Archives for category: Education

Some highlights from a Student Loan “Exit Interview,” which as you surely guessed is a text-based online quiz. This post is dedicated to all my friends and peers who are unjustifiably buried in debt.

“A sure way to help pay for college and to avoid excess borrowing is to work part-time. Not only will you be covering expenses, but you will gain valuable work experience. Be careful, however, not to overload your study time with work; part-time employment should be part-time.”

  • Will reducing your debt levels now help you in the future?
    (Yes / No)
  • You do not need to include your personal expenses, clothing and entertainment when figuring out a budget.
    (True / False)

100 percent of the balance of your student loan will be canceled in the event of your death. [This one isn’t funny because it became effective August 14, 2008.]

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As for the financial system, I figured out how to fix it. Tomorrow, I’m moving my meager savings out of J.P. Morgan “Chase” Bank and putting it into Patelco, my local Community Credit Union. I will have all the same services, but a much lighter conscience. I never even signed up for Chase in the first place, I was a Washington Mutual customer and one day they changed all the signs and started calling my branch by a new name…

My loan educational experience this evening is the reason why I will switch tomorrow. The reason I found Patelco in the first place was out of sheer desperation, and my friend Laura’s alleviating recommendation. What could make me so desperate? I stepped foot inside a Chase bank.

It’s not what you think either, I hate bureaucracy and corporate drudgery as much as the next person, but it wasn’t so bad this time. By the end of my journey I made it to a cubicle in the back of the floor with an associate (or representative? maybe a banker? I don’t know what they’re called). I just needed some checks. Turns out she wanted to chat, and I soon found out that she too was a Berkeley grad, in political science. How odd, I thought. Do Harvard and Yale graduates work jobs like this? Is it some entry-level process I don’t understand? But, I didn’t want to be judgemental, and hell… I needed a job too, and you gotta take what you can get.

But by the end of our little meeting, this associate was pulling out laminated graphical diagrams, dropping Chase lingo, and serving me all this rhetoric about how I could use a Chase credit card, and how I could start earning points (not only double, but triple for such a valued customer). It made me sick! So much baloney! And the twist in my stomach formed. The powers of persuasion and critical thinking my alma mater prides itself on creating were performed on me in a bewildering and cosmically sinister mess. What do they teach folks in Political Science, anyway? By the end I was anxious; I ran out of ways to say “No, thanks” without breaking the fragile politeness between us for swift ranting. I was lucky I could hold my smile in place long enough to bid this associate adieu and scramble outside, gasping for air.

Defining “work” has been tough lately. Being “productive” requires a new definition. Is it work when a music student plays an instrument? When is it fun? When is it not?

Of course it’s up to the person, but the music example makes me think about my own work/fun distinctions. What is work if learning and teaching are fun? What is work if reading about and using new web technology is fun? What is work if the result demonstrates some quality about you that later fulfills some necessary requirement or constitutes some value?

Clay Shirky and Yochai Benkler make arguments about work, but I’m thinking about experience, affects. It is not enough to have new theories about work/fun, we must also have ways to think, feel, and be.

I’m developing a behavior that’s new to me. I do not believe change occurs in the future, far off in the distance. I believe in the presence and immediacy of change today, tomorrow. The future makes me weary–it is heavy on the soul. But the present has opportunity, it is bearable and light.

It is not sufficient to suggest change (improvement or reconfiguration) must occur in the future alone. Change can and should happen in the present, with wider and longer views in mind.

This really has to do with approaching problems. I encourage anyone who reads this to think about a problem and how it can begin to be addressed by change today, tomorrow and continue to change from there.

Today I select education, its emphasis on “lecturing” and “dumping” knowledge on students. Today and tomorrow I can work on change by practicing new methods of education, like peer-to-peer learning at P2PU (through a course I’m running about writing Wikipedia articles this fall for free for anyone) and through strategizing how to get teachers and learners of all sorts to flip the classroom.

To get what I mean about education, read this. Note it’s not about technology, it’s about pedagogy and learning.