending college and the average amount of money needed for college books is $800 per year. The cost of college textbooks is also constantly increasing by around 6% per year. Textbooks are essential for most college courses and can often seem impossible to afford however, it is possible for college students to save quite a bit of money on their books by shopping smart.

One of the best ways to save on spending a lot of money on college books is to borrow them instead of purchasing them. University libraries have a good stock of required reading books that students can use on the premises throughout their course and help lessen the impact of not having enough money for actually purchasing college books. Naturally the majority of savvy students have cottoned on to the fact that they too can save money on college books by using the ones stocked by the library so it may be difficult to be able to find the book not in use on a regular basis. If you plan ahead and set aside a few different times of the day and week to visit the library you may find the best options for you to be able to use the college books that you want. Not everyone wants to study late in the evenings, especially at weekends, but if your library is open and you are intent on finding ways to save on spending money for college books then this could be the perfect time.

Another avenue that may work to save spending a lot of money on college books is to approach your course professor. They will often have a huge stock of college books that they have acquired through various means over the years and it is a good idea to see if you can borrow a particular book that they may have. Not only may this help but you be able to find out if certain college books are really required for the course or if you are only going to need a chapter or two from them. With this advance knowledge you can obtain a copy of the book for a short period of time from the library or another student who has bought the book and read the relevant chapters without having to fork out the money for college books that you won't necessarily need.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 Reasons Adults Go Back to School

Over two million adult Americans go to school every year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. People start or return to school for many reasons. The following list is a sampling.

1) To learn more about a hobby or an interest. Do you long to play golf? Have you always wanted to learn write, knit or play the guitar? Then maybe adult education classes are for you. These classes could be offered through a university or college extension program or through a church or community center, or they may be at a place of higher education for credit. Participating in a class or two can teach you something new or how to do something with more skill than you already possess. And if you take a class for credit--say, European History to help with your genealogy project--you might find the basis of an education that leads to a second career.

2) To learn a foreign language for travel or fun. Have you always wanted to go to France or India or China, but are worried about not speaking the language? Enroll in a foreign language class so you have the basics to make your travels easier. Classes are usually categorized as "conversational", "for travel" or by level (i.e., French I, Spanish I, etc.). Any classes will teach you the basics--such as how to say yes, no, ask for directions, inquire as to where the bathroom is, order food, etc.

3) To set a good precedent for your children. Maybe you didn't get as much education as you wanted. Maybe you want your child to stay in school and to learn as much as possible. Sometimes the best way to lead a child is by example. If you do your homework every night, so will your child. And you can sit at the table together and use it as bonding time.

4) To get a career. Did you not have time to go to school like you wanted? You had your children at a young age, or the opportunity or finances wasn't there and now you are thinking of what you'd like to do with your life. The thing you currently get up and go to every day is your job; you wouldn't call it a career, but now you are ready for one. Going to school, whether a trade school, a community college or a university, can get you on track to create a career from your current occupation.

5) For career advancement. Maybe you are in a job you love but you aren't sure what the next step is: do you want to become a manager or a specialist? Additional education can make the difference between paralegal and lawyer or between medical receptionist and medical assistant.

6) To find a new career. Were you in a job that was recently phased out? Are you still using DOS while the rest of the world is using Windows? Sometimes it isn't your choice to go back to school, but the skills you have learned and the life you had been leading now seems passé. New job opportunities are created every year for people willing to be trained or retrained. Programs like the Microsoft certification programs and schools that train people to do new occupations in just a few months have been created specifically for people like you.

7) To change careers. A student named Raeeka arrived to the world of music on a road less traveled. She had been a corporate lawyer for a few years and was very successful, but financial gains did not fulfill her passionate longing--to be an opera singer. So, in her mid thirties, she gave up law and started over, moving to a new city, taking new classes and making new friends. At first she worried about how she would be treated by the other students, many of which who were more than 15 years younger. But her classmates waylaid her concerns. And this past May she graduated and has been demand as a soprano at opera companies around the country.

