Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘college’

So, in case you were wondering, it is difficult to be a parent.  I think the biggest mistake that parents make is the effort we place on how our children should be.  Before my oldest son was born, I received the greatest advice that I ever received regarding parenting.  I was told, “You can decide what kind of parent you will be, but you can’t decide what kind of child you will have.”  Almost everyday that I have been a parent, this statement has been true.

Despite that great advice, I find myself on a regular basis trying to “mold” my children in, not necessarily “my image”, but at least a close facsimile of “my image”.  Scratch that, not “my image”, but the image of what I think they should be.  In other words, the advice that I find to be so true, I break all the time.  So why is this so difficult?  Let me put it this way, I think there is a fine line between molding your child and wishing the best for them.  Some time what we think is best and who we are as people mix together like a bad bowl of oatmeal. The reality is that I love my children as they are, but I love them too much to let them stay that way.

So, my goal is NOT to change my kids, but to help them be the best “them” they can be.  Which is what inspired a pretty big fight between my oldest son and myself.  Like so many parent/child fights, it began with ‘good intentions’.  My son is my research assistant this summer.  We work with an animal known as a marmot.  We spend several weeks collecting data for my research.  Luckily for me, he is with me voluntarily.  I am sure this will not be the case forever, but I am thankful he is with me now.

The research does not take all day, and we have many ‘free’ hours in the cabin, and the cabin has Wi-Fi.  So, instead of him being plugged in for hours per day, I suggested a study schedule of his more difficult subjects, French and Biology.  He begins high school next year, and I wanted him to do well.  This of course would be in addition to his assignment of reading a book (assigned by my wife) during the summer.  Well, let’s just say that he was not impressed with this plan and was quite upset at the prospect of his father destroying his summer.

I don’t have time to go into all of the details of our heated discussion, but suffice to say, it was heated, and if you were in the room, you’d think I was threatening to take away his food and make him sleep outside.  But you know the real kicker? At some point during our discussion, it became clear to me that he thought that I wanted him to study because I did not think he would be able to handle High School.  He felt I had no faith in his abilities.

How many problems in relationships are caused by miscommunication?  Hurtful words as a result of insecurities?  What if we could lead with love and support rather than change and criticism?  I love my son, and I know he can do well in High School, and I really want to help.  But it is clear to me, that in my desire to help, I must lead with love and support.  He needs to know that I am his biggest fan.  He needs help not because he lacks the ability, he needs help because we all need help to be the best we can be.  The fight calmed down when I shared my own areas where I need help.  I am not a perfect parent, but a parent that I hope to be.  To do that, I need lots of help.

Today, we discussed a chapter of ‘Catching Fire’ and answered French questions on the app, Duolingo.  He read without being asked, started telling me about the chapter without prompting, and we did Duolingo together.  I can’t decide what kind of child I can have, but I am very lucky to have the one I got.

————————————————————

One way to get your kid interested in going to college is having them hang out with college kids.  My son and I eat dinner surrounded by college kids.  Between the swear words being used as naturally as breathing, sexual innuendos, and stories of college escapades that no 14-year old should hear, you’d think I would be warping my son.  He laughs on a regular basis, and I am pretty sure he can’t wait to be ‘one of them’.  Who says that there is no value in crude crass college kids? I’m just sayin …

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So, I have come to a very simple conclusion:  White people don’t use wash cloths.  Or if you are the sophisticated type, face cloth.  Is this true?  How can using a wash cloth have any cultural bias whatsoever?  I mean seriously, it’s a wash cloth.  Or for all of my homies, a wash rag.  That’s right, I just used the word, homies.  But based on all the homes I have stayed in and showered in, I have to conclude that white people don’t use wash cloths.  At least not in the shower.  Maybe nowhere, I just don’t know.

If I stay at someone’s house and they are of the Caucasian persuasion, and they are a well-prepared host, they will have linens ready to go.  However, 9 times out of 10, I will have to request a wash cloth.  And 9 times out of 10 they will look at me strangely, as if I just requested shower shoes.  And for some of you out there, shower shoes would not be a strange request.  You know who you are.  Clean it up!

What is even more interesting, I have had people ask me if I wanted a wash cloth, but they made the request in a weird way, as if to say, “I normally don’t use one of these things, but I think I read somewhere that your people do, so I’m going to see if you want one.”  Now it makes me wonder, if I get offered a face cloth, does that make them racist?

