A Series on Higher Education and Democracy: Newt and ALEC

After a series of significant events in my county’s community college district, I’ve decided to write a series of short posts about Higher Education and Democracy for the Write 6X6 project on my campus.

If you want to hear something that might make you feel like you were just punched in the gut, take a listen to Newt Gingrich with his address at ALEC  Fiscal Responsibility in Higher Education Academy in October 2017. You need to know what people are thinking and where they are headed.

Let me know what you think!

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Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!

Today is the first day of Glendale Community College’s Write 6X6 and the birthday of one my favorite poets, Langston Hughes. His words and social activism have always resonated with me. Every year, I typically pick one of Hughes’ poems and share it with others. This year my choice seems unusually relevant given the current state of affairs in our national politics. In spite of the worries I have about our country today, the words of a son of a school teacher, speak to me and remind me of the importance of my work in higher education and make me feel a little more optimistic.

Community Colleges, by providing an accessible pathway to education, are gateways for those who might otherwise not find equality or opportunity. The feeling of helping people from all walks of life working to make a better life has always made me proud of the work I do. I’m even more proud of all of the students who have persevered and accomplished great things.  They give me hope for our future.

Written in 1935 by American poet Langston Hughes.

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

 

(America never was America to me.)

 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

 

(It never was America to me.)

 

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

 

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

 

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

 

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

 

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

 

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

 

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

 

The free?

 

Who said the free?  Not me?

Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

 

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

 

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

 

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

 

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again

 

The Power of Kindness

When you speak kindly

The words never disappear

Their light surrounds you

~author unknown

Argh! I have written and discarded many drafts now on the topic of kindness in the workplace. It appears this is my week to deal with ideas of compassion and leadership through a lens of turbulence if I want to write anything meaningful. I’m having a hard time of it, but perhaps writing will help me sort through my conflicted points of view.

In my world, Trump is raging like a temperamental two year old on Twitter, my HOA thinks state laws don’t require compliance, and recent changes on campus have left me wondering about college priorities and a changing vision for the Maricopa Colleges that doesn’t seem well thought out or defined. I know my concerns are valid and other than moving to Canada, I need to find a response to deal with all of instability around me, … but through kindness? Really? Maybe. Perhaps I still need convincing.

People mirror emotions of their leaders and more and more people in power right now are sending the wrong message. Violence and hate crimes are on the rise and normalizing “alternative facts” is part of the daily news. It is heart wrenching. But every so often amidst all the ugliness, a glimmer of humanity is sighted and you realize that compassion in troubled times is a thing of tremendous beauty and power … and suddenly you have hope again.

Right now, a little more kindness on campus will do great things for lifting me up and reminding me what a good community we share. Bring it on! I’m ready to share the good vibes right back with you.

Kindly,
Kristin

Because being good matters

Students come here to shine

In them, our fires of knowledge burn bright

Dreams aglow and rising!

Years ago I made a transition into the work of academic advising. It was to be a short layover job of sorts before heading into teaching, but the teaching bug faded and never materialized for a variety of reasons. Advising as it turned out, suited me quite well. I found I loved the combination of helping students pursuing important educational and life goals as well as the constant research and learning advisors need to stay current in a realm of ever-changing academic and transfer information.

Advising when done right takes a breadth of skills and abilities many take lightly. You have to know or be able to quickly access volumes of information. Mistakes on your part cost students time and money. Regretfully, most advisement training is on-the-job learning from mistakes. I quickly learned that to be effective, you have to know a lot, ask frequently to verify when you don’t know something, and find help when needed to aid students in a more holistic manner when they need additional resources.

Most importantly, through advising, I was inspired every day by the stories students brought to my humble cubicle. The single mother with a terminal illness trying to make sure her daughter would be able to get an education and career prior to her death; DACA students looking for a good education in a STEM field with perfect GPA unable to get an Honor’s scholarship or any other for that matter; homeless students who made it through the semester without dropping out despite the barriers. I learned to listen to students and continue to do my best to help them while they are here at GCC. My reward is watching how often a little bit of extra effort on my part often makes the world of difference to a struggling student. And that, ladies and gents, is why I love advising and why I’m good at what I do. Because it matters.

Get your kicks on “Write 6×6”

This is my third year signing up for Write 6×6.  This year I am setting a goal for submitting a full six pieces which I haven’t yet pulled off.  Wish me luck!

Week 1 (Feb. 1-5): Who or What inspires you to do what you do here at GCC?

http://write6x6.com/intro/

WRITE 6×6 INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Write 6×6 Challenge. Beginning the Week of February 1st, we will begin our writing challenge.

What is the challenge? Well, the CTLE invites you to create 6 pieces of writing, one each week for 6 weeks beginning February 1st. Aside from the 1 post each week for 6 weeks, the only other rule is that the writing must be about teaching, learning and student success. That’s a lot of latitude to write about pedagogy, tools, successes, challenges, or hopes and dreams.

The short term goal of the challenge is to give faculty, staff and administrators a playful space to share and learn and to see what colleagues are doing in classes and around campus. These writings will also be in a place where new and seasoned faculty can easily access them for years to come. The long term goal of the Write 6×6 Challenge is to push faculty, staff and administrators to be reflective practitioners in the field of education and share their reflections with colleagues. While the six weeks of writing may be a start, we hope that some of the participants will continue to write and share their thoughts about the educational landscape.

write6x6_logo_white_bkgndWe will use the internet as a place to write and share the work. The faculty, staff and administrator writing will be magically delivered to the CTLE Write 6×6 blog, and it will be there so that you can read the work your colleagues submit. The CTLE will help you build a place to write from and support you throughout the 6 weeks.

You can see scheduled Write 6×6 trainings here or call us anytime and we will happily make you a master of writing on the internet in less than 20 minutes. And when you run astray during the 6 weeks, we will be available to help you find the right path. Really!

What is in it for you besides sharing your thoughts and ideas with your colleagues? For completing each week, the participants will be rewarded with a variety of awesome gifts (to be determined) To sweeten the deal, we will reward you with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s delivered to your office for completing the first week of the challenge! Adjunct instructors will get to pick up your awesome rewards from the CTLE.

So, are you up for the challenge? We know you are busy. We know you already share your ideas at workshops and at the water cooler. But we challenge you to use sentences as a way to reflect and share your thoughts about teaching, learning and student success with a broader audience. Imagine if 20 teachers, staff and administrators survive all 6 weeks that would produce 120 pieces of writing from GCC Gauchos about teaching, learning and student success! We could use that!

To signup, please email ctle@gccaz.edu before February 3rd or fill out the form below. The first week’s writing is due on the 5th.

 

 

Local Motors New Olli

“This is the world’s first autonomous on-demand shuttle. So basically you call it on an app and it picks you up just like Uber and it will talk to you,” says Justin Fishkin, Local Motors’ Chief Strategic Officer.

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Local Motors, the manufacturer of the world’s first 3D printed vehicle, is actually local to us with a micro factory and base right here in Chandler, Arizona.

The newest addition to their line up is the uberly-cool (pun intended) Olli “Your friendly neighborhood mobile solution”. The self-driving Olli was the genius of industrial design student, Edgar Sarmiento, who at the age of 22, entered his concept into a Local Motors competition.   With an app on your smart phone, the coolest micro bus ever, will pick you up and take you where you need to be … in style.

More on Edgar Sarmiento and Olli from NPR here.
More on Local Motors read more here!

Advising Guides for Engineering Students

Engineering students at the Maricopa Community Colleges have a new resource for navigating the maze of courses and sequences needed to prepare for transfer to ASU.

The recently updated Advising Guides provide students with information from five other common sources in a handy two-page format.

They are a great tool designed to save students and advisors time and money.

Here’s the link!
https://advisementblog.wordpress.com/20162017-engineering-advising-guides/

James Turrell’s Sky Spaces

Installation artist James Turrell, at Roden Crater in northern Arizona in 2001.  Credit Florian Holzherr

I am always on the lookout for something or someone new and interdisciplinary to bring to the STEAM Hub. James Turrell,  an installation artist and son of an aeronautical engineer and Peace Corps doctor, seems to have that beautiful mix of aesthetic creativity partnered with science that is so interesting to me.   It came as no surprise that his undergraduate studies focused on psychology and mathematics; only later, in graduate school, did he pursue art, receiving an MFA from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California.

Here are a few of his Arizona projects to wet your whistle.  When it cools off just a little, I think a James Turrell art road trip is in order.

Roden Crater
The natural cinder cone crater is now home to a land art project and naked eye observatory thirty plus years in the making that will blow your mind.

Air Apparent
A Sky Space Art Installation by James Turrell and Will Bruder at the ASU Tempe campus.

Knight Rise
Another Turrell public sky space located at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.