8) To follow a dream. Like Raeeka, you may have a dream. Maybe your dream isn't so specific. Maybe your dream is to just go to school and finish your degree. Or maybe you already have a degree and a career, but you've always dreamed of an advanced degree. It's not too late to explore other subjects, to take courses in something you'd really love to delve into more deeply.

9) Work is paying for it--so why not? Will your company pay for classes? Then why not take a few in something that interests you or something that your boss would be interested in having you take. Many corporations will pay for their employees to work on MBAs in the evening or on weekends. If one of your employee benefits is paid education, why not take advantage of this opportunity?

10) To meet other, like minded adults. Would you like to widen your social sphere and better your skills? Take a cooking, wine appreciation or any other kind of class where you can meet new people and practice a new art. Then you can dazzle old friends with new knowledge, and share your excitement with new friends.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What's The Difference Between Distance Learning And American Public Schools?

Before distance learning and elearning, students in rural
school districts were often at a great disadvantage when it
came to subjects being offered. A small school district
sometimes didn't have the resources to attract teachers
that were in high demand.

Math, science and foreign language classes were often
limited because of this shortage. Today, distance learning
and elearning have changed the way school districts
determine class schedules, making many more opportunities
available to students.

Public schools have changed dramatically over the past
century and a great number of those changes can be put down
to two factors - state and federal mandates governing the
classes that must be offered and requirements for
graduation, and (of course) the ever-increasing world of

Computers have made the world a global neighborhood in
which anyone can instantly communicate with those from
another country, even if that country is half way around
the world. Language and time differences are virtually the
only barriers. This means that distance learning and
elearning are a part of the curriculum of many schools.

As schools began to connect to the Internet, the immediate
concern in most cases was how to regulate the use. The next
was how to best use the technology to benefit school
districts and students. Distance learning and elearning
became the way to provide options, especially in those
rural districts that couldn't meet state mandates.

Consider the situation of many smaller, rural schools. If
the school is required to offer a foreign language but
can't recruit a teacher, what should happen to that school?
Forced consolidations have been common in some states.
Students lost the benefits of schools in their own towns
and faced long bus rides to new districts.

With distance learning and elearning, more schools can meet
the state and federal mandates to offer specific classes.

Consider yet another situation. A smaller district has four
students who show great promise in their math studies and
it's quickly apparent that they could go well beyond the
normal math classes offered in high school.

There's no one on the teaching staff capable of teaching
those advanced concepts and it's financially impossible to
hire someone for that task alone. Distance learning or e-
earning could provide those classes.

Special needs children are another group to greatly benefit
from distance learning and elearning. While many issues can
only be dealt with between teacher and student, face-to-
face, there are many things that can be taught and learned

Whether the subject of distance learning or elearning is a
foreign language or sign language, and whether the class or
courses are being offered to one student or the entire
student body, distance learning and elearning have become
an important tool for many public schools.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Students Plagiarize

After more than six years in higher education and discovering dozens of incidents of plagiarism among my students at various schools, I have realized that the purposes for plagiarism can be categorized four different ways.

1) Laziness. The student waited until the last minute to do the assignment and panics, knowing he won't have time to do it right. So, he pulls an essay or paper from the Internet--and either just adds his name to it or uses parts of it and other online essays--and turns it in as his own work.

2) Too high of expectations. Last year I had a student who came from a long line of writers. Her father was a writer, mother was a writer and grandfather was a writer. She felt her own work never lived up to the "household of writers". When asked to do an essay for my class, she struggled through her own words and feelings of inadequacies and began to interject these words with whole paragraphs or pages she had taken from respected, expert sources, of course without attributing a word of it to them.

3) Doesn't care or thinks the teacher won't know. A partial team of lacrosse players actually said they didn't think I'd catch them after they turned in papers downloaded from the Internet. They didn't care that the work wasn't theirs. They didn't care that they could get thrown out of school for violating the honor code. They just figured the papers were easy to download, the papers were well written, and that I couldn't possibly be familiar with ALL of the papers on the Net so I probably wouldn't catch them.

