IN THIS ISSUE
- Letter from the Editor
- Q&A: Self-Directed Learning
- Short Story: “Zombies of the Big Apple”
- Special Feature: A Film on Self-Directed Learning
- Math Corner
- A Concluding Note
The theme for this issue of Luminaria, the LEC newsletter, is the guiding concept of the LEC: self-directed learning. This may seem like an obvious term—Q: What is self-directed learning? A: It’s when you learn by directing yourself!—but it is actually much more layered, complex, and interesting. And because it is an idea crucial to MCNY, it is, therefore, an idea worth exploring.
To do this, we commissioned a handful of new features. We have a question-and-answer session, a set of math problems, and even a short story from a dedicated LEC student. Our special feature is a 12-minute video in which three MCNY professors and two MCNY students discuss and dissect the history, theory, and definition(s) of self-directed learning.
Presenting a video means, of course, that we must present this issue in a new form: online. In the past, Luminaria was printed as a glossy magazine-style handout and distributed to students and faculty. Now, it can be viewed on the LEC Blog in its entirety. This means that anyone is free to view it according to their schedule. Like education—like learning—this issue will live forever. Enjoy.
Nathan Schiller, editor
NS: Simply put, what is a self-directed learner?
SB: A self-directed learner is a student who takes initiative in accomplishing a learning goal. The learning goal varies from student to student, but the same desire to actively participate in learning is there. Self-directed learning is not a concept that is particular to MCNY, but it is a term that we specifically use to express a certain type of learner.
NS: Well, considering your definition, isn’t every student a self-directed learner?
SB: No. A mere desire to improve does not make someone a self-directed learner. The student that actively takes steps toward improving is what makes him or her a self-directed learner. For example, a student who uses the “additional materials” on a syllabus for additional clarification on course work is a self-directed learner. The student who comes to the LEC for clarification on APA formatting is a self-directed learner. The student who raises questions in class is a self-directed learner. The desire and then the action based upon that desire makes someone a self-directed learner. When it comes to my work at the LEC, I work with students who make themselves self-directed learners by simply coming in for sessions. Being a self-directed learner is not defined by the grandeur of the effort but by the fact that one takes on an an active role in learning.
NS: Do these types of students even realize that they are self-directed learners?
SB: Self-directed learners have a certain attitude about their education that sets them apart from other students. They may not use this exact term to describes themselves, but these students are conscious that they are active participants in their learning.
NS. So what are some qualities of a self-directed learner?
SB: Great question. Self-directed learners are confident. That confidence develops over time. But the more active a role they begin to play in their learning, the more confident they will become in their studies. Self-directed learners also have a positive attitude toward their learning because they see the value in achieving their learning goals.
NS: Do you have any other thoughts on self-directed learning?
SB: To make a final point, I believe self-directed learning is important at MCNY because self-directed learners excel in the classroom and, in turn, excel in the professional world. Our educational model is based on the relationship between the classroom and the work place. It is no coincidence that our institution seeks to develop self-directed learners.
New York City is a world like no other, especially the subways and the streets. Although it is not commonly known to outsiders, we have a culture where if one gently bumps into another on the street or subway, we automatically say we are “sorry.” If, for example, a person is walking down the aisles of a full train and bumps into someone who is sitting, the offended gets choleric and says “excuse you” or gives a cold, long killer stare. Interestingly enough, they are too obtuse to understand that it is an accident, which is at most two seconds of slight discomfort due to over crowdedness. The pressing question is not whether it is apropos to say “sorry” for an accidental cause of one’s discomfort, but if the NYC subway commuters actually turn into zombies once they enter the wagon.
In recent news, the Center for Disease Control posted a blog about what would happen if Zombies started to invade. Punchy and sarcastic, this article actually spoke more about how to prepare for a real disaster. I, however, am reporting that a virus has already started to spread throughout New York City. The name of this particular strain of “Zombieitis” was recently coined the Pinkhusovia Virus, named for the prominent (non-Ph.D.) sociologist, Vladimir Pinkhusovich.
When the train is in motion and a homeless person is asking for change or even a follower of Jesus is having a monologue, everybody seems to be looking at their magazines, electronic pads, iPods or reading books. Each person looks like the other. Any conscious onlooker can observe this very interesting phenomenon. Yesterday, however, a non-infected girl smiled at me in the train, a sighting that is very uncommon within the contamination zone. If someone smiles or says “hi,” we suspect that they have dark motives. For me however, her smile was a feeling of great rapture. Although it is difficult to establish an organic encounter with one in the NYC subway, especially if they are protected by layers of accessories and are in their catatonic zombie state, an appropriate antidote has actually been found.
The antidote consists of the dead viral RNA, known as “purposeful step” (yes, stepping on an infectee’s foot), in order to trigger a reaction, followed by the normative functions of “sorry.” Once the non-infected passes this point, they can further thread a conversation with a smile followed by a conversational opener which will disarm the viral sequence. Hopefully, we can unapologetically stomp out the virus and decontaminate NYC, one conscious being at a time.
A fraction (from Latin: fractus, “broken”) is a number that can be expressed as the ratio of two numbers, primarily used for comparison of parts to a whole. The earliest fractions were reciprocals of integers: ancient symbols representing one part of two, one part of three, one part of four, and so on. A much later development was the common or “vulgar” fractions, still used today, such as 1⁄2, 5⁄8, 3⁄4, etc., which consist of a numerator and a denominator—the numerator representing a number of equal parts and the denominator telling how many of those parts make up a whole. An example is 3⁄4, in which the numerator, 3, tells us that the fraction represents 3 equal parts, and the denominator, 4, tells us that 4 parts make up a whole.
Simplify Each Complex Fraction (answers below!)
1. 3/4 ÷ 1/2 =
2. 2/9 ÷ 1/5 =
3. 4/5 ÷ 2/15 =
4. 2 ÷ 1/7 =
5. 3/5 ÷ 6 =
6. 1 5/6 ÷ 2/9 =
7. 3 1/8 ÷ 2 1/5 =
8. 2 3/4 ÷ 1 1/6 =
It is no wonder that self-directed learning is our theme for this issue, for it is these very learning principles that continue to ground our work, especially through a time of great change for our Center. With the completion of our Title V (founding) grant, the departure of our amazing Director, Dr. Kannan, our new space within the Library and the recent additions to our staff, we’re excited to resume our newsletter. Additionally, we look forward to forging our close collaboration with the Mentoring Program in the coming semesters.
Often our best teachers are our students, and the LEC staff “tips our collective hat” to the eager, committed, vulnerable, and brave students that grace our Center.
We wish everyone a very successful semester!
Fraction answer key:
1. 1 1/2 2. 1 1/9 3. 6 4. 14 5. 1/10 6. 8 1/4 7. 1 37/88 8. 2 5/14