The Human quest for knowledge.

1 12 2011

A question that I found online one day was “How do we as humans, know we’ve made progress in our quest for knowledge”. Now I’ve taken sociology classes and I even took a class on the ideas of knowledge in high school, but it wasn’t til I started doing my research that I got an answer. Knowledge is defined as the fact or condition of being aware of something. By that token, people search for knowledge based on what they know, rather than what they can learn and regardless of what they know is true. Our quest for knowledge keeps us on edge continuing to gain more and more, attempting to progress every day by adding to what we know. We recognize we have made progress in the quest for knowledge when we can prove what the world knows as a “fact” wrong, and when others have concluded by their own research that our conclusion is correct.

An idea in history was the idea of the flat Earth during the Middle Ages. Although there was never a period where nearly everyone in the earth’s population believed this idea, the general public in many places did. Most people who believed in this flat Earth also believed that ships would fall off the edge of the Earth if traveled too far. Among this general public were everyday commoners in the Middle Ages rather than educated professionals. Most educated people in the Middle Ages had the ability to reason which caused their perception of the earth to be different than others. Ideas of a round earth are also seen in a quote from the bible, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the Earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The ideas of those who were more educated than everyday commoners gave them the ability to develop theories about the Earth being round such as the reference to the bible. Their levels of education also gave them the ability of persuasion and to coax others into following their beliefs. This belief of a spherical Earth was also later proven by Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition around the Earth in 1519-1522. This proves a progression in the search for knowledge because evidence is shown which helps the human race come to an ultimate conclusion about a fact.

The area of mathematics can also be seen as a progression in the search for knowledge because it is an everlasting fountain that continues to grow and grow. Looking back to Ancient history with the Babylonians, the first evidence of written mathematics is seen as they practiced basic math on clay tablets such as addition, subtraction, multiplication as well as division. The most fascinating and important thing about mathematics is that the ideas of mathematicians from anywhere in the world were always widely accepted because the ideas of math started with the four basic math applications. As time continued to progress, so did these foundations. The ideas of mathematics helped the Egyptians to develop a decimal system and the astronomical calendar. It continued to grow with the eventual development of linear equations by the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and the development of quadratic equations by the Berlin Papyrus. Eventually the use of variables developed and so on. The applications of math were excepted world wide and with every new mathematical idea was a use for that idea.

Mathematical uses in history grew as math grew. Greeks heavily depended on math in the Hellenistic period when it came to construction. Their application of geometry was a major aid in the developments of Greek monuments such as theParthenonTempleand the temples of Athena andDelphi. Indian settlers also applied the technique of geometry when it came to building their towns. They also developed the mathematical ideas of differential calculus, differential coefficient and the derivative. Overall when it comes to math, the ideas are endless. All math was developed for a purpose. A progression of knowledge is seen in the area of math because its endless possibilities and its progression over thousands of years that are still being taught to students today, and because it is a universal language all across the world. The area of math can be taught everywhere because it is universal. Our use of math continues to help us more and more in our progression for the search of knowledge. Math can never be tamed because it only grows and is one of the single most powerful uses in the world.

Overall we see that the progression in the search for knowledge continues everyday as evidence is shown to the world that reveals an undeniable truth. The world progresses in the search for knowledge in many different ways. Many times this knowledge stays within the institution of that specific country, state, town or city when it comes to ideas that could be more harmful to the country than helpful. When it comes to universal ideas such as mathematics, I see a certain unity among people because of math’s everlasting growth.

African American Retention Rates

16 11 2011

I figured I’d continue with my themes of graduation and retention rates by discussing something that could have an effect on me personally. African American graduation and retention rates are a problem within the black community and how the problem could be fixed especially among black students that do not attend predominately black colleges.

Family support of the student is the first and foremost important factor to the graduation and retention rates of African American students. Family support in all aspects of a student’s life whether morally, financially, or religiously can have an affect on the success of a student because the support of the student’s family begins from birth. Newborn babies spend the first few months of their lives with their immediate family. Education comes from the parents first and the immediate family is a newborn baby’s only teacher until school begins. Much like any other race, African American students require continual family support from birth to college years to succeed in their education. As a minority, African Americans may keep up with the moral and religious implications of preventing retention rates of their students, but financially minorities such as African Americans are least likely to fund college educations. The lack of financial support from parents of minority could possibly change a student’s ability to be able to afford college.

While there are significantly more college scholarships targeted towards African Americans today inAmerica, it is possible for a student to loose their scholarship based on their grades. This along with the black parents being unlikely to fully pay for their child’s education results in the student dropping out of school. Many scholarships are targeted towards those who are the first in their families to go to college. In past generations inAmerica, college was not the only option for success after finishing high school. It was possible for people to join the workforce and still live comfortable lives for their families. For first generation students going to college, the past generations of the student’s family lack the ability to relate to what it’s like to be in college. This makes it difficult for parents to encourage their students to do better in school by relating to them, because the parents themselves did not continue their education. Being a first generation college student is common for African American students today, possibly resulting in the lack of parental warning of how to have a fun and successful college experience. Opposing theories say that it is healthy for first generation college minority students to break away from their families and hometowns to successfully mesh with their college surroundings, especially in predominately white institutions. A study conducted by Douglas Guiffrida in 2005 showed that low achieving and college dropouts noted a lack of family support both financially and emotionally especially in minorities. Guiffrida continues to show in his results that successful college students and college graduates had families that were supportive of their student’s ambitions and made effort to understand their student’s college surroundings to further encourage the student to strive for success. The study also showed that the support of hometown friends as well as a their academic achievement was necessary for the success of black students to succeed in college. Students who lack personal goals such as graduating from college fail to complete their education. The mindset of the individual is crucial to their academic success. College can be seen as a world of opportunities for many black students, however college can also be seen as a party. College is a major transition from a child who is dependent on their parents, to an independent adult. If the student abuses their freedom, they are less likely to graduate from college, because a healthy transition from home is necessary for a successful college student especially among black students as noted by Guiffrida.

The college itself and the campus support has a significant affect on the retention and graduation rates of black students. Black students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities are better equipped to graduating over black students attending colleges that are culturally different from them, because the HBCU’s provide a more nurturing environment for black students to compete with each other, rather than predominately white colleges where the minority black students are less nurtured and less attention is paid to their needs as a minority student attempting to fit into the campus both socially and academically. The percentage of black students who graduate from a HBCU is significantly higher than the 40% of college students graduating from a predominately white institution because or the college faculty and the social similarities.

Overall, the percentage of African Americans with a college degree in 1940 was 1.9%, in comparison to the percentage of African Americans with a college degree in 2009 which was 19.4%. While the statistic has significantly grown over the past sixty years, there is more to be done to further increase the percentage of black college graduates within culturally diverse colleges. Black students in culturally mixed colleges need both academic and social nurturing to successfully complete their college educations. They also need the academic ambition and the family and hometown support to do well in college. In the attempts to lower the retention rates of black students and raise the graduation rates of the minority, one question always arises in the case: Is what we’re doing enough?

Should America Privatize Education?

17 10 2011

Lately in the blogosphere, I’ve been reading about a topic that many parents struggle with; the battle between private or public education. Earlier in the year I found a blog about Republicans wanting to privatize education. This makes us question the validity of the American Public School System in comparison to private education in America. We now question the success of students in our system. Education is the basis for future educators, scientist, doctors, lawyers, astronauts and so on. Education all over the world is the foundation for success. Merriam Webster defines the word “success” as the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence. Many questions arise with this definition. Does the type of education determine a person’s success in the future? Have the standards of private schools lead to more success in life after high school as opposed to the standards of public school? Many families ponder over this and (if the funds allow) they usually decide on the private school setting because of the curriculum and the seemingly attentiveness of the students. Research shows that private schools are held to a far higher standard than they should be because they are independent and are for the most part funded by the parents of that school. It is proven to be thru that rather than the school it is the student that determines the success. Knowledge is given to the student in any educational setting and whether or not they retain it is key. The people the student surrounds himself/herself with also is a factor in the success of their future rather than the setting of the school. Many people have taken this into account when determining to enroll in private schools.

