Pilant's Business Ethics

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Tag: Education (Page 1 of 4)

Exploitation More and More Prevalent in Higher Education

Exploitation More and More Prevalent in Higher Education

I’ve heard this same story several times. Being highly educated and a vital part of an educational institution is no guarantee of job security or a significant salary. it’s driving good people from the field and diminishing the value of higher education.

Increasingly society is viewed through a Neoliberal prism where immediate results and marketization are valued over long term success and more traditional value systems. The church, the school and the press are being increasingly infected with the idea of measurable profit over more difficult to measure values. I would argue that intellectual inquisitiveness, love, honor, culture, and an inclination toward an intelligent development of public policy might have values in a civilized society but my voice in increasingly being shouted down by the fine print in budget statements geared toward the short term and quite often the counterproductive.

I think business ethics are tied in with the higher values of Western Civilization. Once those values are thrown away by crass economic doctrine, there will be a decline of society to a system based on power and wealth until the inevitable turn of the wheel and an new society is born.

Exploitation More and More Prevalent in Higher Education

Exploitation More and More Prevalent in Higher Education

James Pilant

“Exploitation should not be a rite of passage” | Sarah Kendzior

http://sarahkendzior.com/2013/10/09/exploitation-should-not-be-a-rite-of-passage/

Everyone benefits from a more diverse and even playing field, so I try to draw attention to unfair labor practices in these professions. Exploitation should not be a rite of passage.

via “Exploitation should not be a rite of passage” | Sarah Kendzior.

From around the web.

From the web site, This Ain’t Livin.

http://meloukhia.net/2012/01/the_exploitation_of_adjunct_faculty.html

Increasingly, adjunct faculty are doing the teaching in the US education system, particularly at the community college level. This is because they are cheap. Much, much cheaper than tenured faculty. They are often paid by the unit, instead of receiving a salary, and don’t get benefits. It’s cheaper to higher multiple adjunct faculty members than one tenured professor. Some community colleges don’t even have a full time faculty member supervising some departments. The entire English department, for example, may be part timers.

An Introduction To Business Ethics

An Introduction To Business Ethics

This is my thoroughly acerbic intro to my business ethics class.

Business Ethics is the study of what is right or wrong in the world of business. We are going to explore your views of ethics. While you will learn about many ethical systems, the emphasis of the class is upon your ethical development.
It is possible that you live in a moral vacuum. You could have no beliefs whatever as to what should or should not be done. However, this possibility is so rare as to be almost impossible.

More likely is that you have been influenced by society and have accepted the viewpoints of those around you. You float in a sea of belief systems absorbing what is “normal” and usually what is comfortable.

Some, a good number, have been educated into a moral system. The most common system would be that of a religion although other systems of ethics which can be found in organizations as diverse as political parties, charities, and organizations such as Ala-non. These other systems vary dramatically in the depth and importance of ethics in them.
The few remaining individuals will have actively considered what is right or wrong. Some have reflected on these issues a great deal; others less.

The intent of this course is that you actively consider your ethics as they relate to issues in business.
You move from moral vacuum, society’s choices, religious systems, organizational beliefs and your own reflections to a highly active consideration of ethical choices.

There is no rejection here of any system of ethics. It is quite likely that individuals will find in our attempt at developing a moral framework a ratification of their previous beliefs. It is likely that the strongest choice for many will be a religious system and those that have worked to develop their own judgment will usually find their search to have been significant.

Hopefully, all students in the class will develop their system of ethics in some sense. However, if a student begins the class with a system of ethics or an absence of such a system and finishes with no change, which will have no effect on the grade received.

What we will study

We will begin by exploring religious codes of ethics. Many religions, in particular Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism and Islam have created sets of rules that apply directly to morality in the business context.

From there we will journey through the often confusing field of philosophy. We will discuss the impact of the major schools of thought on business ethics.

We will look at legal obligations of duty, fair dealing and care.

After this comes current thought, in particular American philosophies of business ethics.

