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Three Personal Essays on Teaching

I wrote these three essays over the past few days for my Intro to Teaching course. I’ve decided not to go into the education field (I would like to do something with computers instead), but enjoyed writing these essays on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my philosophy of education, and creating a positive learning environment in schools.

Professor John Connor, Student Richard X. Thripp
Course EDF 1005 Spring 2011, DSC, 2011 April 25

Three Personal Essays (15%) (Introduction to Teaching 3rd edition, Kauchak/Eggen)

6.) What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Why should teachers know Maslow’s theory? What are the implications for good teaching?

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a categorization of the needs which Maslow considers most basic to humanity to most abstract, organized into five categories, which are, from most basic to most complex, physiological needs, safety, needs of love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The physiological level includes needs that will result in quick death if not met, i.e. inhalation of oxygen, ingestion of food and water, and excretion thereof. This level also includes sleep, sex, and homeostasis. The safety level includes security of life, family, liberty, and property; the love/belonging level includes friendship, family, and sexual intimacy; the esteem level consists of self-esteem, confidence and achievement, and bidirectional respect; and finally, the self-actualization level involves morality, creativity, spontaneity, the search for truth, just behavior, and problem-solving. Like a pyramid, all the levels build on each other and the higher levels rely on the lower levels. Maslow has an optimistic view of humanity and says that once a human’s deficiency needs (D-needs) are met, he/she can focus on B-needs (being needs), which could be the high-level pursuit of personal growth. By this definition, people in third-world countries may have a hard time reaching the self-actualization level, by no fault of their own. In the Farther Reaches of Human Nature (New York, 1971), Maslow also writes of a higher level of self-transcendence which is above the other levels but may be experienced by people at any of the lower levels.

Teachers should know about Maslow’s theory and read some of his writing about it because it serves as a useful explanation of humanity and human achievement. In questioning moments, teachers should remember that whatever they teach their students now will be carried on through the rest of K-12, onto college, and into the rest of their students’ lives, so they have a definite and meaningful impact on the future of the world and can carry themselves as such.

Some of Maslow’s comments have direct implications for good teaching [1], such as “be authentic,” “transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens,” “learn their inner nature,” and “transcend trifling problems.” Maslow also encourages us to “grapple with serious problems such as injustice, pain, suffering, and death,” rather than glossing over them or leaving them to the children’s parents to teach. In this way, students will see school as a holistic explanation for the meaning of life rather than pigeon-holing it as something boring or pointless.

Both Carol Rogers and Abraham Maslow “advocate a learner-centered and nondirect approach to education,” including empathy, unconditional caring, and role-swapping, allowing the students to be teachers and the teachers to be students at times (Kauchak and Eggen 193). Learning communities are important, where teachers and students collaborate to accomplish learning goals, contrasted with the traditional teacher who tells the students what to do rather than showing them. For this end, technology should be integrated, as well as multi-sensory lesson plans, projections, auditory and visual instruction, frequent changes of periods, recess, physical education, and manipulatives such as plastic cubes, squares, circles, spheres, triangles, and pyramids for geometric and other mathematical concepts (253). These interactive lessons will keep students engage, encouraging them to move up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs quicker.

Citation 1:

5.) How would you describe your own philosophy of education?

First off, it’s difficult to define my philosophy of education concretely since I haven’t done any teaching yet, but I do have some ideas from being the Supplemental Instruction Leader at Daytona State College for Survey of Biology in fall 2009 and a math tutor at the Academic Support Center for four weeks in spring 2011. I observed many types of students in these brief work-study positions. Some would want an answer to a specific part of one problem and then would work out the rest of the problem on their own. Others might seem to be completely lost but would then join in when I explained the solution to a problem, for example, factoring a quadratic equation or labeling the organelles and non-membrane bound structures of a cell. Some students would want me to do their homework for them, and others would not ask for help even when they really needed it. But there were always students who needed help.

In all classrooms and learning environments, it’s vital that an atmosphere of friendliness and non-judgment is maintained. I wouldn’t want any student to feel stupid for asking a “dumb” question, or bullied for showing too much spark or initiative compared to his or her peers. In the words of John Lennon, “they hurt you at home and they hit you at school, [and] they hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool” (from the song, “Working Class Hero”). Down-trodden students would likely be a result of institutional issues, and I have a feeling such problems would be more present in middle and high school than elementary school, and in large, inner-city schools rather than small schools. Either way, the teacher is in charge of the classroom, so the tone of the classroom must be set from the top down (by the teacher) rather than by the grassroots (the students). This is why it’s so important to foster a nurturing, cooperative, and collaborative learning environment, where the students love coming to class.

