Category: education

15 Years since BYU

It seems hard for me to believe but the next few weeks marks a milestone in my life. It will be 15 years since I graduated with my bachelors degree from Brigham Young University (BYU)! It really seems impossible that 15 years has come and gone.

One of the things I envy about those who have kids is they have more concrete evidence of their growth as people. This person didn’t exist and now they do. I have no such evidence. In many ways I feel the same as I did back in 2002 getting my degree. For all intensive purposes how different is my life? I work every day, go to church on Sunday and develop my hobbies just like I did back then.

Nevertheless, I will always look back at my time at BYU as the happiest time of my life. It was a time of great growth, soul searching and closeness to God that I will never forget. My mission was also an extreme learning experience but that was more polishing. The real grunt work happened at BYU.

After growing up with little church support it was so important to be surrounded by people with shared values. I remember when we said a prayer before my science class and I started to cry. Where else could you say a prayer before a science class? What a liberating and beautiful thing!

Most people probably have grand ideas of what they want to do coming out of college. Not me. I just wanted to finish and have a great life. I’ve never been much of a dreamer in that way. I remember my friend Raelene had this long list of the house she wanted and the other bucket list things she wanted to do in life. That was never me. I was just thrilled to have achieved my dream of going to BYU. I didn’t need anything more.

Since then I have served a mission and had a number of jobs including working as an accounting clerk for nearly 10 years. Now I work from home in marketing and I think that might surprise my former self as I was a very social person back then. Now that social life is mostly fulfilled by means like twitter and facebook. It’s hard to imagine I once didn’t have those tools and survived quite well. I believe 2002 was the first year I ever got a cell phone if that puts things in perspective.

If I could give my young self advice I’d say to be patient and that being single aint that bad. I’d say quit that horrible job in 2005 instead of hanging on until 2007 and being miserable. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make sure you are making memories instead of gliding through life. And I’d say ‘you just lost Grandpa and yep you still miss him all these years later’.

It’s funny because I really don’t use my degree much aside from basic writing, editing and reading skills. However, I am certainly grateful I had my college experience and can look back with nostalgia at such a happy time in my life. I am grateful for all I learned and the person it helped me to become.

I can’t believe it has been 15 years! How is that possible?

Well, all I have o say is GO COUGARS!!

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Why Fs are Important

f-school-letter-grade2“If you’re not failing every now and then, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative” Woody Allen.

I don’t say this often but I completely agree with Woody Allen on this one!  The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about grades and how we assess things and people in our culture.  On my movie blog http://54disneyreviews.wordpress.com I give a grade at the end of the review.  This can be anywhere from an A+ to an F.  Up until this point I have only given 7 Fs out of close to 250 reviews I’ve done.

Since I’m sure you are curious the 7 Fs are-  Chicken Little, Brother Bear, Dinosaur, Road to El Dorado, Maleficent, Ghost of Girlfriends Past, and The Lorax.  These are movies which I think are complete failures.  Ds on the other hand I didn’t like but I found some things to enjoy so it isn’t a total failure.

Most people are with me for this part of the grading system.  It’s when we get into Cs that it is interesting.  I have noticed many people treat a C grade like it is an F.  To me a C is in the middle.  It’s half way between an A and an F.  It’s an average, ok movie.  If I hated it I would give it an F.

If people actually read my reviews instead of just looking at the grade they would see on my C grades I say lots of nice things about said movie.  Such a movie is not a failure but there are some problems that keep it from the masterpiece or good levels of A and B.  That’s ok.  Not every movie can be a masterpiece and I get a lot of enjoyment out of the C movies.

Anyway people kept treating Cs like Fs so frequently that it made me wonder if Fs weren’t a part of the cultural lexicon as much as when I was at school.  I asked a friend and she said it is nearly impossible to get an F in school.  If you do anything you will most likely get a C.  So no wonder a C is seen as a failing grade if it takes the bare minimum of effort!

I have a problem with this.  First of all, it leaves teachers with only 3 options for a student.  5 is hard enough but if every student is either Great, Good or Failure that isn’t good.  C should be a place for a person who is in the middle of the pack.  I guess those people are Bs now but what about those that are almost top of the class?  That should be a B and a C should be for those that are right in between.  That’s an important dilatation.  Not everyone is going to be great or terrible at things.  Some things we will be average at, even for the best students, and that’s ok.  School was tough for me, especially college and I was more than happy to be a C earner on multiple occasions and if I had felt like that C was a failure forget it! We need that average score!

bart gets an f

We also need the Fs for several reasons.  First if there is no fear of actual failure with real consequences what motivation is there to try your hardest?  In one of my favorite Simpsons episodes ‘Bart Gets an F’ Bart finds out if he doesn’t shape up academically he will need to repeat the 4th grade.  This fear of the consequences of failure whips him into gear and he tries as hard as he can.  And he gets a D which is a huge victory for him.  If he had just been given a C because we don’t want to hurt his feelings than he wouldn’t have tried so hard and learned something.