4) Just doesn't understand what plagiarism is. This happens often with international students. Sure, if you have a school honor code and a plagiarism notation on your syllabus, they probably can quote it to you word-for-word. But, in some cultures, regurgitating words of esteemed experts is considered honorable to the esteemed expert--and is a sign of a well-educated student. These students may not understand that they must document who said the words originally, otherwise it is akin to cheating. As a professor, you want these types of plagiarizers if you are to have any. Once they understand why they must document their sources, they will do so readily. The other three types of plagiarizers aren't as easy to "teach" or change.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Easy Study Skills for Exams

Easy Study Skills for Exams


Study skills: do you start reading at one end of your library and try to read through to the other end?

Of course not. So you already know one effective approach. Be selective! We can build on that now.


More Study Skills - what not to study


Whole books

Your lecturer tells you to read "War and Peace". If you have study skills you won't! Even with perfect memory - how much of the book can you cover in an exam essay that takes 40 minutes to write?

Look through the library for abridged versions of your books, or commentaries... Now you're using your study skills.

Buy your textbooks 2nd hand. Why do you think they are in perfect condition? Because the last students hardly opened them!

Why should you buy books that the last student didn't read? Now you're thinking! Now you're using study skills.

Whole syllabus

One benefit of attending classes is that you get a skeleton outline to apply your study skills. The skeleton will be complete for the sake of completeness. But only some parts matter to your study skills.


Study yourself - you're interesting aren't you?


Each day write down at what time of day you didn't mind using your study skills, and could really get down to work. Write down the times when you hated to study. I study best early in the morning. You might study best late at night.

Do you work best in a totally silent room, or with background music?

Do you work better if you are petting the dog or does it interfere with your study skills?


Use your spying study skills


Find past exam papers in the library. Put them in order by date, then go through the earliest one, and write down the subjects in a column at the left of your page. Put the date at the top of the second column and a tick for each subject. Now put the date of the next paper and a tick opposite each subject that is repeated, and write in any new subjects.

Do the same for all the years that you have. Why is the date important? Look at your table. If a subject appeared every year from the left, then suddenly stopped appearing it probably means that the examiner changed. Study all the subjects that appear every year first. Then study those that appear four years out of five... you get the idea.


Important study skills - Make a calendar


Plan in detail which subjects you'll study on which days until the exam.

Don't be too ambitious. You already know that at some times of the day you can't use your study skills. You know that you won't want to study on your birthday or Christmas day or... Just be realistic. A calendar that gives you over a thousand hours of study isn't as good as one that gives you 400 hours that you can stick to.


Become an expert


An expert knows more and more about less and less.

You've used your study skills to cut out big chunks of your syllabus. Use the time you save to learn more about the parts you've left than the examiner knows. Use the internet to search for exciting snippets of information about your shortened syllabus.

Perhaps your examiner doesn't know the exact day of the week on which an important bit of history happened. Perhaps you've forgotten what you read about it, but write down your best guess. The examiner will be impressed, because he doesn't know that you got it wrong!


Study skills for the day of the exam


Everyone will tell you that if you don't know it, it is too late to learn. They are wrong! They are talking about long-term memory. You will be using short-term memory.

As you are sitting outside the exam room study your formulae, or dates, or anything else that you have difficulty remembering. Whenever the examiner says that you can start writing, write down all these things on scrap paper. You have managed to remember them for ten minutes. You can now forget them until you need them again, which may be never.


Study skills in the exam


"That isn't allowed!" you exclaim. It definitely is allowed. If you have a multiple choice paper just miss every question that you don't know. There is usually another related question somewhere. When you see it, you will work out the answer to the question that you didn't know. That is study isn't it?




Study smart - not longer than everyone else. Start with a free report on the most powerful exam technique.

Monday, May 23, 2011

7 Tricks for Landing a Great Job Teaching ESL-EFL (English as a Second Language)

7 tricks for landing a GREAT job teaching English as a second language and
keeping it

Have you dreamed of living in a foreign country, traveling
around the world, or meeting new people and experiencing new cultures?

Maybe you have, and thought that it was inaccessible or out
of reach. Let me tell you, it's not!

Like you, I had a keen interest in international travel,
and wanted to get out of the USA.

I was a somewhat seasoned IT professional. Life was great,
until the bottom fell out of the IT Market in the 90's. . . I realized that I
was competing against people from all around the world, in a market I wasn't
really that interested in, and that if I wanted to stay ahead, it was going to
require continual study, certification and re-certification for the rest of my

So I decided to take off. Initially, I worked for a
management consulting company in India that outsourced Contact and Call centers
from the West. I did really well, and ended up being a vice president of that
company. Later, I taught English in China, India, and finally, in Thailand,
where I've stayed ever since.

Teaching English or ESL can be a very rewarding experience
for the right person. In many cultures, teachers are held in very high esteem,
and you'll make a great salary, that will allow you to live a very comfortable

If you want to land that dream ESL Teaching jobs, there are
a few tips that will help you out immensely.

Look for jobs in the country where you want to teach.
It's relatively easy to find jobs in China, Korea, Japan, etc. online, but you
never know what you're getting into until you're there. It's a great idea to
go ahead and get a "lay of the land", take a look at the school in question,
and meet and talk with some other ESL teachers who you will work with.
They'll be able to give you lots of great information on the potential job
that will help you make a better decision.

In some countries, like Thailand
and many others, it's difficult to get hired from outside of the country. So
just plan on a short vacation, that may turn into a long term stay, and be sure
to take enough money to return home, or to another country you're interested in
if things don't work out.

Dress to impress! You don't need to show up for an
interview wearing a three piece suit, but you need to look like a teacher. A
nice, ironed/pressed shirt, a pair of slacks, and ALWAYS a tie should serve you well.

Bring copies of all of your qualifications with you to
an interview. You'll need copies of your original Bachelors degree, any TEFL
or ESL teaching certifications you have, and in some countries like Korea,
you'll need originals of your transcripts from university.

Get a ESL/TEFL teaching certificate! There are lots out
there. The most recognized is probably the CELTA, offered through Cambridge
University at many locations throughout the world. The CELTA is a four week
course with an observed teaching practicum. If you're looking for the better
jobs in the EFL/ESL world, CELTA is definitely the way to go. There are lots
of other certificate programs that you can choose from, and even many online.
Just remember - If you're interviewing against similarly skilled and
experienced candidates, the better your credentials are, the better your
chance of landing the position!

Emphasize ANY teaching and/or training experience that
you may have had on your resume. If you taught a Sunday school class at your
Church, have trained people at work, or have any relevant experience with
children or education and training, this is much more important than being the
A1 bean-counter of the year at your previous position.

Talk with other teachers and learn about their classroom
management style. This is a key factor, especially in teaching young
learners. You may bet the worlds most gifted grammarian, but if you can't
lead a classroom of energetic 10 year olds, you'll be lost, or burn out very

Try to learn all of the subtleties of the culture that
you can, and especially the ones which will affect your job of teaching ESL!
For instance, in many Asian cultures, children are VERY reluctant to tell you
the names of their parents, because the other students will call them by their
parents name. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for the students,
its something of an insult to their family and specifically their parents.
So, if you have an exercise in your course material where the student tells
their name, their favorite food, the names of their family members, etc. you
may want to adjust this to fit the specific culture you're teaching in.

Once you begin teaching ESL, you'll learn to rely on your
colleagues who are more experienced, and who are successful as ESL/EFL
teachers. With young learners, make classroom management your main priority
from the start, and you'll reap the rewards of a great class later on!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Study Hard and Ace Your Test Taking - Still Believe that Rubbish?

You Surely Don't Believe You Can Pass Exams Without Test Taking Strategies


Test Taking is Unfair. Make the unfairness work for you.