As a teacher, it’s very important to be able to define and articulate the reasons behind all activities and lesson plans chosen in class, because “[doing] activities simply because the activities are next in the text or curriculum guide sequence or because [you] did the activities last year . . . are inadequate and unprofessional reasons” (Kauchak and Eggen 204). Defining a clear educational philosophy is essential because it gives you a philosophical framework that you can make simple or radical changes to down the line, instead of making random or case-by-case decisions that muddle your professional growth.

For my educational philosophy, I would like to teach beyond the curriculum, because I think that students want to learn something more advanced or different than their peers in other classes, and that they would be generally interested in school if the lessons were more animated and displayed multiple ways to do things rather than showing one way. For example, I would want to teach the Cartesian coordinate system in elementary school, talk more about Nikola Tesla than Thomas Edison, examine the evidence of the moon landings being faked, bring in college students to lecture elementary students on the benefits of staying in school, teach music in class, not evangelize Abraham Lincoln (The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War is a good book about that), and teach about foreign languages, religions, space aliens, computer science, fiat money, and several key corporations such as Monsanto, Halliburton, Pfizer, and Chevron. I would also like my students to be divided into groups of 4-5 and take tests as a group like the sociological exams in the DSC Quanta learning community, and all homework would be done in class so there would be no homework.

However, in reality I would be bound to the curriculum and obliged to teach to the exams and not much beyond that, be them district writing tests, the FCAT, math, social studies, and whatever else is on the agenda. Thus, my philosophy of education would evolve organically.

7.) According to your reading, what can teachers do to create a positive learning environment? What special steps can teachers take to promote safe and productive classrooms?

One way teachers can create a positive classroom environment is by modeling their classrooms after learning communities rather than teacher-focused instruction. Learning communities are characterized by inclusiveness, respect for others, safety and security, and trust and connectedness (Kauchak and Eggen 343-344). Productive schools should be focused on learning, because this focus simplifies decision-making and serves as a guide in all policies (342). For example, respect and personal responsibility should be emphasized because they aid student development, including personality, morality, and socialization, which in turn helps students to learn. Students who are personally developed are able to learn new material and complete assignments even when there is no immediate reward, because they trust that there is a purpose behind school and they value the learning process. Getting students to write biographies about themselves is one good way to help students understand who they are.

The School District of Palm Beach County’s Division of Safety & Learning Environment attempts to establish safe schools through a variety of initiatives including a “single school culture” setting shared standards for academics, behavior, educational climate, and distribution of data, learning teams, classroom management training, a district-wide coding system for discipline, expulsion of bad students, in-house assistance for behavioral issues, case managers to dissolve and prevent the formation of gangs, “safe school” ambassadors, “RTI” response-to-interventionism, and peer mediation of conflicts [2]. Palm Beach County, Florida schools also have initiatives to prevent teen prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse, prepare students for college, promote learning efficacy, and protect students from bullying and intervene in alleged cases of bullying, including collaboration with the Kids Against Bullying national program, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the Compass program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender support and awareness, including HIV/AIDS prevention and case management. While Palm Beach County is much larger than Volusia County and it may seem that such programs do not have an impact at the teacher-level, teacher awareness of such programs will encourage them to refer distressed students to case workers or supportive departments, and if those departments do not exist in a teacher’s school district, knowledge of their existence in other school districts will help teachers make suggestions to administrators or committees on what direction the school should take.

To develop self-awareness, motivation to learn, and social skills, students need a positive and non-threatening classroom climate free of embarrassment and ridicule (Kauchak and Eggen 346). Two good ways to promote this are by putting attractive, inspirational, educational pictures and diagrams on the walls of the classroom, and labeling all objects in English and Spanish, and/or other languages that the teacher’s students speak natively. The teacher should establish clear expectations of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, such as encouraging students to say “yes” instead of “yeah,” prohibiting text messaging in class, establishing time for conversation and time for lecture or quiet learning, and not permitting students to be rude or destructively critical of each other. Furthermore, the teacher should be caring, motivated, positive, enthusiastic, and dedicated to his or her students, not because these traits are listed in a textbook, but because the the teacher is genuinely concerned about his/her students. Finally, it is very important for the teacher to learn the names of all his/her students and address them by their names (first or last) rather than “you there in the blue shirt” or by pointing at them.

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PDF version of these three essays (6 pages, 86KB)

Education Psychology Podcast Summaries

Below are five summaries of podcasts by Dr. Anita Woolfolk on Education Psychology I wrote today for a class I am taking in the same subject.

Educational psychology is a very prevalent and helpful field in today’s society. It can be the cornerstone of understanding the rationale and mindset of students within an educational system. A degree in educational psychology and a masters in educational technology can complement each other in the classroom.

Podcast Summary 1 (3%): Podcast #1 – The Importance of Teachers

According to Ms. Anita, “Teacher involvement and caring is the most significant predictor of student engagement in school,” at all grade levels, because as Abraham Maslow noted, people need to belong and feel safe, so supportive teachers give higher self-esteem, more motivation, less chance of dropping out, and help facilitate a better understanding of the course materials, lifelong learning, and understanding, trust, and respect at all levels, even when having to discipline students for misbehavior, missed days, or not turning in assignments on time.

A study that followed students from 3rd grade through 5th grade found that the average mathematics achievement score from students who had the most effective teachers through all three grades was in the 96th percentile, which is to say it was in the top 4%. Students who had the least effective teachers through all three grades were in the 44th percentile, which is to say they were below 56% of the other students. Teachers are the most important influence on students in the classroom.

Podcast Summary 2 (3%): Podcast #3 – No Child Left Behind

According to Ms. Anita Woolfolk, while states have some say in defining standards for adequate yearly progress (AYP), test scores, and proficiency among students, all schools must reach proficiency at the end of each school year by 2014, because of the federal No Child Left Behind act. If a school fails to do this for several years in a row, severe sanctions will be taken against in it which may even involve it being shut down and all the students and teachers being sent elsewhere or laid off.

However, if American students improved in 4th grade math at the same rate they did from 1990 to 2000, it would take about 57 years for them to reach 100% proficiency, and for 12th grade math, it would take 166 years. Another problem is that the tests are starting to define the curriculum, and schools that are shut down often bring down the test scores of other schools when their students are transferred there. However, the NCLB act has positive results, such as encouraging more qualifications and knowledge for teachers and giving special attention to students who are struggling on standardized tests. For all teachers, it is important to teach for both knowledge and understanding.

Podcast Summary 3 (3%): Podcast #5 – Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is not just another word for punishment. Anything that causes a behavior to maintain or increase is a reinforcer. When a child keeps whining, we can assume there is a reinforcer that is encouraging that child to continue that behavior. Strictly speaking, there are two ways to encourage a behavior: adding something (positive), or taking something away (negative).

If you wear a shirt and get compliments, you may wear that shirt more often and the compliments are the positive reinforcer. Reading a textbook may have the positive of higher test scores. Conversely, when you put on your seatbelt and your car’s buzzer goes off, that is negative reinforcement, because you put on the belt to make something go away, be negated, and be removed. Getting sick is a behavior, and missing an unwanted class is a negative reinforcer.

You can decrease a behavior by adding something unpleasant, like running laps, or taking something pleasant away, like watching TV. Positive reinforcement is based on addition, and negative reinforcement is based on negation or removal.

Podcast Summary 4 (3%): Podcast #10 – Procrastination

Procrastination is putting off something you should be doing by an excuse such as “I’m tired” or “I’m too busy” or any other unreasonable reason. It is very prevalent among college students and can be characterized by students waiting until the last minute to do assignments. One study finds that some students spend up to one-third of the day (five hours) procrastinating, putting off school-work to watch TV, play games, surf the Internet, or text message.

Some students pretend they work better under pressure, and others worry about being perfect and never get started on assignments. Others enter a spiral of depression by not giving themselves enough time on an assignment because they put it off, resulting in poor performance. Ideas for avoiding procrastination include modeling, social persuasion, outlines, and chunking.

An example of chunking is working ten minutes solidly, then taking a two minute break, and then working ten minutes again results in fifty minutes of solid work at the end of an hour. This is a much better strategy than procrastinating thirty minutes and then performing thirty minutes of rushed work. The key is making a plan for projects you have been avoiding and then consistently following through, moment by moment and day by day, throughout your life.

Podcast Summary 5 (3%): Podcast #15 – The Brain and Education

New brain scan technologies have revealed that neurons of the brain send out branches that reach out to connect to other branches of the brain’s cells that get close to each other without touching, creating synapses through which impulses pass. Each brain contains trillions of synapses, because each neuron contains thousands of branches and there are billions of neurons in each brain.

Children have many more synapses then they’ll ever need, and many more than adults have. Unused synapses and neuron pathways die off, while those that fire over and over become more efficient and more easily accessed. “Cells that fire together wire together,” meaning the brain is physiologically changed by learning. One study found an area of the hippocampus in the brain is larger in taxi drivers who have driven longest. Another finds that musicians have an automatic response to sheet music in preparation for reading notes. Blind children use their visual centers for processing sounds, and deaf children use their hearing centers for processing visuals.

It is important to use different areas of the brain and different talents and interests so that if any of areas of your memory are blocked, you can still unlock your skills and memories with other cues. Teachers should use multi-sensory lessons including talking, audio, smart boards, drawing, writing, and visuals, if possible. This is called differentiated instruction.

Thoughts on the Psychology of Education

Below are five essays I wrote over the past few days for my Educational Psychology course at Daytona State College. All references to the textbook reference this book (PDF, 3MB, 365 pg.).

E-Journal 1 (4%): What is the role of educational psychology in understanding teaching and learning? How can we use research to understand and improve teaching?

Educational psychology is the study of how students learn and develop, so understanding it helps teachers adapt their lesson plans and teaching strategies to promote independent learning, cooperation, caring, collaboration, metacognition and psychological development, while demoting frustration, fears of helplessness, dependency, and apathy.

One example of a theory that may help with understanding learning is the chart on page 69 of our textbook (Golobuk & Fivush, 1994), which says that teachers often give praise to boys for correct knowledge and to girls for compliant behavior, overlook compliant behavior with incorrect knowledge in boys and misbehavior with correct knowledge in girls, and criticize misbehavior in boys and incorrect knowledge in girls. This means that teachers will often praise boys just for behaving, even when they are misinformed, whereas girls are praised for good behavior, with inappropriate behavior and the core lesson plan being overlooked. Knowing this, a new teacher or a veteran teacher can adapt his/her lesson plan to avoid such pitfalls, while being careful not to overcompensate in the opposite direction.

Research helps us to understand and improve teaching by giving us a deeper example of learning. For example, it has been shown that fluent bilingualism gives a definite cognitive advantage by allowing students to understand that languages assign words to objects or concepts which can be manipulated and changed (pg. 72). Therefore, teaching students English and Spanish or another language can help them write stories and essays with more depth and understand complex text materials more easily.

E-Journal 2 (4%): Describe, in detail, Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development.

Kohlberg divides moral development into three categories with two stages each, giving six stages in all (table 3.5, pg. 53). In the pre-conventional category, the stage of obedience and punishment is characterized by the egocentric belief that actions that are rewarded and not punished are good, and that superior power defines superior morality. For example, taking a cookie is good if it triggers praise from adults and bad if it triggers criticism. The subsequent stage is “market exchange,” where the child begins to show a limited interest in the needs of others, but only to further his/her own interests by securing their continued assistance. This is often morally relative, and an adolescent or adult who stays at this level may find it okay to pay others to do his/her homework or provide sexual favors to receive special treatment (pg. 54).

At the conventional level, the third stage is often called the “ethics of peer opinion,” where the individual views his/her peers’ arbitrary social conventions as indicators of morality. This can be good if the individual’s peers are all upstanding, but if they settle on bad practices such as bullying, dereliction, or shoplifting, an individual at this stage of peer opinion will go along with it. The subsequent stage is the “ethics of law and order,” where the individual looks at the community as a whole for guidance. This is a step up, but still not ideal.

The post-conventional level is divided into the stages of the ethics of the social contract and the ethics of self-chosen, universal principles. The former places an emphasis on democracy, even when the majority decides to be unfair to a minority. The latter is based on personally held principles which the individual applies to him or herself and the community, which may or may not agree with peers, customs, the law, or even the social contract.

E-Journal 3 (4%): According to your text, what does “intelligence” mean? How is intelligence measured? What should teachers know about intelligence? Have you ever known someone “really smart”? What were they like? Was everything “easy” for them?

Classical definitions of intelligence have tended toward defining it as a singular, broad-spectrum ability which allows an individual to solve complex problems and perform academic tasks more easily depending on the level of intelligence the person has (pg. 64, Educational Psychology global text). This idea is supported by research, but teachers should also know about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which proposes eight forms of intelligence that operate independently and explain why some people are gifted in one area and average in others. The eight intelligences are linguistic, musical, logical/mathematical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist, and each person has a combination of each. While many researchers criticize the theory for relying on anecdotes (pg. 66), it is still a useful tool for debate.

Intelligence is difficult or impossible to directly measure, but may be approximated using assignments, observation, constructive learning, aptitude tests, and “intelligence quotient” tests. Teachers should know that some students are gifted in certain areas and disadvantaged in others, and exceptional student education should always be a priority, even if it requires individualized instruction for certain students.

When I was in my Physics class at Daytona State College in fall 2008, there was a student who was 16 years old, barely studied or did homework, and usually had an intuitive understanding of all the concepts which allowed him to ace the exams. While everything seemed easy for him, he would also obsess over calculus derivations which barely seemed of interest to me.

E-Journal 4 (4%): Discuss Token Reinforcement Programs that apply to the classroom.

Token reinforcement involves giving recognition to children who perform well on assignments and demonstrate good behavior, usually through stars on assignments and occasional pieces of candy. Tokens that are slightly delayed may prove more effective than instant gratification, but tokens that are given too late may become disconnected with the positive achievement they are intended to reward (O’Leary). However, reinforcement can be misdirected for the wrong strategies, and the most dangerous type is a “partial schedule of reinforcement,” where the student generalizes simplified behavior to more complex problems based on what he or she was rewarded for before.

An example of overgeneralizing is when a student adds multiple two-digit numbers together by adding the digits, i.e. 13 + 19 = 1+1 and 3+9 = 212 instead of 32, because token reinforcement has led the student to abandon common sense (Edu. Psych. global text, pg. 87). This approach works when none of the summed digits exceed 9, but when they are 10 or above, borrowing and carrying over is required. From a behaviorist point of view, this is an example of thinking everything is a nail because you have a hammer—the same technique is being used to solve different problems, sometimes correctly and sometimes wrong. A broken clock is right twice a day, but the human tendency to mentally construct order from chaos makes this proclivity frustrating and discouraging unless both the student and instructor work together with neither giving empty flattery or dismissing the other as unteachable. One way to stay on track is to introduce a neutral third party which cannot be blamed, i.e. a computerized graphical or graphing calculator.

E-Journal 5 (4%): Does anxiety promote or inhibit learning? Should anxiety be used as a stimulus for learning?

Anxiety can promote or inhibit learning depending on the student, teacher, and how it is applied. Just like a knife or a pencil, it is a tool that can be used and abused but remains philosophically neutral. Some teachers may apply it to promote fear in students of being held back a grade, or of social ostracism, not succeeding in life, not learning vital knowledge, or some other cause, just as other teachers or the same teachers may apply it to promote competition and learning in students who wouldn’t normally be motivated to study. Other teachers may not use anxiety at all, and many students will create their own anxiety about tests (Edu. Psych. global text, pg. 211), which will cause them to become flushed or in a state of mental anguish while taking a test, which may negatively or positively affect their performance (but usually negatively).

Additionally, many institutions and institutionalized practices, such as the Florida FCAT test, and the SAT and ACT college entrance exams, are set up as high-stakes tests which single-handedly shape students’ futures. While it may be better to have a greater number of low-stakes tests which do not alone determine whether a student will be held back a grade or not get scholarships or admission to college, it is more convenient for the bureaucracy to have fewer, all-encompassing high-stakes tests, since this simplifies management and allows students and schools to be fit into neat little boxes based on their test scores or test averages. For some students, it creates a great deal of anxiety, but for other students, it may be a powerful motivator to study and learn, and students who do well on high-stakes tests may enter a positive-feedback loop where they associate test-taking with success. Similarly, other students may do poorly and enter a negative spiral, associating education with failure.

Spring 2008 Student Awards 35mm Scans

I took these 70 photos on April 16, 2008 at the awards ceremony at the (then) Daytona Beach College gym, for my Photography I class, using Kodak PX125 B&W 35mm film.

I saved these negatives for the past three years, and finally bought a good scanner to scan them. Sorry for the dust spots.

There are a lot of photos of ex-president Kent Sharples, administrators, and faculty in this archive.




An Analysis of the Culture of India [Essay]

An Analysis of the Culture of India

Richard X. Thripp

Daytona State College

For Dr. Natalie D. Rooney

EDF 2085 Introduction to Diversity for Educators

Culture Paper, 15%

Sunday, 2011 February 6

Final First Draft


The culture of India is very unique and goes back thousands of years. In this essay, I will focus only on modern India, particularly on Mohandus K. Gandhi’s influence on the formation of the 20th century Indian government and culture, but also on religion and language. However, I will be ignoring movies, music, and postsecondary education.

Additionally, I will list major American institutions, advice for Indian American parents and children immigrating to the United States, academic citations, and personal commentary.

Finally, I will include a lot of relevant metrics, subjective summarizations, and statistics.

Note: I did not use proper A.P.A. style or proper citations in this paper.

India has both a rich cultural history spanning multiple millenniums, and is the 2nd most populated country on earth with a population of 1,155 million (C1), trailing China’s population of 1,331 million but leading the 3rd most populated country on earth by a whopping 275% — the United States, which has 308 million people. (All statistics as of 2009.)

However, many people in India are very poor and under-nourished, lacking proper food, water, shelter, infrastructure, education, and job opportunities. Despite this, many world leaders and scientists hail from India, and extrapolating the previous 90 years over the remaining 90 years of the 21st century, it is safe to say that India and China will surpass the United States in planetary dominance. The Indian people are some of the most hard-working and resolved people in the world, much like the Americans were in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

On 1869 October 2, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbander in modern-day Gujarat, where his father served in the Indian government under the rule of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as of 1927 and commonly known as the U.K.), of which the Indian portion was called the British Indian Empire (commonly known as the British Raj). Gandhi married at 13, had a son at 19, and left for London to pursue a law degree several months later. After enrolling in the High Court of London in 1891, he dropped out and went back to India. (

After failing his law practice, Gandhi spent 22 years in South Africa, where he declared himself a seeker of truth attained by love and celibacy. He also invented the term satyagraha to mean non-violent resistance, and he wrote a short treatise called “Indian Home Rule” subtly denouncing the United Kingdom, industrialization, and contemporary technology in general.

Gandhi’s first political campaign in India spanned 1915 to 1922, when he earned the title of Mahatma meaning “Great Soul” for initiating a movement of peaceful, non-violent, non-cooperation with the British government, which wielded great power but inferior numbers. When a large crowd killed many Indian policemen at Chauri Chaura in the United Provinces in February of 1922, Gandhi was arrested, convicted of sedition, and sentenced to six years by the British Raj, despite delivering a powerful self-defense and indictment of Great Britain at his trial.

Gandhi was released three years early due to poor health, after fasting three weeks in 1924 to stop Hindu-Muslim riots at Kohat. In 1932, he began his Fast unto Death to destroy the caste system which prevented people of the untouchable caste from marrying, doing business with, or associating with anyone outside their caste, and vice-versa. He also wanted the government to do away with separate electorates for the untouchables and the other castes, which angered Ambedkar, the leader of the untouchables.

Before surviving his fast, Gandhi broke the salt laws in 1930, by marching to the sea with his followers from March 12 to April 5, and, upon completing the 240 mile march to Dandi, collecting natural salt from the Arabian Sea as a symbolic act of resistance to the British Raj—specifically, the British monopoly on the production and sale of salt. Britain arrested Gandhi and thousands of other Indians, but it was at this point that the government relented and agreed to hold a Round Table Conference in London with Gandhi to discuss liberating India. The negotiations led nowhere, and upon Gandhi’s return to India, he was arrested again.

Prior to the Salt Satyagraha, the Indian National Congress further angered Great Britain by raising their saffron-white-green tricolor flag and issuing the following Purna Swaraj (Declaration of Independence) at midnight on 1929 December 31:

We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence.”

In his mid-60s in the mid-1930s, Gandhi established homestead in a remote village called Segaon (now Sevagram) with no power or water in the very center of India, refusing to return to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad under a non-sovereign India. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Great Britain wanted to drag India into the war, but Gandhi correctly identified the hypocrisy in the U.K. claiming to fight a war for democracy while attempting to maintain dictatorial control over India. It was at this point that he launched his “Do or Die” and “Quit India” campaigns, the former being a message to the Indian people and the latter being a message to the British Empire, which ultimately succeeded with the Indian Independence Act of 1947, effective 1947 August 15. However, Gandhi considered himself a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, not considering divergent religions to be mutually exclusive and wanting India to remain unpartitioned. This did not succeed, and India was divided into the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan on 1947 August 14 (now Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the secular Union of India on 1947 August 15 (now the Republic of India), mainly to separate the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. Immediately following the partition, 7.226 million Muslims fled India into Pakistan and 7.249 Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan into India to avoid being religious minorities.

While there have been many skirmishes fought between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma (now known as Myanmar and in perpetual martial law since 1962), there can be no doubt that Mahatma Gandhi had a major influence on the liberation of India and was overall a positive force in the world and one of the principle contributors to modern Indian culture. His writing, newspapers, philosophy, demonstrations, and particularly his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and his quote, “be the change you want to see in the world” will be remembered for centuries to come.

The Volusia County statistics on FedStats only include Whites, Blacks, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, and Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin. There are no statistics for Indian Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau reported on July 1, 1999 that the State of Florida contains an estimated 60,358 people of American Indian and Alaska Native origin, but it is unclear if this includes Indian Americans. Both the United States and Florida governments provide no information with regard to Indian Americans, because they recognize only the aforementioned six races. Notably, searching Google for “Indian American” without quotation marks returns only results regarding American Indians (Native Americans) on the first page. However, the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. considers a Non-resident Indian (NRI) or Person of Indian Origin (PIO) to be anyone who has left India up to four generations removed. The Embassy says there are over 24 million such people, with 2,765,815 residing in the United States as of 2008.

A child immigrating from India would have to learn the English language and place a lesser focus on academics and memorization to thrive in the typical, interdisciplinary American classroom which includes recess, physical education, fewer students, mathematical calculators, and more artistic and creative assignments. While Indians and Asians are known for their strong work ethic and high intellectual intelligence, they may lack the emotional intelligence of their American peers. However, as with any skill, this can be learned or compensated for.

To accommodate Indian Americans, principals should hire more teachers who know Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Punjabi, and other widely-spoken Indian languages. Similarly, the federal or state governments should provide grants or matching funds to purchase computerized translation devices or hire interpreters for Indian American students. At the same time, Indian American parents should make a concerted effort to learn American English fluently so they can communicate multi-linguistically with their children.

Finally, Indian Americans should be educated about United States heritage and history including the Constitution, our founding fathers, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, our conquest of the central North American continent, Alaska, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, the atomic bomb, the September 11th attacks, the presidents, executive orders, the Supreme Court, Congress, the IRS, CIA, FBI, DHS, and TSA, state sovereignty, federal holidays, the U.S. Postal Service, baseball, apple pie, Puritanism, Protestantism and Catholicism as contrasted with Hinduism, Islam, and other religions in India, our relationship with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, OPEC, the European Union, and other governments, our status as a global economic and military power, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon, the Federal Reserve System, Harvard University, New York City, San Fransisco, Atlanta, Daytona Beach, the de-industrialization of the United States in the late 20th century, our dependence on China, and our contributions to all major fields of study including, but not limited to, the arts, music, sciences, medicine, pharmacology, military science, political science, and environmentalism. Particularly with the rise of not only the Internet, cell phones, Google, and Facebook, we live in a global, virtually interconnected world which facilitates the bidirectional sharing of information between nations, institutions, and individuals in multiple formats on a historically unprecedented scale.


C1: Population of India: 1,155,347,678 as of 2009 according to the World Bank’s Book of World Development Indicators.

C2: Volusia County MapStats from FedStats:

C3: Paragraph 7 of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2003:

C4: 2000 U.S. Census: States Ranked by American Indian and Alaska Native Population, July 1, 1999:

C5: The Constitution of India, Revised 2008 July 29:



I decided to write my cultural paper about the people and government of India, including Indian Americans and with a major focus on the contributions of Mohandas Gandhi to Indian and global culture, independence, and philosophy. I haven’t learned APA style and I didn’t rewrite my essay or use citations, nor did I start it until 8pm before it was due, but I think it’s pretty good that I wrote a 2000 word essay in under 3 hours that doesn’t feel like (in my opinion), a bore to read.

You can find the full text of my paper here:

I think it’s very important for even elementary school teachers to have broad-spectrum knowledge of every major discipline, language, people, and culture, even if they never achieve mastery in any of them. Only then can they seamlessly flow from one topic to the next and present a complete picture of the world to their students in a way that is fascinating and inoffensive.

President Frank Lombardo’s Message, 2011-01-05

Dr. Frank Lombardo’s message at the theater at Daytona State College on Wed., Jan. 5, 2011 at 1pm. I got lumped in with the international students because I was sitting next to Bruno Blazevic, so I told the president that I’m from China and Ireland because my mom is Chinese and my great grandfather immigrated from Ireland. We were in the front row and got a standing ovation from all the faculty and staff, though I wasn’t supposed to be there. It was fun and they used Star Wars and Star Trek music in the presentation! Daytona State College is growing at an unbelievable pace and I am looking forward to getting my Bachelor of Science degree here.

I have made this album public on Facebook, but you must log in to Facebook to see the photos. Please go there to tag people or read my comments on individual photos. I know some people don’t want to use Facebook, but I think it’s the best social networking tool, if only because of market penetration. 80% of my friends are on Facebook.

While former president Dr. Kent Sharples wasn’t mentioned much, Dr. Lombardo did say that he led the college through an incredible period of growth and that he was very good at getting things done. Dr. Lombardo hopes to be out of a job by July 2011, because he hopes the agency the college has hired for $65,000 will have found the next president by May, and then it will take about two months to train him or her.

Dr. Lombardo can be first seen in the 9th and 10th photos below. There are 71 photos divided into pages of 30, so make sure to click the next page links at the bottom. The man at the podium is Evan Rivers, Chair of Humanities & Communications, the largest Daytona State School including English, literature, and history.


Phi Theta Kappa Monday Funday, 2010-12-06

This was a fun event organized by Nikki Sfraga, current president of Phi Theta Kappa, at Daytona State College on Monday, December 6, 2010. From 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. we had free food, music, dancing, and games in and around the clock tower at the Daytona Beach campus.

The free food included hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, nachos with cheese, hot chocolate, and bottled water. There was an inflatable basketball hoop and a dance contest. I enjoyed this a lot and hope we do this next year!

Below are 244 photos I took at the event. I installed a new gallery plugin which makes posting photos easier, so this is a different format from most of my posts and because of the large number of photos, I am not making the ten-megapixel high-resolution versions available to download.

You can just browse through the thumbnails and click one to enlarge, or click “View with PicLens” below for an interactive display that you can enlarge to full-screen or browse through with your keyboard’s arrow keys. Please make sure you have JavaScript and Adobe Flash enabled.

Enjoy the photos. 🙂


Kent Sharples Ousted with $1.2 Million Severance Package

Kent Sharples and Bruce Cook, Spring 2008

In September 2010, Daytona State President Kent Sharples lent nearly $1.5 million to the Community Cultural Foundation for the “American Music Festival,” with approval of the previous Board of Trustees. The festival was a money-loser and the foundation owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to many local businesses in addition to the college, which has now cut ties with both the Foundation and Sharples, and the new board ousted Sharples.

Sharples’ attorney negotiated a $1.2 million severance package for the retiring president and he will also be receiving over $0.5 million in accrued benefits. This puts his entire package at six years salary at his current rate of $290,000.

In other news, Vice President Rand Spiwak is retiring in January and Frank Lombardo, Acdemics VP, is becoming the Interim President on Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Sharples’ last day as president is Friday, Nov. 19.


“We lost a builder for education and a true force of growth in our community with Kent Sharples resignation from Daytona State College. When will we receive the resignation of Ms Hosseini and her blonde puppet, Ms Haas? Maybe the pocket stuffer of our former Governor…Mori Hosseini will text them with instructions!”

I think it’s disgraceful that Forough Hosseini has led this crusade against Sharples for no good reason, and to much negative publicity. If he remains president, he won’t be able to do anything anyway, since she basically owns the Board of Trustees. Under Sharples’ 11-year tenure, the college has seen unprecedented growth. I sincerely hope this growth continues under Lombardo and the future DSC president.

2010-11-18: DAYTONA SUN: Sharples Out
2010-11-18: DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL: Sharples out as Daytona State president; $1.2 million buyout
2010-11-11: DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL: Daytona State financial head retiring
2010-02-22: DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL: Forough Hosseini quits as college board chairman

Revised at 10:00pm EST, Nov. 19, 2010.

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