When I was going to school there were many times I would leave the testing center in tears, having tried my hardest but still failed.  But that was a good thing.  I was forced to push beyond what I thought my limits are and actually learn the tough stuff or at least be average competency at it. If I knew I would get a C for just showing up and doing the bare minimum forget it.

And what are we trying to do with education anyway?  What separates education from day care is the kids are supposed to be learning something in school. And with the exception of special education situations if they don’t learn the assigned topic than the education has been a failure.  They deserve an F.  It should not be this devastating humiliating thing.  It should be a normal part of life that every once in a while, and sometimes a lot, we fail at things.  What do we do with that failure and how do we make it into a success?  Now that is where the true education comes into play!

The other thing is if a C has become the new F than you lose the ability to really differentiate problems in a sea of averageness.  For example, I was bullied pretty badly from 4th and into 5th grade with it getting especially bad the latter Fall.  I downplayed this at home telling my Mom about the incidents in a laughing silly kind of way.  Like it was no big deal.  Then I got a D in Math that Christmas.  My parents knew there was a problem.  It was a touchpoint that made them aware of other issues much more important than the math.  As a result I was pulled from the school and went to private school for the rest of the year that changed my life.

I don’t think that would have happened without the D.  The teacher could have thought it was harsh to give me a D because I did try but it was the grade I deserved and I’m glad she gave it to me.  Very glad.  Ds and Fs should be signs to parents, administrators, even children that there is something wrong and we need to look for solutions.  To just whitewash everything with a vanilla C takes away that opportunity for introspection and growth.

You can say grades are stupid and we shouldn’t give them out anyway, and to a certain extent I agree with you.  If a child is progressing that is the most important thing; however, I don’t think credit should be given for learning something if it wasn’t actually done.  If we got rid of grades completely than again we lose that touchpoint to easily compare things.  Not everything in life can have a long discourse or excuse.  Sometimes you just need to be able to look at a few key figures and say ‘ok Sally is doing better at English than Math. Let’s focus on that”.

I’ve thought about not giving grades on my movie reviews because I think people sometimes don’t read the review but just go right to the grade.  This is frustrating because I may explain something that you may say ‘she didn’t like that but it would be great for me’.  Like I don’t like scary movies so I may say as a negative a movie is too scary for me but if you like scary movies than it might sound great to you!  My grade is just that-my grade.  It’s what I thought of the movie.  I don’t try to imagine what others might think.  It is just my opinion.

I also don’t use a rubric like some critics do because sometimes my feelings both good and bad can’t be quantified.  It is just an overall experience with a film that deserves a certain grade.  I feel sometimes my friends with rubrics are held back by them from giving a movie a grade they know it really deserves.   I didn’t give grades for my Scrooge month series and I think people were a little more inclined to actually read the reviews, so I’m still considering it.   What do you think? If you read reviews what do you like as far as ranking systems and scores?

Regardless, the changing in the American mind of a C from average to failure is not a good thing.  People should be allowed to fail and it not be as big of a deal.  It’s part of the learning experience.  And if they fail I’m not going to sugarcoat it with a C.  That’s doing a disservice to all the people/movies/whatever who worked so hard for that C.

Plus, how do you delineate what is truly special if there isn’t an equally strong opposite?  Has an A also lost all of its meaning and value?

What do you think?  Do you see this as a problem?  Are we too afraid to let kids fail? What about how we grade or rank other things like movies or books?  Did you ever get a D or F that whipped you into gear or helped you? What do you think the solution is?

Treehouse-of-horror-v1

Making Videos, My Blu-ray Collection, and a Giveaway

Hi! It’s a ridiculous hour but I’ve been so engrossed in a project that I’ve been working through the night.  For the last year I’ve been making youtube videos using just a webcam/phone and I enjoyed doing that but I felt I could learn so much more about photography, videography, youtube, creating an internet presence, video editing and so much more.

