August’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Schools of the Future—Oh, My

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. This month, she’s looking to the future of teaching with a skeptical eye. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Predictions about how students will be educated one day are intriguing, but a few of them are downright scary when you think of the implications. Some visions of education in the future seem really off-the-wall, but others are not hard to imagine, for better or worse, considering the continuing impact of technology in the classroom and how it has already changed instructional practices. Here are a few highlights from the prognosticators:

  • Schools will consist of interlocking modular pods that can be added to or removed from a basic structure to adjust for the increase or decrease in a school’s population.
  • Modular schools will be portable, easily moved from one location to another as the general population shifts geographically.
  • Students will be micro-chipped to facilitate supervision and safety.
  • Classes will be conducted with robots providing instruction.
  • Traditional schools will cease to exist. Students will complete individual studies on computers at community centers open 24/7, working when it’s most convenient for them and communicating with teachers by voice mail.
  • All field trips will be virtual, and students will attend virtual workshops conducted by recognized authorities in various fields.
  • Hands-on learning will be phased out; students will interact solely with 3-D models, touching only computer keys.
  • Computer keyboards will be phased out. Students will use hand and eye gestures, like playing games on a Wii, to control electronic tablets. Students will write with digi pens.
  • Large multi-national companies will have an increasing influence on curriculums and school resources.

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eNotes Teacher’s Corner: To Teach or Not to Teach—That is the Question

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Recently over lunch, a dedicated career teacher told me that she could no longer advise anyone to go into teaching; the joy is gone, she said, with teachers now locked into regimented lesson plans and required to spend all their time chasing test scores. She also worried about what we’re doing to kids in the classroom—demanding more and more of them at younger and younger ages. There’s no time now to let them be kids, she said, or color outside the lines, if they get to color at all. It was a depressing lunch.

I drove home with a lot to think about, especially since I had encouraged my own daughter when she decided several years ago to change careers, earn a second college degree, and go into the classroom. Had I steered her wrong? Remembering our animated conversations after she began teaching, however, I don’t think so. Teaching may be different today—the demands greater and the stressors more intense, but it still engages the heart and the mind in ways unlike those of any other profession. No two days are alike, and every day is a fresh opportunity to achieve something glorious, even for one unforgettable moment.

Students aside—and that’s a big aside—it’s true that our profession is less respected in some quarters than it once was, for reasons that seem to be bound up in politics and publicity. If a teacher is arrested for some terrible offense in any part of the country, it becomes national news; a steady drumbeat of these stories erodes confidence, creating the impression that teachers somehow have degenerated into an immoral lot, not to be trusted. On the positive side, however, every time teachers risk their lives or lose them trying to protect their students, which seems to be happening more and more frequently, their actions make the news, too. Ask the parents of those students if teachers can be trusted.

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eNotes.com Has a New Look!

We’ve redesigned eNotes.com for a sleeker, more modern look that will also provide a better experience on mobile devices. Tablet worshipers study on!

Let us walk you through the new and improved eNotes…

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The High Cost of College

How to decide whether a four-year degree is right for you.

high cost of college

In a post from May last year we pondered the question, should everyone go to college? And what might still be surprising to some, the answer was a resounding no. As eNotes editor and college professor Jamie described it then,

I believe anyone who wants an education should  pursue one. But I also see many incredibly gifted students who have skills that they are actively discouraged from mastering because they are supposed to have a Bachelor’s degree.  I see young people who have no real interest or desire to stay in school another four years who are miserable and many who are racking up debt when they could be doing something they enjoy, avoiding debt, and making money.

The prevailing opinion in America is that every student must go to college; if they don’t, they’ve somehow failed, or been failed by the system. Yet the cost of an American college education is among the highest in the world. So, if that college degree does you no favors in the job force, or if you drop out before completing your four years, you’re burdened with a mass of student debt to shoulder for the next twenty years.

That’s why it’s important to look at the costs of a college education, weighing out the pros and cons of each side and determining what’s right for you. If you plan to spend your life in academia, of course a university education is a necessity. But if you’d be better suited to a skilled trade, would the debt and time spent out of the workforce pay off? Here’s an excellent infographic from affordable-online-colleges.net to help you weigh your options. You might be surprised by what you find, like the high success rates of those who choose a two-year college over pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.

