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Know About Medical Education Conferences

What are Medical Education Conferences?

The medical education conferences are the worldwide friendly union of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, medical students etc. working in one or the other medical areas and are interested in enhancing outcomes in the healthcare industry. Leaders of the medical education come together to share ideas and experiences to improve educational practices. These meetings are held in a chosen medical field, especially at exotic places to make one relax with their families and friends along with subject enrichment.

Registrations are being made for attending such kind of meets. Abstracts and Presentations submissions are done months before the held date of the specific conference. After the review of the abstracts, they are accepted or rejected and the full schedule is then made keeping in consideration the time of the seminar and question-answer session. The event is spread over two or more weeks depending on the number of abstracts to be discussed.

Why are these conducted?

Variety of sessions and workshops are conducted to enable the diverse group of educators and researchers to share and discuss interesting ongoing approaches, innovations, and interventions to medical education.

It is a platform for people of similar interests.

  • to form a network with others.
  • to take part in workshops and seminars.
  • to present their own work via presentations.

It provides tools for training of health professionals in developing, mastering and maintaining the important knowledge, skills, and attitude required for safe and effective patient care. These conferences help in developing and implementing curriculum, assessment and evaluation competency, simulation and observation studies, and policy or ethical dilemmas in medical training.

Undergraduate/Postgraduate level students get the opportunity to attend expert’s seminars. Plus, they also get a chance to lead a seminar which helps them to strengthen their basic skills and to reinforce a clinical experience with an evidence-based approach, in turn, it creates efficiency and improves compliance with duty hours and patient care.

Upcoming Medical Education Conferences in 2018

Medical schools, universities and many associations routinely offer conferences on medical education; from undergraduate medical education to resident and research education on the vast number of topics.

Have a look at the lists which are given below-

1. 15th APMEC 2018: 10-14 January 2018, Singapore.

2. Pain Management & Addiction Medicine for Primary Care: 16-18 February 2018 in Whistler (Vancouver) in Canada.

3. Cardiology for Primary Care: February 17-19, 2018 in Disneyland, California.

4. Infectious Diseases for Primary Care: 22nd – 24th February 2018 in Riviera Maya/Cancun, Mexico.

5. Clinical and Patient Wellness Program Series: February 22-24, 2018 in Orlando, Florida.

6. Pharmacology and Pain Management for Primary Care: Between 2-4 March 2018, it will be held in Sedona/Grand Canyon, Arizona.

7. Neurology and Psychiatry for Primary Care: In Napa Valley/Sonoma Wine Country, California, 9-11 March 2018.

8. Ottawa 2018.ICME 2018: 10-14 March 2018, Abu Dhabi.

9. Pediatrics for Primary Care: March 16-18, 2018 in Kapolei, Hawaii-Aulani.

10. Women’s Health and Pain Management: 24-26 March 2018 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

11. Emergencies in Primary care: March 29-31, 2018 in Punta Cana.

12. Psychiatry and Women’s Health for Primary Care: March 29-31, 2018.

13. 13th International Medical Education Conferences 2018: 13-15 April 2018, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

14. AMEE 2018: 25-29 August 2018, Basel, Switzerland.

15. Learn Serve Lead 2018 AAMC: 2-6 November 2018, Austin, USA.

Influence of Internet on the Education System

The Information highway or the Internet has changed the way the world goes about doing things. It is one more point in a long continuum of inventions that is set to revolutionize lifestyles. One is inclined to ask, how does the ability of computers to talk to each other improve the learning process in the classroom? How does it make a difference in study of epics like the Odyssey and the Iliad? These questions and more will be answered in the following passages. The Internet has a more pervasive effect than other electronic media and is the modern engine of progress; it is the new form of thinking that will show a fresh approach to online education.

Personal computers and the Information Superhighway are rapidly transforming America. Already, the Internet is making large amounts of information available at unprecedented speeds. When this revolution makes itself fully felt in schools, teachers and students will have virtually instantaneous access to vast amounts of information and a wide range of learning tools. If we guide the information revolution wisely, these resources will be available not only to affluent suburban schools but also to rural school districts and inner-city schools. Broad access can reduce differences in the quality of online education and give children in all areas new opportunities to learn. Used well, this transforming technology can play a major role in school reform.

The new technology will enable students to acquire the skills that are essential to succeed in modern society. Exposure to computer technology in school will permit students to become familiar with the necessary tools at an early age. By using the technology well, they will also acquire better thinking skills to help them become informed citizens and active community members.

The drive to integrate technology into our nation’s schools goes far beyond the Internet. If the Internet didn’t exist, advanced technology would still have so many valuable educational uses distance learning applications, collaborative learning, and so forth that far larger investments than are being contemplated would be justified.

Web resources are excellent tools for researches. Let’s not kid ourselves, however. Even if policymakers, practitioners, and parents did decide what their goals were and even if the research findings supported one of several configurations of hardware and software, deciding when, how, or if to use technology (or any other reform) in the classroom is not likely to be determined solely on these bases. Many other factors–ranging from parental pressure to superintendents wanting to leave their fingerprints on the district to technology corporations promoting their products–shape decisions to buy and allocate technologies to schools.

The Internet is an incredible information resource and a powerful communication tool. The ability to use new technologies is becoming a more important factor in career options, and the future success of today’s students will be more affected by their understanding of and ability to access and use electronic information. The increased use of on-line services in the home by children adds to the impetus for schools to take a more active role in family education regarding their use.

Schools have the potential to be access points and online educational centers for exploring Internet resources. Increased involvement of parents in school education programs can help address community concerns and can improve their children’s overall academic performance. If educators assume responsibility for helping students master the use of technology and educating them about potential risks, students will become more empowered to make intelligent choices.

Multicultural education relates to education and instruction designed for the cultures of several different races in an educational system. This approach to teaching and learning is based upon consensus building, respect, and fostering cultural pluralism within racial societies. Multicultural education acknowledges and incorporates positive racial idiosyncrasies into classroom atmospheres.

The concept of learning styles is rooted in the classification of psychological types. The different ways of doing so are generally classified as: Concrete and abstract perceivers and Active and reflective processors.

There are many academic and psychological issues do minority students encounter such as: low single head of household, low socioeconomic status, low minority group status, limited English proficiency, low-educational attainment of parents, mobility, and psychosocial factors.

Not only do school programs and practices have a direct impact upon student success, but the school and community contexts in which these programs and practices occur also affect success rates. “Context” is comprised of numerous factors. Some contextual variables can have a positive impact upon students, while others work against student success.

The call for total school reform strongly suggests that existing conceptions of education are inadequate for promoting multicultural equity. Unfortunately, these same conceptions have shaped the schooling of prospective teachers. Their education likely has been characterized by tracking (the process of assigning students to different groups, classes, or programs based on measures of intelligence, achievement, or aptitude), traditional instruction that appeals to a narrow range of learning styles, and curricula that exclude the contributions of women and people of diverse cultures. Competition drives this factory model of schooling, in which students tend to be viewed as products coming off an assembly line.

Education is a fundamental human process; it is a matter of values and action. The cluster of technologies called the Internet has the ability to complement, to reinforce, and to enhance the educational process. It will take the focus of education from the institution to the student. The Internet has come to befriend, dwell with, and live beyond, both, the teacher and the student. African wisdom says, “It takes an entire village to raise a child”.

My personal conclusion is that all students, regardless of race, ethnic group, gender, socioeconomic status, geographic location, age, language, or disability, deserve equitable access to challenging and meaningful learning and achievement. This concept has profound implications for teaching and learning throughout the school community. It suggests that ensuring equity and excellence must be at the core of systemic reform efforts in education as a whole.

Registered Nursing Continuing Education

The completion of two to four years of education, with an associate degree or a baccalaureate degree, is a basic requirement to become a Registered Nurse. The field of nursing is wide open, because of a shotage of muc needed nurses in hospitals and other venues across the country and the world.

There are many types of courses and providers available. The common goal of these courses is to prepare the future nurses for initial entry into practice and RN licensure [procedure of which differs from state to state in the US] and work their way up the professional ladder.

The candidates should complete a minimum number of hours of CE courses to qualify for licensure. They are also expected to pass the NCLEX-RN® examination. This examination measures the competencies needed to practice nursing safely and effectively as a newly licensed entry-level RN. NCLEX-RN® is used by Boards of Nursing all over the US and its territories.

If a nursing aspirant had her education abroad, she has to take the RNCGFNS, which provides a certification platform and includes a test of English proficiency, and an examination designed to prepare for the NCLEX-RN® examination. The CGFNS certificate program, which is only available for RN candidates, is well-established and serves as a requirement by 42 Boards of Nursing.

The Florida Nurses Association says in the home page of its official website http://www.floridanurse.org, ‘Nursing is not a job. It is a profession requiring specialized knowledge and skills’. A Continuing Education program is the best way to acquire this.

Special Education Has Changed Over Time

Special education has been assisting students with learning disabilities in the United States education system since the end of World War II. The first push for special education started when a group of parent-organized advocacy groups surfaced. In 1947 one of the first organizations, the American Association on Mental Deficiency, held its first convention. That marked a starting point for special education as we know it today.

Started during the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1950s, the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and John F. Kennedy’s Panel on Mental Retardation were among an increased amount of advocacy groups for assisted learning programs. This strong push helped bring special education into schools across the country in the 1960’s as school access was established for children with disabilities at state and local levels.

The parent advocacy groups dating back to 1947 laid the ground floor for government legislation being approved by Congress in 1975 that was called the “Education for All Handicapped Children Act” (Public Law 94-142). This act went into effect in October of 1977 and it was the beginning for federal funding of special education in schools nationwide. The act required public schools to offer “free appropriate public education” to students with a wide range of disabilities, including “physical handicaps, mental retardation, speech, vision and language problems, emotional and behavioral problems, and other learning disorders.”

The law from 1977 was extended in 1983 to offer parent training and information centers. Later in 1986 the government started programs targeting youngsters with potential learning disabilities. The Act from 1975 was changed to the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA) in 1990. Since establishment of IDEA more than 6.5 million children and 200,000+ toddlers and infants are being assisted each year.

Special education in schools often unintentionally overlooks a key aspect of why students suffer from learning disabilities. The reasons for common learning disabilities are weak cognitive skills. Studies show that 80% of students enrolled in special education at some level suffer from underlying weak cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are the mental capabilities that one needs to successfully learn academic subjects. In more detail cognitive skills are learning skills used to retain information; process, analyze, and store facts and feelings; and create mental pictures, read words, and understand concepts. They are not to be confused with academic skills which would include subjects like math, science, or history.

Proper testing to identify these weak cognitive skills will help quality learning centers put together a plan of action to strengthen them. This sort of training will last a lifetime. By not targeting the cognitive skills a student will struggle for the rest of their life until they are trained properly. It is highly recommended that you get your child tested at a learning training center that provides cognitive testing. Once tested a personal, unique training program can be developed for your child to overcome their learning disability.

Is the Carrot and Stick Method Useful in Higher Education?

Consider how the process of learning begins for students. As a general perceptual rule, when students begin their degree programs they hope to obtain good grades, useful skills, and relevant knowledge. The tuition paid assures placement in a class and there are implied results that students expect as a product of their involvement in that class. In contrast, instructors expect that students will obey the academic rules, perform to the best of their abilities, and comply with specific class requirements that include deadlines for completion of learning activities.

For students, grades serve as an indicator of their progress in class, a symbol of their accomplishments and failures, and a record of their standing in a degree program. I have heard many students state that their primary goal for the class was to earn what they refer to as “good grades” – even though they may not be fully aware of what constitutes a good grade for them. When students aren’t achieving good grades, or the minimum expected by instructors and/or the school, instructors may try to nudge them on – either through positive motivational methods such as coaching and mentoring, or negative motivational methods that include threats and a demeaning disposition.

I found that many educators dangle a carrot in front of their students through indirect methods, such as the potential to earn a better grade, as an “A” in an indicator of the ultimate achievement in school. There may be incentives given to prompt better performance, including additional time or a resubmission allowance for a written assignment, as a means of encouraging students to perform better.

My question is whether the focus of teaching in higher education should be on the carrot we dangle in front of students to perform better or should there be more of a focus on what motivates each individual student to perform to the best of their abilities? In other words, do we need to be dangling something in front of students to serve as a source of motivation?

What is the Carrot and Stick Method?

I believe that most people understand the meaning of dangling a carrot in front of students to motivate them. The phrase is actually based upon a tale about a method of motivating a donkey and while the carrot is dangling in front of it, the stick is used to prod the animal along. The carrot serves as a reward and the stick is used as a form of reinforcement and punishment for non-compliance.

This approach is still used in the workplace, even subconsciously by managers, as a method of motivating employees. The carrot or incentives may include a promotion, pay increase, different assignments, and the list continues. The stick that is used, or the punishment for not reaching specific goals or performance levels, may include demotion or a job loss. A threat of that nature can serve as a powerful motivator, even if the essence of this approach is negative and stressful.

The Carrot and Stick Approach in Higher Education

If you are uncertain about the use of this approach in higher education, consider the following example. You are providing feedback for a written assignment and it is now the halfway point in the class. For one particular student, you believe they have not met the criteria for the assignment and more importantly, they have either not put in enough effort, they did not perform to your expectations, or they did not live up to their full potential.

It is worth mentioning that your beliefs about students are shaped by how you view them and their potential. In other words, I try to see my students as individuals who have varying levels of performance and that means some will be further along than others. In contrast, instructors who believe they do not have enough time to get to know their students as individuals may view the class as a whole and set an expectation regarding the overall performance level that all students should be at for this particular point in the class.

Returning to the example provided, my question to you is this: Do you reward the attempt made by the student or do you penalize that student for what you perceive to be a lack of effort? As a faculty trainer, I have interacted with many faculty who believe that all students should be high performers and earning top grades, regardless of their background and prior classes. When students fail to meet that expectation, there is a perception that students either do not care, they are not trying, or they are not reading and applying the feedback provided. The instructor’s response then is to dangle a carrot (incentive) and use the stick to try to change the necessary student behaviors.

Relevance for Adult Learning

There is a perception held by many educators, especially those who teach in traditional college classes, that the instructors are in control and students must comply. This reinforces a belief within students that they do not have control over their outcomes and that is why many believe grades are beyond their control. I have seen many students stop trying by the time they were enrolled in a class I was teaching simply because they could not make a connection between the effort they have made to the outcomes or grades received. In other words, while they believed they were doing everything “right” – they were still getting poor grades.

At the heart of the adult learning process is motivation. There are as many degrees of motivation as there are types of students and it is not realistic to expect that all students will be performing at the same level. I’ve learned through time and practice that adult student behaviors do not or will not permanently change as a result of forced compliance. However, behaviors will change in time when an instructor has built a connection with their students and established a sense of rapport with them. I encourage instructors to think beyond dangling a carrot and try to influence behavior, and not always through the use of rewards.

From a Carrot to a Connection

It is important for instructors to create a climate and classroom conditions that are conducive to engaging students, while becoming aware of (and recognizing) that all students have a capacity to learn and some gradually reach their potential while others develop much more quickly. My instructional approach has shifted early on from a rewards or carrot focus to a student focus. I want to build connections with students and nurture productive relationships with them, even when I am teaching an online class and have the distance factor to consider. I encourage students to make an effort and I welcome creative risks. I teach students to embrace what they call their failures as valuable learning lessons. I encourage their involvement in the learning process, prompt their original thinking during class discussions, and I teach them that their efforts do influence the outcomes received.

I recognize that this type of approach is not always easy to implement when classroom management is time consuming, and this is especially true for adjunct instructors. However, at a very minimum it can become an attitude and part of an engaging instructional practice. I encourage instructors to include it as part of their underlying teaching philosophy so they recognize and work to implement it. Every educator should have a well-thought out teaching philosophy as it guides how they act and react to students and classroom conditions. A student focus, rather than a carrot and stick focus, creates a shift in perspective from looking first at the deficits of students and seeing their strengths – along with their potential. It is an attitude of looking away from lack and looking towards meaning in the learning process, and a shift from seeing an entire class to viewing students individually. My hope is that this inspires you to re-evaluate and re-examine how teach your students and consider new methods of prompting their best performance.

Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance

The Orange County Schools ‘ Special Education Alliance was created by the 28 districts in Orange County in 2003. The primary goal of the Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance is to meet the need for a countywide system that can focus on special education. This includes offering staff development and training to school employees, creating leadership in advocating for legislative and administrative change, overseeing the decisions and rulings rendered by administrative agencies, offering a way to fund the litigation and appeals of administrative and judicial decisions and rulings especially when the outcome has a countywide significance or precedent setting in its implications for all students.

The Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance was created with the intention of addressing all the concerns of all students regardless of if the student has any manner disability. Any student that is not receiving the full services they need changed because of lack of funding to support mandates created under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The main problem that Orange County Schools faces with meeting this federal mandate is drawing funds from the regular education program. Funds are often taken from the regular education program to support the needs of special education students. Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance aims to provide the services all students need to be successful in meeting academic standards.

Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance plans to accomplish this goal by providing staff development to its practitioners, use the legislative process to seek adequate funding to provide these high quality services, and when necessary, support litigation to achieve these goals. Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance also encourages staff members, parents, advocates and organizations to get involved by using their voices and contact the local officials and hold them accountable for promises and mandates for which regular education and special needs children are entitled.

Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance is lead by an Executive Committee that is composed of Superintendents from different school districts across Orange County. The actual carrying out of the goals is the responsibility of the Review Committee. The Review Committee is comprised of five Superintendents regionally nominated, Orange County Schools’ legal counsel, two private attorneys representing school districts in special education matters, two SELPA directors, and one business administrator. The Review Committee has been working hard for the past two years in order to try and meet the goals of the Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance. Even though the focus of the Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance is in the areas of legal and funding, it tries hard to work closely with teachers and staff members so that its members are informed about the needs of the schools at root levels.

Since the Orange County Schools’ Special Education Alliance was created it has accomplish a great deal to meet the needs of the school districts across Orange County.

The Importance of Dental Continuing Education

The pursuit of lifelong learning-whether to enrich our lives, follow a new dream, or simply challenge ourselves, is certainly something that appeals to many of us. For some professionals, however, ongoing training in their fields of expertise is more important than for others. Individuals working in the medical and dental fields are entrusted with the safety and comfort of others on a daily basis. Should they choose to rely upon their initial training indefinitely, ignoring ongoing developments and technological advances, they would be putting their practices at legal risk and jeopardizing the health and welfare of their patients. In these fields, it’s simply not an option to assume that there is nothing more to learn.

Dental continuing education is essential for anyone working within the dental field. As in the medical field, technological advances in the field come at a rapid-fire pace, and staying abreast of the latest research, tools and treatment methods is crucial. Ongoing training for dental professionals is so important that most states require that dentists and hygienists complete a certain number of dental continuing education activities each year in order to remain licensed to practice. These requirements vary from state to state, and in some cases also apply to dental assistants.

Pursuing continued education in the dental field can be beneficial in several ways. For a dentist who is currently in practice, ongoing continuing education ensures that his or her patients have access to the latest diagnostic, preventative and treatment methods. For an individual just beginning a career in the dental field, dental continuing education can open new career pathways, provide opportunities for advancement and improve earning power.

