By Autumn Palen
A few days ago, standing across the kitchen island from my roommate, we discussed what our TED Talks would be, were we given the chance to have one. I talked about potentially studying the correlation between old parents and nerdy kids. Hers was much better. She had one in mind right off the bat, apparently having already pondered over it for quite a while.
My roommate works as a volunteer teacher throughout the week, helping 2nd and 3rd graders learn the fundamentals of science and math. Her TED Talk, as she had intricately sketched out in her mind, would focus on the inadequacies of the educational system. She had particularly noticed that many teachers of scientific subjects — Chemistry, Physics, Biology — teach facts, figures, and solutions, but not how to arrive at these conclusions. This method of teaching is all fine and good for passing quizzes and tests, but is detrimental to the future individual development of knowledge in these fields. Students know what the answers are because they’ve memorized them, but many may be incapable of finding the answer on their own, or knowing why the answer is found in a particular way.
You give a man a fish, and he’ll be fed for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll be fed for a lifetime. This is an old adage, saying that instant gratification is all fine and good (and gratifying), but the apprehension of a skill, while more difficult, pays off into the foreseeable future.
Continue reading Teaching Men To Fish (Metaphorically): Pondering the Educational System
By Megan Wong
Heavy torrential rain poured down on us as the children ran around their school playground, which consisted of three mangled tires placed sparingly across the uneven field. As they skidded down what had become a mud slide, they hauled us along, all the while screaming with glee. All of a sudden, a tiny girl came leaping towards me, enveloping me in a hug; Sam and I had become fast friends on our first day at the school. Gesturing for me to follow, she grabbed my hand, laughing as we ran into the gathering room to dry off. Around me, I saw my classmates engaged in the same process, playing with the children they had formed connections with, while cleaning themselves up. Laughter and friendship were in the muggy air. I had never laughed, or smiled as much in a place than I had during that trip, especially fitting seeing as we were in the ‘land of smiles’. Looking around, I was in disbelief that we were already halfway through our trip.
Continue reading What a little girl in Cambodia showed me about the harsh reality of volunteer trips
By Sam Newman
Growing up in a small suburb in the middle of Long Island, New York, I was a kid that loved to get involved in the community. Whether it was through a program at the local library, helping the elderly learn how to send an email, or volunteer work at my elementary school, helping the kindergartners do a science experiment with marshmallows and toothpicks, I loved the inspiration I received when helping others. Therefore, upon arriving at the University of Southern California, I found it imperative to discover a service niche in which I could participate. Luckily, the opportunities for volunteer work at USC are limitless.
One day after class (it was a Monday I believe), I walked up the steps of the awkwardly placed house at the end of Trousdale and gingerly watched my head as I stepped under the “JEP Sign-Up Now!” banner. Earlier that week, I had learned about the Joint Educational Project, and their mission to have USC students assist and tutor in the classrooms of local schools around the USC area, schools that are typically made up of kids from low income and struggling families. A few weeks later, I was kneeling down at the world’s tiniest table in Mrs. Oldaker’s kindergarten class at the 32nd Street School, trying to sound out the word “dog” to a cute little girl with pigtails. “D-aw D-aw D-aw,” I said trying to make a “D” sound. The young girl understood and scribbled the letter “D” onto her paper. The next two letters provided more of a challenge. “Aw-G Aw-G Aw-G,” I said, recognizing that the letter “O” did not sound like itself in this scenario and that the odds of her figuring that out were slim to none. Mrs. Oldaker approached and reassured me that the young students did not need to get it right every time, just as long as they were practicing the letters of alphabet and getting used to the sounds. To be honest, I don’t know how Mrs. Oldaker has been teaching kindergarten for 24 years (25 next September she consistently reminded me). It is hard work!
Continue reading How JEP Created A Home Away From Home