Web Pages of Note: Ending Adolescence, Malcolm Gladwell on Success, and a Professor Moving On
It has been awhile since we offered one of our mini-tours of web-based reading material of note. But in recent weeks there has been no shortage of intriguing materials available to readers.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the founder of the Center for Health Transformation has penned a piece for Business Week, Let’s End Adolescence. The subheading tells you the key highlights, “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says young people need to shift more quickly from childhood to adulthood.” The article is extremely timely as it matched the recent announcement out of New Hampshire that the state was considering a bold new plan to allow students to graduate from high school after the tenth grade.
In commenting on the bold New Hampshire plan, Marc Tucker, the co-chair of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Worker and president of the National Center for Education and the Economy in Washington, added a significant piece to the Gingrich discussion. Tucker spoke very highly of the NH plan, suggesting that high school is nothing more than a mandatory pit stop for many American teenagers.
Shortly after we wrote about the concept of deliberate practice, the online version of the Guardian newspaper, the guardian.co.uk offered an extract of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest work, Outliers: The Story Of Success. Set for publication later this month, the latest work from the author of ‘The Tipping Point’ and ‘Blink’ takes an extended look at some of the world’s most talented and successful people (the Beatles, Mozart, Rockefeller, Bill Gates).
Gladwell matches the growing sentiment that the success of these individuals is owed to something much more than what is often dubbed as pure genius. According to Gladwell, such success comes from the notion of ambition, deliberate practice, timing and circumstance.
The LA Times offers an interesting assessment of the book stating it “is about how culture and community are greater determinants of individual success than talent or even will” and that the book will hit the market “two weeks after a man who embodies the term has been elected president of the United States.”
YouTube in a Powerpoint Presentation
Over at Digital Inspiration, presenters will find some straightforward advice regarding the implementation of video into their Powerpoint presentation. Amit Agarwal explains how one can embed YouTube videos directly into PowerPoint and be able to play them even when there is no access to an internet connection. Agarwal explains how to save any YouTube video as an AVI file utilizing an application like Zamzar.com or MediaConverter.org.
Agarwal also offers a brief overview of the process of “preparing an elaborate presentation inside Google Docs,” one that includes several YouTube clips, then importing that presentation into PowerPoint. It is some very good material for teachers looking to incorporate YouTube materials into the classroom, especially when internet access is available but school filtering systems currently prevent internet access to YouTube.
A Professor Packs it In
Finally, over at the Chronicle of Higher Education is an interesting piece written by a college professor using the fictitious name John Smith. I’m Leaving is pure and simple, a blistering assessment on the current status of higher education from an insider’s view.
Smith begins with an assessment of his own graduate program. “I left disappointed and ambivalent about the process. I took some classes with engaged, brilliant and dedicated professors, but I also attended more than a few seminars with detached scholars who thought of students as distractions from their labs and research. They were famous, but they could not teach, even their own research.”
The professor doesn’t get any softer and later adds harsh assessments of both his teaching colleagues and students. Of professors, Smith states, “Far too many of my colleagues are dialing in – showing up late, popping in videos during class, assigning group projects, or sitting in a circle and asking students how they feel.”
As for the students, he writes, “Higher education for too many undergraduates at too many liberal arts colleges has become a puffy sofa nestled with down pillows.”
In summation, Smith insists it is time to move on to another line of work. It is a stark and damning portrayal. And a must read.