A wide variety of dental continuing education activities are available for both working and non-working individuals. If your goal is simply to stay informed about new research findings and updated industry best practices, there are plenty of low-cost, self-paced online courses that can help you to meet your state’s continuing education requirements and enhance your ability to perform your current job role. If you are interested in furthering your formal education, however, in order to advance your career in the dental field, you may wish to pursue a degree or certificate program. For example, a dental assistant may discover that she is interested in pursuing a career as a hygienist-whether to earn a higher salary or simply to experience more personal fulfillment in her job role. In this case, she would need a degree from an accredited dental hygiene school in order to obtain her license.

Regardless of the pathway you choose, as a dental professional you should consider your pursuit of education to be a lifelong endeavor. Doing so will not only better position you to advance within your chosen field; it will also ensure that you’re able to provide the best possible care for your patients.

Parental Retaliation in Special Education – How Can I Prove It – And Will It Ever Stop?

Are you a parent who has a child with autism or other disabilities that receive special education services? Have you experienced parental retaliation by special education professionals in your school district, because you have advocated for your child? This article will educate you on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil rights (OCR) definition of retaliation, and also what standard they use to determine if parental retaliation has occurred. In addition this article will discuss whether retaliation can be decreased, so that you can truly be a meaningful participant in your child’s education!

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights states that: “504 prohibits recipients or other persons from intimidating, threatening, coercing or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Section 504, or because the individual has made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under Section 504.34 C.F.R. 100.7(e).” One of the protected activities under Section 504 is advocacy, and retaliation is prohibited if you advocate for your child.

The Office of Civil Rights has released information that OCR complaints have increased at a very large rate (which I believe is due to the amount of parental retaliation that special education professionals engage in). The types of retaliation I have seen are calls to Child Protective Services (CPS), banning parents from school grounds, and possibly punishment to a child. Parents need to stand up to this retaliation and gather evidence of the retaliation, so that they can file an OCR complaint.

OCR uses a five point test to determine if a parent has experienced retaliation:

1. “Has the parent engaged in a protected activity?”

2. “Is the district aware of the protected activity?”

3. “Was the parent or student subjected to an adverse action?”

4. “Will a neutral third party decide there is a causal relationship or connection between the protected activity and the adverse action?”

5. “Can the school district offer a legitimate non-discriminatory (non-retaliatory) reason for the adverse action, which a neutral third party will not consider to be pre-textual?”

A few comments about the five point test:

1. Under #1 advocacy is considered a protective activity as well as filing a state complaint or a due process complaint.

2. Under #2 most special education professionals know of parent’s advocacy especially if the parent has filed a complaint or due process.

3. Under #3 the adverse action means a negative action such as suspending a child or calling CPS and making a child abuse complaint.

4. Under #4 the retaliation must be closely-timed to the protected activity of advocacy, or OCR could rule against you on your complaint.

5. Under #5 this in some cases is what causes a parent to lose the complaint–If the school can come up with a plausible non-discriminatory reason for the action, and then the finding may be against the parent.

OCR recently released a Dear Colleague letter (April 2013) about retaliation that can be downloaded at, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201304.html. This is a great resource that can ensure successful advocacy.

The only thing that will decrease retaliation is enforcement, which is usually left to the parent. I do believe that you should file an OCR complaint for ever retaliation action done by special education professionals (that you can prove of course). Work hard to secure written evidence to prove your case, as well as include the five point test in your retaliation claim, (with all of your evidence listed, and attached of course). Parental retaliation often occurs in the dark, and if light is brought to it, the situation very well could improve! Never stop fighting for your child-he or she is worth it!

How to Get Financial Aid for Your Online Education?

Time has changed and over the years education is no more restricted to pen, paper, classrooms, blackboards etc. Today when time is deemed to be more crucial than money and people in even in remote corners of the world crave to acquire education and its benefits, online education has definitely come up as a desired boon.

Online education is education via the medium of Internet that can be gained synchronously or asynchronously. At present online education is far superior from the conventional mode of learning (i.e. going to universities, attending classes and so forth) in many ways. Online education is not just a means to make judicious use of time but it is also acquiring the best possible degree in academics anytime anywhere.

Though merits of online education outweigh the classroom education in many respects, its greatest drawback is its cost. Online education is significantly expensive in comparison to usual university education. This is precisely the reason that every individual cannot dream of getting an online degree.

But with a surge in enticement for online education some universities imparting it have devised several ways to financially assist the aspirants. The foremost and ideal step in this direction is education loans and giving scholarships.

Whereas loan or arranging finance for online education is concerned the foremost step is to fill up your FASFA i.e. Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FASFA is an application published by the Department of Education. This application gives the aspirant an idea of the kind of funding he or she is eligible for. Once the application form is properly filled and sent, wait for the confirmation. Usually receiving a confirmation letter is a matter of one or two days. The confirmation letter will brief you about the kind and number of programs you meant for you. This process is quite simple and easy to follow.

After acquiring the confirmation letter, contact the Financial Aid office of the desired college/s. The financial aid officer there will explain you the various types of financial aid packages available that vary from work-study programs to government aid. He will lend you the requisite forms for different colleges. Finally it is at your discretion which college to opt for though the officer will definitely guide you in your selection.

Once the loan application is completed, it will be sent to the school for the process of verification and processing. Usually banks do not fund the students directly but via the concerned institution. The bank sends the money at the commencement of the session.

This is helpful to both the student and the institution.

Apart from loans there are scholarship programs such as the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit that offers a maximum 100% on the first $1000 and 50% on the second $1000 spent for educational purposes. Similarly the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction are other means to save money on your online educational expenses.

How to Get Financial Aid for College Education for Single Mothers

Single mothers and mothers in the US can provide their family and children with a better future by securing a higher paid job. Well, this is possible only with the right kind of degree in hand earned at colleges. However, the road to success through education is quite tough as the costs associated with the higher studies at colleges are quite high, forcing many single mothers in the US to drop their higher studies in midway. High expenses apart, the additional crises of debt burden are there too, making college education an out of reach substance for single moms and mothers. Yet, there is a hope as the Obama administration has revamped grant programs for women, especially for single mothers or moms. This initiative has been taken towards empowering women and single mothers in the US so as to find them a better opportunity and make their lives better, leaving past the adversities behind.

The Obama Single Mother Grant is one of the best ways to help with college bills to avoid financial crises. Single mothers or mothers from low-income or no-income households can receive up to $5,000 as an educational benefit through The Federal Pell Grant program, also known as the Single Mother Grant. The US Department of Education monitors the entire program and pays out the financial assistance for higher studies for mothers through state-run organizations, participating colleges, action community agencies, charitable organizations and non-profit organizations. Always remember that female participants can easily receive free financial assistance through Obama approved government grant compared to male participants.

Considering Pell Grant, it is a need-based program; hence, it always aims at favoring the needs of single mothers. The federal Pell Grant offers you a great opportunity to escape the higher repayment rates of loans. Besides, it does not have to be repaid like loans. Earlier known as Basic Education Opportunity Grants (BEOGs), Pell Grant offers around $5,500 to the eligible single mothers for college tuition fees, as well as study materials and housing expenses.

How to Apply for the Federal Pell Grant

Remember, you are not entitled to receiving the Pell Grant for more than one college you want to pursue your higher studies. In order to receive the financial assistance, it is essential to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or (FAFSA). A proper application process is not complete without the filing of FAFSA. Once the FAFSA is filed, your financial needs are evaluated based on the information provided on the FAFSA. After the FAFSA gets processed, you are likely to receive a Student Aid Report, containing your eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant.

If you are interested, you can contact your state agency to apply for the Pell Grant or visit https://fafsa.ed.gov/options.htm to apply online. Though it is a time-consuming process, benefits for college education earned through Pell grant is matchless.

Sex Education in Schools Pros and Cons

Sex education is the act of informing younger and adult generations about everything they need to know about sex. Sex education is one of the most controversial issues in education, which has been floating on educational institutions since ages.

Sex education is not just about sex. It includes other sensitive issues like sexual health, sexual reproduction, sexuality and others that parents often feel uncomfortable talking with their children. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of schools to address this issue, and inform and educate students about it as much as possible.

Often, sexual education in schools is considered as a recreational course rather than a serious issue. There are many pros and cons of sexual education being taught in the public schools.

Pros of sex education in schools:

– Classes are gender-exclusive. This saves embarrassment among students and teach them only what they need to know based on their gender.

– Properly taught, sexual education could become a regular and ongoing Human Anatomy and Biology complete with tests and grading that goes toward graduation credits.

– Students can be taught the correct terms of the reproductive system of sexually transmitted diseases and contraception birth instead of “street slang.”

– Myths surrounding sex can be dispelled (for example, can not get pregnant the first time).

– Studies show that many teenagers become sexually active before the inclusion of educational classes. Principles of inclusion of classes has been shown to help students stay or to abstain or at least be responsible if they are active.

– Proper education can have an impact on the prevention of sexual problems in adulthood.

Cons of sex education in schools:

– Students may still be subject to embarrassment or excitable by subject matter. This can make for out of control classrooms if students take to laugh or make inappropriate comments.

– Most education is taught as a brief interlude in physical education or health class. This is not enough time to relate effectively to serious material.

– Often, sexual education can go against moral or religious beliefs of an individual. Many schools do not teach abstinence-only, but to teach how to have sex safely, while many of the religious and family stress marriage before intercourse.

– Sex education is often seen as a “recreational” course and not a serious issue (this is a direct correlation with the fact that there are no grades or scores to be derived from class).

– Teachers are not always adequately trained to teach sexual education and may violate their own beliefs or morals on the subject rather than continuing with the facts.

– The attitudes of parents, educators and religious leaders in the community can make the stuff that vary from state to state or even school-to-school.

The Education Enigma

Title: The Education Enigma

Author: Bruce Deitrick Price

Publisher: Word-Wise Publishing

ISBN: 1-4392-3035-8

ISBN-13: 978-1439230350

The Education Enigma is a book of essays pertaining to America’s education system. The question Price poses is: What Happened to American Education? Price proclaims, “The simultaneous decline of American education and the language used by America’s educators is a historical fact.” Over the years I have done some research on this topic, in particular through editing and proofreading of college papers. I found this book very interesting and agree with much of what Price states.

The main crux of Price’s essays deal with the failure of our teaching methods to actually teach children to read. He explains the difference between teaching children to read using whole word strategy and phonics, favoring phonics. According to Price, “When we examine education throughout the 20th century, we see a puzzling array of unproductive ideas. But no failure is as primal and destructive as the inability of American public schools to teach reading-the one essential skill.”

Through his essays Price also touches on the subjects of math, history, science and art. In addition, he provides a history of the American education system along with its downward turn referring to it as the “dumbing down” of America. From John Dewey to Maria Montessori to Rudolf Flesch to Gilbert Highet, Price explains their philosophies and the affects on this country’s education system. He concludes, specifically in regard to Dewey and his followers, “Make no mistake, this was a secret conspiracy.”

Along with this Price argues an excellent point that I always disagreed with: children need to memorize facts and figures even if they can look the answers up, whether in a book or online. I always believed that as long as children were taught where and how to look up answers there is no need for state tests that cause stress for many of our children from fourth grade up. His comment toward this kind of theorizing is: “But will they? No, people usually muddle through with what they actually know in their heads.” I do tend to agree with this point even though I still feel there is too much emphasis placed on state tests.

The Education Enigma is full of information and history pertaining to the American education system. Through some of the titles of his essays it’s easy to see that Price has a sense of humor: Jay Leno: Educator of the Year; Phooey on John Dewey; and Educators are Best Understood as “Ignorance Engineers.”

It is important to mention that Price is not hurling these jabs pertaining to the ineffectiveness of the school system at the teachers in the trenches. It is aimed at those in control of creating and enforcing inadequate teaching strategies. In Price’s words, “When I speak of “educators,” I never mean teachers. I mean that small group of managers at the top, with Ph.D.’s, who effectively control the public schools.”

A final quote from this book that I especially liked: “…Another famous government report, A Nation at Risk (1983) concluded that our public schools seem to have been created by an enemy power. Exactly. An enemy that would want Americans to read feebly and count inaccurately.”

About the author: Bruce Deitrick Price is a novelist, painter, poet and education activist. He graduated from Norfolk Academy and Princeton (with Honors in English Literature). Throughout his career, Price was writing about education. Aside from the arts, his main passion is Improve-Education.org. Price is a member of PEN and Mensa.

Open Courses: Changing the Higher Education Scene

Want to take a course from M.I.T., one of the most revered technology schools in the world? You don’t have to have almost-perfect SAT scores, you don’t have to have a 4.0 GPA, you don’t have to pay the $50,000 tuition – in fact, you don’t even have to be enrolled as a student. Sound too good to be true? M.I.T. has put its entire course catalogue online so that anyone who wishes to check out class lectures, class notes, assignments and other materials will be able to via their computer.

Online education continues to change the way educators and students envision higher education and M.I.T.’s open courses are just one of the many ways that traditional ground schools are adapting to advances in technology. Due to the expansion of online education, OpenCourseWare Consortium, a non-profit organization committed to advancing global education opportunity, was created to give students worldwide the opportunity to access higher education courses and relevant material.

M.I.T. isn’t the only prestigious ground school to get involved. Stanford, Tufts, Yale, the University of Michigan and Harvard also offer many, if not all, of their courses online for free. So, why give away something that many students pay so much for? “My deep belief is that as academics we have a duty to disperse our ideas as far and as freely as possible,” says Rebecca Henderson a business professor from M.I.T. and Harvard.

Sharing the world’s knowledge is the goal of OpenCourseWare Consortium. Obtaining copyrights from more schools and then delivering the material effectively as well as long-term funding are issues which are still being dealt with. Initial funding came from the private sector by way of affluent schools and organizations like the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. But, say Consortium directors, “relying on philanthropy is not sustainable.”

To address sustainability, copyright issues, and course effectiveness of the Open Education movement activists, educators, and scientists will converge in Barcelona for meetings on education, accessibility, and trends in Open Education. Open Ed 2011 and the Drumbeat Learning Freedom and the Web Festival will convene to address the future of education and the Web and the “decisions needed to make open education a reality” as well as ‘impact and sustainability.”

Mary Lou Forward, executive director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is planning to attend both meetings. Unequal access to education is one of the most prominent reasons OpenCourseWare was developed, bringing free education to the masses is a concept that is always on Forward’s mind. “What I think about all the time,” she says, “are ways to bring education to people.”

While open courses don’t provide actual course credit or an eventual degree to students, they are used by many to self-learn or to find areas of study that may interest them in their eventual degree track. Additionally, open courses give underprivileged students or students with traditionally little access who may be incapable of attending college an opportunity to study and learn exactly what their peers elsewhere are studying.

OpenCourseWare hopes to eventually make national and worldwide higher education courses freely available to students and learners across the globe.

How Can Video Conferencing Solutions Positively Impact the Rural Education?

Video Conferencing has always been considered as an upmarket technology; beyond the reach of common people, especially in the rural sector. However, the circumstances have started to show some positive bends lately. Technology has stepped into the rural domain and has also started impacting the lives of the masses. The basic purpose of video conferencing solutions is an enhanced virtual connectivity. Beforehand, the far-flung villages suffered from the unavailability of necessary amenities which the virtual connectivity has brought to their doorstep.

The greatest impact of the audio-visual technology can be seen in the rural education sector. Rural communities have always suffered from the lack of qualitative education within accessible distance. Stories of people traveling miles in search of qualitative education and training aren’t rare. Girls in most Indian villages, fail to get educated in hi-end technologies since their parents are unwilling to let them travel to distant schools and colleges. Video Conferencing Solutions for Education have been able to curtail these drawbacks to a considerable extent.

Benefits of virtual collaboration for education in the rural sector

Experts at doorstep

The AV collaborative solutions have bridged the gap between education and the learners. This technology and the solutions based on it have transformed the authentic brick and mortar classrooms into global learning platforms. Through Live video collaboration, the rural students can learn directly from the experts in various genre’, ask questions and resolve problems without changing their locations; thus avoiding the traveling cost.

“Classroom without walls”

This is a concept that made around 125 students from 3 schools on the Kenai Peninsula spend a night at school to wake up at 4 a.m. for attending a video conference with the students in Nazareth, Israel (The Journal.com). This collaborative technology has not only pulled up the rural students to the standards where high-end education is not only limited to their privileged urban or suburban peers but also helped them realize the importance and urgency of cross-cultural collaboration. We can thank this technology for helping rural students become responsible global citizens.

Parents’ are in control

While the students are leveraging video conferencing solutions to acquire higher education, parents can relax to see their children not shift base for higher education. In the pre-virtual collaboration scenario, helplessly worried parents had no option but to allow their children relocate to big cities to satisfy their learning sprees. This also made some parents reluctant about letting their children pursue higher education. Thus, curbing their growth, which in its turn affecting the growth of rural education as a whole. With children collaborating virtually, the parents are also aware of their children’s academic progress. They can also be a part of virtual performance tracking of their wards and have discussions with the educators.

Teachers can grow as well

Apart from a better exposure and interaction with remote students, there are quite a few things that the teachers can really leverage from a hi-end video conferencing solution for education. Remote collaboration can help teachers, especially who are rurally located, enhance their skills. The teachers can, thus, not only impart education but also be a part of different forums or peer-groups to act upon fruitful knowledge exchange.

Helping children with special needs

Children with special needs, located rurally, find it exceptionally tough to access varied learning scopes. With easily accessible video conferencing solutions, they can now register for various workshops, learning forums, discussion session without relocating. They can overcome their feeling of isolation by joining peers around the world who have similar needs and be a part of the global learning junket.

Initiatives to promote digital learning

Educational institutes around the world are focusing on encompassing digital learning into their curriculum. In India, E-Kranti program under the Digital India campaign is designed to focus on digitizing rural education. Under this program, free Wi-Fi will be provided to 2.5 lakh schools in the next five years. Also, devices like tablets will be distributed among rural students and plans for initiating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to help them overcome the demographic constraint and learn from global industry experts and eminent mentors. Players like Google and Facebook are also partnering with the Central Government to make the initiative successful.

Centrally Sponsored schemes, Rashtriya Uchchatar Siksha Aviyan (RUSA) and not-for-profit organization, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) are set-ups to fund and upgrade the education, training, and skill development initiatives in the country, including the digital learning undertakings.

Digital Learning endeavors around the globe are gaining grounds. Developed countries like the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of the European Union have already started leveraging the benefits of incorporating digital learning trend in their existing curriculum. Countries from Africa, Latin America and Asian Subcontinents to are following the current trend.

The Family University Network: Unplugging Institutional Higher Education

Why not build a Christian family enterprise with the energy, funding, and infrastructure that would otherwise build the state or private educational institutions?

It is common knowledge today that serious moral problems exist in families, churches, schools, colleges, corporations, and political arena. These problems have academic, moral, and philosophical roots reaching back centuries, and have been promoted by the systematic separation of knowledge from faith in God. The significant amount of teaching required to equip people with the ability to discern the times and apply Scripture by faith to all areas of life, requires diligence in all areas of learning, and at all levels of education.

Secular universities are openly hostile to the Christian worldview, and the best of the Christian colleges cannot replicate the family away from home. Nehemiah Institute worldview assessment of 1177 students in 18 Christian colleges over 7 years demonstrated that Christian students are graduating from Christian institutions with a secular humanism worldview, even where their professors have a Biblical Theist worldview. Even the above average Christian colleges are little better than their secular counterpart because the curricula are developed under the same institutional accreditation guidelines, the same text books are used, many of the faculty were trained at secular institutions, and the family learning context is ignored.

Even the best of Christian distance education does not purposefully involve the family in the learning process, nor couple with individual family convictions, nor uses the family knowledge base, nor earns family income. It is time to unplug institutional higher education and bring higher education home.

The establishment of family universities and networks based on the fellowship of the church is one solution. This can help individuals and families implement the Christian philosophy of education through developing their own family university and complementary business as a part of the dominion mandate (Psalm 8).

University education needs to be reinvented with a Biblical understanding to strengthen the family and church. Christian people can easily learn how a family university can uniquely provide the humble, relational, and Spirit led ideal Biblical higher education for their young adults to participate in building a strong Christian family, church and culture.

The benefit of a network for learning was forseen by Ivan Illich, philosopher of the 1970s who spoke in favor of home education. He stated that “If the networks I have described could emerge, the educational path of each student would be his own to follow, and only in retrospect would it take on the features of a recognizable program. The wise student would periodically seek professional advice: assistance to set a new goal, insight into difficulties encountered choice between possible methods. Even now, most persons would admit that the important services their teachers have rendered them are such advice or counsel, given at a chance meeting or in a tutorial. Pedagogues, in an unschooled world, would also come into their own, and be able to do what frustrated teachers pretend to pursue today.” Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society, 1970.

There is only one such family university network in operation at this time, but the time has come for this concept and therefore this is likely just the beginning of home schooling expanding into home college.

Continuing Education Is a Necessity – That Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be Tedious

Therapists who see continuing education as something just to get through are missing out. LMFTs (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) LPCCs (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors) and LCSWs (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) are required to maintain current skills by completing continuing education (CEUs) requirements in order to renew their licenses.

This isn’t just a requirement, it’s an opportunity! These precious hours are time for the therapist to regroup, to recharge the batteries renew motivation, learn new skills and update established ones.

Online or Classroom teaching

Therapists can gain CEUs with self-study, online and live trainings and workshops. While it’s easy to see the appeal of online courses (convenient, on your schedule, in your jammies) “live” classes offer so much more than basic information.

Interactive learning

By attending live classes and workshops, therapists have the opportunity to discuss and get clarification, “try on” ideas with colleagues and see the material in a relatable, communicative way. Small groups are especially helpful when the opportunity to “learn it, see it, do it” is offered. This way of learning brings the material to life and offers practical and efficient ways of learning.

Meeting colleagues

Attending live classes also offers you the chance to network with colleagues while you learn together. Being a therapist can be an isolating experience, so talking with your peers, sharing ideas and community is essential. CEU classes provide an ideal opportunity to network, collaborate and educate yourself while contributing to the group as a whole.

Bring Theory to life

Live CEU workshops offer the unique opportunity to see material in action. Understanding a theory is great, knowing how to apply it is essential! As therapists learn and actually practice new skills, they contribute to the well-being of every client they see.

Don’t Put It Off

It’s easy to put off your required Continuing Education (CEU) requirements, but that leads to a rushed experience as your renewal date looms. Help yourself and your practice by getting those CEU dates on your calendar now. While there are legal minimum required hours, there is no maximum to the amount of learning from which a therapist can benefit. You don’t give the “bare minimum” to your clients, why settle for it in your CEUs?

Get motivated

Live classes allow you to be part of a bigger community that will support your work, motivate you to be stretch and that needs your contribution of energy. Online IS convenient, but it’s also one more place of isolation, and often, frustration. Get out of your jammies, go see your colleagues, and get excited about your meaningful and challenging work again!

Education: The Foundation Of Everything

As learning is the basis of knowledge, education is the structure from which knowledge flows.

Accumulating information is like having a marble connection, what do you do with it once you have it? The byproducts of education – awareness of varying concepts, appreciation for ideas, understanding divergent philosophies – all are powerful foundations for growth and change.

Intelligence contains within itself the ability to listen and reason, the knowledge to act within reason and the power to create. From education comes wisdom and from that wisdom, solutions are born that propel us forward, whether constructing a building or nurturing an idea.

With Knowledge Comes Responsibility

True knowledge is fearless, made strong by the absence of doubt and fortified by pillars of information. Cultivating it simply requires an open mind and a desire to learn. Channeling knowledge towards meaningful expression is always the challenge.

As William S. Burroughs, American writer and visual artist, once stated, “The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”

Every physical structure, every scientific achievement, every philosophical advancement, all have one thing in common; they were brought into existence by educated opinions based on knowledge. The evolutionary path of civilization would have been dramatically different had experiments and new ideas been based on ‘guessing’ or ‘gut feelings’, rather than analytical observation.

Scientific Facts Shape Our Future

A great example of education-based evolution is Darwin’s well-known Theory of Evolution. It is one of the most substantiated theories in the history of science. Hard to imagine such a ground-breaking and historical hypothesis being put forth without the benefit of informed analysis from knowledgeable professionals.

During the beginning of his research, Darwin was much more an observer than a geneticist. He could document the pattern of evolution, but did not possess the scientific training to understand and subsequently translate his observations. Without the corroborative knowledge to support his theory, it would have proven difficult to answer the inherent questions of ‘how’ or ‘why’ it happened.

Evidence gathered from various scientific disciplines, including paleontology, developmental biology, geology, and genetics, enabled scientists to advance Darwin’s stream of ‘theoretical consciousness’ into mainstream discussion. Questions were raised and explanations were given. It is easy to imagine Darwin’s groundbreaking theory never becoming more than coffee-table talk in the absence of fact-based science.

Where Learning Leads… Wisdom Follows

The dictionary defines ‘foundation’ as the basis or groundwork of anything. Education is defined as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge (in conjunction with) developing the powers of reasoning and judgment. Together, they form the bedrock of learning-based understanding… the path to wisdom.

Wisdom is the grand enabler. With it, all is possible. Without it, nothing is achievable. Wisdom created the pyramids and thrust us into space. It taught us to fly and how to come back down to Earth safely. Wisdom is the evolution of education and architect of our reality.

As a child learns and develops a foundation for life, so too, does learning bring forth the knowledge needed to explore the foundation of the universe. Step by step and lesson by lesson, studying the various aspects of life in all its natural and man-made grandeur, establishes a base of knowledge impervious to self-doubt and distraction.

The infrastructure of human existence will forever depend on the strength and wisdom forged from our educational structure.

A Brief History of Nursing Education

When people think of the history of nursing education many immediately think of Florence Nightingale. However, nursing goes back even further than that. In fact, during the 18th century a slave named James Derham was able to buy his own freedom from the money he earned as a nurse. Nobody knew back then that a nursing education could be obtained in any other way than simply hands on through an apprenticeship. But, today there are many ways to study and learn more about nursing. Great examples of these are online nursing education and nursing continuing education.

But, it took a long time for these nursing programs to develop. And, they are descendents of the first nursing program that was established in the 1850s in London. Japan’s first nursing institute was established in 1885 and the first nursing institute for blacks in the United States followed the next year. The field of nursing was growing rapidly with the influences of individuals like Florence Nightingale and Claray Barton who established the Red Cross.

In the late 1800s the idea of visiting nursing was established by Lillian Wald and she began teaching a home nursing class. The American Nurses Association held its first meeting and the topics discussed helped further nursing education. Nurses began to be regulated on a national basis by New Zealand in 1901 and then other countries around the world began to follow suit.

The first nursing education that was established in the United States on the basis of education rather than the needs of hospitals was at Yale University in 1923. The Yale School of Nursing had its own curriculum and students were required to meet the educational standards of the university in order to graduate. This really set the stage for the future of education and since then universities across the nation have developed nursing programs of their own. Then, in the 1950s Colombia University offered a master’s in nursing and was the first university to do so. This really changed the nursing environment and allowed for nursing continuing education and nurses to grow in their chosen profession.

Now, more than 80 years later, a nursing education is available at college campuses, via online courses, and even through nursing continuing education. Men and women who want to become nurses can do so around their schedule and take advantage of all the study options for this amazing profession. There are many choices when it comes to an online nursing education and prospective nurses should really compare all of the programs to ensure they are studying from the best online university and are learning as much about nursing as possible.

Talking Avatars in Education – The Virtual Teacher Comes of Age!

Avatars, Talking Web Characters and Virtual representatives are growing in popularity for one critical reason … “they work”!

With Broadband becoming the standard access to the Internet in all four corners of the world, the benefits and possibilities of utilizing rich media and interactivity in marketing are starting to become a reality if not the norm. One of the most active areas is in the so-called Animated Avatars know by many names such as: Talking Web Characters, Virtual Representatives, Virtual Characters and Web Compares. Their popularity growing every day, it’s not by accident, one critical reason is… “they work” , but when it comes to using them to deliver training, presentations or integrated into CBT and education the Virtual Teacher rises eminently to the challenge. 

Assisted Education Delivery using the ubiquitous Virtual Tutor comes of age.

Virtual Teachers, educational presenters and tutor can have a new face, available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, with the same happy disposition, virtual, animated, automated lip-syncing and compelling content combined with contextual delivery. We know that retention is improved, we know that “lean back” education can be effortlessly absorbed and we know that there is nothing more powerful when it comes to delivering complex ideas or facts than the spoken word. Virtual Teachers can be available in different forms, ages, sexes and even fantasy. The flexibility is endless. Education creators can concentrate on the subject matter and choose the ideal Virtual Tutor to assist in the process. Literature assignment can be delivered in context and even brain teasing science and math education can become more precise when you have the help of a virtual tutor that has the power of “voice”. Un-attended education across the web or operated locally makes virtual education delivery highly effective and manageable. CBT has a new face, interactive courses can have virtual assistants and guides. Many training and formal educational environment incorporate media within their presentations and educational content, and it’s not by accident, why? because it works! The ability to concentrate on content and its compelling and memorable delivery is the reason that Virtual Teachers and Tutors are common place in establishment high in the corporate stratosphere and junior schools alike, they both have something in common, the recognition that compelling animated virtual teachers can give results in a planned and precise manner, where achievements can be accelerated at all learning levels. This is no accident, its technology at its best, with a face and a purpose. Take a PowerPoint presentation, graphs, facts, figures and images, nice enough, add a virtual full animated teacher into the mix and you now have a new breed of educational delivery.

In an educational setting it’s a proven fact that information retention and concentration is enhanced when faced with compelling content. So what should you look for in your animated talking character.

1: The Avatar Look

Is your talking animated character “attractive”, or does it look as though it has fallen out of the ugly tree, is it well crafted and generally compelling, or amateurish and poorly animated. Does it suit your image and delivery requirements… is the quality something you are comfortable associating with.

2: Automated Lip-Syncing

Is the avatar lip-sync accurate? there is nothing worse than watching a virtual representative that resembles a badly dubbed movie, it is critical, our brains react in micro-seconds when faced with something that doesn’t look right! It seems bizarre but most animated talking character offerings have less than convincing lip-syncing to say the least. Simple tests include; Does the virtual tutors lips stop moving when silent? Does it shape the phonemes correctly or is it just a random selection of gibberish?

3: Virtual Teachers Ambient animation, Less is more.

Animations during the narration should be kept to a minimum and be subtle, almost invisible. When watching a news broadcast you would feel uncomfortable is the compares eyes rolled from side to side and they exhibited strange and seemingly un controllable head movements. It is the content being delivered by the speaking avatar that is important, and all animations should be kept to a minimum to avoid distraction. Less is definitely more.

4: Virtual Tutor – The Voice

Text to speech may seem convenient but it has a tendency to sound really bad. Remember! this is a virtual representative, your own animated web or media compare it is an extension of your image, unless you sound like a robot steer clear of synthesized voices. Use your own voice, or a friends, or shell out for a professional voice over artist, they are not as expensive as you think! In the future TTS will probably improve but at the present it should only be used if you have no other option.

5: Tailoring your Virtual Character

Some offerings give you loads of tailoring options, they even allow the visitor to play with the character during its narration. Generally you should try and restrict tailoring to clothing and backgrounds for the best effect. You want your visitors and users to build a rapport with your virtual teacher, so changing its looks continually does not offer continuity to the visitor or student. Having a Virtual tutor that the visitor can mess with only detracts from their message.

6: Integration and Hosting your Virtual Teacher

Consider that many education delivery requirements may be remotely across the internet. Give a great deal of thought to this area as its rife with potential additional charges and risks. If you are on a Pay-for-view contract, a contract that charges you a monthly fee for so many streams, the risk is your growth in visitation, you end up with one of two potential problems; you have to pay more because you had a higher visitation as your site grows in popularity, or, you can’t afford to pay more, so your talking avatar disappears and leaves a block with the suppliers logo in place. The same goes for supplier hosting, you have no control over their hosting facility, if you rely on your web compare and your service suppliers servers go down you have lost your “voice”. If you own internet service goes down at least the whole site is no longer visible. Always try and use a solution that will give you total control, create your composition in your time, generate industry standard output (Flash, Flash Video or conventional Video ) and have total flexibility when it comes to integration.

7: Flexibility gives your choice.

Is flexibility important, would it be nice to have access to the native output of your efforts in an industry standard format such as Flash, Flash Video, AVI etc so you could integrate your work into other environments such as Powerpoint, Camtasia, youTube etc. Are there any other services that can assist you from the supplier such as Voice-Overs, integration and bespoke services. Can your composition work off-line, can you create them off-line. Flexibility adds to the return on your investment.

Summary

Doing any job badly is not a good idea, many people grab hold of a new technology and throw it at their audience with little thought. Implementing a bad Animated Virtual Representative is detrimental and could reflect on your business and/or educational requirements, take your time in the creation and don’t settle for second best.

Do Special Education Success Stories Exist – And How Do I Obtain This for My Child?

As a parent and advocate for over 25 years, I often become frustrated by how long it takes to successfully advocate for one child (even my own children)! Sometimes it seems like I am banging my head against a wall (giving myself a concussion), with little to no outcome. I was recently reminded that advocacy is difficult by its very nature, but even when it seems like I have not done much or the parent has not done much—the child can really benefit!

1. I was helping parents in another state with their high school son’s education. Things had gotten very bad at school for the young man, and the school wanted to send him to an alternative school. I immediately began working with the mother and educating her on IDEA 2004 and discipline laws. I read letters, helped her write letters, worked on a settlement with the school, and encouraged her to keep fighting despite how bad things were. The situation worsened, and the young man left school-which was frustrating for his parents and me! Imagine my surprise when a few months later I received an E-mail from his mother with a picture of his high school diploma! I am so excited for the young man, and I realized that if his parents and I had not fought for him, he probably never would have graduated! Great outcome!

2. I advocated for a child with autism for over a year. The young man could not read, was delayed in all academic areas, and had developed school phobia. In my advocacy, I had to do a lot of educating of the school staff about dyslexia; research based instruction, as well as extended school year services. Another issue is that the school district insisted on bringing their attorney to all IEP meetings; even after giving them a copy of the OSEP policy letter to Clinton discouraging this practice. After a year, we had made some inroads, and the parents (and I) decided they would try on their own (with me helping them by phone etc.). After I stopped coming to meetings the school district stopped having their attorney attend IEP meetings—and the treatment of the parents is somewhat better. The young man is learning academically and no longer has school phobia-awesome!

There are success stories in special education advocacy; and here is what you can do to increase the chance of success for your child:

1. Assertive and persistent advocacy for as long as it takes. Sometimes advocacy is like a long journey, rather than a short one! Hang in there and you will be glad you did!

2. If your child is having difficulty with reading it is critical that you find accurate information on dyslexia, to use in your advocacy, and research based ways to deal with the disability. Try this link to the International Dyslexia Association ( http://www.interdys.org/ ).

3. Learn about best practices in special education for your child’s disability, and advocate for them. For example: ABA is still considered best practice for children with autism.

4. Call your states PTIC and ask about free or low cost advocacy trainings. You will not only learn lots, but you will be able to connect with other parents!

5. Consider the use of a qualified experienced advocate-this can often go a long way in advocacy success! Make sure that the advocate has experience with your states dispute resolution processes.

6. If the school continues to deny and/or delay needed services consider using the dispute resolution processes (due process, mediation, and state complaints).

Advocacy success stories to exist and this article has given you a few examples. You have also learned some dragon slaying tips to work toward your own child’s success story! Good luck!

A Bondage of Education

From a very early age I can remember my parents, teachers, and friends discussing this idea of education. What it is, what it should be, what it could be, but more importantly how I would use it to “further” my life. I had this notion that education was going to school, memorizing what the teacher said, applying it to a test, and repeating the routine for the next twelve years. The term “career ready” is not only what gave me the desire to have straight A’s in high school, but what brought me to a university. I came with hope to finally break away from the restraint that I believed was only a result of what a high school education could do to an individual’s mind, but quickly came to realize that a “liberal education” from college was not that different. Liberal education was designed to free individuals from the bonds that society placed upon them, but present-day education is what holds those bonds together.

I will never forget the first time I failed a test. It was in fifth with one of my favorite teachers. I remember receiving the test back with a zero on the front and instantly covering the test up so no one could not see the sign of failure. The teacher must have seen my shock because I was told to stay after class. She explained to me how I had made a 100 but I did not “take the test right” which is what resulted in the zero. From then on, I developed what college students call “test anxiety.” I worked to follow directions, to be structured, and to never ask a question that could possibly be wrong. I made straight A’s, participated in school organizations, was president of my class, and lived to fill the resume that would be sent to potential colleges. I did what students are expected to do. When I came to college I was excited because I could finally learn outside the perimeters of standardized tests. What I did not expect was to hear phrases from professors such as, “don’t worry this will not be on the test,” or having to spend thirty minutes of class listening to students ask how many questions will be on the exam. Teachers from my high school always told us, “college will not be like this, so enjoy it while you can,” but it was all the same. Listen, take notes, memorize, take test, repeat.

I began to realize that maybe this was what education was intended to be. A system that engrains students with the idea that to conform and restrain one’s mind to standardization is what makes us “successful.” David Brooks discusses how college students are “goal-orientated… a means for self-improvement, resume-building, and enrichment. College is just one step on the continual stairway of advancement and they are always aware that they must get to the next step.” Students go through elementary, junior high, high school, and now even universities not to “free our minds” or truly educating ourselves, but to climb the ladder of social order. One can relate education to Plato’s cave allegory, “they are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them unable because of the bond to turn their heads.” This system of education that parents, professors, politicians, employers, and even students talk so highly about is not about producing the world’s next great minds, it is about producing the world’s next source of capital. Society has taken a liberal education and twisted it to where it will fit students into its workplace.

Everyone says that your first semester of college is the hardest. You move away from home, meet new people, and are thrown into a whole new environment. I knew it would be tough, but never thought I would be the student that curled onto her dorm room rug and cried over a seventy-eight on a couple of tests. I had made back-to-back “failing grades” in my mind and had the mindset that I could never recover. What could I accomplish without a 4.0 GPA and four years on the Deans List? To make matters worse, I received a zero for a homework assignment. Believing that there must have been something wrong, I made my way to my TAs office hours where he proceeded to tell me that I did great on the assignment but had to give me a zero based on a small technicality. That is when I had the realization that a modern-day college education has nothing to do with a liberal education. From then on, every test I would take and grade that followed would no longer determine how I would go about learning. I decided that in order to receive a true liberal education I had to throw away every concept of what I thought education was. In Plato’s book I was reminded that “education is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be” and when I decided to make my way out of ‘the cave’ of education I was thankful for the realization that I had broken the bonds that society tried so hard to place tightly around me. Leo Strauss said that a “liberal education supplies us with experience in things beautiful,” and that is when an individual is truly free.

I sometimes think about where I would be if I had the mindset that I do now about education when I received that zero if fifth grade. Would I have waved it in the air as a badge of pride representing how I refused to conform to the institution instead of hiding it from my friends in shame or would I had done it all the same? A true liberal education is what enables individuals to achieve, admire, and model greatness. So, when I hear a professor repeat the phrase “don’t worry, this won’t be on the test,” a part of me wonders if even they have given up on helping break the bonds placed upon us.

The Education System in America

The role that the educational system should play in the live of people is to educate them to be conscious, critically thinking individuals who do not passively accept knowledge but question the knowledge that is being taught to them. Education should be taught to give students the skills and intelligence they need to understand the world and how the world works in order to survive in it. However, the American educational system has been known to produce students whom are woefully ignorant about the world and different cultures. One of the reasons is because the educational system in its current state does not leave much room for critical thinking but trains individuals to be docile, worker bees in a global economy that keeps the status quo wealthy and “others” barely making it. The problem becomes evident if we look at the varied curriculums and subjects that are being taught. There is a lack of emphasis on academic learning, and the only thing that matters is high stakes testing. The schools in this country have become swamped with fuzzy curriculums that assume that through constant testing, students will be prepared for life in a new global society . . . whatever that is.

I recently had a conversation with a co-worker and we were discussing how African-Americans were treated forty years ago and I was amazed by her naivety about the subject, considering the fact that she was a college graduate and an African-American. From the moment I entered college, I was eager to explore the history of African and African-American history from a view point that did not make them seem sub-human and college affords students that opportunity. I could not help but wonder what type of history and sociological classes she had taken; from her conversation, none. But the sad truth is that when most people make the decision to attend college, it is for the purpose of reaping economic rewards, not for expanding one’s consciousness.

In order for the educational system in this country to produce students who are not clueless about its history and the world surrounding them, it should be restructured in several ways. Parental involvement should be mandatory, just as school attendance for students is mandatory for graduation. Lack of parent involvement is an enormous contributing factor to the current failing educational system. Parents need to instill in their children just how detrimental a lack of education is to their future. Teachers are wonderful people who can take students from the top of Mount Olympus to the cold and desolation of Antarctica but they are there to teach, not parent. Many teachers spend a great deal of their class time disciplining children and playing babysitter, two things that are not a part of their job duties. Teachers need involvement from parents in order for the educational system to work and education begins at home.

Funding for the educational system should also be restructured. Public schools are traditionally funded by property taxes which results in a very unequal distribution of educational opportunity. Communities that are wealthy have more funding for their local schools than those who do not. This situation directly affects the quality of education that children in urban and poor rural areas receive. The No Child Left Behind Act will only make it worse because of the required testing and public reporting of results. When parents are buying a new house, they want to live in a school district that has strong test scores. This drives up the property values in those areas, meaning that only affluent families can afford to live in the top performing school districts. This means more property taxes to those areas, while the lower performing schools lose their funding if they do not meet federal standards. There should be a fair tax system for education that is not based on property taxes of homeowners. Government funding, for the most part, is distributed to the various schools by state and local governments and there is huge disparities in this funding based on race. According the text American Education by Joel Spring, there is a gap of more than $1,000 per student nation wide based on race, with large states like New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, who lead the nation in their unwillingness to fairly fund education (Spring, pg. 77). Children should not suffer because of their economic background or ethnicity and public education should make no distinction between rich and poor, or black and white. Every child attending a public school should be granted an equal education. Equal funding would grant teachers the proper resources to better educate students. School choice and the privatization of the public school system would not be a factor because under my plan, the educational system in America would be fully and equally funded by the federal government and closely monitored. With the influx of money pouring into the educational system from the government, schools would change dramatically for the better because that is the biggest issue in most public schools: lack of money.

The educational system’s curriculum would be changed in order to fit in with the nation’s melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. From elementary to high school, students are bombarded with facts and figures about wealthy, white men as if women and other minorities do not exist or contribute anything worthy to the history of America. No wonder so many students blank out historical facts: they do not care these fact because they cannot relate to the actors in the story. Student should be required to take courses that have will give them a more in depth understanding of the world surrounding them, courses that will discuss the history of marginalized and oppressed individuals in this country and around the world. They should be required to read books that make them think, not just process information for the next test. If more students understood the values and cultures of people unlike themselves, it would not be easy or maybe even possible for the government to lie and use propaganda techniques to lull the masses into believing everything was okay and its leaders competent. High stakes testing would be eliminated because most of the tests are designed by people who do not have a clue about the demographics, ethnicities or economic backgrounds of the students who are to be tested and these tests are biased against minorities and the poor. If students are to be tested, extra tutoring would be available to students, at no cost to the parents.

Having competent teachers, board members, and administrators are also a vital part of restructuring the educational system. Having qualified administrators and board members who know and enforce standards and guidelines is important. What are the qualifications for an administrator? Are there required qualifications? These are the questions that need answers. Just because someone has obtained a degree does not make this person the best for the job. Board members should not be chosen because they golf with the mayor; all board members should have a Master’s degree in Education or have an extensive social justice background. As for teachers, the educational system should make sure that the best teachers are chosen for the positions and evaluations should be given frequently. This would give parents and the educational system a chance to find out what is wrong and what is needed to correct the problems. Public education needs teachers and board members that actually care about the children and their education, not individuals who want the perks of working for school system: summers and holidays off, steady raises and a fat compensation package. American children are suffering due to the inadequacies of the individuals involved with the educational system.

The “culture of poverty” theory that has been used by several politicians to explain differences in learning between different ethnicities would be exposed as a blatant attempt by the status quo to “blame” individuals for their poverty if the educational system was restructured to meet the needs of all students, not just the wealthy. Huge educational gaps between poor students and wealthy students do not occur because the poorer students have adapted to their poverty-stricken existence but because they do not have resources needed to succeed in school. If students have to deal with textbooks that are outdated, lack of toiletries, and computers from the late 1980s, their opportunity to advance academically is dismal and their chances of dropping out of school likely.

In a just and an equal society, the educational system I have discussed would have already been implemented decades ago but it has not and more than likely will not. In a hierarchical society such as in America, there will always be someone on the low end of the totem pole and the best way to do that is through the mis-education of its most vulnerable: the children. The neglect of the educational system in the US threatens the economic well being of the entire nation. Unless the inequalities in education is diminished and its system totally restructured, the wealthy gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen and the US will be infamous for being the nation of the undereducated. Spring, Joel. American Education. (2006). New York: McGraw-Hill

Analyzing Issues of Overidentification in Special Education

Overidentification in special education has two potential meanings. First, it can mean that there are too many students being identified as needing special education in a school or district. Estimates of students in need of special education services have ranged from 3% to 8% of total students. Central office staff typically attempt to stay within the 10% range however, it sometimes reaches highs of 13% or more. Second, it may mean that a certain group of students is over represented in the special education population in comparison to their make up in the general population of students. Ideally, the proportion of the subgroup of students in the special education population should be identical to that of the general population.

Overidentification of students in need of special education services results in a number of negative outcomes for the students, the school district, and to a larger extent society. Students identified as needing special education services often don’t receive the same rigorous curriculum as those not receiving services. Therefore, they are not as prepared for the demands of the next grade level as unidentified students. They frequently have lowered expectations placed upon them, may be socially stigmatized, may display greater behavioral problems requiring disciplinary action, and are more likely to not complete school or they complete school with less skills than other students.

Overidentified students place an unnecessary burden on already limited school resources and take away existing resources from those students who are really in need of them. Staff time is taken up in extra preparation for their daily needs, to go to extra meetings, and to complete evaluations. If discipline becomes an issue, then administrator time gets taken away from other duties.

In regard to potential impacts on society, overidentification’s reduced demands, watered-down curriculum, and potential social stigmatization leaves students unprepared to continue with their education or lacking the skills necessary to take a productive role in the workplace and support themselves. When these students are unable to become productive members of society after school then their educational institution has failed them.

Some of the reasons for overidentification include:

  • Poverty and income inequality
  • Inequity in schools funding
  • Inability to access early interventions
  • Lack of training in regard to appropriate referrals to and placements in special education
  • Lack of understanding of diverse populations

Research has found that students from impoverished backgrounds are more likely to be unprepared for the rigors of education and lack the background knowledge and experiences of their more affluent peers. The Head Start Program was developed in 1965 to meet this need, and to provide comprehensive services to low income families during the preschool years. However, while gains have been made, a gap still exists, and many families are unable to access these services for a variety of reasons.

Schools are not always funded appropriately with many schools requiring students to bring in their own work materials, lack resources for paraprofessional support, or lack the funds to have full day kindergarten or hire enough teachers to have smaller classes. When schools are funded appropriately, the district often determines where and when the money is spent, which may not always be on the biggest needs or those that will make the biggest difference in the long-term.

Unfortunately, some schools don’t always make appropriate referrals or placement decisions. Sometimes they wait too long before making a referral and sometimes they make one too soon. The advent of Response to Intervention (RTI) may help in this area as schools should have data about how students respond to interventions before making a referral.

Lack of understanding about different cultures and the way children learn may also lead to students being over identified, especially for behavior concerns. Not every child is able to sit in a chair for six hours a day learning. There are many ways to learn and students need to be exposed to as many of them as possible before being identified with a disability.

Parents and educators need to be aware that over identification of students for special educational services has short and long-term consequences. These consequences affect the student, the school, and, potentially, society. It is the school’s responsibility to keep an open mind, look at individual differences and all possibilities prior to identifying a student as in need of special education services.

Earning A GED Diploma Qualifies You For College Education And Better Career Options

People who haven’t earned a high school diploma are often presented with limited opportunities. That is, they couldn’t get a better income-earning job, pass for a promotion or go to college. If you happen to be part of this statistics, you have an option to pull yourself out of the rut you are stuck in, and that is taking the GED test and acquiring a GED diploma.

While it’s true that a GED diploma isn’t as strong as a high school diploma, it’s better than having nothing at all. You may be a dropout who hasn’t and could not finish high school. Are you thinking about taking the GED test? That may be a good decision, especially as you mull over the benefits of passing the GED test. Here are 4 of them:

It presents an alternative to studying in a traditional school. In many cases, individuals find it difficult to finish highschool. Thus, they drop out and are not able to finish their secondary education. Not having a highschool diploma can have one stigmatized. He or she tends to be not accepted when applying for a decent job and cannot pursue further education, such as that in college. But you shouldn’t think that you’re hopeless if you’re in the same situation. You can make the decision to move on and make your life better by taking the GED test. Then can you obtain your GED diploma which is equivalent to a highschool diploma. With it, you can catch up and get ahead in life. The average age of GED test-takers is 26, according to a recent report of the GED Testing Service. Most of the people who take the GED test have been out of school for 10 years or so. These are the individuals who have strived to “complete” their high school education by taking the GED test.

You can avail of better employment opportunities. Employers often discourage high school drop outs from applying in their companies. They also want to make sure that their applicants possess reliable skills to contribute to their businesses. And so they require the latter to hold a high school diploma or an equivalent of it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has indicated that a GED diploma can qualify you for a full-time employment than if you don’t have one. Unemployment rate for those without diplomas reach 12.7 percent while only 8.3 percent of those with diplomas are without jobs. A GED diploma may not be literally required to advance in a job, but the knowledge, skills learned and the hard work of a GED earner may qualify them for a promotion.

There are better opportunities to earn more. A GED diploma may not hold the same value as a high school diploma, but the U.S. Census signified that GED diploma holders earn $3,100 a month on the average- $700 higher than those who had some high school education and $1,000 more than workers who had elementary level of schooling. Getting the GED is an educational experience where you acquire more knowledge and learn hard work. You’ll likewise gain know-how pertaining to your skills. These could have you hired for a higher income job, or advance in the workplace by way of a promotion.

Advance in your education. “Barron’s GED: High School Equivalency Exam” has cited that a GED diploma is a major requirement when it comes to gaining admission to technical schools, colleges, as well as participating in career training programs. You may already be employed, but without a GED diploma, you aren’t likely to be able to avail of further trainings and certifications that are necessary for you to progress in your company.

Knowing these benefits of passing the GED can motivate you to take the test and get hold of your diploma. You can move on and get ahead in life even if you’re a high school dropout by making the choice to take that one crucial step. Your capability and aptitude signified by your GED diploma can help you change your life for the better.

Education Funding Options

As the cost of higher education continues to rise, many parents and young people struggle with how to cover the cost of college education. Costs of in state and private schools. What are your options when planning for education funding?

529 Plan- These types of plans allow you to contribute after tax dollars that grow tax free. Qualified withdrawals from the plan are not taxed when used for qualified education expenses. You can choose a savings plan that works similar to an IRA, which allows the student to attend a school of his/her choice. Or, you can choose a pre-paid plan that allows you to pre-pay part or all of the costs of an instate public college education.

Life Insurance – Some types of life insurance build cash value and also provide a death benefit. If funded properly, you can access the cash value at the time the child attends college. Keep in mind that accessing the cash value, could also affect the death benefit provided under the policy.

Student Loans- Student loans can be helpful but it is important to remember that students may have to divert funds in the future to repay loans. These are funds that could be used to be used to accomplish other financial goals. If borrowing becomes a necessity, parents could also take a home equity loan and deduct the loan interest at tax time.

Transferring Funds to Children- As of the 2017 tax year, parents and grandparents can gift up to $14,000 to each child without gift tax consequences.

Tax Credits- The American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit are tax credits available to full time students. Household income guidelines do apply, so be sure to check the IRS website to see which option might work better for your family.

Education Savings Account- Parents, guardians, or other qualified individuals can contribute up to $2000 per year on behalf of eligible students under age 18. Withdrawals from the account are not taxable if used for qualified education expenses. All funds must be distributed within 30 days of the participant’s 30th birthday.

The cost of funding higher education can be daunting! It is important to consider many options when thinking about how to fund the cost. All of the above options are various mechanisms available to do so. It is also important to consider what types of grants might be available when selecting educational funding options.

Nothing Wrong With Education Being A Fundamental Right

Everyone has the right to education… Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages… Elementary education shall be compulsory.

If you think this sounds like something written by Americans for Americans, you might wish you had paid more attention in your 12th grade civics class. Of course, odds are you may not have been among the less than 25 percent of students who passed a basic examination at proficient or above level.

Those three lines are from the beginning of a document entitled Resolution 217. The resolution is from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on December 10, 1948, by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.

But you don’t have to feel too bad if you didn’t know. Fewer than 20 percent of liberal-arts colleges in the United States include a course in history or government as part of their graduation requirements. So much for understanding much of anything about how our government works.

Our Founding Fathers Understood The Value Of Knowledge

As a nation de-prioritizes education, it risks giving rise to a government more dependent on growth and financial manipulation than knowledge. Ignorance and indifference can only foster more of the same. Our founding fathers were well aware of the fundamental truth that knowledge is the cornerstone of self-governance.

Thomas Jefferson and his nation-building colleagues cautioned against classifying any group of people based on color, ethnic background, religion, education level or any other factor deemed unacceptable. For membership in what would become one of the most powerful and diverse societies in the history of the world, an individual would simply have to conform within the same parameters as anyone else.

While drafting the history-changing Declaration of Independence, they didn’t specify that the ‘Truths’ were designated for a specific class of individuals, but rather self-evident for a much broader cross-section of the population – the people.

Wisdom Lights The Path To Democracy

Education does more than pack a brain full of facts and figures. It engages the mind and enhances the soul. Knowledge builds awareness. Awareness nurtures wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge grown up.

In 1787, another founding father, James Madison, acknowledged the importance of education for a young America. Referring to guidelines set forth in the Northwest Ordinance, religion, morality, and knowledge were fundamentally important for a growing nation’s well-being. Listed in the document were words prioritizing schools, advocating that education shall forever be encouraged.

Decades later, Madison’s sentiments regarding the importance of knowledge still echoed in his philosophy and writing. He was firm in his support of intelligent power, stating that a populace must fortify themselves with information and awareness if they desired to live in self-governance.

The argument for education is powerful, informed, and rooted in the very character of our country. To stand idly by while generations of young people fall helplessly into educational obscurity, is an affront to the pillars of our democracy and stands in direct opposition to the wisdom of our forefathers and all they envisioned.

Illiteracy is not a chosen way of life. It is a lifestyle born of inequality, frustration and lack of positive expectations. Our country was founded and built on expectations. The educational system foreseen by those who understood the intrinsic need for literacy is in disarray, struggling to once again offer the promise of hope and opportunity to everyone.

With intelligent debate, we can light the fire of academic promise that will inspire and encourage each of us to assure education remains a fundamental right alongside Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. To do nothing is true ignorance.

Diversity Pioneers In The History Of Diversity Education

Introduction

Diversity education is becoming a solution for many businesses. In the European Union, it is offered to small and medium-sized businesses to develop their capacity to include people of across states in the union and cultures. Australia’s government utilizes diversity education to end a history of discrimination against Aboriginal and Islander people. Asia finds it useful for increasing productivity in multinational companies, and for addressing the historical challenges of achieving harmony between Muslim and Hindu citizens. South Africa has implemented diversity education to adjust to the removal of the Apartheid system. The United States has offered diversity education for decades, although the rationale for its use has changed over time.

This article is limited to characterizing the history of diversity education in the United States. A history of diversity education in other countries and continents will follow in future issues.

Diversity Training and education in the United States

Many organizations, communities, military sectors, and higher education institutions have been conducting some form of diversity education since the 1960s in the United States. Businesses used diversity training in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s to protect against and settle civil rights suits. Many organizations now assume that diversity education can boost productivity and innovation in an increasingly diverse work environment. The assumptions about the value of diversity training, as a result of its changing functions and uses, have evolved over the decades.

Diversity education basically started as a reaction to the civil rights movement and violent demonstrations by activists determined to send a clear message to Americans of European descent that black people would no longer remain voiceless regarding their treatment as citizens. Social change in order to achieve a more stable society prevailed was the rationale for the education, which primarily focused on training to increase sensitivity towards and awareness of racial differences.

Encounter groups became a popular training method for bringing white and black Americans together for honest and emotional discussions about race relations. The military employed encounter groups in what is perhaps the largest scale diversity education experiment ever conducted (Day, 1983). Many of the facilitators viewed the “encounter” among racial group participating in diversity training as successful when at least one white American admitted that he or she was racist and tearful about racial discrimination and white supremacy.

Employing a black-white pair of facilitators was considered essential for exposing participants to the two race relations perspective and to model cross-racial collaboration. The facilitators were typically men, and the white facilitator was most valued if he could openly show emotions about his own journey in discovering his deep-seated racism.

Facilitators saw their work as a way to achieve equality in a world that had historically oppressed those with less social, political, and economic power. Confronting white Americans who made excuses for, or denied their racism, was common in this diversity training approach. The goal was to increase white American sensitivity to the effects of racial inequity.

White American participants tended to respond to confrontation in sensitivity training in three important ways. One group of whites became more insightful about the barriers to race relations as a result of being put on the hot seat during the encounters. Another group became more resistant to racial harmony as they fought against accepting the facilitators’ label of them as racists. A third group became what the military referred to as “fanatics.” These individuals began advocating against any forms of racial injustice after the training.

H. R. Day’s (1985) research on diversity training in the military indicates that the Defense Department Race Relations Institute reduced the amount of training hours and curtailed the use of the “hot seat” techniques in response to negative evaluations by many participants who completed the training. Diversity training in corporations also began to change as Affirmative Action laws were being curtailed by the federal government.

While gender diversity education began to emerge during the 1970s and 1980s, diversity education in the United States expanded in the 1990s to focus on barriers to inclusion for other identity groups. Ability difference, ethnic, religious, gay, lesbian, and other worldviews began to appear in education and training.

Some diversity pioneers argue that the broader view of diversity has “watered down” the focus on race to the extent that it is no longer seriously dealt with in training. Their assumption is that focusing on prejudice towards other groups does not activate the visceral reaction needed for individuals, organizations, and the society as whole to deal with core discrimination issues.

Recent research shows that people in the United States have more negative reactions towards people who are gay or lesbian (Devine & Monteith, 1993). It seems that many Americans share an anti-gay and lesbian attitude, primarily based on religious beliefs. However, even the attitude towards gays and lesbians is becoming more positive way, as indicated by the success of the movie Brokeback Mountain about two cowboy lovers, and the introduction of legislation that protects their rights (Vaughn, 2002).

Multiculturalism refers to the inclusion of the full range of identity groups in education. The goal is to take into consideration each of the diverse ways people identify as cultural beings. This perspective has become the most widely used approach today in diversity education. The inclusion of other identity groups poses the challenges of maintaining focus on unresolved racial discrimination and effectively covering the many different identity groups.

The current focus on white privilege training in one sector of diversity work maintains a place for racism in diversity education. White privilege education involves challenging white people to consider the benefits they reap individually as a member of the racial group with the most social, political, and economic power.

While white privilege, multiculturalism, and racism work are each very important, diversity professionals must keep in mind that organizations vary in diversity education needs. Determining how to meet these needs requires the trainer to possess critical thinking skills and an ability to facilitate issues outside of her or his cultural experience. The capable diversity professional has the ability to determine when race education is the suitable intervention, when gender orientation is called for, when addressing homophobia is necessary, etc.

Discussions about gender differences, sexual orientation, Native American identity, Latino empowerment, white privilege, etc. provide a rich context for understanding the complexity of American diversity. Today’s savvy diversity trainer has the expertise to take a multicultural perspective in facilitating and training, and he or she commands knowledge of the range of identity groups. Giving each identity group the attention it deserves is no small matter as a result.

The reality of global mobilization has required an even broader view of diversity work due to working with an increasingly cross-national audience. The use of the label African American, for example, is complicated by white and black Africans immigrating to the United States. An organization may have employees from the former Yugoslavia, refugees from Somalia, guest workers from India, and people with limited English-speaking skills-just to name a few modern diversity challenges. Religious diversity accompanies globalism, which is also included in modern diversity education.

It is likely that this complexity of identity group needs prompted diversity professionals like Judith Katz to focus on promoting inclusive organizations. The objective is to remove the barriers to productivity for every member of the organization with particular concern for historically excluded group members.

Another recent change is the emphasis on diversity education, rather than diversity training. While the use of one term versus another is regularly debated, it is a valuable exchange of ideas. From the author’s perspective, the term diversity education both broadens the view of what diversity programs within organizations are about and manages the often negative connotation diversity training activates. Perhaps more important is that the term allows us to distinguish between diversity training and other programmatic activities among diversity practices.

In addition, diversity expertise has changed over time, which partly reflects changing demands and the growth in the field’s body of knowledge. A description of the profession before the rise of the chief diversity officer tells us a lot about what diversity professionals faced as consultants.

Diversity Pioneers

Diversity professionals are hired on staff in organizations that understand that diversity is capital and harnessing it in the service of productivity requires a long term commitment. An in-house diversity professional is responsible for leading a diversity initiative within an organization. Some have the title chief diversity officer or vice president of diversity, while others are considered diversity coordinators or steering committee chairs. Regardless of what they are called, these positions are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. Not long ago, a human resource officer would hire a consultant or trainer to handle a diversity matter with sensitivity-awareness training as the expected the solution.

Diversity pioneers laid the foundation for the emergence of today’s diversity leaders. A diversity pioneer is someone who has been in the profession for more than twenty years, which includes those who have served either as an in-house or consulting professional. The in-house professionals are activists for diversity, inclusion and fairness. It is the contributions of external consultants and trainers that is the focus in this article.

Here is a list of diversity pioneers in the United States:

o Elsie Cross

o Price Cobb

o Sybil Evans

o John Fernandez

o Lee Gardenswartz

o Lewis Griggs

o Ed Hubbard

o Judith Katz

o Frances Kendall

o Fred Miller

o Patricia Pope

o Ann Rowe

o Donna Springer

o Roosevelt Thomas

The list is based on data collected a couple of years ago by Diversity Training University International students. An editorial staff member brought to the author’s attention that he began his diversity teaching and consulting career in 1986. His initial reaction was feeling intimidated by the thought of placing his name on a list with such an esteemed group of pioneers.

Few diversity pioneers had specialized training when starting out in the business. Louis Griggs, for example, is a Stanford MBA. Judith Katz had a more closely related background with a doctorate from University of Massachusetts that focused on race relations. She also taught in the University of Oklahoma Human Relations Program for ten years prior to entering the business sector as a fulltime consultant.

The author is trained as an applied research cultural- cognitive psychologist at the University of California, San Diego. After receiving the doctorate in 1986, he taught cultural competence for nearly two decades. Each diversity pioneer had had to learn about how to navigate the landmines in diversity work while on the front lines as consultants, trainers, and educators.

What the pioneers may have lacked in credentials specific to the diversity profession, they more than made up for with the bumps and bruises they endured in the trenches of just doing the work.

Raising the Bar

Judith Katz was a student activist for social justice in the late 1960s. Judith began her diversity profession by focusing on racism from a white American perspective. By the mid 1980s she was working for The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group. Affirmative action was at its height, and many companies utilized independent diversity professionals to provide programs to help increase the numbers of African Americans and women employees. Some organizations utilized diversity training to safeguard against civil rights suits during this period of time. Much of the training “focused primarily on black-white racial issues and sexism”, according to Judith, “with little if any attention given to, Latino, Asian, sexual orientation, age or people with disabilities.”

Judith also noticed that the business case in those days emphasized diversity as doing the right thing, rather than as a business imperative. People were expected to fit into the existing organizational culture. It was difficult at the time to effect real organizational change.

“The major change is that diversity is now accepted as a key business driver, rather than diversity for diversity’s sake.” This was accompanied by a shift away from the confrontational approach common in the early stages of diversity education history. According to Judith, “for some folks diversity was about compliance (the concern about law suits) for others it was about increasing individual diversity awareness. The confrontational approach to raising individual awareness did not create systems change in the long run. Some individuals became more aware but the very systems, structures and processes often remained unchanged. Judith notes that many organizations still approach diversity from a compliance perspective but, more and more organizational leaders are going well beyond that. They understand that “if you are not leveraging diversity, you are not in the game of business today.”

Judith is concerned about the challenges that continue to face diversity professionals as well as chief diversity officers. The following is a list of some of her concerns for in-house professionals who lead diversity initiatives:

o Diversity leaders must contend with organizational leaders who give lip service to the diversity initiative without putting their hearts and souls into it or offer it the necessary resources for success.

o As a result, diversity leaders too often shoulder the full weight of the diversity initiative.

o They can get too buried in the work to be effective.

o They are expected to partner with many different parts of the organization, which contributes to additional stress.

o They work alone and are expected to single-handedly get a very difficult job done.

o They are expected to manage a highly political role while getting their job done and legally protecting the organization.

The result is that leading the diversity initiative can be a very difficult, demanding, and lonely job from Judith’s perspective.

Judith believes that leaders of organizations need to “raise its bar” for expectations in delivering results from the diversity initiative. This is the best way to support the diversity officer. A good example is to make people in the organization accountable for contributing to promoting inclusion-especially managers and supervisors. Linking bonuses and merit pay to clear diversity and inclusion metrics is seldom given serious consideration in even the top fifty diversity companies. But this obviously raises the bar of expectations and performance.

Thanks to Judith, diversity consultants and trainers have a role model. In the author’s opinion, she is one of the few who can successfully engage business leaders in serious discussions about organizational inclusion.

Valuing Diversity

Valuing diversity is a term that’s used quite a bit these days in making a case for diversity and inclusion-Thanks to Lewis Griggs. When he coined the words during the early 1980s, his clients thought it was “too touchy-feely.” It wasn’t affirmative action or equal employment opportunity language. One African American male colleague told him that the terminology was downright dangerous because white America was not ready to value people for their differences. But, fortunately for us, he had a vision.

Lewis is a European American who came to diversity work through his own individual growth experiences. Griggs says “While doing international training during the early 1980s, I realized that people from other countries had more knowledge about me as an American than I had about them. This meant the ‘other’ had more power over me in our interactions. I discovered how ethnocentric I was.” Griggs figured that if he was ethnocentric about people from other countries, then “Could I be ethnocentric here in the United States?”

Griggs continued to do ground breaking work. He developed a series of valuing diversity videos. Then he developed one of the first online diversity training programs. The annual diversity conference offered by the Society of Human Resource Management was created by Lewis. Thanks to Lewis, increasing numbers of organizations have embraced the idea that we need to value differences.

Avoiding a Backlash

The higher education sector started offering diversity courses in the general education curricula during the 1980s. Stanford University and the California State University at Fullerton, for example, dared to offer mandatory cultural diversity courses to fulfill general education requirements. There was considerable debate among academicians about whether or not the canon needed protection against including diversity courses.

The author found himself in the middle of the cultural wars as a new assistant professor with a joint appointment in Ethnic Studies and psychology. His training made it easy to interweave cultural differences into developmental, social, and cognitive psychology courses. He also taught mandatory general education diversity courses. The primarily European American, politically conservative students were very resistant to the required courses.

Students resisted less as the courses integrated into the curricula over the years, but many continued to struggle with the material due to difficulty with accepting values and beliefs different from their own.

Recruitment of historically excluded group members, especially students of color, was the primary focus at most universities. No one would seriously listen to ideas about creating an inclusive organization before increasing the numbers of students of color. The attitude was “let’s just get as many students of color in as possible and worry about how to retain them later”. Retaining and graduating these historically excluded students became major problems as the numbers of recruits increased.

The author also witnessed incredible gains in attracting students of historically excluded groups and creating an inclusive environment-only to see those gains undermined by changes in the leadership and economic climate. The lesson learned is that sustainable diversity and inclusion initiatives require an on-going commitment to remove all the barriers that can lead to reverting to old ways of doing business (Fenn, J. & Goforth-Irving, C., 2005). Diversity and inclusion must, for example, be part of each and every new initiative that comes along in order to protect the organization from moving back to earlier inclusion stages.

As economic, political, and global changes required new ways of solving old problems, the pioneers experienced many bumps in the road. This brief history suggests that their sheer determination and commitment built an invaluable foundation from which we all can draw meaningful lessons. This magazine is designed as a solution for building on the pioneers’ foundation so that we can better manage the impact of inevitable environmental changes that impact diversity work.

Future Education In The Age Of The Implanted Brain Information and Communication Chip

Not long ago, I was discussing with a future Think Tank member his concerns about how education in North America and around the world is not keeping up with technology, or ready for the future of computer-brain interfaces. This may sound like an esoteric topic, however when you consider the speed of these technologies, I am sure we’ve already all thought about how in the future, your smart phone will be nothing more than a brain-chip with full Internet Access that works with your organic brain in real-time. Want to send a thought, just think it, think about whom you’d like to send this thought to, and it’s sent, post on social media and you are done.

Want to learn a new topic, no need, you have instant access to all human information, and it will feel as if it is all in your own memory, just think a question and viola, you have the answer. My think tank acquaintance noted that we are a ways off from that future, and if the past is any indication of how we might handle that future, then we are in big trouble. Education is broken already, and it will not be able to adapt to something that different. He noted we need to fix all the rote memorization teaching, it isn’t working. And, I would submit to you that it will be even worse in the future, in fact; why memorize anything if you have full-time unlimited access to all the information ever created and stored in the cloud of humanity?

So what he is saying is that we have to teach people to THINK, not just put the students in rows, open their skulls and pour information in to them, which is what pedagogy has been for most of the 20th century and now to for a lot of this century. I of course agree. If we integrate the brain-chip or implanted information, or access to all human information in real time to the brain, it will only work if the human user has enough foresight to ask the right questions, and cross-pollinate the information in an innovative and creative way. This is something that humans are good at, when they practice it, and as of yet, AI computers are not so good at. Together (AI + human brains) it will be smarter than either on its own, smarter than today’s human and smarter than a future AI computer chip w/instant access to all human information to date and up on all new information in real-time.

The increase in IQ wouldn’t matter. Everyone would be super smart and retain unlimited information in the cloud storage device or set of distributive cloud computers around the planet. The best and most creative minds would use this information in the most novel ways, ask the best questions and have most of those questions answered to pose new ones. The speed of innovation would be so intensive that Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity” theory would be realized in short order.

Researching Special Education Schools for Your Child

Research on learning disabilities strongly supports early intervention in children who struggle academically. Children with a learning disability who receive proper attention and support to develop their weak areas are just as likely to be successful students as their peers without a disability, so long as their weaknesses are discovered early. Parents of students who need extra attention might want to consider special education schools. Learning about options in your area can help you select the right program.

The first place to start your search may be with an independent evaluation. A team of psychologists and social workers can evaluate your child to determine his or her eligibility. These learning experts may also recommend additional testing if they suspect that the student falls along the autism or language-based learning disabilities spectrum. Further evaluation may help pinpoint your child’s weakness or give some indication of the type of remediation that may be beneficial.

Once you have an idea of your child’s needs, start looking at the options your area. Making a list of priorities for your family can help narrow down your choices. Your list should include practical matters, such as location, transportation, availability of after-hours care and financial requirements are some examples.

Additionally, academic programs and resources should factor into your decision. Consider whether your student will benefit from tutors, assistive technology and smaller class size. Research the school’s policy on extended time or other accommodations for testing whether classes can be scheduled in a flexible manner. Many people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. Opportunities to participate in International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses or a gifted program may be an important consideration. On the other hand, others learn best in a non-competitive environment in which lessons are project- or theme-based.

Finally, take the campus facilities and culture into consideration. Participating in extracurricular programs and sports can teach teamwork and sportsmanship to students who have trouble with social interactions. Conflict-resolution programs or a firm discipline policy may benefit some students.

Parents should also visit special education schools before making a decision. During your visit, sit in on a class to make sure that students receive enough individual attention. If the special education school utilizes a particular curriculum with which you are unfamiliar, request information about the program’s philosophy and methods. Ask questions about how study periods or homework sessions are structured. Teachers and administrators should have a system for providing regular updates about your child’s progress, so be certain that you are satisfied with the level of communication you can expect. Finally, ask for phone numbers of parents with children enrolled in the school before ending your visit. Speaking with parents of students who currently attend the school is a great way to find out more about the program.

Parents are the best advocates for children with learning disabilities. Exploring the educational options available and selecting the most effective special education curriculum can help ensure his or her academic success.

Digital Devices Driving Autism Education

Computers have always proved to be excellent gadgets to facilitate communication and learning for children with autism spectrum disorder. Now, with the emergence of smart phones and the iPad, autistic children have greater opportunities for improving their cognitive, communication and motor skills.

Various organizations that are engaged in supporting families living with autistic kids, have developed apps and programs like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” that are amazing tools. These autism education apps promote learning among special needs children.

Why digital devices?

Autism apps like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” running on smart phones and iPads provide greater flexibility and portability than a traditional laptop or computer. These latest digital devices utilize touch screen technology which makes them more accessible to autistic children, especially those who have coordination and learning difficulties. Most of the children using an iPad find that the sliding and tapping motions are much easier to execute than typing. Besides, smart phones and tabs can be taken wherever you want to go. They are much lighter than the bulky assistive communication gadgets of the past and that’s a major advantage of using these devices.

Tabs, smart phones, and iPads are great tools for communication and education, which if one of the several reasons why the “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” autism apps have become hugely popular among special needs children. Apps like these can be customized to the specific needs of the autistic child using them. This helps to make the lessons more attractive and interesting that the conventional learning devices. It has been noticed that many children can use these gadgets better than adults.

The world of autistic children is full of imagery. Words have a lesser importance to them. The “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” autism education apps freely use images to help children string together words and create sentences, and solve mathematics problems. In this way, special needs children are able to communicate with educators, instructors, counselors, and parents sans any frustration.

The benefits

Autism apps like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences”, running on iPads and tabs, offer huge benefits. The direct touch screen ensures that no stylus or mouse is required for input functions. The most important point is that the apps are predictable, accessible, and easily organized. They help breaking down lessons to discrete topics or chunks that make learning more enjoyable. Special needs and autistic children can learn in a better way through the “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” autism apps.

The Strength of Education

Strength comes in different forms. A person who displays and utilizes physical attributes is considered to be strong. Someone who demonstrates calmness in times of stress or trouble could be thought of as emotionally strong. An individual exhibiting an above-average intellectual capacity could be classified as mentally strong. Educational strength, though not as widely acknowledged, is a life-changer capable of helping anyone who develops it.

Quality education produces the kind of strength life can be built upon. Its foundation is reinforced with the fortitude of knowledge, its pillars erected from the support of wisdom, and its structure solidified with the cement of confidence. Without it, the winds of chance and circumstance can blow through one’s existence like a hurricane in a treehouse.

Reading today’s reports on the challenges facing public schools would leave readers shaking their heads and thinking, why bother? Poverty, classroom size, family issues, technological inadequacy, bullying – physically and online, student attitudes, student health – obesity at epidemic levels, parental under-involvement or over-involvement, funding… when taken together, it’s no wonder such a bleak and negative picture presents itself.

Education is the Bedrock of Our Future

The truth is, we have to care because our future depends on it. The power of education is enduring, and it forms a bedrock for understanding and addressing the critical issues facing our country and the world in the 21st-century. Contrary to pessimistic headlines emanating from critics of public education, success stories are rampant in schools struggling to overcome the ever-present challenges and obstacles to daily learning.

Education, particularly in our public school system, has received a bad, and some would say unfair, rap. Accentuating the negative is, unfortunately, what makes news headlines far more frequently than positive stories which occur daily in classrooms across the country. Teachers labor intensively every day to build academically strong students who will be able to apply that strength throughout life.

Students from all walks of life are being provided quality education that will make a profound difference in their lives, and in their communities. Learning the three R’s and discovering their connection and meaning to the world outside school walls, is creating the kind of strength only literacy can provide.

Educational Strength Gives Birth to New Ideas

Educational strength gives birth to ideas and options crucial for dealing with some of the most serious issues facing the United States, and the entire planet. Discovering sustainable solutions to address present and future concerns, can only be accomplished through ongoing public education development, and a dedicated commitment to interactive instruction, engaged learning and quality graduates.