"...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happen to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11)


When Life Hands You A Lemon


Sell lemonade. Life is unfair, so test taking strategies are a great introduction to life. You could organise student marches to protest against test taking, but nobody would take any notice. So take advantage of test taking strategies.

Think about it. The alternative could be even more unfair. Imagine what it would be like if your teacher could just choose which students would pass, and which ones would fail without any test taking strategies to help you. I know that I would have passed fewer exams that way!

Do you remember when you were a child playing games? Did you keep changing the rules to suit you? When you find a system that victimises group A and favours group B, you must twist the rules so that you fit into group B. Nothing has really changed for test taking strategies.


Trivia Quiz


Have you ever watched a quiz on TV and thought "Who cares? - What has that got to do with real life?" That is how I see test taking strategies. You aim to win with test taking strategies regardless of the triviality of the exams.

If you are learning to write computer programs your exams will ask you for the dates of the first computer, or when different computer languages were invented. Does that show that you are a better programmer? Of course not.

It is unfair. Just learn the dates and other trivia to benefit from the unfairness with your test taking strategies.


Essay Test Taking


Most exams contain essay questions. These are heavily biased in favour of journalists. So what should you do? All together now... Become a journalist!

You can know ten times as much about your subject as the winner of the exams. But he knew all the journalistic tricks for test taking strategies.

Slow handwriting can severely handicap you. Choose an efficient style of handwriting as described in my book about exams. Then practice taking dictation from the radio. Think about the words as you write - not about the letters. Fast writing helps with your test taking strategies.

Misleading questions: examine each question thoroughly for double meanings, or specialist language. I once failed an essay question that asked me to write about the mechanics of a plant. I wrote an excellent essay on the subject, but got only 2 marks out of 20. When I complained, the professor explained that he wanted me to write about the mechanical strengthening of the xylem and phloem. He admitted that I had answered the question as he had written it, but wouldn't change his marks for it.

My book about test taking strategies gives you two examples of how to answer an essay question when you don't know anything about the answer.


Multiple Choice


Trick Questions: MC exams are too easy. You don't have to think of the right answer - only recognise it when you see it. So examiners always include several trick questions to prevent you getting 100% with your test taking strategies.

Photographic memory for test taking: you can pass if you remember well, without understanding anything. Your knowledge will be completely useless, but you will have passed.

Chance: if there are 4 alternatives for each answer, you have a 25% chance of passing the paper by answering at random.

Using test taking strategies you can push this chance away up. Remember, you already know at least something about the subject. Use the unfairness in your favour.


I've passed the exam - you haven't


My university classmates used to love making lecturers admit that they didn't know something. Then they would ask "Aren't you supposed to know?" The lecturer would always answer "I've passed the exams - you haven't."

That is the glaring unfairness in test taking. You will probably never use your knowledge again. I passed my calculus test taking. Ten years later I needed to use calculus for the first time. I had forgotten how, so got a student to do the job for me. His test taking was ahead of him!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

School Buses of Nano Tube Construction

School Buses are inherently top heavy when full of kids. The tops often rust. The bottoms of school buses are made of wood, which can catch fire, unless the grease and soot are often steam cleaned. The glass windows of school buses are dangerous in accidents. The metal construction is heavy and causes increased weight which immediately correlates to poor fuel economy and with Diesel Prices at $3.15 per gallon that means increased costs to school districts which need that money to teach our children.

Why not solve all these problems by making the school bus bodies out of carbon nano tube construction? Carbon Nano Tubes are almost here and once they are they will be here to stay. There are endless applications for carbon nano tubes due to their strength and abilities to conduct electricity. In fact due to their lightweight, strength, transparency and ability to hold a charge the uses are truly endless indeed. One excellent use for transparent carbon nano tubes would be to make the bodies and frames of school buses out of this material and there is a big bonus.

With kids fighting during the de-busing once the bus reaches it's destination, the entire bus can be made transparent from its normal opaque yellow color, meaning you will be able to watch the kids get off the bus and make sure they are not fighting. The windows can be made of the transparent carbon nano tubes and remain transparent, unless the bus driver sees a threat from an International Terrorist and in which case he can turn a dial which will send an electric current through the material making it opaque and it is safe as carbon nano tubes are 50 times stronger than steel and any one shooting at the bus will soon find out it is bullet proof.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Student Loan Consolidation: Look This Gift Horse in the Mouth


Get Life Skills - Not Student Loans


Student loans? Who needs them? Take charge of your money for the rest of your life.


Part I (This article)

Part II Student loan consolidation has big benefits for losers

Part III Idea beats student loan consolidation and creates a winning mindset.


You'll never need student loans with these ideas.

1.Grants in place of student loans - no repayments

2. Part time earning decreases student loans

3. Economising (builds life skills) avoids some student loans


1. Grants - Supreme way to avoid student loans


A grant is a gift of money that you don't have to repay. Isn't a $50000 grant better than taking out student loans every year for four or five years?

There is a club that keeps its members abreast of grants that they might use. You can avoid student loans. These grants aren't confined to education so you aren't confined to avoiding student loans. If you get a grant, save actively to build a nest egg and the right mindset.


2. Part Time Earning


There are lots of ways for you to work your way through college. What I like is that they encourage an aggressive "go and get it" mindset. Student loans encourage the "wait for it to come to me" mindset.

I have details of how a teenage girl made a profitable website. She'll never need student loans!

One girl runs dogs. That's right, she runs for half an hour with 4 dogs that need lots of exercise, then picks up the next 4 dogs.

Don't lose sight of your target. You want to avoid student loans, not impress your friends with how much you can spend.


3. Economising


I had a grant for University. Fellow students complained their student loans or college grants were too small. I saved money from the grant by economising.

A dollar saved is four dollars earned. You pay back about twice as much as you borrow, with money from which the IRS has stolen 50%. So each dollar you save avoids earning four.

You can economise on these and have better health.

1. Food

2. Lodgings

3. Health

4. Transport

5. Social life


1. Food.


Learn to cook. You're at the mercy of food suppliers until you can cook. One student got into the news because student loans only covered tinned dog-food for him to eat. That's too expensive! I'm cooking my own food and eating well on about$17 per week.




I can only suggest that you shop around. Remember that $20 saved per week is $1000 saved from your student loans each year even without interest payments.


3. Health


The damage you do to your body adds up over your lifetime, so it's a good idea to stay healthy. What has that to do with student loans?

It turns out that fast food is bad for your health, and so are most processed foods, and cooking your own food means that you can avoid trans-fatty acids, sugar, and all the other things that cause obesity. Curry, broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, brazil nuts, and cabbage among other things fight cancer. And they all make less demands on student loans.




Make enquiries. How much would you save from your student loans by buying a bike instead of a car? Would public transport be better? Would walking or running for exercise be even better? How much would it cramp your style for dating?

Remember, buying a car with a student loan involves not only repayments, but fuel and oil, repairs, licensing, and depreciation. I travelled 2 hrs/day on my pushbike getting exercise and no college loans.


5. Social Life


Look for free pastimes. If your friends aren't interested in ways to avoid college loans perhaps you have the wrong friends.

If you finish study at 25 and work till 60 that gives you a working life of 35 years. So a 25 year student loan takes a big chunk out of your life, even if you are never unemployed.

And that's before you take out a mortgage!


Other ways to economise


Buy second-hand whenever possible - even your textbooks. Clothes from the Salvation Army are cheap. Use eBay, but don't buy anything you don't need. My first boss said I'd furnished my house for less than he spent on his bedroom.

Negotiate - Important for second hand, even more for new goods. When you go in to buy a new fridge, the attendant waits to see if you're stupid enough to pay the price tag, or ask for a discount.

Remember a dollar saved is four dollars in student loans that you won't have to pay back.