We then investigate the issues of crime and ethical issues concerning business. A focus on particular moral issues concerning individual business fields like accounting.

Ethics programs and their implementation are next followed by human rights concerns and the last chapter concerns social responsibility.

Business ethics is a relevant and vital subject, but this field of ethics had been full of difficulty.

Business involves large sums of money, interactions between humans at different levels of power, interactions between one business and others, and interactions between business and government.

Some businesses have stolen incredible amounts of money, caused or contributed to the death of millions of people, damaged the fabric of the world economy, colluded with other businesses to set prices or drive other businesses out of existence, bribed government officials, evaded taxes and by giving an impression of constant criminality and dishonesty damaged the social fabric of many nations and poisoned their relationships with other countries.
Business ethics has been taught in the United States for about forty years. It has been a disaster. Corporate scandals so huge as to threaten the world’s financial systems have occurred several times. The more mundane corporate crimes ranging from tax evasion to the participation in causing injury and death are so commonplace they require little discussion.

Most of the individuals in these crimes were educated in business schools with business degrees probably the most common, the MBA. They had business ethics as a course. The fruit of that teaching is evident. There is no fruit. There is no positive result.

It can be claimed that business ethics has had some immeasurable effect that cannot be calculated. If that is a justification for having this course why don’t we teach a wide variety of other classes that might be effective. Is that how a business school is to be run: in the hope of a course being useful? Perhaps we should seek business success with Ouija boards, séances, and voodoo curses?

If we admit that current business ethical teaching is a failure. What can be done?

First, let’s have a look at our current textbooks. They contain many fascinating elements. First there are thought problems at regular intervals. A student is told in this thought problem that he is in position of having dire financial problems and at the same time he is confronted with an ethical problem involving a superior. If he does the morally correct thing, it could result in dismissal and the end of a career. If he does the wrong thing, he will keep his job and the risks are quite low that he will be caught. The student will of course give the proper response to the teacher. But he has already digested the principal lesson of the example. Don’t make waves. Don’t risk your career. When you get out into the real world you are going to have real financial pressure and if you lose your job, there will be consequences for the rest of your life.

How about that section on ethical systems, a vital part of the text? After all most of us attempt to work out our problems through with ethics code we already have and this is usually one common in our society. In most textbooks, there will be several pages perhaps even a large part of a chapter explaining the base elements of philosophy. This is so the eager business student has a good grasp on normative as opposed to descriptive ethics. You see that normative ethics is a system in which you try to figure out what is right or wrong. Descriptive ethics involves studying the current systems of belief or lack thereof. You see if we taught what was right or wrong we might offer students moral choices. But we give it a quick pass and offer students the choice of doing whatever is being done now, a convenient way of avoiding any moral choices at all. You see telling students what is right or wrong means forcing our ideas on them rather than allowing them the total freedom to act without any direction at all.

Then there comes the heart of the matter, a discussion of ethical systems that can range over as much as two to three pages. In one textbook which will remain nameless, Christianity is give two entire paragraphs, although there are reliable reports that a considerable number of Americans claim to live by its tenets. We then discuss utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. Occasionally to amuse myself at the beginning of the semester, I ask the class how many of them live by utilitarian ethics. After a long period of silence, I try out Kant and the categorical imperative. Would you believe that our students don’t seem to make any of their moral decisions based on this thought? They don’t even seem to know what these things are! But if you ask about that Christianity thing, the one with two paragraphs, many of them react. Then you will find several students who are trying to figure out what is right or wrong in their own minds developing their own philosophy. And last you will always find two or three students who believe that money is the only measure of morality in this world, a descriptive ethic.

Our intent here is to explore the world of business in view of the many ethical systems that deal directly with business moral issues and there are more than a few. We also intend to look at your own moral development over the course of your life span.

Most importantly we will learn to consider morality and ethics as an active endeavor. You don’t put judgment in the back of your head as to what is right or wrong, you think about it actively. You have to think about what is right before the issue comes up or many times you will simply not realize the moral implications of your actions. You have a world to win, fight for it.