I’ve also yearned for a long time to do something more creative in my work, so maybe gaining new skillsets will help me in that regard.  At the worst I am learning something new and having a good time along the way so win-win

It’s been a lot of work saving, purchasing and organizing but I’ve finally got almost all the pieces I need to make better videos and I set up a cool backdrop in my room.

new backdropOne problem I have is my room gets very hot when I have the lights on and it is too dim even during the day to be a good spot for filming.  There isn’t much of any space in the rest of the house to do the backdrop/tripod setup.  The whole brilliance of my room is that it has total blackout but it does create problems for filming videos.  I need to figure out a way to keep cool, so if anyone has any ideas let me know.  I suppose I can just keep my videos short which is probably a win-win.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do a video on my blu-ray collection for a while and it seemed like this would be a perfect testing ground for the new equipment.  I still have to get editing software and a better camera microphone but that’s around $500 so will do that when I can.  Plus, I figure master one thing at a time.  (Took me 6 years to get a handle on twitter, facebook, blogging, so I’ve got time).

It’s not a perfect video but I’m learning and I’m proud of it.  If you watch the whole video I am giving away DVD copies of Gravity, Les Miserables and Captain Phillips.  Also there is a BLU Ray 3D  of Gravity if you are interested in that.  Simply subscribe to my blog, follow me on twitter (or facebook) and subscribe to my youtube channel and email me your address.  First come first served.  If you already follow me on those mediums just share it with your followers.  THANKS!!!

Thanks so much for reading my blog, watching my videos, and helping to give me the confidence to keep trying and learning new things.  I’m so grateful for this blog- more than you all know and I hope maybe I inspire you to go learn something new. in your life.

Drumroll…the movie:

What blu-ray’s do you have? What do you think of mine? Any you dislike or like?  Let me know.  Take care friends!

Sure love ya!

 

Pleasing No One

writing_is_a_struggle_against_silence_by_amazinganimegirl-d5f157w

So I learned a lesson in the last few days, one about standing up for my writing in a new way and that by trying to please everyone I pleased no one, least of all myself.

A few days ago I wrote a post I was very proud of about the commonly believed myth that weight has anything to do with finding a life partner.  This is something I have been told all my life and never really believed.  I see too much to argue against it everywhere I look.  As I mentioned in the post, even in Hollywood we see the movie The Heat has 2 actresses, one skinny, one plus size.  It is not the skinny one that is currently married.

Anyway, I used a framing device for this piece a horrible date I had been on where I was told I was fat, needed to diet and exercise in order to attract a suitable spouse.  While I felt hurt I felt the piece was fair as it disclosed no personal information and it could have easily been John Doe for all anyone knew.  He also had every right to write his side on his blog, get his friends to defend him.  I also had given him more of my personal information than he had of me so if anything the power play was in his hand.

Nevertheless, the post sprouted a wide array of opinions- most of the positive and I will admit many of them coming on my request, as I asked for defense (my friends are the best and so loyal).  There was a small minority that felt I had been a bully and unchristlike.

This was hard for me to hear because as a bullying victim I take that type of behavior very personally.  I sincerely didn’t believe that was what I had done but the idea that anyone, especially one very close person, thought that was what I had done bothered me.

So, in a moment of weakness I took the post down but this didn’t feel right either.  I saw the positive effect it was having and one girl even said “I needed to read this today! Thanks for posting, sometimes I feel like the only women dealing with this. You rock!”  If for this woman alone I felt the information needed to be out there.  What to do?  Again in a weak moment I decided to edit it to not include the date and just the weight discussion.  This was a much weaker post but i figured it was better than nothing.

Unfortunately when I did this the comments made no sense so I tried to change them in nominal ways, keeping their core content but a friend rightly pointed out this was censorship and not ethical.  I knew it wasn’t right when I was doing it but was down the rabbit hole at that point.

Eventually I reached a status where nobody was happy with me and for good cause.  Worst of all I risked alienating readers and especially hurting my friends who had come to my defense so quickly.  I reluctantly decided I’d made such a mess of things that I erased the post and moved on.

I would like to apologize for this whole episode and for deleting the comments you took time to craft.  My only defense is that I learned a lot from the experience.  I learned to trust my voice and trust my readers who overwhelmingly agreed with me and liked the post.  If I had just let it be and not worried about it everything would have blown over and been fine.

Writing is a bold endeavor and I am very proud of the fact that I have never held anything back on this blog.  It is the proudest thing I do.  It is the best part of my life.  In a way it is my life.  I need to honor my voice and writing and feel confident in what it tells me to produce.  Lesson learned.