More than ever, societal issues are impacting our students and their search for a meaningful and productive life. Poverty continues to be a major contributor to academic failure. Among children under the age of 18 in the United States, 41 percent are classified low-income and nearly 19 percent – one in five – are considered poor and living in poverty.

Statistics like these represent sobering, and in many cases, insurmountable factors in the near-term, for achieving the kind of scholastic success needed to permanently reverse the continuous trend of ‘disadvantaged disengagement‘ in our schools. However, through education we find knowledge, and through knowledge comes hope. Hope for the future, and hope for a better life. We find strength.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

5 Qualities of a Good Special Education Advocate

Are you the parent of a child with autism that is having a dispute with school personnel, and would like some help? Are you the parent of a child with a learning disability, or another type of disability, that could use an advocate to help you in getting an appropriate education for your child? This article will give you 5 qualities that make a good special education advocate

An advocate is a person that has received special training, that helps parents navigate the special education system. In some cases the advocate is a parent of a child themselves, but this is not always the case. Before you hire an advocate check on their experience, and also make sure that the advocate is familiar with your child’s disability, so that they are able to advocate effectively

Qualities:

1 A good advocate must be familiar with the federal and state education laws that apply to special education, and be willing to use them, when needed. This is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), State rules for special education (how they will comply with IDEA), and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The advocate does not have to memorize the laws, but should have a basic knowledge of what is in them. The advocate must also be willing to bring up the laws, at IEP meetings, if this will benefit the child.

2. A good advocate should not make false promises to parents. If an advocate tells you. that they will get the services that you want for your child, be leery! Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in special education, and advocates should not promise things that they may not be able to get. An experienced advocate who knows the law and your school district, should have a sense about what can be accomplished.

3. A good advocate should be passionate about your child, and the educational services that they need. Advocacy sometimes takes a lot of time. If the person helping you is not passionate about your child, they may not be willing to help you for the length of time that it takes to get your child an appropriate education.

4. A good advocate must be willing to stand up to special education personnel, when they disagree with them, or when the school personnel tell a lie. If the advocate you pick, has every quality, but is not willing to stand up to school personnel, he or she will not be an effective advocate for your child.

5. A good advocate is detail oriented, and makes sure that any services promised by special education personnel, are put in writing. A good advocate will read the IEP before they leave the meeting, and bring up any changes that should be made. Sometimes the little details are what makes for success!

By keeping in mind these 5 qualities, you will be better equipped to finding an advocate that will be able to help you, get an appropriate education for your child.

What Is the Relationship Between My Education and Oppression Today?

The expression of education and oppression in today’s modern society can be traced to the very premise upon which the institutions of education are predicated. Theologian Cardinal Newman’s views[1] on education shed light on this meaning, “This implies that its object is, on the one hand, intellectual not moral; and on the other, that is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement (p. 122)”. Here we find the very idea of my own journey into higher education specifically in the context of my Catholic faith. The numerous sources described various situations were ideological choices of purpose are bestowed upon the students. In one case the affluent student must continue the rise of his family honor and in the next case the poor student seeks “liberation” (p. 124).

My own story is one of seeking liberation from a “historically oppressed minority” (p. 126). Choosing this type of Catholic education at Creighton resonates with me. The correlation of stagnancy and ignorance to lack of education seem very real as I am sure is does to the Native Americans in Pine Ridge and Rosebud Lakota (p. 133). Creighton University has taught me that through upright character and the art of Christian living (pp. 128-129) that action follows faith. Theologian Michael J. Buckley, S.J. captured this idea with, “a new orientation towards social action and efficacy and a conjunction between literary education and moral and religious formation” (p. 128).

In today’s world of mammon allowing for access to education, I would not have chosen this path if not for my inherent knowledge that my whole person will be evaluated in the context of my community. The pathway forward out of oppression for me is to serve the greater good. This includes my family and the community of like-minded people working for God’s glory. It is this type of education even in this online format that makes the end goal of being a “better human being” (p. 130) possible.

Lack of Education Contributes to Crime

As more and more low-income families move into neighborhoods that once catered to the middle or upper class, one must be on the lookout for his own personal safety and report any criminal activity going on in their surroundings. Crime is everywhere in these neighborhoods where kids find too much time on their hands after school hours or after the school year lets out.

What also contributes to the crime rate in such places? Is it just the lack of money for low income families? Sometimes, crime can be attributed to the lack of education on the part of the perpetrator or their families.

It is a statistical fact that the crime rate is inversely proportional to the education level of the culprit. Kids who grow up in families that do not stress the importance of getting an education are more likely to be living out on the streets, doing drugs, joining gangs, or ending up in prison.

Sometimes parents who raise such kids were raised in similar conditions when they were youngsters. Nothing has changed. An education should be foremost on parents’ minds when rearing their kids. In fact, an education is the key out of poverty. As the old saying goes, “The way out of the gutter is with a book and not a basketball.”

Kids who do not have a good education in school are more likely to have difficulty with finding jobs, getting into college, or staying out of trouble with the law. Many times they have family issues that are attributed to the loss of a parent at a young age due to a death or an incarceration.

Kids from single-parent homes run that risk of growing up as an “at-risk” child. This is due to the fact that the parent must work to provide food and shelter for the child, and the absence of the other parent fails to provide leadership and guidance for a growing mind. A parent who is incarcerated will definitely not be around to guide the child to getting good grades in school.

What kind of message does an incarcerated parent send to a child? Is it okay to be dumb and stupid and end up in prison like their daddy? Like father, like son. Right? Is it okay to skip school and join a gang like their daddy once did?

The truth of the matter is that kids who drop out of school will face hardship in their lives as they grow older. Lack of education on their part means lack of money to support a family. Lack of money translates into robbing a bank or convenience store.

We hear in the news every day a robbery that occurs in our city or elsewhere. Or perhaps a shooting on the part of the perpetrator that caused an innocent life come to an abrupt halt.

What are kids doing nowadays? How can we prevent our own kids from becoming troubled kids? For one, a parent must be a good role model and stress the importance of a good education. That means the parents must take an active role in their child’s education by monitoring how much television the child is allowed to watch and taking charge of knowing the kinds of friends that his child associates with. Furthermore, this means maintaining communication with his teachers at school and looking over his report card regularly.

A child with poor academic performance may indicate something wrong at school. Perhaps he does not like school due to external influences; i.e. bullying, difficult teachers, taunting by other students, or peer pressure.

It is better to catch the child’s problem as early as possible before it comes to the point that the child is truant from school, or worse, acts out his frustration that is reflected in another Virginia Tech-like massacre.

A child should like his studies and should show interest in his schoolwork. He should be taught that good grades will help him get a good education so that he can get a good paying job and be a productive member of society after he graduates.

Teach your child that involvement in gangs, violence, drugs, and/or extortion will not get him anywhere but prison. Once a person ends up doing life in prison, there IS no second chance. There is no freedom for him. There is no TV, no video games, no music, nothing! Not even a chance to get an education behind bars. If there is school in prison, the education is very limited.

If you are raising a child, question your child as to what is going on in school if he/she displays academic difficulty. Spend some quality time with him/her. Help them with their homework if possible. Remember, you are not just his/her friend, you are their parents. You are the first role model that a child looks toward from infancy. So be a good one and teach him/her what is right by staying in school.

There is a story in Austin, Texas a few years ago. It involved a troubled 17-year-old kid, Manuel Cortez, a high school dropout, who went out with his friends in a stolen car one sunny afternoon, and shot another student, Christopher Briseno, whom he did not even know because Briseno allegedly was teasing the sister of Manuel’s friend. Manuel Cortez is now serving life in prison because he made a stupid decision. Now families of the victim and the perpetrator are suffering two losses from society. All for what? Because Mr. Cortez chose to drop out of school and associate with gangs and/or violence? He chose to give up the possibility of an education so that he can run around gang banging? Or did he not have the proper support and guidance from his parents?

Special Education and the Importance of Collaboration

Collaboration means working with an individual or a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Its importance is most visible in education. Every day, teachers work together with their peers, school counselors, and other staff for the success of each student. And when it comes to special education, collaboration becomes the single most important thing for a teacher.

A teacher for special education has to collaborate with school administrators, general education teachers, school therapists, psychologists, and parents and guardians. Students with mild disability have now been included in regular classroom teaching, according to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act. This has led to general and special education teachers working together, often with the help of the best fun educational apps. The role of the educator in a general classroom, involves teaching the curriculum and assessing and evaluating special children. It’s important that a the educator brings in a set of personal skills to enhance student learning. Skills of both the general teacher and the special educator should come together to help a student.

A special educator has to work closely with the school management. It’s a vital part of the job. Working with the management will help the special teacher follow the necessary laws and procedure, work with individualized education plan (IEP), and make sure that special children are accommodated in the appropriate classroom. It’s always important to forge a strong relationship with these people for ensuring the success of a special student.

Working with parents is a major challenge for all special education teachers. It’s important to make strong and regular contact. It’s a nice idea to allow parents come and volunteer in the classroom, so that both the educator and the parent can help the children. A special child can obviously relate more to a parent. If parents explain the use of the best fun educational apps for kids, it’s likely to be more believable to the children.

Working with school therapists and psychologists is another key collaboration of a special educator. A therapist can inform the educator about the limitations of a special child. He/she may even recommend the best fun educational apps for kids so that special children pick up social skills faster. The educator, on his/her part, can update the therapist on how a child is progressing. The therapist is also responsible for diagnosis of a special child.

The work of the school psychologist is also largely similar. They too test children for disabilities and ensure that the IEP is being properly followed.

Collaboration is an important part of a special educator’s job, regardless of which part of school education he/she is involved with. Whether it’s working with the school administration, other teachers, parents, guardians, counselors, or therapists, a special educator has to work as part of a team for the betterment of special children. The needs of a special child are much different from that of a neuro-typical. Besides, each child is different. The best fun educational apps can keep the child engaged besides imparting important social skills.

Over-Identification of Minority Children in Special Education – What Can Be Done?

Are you concerned about the amount of minority children that are being diagnosed with disabilities in your school district? Are you worried about the large numbers of African American boys receiving special education services? Are you concerned about your child who is in a minority group and being found eligible for special education! Much has been written in the past several years about the increased numbers of poor African-American children receiving special education services. This article will discuss this issue, and also underlying causes of this.

In 1975 when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed Congress found that poor African-American children were being placed in special education much more often than other children. These difficulties continue today. In the Findings section of IDEA 2004 Congress stated about the ongoing problems with the over-identification of minority children including mislabeling the children and high drop out rates.

About 9% of all school age children are diagnosed with a disability and receive special education services. But African-American children receive special education services at a rate about 40% higher than the national average across racial and ethnic groups at about 12.4%. Studies have shown that schools that have mostly white students and teachers, place a disproportionately high number of minority children in special education.

Also, rates of mental retardation and emotional/behavioral disturbance are extremely elevated within the African-American population, roughly twice the national average. Within the African-American population the incidence of mental retardation is approximately 220% higher than other ethnic groups. For emotional/behavioral disturbance the incidence is approximately 175% higher than other ethnic groups.

Factors that may contribute to disabilities include:

1. Health issues like prenatal care, access to medical care, child nutrition, and possible exposure to lead and other pollutants.

2. Lack of access to good quality medical care as well as services for any mental health disorders.

3. Cultural issues and values or stigma attached to disability

4. Discrimination along the lines of class and race!

5. Misdiagnosis of the child’s behavioral and academic difficulty.

A few ideas that could help decrease the over identification:

1. Better keeping of data to include increased information about race, gender, and race by gender categories. More detailed, systematic, and comprehensive data collections would provide a better sense of demographic representation in special education that could better help understand this issue.

2. More analytic research is needed to improve our understanding of the numerous factors that independently or in combination contribute to a disability diagnosis.

3. More people that are willing to help advocate for children in this situation. I believe that some of this issue, is related to the inability of some special education personnel to understand cultural differences.

4. Better and clearer guidelines for diagnosing disabilities that could reduce the potential for subjective judgments that are often cited for certain diagnosis.

5. More improvements are needed in general education to help children learn to read and keep up with their grade and age appropriate peers.

I hope over time this issue will get resolved so that all children receive an appropriate education.

Robert Kiyosaki Says There Are 3 Types of Education For Financial Success

According to Robert Kiyosaki, there are 3 types of education that are key to financial success in life.

-Scholastic education: This education teaches us to read, write and do math. This education is very important in today’s world.

-Professional education: This education teaches you how to work for money and if your smart get a job as a doctor, lawyer, accountant or other professional trades such as plumbers, builders, auto mechanics and electricians. The country is full of school that will give you this education to help you become more employable.

-Financial education: This is the education where you learn to have money work for you rather than you work for money. This education is not taught in most of our schools.

So many of our parents taught us the “Poor Dad” mentality where we had to get our education to go and work for someone else. Well, with the economy as it is right now, it is less stable having a corporate job than a work at home job. But as Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad” taught him, “If you have a poor financial education, you will always work for the rich.”

I don’t know about you, but I am psychologically unemployable having gained the knowledge of a financial education through my Wealth Masters International system. I am no longer employable to work for money. I need to work for myself and have my money working for me. Nothing else makes sense, not even if I was broke would I go back to work for a paycheck. When there are opportunities on the internet where you can work form home and spend less time and create a profit rather than a wage the sky is the limit.

I came to realize that the direct sales system is a way for anyone to acquire great wealth. The system is open to anyone who has drive, determination and perseverance. Or as I also like to categorize it, the correct Mindset, Marketing and Mission. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, race, or popularity. The direct sales industry is about how much you are willing to learn, share and grow.

My experience with direct sale and network marketing is that people are very willing to share their newly acquired systems to make money. They become teachers of their trade and give back to the economy in a positive manner.

So let us all share what we have learned for ourselves about financial education so we can all create wealth and not work for the rich man any longer.

Listing Education on a Resume

So you’ve gone to the time, expense and effort to complete some aspect of formal education. Or maybe you started to work on this, but then inevitably, life happened… had to take a job to pay the bills, got married, had kids, moved, etc. etc. There’s a universe of things that life can throw at you that can interrupt even the most well-intentioned plans for education.

There are some rules of thumb out there when listing education on a resume which should be considered.

1. DON’T list the year you graduated. Unless you are in an education, government, scientific or highly technical field where having a date of graduation is essential, please don’t broadcast how old you are by including this information. (Human resource managers do the math!) Sure, if you are an adult learner who just got done with a degree, it’s new and important to you just like it is to a person fresh out of high school who immediately went to college. However, resist the temptation to perhaps look younger by listing the graduation date!

With the exception of the four fields mentioned above, the cold, hard truth about education is this:

Most employers really only care whether you graduated… Yes or No.

They don’t care what your GPA was, how many times you made it to the Dean’s list, what scholarships you landed, and sure, you can list that you graduated as magna cum laude or summa cum laude… but that often isn’t a deciding factor as to whether or not to hire you- it just becomes distracting with all of the scholarships, awards, grade points, etc. Keep it clean and simple.

2. A common mistake recent graduates also make is that they want to list their education FRONT AND CENTER… naturally because this is generally the MOST IMPORTANT THING the person has ever done in their lives to date. However, most human resource managers are really probing for what kinds of experience that the person has, not their education. So the best advice is to put the education later in the résumé rather than near the beginning.

3. DO list all of your education. Some people in this economy are becoming sensitive about feeling ‘over-qualified’ or ‘over-educated.’ Think of it this way- employers are in the catbird seat right now… they can afford to hire workers that they couldn’t dream of hiring just five years ago. So they are ‘cherry-picking’ the top candidates and if they can find a top leader in a field who is willing to come work for them, they’ll gladly take them. Who wouldn’t?

Additionally, if you didn’t complete a degree, you can indicate: “Program coursework in: (area of study).

Give yourself credit for the time you’ve put into it, even if the end result isn’t what you had hoped for. It shows initiative and a desire to improve your knowledge and skills.

I’ve had a few clients that I’ve worked with who had put down a degree name on their résumé, but it turned out that during our consultation, that, well, they never ever REALLY ended up finishing their degree.

This kind of misrepresentation is one of the oldest tricks in the job search book… if this sounds like you, it would be in your best interest to be as forthright as possible about your educational background. Human resource managers are well aware of this trick!!! Quite honestly, the EASIEST background check to do in the world is to verify whether a person graduated or not from a particular institution. Fudging it or trying to convey a different impression is a fast-track to the trashbin for your résumé.

So this is an ‘either’ or an ‘or’ situation.

EITHER you got the degree OR you took program coursework in a field.

If you are currently in progress, you can indicate:

Degree name (spelled out, please): area of study (anticipated completion date: ______)

As for the rest of your education, anything else that is not from a formal, accedited institution or career school falls into the ‘professional development’ category, and can include everything from industry certifications, workshops, trainings, continuing education units (CEUs), conferences, seminars, conventions and the like.

You’ll want to call this specific section “Professional Development,” which conveys to an employer that you are always actively taking steps to improve and hone your skills so you can do your job better.

Not working right now? Have some resources? Try keeping up on industry trends by registering for a class in your field through a trade association. It’s a great way to keep your ‘toe in the pool’ and stay current.

Keeping your mind engaged while looking for employment is very important. Sometimes, being laid off is the very opportunity needed to open a new chapter for professional enhancement… there simply wasn’t time for it previously. You never know where this can lead to! A recent client of mine spent the money to get certified with another industry credential. One of the requirements of the certification was to take an exam. When she showed up at the exam location, she found out that she was the only unemployed person there- everyone else was there through their company. The amazing thing was that she got three highly-qualified job leads by talking to the people there at the exam location… and she was so thrilled that the exam itself wasn’t the highlight of the day!

An Integrated Approach to Treat Depression – Depression

Depression, anxiety, phobias and mental health feature almost daily in the media and it appears that depression is fast becoming one of the biggest problems experienced within society. These conditions increasingly affect people living in the modern world and research has led to estimates that at least 17% of the adult population have had, or will have, an episode of depression of sufficient clinical severity to warrant treatment. A special national Institute of Mental Health report on Depressive Disorders in 1973 stated that depression accounts for 75% of all psychiatric hospitalisations and that during any given year 15% of all adults between 18 and 74 may suffer significant depressive symptoms. Current studies indicate that the lifetime risk of depression in an adult population could be as high as 30%.Along with the increased incidence of depression has been an explosion in the use of prescription drugs to treat the condition, but recent reports have questioned whether these are effective or indeed simply create more problems for the patient. Accordingly there is a growing interest in finding a fresh approach to the treatment of these conditions. Having trained in clinical psychology and psychotherapy I am able to incorporate a lot of the accepted practices. However, the more I worked with individuals and with groups I found that by integrating the eastern inspired approaches that I learnt in India, I was able to achieve far more effective and lasting results within a shorter period of time.Understanding DepressionIn Psychiatry depression is referred to as a mood disorder. Mood disorders have been known to man since antiquity; the old Testament describes King Saul as suffering from severe depressive episodes. However, the term encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions ranging from deep depression to unbounded elation and mania and so understanding the behaviour of individuals suffering from depression can be very challenging.All people experience a range of emotions and in general they are a healthy part of life and feeling appropriate emotions contributes positively to our well being. However, emotions are of two main types; firstly affective emotions, in other words a short lived emotional response to an event, and secondly mood, which is a lasting and dominant emotional response which colours the whole psychic life.More than 90% of depressed people experience prolonged moods of sadness, discouragement or a sense of not caring any more. However, to classify someone with a major depressive episode clinicians look for five or more of the following symptoms to have been present during the preceding two weeks. There should also be a noticeable change in previous functioning with at least one of the symptoms being either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.Symptoms:
1. Depressed mood most of the day.
2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day.
3. Significant weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain eg. A change of more than 5% of body weight in a month. Or a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
4. Insomnia (sleeplessness) or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) nearly everyday.
5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
7. Feeling of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness
9. Recurrent thoughts of deathNo single casual factor as to why people get depressed has been identified. Research points to many factors that seem to contribute to its development, including genetics, biochemical changes and personality theories. Several research papers have reported findings which suggest that relatives of patients with major depressive disorders have a higher prevalence of depression than people in the general population. Other research has focussed on biochemical correlates of depression and studied the role of chemicals that transmit nerve impulses from one neuron to another in the brain. Whilst several theories related to depression have been developed regarding personality types.My experience as a Doctor has led me to view each client as an individual whose requirements need personalised attention. Human beings are a complex creation whose health and wellbeing depends on a balance in all dimensions of their lives, from physical health to behavioural, energy and even environmental aspects.Treating DepressionConventional western medicine generally treats depression using medication eg. Tricyclic, heterocyclic anti-depressants and the new SSRT drugs. The commonly used psychological therapies for the treatment of depression are individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. Eastern Psychotherapy integrates eastern methods, such as meditation, yoga, pranic, or energy, healing, mantra and sound healing, with elements of the traditional psychotherapy developed in the West. When treating depression and other mental health conditions it is vital to look for the causative factors and explore the issues using ayurvedic principles as well as acknowledging the spiritual component. It may sometimes also be appropriate to study the astrological chart of the person being treated to seek a better understanding of the influences affecting the individual and gem therapy, which is a commonly accepted practice in many parts of Asia, may be recommended.The treatment of conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety is undoubtedly enhanced by the use of complementary techniques. The value of seeking help from professionals who have worked with both approaches is they can select the right choice of treatment for each individual. Orthodox techniques often deal effectively with the symptoms, however eastern practices can be more helpful with the underlying causes. A therapist who understands the personal needs of each individual is more able to provide them with an empowering approach to their illness. For some the focus may be on the traditional Western methods, but for others accelerated and positive results can be achieved by blending the best of East and West in an integrated treatment programme.With an integrated approach to depression most individuals are able to benefit within 3 or 4 sessions, sometimes even less, depending on the nature of their condition. It is important with any therapeutic approach to ensure clients do not develop a dependency on the treatment or only enjoy a temporary respite because the underlying causes have not been addressed.CASE STUDYMiss K, a 35 year old female failed to respond to conventional treatment. An holistic approach included energy and environmental assessments as well as her medical background. She had a five year history of depression which had been particularly severe in the preceding six months. She was using anti-depressants and had undergone several sessions of counseling which she did not like.The assessment on the energetic level revealed some blockages in the heart and solar plexus chakras. The environment at home was dark and sombre with black and grey being her main choice of colours; there was no flow of energy.She was recommended to try a combination of energy therapies including Reiki and music/mantra treatment along with some suggestions of changes to the home environment. She also used a herbal remedy (St John’s Wort), massage and acupuncture and embarked on six sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy. Her programme lasted six months, but she responded very well and has been free of depression for more than a year reporting that she feels generally well, is taking an active interest in her life and in her personal development.TEXT ENDSNovember 2008

Treating Depression With Fish Oils – Depression

What is Depression?Depression is a serious medical condition that an estimated 19 million people suffer from on a yearly basis. A large number of individuals do not seek treatment for a depressive condition; however, such a condition often requires crucial attention in order to prevent the condition from worsening or other conditions from developing. Generally, those that suffer from this condition have a lack of energy or motivation, they lose interest in activities that were once enjoyed, have a loss of appetite, or become easily frustrated and irritable, which often interferes with daily life–work, family, and socialization. However, such a condition has become widely recognized and accepted over the years with the over-whelming number of people–children and adults alike–that suffer from depression.Depression is not a condition to be ashamed of, and is an understandably accepted occurrence in today’s society. With mild, moderate, and even severe anxiety, there are all natural treatment options available–such as the use of fish oils. When most people seek treatment for depression they are initially prescribed medication from their physician in the form of a pill or are referred to a therapist for further evaluation of the condition. Although these anti-depressant medicines may work, there have been several dangerous side-effects linked with anti-depressant medications and the individuals that suffer from depression and take these medications on a regular basis.If these side-effects occur, it could further hinder those that take the prescribed medications. In more severe cases, there have even been anti-depressant medications that have been linked to suicide or suicidal thoughts and tendencies. However, there is an all natural, side-effect free way to help fight depression and gain your life back. It has been scientifically proven that the use of fish oils is linked with increased serotonin levels in the body, which directly help ease symptoms of depression. Additionally, a daily intake of fish oil greatly helps to reduce, or even cure, a depressive condition.What Causes Depression?Depression is caused by physical changes in the brain and an imbalance of chemicals–neurotransmitters–that carry the brain signals to your nerves. Specifically, low serotonin levels in the brain are responsible for depressive changes. There is not one particular cause that triggers depression, and it usually develops from exposure to several different factors together. Such as genetics, which means the condition very well could have been passed on from a parent or from past generations. If you are aware of relatives that have suffered from depressive episodes or long term depression, the odds of developing the condition yourself automatically increase.Traumatic events and stress are also substantial causes of depression. In today’s economy, people are stricken with financial woes and fears of where their next paycheck may come from or how to put dinner on the table. Also, those that suffer the loss of a loved one, or a person carrying a traumatic experience, such as an assault, with them on a daily basis also commonly battle depression. Most people often think individuals with low self-esteem already suffer from depression, and simply have low self-esteem because they are depressed. On the contrary, those that lack self-confidence or self-esteem are often found to be pessimistic people by nature, and eventually exhibit depressive symptoms at some point in their lives after dealing with low self-esteem issues for a substantial period of time. Individuals that are products of a sexually, physically, or emotionally abusive environment, or an environment with constant conflicts, such as an impending divorce, often develop a case of depression.The consumption of certain medications have also been linked to cases of depression. It has been found that many individuals that suffer from high blood pressure and take medication to help control such conditions, such as beta blockers or reserpine, often develop depression because of the interference in the transmission of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, there are also individuals that suffer from other physical and medical conditions–such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, or even heart failure–that struggle to come to grips with the fact that they may have a decreased or limited amount of time with family and friends, and are unable to accomplish all of their desires before leaving everyone and everything behind them. With depression, it has been established that other conditions often accompany depression. These other conditions include, but are not limited to, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, as well as substance abuse in order to acquire a small level of relief from such depression conditions. With the daily intake of fish oils, however, the odds of developing depression or additional condition that coincide with depression greatly decrease or become eliminated all together.Why Use Fish Oils to Treat Depression?There have been many beneficial scientific studies, which have shown that increased levels of omega-3 rich fish oils greatly decrease the symptoms of depression, and possibly even cure depression all together. In 1993, a psychiatrist from Harvard’s McLean Hospital stumbled across the link between omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils to decrease or eliminate symptoms of depression while researching for a new treatment to be used against manic depressive disorder, otherwise known as bi-polar disorder. In 1998, the first study results were released and published in the ‘Journal of Affective Disorders’, stating that individuals with lower than average levels of omega-3 fatty acids–found abundantly in fish oils–in their red blood cell membranes were prone to develop a depression condition or already suffer from a depressive disorder.An article following in 1999 by a group of medical doctors was published in the ‘Archives of General Psychiatry’, declared results they found in a controlled study group of 30 severely depressed individuals, which received omega-3 fatty acids via fish oils. More than 60 percent of individuals in the controlled group that received a mere 10 grams of the omega-3 rich fish oils marked a vast improvement when the 10 grams of fish oils were taken on a daily basis for a 4 month period. In other countries with higher fish consumption, due to fish being the main delicacy, it has also been found that those societies in whole have tremendously lower rates of depression overall, which also directly enables scientists to further accredit their study results. Also, in 2007 a study was conducted that included 10 clinical trials of individuals suffering from varying levels of depression, which studied the effects of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils, and the correlation between increased levels of fish oils and depression.The conclusion of the studies found that fish oils, which are polyunsaturated fats that can not be produced by the body naturally and are derived mainly from the consumption of sea foods, had a significant impact on decreasing depression symptoms and essentially the fish oils acted as an anti-depressant. Scientists and researchers alike are pushing for the natural, side-effect free fish oils to be used more widely in order to help treat or cure depression, which in turn will help alleviate other conditions that are often developed due to depressive conditions. Given the largely positive results from the years of research, it is widely concluded that the use of fish oils is imperative to proper bodily functions and the reduction or complete elimination of depression symptoms.How Fish Oils Decrease DepressionBiochemical researchers point out that cell membranes are all partially made up of omega-3 fatty acids, meaning the brain is made up of these omega-3 fatty acids, and the walls of neurons are also made up of the omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils. As a matter of fact, researchers from Harvard’s McLean Hospital say that most of the brain’s dry weight is made up from fat. Fish oils contain essential fatty acids that are not found in our bodies naturally, and our bodies only receive the beneficial fish oils through our diets. Fish oils cannot be manufactured or synthetically created–it must be ingested from a natural source or a source created with the natural fish oil ingredients.If individuals increased their daily intake of the omega-3 fatty acids by consuming more essential omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oils–by taking pill supplements or adding fish to their diet 2 or 3 times per week–it would be made simpler for serotonin–the chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another–to pass through cell membranes, which would regulate bodily functions and minimize or eliminate symptoms of depression conditions. Since omega-3 fatty acids–found in fish oils–directly affect serotonin levels in the brain, as well as change the way our bodies function, the use of fish oils is strongly recommended, and there have even been talks of prescribing the omega-3 rich fish oils along with medications such as Prozac.What Causes Low Levels of Omega-3 and Serotonin?Researchers have found through multiple studies over the years that, within the last several decades, changes in dietary habits–such as ridding diets of saturated fats and cholesterol, found in red meats or eggs–are contributors to increasing low levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in the body because the items cut from daily diets are rich sources of the omega-3 fatty acids. In today’s society, and with the many medial advancements and findings on cholesterol and hyper tension, doctors are increasingly counseling their patients to remove or reduce the amount of foods that once supplied them with the proper levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which were keeping serotonin levels in check.In order to alleviate high cholesterol or hyper tension, dietary changes may need to take place under the guidance of a physician, however, proper supplementation of the omega-3 fatty acids–found in fish oils–must also occur to retain proper levels of serotonin in order to prevent depressive disorders, mood swings, as well as the development of anxiety disorders. It is especially common in individuals that do not eat sea food, or are allergic to sea foods, to have lower than average levels of the essential omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. If consuming fish is a difficult task, it is recommended to find supplementation elsewhere, such as adding fish oil supplements via pill form in order to prevent dangerously low levels of serotonin, which may create a depression condition.Forms of Beneficial Fish Oil SupplementsThere are several different forms of fish oils that can be taken in order to receive the proper levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep your serotonin levels and depressive condition under control, and return balance back to your body. Sometimes, adding a real piece of fish to your daily diet will help start to restore the proper amount of omega-3 to your diet through the essential fish oils. However, not all fish are created equal and the amount of Omega 3 in each fish varies. It is also important to remember that consuming too much fish can lead to mercury poisoning due to toxins absorbed from our polluted oceans by the fish’s skin.To protect you from this, many health professionals advise getting the recommended dose of Omega 3 through ultra refined ultra high dose fish oil supplements. Companies selling these supplements filter out the impurities from the fish oil so people taking the capsules are ingesting only the beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids and not harmful toxins such as mercury, lead, PCBs and other contaminants. Such supplements can be purchased for low or moderate costs online, at local vitamin stores, department stores, or health food stores. Since fish oils cannot be manufactured or synthetically created, all of the fish oil supplements available are made with natural fish oil ingredients.

How to Deal With Pregnancy Depression? – Depression

Many women suffer from pregnancy depression. Recent research shows that pregnancy hormones don’t protect a woman from depression. In fact, a sudden rise in hormonal levels can trigger depression. This is why pregnancy depression is not as rare as you many think. Many women go through the same, but they are often undiagnosed because they don’t always seek professional help or they believe the mood swings, anxiety and depression they experience are a normal part of pregnancy.Who is at Risk?All women can develop pregnancy depression, but there are some risk factors you might want to consider: History of depression: If you have a personal or family history of depression, you’re more likely to become depressed in pregnancy.
Problems with your pregnancy or previous pregnancies. If you experience problems in your current pregnancy or if you’ve had problems in your previous pregnancies, it’s more likely that you’ll become depressed.
Stress. Stressful events can trigger depression. It can be anything from death in the family, financial issues or problems in your relationship.
Other factors. Some of the other risk factors include: past history of abuse, being of a young age, being single, having an unplanned pregnancy or getting pregnant after a lot of trying or after a fertility treatment.Feeling DepressedIf you suspect you might be depressed, it’s important to accept it and work towards solving this problem. You may even take a pregnancy depression test online to see where you stand, but note that these tests are made for orientation only and can’t be taken as a real diagnosis or a medical opinion. It’s important to talk to someone about the way you feel. It can be a doctor or someone close to you, such as your partner or a friend. It’s important to get some help or a treatment to feel better. Remember: you deserve better than to feel depressed during pregnancy.After Pregnancy DepressionAfter pregnancy depression is called postpartum depression and it’s triggered by sudden hormonal changes. After you give birth, your hormone levels get back to normal very quickly, which can lead to depression. This condition is somewhat common and it’s not surprising. It’s also estimated that about half of women who suffer from pregnancy depression will experience postpartum depression.There are also some other factors which can lead to postpartum depression, such as difficult childbirth, feeling tired after delivery, lack of sleep, stress from changes in your daily routine because of the baby and more. One of the common complaints is doubting your mothering skills or having unusually high expectations of being a good mother.Just like depression during pregnancy, postpartum depression is treatable. You should seek medical help if these feelings stay for too long, but you should always have a support network that will help you go through this difficult time. Your partner, family members and friends should be there for you. They can help you with the baby and they can support you. It’s important for you to feel you have someone to trust. Another important thing is to always find some time for yourself, no matter how short it may be. This is a very good way of fighting against pregnancy depression and postpartum depression.

The Astounding Truth About Depression – What They Don’t Tell You! – Depression

Everyone experiencing depression will know that it is impossible to “think” a way out of the darkness. No matter how hard we try to understand depression we cannot lift the dark cloud hanging over our head. So what is depression really about? Why can’t we solve it or get rid of it as easy as a cold?Although we may feel like depression is the beginning of the darkness, it is not. The truth is this: Depression, in reality, is the end of the darkness. This may seem impossible to believe or contrary to what others say. So if this doesn’t make sense yet – that’s okay, keep reading.Life offers every individual a unique journey to learn and evolve. If we head off track on our journey, we are given opportunities to be naturally redirected. Depression is one natural indicator of how lost we have become. When we experience depression it is highly likely that we are being given a signal that something is not right in the way we are living life – it is like a “wake-up call”. It means an awakening is beginning inside. Although it may seem like the darkness is new, it is not. This is because for the majority of people experiencing depression life has always been dark. The difference now is that the awakening is making them aware of the darkness. The darkness has always been there – they just have not noticed it until now!When a person first becomes aware of the darkness, they feel scared, uncomfortable, isolated and hopeless. Naturally people with depression may want to get rid of these unwanted eerie feelings in the same way that one gets rid of a cold or flu. It is not that simple though as these feelings arise from a person’s whole being – their body, mind and spirit. The darkness is not a condition of the physical body or mind alone. The only way to find effective relief from depression is to enliven the whole being.By taking a “whole of being” approach to depression, it can be a gateway for transforming our life into an incredible journey of meaning and self-discovery. This involves doing a bit of self-work to tap into our inner power to transform the darkness into joy. Through some self-discovery we then start to understand how we got off track, what we want in life and what would give us a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.Often people with depression do not want to do the self-work as they simply want their life to return to how it used to be. This is impossible though because when the “the awakening” of the darkness begins there is no turning back. It is like trying to forget how to walk after you know how – you can’t unlearn awareness. That’s because life constantly moves us forward. The purpose of life is to learn, grow and evolve. Whether we like it or not, awareness of the darkness is there. Naturally we can take action to either “slow it down” or “speed it up” but we can never return to being blissfully unaware of living life in the dark again.If we truly want to come out of depression, we need to get back on track and undergo a whole of being transformation (often involving some physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformations or shifts in perspective). The best and most effective way to journey out of the darkness is to seek holistic guidance. This helps to put an end to the continual suffering, confusion, hopelessness and isolation. Holistic help includes activities for the body, mind and spirit – all three are equally important on this journey. These may include activities such as taking better care of our body; relaxing our mind and being more aware of our thoughts; connecting with the natural world around us; working out what we want in life; practising yoga, tai chi or another form of body-mind-spirit connection; meditating; and discovering the purpose of our life.At first the truth about depression may seem overwhelming for someone with depression as self-discovery may seem like a lot of effort and a slow fix. Permanent quick fixes for depression however are extremely rare. The journey out of depression is a gradual process of increased awareness and a shift in consciousness that will continue for an entire lifetime. It’s an amazing journey of spiritual evolution and freedom. As each individual’s journey in life is unique, there is no set path that must be followed to come out of depression. Some common elements that may be required however are: a strong desire to come out of depression; patience; willingness to do some self-study; and courage to take a new and unexplored path in life.Depression is not a dark mystery – it is the signal that a person is “awakening” and seeking real joy and meaning in life. This awakening is one of life’s biggest hurdles and a person experiencing depression has already courageously jumped that hurdle. A life of light is already beginning for them. With some holistic help, self-discovery and increased awareness, they can get back on track, reignite their inner Spirit and start creating a meaningful and joyous life.

I Knew S/he Was Crazy! Telltale Signs of Depression and Suicide in the African American Community – Depression

As a research scientist, I am asked what The Telltale Signs of Depression and Suicide are and befuddled, I say the usual, “search the web”! Since, I deal with diverse populations, many of the top search engines, especially health websites, are NOT always people of color’s “BFF’s”. When explaining to diverse groups about the symptoms of depression and suicide, there are plenty of “yes, buts” or “what ifs” that countermand adherence to medical directives. These actions still occur even when a Nobel Laureate physician wrote the major symptom section for the DSM-IV revised!I have personally witnessed on numerous diverse social media websites the grossly inaccurate information posted on them. I myself has been subject to ridicule and harassment. As a result, I am relaying and translating the societal and cultural nuances so that diverse laypeople all understand the key symptoms of depression and suicide. I am translating these symptoms for the African American community because I am African American and many people have come to me wondering if there is a way to identify these symptoms. Disturbingly, they may have lost a loved one to suicide and they wonder if there was anything more they could do to stop it. While reviewing top health websites for depression symptoms, I found there was a lack of cultural competency in explaining these symptoms. While it is clear that not ALL of these symptoms are seen in every case of depression or suicide, the key symptoms outlined in major online health websites do NOT translate with “any culturally nuanced depression symptoms”.At this time, I will not be listing what to do on how to manage these symptoms. I organized this “Translation Navigator” so that everyone is “on same page”. I mean no disrespect to those who understand this information, but seriously, looking at the mental health disparities, something MUST be done for the lack of cultural competence described in my symptom review. Anyone using this information is for entertainment purposes only and cannot be used as a diagnostic. Moreover, it can complement a professionally licensed health care provider’s directive, but it does not supplant or supersede any treatment plan by a licensed provider. Nor does it counteract against the written referenced material.The Translator/NavigatorCulturally Competent Telltale Signs for Depression in the African Americans

The inability to concentrate often resembles forgetfulness This symptom occurs almost everyday and people who are depressed often forget important tasks, like missing due dates for bills, or forgetting to call key people like doctors. It is not the casual forgetfulness of losing keys or dementia like getting lost, or even Alzheimer’s, which is VERY different! This forgetfulness is after a profound conversation/argument with the depressed person, and s/he STILL forgets to pay the cable bill!