James Alan Pilant

 

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Executives Have Vivid Imaginations

Executives Have Vivid Imaginations

American Workers Lack Common Sense Skills, Executives Say

 

Workers lack communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative skills executives say, according to a recent survey by the American Management Association. Turns out, bosses aren’t too excited about their underlings’ abilities, a prospect they’re getting more worried about considering such skills will be more important amid a changing business landscape, they say.

The number of executives rating their employees as below average increased across all four areas since the survey was last taken in 2010. Almost 20 percent of workers lack at least average creative skills, according to executives.

American Workers Lack Common Sense Skills, Executives Say

img156Yes, there has been a collapse in worker capabilities since that grand old time of American capability: 2010! That’s right. According to these executives (experts?), in the last three years, workers have become more incompetent. At a time, when the pool of available workers desperate for employment has been the highest since the great depression and they having the pick of the litter, the workers just aren’t as good.

Do you know what this means? It means these executive get together, talk a lot and gripe, then they take surveys. Next year, they may decide the food is bad or they don’t like the weather or they’ll go back to complaining about, that old favorite, “economic uncertainty.”

The idea that educational and judgment standards have dropped across the board in this country in three short years is simple nonsense. There is no change in the educational system, in hiring, or anything else, that would explain such a change. It’s just imagination, a particularly vivid imagination. What’s worse is that some people take this kind of survey nonsense seriously.

I tell you what, let’s ask the workers if their bosses have become less competent over the last three years. In fact let’s survey the workers the same way we do “executives” about basic skills and who has them. Then we could compare. That would be interesting statistics.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, Ideagency:

Obviously, the notion that Americans aren’t hard-working isn’t supported by the statistics.  Beyond the numbers, however, my experience working with my own clients support Begala’s argument.  The people I meet – whether they work in finance, manufacturing, retail, technology or health care – are not lazy.  Far from it.  Despite the lack of raises, bonuses, and other perks that have been severely cut back (or eliminated), the vast majority of employees I encounter are diligent, industrious, and proud of the work they do.  I would imagine this holds true for most workers.

From the web site, Irregular Times Diaries:

Yesterday, Senator John McCain was giving a political speech in front of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, when he blasted American workers as lazy, ungrateful people incapable of doing a good day’s work

Senator McCain said it was necessary for farmers to employ illegal aliens because American workers are too lazy and wimpy. McCain thought that he was being clever when he rhetorically offered to pay anyone in the audience 50 dollars an hour to pick lettuce.

And from the web site, Understanding China, One Blog at a Time:

A commenter recently called me a malingerer, surprised by such harsh words, I rushed to m-w.com to see just what the word meant— malingerer “to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness (as to avoid duty or work)” Reflecting on those harsh words, as I scanned the interweb aimlessly, I came across the following photos. And although I would not say that I am a malingerer (in terms of feigning illness) one could argue that I am currently not devoting all of my neurons to the task of making money for any one company , thus the word loafer may be more appropriate..

 

 

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Ants and Lions in Entrepreneurship

Ants and Lions in Entrepreneurship

What They Don’t Teach in Business School about Entrepreneurship – YouTube

This is from the Stanford School of Business, a panel discussion from the 2010 Conference on Entrepreneurship. This video is deliciously titled “What they don’t teach you in Business School about Entrepreneurship.”
The discussion about “ants and lions” comes along about thirty minutes in. Don’t miss it. It’s perceptive. The panelists are Mike Cassidy, Chuck Holloway, and Nazila Alasti.
James Pilant
From around the web –
The Lion?

The Lion?

From the web site, Center for Entrepreneurship:

The previous blog  introduced two important questions any time-management process starts with. Here are a few tricks I found useful when aligning our time investments to our core objectives and principal goals.

But, the challenge of an entrepreneur and change leader is she is pulled in all different directions at the same time, which makes it extremely difficult to continually create success. Instead of racing and gaining, the entrepreneur lies on her back and is trampled by ants.  Every day is filled with tens and hundreds of actions and activities all of which seem important somehow, but together nearly immobilize her. Like with so many, the passion slowly drains out of the entrepreneur, and her goals start fading. Instead of looking to the big goals, moving forward, the small things in life take over.

From the web site, Arnonuemann – Thought Leadership: (I highlighted the text beneath the pretty graph and the graph came with it. It looks nice, so I’m keeping it but if there is a problem, let me know and I’ll pull it immediately. jp)

Lessons from the ants : all for one ( mission ) and one is there for all ….

“But ants aren’t nature’s only high-functioning teams. Packs of wolfs, pods of dolphins, and prides of lions all share remarkable strategies in terms of leadership, connectivity, execution and organization. For nature’s teams, mission matters most. Bioteams are the physical manifestation of a mission. They organize on the fly, adjust strategies in real-time and redefine membership based on environmental demands. Just Google “unicoloniality” to learn more about how some of nature’s teams inherently understand what many human teams essentially do not: membership is a function of achieving the mission and not the other way around.”

And finally from the web site, IllimunationZZ:
There is so much confusion in the air. A lot of people do not even know what they want in Nigeria and you can’t really blame them! Do people have ambitions any longer or they just want to work and get salaries on pay day? Are there counselors aiding, guiding, and moulding the interests of young students in primary and secondary schools; and in Universities? Are parents interested in, and supportive of their children’s ambitions or they just want to bask in the vicarious “glory” of those big names (Engr, Esq, Dr, Pharm, Arch…) for their own ego fulfillment? Are there still career fairs in our secondary schools and tertiary institutions? The system is so dysfunctional that we are busy struggling to accept anything slapped on us simply because there is a salary. Each time I watch National Geographic Channel, the question I keep asking myself is: “how is it that a human being dedicate his / her life time to studying butterflies, ants, birds, lions etc if not passion?” Let s/he who has a passion to bake cakes go on to become a brand; let s/he who loves flowers go on to become a brand florist; let s/he who loves to bake bread go on to become a household baker; let s/he who wants to be a great restaurateur go on to cook great meals; let s/he who sees a niche in mobile toilets go on to fill the void, let s/he who wants to be a great photographer go on to capture the memories etc. That will be Entrepreneurship and it won’t matter if you have chains of degrees or not. Passion would be the catalyst but certainly not running to grab a steering out of frustration from not getting relevant jobs.
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Teaching with Purpose

Francis Bacon - Teaching with Purpose

Francis Bacon – Teaching with Purpose

Teaching with purpose

I’m one of the NRA’s “bad guys” – Salon.com

Why do I do this? I teach creative nonfiction. More importantly, I teach critical thinking skills, which, if Wayne LaPierre is any example, are in short supply in this country. I insist that students read books about difficult topics precisely because I want students to understand how to pick apart a difficult argument and how to see through the eyes of someone else, or because I simply want to see if my students’ vision of life squares up with those that they read. Sometimes, they are able to see themselves depicted in those pages, and sometimes they are able to examine their own prejudices (be they class, gender, race or education level) by being forced to look at the world through the eyes of the other.

I’m one of the NRA’s “bad guys” – Salon.com

I, too, teach critical thinking skills. It’s an uphill battle. My students having endured years of NCLB testing are superb factual test takers but have little experience with expressing an informed opinion. Quite often, a request for an opinion results not in an informed opinion based on any kind of fact or thinking but a reiteration of the worst elements of talk radio and 24 hours “news.” Simple tests where opinions and facts are listed and the student asked to identify which is which are routinely failed even by good students.

Business ethics and business law both demand higher level thinking skills. Deciding what should be done when there are ethical questions can well depend on religious beliefs, philosophical perceptions, life experience and practical considerations all at once. Critical thinking is key to making intelligent business decisions both routine and ethical.

James Pilant

From across the web –

From, http://izygekev.wordpress.com/

Critical thinking refers to a process of judgment taken after an analytical evaluation of a problem. It can be developed through the practice of intentional analyzing of every situation in life. Critical thinking skills can be developed by inculcating a habit of analytical and strategic thinking. If you can get yourself into the habit of analyzing every situation critically, you will gradually acquire critical thinking skills.

Your educational background plays a major role in the development of your thinking skills. Education that requires you to think analytically, the education that instills in you the principles of analytical thinking and reasoning leads you to become a critical thinker. The development of problem solving and reasoning skills since an early age is an excellent way of developing critical thinking skills. Fields that require you to acquire and evaluate information before reaching a conclusion indeed help in the development of critical thinking skills. Exposing yourself to questions that stimulate thinking can develop critical thinking skills.

From the web site, vive la internet

No one always acts purely objectively and rationally. We connive for selfish interests. We gossip, boast, exaggerate, and equivocate. It is “only human” to wish to validate our prior knowledge, to vindicate our prior decisions, or to sustain our earlier beliefs. In the process of satisfying our ego, however, we can often deny ourselves intellectual growth and opportunity. We may not always want to apply critical thinking skills, but we should have those skills available to be employed when needed.
Critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills. Among the main characteristics are the following:

Rationality
We are thinking critically when we
• rely on reason rather than emotion,
• require evidence, ignore no known evidence, and follow evidence where it leads, and
• are concerned more with finding the best explanation than being right analyzing apparent confusion and asking questions.

From the web site, Rliberni’s Blog, Radical Language

How do we focus on the teaching of Critical Thinking skills in a standardized test focused curriculum?
What a fun topic for me this week (per usual for edchat).  I actually almost missed it as I was running late from a meeting.  Don’t tell my superintendent, but I may have pushed the speed limit a bit in a school vehicle to get to my computer.  
As an administrator for the past 9 years, I have wrestled with this question often.  I feel horrible about focusing so much on the test when I know that focusing on the test probably isn’t what is what our kids need for being better thinkers.   

Many strong opinions were shared during this amazing fast paced hour of learning.  It is hard to argue that critical thinking skills are vital to be taught and what we SHOULD be teaching.  However, it is scary for teachers and administrators to deviate from not teaching to the tests when the system is currently set up with sanctions and penalties for those schools that do not do well on the tests.  It was agreed by many, including me, that great teaching that includes teaching students how to think, rather than what to think, while ultimately produce strong results. 

 

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Students United, the International Student Movement

international student movement

International Joint Statement | International Student Movement

International Joint Statement

Around the world over the past decade students, pupils, teachers, parents and employees have been protesting against the increasing commercialization and privatization of public education, and fighting for free and emancipatory education.

Many of us use the International Student Movement as a self-managed platform initiated to exchange information, to network and to co-ordinate protests at both the international and the global levels. Since the ISM platform was initiated in November 2008 various global days and weeks of action were coordinated.
We strive for structures based on direct participation and non-hierarchical organization through collective discussion and action. Anyone who identifies with the struggle against the privatization of public education, and for free and emancipatory education can join and participate on as well as shape the platform!

The following aims unite us worldwide:

What are we struggling against?

  • The effects of the current economic system on people and education systems:
    → tuition fees or any form of fees which exclude people from accessing and equally participating in education
    → student debt
    → public education aligned to serve the (labour) market;

    The so called Bologna-Process (as with its counterparts around the world) is aimed at implementing education systems that primarily train people in skills serving the labour market. It promotes the reduction of costs for training a person, shortens the length of time spent studying, and produces underqualified workforces.

    → turning education into a commodity as part of the commodification of all aspects of life
    → the significant and increasing influence of business interests on basic budgets for public education
    → the significant and increasing budget cuts on public education worldwide
    → the privatisation of public funds through the subsidisation of private educational institutions
    → the commodification and exploitation of labor within educational institutions

  • We stand against discrimination and exclusion within any educational institution based on:
    → socio-economic background, for instance by charging fees so that people with less money can’t participate equally
    → nationality
    → performance and academic record
    → political ideologies and activities
    → gender
    → sexual orientation
    → religion
    → ethnic background
    → skin colour
  • We stand against the prioritisation of research towards commercially valuable patents rather than open knowledge freely available to all
    → Public educational institutions are increasingly forced to compete for private sponsorships to do (basic) research; at the same time private funds tend to be invested into research promising to be profitable, leading to a decline in funding for areas of research which may be important but not deemed economically lucrative. Educational institutions and participants are evaluated on the basis of economic profitability and often compete to receive additional public funding based on this criteria.
  • We stand against the prioritisation of income-generating research grants ahead of education and basic research
  • Activities for the army within educational institutions:
    → no research specifically for military purposes
    → no recruiting and advertising activities for the army

What are we struggling for?

  • CONTENT:
    → free and emancipatory education as a human right. Education should primarily work for the emancipation of the individual, which means: being enabled to critically reflect and understand the power structures and environment surrounding him-/herself. Education must not only enable the emancipation of the individual but society as a whole
    → education as a public good serving public interests
    → academic freedom and choice: freedom to pursue any educational discipline
  • ACCESS:
    → free from monetary mechanisms of payment by participants and any kind of discrimination and exclusion and therefore freely accessible to all individuals
    → sufficient funding for all public educational institutions, whether they are deemed profitable or not
  • STRUCTURE:
    → all educational entities/institutions should be democratically structured, meaning direct participation from below as a basis for decision making processes

Why on the local and global level?

The impacts of the current global economic system create struggles worldwide. While applying local pressure to influence our individual local/regional politics and legislation, we must always be aware of the global and structural nature of our problems and learn from each other’s tactics, experiences in organizing, and theoretical knowledge. Short-term changes may be achieved on the local level, but great change will only happen if we unite globally.

Education systems worldwide do what they are intended to do within the economic and state system(s): select for, train and create ignorance and submission. We unite for a different education system and a different life.

We stand united against any sort of repression by governments worldwide directed at people involved in the struggle for free and emancipatory education.

The following groups and individuals support this statement, pledge to spread it, and to get actively involved in efforts to network and unite education activist groups worldwide in the future.

Wish to support this statement by having your (group) name listed below? Just send an e-mail to: united.for.education@gmail.com

~ one world – one struggle ~

International Joint Statement | International Student Movement

Students around the world have many common interests. In many nations, austerity policies are damaging the social fabric including education. That kind of investment in a nation’s future is the last place one should look for broad cuts.

I have watched in horror as our college students are priced out of many educational options, saddled with enormous debts when they do go to college and in a poorly regulated market are often overcharged for degrees with little use.

I believe that education is the bedrock value for a civilized society with a view toward future generations. We must look to our children’s future.

Financing education on the backs of our students is an American innovation. We transfer what used to be a common burden, a common investment, into personal debt. It is a national tragedy.

But also we see a constant drumbeat for an education suited only for the job market. That is only one element of the educational process. We who teach are also in the business of creating critical thinkers, good citizens and human beings who can live full lives with an appreciation of art, culture and history.

In 1841, European student went to the barricades and fought for a more just society. Ever since students have been in the forefront of challenging society to live up to its highest values.

I believe in the future. I believe in it not because of the continuing horror of American politics but because I teach students that I believe in, that I have faith in, and that I am willing to trust the future of this nation with.

James Alan Pilant

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Online Education Maxed?

Have we maxed out on online education? « Kay Steiger

A new survey from Eduventures (the terrible punny name is not my fault) comes via Inside Higher Ed and finds that though the number of adults entering into higher education as non-traditional students continues to increase, the percentage interested in taking all or most classes online has roughly stayed stagnent. The survey found 38 percent were interested in taking all or most of their classes online compared with 37 percent in 2006.

“We feel this is the watershed moment,” said Richard Garrett, vice president and principal analyst for Eduventures and the report’s author told IHE. “After years of endless growth, we’re definitely coming to more of a plateau situation.”

Have we maxed out on online education? « Kay Steiger

This is from Kay Steiger, who has a web site that deals in a thoroughly intelligent manner with education and other issues. She’s clever and often eloquent. I recommend you visit the site.

I find the findings quite interesting. You would think from reading the web and the news that online education is spreading across the nation like some Medieval plague. If the phenomenon has maxed out; if online education maxed, then we have arrived at a balance between online and in-class teaching. This is important to me, for one thing, because I teach both traditional  classes and online. But I have another issue, I love the whole idea of self improvement and higher education. I am delighted by spacious campuses, earnest undergraduates talking about major issues, people trying to think, and, above all, teaching. I like the environment and I believe for many people, it is their opportunity to think new thoughts and become different people, different than the expectation imposed on them by family and high school. Online education has many advantages but it cannot create an environment of hundreds, often thousands of fellow learners trying to understand what is important.

So it would appear from the study that physical campuses still make sense and have a future.

I am very pleased.

James Pilant

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Public School Teaching Crisis

Teaching ate me alive – Salon.com

Wrong profession? Lost perspective? Just another whiny, self-absorbed wool-gatherer? Guilty as charged. Hey, I’m a card-carrying, fellow-traveling union member! But I do have one suggestion for civilians. As a public school teacher, I considered myself a public servant, like cops, firemen, food service workers and other “heroes” who are willing to do difficult, thankless, vital jobs for very little pay and not much more than the scorn of their fellow citizens. Thus, the door of my classroom was always open to parents, administrators, politicians, journalists and passers-by. But I waited in vain for company, for visitors were scarce. All the jibber jabber about public education these days seems to be based solely on idle speculation, memories of a Golden Age and the bilge that the LA Times publishes in lieu of objective journalism. So please stop by a classroom sometime. You might be surprised. And you’re paying for it.

Teaching ate me alive – Salon.com

The teaching profession is an endangered species. A learned and difficult profession is under attack with the apparent intent of reducing its pay to something akin to a hamburger flipper. The ideas of the “reformers” seem to consist not of putting money into public schools but removing teacher  protections. Teachers are now portrayed in popular movies and “reformer” financed documentaries as evil or incompetent obstacles to educational success. Teaching is an institution laboring under the ridiculous burden of No Child Left Behind, a barrage of often bizarre state mandated rules and governed by administrators who at times seem to be focused on driving out every vestige of independence and enthusiasm. We destroy the teaching profession at our peril. It is an institution that has served this country well.

Make no mistake. The public school teaching crisis will have real casualties not just among the faculty. Without teacher opposition, school boards will have much more power to create rules and policies without interference.* They are the main line of defense against the threat of privatization, a pet project of a good number of billionaires and largely a failure at improving test scores.** But the simplest and clearest danger is that many teachers will leave the profession. After all, in a nation that believes “you get what you pay for,” many have decided teaching is worth but little.

James Pilant

*Don’t take my word that school boards do strange things. Run  a simple search, school board controversy, and then have fun wading through the entries.

 

**     http://www.shankerinstitute.org/publications/charterreview/

Policy Brief: The Evidence on Charter Schools and Test Scores

The Ethics Sage Addresses Youthful Cybercrime – Hacking and Online Bullying

Cyber ethics education – Ethics Sage

I feel strongly that cyber ethics education is a must. Students tend to react more positively to discussing right and wrong behavior when they are personally invested. After all, it is difficult to discuss with youngsters the ethics of some Congressional representative; they can’t relate; they have no frame of reference. However, using computers to steal information or bully others is front and center in their consciousness.

Dr. Marvin Berkowitz of St. Louis University conducted an analysis of the behavioral development factors that must be considered in searching for an optimal age range for instruction of cyber ethics. Dr. Berkowitz concluded that the 9-12 ages was a “very reasonable” age to target for a first time strategy of cyber ethics instruction. Several factors led to this conclusion. This age range is considered a “gateway” age and has been used by other groups to begin message delivery; e.g. substance abuse and sex education. Absent hard data on the age at which children actually begin to go on line, we can generally assume that by age 13 children have routine access to the Internet. The 9-12 ages is also the point in development where children begin to understand abstract values, for example, privacy rights, and can begin to evaluate the consequences of their actions. It is important to be able to think abstractly, particularly when working in a medium that is routinely described as “virtual.”

