Sunday, February 21, 2010

Enjoying the "fruits of our labor" -

I returned late Friday evening from a 7 day trip out West where I visited with four of my former students. I flew into San Francisco where Bob King ('84)met me at the airport and then the next day we drove up to Incline Village, NV to the home of our friends Davis/Ann Clark. Davis and Ann are former students from Pontiac Catholic High School in Pontiac, Michigan and I have known them since they were my students in 1975. We spent a wonderful time snowshoeing and skiing in Lake Tahoe. Ann is a high school art teacher in Incline Village and Davis is the IT person at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe. I have had the pleasure of going into Ann's school and presenting to her classes and to the entire school on issues of hazing, bullying, alcohol and drugs. It is always such a joy to see former students who are now to actively involved in their communities. Davis is the IT person who speaks "English" and not technobabble so he is much appreciated by those he works with at the Hyatt - again it is good to see how people greet him as he walks through that beautiful resort hotel. He has also been a coach and a substitute teacher and since Incline Village is such a small community, whenever we are together they are both greeted by many of their current/former students. Bob works in corporate America and was a work-study in the Student Resource Center when he was a student at SMC. He is currently working at the person in charge of all video-conferencing for a global financial corporation but has never lost that sense of the Catholic nature of SMC and his personality shines through in everything that he does. Bob is also VERY creative as he showed us when, after a day of skiing at Diamond Peak (ten minutes from DAvis/Ann's home) he created a You Tube video of MY adventures on the slopes. It seems that these three have somehow forgotten that I AM 66 and so when they convinced me that I really could navigate Crystal at Diamond Peak, I foolishly believed them. It was quite a challenge and while I survived, Bob's video camera caught some interesting footage which he turned into a very funny You Tube video - I have to admit that I NEVER thought I would be on You Tube....... If you want a good laugh simply go to You Tube and put in Dave Landers Hallelujah - let me know what you think....... After Bob returned to San Francisco another former student, Craig Farnum '99 drove up to Incline and hung out with us before driving me back to Reno with him where the next day I went with him into his high school and presented to the leadership class. Craig is the Lead Counselor and at 33 is one of the youngest Lead Counselors in the State of Nevada. Craig was a psychology major at SMC and a Spanish minor and he has made quite an impact on the people he works with. The students clearly love him and two of his fellow counselors AND his principal took the time to tell me how much they value him as a colleague. One of the senior students in the leadership class mentioned that she has always wanted to study Psychology but wasn't sure about exactly what she could do with that major - she is interested in a "job like Mr. Farnum" and after we talked I invited her to become part of my Practicum class when "Mr. Farnum Skypes into my class to talk with my college senior psychology students - - again, it is nice to be able to "enjoy the fruits of our labor" as I was able to see four people who are making a difference in our world but whom I have known for so many years. I tell students that if you decide to go into education or counseling you had better understand the concept of "delayed gratification" as it can sometimes take many years for us to actually see the "fruits of our labor."
Now that I am back, I have just completed grading the first papers from my Sports Psychology class. They are pretty good and I look forward to more of their critical thought and analysis on the many topics we are exploring in class. Men & Masculinities meets tomorrow night and after class I will be hosting the first of 5 dinners at my home. I have 6 students for dinner right after class on Mondays and while I cook, they talk and just enjoy being off campus and having someone else cook. I have, in the past, had to throw them out around 11 because I need my sleep. It was also interesting to note that when I mentioned hosting dinners at my house to the 30 students at Craig's school they were amazed - this is something they had no idea that college faculty do. I know that this is NOT unusual here at SMC and I look forward every year to having these dinners.

On this past Wednesday, in Lansing, Michigan, Louis Stamatakos was honored with the Silver Star, the third highest award that our government can give someone. I had Lou as a professor in my earlier graduate school days at Michigan State University where I received my Masters Degree. My brother-in-law Jim Wall also had Lou as a professor and they have maintained a wonderful friendship for many, many years. Jim alerted me to the fact that Lou, while never discussing this with friends and family, had, at the age of 20 saved an entire airplane which was flying over Nazi Germany during World War II - two bombs became entangled inside the plane and had they hit the sides of the plane, all would have been lost. Now, 65 years later - 65 years after the fact, Louis Stamatakos was honored this past week with the awarding of the Silver Star for untangling the bombs and saving the lives of all on-board. My best to Lou and his family on this long overdue honor.

As our men and women fight in two wars I hope that WE don't wait 65 years to keep them in our thoughts and prayers and to honor their service to our country and to us.........

take care and be well.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Technology and this generation's fascination/obsession with it.

Technology and this generation's fascination/obsession with it.
I have been "interviewed" twice this past week by students who are researching the implications of today's technology on today's students. One group is doing their senior project for Journalism and they spent over an hour with me - they recorded our conversation and they were full of questions about what I thought the impact was on college students today who are, according to recent reports, "using some form of media 7 hours and 38 minutes a day" - the other student is actually writing a book and he was looking for information on how social networking MAY be impacting students' interactions with each other. As I shared my own enthusiasm for today's technology and acknowledged that I Skype, text, Facebook, email, use eCollege, construct PowerPoints for class, pilot new classroom technology such as Tegrity (this allows me to record my classes and it captures everything I share with the class on my computer - I use it to record student presentations, guest speakers, etc. and when students or I use PowerPoint presentations, Tegrity "captures" all of it at the same time) - I also have a "paperless" classroom which means that after 40+ years of carrying student papers home to grade, it is all done today on my tablet computer. Our discussions were excellent and I was, as usual, impressed with the maturity and thoughtfulness of the students. They had researched their topics and seemed willing to listen to someone "older" :) discuss technology. One of the things we agreed on is that technology itself is not the problem, when/if there is a problem it is in how that technology is used or abused. Someone who spends hours and hours each day on FaceBook will most likely have other issues in their lives and their grades will suffer from that "obsession." Students or anyone (parents and grandparents are now on FaceBook) who uses social networking to take the place of one-on-one - face-to-face interactions will someday come to regret that. Many years ago, when new students arrived on campus in September our computer systems were shut down as they were infected with viruses - it took several days for our IT folks to be able to fix the problems - it was fascinating to watch how so many people went into panic mode because they couldn't "connect' with family/friends. I remember when I was finishing my doctoral dissertation and "word processing" was first introduced. someone suggested that I utilize that new technology instead of having a "typist" type each page for me at the exorbitant price of $.25 per page - yup, that was just a quarter. At the time I was NOT willing to "trust" my dissertation to any darned computer :) I laugh now as I get impatient when my computer doesn't boot up quick enough - how times have changed........

Things on campus continue at a steady and busy pace. Papers, projects, presentations are a daily event in class. Seniors are encouraged to work with our Career Services folks to make sure that they all have an up-to-date resume and the three career counselors are always willing to work with faculty or students and they provide excellent resources for the campus. Chris Clary will be coming into my Practicum class in two weeks to talk with my seniors (again) and to check in with them on the progress they have made in their post-graduation plans. Prof. Pat Standen is a member of our Philosophy Department and an outstanding educator. Pat was a 16 year old, two or three sport high school athlete when an automobile accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. As he realized that there literally were NO activities available for someone who USED to be an athlete he began his own journey and now he kayaks, plays sled-hockey, skis, holds the record for the Burlington City Marathon for adaptive athletes and he is about to take up the biathlon next week since he has always been interested in this but never has tried it. He is the founder of EDAA - Eastern Disabled Athletes Association. Pat came to speak with my Sports Psychology class on Thursday and it was amazing to see how quickly he became a part of my class. The students were intrigued, embarrassed (that they didn't know more about adaptive sports already) and full of questions. Pat has such an honest and comfortable teaching style that we worked very well together. A couple of my students know Pat because he is the Faculty Mentor for our Men's Hockey team and several of our men and women ice hockey players had assisted Pat when his organization put on a sled hockey event at Cairn's Arena. I have seen Pat play sled-hockey and it is truly an amazing sport to watch. I had Face-booked Pat during a recent Sunday afternoon Winter X Game run up to the Olympics because I had seen ski cross racing with adaptive skiers - he knows several of these competitors and so was able to also address that with my class. He and I agree that those of us who are TAB's (temporarily able-bodied) have an obligation to better educate ourselves on issues such as adaptive sports because we all know or will all know someone who has a disability that will restrict their ABILITIES - our awareness now makes us responsible for educating ourselves and those around us.

We have a long weekend starting next Saturday and I will be heading out West to visit some of my former students who live in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Reno. It will be great to see them all and I am also looking forward to some great skiing while I am there. While our neighbors to the South have certainly received a great deal of snow the past 48 hours, WE have received NONE. I know it is useless to ask them to ship it up here but hopefully this week will bring us more snow in Vermont. At least I know that they have a lot out West as my friends in Incline Village - outside of Lake Tahoe tell me that they received 7 FEET a week ago - 7 FEET - of course, their normal temperatures are also around 30 degrees so the snow isn't much of an issue - I will hopefully post some pictures on my blog upon my return. In the meantime, take good care, be well, and as always, PLEASE keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.