Seriously, I want to know.  If you are white, do you use a wash/face cloth in the shower?  If not, why the heck not?  Every black person I know uses wash cloths.  How can this possibly be a race thing?  I am sorry, but wash cloths just make sense.  I need to know.

PS – Dry off before you get out of the shower.  Yeah you got a shower mat, but stepping on a soaking wet shower rug is just gross.  I don’t think this is a race thing, but it’s my thing.

——————————————————————————————————–

According to one of my classes, students have made it very clear that shower shoes are a requirement for college.  Is this true everywhere?  I feel like with all the issues and challenges college has to offer, getting foot rot should not be one of them.  I’m just sayin’ …

Read Full Post »

So, it has been a crazy transition back to the world of working.  As many of you know, I am a professor, and with school starting again, I have been rather busy.  On one hand, it is good to be back.  On the other hand, it has made it increasingly difficult to keep my blog up to date.  The sad part is that I am constantly thinking of new blogs.  If I had the time, and the energy, I could probably write 20 blogs tonight, but alas, I am tired, and must go to bed soon.

With the new semester comes new students, and yet the same students.  I teach biology for non-majors.  What that means is I have about 150 students looking at me wishing they were somewhere else.  They do not see the value in biology, and if they could avoid taking my class, most of them would.  Our university requires a science lab course, of which my class qualifies.  On the first day of class, I often ask the same question:  How many of you would not be here if you didn’t have to be here?  I would say about 95% of the students raise their hands.  I will also ask them; How many of you think biology is NOT relevant to your lives?  This response to this question is generally less depressing, but only slightly as approximately 80% of the students respond with biology as irrelevant to their lives.

Biology irrelevant?  Seriously?  How can this be?  Biology is the study of life.  How is life irrelevant to your life?  This is simply impossible.  Granted, I am biased, but I simply do not understand how people don’t appreciate the need for biology in their lives.  Now some of this I blame on biology teachers, or science teachers in general.  We all have had experiences, including my self, of having science teachers that were boring as hell.  Of course, if you take biology from me, you might call me many things, but boring is not one of them.

Quick side note:  At what point did hell become boring?  How do boring and hell go together?  I can think of hell as many things, but I am quite convinced that it won’t be boring.  The druggies, alcoholics, and gang bangers alone should make it quite the ‘exciting’ place.  I’m just sayin …  OK, too early for that.  I digress.

My point is: I can’t think of any subject more relevant to a person’s life than biology.  Here are a list of subjects that I think are cool, relevant, and 100% biology:

Food – You are what you eat, literally.  Everybody eats, and everybody poops (I refuse to say more about poop).  Bammm!!! Biology.

Breathing – You can’t live without air.  Boo-Ya!  Biology.

Dancing – Exercise, grooving to the beat, getting your freak on with the local barfly.  BaBam!  Biology.

Beer – Yeast, fermentation, Yummy goodness.  KaDoosh!  Biology.

Sex – Need I say more.  Crazy face making, toe curling, heavy breathing, loud screaming (if you roll like that), spasm, then coma inducing freaky sex.  And you know this maaaaaaan!  Biology.

Appreciate it.  Know it.  Love it.  Can’t live without it.

Biology.

—————————————————————–

If someone were to videotape you during sex, would you want to see it?  I don’t think I would.  It’s not because I am prude or anything, it’s just that I am not convinced that the facial expressions produced during sex would appear natural, especially at the summit of lovemaking.  But if I were to walk by a screen showing my big butt bumping and grinding, I would have no choice but to watch.  It be like a bad car wreck; I know I shouldn’t watch, but I just have to.  For those of you reading this that know me, try getting that image out of your brain.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, if you want to piss me off, tell me what I can’t do.   I may not even want to do it, but if you tell me that I can’t, I will have no choice but to not only do it, but do it well.  This characteristic is both a blessing and a curse. 

I not only think I can, but I know I can.

On one hand, it has inspired me to excel in a number of things, especially academics.  For example, although I did not grow up in the civil rights era, I still had to contend with teachers that automatically assumed that I could not possibly be as smart as my white or Asian counterparts.

In middle school, we had a special day with our teachers to discuss future classes in high school.   I had a teacher tell me that I shouldn’t take AP (advanced placement) classes because it would be too difficult for me.  I took AP history and calculus in high school, and did well in both.  As a matter of fact, I was given a C in AP history, despite the fact that according to my records I should have had an A.  I talked to the teacher about it, showed him my records, showed him his grade policy and made it clear to him that my grade should not be a C, but an A.  The teacher changed the grade.  After he changed the grade, it pissed me off.  How could a teacher make an error in judgment that allows him to change a grade from a C to an A?  I have been a teacher now for approximately 15 years, and I have NEVER made an error that big.  As you can tell, this event that happened to me almost 25 years ago still bothers me.  It was clear that I was treated differently than my other classmates.  Another example occurred in high school, when for one semester, I was demoted to remedial English.  Granted, English was not my strongest subject, but remedial?  Even the teacher of the remedial English class did not understand why I was enrolled in her class.

I could easily turn this blog into a social commentary on how racism is alive and well and has held many students back simply based on the color of their skin.  I graduated from high school with a 3.9, I am in my high school’s hall of fame for track & field, and I graduated from UC Berkeley, and I still have multiple stories of people telling me that I was not smart enough to do things.  What about the black students that were B students, or C students, or even D students?  If as an A student I still faced obstacles, I can’t imagine what other students faced.  But this is not a blog about race, or not just about race, but about the obsession people have with what can’t be done.

Don’t tell me what I can’t do.  I can do anything, and just because you have chosen to limit yourself, don’t dare put that small thinking on me.  But, why are so many people concerned with other people’s opinions on what they can and can’t do?  And why am I not?  The easiest answer would be my parents, as I believe strongly that they instilled in me my “don’t give up” and the “don’t you dare tell me what to do” attitude.  But I want to go a little bit deeper.  In many ways it reminds me of ‘cultural legacy’ as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’.  I actually blogged about this book in My First Book Review.  In other words, do I have this attitude because of my culture?

In his book, ‘Outliers’ Gladwell describes a famous psychological experiment by Nisbett and Cohen.  They monitored reactions of people to being insulted.  Students were asked to answer a number of questions and then walk down a long, narrow hallway where unbeknownst to them, another person who was also part of the experiment would whisper the word “asshole” as they walked passed.  The researchers found that it did not matter if you were black, or white, rich or poor, a nerd or a jock, you responded to the insult the same, except for one surprising variable.  If you were from the South, regardless of your background, you reacted strongly to the comment, but students from the North actively calmed themselves when they heard the comment.  The author suggested that the “Culture of Honor” was passed down through generations of Southerners irrespective of almost any other environmental or genetic factor.

I think about the history of African-Americans in this country and wonder if I am the recipient of a “Culture of Rebellion”.  I think about the long list adversities that black people have suffered in this country, but yet have been inspired to create music, poetry, innovation, and various forms of success in spite of the obstacles placed in the way.  Although I would never compare my obstacles to slavery, lynch mobs, nor laws of discrimination, but the fact remains, I have a strong visceral response to people trying to prevent me from doing things.  Can culture be inherited?  If you have a cultural history in which the ‘sky was the limit’ or your ancestors had many options, maybe limitations would not be such a bad thing.  But if your ancestors were oppressed and limited by the dominant culture, self-imposed limitations would be counter-intuitive and very maladaptive to an oppressive environment.  As a matter of fact, under oppressive conditions, a spirit of rebellion would be necessary for upward mobility.  Quite frankly, if you examine history, some of the greatest innovations and social movements have come out of great adversity.   Maybe it is from my parents, maybe it is genetic, or maybe I have inherited a “Culture of Rebellion”, but I am glad I have it and I hope my kids will have it too, because no one should limit their potential by telling them what they can and cannot do.

————————————————–

A couple of months ago Taco Bell was sued.  The lawsuit claimed that Taco Bell was wrong for calling their beef burritos, well, beef burritos because the burritos only contained 35% beef.  Taco Bell responded to the lawsuit by stating that their beef burritos contained 88% beef.  Soon after the news of the lawsuit became public and Taco Bell’s response, Taco Bell put their burritos on sale for 88 cents.  Don’t think this new price was lost on me, what about you?  Nonetheless, I have accepted the fact that their burritos are 88% beef.  It also makes me better appreciate McDonald’s for stating that their burgers are 100% beef.  Especially since I used to think that this was as stupid advertisement.  I often thought why would they tell me that their burgers were 100% beef? 

Remember this commercial?