Students everywhere are taught differently, in turn they also learn differently. Many private schools are founded off the basis of more than education. Religious freedom and parochial education take part when it comes to education in many private schools in America, thus possibly altering what is being taught to the students and teaching the student other than the non-religious based teachings of a public school teacher. For example a student transferring from a public school to a Christian private school could possibly be told that everything he learned in Biology class and History class is wrong and that the non-religious teachings are not the true. The student would be re-taught everything he has learned, but he would be taught in favor of Christianity. This may lead also into deeper discussions in the private school setting such as “the balance between religions and science” or “how does religion and science coexist in a Christian or scientific setting”. So while it is impossible for students graduating from these schools to possibly not be able to go into a field of science without knowledge of a non-religious based science. Though the lack of scientific thought does occur in few private schools, many religious private schools around the nation prefer to adhere to teaching their students the both science and religion with respect to both subjects.

Public schools in America are seen as an outlet for cultural diversity. Students do not go to public schools based on religion and beliefs and culture, but primarily by residence. The cultural diversity in many public schools enables the student to be able to work with a diversified group of people in the real world. Whereas typically undiversified private schools disable the student from understanding cultural perspective and appreciation for a vast variety of races. Rather they tend to have greater numbers of one specific race and few others in that school. This also limits the future of a private school student because of the student not understanding the history and the religious and cultural practices of other races through a vast firsthand experience from the people themselves. Their cliquish ways disable them from seeing varieties of people and it limits their social skills with races other than their own. People generally assume that private education is better because you pay for it, but public students gain real life experiences and they are a common reflection of the demographics in our American society.

The Journalist Perspective: What is it?

15 09 2011

Today we have reached an age where the journalist perspective has changed. The internet continues to grow and develop beyond our means and we go to the web faster as a means of our information. Anything we would need to know currently comes to us on the internet at our discretion of what we would like to read, but does the internet blur the lines of the journalist perspective? As times have clearly changed over the decades of the sources of mew being the radio, then the television, the knowledge people received was forced upon them by having to listen to all news instead of what they wanted to know. Today we are deprived of knowing what we need to know and the internet and the growing communication world has developed to where people are only getting news that they want to know about.

A recent article from Jeff Jarvis on Buzzmachine questions the vast use of the internet from sources such as Wikileaks, as well as people such as Michael Arrington who started TechCrunch not as a site for news and journalist features about technology, but rather, as a means to share information about the tech world and to build himself as an investor and grow his market. Arrington’s means of marketing and growing his network in 2005, grew to presenting journalist features and covers features about all technological news. To this day, Arrington continues to reject the title of a journalist, but rather a “gatherer of information” to justify his reason for TechCrunch. The site has become so prevalent in the news world that many TechCrunch posts are used in the Washington Post regularly. If Arrington refutes the title of “journalist,” then what defines Journalism in today’s society. As stated in the Article, “journalism helps a community organize its knowledge so it can better organize itself.” Sites like TechCrunch fit the mold of a journalist website by this broad definition of helping a community organize  knowledge to organize itself? So now we’ll try another definition, The article written in Buzzmachine continues to quote Dave Winer, an American software developer from New York who happens to be an avid blogger, who says “Journalism itself is becoming obsolete.” This brings to mind the question of whether the meaning of journalism has diminished because of the growing definition of the profession as well as the means of getting information, such as the internet which opens readers to less than accurate information such as blogs rather than news sources and media like newspapers that strive for accurate information.

The definition of journalism used earlier also opens the journalist perspective to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. The rapid updates and outputs of statuses on these sites can sometimes be the first source of a breaking news story or a current event, which gives the users information and knowledge that they can go on such as the news, but like many blogs these sources are not always reliable. Twitter has become known for “killing off” famous celebrities as celebrities such as Jackie Chan and Bill Cosby have been subject to these Twitter deaths. Tweets will arise stating RIP Bill Cosby, and some will choose to accept the information and run with it as truth. This is where REAL JOURNALISM differs from what we see on social media sites and blogs…..truth. News companies like the New York times and the Wall Street Journal look for truth to present in articles to their readers to maintain order and help their communities organize knowledge to organize themselves. These news sources give us the closest truth of news because they investigate fact on topics, and that’s REAL JOURNALISM. The competition they face from social networking sites makes news sources tag along to engage in the Social networking world as both Facebook and Twitter send traffic news sites which is shown in a recent Poynter article by Jeff Sonderman.

Overall, Journalism today comes down to truth. While our means of getting information grows and more and more people continue to believe the definition of journalism is diminishing, the truth in real news always follows the definition of helping a community organize  knowledge to organize itself.


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15 09 2011

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