TED Talk Tuesday: Leslie Epstein, “College Students Know Nothing”

This is a hidden gem of a TED talk. With only 853 views, it’s hardly been touched (by TED standards, anyway). But in this eight-minute clip, BU professor Leslie Epstein dares to confront the grim reality of the nature of college education in America: namely, that college kids don’t know anything. And he’s right.

I attend Northeastern University, and experiential learning is our big selling point. Granted, I’m very glad to have had the co-op program to force me into internships I wouldn’t have been motivated to do had I gone to a different school. I like to think that I’m also learning about profound human truths and accomplishments (I’m taking Eastern Religion next semester, and I’m ridiculously excited about it). But at the same time, I’d always been hungrier for knowledge than many of my peers growing up, and was dubbed “Dictionary” on multiple occasions back in high school. A lot of the knowledge I’ve acquired, I’ve sought out myself.

Northeastern just got its largest donation ever, for the business school. The tangible skills that the business school can offer are fantastic. But I hope maybe someday my college – the College of Arts, Media, and Design – will get the same kind of recognition.

What do you think? Can universities strike a balance and offer both tangible skills and classical disciplines to all students?

Second Professional Voiceover! FirstGiving and Eventbrite: Better Together

My good friend and fellow blogger Dan Fonseca works as a marketer and content creation specialist for FirstGiving. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll remember that I did the voiceover for his first professional promo video, FirstGiving Cares.

Now we’ve got another to show you! FirstGiving and Eventbrite are teaming up. This collaboration will provide nonprofits “a comprehensive set of fundraising and event management tools that will enable them to make a larger impact for their cause” (according to the FirstGiving website). Naturally, this means one thing: stop-motion animation!

Dan Fonseca and Jenna Johnson created the set and performed the animation. Dan also wrote the script and the music. Enjoy!

Greg’s Practical Advice: On Writing Mindfully

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Here’s another edition of Greg’s Practical Advice! For more info about this recurring column, check out the first post here.

One day in class, Greg asked this question: Why do college students turn in assignments that are rife with grammatical errors? The answer: because there’s no consequence! Our teachers, although well-meaning, are busy people and often let things fall through the cracks.

He told us a story of a college student he knew who had the feeling that his professors weren’t reading and critiquing his papers properly. In an assignment, he included the sentence  “If you read this line, I’ll buy you a pizza.” Sure enough – the professor didn’t notice. He tried it again in other classes – those professors didn’t notice either! Eventually, someone caught the line, and the student treated his professor to pizza.

This means that we have to take it upon ourselves to learn to write effectively. How? Read, read, read!

Textbooks and academic publications are the worst things to read if you want to learn to write well. They’re verbose, clunky, and hard to internalize. Pick up a book. Try something that is universally received as good literature. Read Hemingway if you want to learn to write in short sentences. Read Orwell for grammar and syntax. And of course – learn to write without careless mistakes! It could cost you more than a pizza someday – it might cost you the interview.

Image courtesy of Flickr user beachblogger42.

Being Okay with Silence

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I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about trying a digital media fast (I think I might do one this weekend). I talked a bit about how we as Americans have a tendency to distract ourselves with whatever gadgets and toys we can get our hands on. Our culture values always being busy. We juggle work, exercise, and social engagements, all the while filling our ears with loud music and our brains with flashing images. We like to show off to the people around us how busy and plugged-in and important we appear to be.

But what would life look like if each of us took thirty minutes a day to cut the noise?

I urge you to set aside a designated half hour of each day when you turn off the background noise. Sign out of your Spotify account. Turn off the TV news. Close your laptop. Spend this time going through your normal routine, but treat the quiet as a newfound opportunity to be introspective. What will you think about? Will you hatch a grand scheme for your life? Will you happen upon a solution for a problem you’re facing at work? Will you remember to call your mother?

I like to spend my morning routine in silence. I get up, eat breakfast, primp, get dressed, and pack lunch. On my way out the door I’ll usually plug into my iPod, but some days I welcome my commute as an extra 40 minutes of quiet. I use it as a time to check in and see how I’m doing. With my crazy college kid schedule, it’s something I always look forward too. I also like to sneak moments of quiet into my lunch break or right before bed.

What are the strategies you use in order to be okay with silence?

Image courtesy of Flickr user -JosephB-