Classroom Creativity is Dying

Marilyn Gardner Milton’s Latest Blog Post

There is no denying that one of the most hated educational practices is that of standardized tests. While they are certainly an important tool to help differentiate between students, there is also something incredibly depressing about a test that is so uninteresting. Teachers around the country have recently begun to notice how little students seem to care about these supposedly important tests. Normally ambitious and hardworking students are increasingly disillusioned with the tests that will help them get into the school of their choice and teachers are beginning to wonder if having these tests is worth sapping the creativity and will to learn that students used to feel, all in the name of going a higher-ranking college.

One of the ways that teachers have gauged the interest of students in tests and other academic pursuits is how often they try to cheat for higher grades. By walking around a classroom when students are taking these tests, teachers use proximity to both catch students who are cheating as well as to oversee the class. However some teachers have noticed that students don’t even care enough about these standardized tests to cheat, and that is slightly worrisome. While the level of student care and interest in the tests have fallen, the level of resentment towards the tests has drastically risen. An incredibly worrisome trend when you look at how the USA is falling behind in terms of education.

To many students, the situations that they deal with currently in their every day lives (such as poverty, bullying, and abuse of all sorts) are infinitely more important than some test that is supposed to help rank them against their peers and friends. The only people who care about these tests are those who judge the schools (such as politicians), the administration, and the teachers who need good results on these tests to justify the importance of their jobs. Instead of actively trying to interest the students in learning and education, we have been feeding them pre-set cookie cutter plans that have taken the joy out of learning and replaced it with a bland and uninteresting educational landscape that is failing to grab the attention of our future generations. The desires of politicians and businesses to turn schools into money-making ventures are damaging those who need the schools to work well, the students themselves.


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from Marilyn Gardner Milton and Education


The Importance of Museum Interpreters

Marilyn Gardner Milton’s Latest Blog Post

History is both a beautiful and incredibly important subject. It’s beautiful because people back then felt the same things and thought the same way that people do now and it’s beautiful to see that sort of connection, even if the technology has drastically changed. It’s also beautiful because the art that humankind created throughout the ages has stood against the flow of modernity and still maintains the ability to inspire awe and rapture like it did when it was first created. History is also important because it allows us to see how we reacted to new and different things, thus allowing us to learn from our past mistakes and, hopefully, use those lessons to avoid similar mistakes in the present and future.

While history is most definitely an important subject, many people see it as dry and uninteresting. This is where the importance of museum interpreters and living history re-enactors come into play. Museum and historical interpreters breath a sense of life and tangibility into history. It’s one thing to hear about how the Red Coats went around harassing the colonists before the Revolutionary War, but it’s a completely other thing to actually see it in action. It makes the experience more visceral and more real, increasing how interesting it might be to someone who has never been interested in history before.

The importance of these re-enactors is real in other ways too. Many of the re-enactors are older and retired and they do these both as volunteers and as paid employees. These jobs allow them to create second careers for themselves instead of just sitting at home. The other reason these jobs are important is because of numbers. Many if the places where historical re-enactment takes place are smaller and more niche. They don’t have the funds or the necessary public interest to become large museums. The fact that these smaller museums have live actors adds a new dimension to the historical experience of the visitors. It allows these smaller museums to offer something that the larger and better funded ones can’t. It also allows them to focus on more niche historical experiences, like living on a plantation or on a navy ship and a shipboard surgeon.


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from Marilyn Gardner Milton and Volunteering

Agents of Educational Recruitment

Marilyn Gardner Milton’s Latest Blog Post

When people think of agents recruiting for a cause they usually think of profession or college athletic teams, military branches, or some sort of occupation where people need to be coerced into joining. What many people don’t think of is actually one of the most common uses for agents, to recruit students from other countries to join higher education institutes as students. While this has been very common in other countries, US universities have traditionally been against this sort of recruitment and preferred to rely on word of mouth and reputation to draw students from other countries. However as colleges and universities find themselves with smaller class sizes and less money, they have recently opened up to using agents to find willing students and convince them to come over.

Even with colleges and universities now being allowed, as well as being more open to it in an institutional sense, to use agents, they are going to find that there’s a lot of international competition and that they are going to be starting in a difficult position. Countries such as Australia and Malaysia get over half of their international students through the use of agents. Others such as Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the UK get anywhere from 20%-just under 50% of their international students through agents as well. Clearly there is going to be a lot of competition for the best students who are looking to study abroad.

While the US might have more expensive schools and a lack of presence in the agent-dominated international student recruitment scene, it does have one thing that not many other countries have. Even to this day, as our country and it’s economy and reputation lie in balance, our universities and institutes of higher education are still thought of as the best in the world. With names such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and many others to our name, our colleges and universities are still amongst the top in the world and are popular destinations for students.

The allowing and tacit acceptance of agents has opened up a whole new world of students for US colleges and universities. We will finally be on equal footing to try to tempt all of the most intelligent international students to our shores. While we are definitely coming from a place of weakness in terms of our presence, the sterling reputation that our universities have combined with the opportunities our country offers means that there’s a very good chance of seeing the number of international applicants rising in the future.


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from Marilyn Gardner Milton and Education

Using Volunteering to Find a Purpose

Marilyn Gardner Milton’s Latest Blog Post

There are many reasons people decide to volunteer. While some are forced to do it by either their parents, their significant others, or the law, there are some who do it because it makes them feel better. Some people volunteer to make up for past wrongs and to karmically cleanse their souls. However one of the many reasons people volunteer came as a surprise to me; they volunteer to feel a sense of purpose.

A recent Gallup poll went out asking Americans how they felt about their jobs and whether they were truly engaged. The results were shocking. A full 70% of American adults say that are either not engaged at work, with some even saying that they are actively disengaged. While I always thought that this number would be high, I was appalled when I learned this. I always though it was important to find a job that you love and it seems as though I’m in the minority in that respect.

It turns out that a lot of people are turning to volunteering and community service to fill the gap that their job doesn’t. In an attempt to find meaning and a sense of community and purpose, they turn to helping those in need due to the thought that altruism will help fill that whole in their lives. It has gotten to the point where there are too many volunteers for the non-profits they look towards to help them in their quest. However what ends up happening is that the purpose they find doesn’t come from the volunteer work itself, it comes from how they approach and do the work itself.

It’s interesting to think that while they search for solace in helping others, they actually find it in the way they approach this and the mindset they take upon themselves. Obviously people need to find purpose to make them happy and obviously people should volunteer to help those that are need. Yet it’s sad to realize that people are so unhappy in the professions they have chosen for their lives. Even people who work at non-profits feel disengaged from work, which goes to show that it’s not the job but the attitude that needs to be changed.

As more and more companies adopt changes to counter this current workforce malaise there is a chance that the number of people signing up to volunteer will drop. While this obviously isn’t good for those who rely on those volunteers to help them, it will create a happier overall population. Also just because some people stop others will realize that volunteering makes them feel good for other reasons and continue the trend of philanthropy.


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from Marilyn Gardner Milton and Volunteering