What else would it be?  Turns out there are other options.  But here is my problem:  I actually don’t mind that Taco Bell beef burritos are not 100% beef.  But why won’t Taco Bell tell us what is in the remaining 12%? I haven’t eaten there since.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, over the Thanksgiving holiday I had a conversation with my sister about the importance of college.  It is really an ongoing conversation regarding the importance of getting a degree over starting your own business.  For example, Bill Gates is often brought up as a successful person who never went to college.  The irony of using Gates as an example is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may give more money to help students, especially minority students, go to college than any other foundation on the planet.  He even has a blog to encourage students to finish college (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/bill-gates-101011-improving-college-completion.aspx).  Nonetheless, our conversation has got me thinking what is the value of a college degree?

The focus of the conversation over the holiday was my nephew, my sister’s youngest who recently graduated from high school.  He has an interest in videography and is making plans on how to break into some sort of video business.  My sister owns her own business and has probably not worked for someone else in 30 years.  I am a professor, so it should be no surprise to my readers that I am pushing my nephew to attend college.  It is interesting, in many ways I feel as if we are fighting for my nephew’s soul.   Who will win?  The promise of financial freedom? Or the tried and true stability of the promise of an education?  Inspired by our conversations, I have decided to write this blog.  What is the value of college education?

Independence.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was how to live on my own.  With the safety net of home and parents limited (eight hours away in my case), I could not just run home every time I needed help or was struggling.  I was forced to figure out things on my own, and these lessons were invaluable to my development, both emotionally and spiritually.  I do not think I truly learn about MYSELF until experiencing college and being on my own.

Multi-tasking.  While in college one must study, work (I worked 20-30 hours per week), socialize, and juggle other important miscellaneous activities and still be successful.  This is a skill that I can’t stress enough to its importance.

Social Skills.  I have never met a more variety of people than I did attending college.  My experience was especially diverse at Berkeley, my alma mater.  To this day I remember having amazing conversations with my atheist friend, Connie.  We would get into knock-down arguments over God and religion and then after go for lunch or dinner.  It taught me how important it was to have friends that thought differently than me.  This is something I think most people are missing from their lives.  Trust me, it is important.  I do not want to be surrounded by people who think just like me.  It is not enriching, nor growth inspiring.

Exposure.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  One of the largest advantages to college is to be exposed to different subjects and ideas.  There is no other forum that a person can take classes and talk with others about economy, history, science all on the same day.  When I entered college I was planning on becoming a lawyer, but through various experiences at Cal, I learned that I loved animals and started the pathway that I am currently on.  Most students change their majors multiple times, but it is their opportunity to explore that I think is most valuable.

Higher Probability for Success.  The fact is that most people require a Bachelor’s degree at minimum to obtain a successful job.  Is it possible to be successful without a degree, of course, but the Gates stories are rare.  Even owning one’s own business is a risky adventure.  Most businesses fail in the first two years.  In 2008, 15.5 million people claimed to be self-employed and their median personal marginal federal tax rate was 10 percent, which is an income range of $0 – $8,025.  Only 4.1 % of the self-employed were in the marginal tax bracket of 33% or more (Taxable income of 164,550-357,700 for 2010).  The bottom line: being successful via less traditional means has a lower probability of success.

Finish What you Start.  This is my number one reason for going to college.  It teaches you to finish what you start.  The reality is that a Bachelor’s degree is not special.  It will not prepare you for a job any more than anything else, but what it will do is show a potential employer that you can finish what you start.  Think about how important this skill is.  Can you think of people in your life that don’t finish what they start?  Of course you can.  It might even be you, but this is a crucial skill.  The ability to overcome adversity to finish a task can not be overlooked or underestimated.  Having a degree says something about a person, and that’s a fact. 

And no, it doesn’t have to be a degree.  But we are impressed by people with accomplishments.  And being the best at Call of Duty doesn’t count.  So, get your degree, it is a wonderful accomplishment, but more important it will teach many things along the way.  Is it the only way, of course not, but if you find yourself not doing much these days, or wondering what to do next, it is not a bad way to go and you just might learn something.  Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

————————————————————————————

No matter what it is that you do, I hope you love it.  Do what you love and things will be alright.  I chose Berkeley because it had the most beautiful brochure of all the college material I got.  It wasn’t till after I got accepted to I realize that it was a good school.  Probably not the most intelligent way to pick a school, but it worked out and speaks to my personality.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »