Some Valid Points by Seth Godin

I feel that Seth Godin made some valid points with his TED talk. However, I do not completely agree with everything that he said. Jay Anderson did a wonderful job summarizing some of the main points of Seth’s presentation in the comment section of the video. For this week, I am going to respond to the summarizing bullets.

  1. Homework by day, lectures by night.
    1. I think this is actually a great idea! The challenge with it is that everyone has a different learning style. Therefore, I think the students should have multiple access to different lectures. It does save on resources by allowing people who are very strong lecturers take care of the initial transfer of knowledge. The challenge with this is that students have to be held accountable for viewing the materials. I know for me personally I procrastinate on online courses or lectures.
  2. No memorization.
    1. I agree with this to a certain extent. I remember in the video he mentioned that everything should be open book and open notes. I have to say that the open resource method has really helped my grades. However, I do not retain information from the course that have open resource examination. In those courses, I would just label where things are in the notes and not really try to understand what is going on. I would just copy a bunch of examples into my notes, so that I could use it on the exam. I did not retain or remember much of anything in those courses.
  3. No predetermined course order.
    1. I do not agree with this because some course are needed in order for you to build the necessary foundation to be successful in the sequential course. This is particularly true in engineering. You cannot really do multivariable calculus if you have not master single variable calculus.
  4. Precise, focused education.
    1. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel like a part of the learning process is to explore new area where you have very little experience in. I am a believer that understanding multiple perspective will allow students to become a more successful citizen.
  5. Experience based.
    1. I have to agree with this. I tend to learn best when I have to apply a particular topic. In a sense, I have to have experiences with the topics that are covered in class. I find that professor that share their experiences in their lectures are the ones that I can relate to the best.
  6. Lifelong learning.
    1. I strongly agree with Seth on this one. I agree that a student has to continually want to learn in order to succeed. This all starts by coaching the students to be passionate about a particular area and encourage them to ask effective questions.
  7. No brand name colleges
    1. I have mixed feelings about this one also. I know in engineering, the top ranked schools have plenty of sponsors from the government and industry. These sponsorship allow the university to invest in meaningful labs, equipment, and projects for the students. By having sufficient funds the university can provide the students with hands on experiences in correlation to their course work. These hands on experiences will make a student much more competitive in the work force.

Current Education System Creates Short Attention Span

“It is clear that users are not reading online in the traditional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of “reading” are emerging as users “power browse” horizontally through titles, contents pages and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.”


I absolutely agree with the statement above, regarding how we read content online. I am guilty of this when I am trying to get an assignment or an answer for research. I think that the problem is not necessary Google or the internet, but our current educational system. I know particularly when I was preparing for the SAT’s or other reading comprehension tests before college, I was taught to look for only the most important information. I was told to read the questions first and look for the answers in the passage. If I spent too much time trying to completely understand the content, I run out of time on the examination. I typically had trouble with reading comprehension exam because of this. Eventually, I learned how to skim read and only get the information that I need for the examination. I think the root cause of this problem starts in grade school with the standards of learning assessments, where the students are trained to look for the answers rather than formulating their own.

My ability to read long passages starts to demise when Google searches became extremely efficient. I started to notice that when I do a Google search, I would quickly skim the passage for what I need. If the page looks like it has too much text and the “find” function does not produce the answers I want, I would just click onto another link. I guess I am able to determine what formats of the pages will give me the quickest answer. I move on quickly if I do not like the format of the webpage. I feel like “power browse” technique does not allow the reader to fully comprehend the content that the author tries communicate to the user. This is problematic because I selectively pick out the information that I want to retain. In a sense, it is limiting my perspective because I have a pre-filter to disregard content that would take too much time to understand.

Finally, I think that discipline is a big factor on how well I can focus on a particular topic. For example, I did not write this entire blog post in a continuous streak. I would think of an idea and started to Google it. I started to skim a couple of paragraphs, and clicked on a couple of links. The next thing I realized was that I was on Amazon. I feel like my attention span for a topic is not very long. I think my minds works like this because of the demanding responsibilities of my positions. When I was taking 7-8 courses, I would constantly switch topics when I am stuck on something. This means I that can switch tasks almost every half hour. Additionally, my curiosity tends to derail my focus. I would be reading about a particular idea, and I found something that I did not understand. I would then keep Googling until I got the answer to the side question or realizing that I am way off track. If I want to be more productive this inefficiency is something that I need to work on.

I do not necessarily believe Google is making people “more stupid.” It just hampers the critical thinking process. I remember in my undergraduate, 90% of the questions that I had can be answered by Google. However, when I started to do my research, Google was not able to provide me with the answers that I needed. Therefore, I was forced to fully read the content and formulate my own answers. Google is a great tool to find basic information, but sole reliant on it will hamper the creative thought process.


Willing to Accept Critical Feedback to Produce and Construct Knowledge

One of the quotes that really hit the spot for me in this week’s reading is, “To teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge.” I find that this quote really defines what it means to be a teacher. The current educational system is based on the “Banking Concept of Education.” The teacher has a list of things that they want the student to “memorized” and the students are then tested on how well they retained that information. A great teacher not only knows how to “deposit” information to the students, but they also know how to teach the student how to produce and construct their own knowledge.

I know that most of my engineering course are based on the Banking Concept of Education. The teacher stands in front of the classroom lecturing about a particular topic, and the students try to reproduce that information for the classwork, homework, and tests. For me personally, I am able to develop a “bank” of the available types of questions that could be asked on the test. Sometime it comes down to a bank of memorized facts rather than true understanding of the material. I found that I only understand something if I have experience and struggle through the nitty gritty details.

Some of the best teachers have taught me how to ask effective questions about topics that I have little knowledge of. I find that part is the hardest thing about teaching and learning. Most of the time when I am learning a new concept, I do not have enough background to truly understand what I do know and what I do not know. I frivolously try to write down everything that the professor is saying rather than understanding. I am not able to come up with questions until I take the time to sit down and really try to digest the notes. Once I have a basic understanding, then I am able to ask effective questions.

This is Sparta 

One of my mentors from the industry has done a great job in teaching me how to develop effective questions. I remember when I first started working, I brought a problem to one of my senior technical engineers without truly understanding the questions that I wanted to ask him. He was extremely harsh to me, and he grilled me in ways that made me felt inadequate as an employee of the company. After this experience, I was determined to never let that happen again. I went back into my office and reworked the solution to incorporate his critical feedback in my new design. Before I went back to my senior technical, I sat there at my desk for an hour thinking of all of the critical questions that he could ask me. I asked myself, “What would Bruce grill me on today.” To my astonishment, I developed over 30 questions and answers to what I could be potentially asked by my senior technical. I walked confidently back to his office with my new proposed design and prepared answers. He started asking away, and I started to defend. After about ten minutes, he realized that I have come much more prepared than last time. He took it up a notch, and asked me questions that I have never would have thought of at my experience level. I paused for a minute to think about his questions, and responded to the best of my ability. This continued on for a while, and his feedback were as critical as ever. As the conversation is coming to an end, he grinned at me and said, “Good work.” I was stunned when I heard that compliment from him. He just spent the past hour kicking me down a pit, and started throwing rocks at me when I was at the bottom. After working with him some more, I began to understand the merits of his teaching style. He wasn’t interested in just transferring 30 years of experience to me. He was interested in teaching me how to ask effective questions. He was teaching me how to produce and construct knowledge.

Engaging My Students in the Classroom

I find it very hard to determine what my authentic teaching style is. To me teaching is a very dynamic experience, where I have to constantly adapt to the ever changing mood of the audience. For example, my lecture before a big “test week” requires a different type of engagement than as if it was just a normal week. I have to find new ways to engage the students in the topic that I am presenting, and be understanding that their success in other class is also a priority for me.

More interestingly enough, each one of the three sections that I teach have different characteristics. I may present a topic a certain way for my 9:00AM class, and everyone is active and engage. While presenting in the same manner for my 3:00PM class causes my students to become disengage. I have learned to read the aura of the classroom and present the materials in multiple ways in order to maximize student engagement.

The way that I deliver my information may vary from class to class, but my enthusiasm of delivering the content remains the same. I feel that the students can sense the passion in what I teach. Being excited and believing what you are teaching are extremely important because the students can feel that energy. In addition, I understand that not all of my students share my views. As long as they put in efforts to understand multiple perspectives they will do fine in my class. My objective as an instructor is to train my students to be active thinkers and are able to adapt to any situation necessary. Adaptability is a key trait that I want to teach my students because there are not many “best” methods of doing something. But there are a lot of different ways to accomplish the same task.

In addition, I do try to share as many practical experiences as I possibly can in my class. I feel that by relating the course materials to what I have experience in my life helps the students see the intricacy of the topic. By doing this, I hope that my students are able to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to the “real” world. I know throughout the undergraduate curriculum we only learn to get the “A”. However, what differentiates an “A” student from and exceptional student is the ability to utilize and adapt the knowledge that they have gain to solve new problems. By showing my students how I have adapted my course material to my life experiences, I hope that they can do that too with all of the classes that they are taking.

Why Lectures are Important

I think that lectures are a critical part of the learning process for students. It is a superb starting point for learning a new skill from an “expert”. Robert Talbert explains what lectures are ideal for in his article, “Four things lecture is good for.” I have to agree that when I am new to learning something, I would like to have someone to show me the ropes. It allows me to try and understand the perspective of an expert, and eventually develop my own perspective.

There have been times when I try to get ahead in my classes by reading the textbook to cover the information. However, most of those attempts have been unsuccessful because I have a very hard time understanding the material and relating it back to the real world. The best lecture based courses that I have taken are course that are taught by professors that has real world experiences. They are able to take the engineering theory that they are teaching and correlates it to how they themselves have applied it to various problems. They shared their insights on when it is applicable to use certain theories, assumptions, and techniques to solve certain problem. In a sense, they are sharing their expertise on recognizing what type of problem are at hand and what tools are the most effective at developing a solution.

Once the fundamental knowledge is transferred to the student, the learning structure has to change in order to allow the student to continue developing the skill. There is a balance between learning from an expert and practicing the skills to become better at it. Here is an interesting video about how develop a skill in 20 hours.

This video gives a prime example of how if a person wants to learn to throw a football, they would first have to learn the basic techniques. They will have to learn about the football size, grip positions, body position, and etc.  This information would be most effectively covered in a lecture environment. Once an individual has a good understanding of the fundamental, then they have to apply and practice that skills. As the person is gaining more experience, more questions began to arise. As the questions arise, it is time to revert back to consulting the experts.

I personally feel that there has to be a balance between the difference styles of teaching. For me personally, I learn the best by struggling and experiencing what I have learned. Once I struggle to a certain point I began developing questions to seek mentorship from others. But I find it very hard to understand what others tell me if I have not personally experience it.

GPA as a Reflection of the Student’s Commitment


I find the idea of grading to be important in the STEM fields because it makes the student accountable for the materials that were presented in class. Most of my undergraduate course required the traditional grading scheme where you have to put countless hours into studying in order to achieve the grades that you want. In terms, I do agree with Alfie Kohn that strict grading scheme does hamper creativity and causes the student to find the easiest task to get an “A”. In my undergraduate, I was able to take an “experimental” course in materials science. In this course, we were given options to “choose” the way that we want to earn the “A” in the class. We had options of writing weekly blogs on materials, writing midterm essays, performing research, creating a presentation about material topic and teach the class, etc. In that class I looked for the easiest assignments so that I can get it done quickly and focus on other classes. I remember very little from what I have learned in that class. In comparison, I can relate fundamental thermodynamics theories to the applications that I see every day. I find that the gradeless system may work to inspire creativity and pushes the student to self-explore, but it does not hold students accountable for the course topics. I find that it is “human nature” to take the path of least resistance in whatever they do. Therefore, unless the student develops a passion for that topic, they will only do the minimum amount of work whether it is grade or gradeless.

I disagree with the statement, “Grades don’t prepare children for the “real world…” made by Alfie Kohn. I find the that the GPA is a determination of the student’s perseverance, adaptability, and commitment. I personally have to put ridiculous amount of hours into studying in order to pull the GPA that I want.  That shows my commitment to “excellence” in whatever tasks that I am assigned with. Similarly, I am forced to take so many different classes in undergraduate that I feel the GPA represents my ability to adapt. It measures how well I am able to pick up new ideas and topic regardless of whether they are interesting to me or not. Lastly, I think it tests my perseverance because there are times that I have failed, but I kept on fighting for continuous improvement. Even though, the GPA does not truly measure a student’s intellectual capability or learning achievement, it does measure the commitment that the student has toward his education.

I do think that the traditional grading system needs a bit of modernization. Again, my experiences disagree with Alfie Kohn article stating that, “Initially Robbins announced that any project or test could be improved and resubmitted for a higher grade.  Unfortunately, that failed to address the underlying problem, and he eventually realized he had to stop grading entirely.”  The classes that I learned the most from are the ones that the teacher allows the students to make revisions on their assessments to get partial credit. The only assessment that the professor did not allow revisions was the final exam. This concept forces me to reevaluate what I have learned. It encourages me to take on harder tasks because if I fail, there is a chance to recover from. It is a great way to “force” the students to reflect upon what they have learned an improve it. If they don’t they will make the same mistakes on the final exam.

Being a Mindful Learner

The article, “Mindful Learning” by Ellen J. Langer talks about the difference between mindful learning and mindless learning. I definitely agree with her that mindful learners are typically more resourceful of utilizing what they learn in different applications. However, for me when I learn something new I have to be a “mindless” learner first, in order to understand the basics of what I am learning. I have to repetitively drill the new information into my memory. Once I have a grasp of the new information then I can become a mindful learner. A great example of this is that during my undergraduate as an engineering student, I had to keep doing practice problems until they are ingrained into my memory. The demanding curriculum made it very hard for me to stop and think deeper about the problems. I constantly have to memorize the concepts and apply it for the tests, quizzes, and homework. I remember that during those times it was hard for me to ask thought provoking questions in my field of study.

Once I practiced engineering in the industry and came back for my graduate degree. I had the insights to be a mindful student. I was able to relate the theory that I learned in the classroom to the applications that I have seen in the industry and vice versa. Because I have witness the same information from multiple sources, I was able to detect new subtleties that I missed in my undergraduate years. I started to have more thought provoking questions, as well as using the principles that I learned from the classroom and my job to apply it to other areas of my life. A great example of this is that I became fascinated with the culinary world. After being a mindful learner in the culinary arts, I am able to create many intricate dishes. During my experimentation, I had many “failed” dishes. With those failures, I performed a root failure caused analysis using the methods that I learned as a practicing engineer to determine why my dishes failed. From those learnings, I started to implement my understanding of heat transfer, chemical reactions, fluid mechanics, and mechanics from the classroom to achieve the results that I want. This is a prime example of how being a mindful learner allows a student to have a deeper understanding of their field of study. I take my experiences from multiple perspective and develop effective solutions in all aspects of my life.

Additionally, I Googled mindful learning and I found the graphic below. After reading each of the circles, it reminds me of a concept that I constantly try to ingrain in to my students, “active thinking.” In my class, I encourage students to ask questions, and participates in the class discussions. I put many of my students on the spot randomly as you may never know when you need to think on your feet. I encourage them to see multiple perspectives for the issues that they may be facing.





Utilizing Social Media and to Enhance One’s Educational Experiences


In the first week of the Contemporary Pedagogy course that I am taking right now, we discussed the interesting topic of using the current available technologies to enhance the learning experiences for students. I find this topic very interesting because in the world that we live in, the technical advancement is growing so rapidly that any tools that we implement today will be obsolete when the next cohort enters.

This rapid growth of the human knowledge is made possible by how easily knowledge can be access by everyone. We collectively build upon each other’s discoveries to continually push the boundaries of understanding. However, because there is so much information available to us, we must be careful to not let our thoughts be easily persuaded. The world that we live in is built upon power, influence, and money. Those with resource or a dire passion have capability to influence the decisions that we make as society. Therefore, it is crucial that we must all learn to think critically to be able to distinguish the facts from opinions and the ability to detect “inaccuracies” in the methods that are used to generate facts.

On the flipped side, those with a passion can use the vast modern network to market their passions to potential audiences. The article, “Twitter and blogs are not just add-ons to academic research, but a simple reflection of the passion underpinning it” mentioned that blogging or social media is a way that these researchers can engage the audiences. I personally myself am not very well versed in social media. However, I can see the validity of using these mediums to communicate with people about the cutting edge work that are currently being done. In a way these high level communications, are used to build momentum and interest in a particular area.

I am an engineering student, and one of the hardest thing that I find about the curriculum is that a good portion of the classes are so theory heavy that most students are not capable of seeing the beauty of the applications behind that topic. I was fortunate enough to be able to utilized some of the high level theories that I have learned in the various titles that I have held in the industry. To me being able to relate the analytical thought process to solve hands on problems in the physical world gave me a deeper appreciation through understanding the engineering theory. I believe that theory and application goes hand in hand because one cannot be truly innovative without have an understanding of both.

From my experience, I have found that the majority of the students goes through an engineering program to obtain an industry job. From those students, I have found that those that had “real” industry experience has a greater appreciation for their engineering classes. From this, I try to incorporate modern technologies into my class room to expose my students to the realities of an engineering job. I find that high level technical videos on social media inspires the students to learn and ask questions.