If I can end with a plea.  If you were offended on either side I am sorry.  Please continue read (and thank you for the nearly uniform understanding and support I have felt in the last 2 days), share, comment and ponder.  I have written 720 posts over 6 years, what I conservatively estimate is 400,000 words.  If one post was handled poorly please give me a second chance.  I know what I have to say is important.  I have no editor but I do the best I can and I believe in my voice, now more than ever.

The greatest thing we can do in life is to be true to ourselves and serve God.  Sure love ya! To 400,000 more words and 6 more years. I will keep writing.  Thanks! Now on to Nanowrimo!

War on Kids

I think everyone should watch this movie and discuss it.  I’m not saying it is right about everything but I do think it brings up some important points.  And yes, I realize this will ruffle some feathers but I think it is worth it to start a discussion.  (It is a long feature film but very compelling)

In my high school they closed down all the bathrooms during lunch hours, which with 3 lunch hours was most the day, and had 2 teachers in front of the 2 open bathrooms checking you in.  If that isn’t prisonlike I don’t know what is.

That’s not to say there weren’t great teachers.  It’s the system that is the problem.  Too quick to medicate, too afraid to listen to children’s needs, too quick to thwart individual opinions and thought.  Many of the good teachers are frustrated like this teacher in Rhode Island

Last year I sat down with my sister and helped her with her math homework and was amazed at how much of it she had to do.  Surely the concepts could be taught with a few problems thoughtfully done, not page after page of mindless reading and then sheets of figures. I was bored and I’m an adult.

My friend Megan is a wonderful teacher and I was blown away at how she integrated plays, science projects and other creative activities into her curriculum.  Sadly I fear she is the exception not the rule and many teachers want to be like Megan but are repeatedly discouraged.  I had one teacher in middle school who taught science with his guitar through songs and other creative measures and he was a constant annoyance to the administration, eventually being fired after a few years.

I was bullied as a kid and the teacher’s refused to do anything.  This was not just mental bullying but physical abuse such as being shoved into water fountains and my underwear exposed to all the students.  This was done with teachers supervising. Finally my parents had to take me to a private school to save me from the ‘little angels’ the teachers defended.  Its ridiculous.

And yes, I’m single and can have a strong opinion on this topic. So there.

Be Gone E-Reader!

Yesterday I sold my kindle.  Yes that bastion of convenient reading and downloadable novels is gone.   The truth is I’m glad to be rid of it!   Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not some kind of luddite but the fact is I just didn’t use it. I went into the purchase with high hopes (and amazon immediately lowered it’s value by putting out the fire 2 weeks after my purchase. Sigh…) but I still thought it was going to be great!

Then I read my first book on it and I didn’t enjoy the experience.  Here’s why:

1. I’m a note-writer when I read, partly because it’s the only way I remember from day to day the details of a story, and partly because I like to add my two cents to what the writer is saying.   While this is possible to do on the kindle I found it very laborious.

2. If I wanted to go back and re-read a section, something I am prone to do, I couldn’t just flip through until I found the spot (usually with my accompanying note which makes it easier).

3. I read in long stretches and I found it annoying to have to worry about whether I had battery power.  I don’t want limitations on my reading.  Last year at a lecture by a favorite author Haven Kimmel she claimed she’d never seen anyone read a kindle for more than 15 minute stretches.  While this may have been a bit of an exaggeration I do think there is something about using an electronic device like that which encourages distraction and a less-leisurely reading experience.

4. I thought it would be great for travel but since you can’t use handheld electronics on the plane for most of the time I ended up bringing a book anyways so it ended up being another thing to carry around.

5.  Once I finish a book I get a lot of satisfaction out of putting it in my library so I can re-read to my hearts content.  Literally 2 weeks after I got my kindle it was already out of date.  The only way I want my books to be out of date is content-wise not because I can’t read them a few years down the road.  Plus, I don’t want to invite myself into the expensive web of constant upgrading, downloading and transferring.  Reading is supposed to be simple and accessible.

6. I’m a book loaner.  Meaning I find a book I love and pass it on to friends and family.  For instance, Edenbrooke I loved this year and I’ve given my copy to half a dozen people.  My sister has it at the moment.  Can’t really pass around a kindle like that.  It also limits my friends from loaning me books they’ve liked, which is no fun.

