Education for free

My one take-away LSS from Avenue Q was Trekkie Monster’s mantra:  The internet is for porn.

While that may be true for most,  the internet has proven extremely useful for geeky SAHM moms like myself to keep up to date with the latest global issues and trends.   The internet has shrunk the world to the point where one need not travel thousands of miles to see Thomas Friedman expound on his theory that The World is Flat or learn from Kamal Meattle the exact number of plants needed to grow fresh air in an crowded office environment.

Thanks to the internet and the generosity of certain think-tanks and universities, lectures by global movers and shakers are now accessible to the public:  for FREE.

My favorite sites at the moment are the following:

1.  TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design)

TED is a small non-profit organization which hosts annual conferences in Long Beach and Oxford,  bringing together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers  who  are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).    Videos of these talks are available online at   I love their mission – to build a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.     Topics range from the environment to art to what makes us happy.

Must view video:  Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about “how we are educating our kids out of their creative capacities.

Hot on the heels of TED is whose mission is to “gather the web’s largest collection of unmediated video drawn from live events, lectures, and debates going on all the time at the world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences.   We present this provocative, big-idea content for anyone to watch, interact with, and share –when, where, and how they want”  Be sure to catch George Kembel’s lecture on Awakening Creativity.

3.  Academic Earth

There is a revolution happening in campuses around the world and this is being led by the edupunks who espouse a do-it-yourself philosophy with regards to education.   MIT was the first to lead the pack — posting videotaped lectures on  Other Ivy League schools such as  UC Berkeley, Carnegie Melon and Yale have followed suit.

It was just a matter of time before someone had the brilliant idea of aggregating all these videos on to one website.  Academic Earth now allows you to audit classes from various universities in the comfort of your own home.

As Thomas Friedman said,  The World IS Flat.

What is School For?

A month ago,  Seth Godin posted a very interesting question:  What is School For? 

Here is his starter list:

  1. Become an informed citizen
  2. Be able to read for pleasure
  3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment
  4. Do well on standardized tests
  5. Homogenize society, at least a bit
  6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas
  7. Give kids something to do while parents work
  8. Teach future citizens how to conform
  9. Teach future consumers how to desire
  10.  Build a social fabric
  11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage
  12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology
  13. Learn for the sake of learning
  14. Help people become interesting and productive
  15. Defang the proletariat
  16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall
  17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted
  18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems
  19. Teach future citizens to obey authority
  20. Teach future employees to do the same
  21. Increase appreciation for art and culture
  22. Teach creativity and problem solving
  23. Minimize public spelling mistakes
  24. Increase emotional intelligence
  25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics
  26. Increase understanding of a life well lived
  27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players

It is by no means exhaustive but provides starting points for very interesting conversations amongst parents and educators,  particularly when searching for that “perfect” primary or secondary school.   I personally would hate to place my son in a school whose principles were heavily skewed towards #4-8, at the expense of #2 & 22. 

Related post: Are Schools Educating Our Children Out of Their Creativity?


Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Wow!!! New UC Irvine Law School Hopes To Attract Best & Brightest with Promise of Free Tuition

Education is big business.  Parents are prepared to do anything just to get their children to the “best” schools,  regardless of the cost.    A school’s reputation is priceless.  But what if the school does not have an established “rep” backed by a proven success record?  UC Irvine thinks it has the key:  it is offering three years of free tuition to their first class of students to the new law school set to open in fall 2009.  The goal?  To become a top-20 law school—the first time they are ranked.  In order to do this they are offering full scholarships to all 60 members of its inaugural 2009 class.   Take note:  They are looking for Ivy League-caliber students. 


UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky believes that free education, a public interest curriculum, and being part of the University of California education system (a system that boasts top schools such as Berkeley) will fill this first class and push his new law school to an A-grade.  Chemerinsky has already hired 19 law professors and administrators, including some who are abandoning jobs at prestigious universities. The school hopes to eventually enroll 600 students and employ 40 to 50 professors.


During a recession, offering free tuition is pretty smart.  I can’t help but ask…  What do you think of UC Irvine’s strategy?  Would you be willing to attend a new university if it was free?

For more information about the program, go to the following links:

UC Irvine School of Law 

Prospective students 

Apply Now

Costs & Financial Aid

Discussion with undergrads about the new law school

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Open Yale Courses

This is way cool.  I just found out that Yale has made several of their courses free over the internet.

Taken from the Open Yale Courses FAQ:

  1. What is Open Yale Courses?

    Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet. The courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.

  2. Why is Yale sharing some of its undergraduate courses free worldwide?

    While it has long upheld the principle that education is best built upon direct interactions among teachers, students, and staff, Yale also believes that leading universities can make an important contribution to expanding access to educational resources through the use of internet technology. The goals of the project also align with the University’s aim to increase its presence and strengthen its relationships internationally.

  3. What is included in these online courses?

    Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, searchable transcripts of each lecture are provided.

If you have the time and would like to learn something new,  please do listen to the lectures.  ‘I’ve certainly learned a lot from the Financial Markets course.

Here are some of the courses:

Biomedical Engineering
Ancient Greek History
Game Theory
Financial Markets
The American Novel Since 1945
The Civil War and Reconstruction Era
France Since 1871

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Are schools educating our children out of their creativity?

We may differ in parenting styles and philosophies but one thing holds true for all parents:  we want our children to be the best that they can be.  For many,  this is achieved by investing in education – sending them to the best schools that money can buy, hiring private tutors etc.

So why is it that more and more people feel that the education system is in crisis?  I’ve talked with HR practitioners who decry the dearth of talent being churned out by the so-called top universities. I’m meeting more and more people (some of whom are educators) who have decided to homeschool their children because they strongly feel that the traditional schools are stifling their creativity and taking the fun out of learning.

Sir Ken Robinson, author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative said it best during a June 2006 lecture at TEDtalks.  If you are a parent or an educator,  stop whatever you’re doing and watch this video:

Key takeaways:

  • “They’re [children] not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you never come up with anything original. And by the time most children get to be adults most children have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong”
  • We stigmatize mistakes.
  • Creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.
  • The education systems around the world are educating people out of their creative capacities… “Truthfully what happens is, as children grow up we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.”
  • “the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.”
  • The education system needs to be rethought and reengineered to help cultivate our children’s whole being (not just specific parts) to enable them to make something of their future.

The full transcript is available here.

Michael Wesch and the students of the Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University made a very thought-provoking video spelling out the results of a survey on what it means to be a student in North America today.

Sigh.   This certainly isn’t making our school hunting any easier.


Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Muddles should teach Middles

Today’s youtube surfing session yield a treasure of a clip which was written and produced for Word Alive International Outreach.  Parents would do well to share this with their toddlers.

Got a college-bound teen?  Share this:

Start them young on the path of financial literacy so that they don’t make the bad decisions which lead to debt snowballs.

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Relive the magic of Sesame Street


Forget Barney.  I’m a Sesame Street kid and proud of it. =)  Whether it’s learning letters and numbers or tackling more challenging topics like conflict resolution and healthy eating, the friendly, furry Sesame Street characters have been there to lend a hand.   If you are like me,  you probably still remember some of your favorites.  My fondest memories were of Guy Smiley (who could forget his version of “Sunny Day”).  The great news is that the Sesame Workshop is posting some of its classic skits online for both parents and kids to enjoy.Watch some of these clips now!  Go to the below link: