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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Applying to Medical School

Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school requires a serious commitment. Depending on your background and circumstances, you may need up to two years to meet all the course requirements for medical school and complete the arduous application process. Here is a general overview of the timeline and steps of applying to medical school.
Science and Math Course Requirements
Nearly all medical school requires some college-level prerequisites in biology, chemistry, physics and a smaller percentage require calculus. While some schools lack specific course requirements before applying, these are the exception rather than the rule. The MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) is a good resource that provides a list of prerequisite requirements for all accredited medical schools. In any event, you will need to know the material covered in these courses to succeed on the MCAT.

The Dreaded Standardized Exam: the MCAT

The MCAT is used by nearly all medical schools as an objective measure of how you will handle the academic rigors of medical school, and is an essential part applying to medical school. As such, the test is a test of your analytical abilities rather than a simple regurgitation of science facts. The test is imperfect, but it provides a nearly universal way to evaluate applicants of varying backgrounds.
The test is comprised of four sections and takes about five and a half hours. The sections are physical science (chemistry and physics), verbal reasoning (reading comprehension), writing sample (2 essay questions), and biological science (biology and organic chemistry).
Most applicants take the MCAT late in their junior year of college. This is ideal, as it provides time to retake the exam should you need to improve your score, if necessary. Also, it is advisable to take the exam early and get it out of the way so you can focus on the rest of the application and not worry about studying.
Keep in mind that schools will see both scores should you choose to retake the MCAT, so don’t simply take an exam for “practice”. The test is offered about 20-25 times a year – which is a vast improvement over the old system of twice a year. You can expect to get the official results in about a month after the exam date.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Every child matters, learns differently

Every child matters, learns differently

Hyderabad-based educator James Tooley has spent long years in India, China and Africa studying private schools that are not recognised by the government. Tooley’s studies defy traditional wisdom that government must provide the poor education. He spoke to Nandita Sengupta:

Your book, The Beautiful Tree, documents the achievements of unrecognised private schools, a sector that education experts have ignored.
The book brings into focus what the poor are doing for themselves. Our study in Hyderabad two years ago showed more children were in unrecognised private schools than in government ones. There’s room for improvement though. But these schools are off the radar. It’s a perplexing conundrum. Every development report talks of government school inefficiency, yet as a solution returns to government schools. What development guys fail to realise is that in every country these schools are highly regulated. Certainly, the regulations may be of the wrong kind and invariably lead to corruption.
Is there a low-cost model then for schools?
That’s what we’re working on. Even if you get the funding, you want a replicable model. It has to be very low cost. With expensive teachers the model collapses. I’m interested in peer-learning models. It’s at an embryonic stage in Hyderabad. We are trying in Ghana too. Peer learning is inevitably tied to differentiated learning. So a group of 10 has a pupil teacher. As they master the class, they move on. We’re focused on pre-primary and primary because there’s freedom there. We’re not exposed to tests. Exams, certainly, is an issue. In higher classes we’re looking at improving students’ spoken English, doing foundation courses for exams.
One reason entrepreneurs give for not training teachers is that once trained, they’d move for higher salaries. Teacher retention is hard. Short, sharp-focused training can be one way ahead. We do an initial five-week training programme during the summer holidays followed by shorter modules. Teachers’ mentoring posttraining counts. In our model, as much importance is given to an academic coordinator who works with three or four schools and mentors class teachers. I’m interested in making these local private schools great places of learning. My guiding principle is every child matters, learns differently.
Should government get out of schooling?
To an extent, government has got out of education. Majority of school kids are in private schools. Not as if government decided to get out. But parents pushed it out. Do we want it back? I’m not sure. The question is what role do we want the government to play? It’s probably not the historical role of providing schools, managing schools etc. For whatever reason, it hasn’t proved very good at that, barring a few exceptions. Even if you get into private-public partnerships, if teachers aren’t in your control and continue to be government teachers, it’s a complete waste of time.

Copyrights TimesofIndia Newspaper 30-12-2009

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Home Schooling or Not?

Much of what I thought about home schooling was wrong. The conventional wisdom about this rapidly growing dimension of American education is too simple, too stereotyped and too stale.

For instance, the Home School Legal Defense Association, despite its energetic lawyers and many admirers, is not the leader of home schooling in this country. There is no leader, and no reigning ideology. There are instead at least a million American children - the real figure is probably twice that number - whose families want them to learn at home for many reasons, often having little to do with religion or politics.

The common image of home-schoolers as lockstep religious conservatives falls apart when you discover that some of these parents have been shunned by their fundamentalist churches for teaching their kids at home rather than sending them to the church's school. Some home-schoolers love the new for-profit online teaching programs like K12. Some think they are a corporate plot. Some parents are home-schooling because their kids were learning more quickly than their teachers could keep up with. Some are home-schooling because their kids were learning more slowly than their public school teachers had patience for. Some home-school because their children were unhappy at school. Some home-school because they could not meet their needs any other way.

Public school educators often worry that the children of such people will not learn necessary social skills. But home-schooling parents said their children learned how to deal with other people just fine, particularly with the many adults they encountered when they visited the library or went to church or did chores around the neighborhood. With their parents so often at their side, they were able to see what good manners and self-confidence looked like, rather than be forced to adopt the jungle code of the average high school corridor. In many families one parent stays at home to supervise the home schooling, although they often do some work there to pay the bills, or trade off with other home-schooling parents when they have to be away.

Home schooling involves a tremendous commitment from the parents. At least one parent must be willing to work closely with the child, plan lessons, keep abreast of requirements, and perhaps negotiate issues with the school district. The most common home school arrangement is for the mother to teach while the father works out of the home. There are a variety of educational materials geared for the home school, published by dozens of suppliers. Some are correspondence courses, which grade students' work, some are full curricula, and some are single topic workbooks or drill materials in areas such as math or phonics.

Many of the curriculum providers are indentifiably Christian, including several major home school publishers such as Bob Jones University Press, Alpha Omega Publications, and Home Study International. A major non-religious provider of home school materials is the Calvert School in Baltimore. Figures vary as to how many home schools use published curricula or correspondence courses, but the Department of Education estimates that it is from 25 to 50%; the rest use a curriculum the parents and/or child have devised. Education writer John Holt, a champion of home schooling, suggested that no particular area of study was essential. He advised parents to use real life activities such as work in a family business, writing letters, bookkeeping, observing nature, and talking with old people as meaningful academic lessons. Home schools might fall anywhere on this spectrum, between the tightly planned study of a formal curriculum to Holt's free-form, experiential learning.

But first, all the parents interested in teaching their children at home need to find out what laws apply to their state and school district.

Home Schooling Online - Is It Right For Your Family?

Home schooling online requires a lot of dedication and strict scheduling to ensure that the required work gets done.  Internet classes, which are often scheduled at specific times during the day, must be attended regularly.  In addition, tests are generally taken online and grades posted or delivered via e-mail. 

Some of the most popular reasons to enroll in home schooling online is scheduling, childhood development or simply the desire to learn at home.  For adults who enroll in home schooling online, they often do so in order to be able to earn their degree while working full time.  In this scenario, it would be very difficult to attend regular classes.  For children, the decision to enroll in home schooling online is much different.  If you feel that your child needs to learn at his/her own pace and you want to make sure that he/she receives personal attention to their education, home schooling online may be the answer.  If your child has a difficult time socializing with other children and a physician feels that home schooling online would be better for your child's well-being, then you may want to consider online enrollment. 

It's important to realize that home schooling online will not permit your child with the same socializing skills that are acquired while attending regular classes.  Therefore, your child must find other ways to meet new people and adopt good social skills.  This may include being a part of theatrical productions, field trips, library readings and other gatherings.  One of the many benefits to home schooling, on the other hand, is being active in who your child socializes with and ensuring that the influences are acceptable.

Before making the final decision to enroll your child in home schooling online, make sure that he/she is in agreement.  Many parents forget to include the child in such an important decision, but his/her opinion cannot be overlooked.  In order for a child to learn well, the environment must be one that is desired.  Many children want to attend regular school because, with home schooling online, they may feel that they are missing an important aspect of their childhood.  This is why developing social activities is so important and is critical to your child's growth and development. 

As a final thought, home schooling online is not expensive in and of itself.  However, if your child enrolls in home schooling online, one parent will have to stay at home while the other works.  If your home can handle one income, home schooling online may work perfectly.  If not, you will have to work out a strict schedule so that someone is always at home to ensure the child's learning is not compromised while adjusting your work schedule around his/her education.

Home Schooling Is Loaded With Fun Activities

There are many reasons why parents choose homeschooling for their children. A lot of times this choice is made by parents who are dissatisfied with the way formal education is being run. Also by those who are concerned about safety issues.

In addition, there are those parents who wish to freely instill some religious values in their children, while some feel that having their kids taught at home helps tighten their family bond.

Nowadays, there has been an uprise in the numbers of students who are getting their education at home. In the United States, approximately around 3 million children participate in homeschooling programs.

There are various ways homeschooling can be achieved. One of the most popular methods is to avail of prepackaged curriculums. A lot of book publishers specifically produce materials designed for children who participate in homeschooling.

These prepackaged curriculums basically introduce subjects that follow the curriculum of formal education.

Home schooling includes a lot of activities that make learning fun and exciting, especially for young children, while teaching a range of subjects such as: Mathematics, Language, Social Studies, Science, History, Electives and many more.

Children who are undergoing homeschooling are furnished with school supplies and other materials that they need for their education.

Software, educational audio cassettes and videos, and the internet are also part of the tools that are included in the education of the child.

Home schooling teachers may also teach children how to play various instruments as a part of the activities covered in music, and other various skills depending on the child's interest.

Arts and crafts, indoor games, and story telling are some of the other activities homeschooled children can participate in. The best thing about this is family members will be able to support and be involved in the various activities of the child.

Students who are undergoing homeschooling may also choose to go on organized fieldtrips along with other children who are also being homeschooled.

Outside of homeschooling, children can also participate in a number of activities such as: community service, working part time, sports programs, church activities and field trips that are organized by support groups that endorse home schooling.

These are basically facilitated by families who also have children who participate in homeschooling.

This method of learning is gaining more and more popularity these days, and is becoming a more feasible option for a number of families that now it is fast becoming a new trend in the way children get their education. This gives parents more freedom to choose what they think would be the best option when it comes to their children's education.