Higher Education: Our Angsty Teenager

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Drawing of Harvard College in 1720!

I spent quite a while thoughtfully considering each of the events on the Historical Timeline of American Higher Education and even did a bit of independent Internet searching, but seeing as the provided timeline was twelve pages long, there were plenty of intriguing events to choose from. Just four events in, and I pinpointed the first that seemed particularly significant: in 1628, “the first printing press in the American Colonies was set up at Harvard College.”

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I recalled, during our first class period, when Dr. Morvant spoke briefly about the invention and utilization of the printing press in colleges in the United States. Students outnumbering textbooks was no more, and information was much more easily shared and transported; not to mention the fact that, as time went on, people who could not attend a university were able to get their hands on printed materials. Before the printing press, “books were reproduced by monks through the painstaking process of copying them by hand” which “made [them] very rare and expensive, meaning members of the lower and middle classes could not easily obtain them” (Brunelle). Without a lot of thinking, you can pretty well assume that literacy rates increased as people became better educated and more thoughtful with the new sharing of knowledge; further, scientific and medical research could be shared among scholars, aiding greatly in collaboration and further advancement. People of all economic and social standings were able to educate and entertain themselves with printed material, and this idea of educational equality is further emphasized in the next important event that I selected: The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Leading up to the Civil Rights Act, discrimination was uncontrollable in the United States, particularly and most notably against African Americans. This made it impossible for education to be open to everyone, which created innumerable problems and hardship in every way imaginable. If blacks wanted to attend college, they were left with the option of attending an all-black university, and I always wonder how much better the academic environment could have been if all people were allowed to learn and collaborate together. Once the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, however, “discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” was outlawed (Wikipedia). Though everything was not perfect as soon as this legislation was passed, conditions slowly got better, and in terms of higher education, the inclusion of ALL types of people only created a more diverse, creative, and capable group of learners. With technology also moving forward, the introduction of IBM’s first version of the personal computer in 1981 was my choice for the third most important event in the history of higher education.

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On August 2nd, 1981, computer model 5150 was released by IBM and was immediately a huge success. Much like the printing press, this advancement in information sharing completely changed and improved the ways in which people learned, and further, they could now be more in control and more curious! The internet today is a sort of infinite black hole of everything. You can spend a ridiculous amount of time exploring every single informative or perverse crevice and still know so little. It is incredible. IBM’s clunky computer helped to jump-start what we have today, and while there are undeniable (and arguable) cons to such an interconnected world, the benefits surely prevail in providing us with never-ending connections to people, places, and ideas all over our world. These benefits are found just as bountifully in higher education, where students now study abroad, email each other from other countries, learn new languages with apps, find endless information and resources for research and paper-writing, and enjoy the exciting opportunities that are made available by computers and internet. The exciting and eventful maturation of higher education is a testament to its importance; it is kind of like a society’s little whining toddler with chocolate ice cream on his cheeks who has slowly and painfully matured into a young adolescent with a cracking voice and a hint of angst, still trying to figure out the ins and outs of life. I hope that, with time and effort, our teenager will mature into a fully functioning adult, more aware of what he is doing wrong and more able to take advice and correct it.

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Works Cited

Brunelle, Marcus. How the Printing Press Revolutionized Humanity (n.d.): n. pag. Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science.   Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

“Civil Rights Act of 1964.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Fall 2014 Overview

As I begin tomorrow with my spring classes, I thought I’d quickly cover the rest of the events and programs that I participated in in the fall. I had a great first semester, and here’s to hoping that this new semester is even better!

OU Cousins

OU Cousins is an awesome program that pairs OU students with international students to be like their “cousins”. My cousin was a nice and funny girl from Japan. We first met at the OU Cousins introductory event at Cafe Plaid, where we played Jenga and conversed about a wide variety of topics, including our lives, OU, and where we both were from. While I didn’t get to spend as much time with my cousin as I would have liked, due to our conflicting schedules, I was very happy to get to know her and had a great experience overall. I think the OU Cousins program is extremely valuable for both the international and US students it connects, as it provides an OU connection for the international student and exposes the US student to people from different countries that they might otherwise not have met. I know I learned a lot, and I hope to be able to participate in the program again in a later semester!

” ‘Forgotten’ Neighbors? ‘Suppressed’ Memories? Austria’s Way of Dealing with her Jewish History”

This was a very interesting lecture by Dr. Ursula Mindler. She described the history of Jews in Austria in the context of World War II and the Holocaust. Many towns and areas that had been primarily Jewish before the war were not so after the war, due to the displacement or murder of many of Austria’s Jewish citizens. Dr. Mindler explained how some in Austria have tried to “gloss over” or forget about the country’s contributions to genocide and ethnic cleansing, while other groups have attempted to bring Austria’s Jewish history back into the forefront. Overall, the lecture was very thought-provoking.

Krampus Festival

Some areas in Austria have an interesting tradition involving a creature known as a “Krampus”. A Krampus is a horned, devil-like creature that supposedly travels with Saint Nichols before Christmas, although it’s history is in pagan ritual. While Saint Nicholas rewards the good children, the Krampus punishes the bad children, usually by drowning or eating them. Many areas in the Alpine-regions of Austria have parades and festivals involving the Krampus on December 5th, the night before Saint Nicholas’s night. Here at OU there was a small Krampus party during the day where we learned about the Krampus tradition, ate Austrian snacks, and had our pictures taken with a real, live Krampus. It was a lot of fun to see this interesting tradition in action.

Turkish Lessons

During the Fall Semester I attended several of the free Turkish lessons offered by the Turkish Student Association. While I still can barely say more than “Merhaba” (hello) or “Nasılsınız?” (how are you?), the lessons were a lot of fun and very interesting for someone who’s a Linguistics major. Additionally, as I will be participating in the OU Journey to Turkey this summer (yay!), I’m hoping that even knowing basic words and phrases like these will come in useful!