Education


I’ve always done reasonably well in school, that is why it was a shock when I received a D- on a paper I had written. Now it wasn’t my favorite class (administrative law) and only counted as a small percentage of my overall grade. I went through the expected cycle: shock, denial, anger and depression. I then, as usual, began looking for the underlying reason, not only to my abysmal grade, but why I, and others it turns out, reacted with such emotional clamor and oh yes there was clamor.

The reason for the mental distress is the same reason a crushing defeat at the last minute in football stings so much or why movies that lead you through a spectacular build-up and fall flat with a mediocre ending leave you dejected. It is called the peak-end rule, a mental heuristic we all possess. Take the case of Yahoo researcher, Cameron Marlow,

In the case of my vacation, the last high-point of my time in Europe was in Florence, followed by one brief day in Copenhagen. Not that there’s anything wrong with Denmark, but that day ends up coming up in more of my conversations than the rest of the trip because that is how memory works (that and blood jello is really, really disgusting). If you’re planning any trips soon, make sure to end on a high note, because you will be the one telling the stories.

In my situation, the feeling that everything was going well was partially rooted in the lack of direction and expectations set by the professor. When the grades were received, those who misinterpreted the scope of the assignment were obviously distressed. Since these concerns were addressed with the professor following this initial assignment, everyone proceeded with a clear understanding going forward.

Unfortunately higher education is not the only place this lack of common direction exists, supervisors and managers are guilty of the same actions. Goals are poorly set with few guidelines, leading to an atmosphere were employees become complacent or pursue the wrong development plans. Some managers go so far as to ask employees to set their own training objectives with little support, then chastise them when they fail to live up to the internal expectations the manager initially had conceived but failed to communicate. When a performance review is finally conducted, generally every six months, employees are left confused and irritated with diminished morale.

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The weekend is closing in and time to work on some of my more opinionated pieces. This month has provided a great deal of outstanding material to speak on the topic of freedom. From banning Superbowl Commercials to expelling students, our country is slipping down the PC river without a padel. We seem to keep forgetting, everyone has the right to be an ass. That’s right, I said it.

Amendment I – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Just take a look at some of the stories from the past few weeks:

(Incidentally I am currently formulating the most non-offensive Superbowl ad ever made, so marketing firms FYI.)

  • Tony Long’s recent article on violent video games, particularly Super Columbine Massacre RPG
  • NAACP probes Clemson college party (pictures available at The Smoking Gun)
  • Macalister College politically incorrect party under investigation
  • Find the illegal immigrant game at New York University draws protest
  • Satire of rape in Central Connecticut State University draws protests
  • San Diego skateboarder tazed after riding on sidewalk – Video here

Now because everyone has this right, doesn’t mean as a society they should be made to feel comfortable for their views, but they should not be fired, expelled, suspended, censored or forced into retirement. Despite not being a great movie, I’m reminded of the mayor of New York in the movie Ghostbusters II, “being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God given right.”

I came across this article from Pat Regnier at CNN Money. It makes several points I have been arguing for quite some time.

Old Rule: “Success required a high school diploma.”
New Rule: “Success requires a college degree.”

Old Rule: “Climbing the ladder meant rising up the ranks within a single company.”
New Rule: “Climbing the ladder means chasing opportunities with multiple employers.”

Old Rule: “Wealth was managed on behalf of workers.”
New Rule: “Workers need to manage their wealth.”

Old Rule: “Most mothers expected to stay home.”
New Rule: “Most mothers expect to work.”

Old Rule: “Competition was limited.”
New Rule: “Competition is fierce.”

Now these rules are quite controversial because they force people outside their comfort zone and into the protectionist zone where unions hold sway and the government should do something about “all these foreigners.” I am reminded of a piece of research I came across several years back discussing the shift in American manufacturing to foreign locations as well as the need for persons to continue education longer into life (given you have to learn what your parent’s did, plus everything that has been discovered since).

Some would think this research was written in the past five years since there are a large percentage of people who continue to deny the rapid increase in social and economic change, which eems to increase daily. It was in fact written in 1977. So how much longer do we need to start making fundamental change to the way we educate and train this generations workforce to cope with these ‘new’ rules?

Thanks to lifehacker.com, I came across the following site, convinceme.net.

I don’t know if this will always qualify as intelligent, well-informed debate, but provides a central venue and as always a wide range of opinions.

My personal favorite:

terrorist.JPG

I’m sure the city of Boston will weigh in. My vote is for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

I received a few emails related to my recent post about bad HR. This time asking why I thought it was appropriate to list something regarding identity theft under the tag Humor. I was reminded that identity theft is a serious problem and isn’t funny.

I wholeheartedly agree with this as my wife is among the millions of Americans who have had their identity fraudulently stolen (8.9 million in 2006 alone). On the bright side it seems the situation is improving, although American’s lost $49.3 billion last year, the rate of theft decreased by 11.5%, reflecting increased vigilance by business and consumers alike. I must warn you, though exploring the underlying psychology behind social occurrences as with many of my posts, this will be more off-color than most.

