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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

THE COLLEGE DEBT GETS DEEPER

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 19, 2017

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– It’s now growing faster than we envisioned.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Back in 2011 I wrote a column regarding the growing college debt. At the time, the amount surpassed the $1T threshold, representing an acceleration of borrowing. For the first time ever, Americans owed more on college loans as opposed to credit cards, which is a frightening thought.

This led to a movement of young people in Occupy Wall Street to demand a means to lesson the financial hardship. Then, during the 2016 presidential election, the Democrats embraced the idea of expunging the college debt completely and let the American taxpayer assume the cost. Fortunately, this didn’t happen, and students remain on the hook for their own loans.

Today, according to a Consumer Federation of America analysis of U.S. Department of Education data, the number of people defaulting on their student loans is steadily on the rise. More than 3,000 borrowers default on their loans EVERY DAY. In 2016, 42.4 million American students owed $1.3T in loans. To make matters worse, the number of defaults grew from 3.6M in 2015 to 4.2M in 2016. (Click for report).

Such financial woes leave a black mark on credit records, making it harder to get a good paying job, or purchasing a house, condo, or automobile. It should therefore come as no surprise that more and more Millennials are staying home, and fewer are driving.

Americans place a lot of emphasis on education but we should be mindful of the fact that attending college is not a right, but a privilege. During the Depression years prior to World War II, there was no more than 1.4 million college level students attending approximately 1.7 thousand institutions of higher education. Today, according to the Digest of Education Statistics, over 19.1 million students attend 4.4 thousand colleges, a quantum increase. Since the 1960s alone, when colleges experienced an influx of students seeking refuge from the Vietnam war, enrollment has more than doubled.

Back in the Depression, money was scarce and, as such, it was common for all of the members of a family to work, often sacrificing higher education in the process. Back then, a high school diploma was considered a prestigious achievement. Even a junior high diploma was prized as some people could not afford to rise above this level.

Regardless of what school counselors tell students, COLLEGE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Other institutions offer fine programs which lead to good paying jobs, such as trade schools and the military. Yet, these are typically pooh-poohed by the counselors which performs a disservice to students.

Let us also consider the spiraling cost of colleges. Although this is hard to pin down with precise certainty, the lion’s share of costs for college operations appears to be in salaries and benefits (such as health insurance, pensions, etc.), and with cost-of-living adjustments and a competitive market place, labor costs are growing unabated.

Between rising college costs and the ability for students to pay for it, college enrollment has recently plateaued, but the Department of Education expects a slight bump to slowly grow over the next ten years. Regardless, the economic reality is that colleges cannot continue to operate as business as usual. we will likely see a downsizing of faculty and trimmed operating costs in the next few years.

As for the students, there is no panacea on the horizon for the debts they incur. And that is just the point, they incurred it, not the American taxpayer. It was their decision to go to college, not the public’s. This is why I continue to say higher education is a privilege, most certainly not a right. At some point, they have to learn what it means to earn your way through life. If you cannot afford it, there are other options available to you. Again, COLLEGE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE SECRET OF MASONIC HANDSHAKES – What does it represent?

LAST TIME:  TALKING TO YOURSELF  – What it says about you.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

TRAINING MULES

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 6, 2017

BRYCE ON TRAINING

– What to do when you have one in your class.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Over the years I have conducted numerous professional training programs, including: Project Management, Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Information Resource Management, etc. These courses are either held at the customer’s site or our own premises. Unlike a school setting with long semesters, a professional instructor has a limited amount of time to convey his points to the students, usually just a few days at most. This can be a daunting task if you happen to have a “mule” as a student. I use the term “mule” to refer to a person who stubbornly refuses to participate in a course for a variety of reasons, mostly arrogance. Such people ignore the instructor and either sleep during the class, work on something unrelated, or wants to frequently take breaks usually to call someone on the phone or disappear from class settings. “Mules” can have an adverse effect on the class by becoming a distraction, particularly if it is a senior person. Nonetheless, as instructor you are being paid to teach specific lessons to a whole group of people, not just a few.

To overcome the “mule” problem, there are a few things you can do. First, you want to avoid alienating the mule if possible. Instead, you want to get his/her support and participation. This is why introductions are so important to any class. A firm handshake and good eye contact can help establish a rapport between students and their instructor. I also ask each person to describe their title, background, and what they hope to learn from the course. This tips me off as to where their interests reside and who the potential mules might be. I also ask the students to turn off communication devices as I want to eliminate potential distractions. In addition, I tell the class what the schedule will be, how I will run the class, what kind of questions they can ask and when, and other introductory comments. I also prefer a classroom where the chairs are hard and the room is cold, thereby causing people to sit up and pay attention.

Aside from these basics, there are three ways to engage a “Mule” student:

1. Repetition – repeating key concepts, preferably with a catchy slogan and/or graphic, helps ingrain the concept in the person’s mind through association. School teachers have understood this technique for a long time, as well as political brain washers. By simply repeating something over and over again, and relating it to something simple they can associate with, a person is inclined to remember it, even the most stubborn of “Mules.”

2. Keep the “Mule” active in the course. In my courses I typically assign each student with a slide from my presentation. Near the end of the class, I have each student give a five minute presentation on the subject matter referred to on the slide and take questions from the class. I do this in a precise sequence so it will serve as a summary recap of the course. This also encourages students to ask questions where they might feel intimidated to ask the instructor. As for “Mules,” it forces them to pay attention as they know the other students will be critiquing their presentation. Basically, I am applying peer pressure on the “Mule.”

3. Openly challenge the “Mule” and put him/her on the spot. However, I only do this as a last resort. Here I will openly criticize the “Mule” for his/her behavior and try to shame them into participating. Such action may be drastic, and may invoke the hostility of the student, but sometimes you have to hit a mule over the head with a 2 X 4 just to get his attention. Some companies are actually hoping you, the outsider, will tackle this sticky problem for them. Some people will rise to the occasion only if you openly challenge them. There will be others who will feel threatened and become despondent if you go too far, which is why, as instructor, you have to be careful. Confronting a person privately during break time can also prove effective.

We commonly say a person is as “stubborn as a mule” when he will not listen to other people’s advice and change their way of doing things. In a professional training class, we are trying to introduce some new ideas and change some habits. The instructor is charged with indoctrinating the students with the concepts, but it will be up to management to follow-up to assure the students are implementing what they are taught. In other words, the instructor can only go so far.

One last piece of advice, in a professional training situation, instructors are not paid to be in a popularity contest. Instead, they must be resourceful and results oriented. Most of your students will follow you if you express confidence in the subject matter, but there will always be at least one “Mule” who will openly defy you. If left unchecked, their attitude can be detrimental to the class overall and you will fail in your mission. One thing is for certain, you cannot simply ignore the “Mule” as he/she will not go away. If you fail to address the problem properly, you will fail as an instructor.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MY TALK ON CITIZENSHIP – Some thoughts on how to promote citizenship in America.

LAST TIME:  THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LEFT AND RIGHT  – Codes of conduct for both the Democrats and the Republicans.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

IN EDUCATION, ARE WE MEASURING THE WRONG THING?

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 28, 2016

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– Is there too much emphasis on metrics?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The country’s approach to education is once again under scrutiny, thanks in large part to two recent Gallup polls; one aimed at analyzing political perspective, and another analyzing the effect of education on our youth.

In the first poll, “U.S. Education Ratings Show Record Political Polarization” (Aug 17, 2016), Gallup found satisfaction with public education (K-12) was based on political perspective. Whereas Democrats were generally satisfied (53%), Republicans were not, dropping to a low of 32%. The contrast between the two is sharp but hard to explain.

Some believe the reason is the general Republican refutation of Common Core, a national program to establish standards to evaluate student performance. New techniques for teaching math, science, and history are not being warmly received by the GOP who would rather see local School Boards have more control over curriculum and standards.

The other poll, “Bringing Education Back to Its Roots” (Aug 17, 2016) questions how we evaluate student performance, that we are becoming too obsessed with numbers, and not with the student’s ability to think and be creative.

The poll claims we know how to stuff facts, figures and content into the student, but not how to pull it back out in order to solve problems. To illustrate, they discuss the use of common quizzes and tests as used in the classroom, the push to satisfy state testing requirements, as well as the other formal tests used for college application, e.g., PSAT, ACT, SAT, etc. Such tests denote the student’s ability to memorize, but not how to apply it in real life situations.

In an accompanying video, Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Education and Workforce Development at Gallup, questioned the excessive use of metrics in his keynote address at the Education Commission of the States’ 2016 National Forum on Education Policy, last June. He claimed our obsession on metrics only addresses one part of education, namely input, but we should also be concerned with output, for that is what we are called on to use in business. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

We should be less consumed with our obsession on testing, and more concerned with its application in life.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  AMERICANS DO NOT TRUST THE PRESS – And their popularity is dropping below that of Congress.

LAST TIME:  THE POLITICAL FINANCIERS  – Who really funds our electoral process? No, really?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

A COMMUNICATIONS CURRICULUM

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 18, 2016

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– What should High School students know about this important subject.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

For the last few years I have sat on a board of directors for a special business school at our local high school. The purpose of this program is to prepare students for the business world. In addition to teaching technical skills, community leaders address the students as part of a lecture series. We have discussed such things as career path planning, the use of math in business, adapting to the corporate culture, and more. Recently we began discussing future topics for next year. Among the ideas presented was the subject of communications as it was felt students are having difficulty adapting to business environments without such skills.

Having been a college communications graduate myself, I realize this is a robust subject area. However, for high school students, I considered what would be a suitable curriculum. Keep in mind, a lot of this is based from the vantage point of someone who has had a ring side seat observing management and Information Technology for nearly forty years. Here is what I would like to see adopted for a communications curriculum at the high school level:

Written Communications – Writing a decent business letter is essential, yet we must recognize most of today’s written communications is delivered by e-mail. Nonetheless, learning how to properly address someone, be it for sales or customer service purposes, is necessary for success. Interestingly, it was pointed out to me that most high school students do not use e-mail, preferring text messaging or use of social media instead. I assumed most students made active use of e-mail. Unfortunately, they do not which is another reason for them to brush up on their writing skills.

The fundamentals of giving a speech – whether it is for the presentation of an argument, to perform a lecture, of for humorous purposes, students should understand the basics of rhetorical thought, persuasion, and negotiations. This includes the three canons of speech as represented by ethos (an appeal based on the character of the speaker), pathos (emotional appeal) and logos (logical argument). In discourse, we will likely use all three when making a presentation, but it is necessary students understand what they mean and how to use them. Personally, I would like to see the students stand on a soap box and give a five minute speech to classmates passing by at lunch time. This would help them overcome their fear of speaking and give them the confidence to argue a point.

Conducting a meeting – unless students understand the basics for running a meeting, they will likely waste the time of everyone involved for years to come, thereby turning a useful communications tool into something counterproductive. An introduction to Robert’s Rules of Order (Parliamentary Procedure) would be useful to teach the mechanics of a well structured meeting.

Interviewing – this will likely affect their lives going forward from now on, be it for a job or for college placement.

And finally, Common Courtesy – aside from a student’s ability to write and speak, they will be judged by their ability to socialize with others. This specifically includes their ability to cooperate and work harmoniously with people. This is much more than just “please and thank you,” but also includes how to conduct introductions (handshakes), greeting people, and generally getting along with others.

This may all seem rather obvious, but these are important life lessons which will serve young people throughout their academic and professional careers. I just wish I had known some of this before going to college. It would have certainly made my life a lot easier (and more productive).

Related articles:

“All I ask about running a Meeting” (April 5, 2013)
“The Art of Persuasion” (February 20, 2006)
“Business Writing” (April 20, 2015)
“Common Courtesy” (September 24, 2012)

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  JUST FOR TODAY – Take time once a day to stop and think. Reflection is good for the soul.

LAST TIME:  CHILI RECIPES – IT’S PERSONAL  – Safely guarded family treasurers.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Communications, Education | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

EDUCATION AS A WEAPON

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 4, 2015

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– It’s a powerful weapon for making the country a better place to live.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Prior to the 1800’s, obtaining an education was considered a luxury reserved exclusively for the rich. Everyone else had to tend to their livelihood which, in colonial America, was primarily based on agriculture or maritime activities. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s when the public school system was introduced as an attempt to educate the nation’s youth. The intent was to fight ignorance, improve communications, and make better decisions thereby making better citizens. Educating the general public was considered rather revolutionary for the times. Today we take it for granted.

By combating ignorance, education was used as a tool to improve the country internally and externally. In other words, it allowed us to become more competitive, something sorely needed for a fledgling country. From this perspective, education was used as a weapon to allow us to effectively compete on the world’s stage.

Beyond combating ignorance for competitive purposes, governments found education to be indispensable for pushing forward political agendas. As Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin correctly observed, “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” From his perspective, Stalin saw education as a vital propaganda tool for controlling the masses, as did Hitler and others. By controlling their education systems, they controlled the masses. Not surprising, the Communist Goals of 1963 included, “Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for Socialism, and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers associations. Put the party line in text books.”

There is indeed power in shaping the minds of people, be it impressionable youth, teenagers, adults or senior citizens. As Americans though we tend to naively believe the public school system, which is funded by American taxpayers, is not being used for political or social purposes; that it is being used primarily to combat ignorance and improve the IQ of the masses. However, because of the failure of people to effectively parent their youth, the responsibility has defaulted to school systems which explicitly or implicitly teaches morality, socialization, sex education, and, Yes, politics. Such subjects are most definitely not what American taxpayers had in mind, but sadly this is the hard reality of the times we live in.

For example, let’s take the Montana proposal a few years ago to teach a sex education curriculum at the elementary school level (K-5). Supporters contended the curriculum would help students better understand human anatomy as well as both hetero and homosexual relationships which should, in theory, result in students making better life decisions. Opponents saw this as a threat to morality and question the necessity of teaching such lessons at an early age. Frankly, I think the proposal was not proper as they would be teaching the wrong people. Instead of instructing the students, the school system should be educating the parents so they can effectively teach their offspring. Undoubtedly, parents would claim they do not have time for such education and would balk at attendance. “Hey, that’s the night for watching my reality shows.”

The Montana issue begs the question though: Whose responsibility is it to teach our youth certain delicate issues such as sex education and morality? Again, in the old days, the responsibility was that of the parent; today, it is the school’s. As an aside, our school systems would do us all a great service by offering adult training in parenting, thereby taking the responsibility off the shoulders of the teachers where it doesn’t belong.

There is a fine line between teaching core subjects such as language skills, math, science, etc., and teaching political or social values. Whereas the former is used as a weapon to combat ignorance, the latter is a weapon for manipulating the masses. This is the primary reason why Islamic proponents want more say in education. Make no mistake, education is indeed a powerful weapon. As “Uncle Joe” pointed out though, who is holding the weapon, and who is it aimed at?

Originally published: August 11, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MAD AS HELL – “And I’m not going to take it anymore.”

LAST TIME:  IS AMERICA TOO BIG TO SUCCEED?  – Is this as good as it gets?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Education, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

STUDENT DRESS CODES

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 11, 2015

BRYCE ON APPEARANCE

– If the dress code was left to students, what would they select?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

A couple of months ago I was involved with a panel discussion at a local high school to discuss time management. This was a special session made available through the business program at the school and was open to all students interested in their career beyond high school. I was pleased to see over 100 students attend the session. Coupled with this, the teachers appointed the day as “Professional Attire Day,” meaning the students in the business program were asked to dress up. Instead of t-shirts, shorts and gym shoes, they were asked to wear suit and ties for the men, and dresses for the ladies. This was very much appreciated by the panelists who complimented the students on their appearance.

Following this, we developed a questionnaire to determine how the students genuinely felt about dressing up for the day. I received the responses recently and tabulated the results. Frankly, I was surprised by how the students responded. I suspect you will too.

PROFESSIONAL ATTIRE DAY SUMMARY

A. Did you feel MENTALLY sharper today as a result of dressing up?

75 – Yes
39 – No
1 – No answer

B. Did you feel PHYSICALLY better today as a result of dressing up?

71 – Yes
41 – No
3 – No answer

C. Did you feel more CONFIDENT?

83 – Yes
31 – No
1 – No answer

D. Did you feel SUPERIOR to others?

70 – Yes
45 – No
0 – No answer

E. Did you feel more POSITIVE in your outlook?

93 – Yes
21 – No
1 – No answer

F. In what ways could the DRESS CODE of students & teachers be changed to reflect a more professional image?

Collared shirts (16)
School uniforms (12)
Ties (6)
Looking professional (5)
Have regular day to dress professionally (perhaps Fridays) (4)
Khaki shorts (4)
Business casual (3)
No shorts or tank tops (3)
Wearing slacks (2)
Less trendy or vulgar things (2)
Teachers should wear ties or suits (2)
Teachers should enforce dress code, not ignore them (2)
No short shorts.
No jeans.
Not allowed to have ANY image on shirt.
No flip flops.
Can be expensive, but improves self esteem.
Wear nicer clothes.
(many no responses to the question or illegible answers)

G. What is the BEST part of Professional Attire Day?

Compliments on dress (17)
Looking my best (13)
Feel more professional (12)
Looking sharp (6)
Ties (3)
Dressing nice with peers (2)
Wearing slacks (2)
Points you get for the class (2)
Confidence
Uniformity
(many no responses to the question or illegible answers)

H. What is the WORST part of Professional Attire Day?

Florida heat (25)
Shoes (8)
Dressing up (4)
Waking up early to get dressed (4)
Having to get dressed up (4)
Being stared at (3)
Choked by ties (2)
Sometimes uncomfortable (2)
Having to change for gym (2)
Shirt tucked in.
Trying to stay clean.
Buying a new outfit.
Friends laughing at you.
Embarrassed.
Wearing a dress and sitting on the ground at lunch time.
Dress flies in the wind.
(many no responses to the question or illegible answers)

I. CONCLUSIONS

Preface: There were 115 legible responses to the questionnaire from students. Two were submitted blank and not counted in the summary. Many of the text responses were illegible. The comments shown were grouped together based on commonality as observed by the reviewer; the text entries were not all identical. It appears most students answered the questionnaire sincerely. As to be expected, some answered just to pacify the teacher and earn credit for the day, mostly negative.

Observations: In general the “Professional Attire Day” was well received by the students who perceived it as a positive experience as denoted by Questions A – E. I had expected a positive response for Question A, “Mentally Sharp,” yet was surprised that the students also felt “Physically Sharp.” Overwhelmingly, the students felt more “Confident” and “Positive” as a result of dressing up. As further evidence, in question G, the students appreciated the compliments they received for their dress, and liked looking professional. In other words, they felt invigorated by their appearance, thereby heightening their self esteem. This added to their personal image as expressed in Question D, “Superiority.”

As to the negatives of the experience, the Florida heat proved uncomfortable, particularly for young men in dress suits. Having to change clothes for gym was also bothersome. A small handful felt embarrassed by the experience, and were uncomfortable having their friends laugh at them. There were others who simply disliked the experience and preferred to dress slovenly, but they were definitely in the minority.

As denoted by Question F, the students were overwhelmingly in favor of improving the dress code on campus. There were many comments in favor of a school uniform. There was also suggestions for having a “Professional Day” at least once a week, possibly Fridays, where everyone dresses up for the day. There were quite a few students who disliked, t-shirts, jeans, flip-flops, and short shorts. The implementation of collared shirts was strongly suggested, as well as ties. However, due to the Florida heat, wearing ties may not be a viable option. Also, the selection of shoes should be carefully considered; not gym shoes but something expressing a positive image and were comfortable. Khaki shorts for men were also suggested, as were slacks.

Whereas I had expected a rejection of dress codes, I was surprised to learn the students actually wanted a better code than what they currently have, for both students and teachers alike. In summary, they appeared to genuinely take pride in looking their best. They felt more positive and confident when dressed up as opposed to being dressed down. I sensed there is currently peer pressure, to dress badly. If the student body was allowed to vote on the school’s dress code, you would probably be surprised what they would chose, at least with those students involved with the business program.

It was obvious to me the students comprehend the effect of a professional image, both at school and beyond. Some genuinely yearned for a better school dress code as opposed to the slovenly appearance which is currently the norm. They may appreciate the concept, but will they be allowed to implement it? After the summary was prepared, it was presented to the school for their consideration. I will be curious to see how school officials respond.

Keep the Faith!

RELATED ARTICLES:

Dress for Success or Failure?

How we Dress

Wearing Ties

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THINGEES – When we don’t know what to call something.

LAST TIME:  CHANGING NBC CHANNELS  – What does NBCBLK mean to news broadcasting?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE THIS COURSE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 12, 2015

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– “I’ll never use it in the real world, will I?”

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An old friend in Versailles, Kentucky recently wrote to me. He is a High School math teacher who is tired of hearing the question from his students, “Why do I have to take this course? I will never use it.” This, of course, is a common lament heard by teachers around the world but it seems to be growing in intensity. Students pose the question as they believe it will have no bearing on their lives, particularly due to technology.

Some people question why their children have to memorize multiplication tables since there are so many calculators embedded in computers and smart phones. This would also suggest the end of the slide rule and the abacus. Others question the need to teach spelling as spell checkers will automatically correct errors, and speech recognition software can be used to read text. I guess the future of printed books is dim, right?

The reason for learning these basic concepts is simple: so people do not become dependent on a particular technology and can carry on manually, and; so they can appreciate the effect of technology. To illustrate, I taught system design for many years. My students learned to define information requirements, and from these specifications, decompose a system into its business processes, work flows, and software. The exercises were conducted manually and in teams. At the end, they had produced a complete system design, all remarkably similar. Afterwards I would then show them how this process could be automated using deductive reasoning. When the computer generated the system design, they understood completely what it had done. Not surprising, the computer produced design was no different than the human’s. Again, the intent was to teach the principles and mechanics so they could do it themselves, and so they could appreciate the need for automation.

The obsession with technology though is becoming overbearing. For example, computer graphics programs are having an adverse effect on illustration and artwork in general. Computer Aided Design (CAD) has become an integral part of drafting and blueprinting. Interestingly, I know of a helicopter firm which lost power at its headquarters. Consequently, the company came to a complete standstill, particularly in the engineering department where draftsmen had no idea what to do without the aid of their computers. As an aside, I do not believe any of them understood what a “French Curve” was.

When I was young, I was proud to master the multiplication tables. As kids, we turned it into a competitive game. I also developed my love for reading at the local library. The ability to grasp concepts and ideas is essential for human curiosity, creativity and problem solving. By becoming dependent on technology though, we arrest our mental development. It’s one thing to implement technology based on concepts we grasp, quite another to effectively use technology without an understanding of the concepts. By doing so, we will not challenge the results produced by technology, thereby leaving us exposed to critical error.

So, to the students of my friend’s high school class in Kentucky, “Why do you need to take this course?” No, you may not need it in your professional lives, but you need it to become a thinking and active member of the human race. Even though technology may do the work for you, these classes are critical for your personal mental development. It ultimately provides you with the ability to “carry on” when your technology fails you.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  YOUR DUTIES AS AN EMPLOYEE – It is more than what is written on paper.

LAST TIME:  CULTIVATING A CULTURE OF FEAR AND ANGER  – The tactics of the left.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

SAYING GOODBYE TO A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 5, 2014

BRYCE ON TEACHERS

– Thanks for the memories (and giving us some direction).

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Over 40 years ago, I graduated from a small public high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. The school always had an excellent reputation for academics and athletics. Interestingly, it continues to be nationally ranked as one of the finest high schools in the nation. Lately, I’ve noticed our teachers are beginning to pass away, which I guess is to be expected. Some we loved, some we despised. Nevertheless, they all left some sort of indelible impression on us, and I really do not think teachers realize the profound effect they have on their students. Let me give you a couple examples; last month my class lost two teachers, Edwin Napier and Rex Parker.

Edwin Napier was our American History teacher who recently passed away from complications resulting from Alzheimer’s Disease. Mr. Napier was a small man who always wore a drab suit and tie to class. He would often deliver his lectures sitting on the edge of his desk at the front of the classroom. He was a quiet and reserved man which often made his oratories difficult to follow. It would be a rather slow monotone voice. Frankly, he reminded me of Ben Stein’s character (the economics teacher) in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Like Stein’s character, Napier had the ability to put students to sleep, thanks in large part to his voice. However, if you listened carefully to Napier you realized this was an intelligent man who loved history. I suspect he could have easily been a college professor had he been so inclined, but it wasn’t to be.

I cannot speak for the other students, but Mr. Napier gave me an appreciation for American History. It wasn’t just about memorizing the dates of important events, but why they occurred. For example, I can remember his discussions regarding the XYZ Affair, the Civil War, and the events leading up to the start of World Wars I and II. As you may know, some of my columns discuss American History, and I attribute my fascination with the subject to those discussions in Edwin Napier’s class.

Rex Parker was our Geometry teacher who we recently lost to cancer. He was more gruff than Napier and possessed an interesting southern drawl, and would give you his lessons loud and clear in a no-nonsense matter-of-fact tone. His hair was brush-cut and he mostly wore a shirt and tie as opposed to a full suit. Beyond this, he had a soft and humorous way about him which the kids loved. I first knew him as my Freshman football coach and he did a good job of stringing our team together and winning quite a few games. He would bark orders from the sidelines, but we knew he cared for his kids. In my Sophomore year, I took his Geometry class. I was warned by my friends to be careful as they had heard his class was difficult. Remarkably, Geometry was the one branch of mathematics I grasped and excelled in. I learned the theorems, proofs and postulates. More importantly, it taught me how to construct a logical argument. This greatly influenced my technical writings later on and my professional career in information systems. It also affected my style of oratory, which tends to lean towards “logos.”

When they passed last month, someone had said, “Does anyone remember Mr. Napier and Mr. Parker?” I, for one, readily did. However, did they remember me? Probably not. Although I had a good relationship with Rex Parker through football, after forty years and thousands of students, I doubt they would have remembered me. I just hope they understood what affect they had on their students.

Locally, I have a friend who is a chemistry teacher. She takes her job seriously and cracks the whip if the students fall behind. One day I reminded her, “If you somehow inspired only a small fraction of your students to motivate them scholastically or personally, then you have altered the course of history and made the world a better place. You are a ‘George Bailey’ (from the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”) – living proof that a single person can make a difference in the lives of others.”

Not all teachers take their work as seriously as Mr. Napier, Mr. Parker, and my friend, but those that do can have a profound effect on their students, and the world. They are all George Baileys.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HOW ARE YOU (REALLY)? – Are we telling the truth or is it all facade?

LAST TIME:  THEORIES X, Y, AND Z  – The three basic theories of management.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL;  The Glenn Pav Show on WTAN-AM (1340) in Clearwater, FL, Mon-Fri (9-10am); and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific).  Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Education, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

WHY WE RESIST STANDARDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 12, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– An explanation why Common Core will fail.

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Americans have a problem with standards. Think about it; we never switched over to the metric system did we? It would have been logical to adopt a worldwide standard but we stubbornly clung to our older system of weights and measures. I think this is due to the fact we tend to promote rugged individualism as opposed to teamwork and, as such, we possess an innate maverick spirit which abhors uniformity and regimentation. This is why parents resist school uniforms, as it may be construed as inhibiting creativity and initiative. This also explains why we do not like to cooperate with our neighbors and co-workers,

Coming from the Information Technology industry, I have witnessed many attempts at standardization, but most fizzled out before they could take hold as the I.T. field is a cut-throat territorial type of industry where companies try to dominate each other. To illustrate, the concept of the COBOL programming language was to provide a common business oriented language which could be standardized on the various computer platforms of the day. To computer hardware manufacturers, COBOL represented a threat to their existence, thereby providing a means to move from one computer platform to another. Consequently, each computer vendor devised their own interpretation of COBOL and implemented it accordingly. The result, standardization was rebuffed and the opportunity to share program source code over multiple platforms was denied.

The only true standard I’ve seen in the I.T. field was the creation of ASCII code by Robert W. Bemer (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). ASCII represents the standard letters, numbers and punctuation symbols to be used for encoding computer instructions. Without it, there would not be any form of COBOL or other programming languages, and we would have likely not heard of people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Standardization offers the benefits of uniformity, predictability, interchangeability, and harmony. If this is not of interest to you, than there is little point in trying to participate in a standards program. However, if you do wish to participate, understand there is more to implementing standards than simply saying, “that’s just how it is going to be done.” There has to be some sound rationale for their governance. In addition, you must address the enforcement issue. Standards will be adhered to by the degree of discipline instilled in the people charged with implementing them. If well disciplined, your chances for success are good, but if discipline is lax, automation is required to assure standards are being followed.

Another problem is changing standards on a whim. For example, Freemasons have been practicing their Craft for hundreds of years all over the world. Yet, each jurisdiction, which is normally based on a geographical boundary such as a state or province, has their own unique way of operating which is rarely compatible with others. The principles may be the same, but the physical implementation is different. Of all people, you would think the ancient order of Freemasons, which has been around for hundreds of years, would have such standards. Surprisingly, they do not. And yet they continue to change their rituals on an annual basis. I never understood this.

Now the country is embroiled in a standards initiative for educating our youth, specifically the Common Core State Standards Initiative. At first, the concept of education standards was warmly received by most of the states, but now a revolt is in the offing as states are beginning to question the validity of the Common Core standards. More than anything, the cause for the disillusionment is suspicion of the physical implementation of the program, which has dragged on too long and is producing seemingly questionable techniques for teaching key concepts, particularly in the area of math. Some of this may be legitimate criticisms, and some may be based on misinterpretation, nevertheless the government is doing a pathetic job of implementing and selling it to the public, hence more states are withdrawing from the program and it will likely be implemented on a state by state basis, just like the Masons. Besides, I’ve never seen a government standards initiative that ever bore fruit.

So, why do we resist standards? Three reasons; We tend to encourage rugged individualism as opposed to teamwork; our tendency to be unique makes us suspicious of the motives of the people developing standards, and; we question the physical implementation of standards, whether or not we can truly realize an honest and consistent approach. In the case of Common Core, the government has dropped the ball in all three areas, as they have done time and again in other initiatives.

The only way standards can be adopted in this country is to prove they are absolutely necessary. In the case of Bemer’s ASCII code, yes it was necessary. COBOL was perceived as a good idea, but certainly not something mandatory in nature. Consequently, multiple interpretations were devised, and I believe this is the direction Common Core is heading. Unless it is perceived as something we absolutely need to do, I’m afraid Common Core will go the way of the metric system in this country.

“It is one thing to enact legislation, quite another to enforce it.”
– Bryce’s Law

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  AMERICAN INVENTIONS – How technology changed the country and the world.

LAST TIME:  PENNY WISE, POUND FOOLISH  – If you are going to be cheap, be prepared reciprocal measures.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Education, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

UNDERSTANDING YOUR CRAFT

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 25, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– What is necessary to become a professional in your chosen field.

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I recently gave a talk to the local “Future Business Leaders of America,” a county-wide group aimed at preparing young people for the business world. Consequently, my talk was based on my book, “Morphing Into the Real World: The Handbook for entering the Work Force.” Although there were some younger students in attendance, the majority included High School Juniors and Seniors. Basically, I gave them a “fire and brimstone” talk on what to expect when they entered the workforce, both good and bad.

I didn’t pull any punches. We discussed the perils of micromanagement, adapting to the corporate culture, the need for corporate ethics, loyalty, teamwork, and much more. I also painted a picture of a highly competitive work place where workers need to stay on their toes at all times, and not go on automatic. This frank approach seemed to be appreciated and kept their attention.

Something I kept harping on was the need for developing a professional attitude. This is particularly needed so workers do not become complacent, and give them an edge in improving their career. Developing such an attitude, requires more than just becoming proficient in a new skill set, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt, but it requires understanding decorum, learning etiquette, and continuing education in their chosen field.

Graduating from school doesn’t mean you arrest the need to learn. In fact, formal education is intended to train your mind to learn. As such, your real education begins following the conclusion of school. In my presentation, I admonished the students to learn the history of their chosen field, so they have an understanding of how and why it evolved, and so they do not make the same mistakes their predecessors did.

To illustrate, I asked for a show of hands of the students interested in pursuing a career in computing. Six hands shot up. I then openly tested their knowledge by asking, “What is a 4GL (fourth generation language)?” I was answered by blank stares. They knew about HTML, and some coding, but were not intimate with programming. I proceeded to explain the differences between 1GL (machine language), 2GL (assembly language), 3GL (procedural languages such as COBOL), and 4GL (interpreters). Next, I asked if anyone knew the difference between the various DBMS models, e.g., Hierarchical, Network (CODASYL), Relational, and Object Oriented. Again, blank stares. I said, “It’s not important you know this yet, but I want to challenge you to understand the nature of the industry you are embarking on, whether it is computing or some other field. Thereby, you won’t make the same mistakes your elders made.”

As an aside, a few years ago I wrote, “A Short History of Systems Development”, which discusses these items.

Becoming a true professional in any field requires more than just a good set of clothes, it requires a sincere effort to improve one’s self, both physically and intellectually. It means you are ready to put your school days behind you, act more responsibly, and develop an intellectual curiosity. It’s call “maturity.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  A THANKSGIVING MOMENT – A simple grace.

LAST TIME:  THE JFK ASSASSINATION: AN EPOCH EVENT – Where were you in 1963?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Education, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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