7.  I worry about the e-reader’s future socio-economic impact.  Books and free libraries have always been an equalizing force in our society.  Most anyone could go to a library, get a book, and read no matter their income level.  With e-books some of those children are excluded from a type of reading and that concerns me.  Suddenly the most fundamental act of learning has become a status symbol instead of an equalizer.  Kid’s from poor families already feel they fall short in so many areas of their life, do we really have to add reading to the list.  It is not good!

8. The last reason is probably debatable by some but it seems to me the e-reader  has had a negative effect on the quality of many recent modern books.  Haven Kimmel agreed.  She said when she wrote her first book there were 4 editors involved.  Her most recent had 1 part-time editor.  Her husband was her main editor.  Has anyone else noticed the sloppiness in books lately? Typos, grammatical errors, sections missing etc?  (I’m sorry but the Twilight books were terrible examples of this). I think the e-reader has perhaps made it too easy to publish books.  In the past it was such an investment they had to get it right on the first printing.

So there you go, my reasons for selling my kindle.  I should never have bought it in the first place but my friends all loved it so much I finally gave in.  I’m glad to be rid of it!

So, you’all enjoy your e-readers and I’ll continue to read the ‘old fashioned way’. (That statement is so sad…)

What do you think of e-readers?

My old kindle
My old kindle

Reunion, Wedding and House

So a lot of memorable events happened lately.

First, I have walked in my house!  The framing is up, no sheet-rock yet but I’ve gone over all the floors and I’m so excited about it!  I also think I might have found the right fit for my basement apartment.  I had tons of interest but have narrowed it down to 2 great choices.  Tough call.  Will be checking references and doing some careful thought but either would be terrific.  The whole thing is so thrilling!

I think my shirt says it all!
In my master bedroom!!!

Then Friday I had my 10 year reunion at BYU.  I still can’t believe its been 10 years.  I’m not goona lie it was an introspective moment for me.  Thinking about the last 10 years, what I’ve done, what I wish I could have done, the pains, the triumphs, everything.  Sometimes I worry that I peaked at 21. That I had my happiest years then and have never quite been able to duplicate it. I’ve had great times and moments but as far as whole years that was one of the best.  Do any of you feel that way looking back at your life? I guess the older you get the more muddy your life gets. I envy the simplicity of that year.

Anyway, grateful for a moment to think about my life and all that I have accomplished and the great memories.  I was in charge of creating a video entitled ‘Then and Now’ for the reunion.  It was more challenging than I expected but here is what I came up with.

The reunion was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed chatting with fellow graduates and hearing from Setema Gali, former Super Bowl champion for New England Patriots.  I was very moved by his heart felt words.   I was expecting just a pep talk but it was very raw.  He said ‘be prepared’ for whatever God wants you to do and look out for ‘compensating blessings’.  That last concept really struck home with me.  There are usually compensating blessings whenever God gives us a trial.  Hard to see it sometimes but true.

I will include the group photos when I get them but here I am with my friend Shawn.  I am honored to be able to participate in the reunion committee and will forever be grateful for my BYU experience.  If I am any good as a human being today it is because of my BYU experience.

I don’t know how you go to a reunion without wondering- what do the next 10 years hold?  What does God have in store for me? We will see… 🙂

My friend Shawn and I at the reunion

Next up yesterday I went to the wedding of my dear friend Camille.  She married Tom Griego and while I haven’t had a chance to get to know him he seems like a wonderful person (just loving Camille means he’s a smart guy!).  Camille was my roommate for nearly 3 years and we grew up together.  I went to Hawaii twice with her and our relationship has always been dear to me.  She is a great listener and has always given to others more than focusing on her own needs.  I’m glad she has someone who can focus on giving to her.

The pretty bride and me.

More than anything it makes me happy to see my friends happy!  I have always been blessed with good friends, the best. I got to visit with a bunch of friends I haven’t seen for a while in addition to seeing Camille, which made the whole wedding a lot of fun. I don’t know what I did in the previous life to deserve such wonderful friends.

3 girls from the Maryland ward. We made it! 🙂 Me, Camille and Bekah Denhalter
Camille and Tom

Anyway, it was a great weekend! I feel so blessed.  Blessed for new starts with my home.  Blessed for the memories of the past at my reunion and blessed for the comfort and happiness of friendship at the wedding.  God is certainly good to me and I know that He has a path for me that if I am faithful my life will keep being an amazing journey.  In truth, I know I have not peaked.  What is to come? I’m excited for Him to show me. More than anything I know that I am loved by God and my friends and family.  Who can ask for more?