I think we can all agree that theft is wrong, it is part of almost every legal code, some Arab countries still sever the hands of thieves, I believe there is even a passage about it in the Christian Bible. When it involves heavily personal items such as cars, money, and above all identity it becomes especially hanus. A great deal of my academic research has been the relationship we possess with the tasks we perform, but it is hardly the only thing that drives who we are. There are in fact levels of identity, we identify with our families, our independence, our countries, and the possessions we own. There are countless others and the hierarchy they assume varies by individual.

This explains why some people can watch a news story about a car jacking going wrong and say to themselves, “they are only possessions, get out of the car” and the other party unwilling to get out of their car and let the thief have it. Sure there is panic, the instinctual fight or flight response, but I believe there is something more. When the criminal is driving away, a piece of ourselves is going with it (and I’m sure a fair percentage wish they had a Mad Max self-destruct button). The result of an AP-AOL Auto poll indicate the strong personal relationship Americans share with their automobile.

Like many in an AP-AOL Autos poll, her car is more than a machine and her relationship with it is intensely personal.Almost four in 10 of those polled said their car has a personality of its own. Two in 10 have a nickname for their car. Most often it is a female nickname; popular choices include variations on Betsy, Nelly, Blue and Baby.

When people talk about their strong feelings for their cars and trucks, they mention dependability, time spent maintaining them and the freedom that comes from cruising on the open road.

It is along this line that identity theft is such despicable crime. The loss of a possession, though sometimes hard to replace, is easier to move on from than the piece of personal identity and freedom you loose with identity theft. Those who experience it still harbor lack of trust in others and given the hardships of being issued a new Social Security number, fear it is just a matter of time before it happens again. As I stated above, my wife has lived this nightmare and was reminded again recently when the University of Texas at Dallas sent a letter informing us that her personal data (name, address, phone number and social) and 35,000 others was part of a data security breach almost 2 months after the fact.

While legislators have started to pass laws to improve data security, they are woefully inadequate when they come to apprehending and prosecuting offenders. My personal thoughts on identity theft are simple. If someone assumes who you are, then is it really illegal to kill them, wouldn’t it just be suicide?

Let’s focus on, Dean, the guy not living up to his resume. The most recent Business 2.0 Dumbest Moments in Business (#42) lists that MBAs cheat more often than any other degree program, totaling almost 56% that have plagiarized, taken others work, etc. Rutgers University professor Donald McCabe states,

“You have business students saying, ‘All I’m doing is emulating the behavior I’ll need when I get out in the real world.'”

I shared such as experience as an entire case study which I had written was used by another student. I can’t place all the blame on the MBA program however, you can imagine my surprise when the Dean of Students refused to meet with me regarding the incident.

Is it any wonder then that people are increasingly stretching the truth on their resumes? According to a report on CNN, while only 5% of job seekers admit to lying on their resumes, 57% of hiring managers claim they have caught a candidate in a lie either on their resume or application. Some of the most common resume lies include:

  1. Lying about degree status
  2. Playing with dates
  3. Exaggerating numbers
  4. Increasing previous salary
  5. Inflating titles
  6. Lying about technical abilities
  7. Claiming language fluency
  8. Providing a fake address
  9. Padding GPA

I believe we are all aware of the potential consequences of these actions. Not only do you risk not getting the job, but if you are focusing on a particular industry, word is likely to get around about your credibility. Once you develop a reputation for inflating your abilities you will be hard pressed to find the employment you were seeking. Take for example the Yale student, Aleksey Vayner, whose claims include

  • He claimed that he “is one of four people in the state of Connecticut qualified to handle nuclear waste“.
  • He was employed by both the Mafia and the CIA during his childhood.
  • He gave tennis lessons to Harrison Ford, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Jerry Seinfeld. He further claims to have won two games in a tennis match against Pete Sampras.
  • He is a specialist in “Chinese orthopedic massage”.
  • The Dalai Lama had apparently written his college recommendation.
  • He has killed two dozen men in Tibetan gladiatorial contests.
  • He claimed to be “an action star, an espionage expert, and a professional athlete.
  • He would be on the C.I.A. firing range one day and at a martial-arts competition that took place in [a] secret system of tunnels underneath Woodstock, New York the next.”

My question would be simply, how did he get into Yale?

Instead of focusing on improved search methods to cut through the clutter, why is it that candidates lie in the first place? We continually hear that it is a competitive job market out there. That having a degree no longer makes anyone special. While I agree that deception is not the answer, a portion of the responsibility lies with the standards that have been created by internal screening processes.

It is widely known that two things that can get a candidate instantly excluded are large employment gaps and living outside the local area. In addition, when it comes to salary, it is also known that requesting this information gives the current interviewer a starting point with salary negotiations. With this criteria it only becomes a matter of time before some turn to “little white lies” to exploit the system.

Thanks for reading and making this one of the best weeks yet.

01/22/2007 – Cobra didn’t need a doomsday device to be G.I. Joe

01/23/2007 – Loss of Talent and America’s Decline

01/23/2007 – Worst HR Ever

01/23/2007 – Steve Jobs and Options: Beyond Selfishness?

01/25/2007 – More Bad HR – All Your Information Are Belong to US

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