Cyber ethics education – Ethics Sage

 

I also feel strongly about this issue. Ethics training should begin in the schools as early as possible and the article is absolutely correct. Dealing with real current issues is completely superior to hypothetical scenarios.What is happening in your life now is almost always more important and more relevant then what might happen. Hacking and cyberbullying, also referred to as cybercrime, are gateway crimes. I believe they can lead to more serious crimes because they make unethical behavior more acceptable and more routine.

I believe that we strengthen our ethics and moral stance by our choices in our life experiences. You can choose to limit television viewing to programs that have strong themes of morality and justice. You can choose motions pictures based on whether or not the film conveys messages of kindness and healing as opposed to wanton killing and theft. You can choose to surround yourself with art, culture and literature choosing to become a fuller and better human being instead of relying on consumerism to make you content in the narrow sense.

Ethics is not just a class in college. It is a lifetime pursuit of the what Greeks called the “good life.” The earlier we begin ethical training and the more relevant it is, the better to begin that internal conversation that builds judgment and wisdom.

There is no doubt in my mind that this society at this time in history needs more judgment and wisdom. We are in the midst of an ethics crisis. The great financial institutions of this country have engaged in trickery and deceit on a massive scaled as well as engaging in the most reckless kind of speculation with other peoples’ money.

Concentrated around Washington and its environs, is a relatively small number of opinion leaders known as “very serious people” or the Washington Elite or the “villagers.” They believe that standardized tests solve educational problems, that cutting the benefits that feed the helpless and keep the elderly out of poverty have to be cut in a time of economic recession and high unemployment. They seem to have no idea how the great mass of Americans live and little curiosity about them. We live in the richest nation on earth and we are unable to maintain our infrastructure or feed the poor. This is immoral. Exalting greed is immoral. Evading taxes by moving money overseas is immoral and unpatriotic. Making corporations already profitable even richer by tax breaks is immoral.

We should start moral education early and if we do so, we see real effects with a little luck in our lifetimes. It is obvious that there has been failures in the moral teaching delivered to this generation.

Let us build a new consensus that “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it”

James Pilant

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What Do Our College Students Learn?

What Do Our College Students Learn?

I wrote a three part series (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) on the latest study showing that college students are not learning critical thinking skills. I pointed out that the study was another in a series of little publicized media events. In truth, the public, the colleges and the business world have little desire for critical thinking.

But what do students learn in college?

A faculty member once had a class of students who were not wealthy, not even close. Not all of the students in his class were able to afford textbooks. So, given a choice of textbooks for the next year’s class, he chose one that cost about seventy dollars. The next year, all of his students had the textbook. The very next semester the price of the textbook rose to one hundred and ten dollars. And then two more years slid by and it went up to one hundred and fifty dollars.

This is not an unusual situation with textbook prices. It is, in fact, the common, everyday experience of teachers and students in colleges and universities all over the United States.

Students may not be learning as much critical thinking as some would like, they may not get that much cultural literacy, and they may have only the vaguest concept of the term “civic duty”, but they do know about pricing. I get it in class essays, “You charge as much as you can get.” To them, it is an ethical rule – You must pursue the highest return possible under any circumstance. The students don’t know any other rule. The deeper philosophical concepts of just price and two thousand years of contrary philosophy are not factors here.

I believe I am a good teacher but there is no amount of teaching skill that can equal the cutting edge of another textbook price increase every year. They may not grasp the “statute of frauds” in my business law class but they understand the phrase, “what the market will bear” with perfect clarity.

What are we teaching our students?  Is there any lesson more naked about the nature of the American idea of free enterprise than what students endure each year at the bookstore?

James Pilant

 

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