Read on and let us know your thoughts and questions!

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Top Ten Strangest Questions I’ve Been Asked While Working at a University Library Front Desk

10. Patron: If I was feeling particularly existentialist, what book would you recommend for me?

camus

9. Patron: Hi. I’m looking for a book called Bay Wolves. Can you help me find it?

Me: Sure, let me look it up for you… Hmmm, sorry we don’t have any books by that name. Do you know the author’s name, maybe?

Patron: No, but I think it’s spelled kind of weird, like B-E-O… wolves.

Me: …Do you mean Beowulf?

beowulf cat

8. Patron: Can you help me find the Law Library?

Me: [pulls out a map] The Law Library is right here. You just walk down this street, turn this corner, and you’ll be there.

Patron: Thanks, hopefully they’ll have a book about Newton’s Laws.

Me: Uh, maybe you’re looking for the Physics Library instead…?

Newtons-Third-Law_15990-l

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Become an eNotes TA!

Are you a high school or undergraduate student interested in helping your fellow peers? Perhaps you tutor on the side, or go out of your way to help friends with their homework? Well, now there’s a place at eNotes just for you!

eNotes is looking to enlist a small team of student contributors that we’re calling our eNotes TAs.

keep-calm-i-m-a-teaching-assistantWhat’s a TA?

A TA (Teaching Assistant) is somewhere between a student and a teacher; they have the required knowledge to help others with the subject matter at hand, but can explain it all in a way that their fellow students will understand. eNotes TAs will work in our Homework Help section, writing original answers to eNoters’ questions from around the world. Along with our team of real-life Educators, eNotes TAs will help to make Homework Help your top choice for expert answers and instruction provided in the clearest way!

To join this team you must be enrolled in school (high school or undergraduate) and possess an enthusiasm for learning and sharing what you’ve learnt.

In return, eNotes TAs will receive:

  • free premium membership to eNotes (unlimited access to our 250,000+ study guides, plus up to 5 Homework Help questions per day)
  • valuable resume or college application experience
  • special gift card rewards based on the attainment of pre-set goals

How to apply:

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the eNotes team, please submit your application to become a TA to jgardner@enotes.com. Make sure to include a little bit about yourself, your grade level, and what makes you a strong candidate for the TA program. We look forward to hearing from you!

Check back at eNotes.com later this Fall term to see our TAs in action!


What the $$$$ Just Happened to My Student Loans?!!

Paying for college is tough enough, but have you heard about the recent hikes in interest rates for student loans? Read on to find out how this affects you as either a current student or someone in repayment, plus how government officials plan to resolve the issue of crippling student debt.

As of yesterday, Stafford Loan interest rates doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%. Congress did not pass an alternative measure before the July 4th break, which will end at 2:00pm on Monday, July 8th. However, it still has the option to pass a measure that will retroactively affect the rise in interest rates, altering the Stafford Loan rates for this year’s students and perhaps others. This article will outline a few of the options Congress faces, what changes may be made, and how those changes might affect students with Stafford Loans.

Student Loans Crippling Many

Protestors advocate against increased interest rates.

What is a Stafford Loan and how does it work?

Stafford Loans are the most common kind of federal student loans available. They are available to students at accredited institutions

in the United States, a category to which most colleges and universities in the United States pertain. Stafford Loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. Of these, subsidized loans tend to have lower interest rates, and the federal government pays the interest that the loans accrue. Contrastingly, the interest that accumulates on unsubsidized Stafford Loans is capitalized, meaning that it is added to the part of the loan on which interest is paid.

Subsidized Stafford Loans are available to those who demonstrate financial need via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which must be renewed each year a student wishes to apply. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are available to all students who meet the Stafford Loan requirements, which can be found here.

In addition to Stafford Loans, the government gives out PLUS Loans, which are unsubsidized loans and in the past have had higher interest rates than Stafford Loans. PLUS Loans are available to graduate students and parents of students.

The Option Proposed by President Obama:

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