Being fatigued or decreased energy If the depressed person goes to church Sunday at 11:00 AM, and then stops suddenly, to which s/he complains of fatigue or “I’m tired”, when they did nothing physically strenuous, then it probably a depression. It is the dramatic shift in routine over a month.

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness These symptoms lack articulation by diverse depressed individuals. Moreover men do not discuss these feeling freely. If men say anything, it resembles blame on any perceivable target-usually the caregiver! Depressed women complain, whine, and then blame. Shortly, I will explain later how that resembles in diverse communities.

Hopelessness and/or pessimism Depressed individuals often have “sarcastic commentary” that teenagers are more than happy to provide whenever anybody makes comments. For example, when the caregiver says, “Let’s go to the Beach, it is a nice sunny day!”, a depressed individual would retort, “Why? To get burned by the sun!!!”

Insomnia or excessive sleeping: I have not noticed diverse depressed individuals to be unable to sleep unless they have an anxiety/PTSD or a mania, but I have seen sleeping all day for several days without being sick, or having that dark room, because light hurts. Depressed individuals often choose that darkened room during a sunny day rather than enjoying the outdoors–an active choice that is made.

Irritability or restlessness: Irritability often looks like whining and snapping at whatever is said. A caregiver could just say “BOO” and the depressed person combined with the feeling of guilt would bite the caregiver’s head off for saying it. The restlessness is often combined with the forgetfulness. Watch when they cook. Request the depressed person to make lemonade from powder and s/he will get flustered by making a simple recipe. And remember, the behavior is not random; it is consistent over a month or two.

Lost of interest in activities once pleasurable, includes sex: This symptom is combined with the forgetfulness, fatigue, guilt, pessimism and excessive sleepiness symptoms. It could be any activity that the depressed person enjoys often as a tradition or ritual, and for some unknown reasons it is suddenly dropped! An example is, with the “holidays approaching” the depressed loved one for no reason, refuses to participate in an activity once thoroughly enjoyed. It is not because s/he has a new life situation, but the excuse is that s/he does not want to do it and is likely to berates it. Remember, the behavior is consistent over a few weeks and is not completely random!

Changes in eating behavior: What a depressed individual does is overeat a lot of carbohydrates (carbs, sugars, etc.): breads, cakes, chocolates, candies and sugar! Apparently, the medical aspects of depression feeds off of glucose in the brain, the full mechanism is unknown. Moreover, the meal is one time of day–all day and does not stop until sleep! Alternatively, what a depressed person looks like when his/her appetite is lost, s/he has failed to shop for grocery and all that is left is something indistinguishable, often the depressed person is living off of something bizarre like gum or rationalizes vitamin supplements as nutrition. Most of the symptoms mesh with each other, so this one is combined with forgetfulness, inability making decisions, helplessness and hopelessness. Moreover starvation through dieting can cause the insomnia…

Persistent malaise: A depressed person complains all the time about physical issues and when s/he chooses to see a primary care physician, only the immediate aches and pains are treated with drugs rather than the psychotropic medications due to health treatment limitations and standards of care. Meaning, if there is no adherence to these drugs, why force the patient to take them? Laboratory tests and manifestations cannot convince the depressed person of his/her ailment is depression. Remember this is another symptom that meshes itself with other symptoms, so if this one symptom is seen, then it is likely that others will be seen…

Persistent negative thoughts: A depressed person says as a complaint or whine that “nobody likes them” or any absolute statements: NEVER, ALWAYS, and NOBODY. Often seen as a judgment with accusations: i.e. “You should’s” and “You must’s” and “everybody’s”. The empty feelings look like a comatose person-especially when asked a simple question like “How are you going today”? The depressed person will respond with a shrug or say “I don’t know” on a consistent basis. Remember, this type of symptom is meshed with the other ones. This symptom is a “trigger” symptom or a “red flag” symptom, meaning when you start hearing them frequently, more than 3 times overall, this is the time when the caregiver’s antenna needs to be raised and attempt to get professionally licensed help!!!

Thoughts of suicide: I cannot emphasize this statement any stronger: when this comment is made, it needs to be taken seriously! Whether or not there is a plan: DO NOT TAKE THIS COMMENT LIGHTLY! DO NOT DISCOUNT IT! By the time, the depressed person vocalizes it, s/he has actually intensely rationalized it and has given serious thoughts about it, and now they are beginning to venture out really to get help on it! PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO UNDERSTAND THIS SYMPTOM OR TALK THEM OUT OF IT! PLEASE GET THEM TO PSYCHIATRIC CARE!!! This key symptom is the neurophysiological course of the depression disease. Literally, the brain is damaging itself due to the aforementioned symptoms. It is thought that all the symptoms meshed together overload the system and crashes the “logic centers” of the brain–somewhat like a computer hard drive crashing. But in this case the other organs actually attempting to save the body at the same time: such as the heart, the muscles, the stomach, the liver and the kidneys, plus many more. The organs try to override this “cerebral self-destruct” button. Remember, this behavior is not always night and day, or random, but it does not lessen the impact, please watch this behavior closely.
So please permit me to use some creative license and combine some of the warning signs to suicide that I have translated into culturally competent text from major online health websites:There are some key symptoms that caregivers MUST watch and be vigilant with someone suffering from depression, especially as it relates to suicide! I cannot stress this enough the depressed individual is NOT about him/her being crazy or funny, this is about him/her suffering from a major medical neurophysiological disease like any other illness and requires professionally licensed care and treatment. Moreover, these are the telltale signs: These are the signs used when one does NOT want to say “if I could have done anything differently…” The way to think about this is the splinter in the tiger. The tiger by itself is a man eating animal, but when there is a splinter in the paw, the tiger writhes in pain and while you might think “it is not a big deal”, because it is a man-eating tiger and usually it will kill itself or gnaw off its paw off to minimize the pain. If someone removes the splinter, it is thought the tiger is grateful and remembers that person always. Loving a depressed individual, like that splintered tiger, is perilous and as a caregiver it takes a team to support that individual, which a licensed provider must be consulted. Unfortunately, hospitalization cannot be enforced upon any unwilling mentally ill person who has not committed a crime or threat. However, a caregiver, can learn about the basic suicide symptoms described below:

Suddenly switching from very sad (depressed) to calm/appearing happy or tranquil: While obviously stated, this symptom often this looks like the depressed person has found “resolution” to his/her problem. Unfortunately it is committing suicide… Like a wrong answer game show buzzer–EHHHN–this inaccurate conclusion erroneously looks like a calm in the suicidal ideation depressed individual. One way to confirm one’s thoughts are to ASK what his/her wants are. This is a question of autonomy, because it determines if a definitive decision has been made. If s/he has a formal plan with times and dates, get professionally licensed help immediately or call 9-1-1!

Always talking and writing about death: Listed as dressing in “Gothic paraphernalia”, like always wearing black like a vampire… Seriously, this is probably the most egregious example of culturally incompetence I have seen in regards to understanding suicidal ideation and symptoms. To make this symptom culturally competent for African Americans, this often resembles when young people attempt to look like or live like “gangsters” or “thugs”, with the guns, paraphernalia, and listening to “profane gangsta rap” or “thuggish” music and actually believing the lyrics are real. And the discussion looks like dark and dreary kinds of lifestyle, such as robbing people, misogyny, prostitution, and prison life, etc. This symptom meshes with another symptom as described later.

Having a “death wish”–taking unnecessary risks: such as running red lights… This symptom is another egregious example of missing the social determinants of health and the mental health disparity in diverse communities. In the African American community, especially for young men, running red lights is deadly in the United States, so that would not be something we would see often. The risk factors taken would probably be carrying a gun into a club as to protect oneself as an “unnecessary risk”. The death wishes we have is getting involved in very dangerous activities known to ruin one’s life and are self-destructive–which leads us to our next symptom

Substance abuse: Alcohol is a depressant, and some illegal substances, like marijuana and methamphetamine make irrational thoughts worse. Many people in our community abuse substances to self-medicate for their depression. It is a self-destructive habit. This is probably one of the single elements that is seen more in the African American community than others. The symptom looks over and beyond the normal consumption of these substances–a functional alcoholic or smoker, etc. And substance abuse treatment differs from depression treatment, while the two are intertwined inexplicably, first the addiction is treated then the mental health issue. More often than not most substance abusers RARELY get treated for their mental health issues.

Acting impulsively: Acting impulsively is doing something without thinking about it and letting the chips fall where they land–meaning if the depressed person dies, that will be where the chips landed… The depression symptoms are meshed with this suicide warning sign, such as guilt and hopelessness. It is reckless. One possibility is once they get that gun, what more will they do–such as robbery, going along with the violent crowd, rioting, killing people. The mentality is the suicidal person with erroneously thing that they have to see the end of this bad course of action.

Poor performance in school and work: Young people often have failing grades and it is known they are able to do the work. For adults, it accounts for massive sick days and absenteeism from work, lack of follow through on projects and missed deadlines. There may be some hostilities between the depressed loved one and co-workers. The depression symptoms seen meshed with this suicide warning sign are lack of concentration, fatigue and excessive sleeping.There may be others.

Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, writing/changing a will, giving away prized possessions: So many depressed African Americans feel they do not have anything, so changing wills is infrequent occurrence. This suicide warning sign resembles vandalism or destruction of property. The depressed person’s thinking is “Since I have nothing to lose (hopelessness) and everyone thinks I am worthless (guilt, worthlessness), I will vandalize this property by graffiti or I will destroy this property by stealing/thievery of key items”. What makes this illogical thinking occur in a depressed person is putting the affairs in order or tying up loose ends… This a suicidal warning sign shows the welcomed risk of arrest! As usual, this symptom travels with other depression symptoms as well as other suicidal warning signs like substance abuse or a death wish.

Feeling strong anger or rage: It has been told to me that depression is anger turned in on one’s self. The anger people have is due to unresolved hurts and pains or experiencing what is perceived as a traumatic event. Some people casually say, “This is what is called life, deal with it”! Saying this statement to a depressed person is an abusive, insensitive, destructive and harmful comment, because it will tip them over from thinking about suicide to actually committing suicide. The heartless comment often is misconstrued by a depressed person who is already having inaccurate absolute conclusions and this comment causes the person who cannot articulate in his/her feelings to verify his/her self-worth through the “depression and suicidal lenses”. What is seen is either the first suicidal warning sign of “listlessness” or “empty” feelings or an anger/rage unloading, often with crying. What causes this anger? I have a blog on anger as it is written from my bipolar POV at Crazy Black Woman
Remember, it should be noted that some people who commit suicide do not show ANY warning signs. So, loved ones may still feel, “I knew s/he was crazy, but…” And if caregiver’s actively see these symptoms and want to help him/her, judgment does not help them either! What is optimal is professionally licensed care and treatment! A few pastors have qualifications for mental health care treatment. If a pastor says that ONLY prayer or telling one to just be saved cures mental health, that is HOLY UNETHICAL!Many professionally licensed providers lack cultural sensitivity and could look “crazy” to you! Finding the what works for you is a personal choice. The key is to ask MANY DIRECT QUESTIONS, learn to navigate the mental health care system, and implement mental health and wellness goals! If that is of interest to you as a “diverse woman”, please feel free to join us at SistahMentalHealth dot com and start your PQ Interest Questionnaire TODAY!

Depression – Simple Tips to Beat the Blues – Depression

If you are suffering from depression, you are not alone.Depression affects many people at some time in their life, with some of us going through periods of depression that can lift after a very short time, while for others, it can be ingoing for many years.Whichever category you fall into, here are some simple tips to help you manage your depression.Depression – What is it?Depression is best identified as feeling in a low mood. It may not stop you leading a normal life, but things may seem less worthwhile.Most of us will admit to feeling depressed from time to time and this is perfectly normal.Depression becomes a problem when it interferes with your day to day activities.What Causes Depression?Depression may be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or can be triggered by significant life events including:-o Bereavemento A traumatic experience, such as rape or physical attacko Childhood eventso Illnesso Frequent use of recreational drugsHow Do I Know if I am Depressed?Symptoms of depression may include:-o Preoccupation with negative thoughtso Difficulty in concentratingo Feeling in a low mood most of the timeo Feelings of numbness, emptiness or despairo Low self-esteemo Lack of sex driveo Lack of confidenceo Pessimistic view of the futureThis is no a definitive list and you may experience all or some of these symptoms.You may also notice changes in your sleeping pattern, your eating habits, or there may be a rise in your alcohol or tobacco consumption.Depression – Helping YourselfKnowledge is power. The more you learn about depression, the better equipped you will be to deal with it.Go to the library, do some research on the internet or join a self-help group where you can gather information about depression and the treatments available.Being aware of the choices available to you will help you to make an informed choice about treatment if you need to seek help from your healthcare provider.Whereas many of us may experience bouts of mild depression or low mood, clinical depression is a serious medical condition and if you have been experiencing symptoms described above for some time you should seek medical help as soon as possible.Depression – Don’t Suffer in SilenceWhile clinical depression is a serious illness, it can be treated and you do not need to feel ashamed, embarrassed or suffer in silence.Some people allow depression to go untreated for years but clinical depression will not disappear by itself.
Professional help may include a course of antidepressants together with some counseling.Depression – Help YourselfHelplessness is a feeling often experienced by people with depression.Together with professional help try and help yourself.o Stay focused – depression can feed on itself and you can find yourself trapped in a vicious circle of negative thoughts that it seems impossible to get out of. Focus on positive thought and the positive things in your life. If you can’t think of any, think of a positive goal you would like to achieve.o Avoid your own company – depression feeds on loneliness. Try and break the hold that depression has on you. Join a club or self-help group where you can talk to people who have successfully overcome depression.o Do something worthwhile. Keeping yourself busy will give you less time to dwell on pessimistic thoughts. Take up a hobby or why not join a gym. Regular exercise will have a mental and physical impact on your wellbeing.o Let go of the past. Many of us make the mistake of hanging on to past hurts and this too can cause depression. If there are things in your life that have caused you upset, past grudges, guilt or anger, perhaps it is time to let go.Depression is not an easy thing to overcome but it can be done, all you have to do is make he decision to make a change.

Important Tools to Fight Depression – The Proactive Way to Achieve Happiness – Depression

So you missed the flight and got lost on the way home! Or maybe you just got ditched by your long term companion! An exam did not go through as well as you thought. Some one close suddenly passed away! For a substantial number of people, these are some of the many reasons that can set up a cascade of thoughts leading to depression. Whatever the reason that started it, once you are in the “loop” you just feel inclined to think of the few most depressing aspects of your life! Some people are born resilient and can easily overcome this. For most others however it leads to a few days or even weeks of self loathing and regret.But depression can be objectively analysed and self healed. It does not take a lot to control your mind to be free from depression. Even in the worst of circumstances, a clear thinking mind is of more value than a mind that is depressed and afraid to act. So how can depression be beaten on its own turf? How can you play the game of cat and mouse with depression and come out winning every time? What are the thought processes that make a resilient mind?Rule No. 1: Treat depression as a person and not as a thought!Depression is a process in your brain. In fact when you are depressed you are an altered version of your self. Whatever may have started the cycle of depression – at the lowest point you are the same “altered” image of your self. Once you realize this you can treat the battle with depression as a battle with your altered self. This “other person” has a set of characteristics – that you already know of! So when you are depressed write down your behavioral pattern some where in bulleted text – to make your mind remember this “other self” completely.Rule No. 2: Start making a list of normal day to day activities that you hate doing when you are depressed and then try to do them without emotion!We all do certain things when we are depressed, and are loathe to do certain other things when we are sad. These activities which irk you during a depression – are actually the key to beating depression. That is because it will not take much on your part to learn to do these activities objectively and without emotion. Try doing these activities when you are normal, but do them mechanically – Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…etc. Break up these activities into steps and just follow the routine! Once this can be achieved (even for a couple of such tasks) – you can do them just when you are starting to get depressed. This sets up a reverse feedback loop. You are proactively using the cues from your depression to convince your own mind – that you are not depressed!Rule no. 3: Understand that your happiest thoughts are equal to your most depressed thoughts, and that all your thoughts are equal to just a handful of processes in an organic machine!This usually is the most difficult thing to achieve for most depressed souls. Since depression makes you more emotional – logical reasoning usually fails. But the key here is not to start this process of logic when you are depressed, but rather when you are happy! So when you are your happiest self – just pause for a moment and verbally say aloud (quietly if you want it to be private – but do say it ) – “I am extremely happy but I understand that this is a chain of thoughts in my brain. I want this chain of thought to exist in my brain always. I want to cultivate this way of thinking”. After you are able to remember and do this successfully every time that your are happy, start using this method to fight depression. Whenever you get depressed say: “I am very sad but I understand that this is a chain of thoughts in my brain. I do not want to think this way. I will try my best to think in the way that makes me feel the happiest.”Rule no. 4: Choose an arbitrary new activity if you find yourself going into the loop.When you are depressed, trying to do things that make you feel good land up feeling hollow and eventually these activities may completely fail to provide joy – even on the days that your are not depressed. That is because once you do it while you are depressed a sad feeling gets associated with the activity. This leads to new connections in your brain – which may in fact make the activity less desirable in the future! The best solution to this – use an arbitrary activity to distract yourself. Borrow your friends guitar and strum it – even if you have hardly ever touched a guitar all you life! Try to cook something – even if you do not know a single recipe! Jog to the mall! Buy a leather whip and beat a wall! Do something that you can do discreetly and without looking like a fool – and yet is completely different from your usual activities. This will distract your mind and prevent it from turning into your “other self”.Rule no. 5: Verbalize, write down and analyse your depressive thoughts, and then fight them when your are stronger.When you are most depressed – use some of your time to write down the things that are making you depressed and why you are feeling the regret and unhappiness. Afterward when you are your most energetic self and feeling happy – pit your mind against those depressive thoughts. This is often the most abhorred step and yet is the most beneficial. There is a slim chance that looking at your depressed thoughts can make you a little “less” happy, but the very fact that you decided to take the fight to your altered depressed self, makes it more likely that you will not falter the next time this “other person” is trying to get a grip over you. Keep repeating the word “ridiculous” as you read through your list of reasons for your depression! It is like training your mind for the battle – so the next time you are much stronger on the battlefield!These are some of the important tools to fight depression in a proactive manner. This is not superficial advice which makes you feel good as you read it. That is in fact the job of the therapist. No! These are tools to reach the remedy and not the remedy it self. This advice is for you – if you want to teach yourself the method to beat depression. Use them to slowly gain confidence and when you are “ready”, you feel lighter at your whim – in the worst of circumstance!