Cultural Commentary

7 Productive Alternatives to Messy Behavior

Misbehavior

(Photo Credit: The Education Insider)

Although it’s quite unfortunate that many are increasingly embracing messy behavior—often including it in the wildly popular use of “petty”—this growing acceptance of messy behavior poses a grave threat: the loss of numerous important possibilities. Time is valuable—incapable of being redeemed—and we need to develop into better stewards of time and the resources we possess. Your notion of “having fun” should be wholesome, as some dubbed their messy behavior as “having fun” or “just playing.” Are you being truthful, though? Or, do you frequently engage in messy behavior because you’re a messy person? The purpose of this piece is to offer 7 productive alternatives to engaging in messy behavior.

1. Read at least one book a week. With countless wonderful books available, including many classic works of fiction and non-fiction, spend more time reading these works. If a week isn’t long enough for you to finish one book, then keep reading it until you’re able to finish it. The goal is to spend more time reading and gaining more knowledge and skills from reading. Take time to reflect on what you read. Keep a reading journal. You might even find it fun to share thoughts about what you’re reading on Facebook, Twitter, and/or any other social media platform. This will be healthier and far more productive than engaging in messy behavior on social media platforms.

2. Start a charitable organization. Use your time to help others—to make a real, measurable impact on people’s lives. Don’t just say you already have and do.

3. Actively participate in an existing charitable organization. Existing non-profit organizations could benefit significantly from your time and support.

4. Exercise more. Purchase a membership to a fitness center and spend more time there.

5. Start your own business. If you have time to resort to messy behavior, then you have time to launch a new business.

6. Take some educational courses. With many online courses and degree programs available, no one has any excuse not to continue to educate themselves.

7. Organize a Neighborhood Clean-Up Day. If your neighborhood is clean, then find a neighborhood that needs to be cleaned and clean it with the help of others in the neighborhood.    

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Disturb the Phony Peace

Disturb Peace

(Photo Credit: Master File)

To be a free black man, it’s a beautiful thing. When you don’t mind exposing false notions of peace, it’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, not enough people truly embrace their liberty—they’d rather maintain their status as docile, milquetoast, sycophants for individuals who enjoy dominating their lives. One of the core reasons why our nation is in such bad shape right now is we’ve failed to engage in bold, frank discourses in many spaces. Why maintain a phony idea of peace? Why not disturb disingenuous ideas about peace?

Just to keep people happy around them, too many folks will allow themselves to grow more and more miserable. When you have authentic disagreements about something or several phenomena with people in various spaces, let your candid views be heard. Don’t allow anyone to silence you; don’t be afraid of anyone. Yes, they will say, “you’re sowing seeds of discord,” “bitter,” “disgruntled,” “wicked,” “unsaved,” “sad,” “depressed,” “angry,” “holding grudges,” and etc. You, however, must not permit their distractions to prevent you from freely expressing your thoughts that have the potential to engender the change needed.

Any organizational leaders contending that their organizations don’t have any divisions in them are promoting lies and communicating a message that intellectual diversity, a diversity of ideas, is not welcomed. Expose this. Disturb this false peace.

Most clear-thinking people love freedom. Why is it, though, that many of those same people are often willing to surrender their freedom for the sake of an artificial peace?

Muster the courage to speak truth; speak truth to power.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Violent Video Games, Mass Shootings and Mental Health

The Second Amendment

(Photo Credit: Fox News)

As Dr. Patrick Markey, Associate Professor of Psychology at Villanova University, recently disclosed on CNN, no empirical research evinces that playing violent video games leads to real-world violence. Although researchers should continue to investigate any potential connections between violent video games and violence in society, we shouldn’t get distracted by the most important issue we should be focused on concerning the recent mass shootings: mental health.  Even though all of the most recent mass shooters covered in the national media devoted significant time to playing violent video games, all of them had serious mental health issues that were not addressed.

While it seems that the divisive national debate about gun control and gun rights is dominating our attention, we need to dedicate more attention to mental health.  We need to make greater efforts to ensure that those with mental health problems do not get their hands on guns, and we need to provide them with the critical mental health services they warrant.

If we really desire to make America safer, then we won’t simply have discourses about how to reduce the number of guns in the hands of Americans; we will have meaningful discussions about how to decrease the likelihood of the mentally ill getting their hands on guns.  It’s time to get real about guns—not overly emotional.  Guns in the hands of mentally healthy Americans save lives.  The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the fundamental right to protect themselves with guns.  Knee-jerk reactions to recent mass shootings shouldn’t lead to diminishing the freedoms safeguarded by the Second Amendment.

It’s probably a good idea for parents to prevent their children from watching violent movies and television programs for exorbitant amounts of time, and it’s probably a good idea to keep your children from playing violent video games for an abnormal number of hours.  Adults should be aware of the number of hours they give to watching violent television programs and movies as well.  For those adults who play violent video games, reflect on the impact that this video game playing may have on you.  We have to be more responsible about the things we allow ourselves and children to consume, considering those phenomena could have negative impacts on us that go undetected.

Let’s not give violent television programming, movies, and video games too much credit for the recent mass shootings, however.

Our efforts to reduce the number of mass shootings should be concentrated on addressing mental health issues, preventing the mentally ill from obtaining guns, and ensuring that those who aren’t mentally ill are able to get guns to defend themselves and others from those who would attempt to engage in mass shootings.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Adventures in Online Learning

Adventures in Online Learning
(Source and Permission Granted: Non-Profit Colleges Online)

Although many people lack a respect for online learning, online education has a long history in the academy, including at elite universities like the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UCLA.  In the above infographic, one has an opportunity to see how online education continues to play an instrumental role in educating numerous people across the nation and world.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Smart Children Left Behind: 4 High School Alternatives for Gifted Students

Gifted Student

With the No Child Left Behind Act focusing government attention on ameliorating educational outcomes for struggling students, gifted children are often the ones truly left behind.  Although providing money for at-risk students is a priority, it can leave gifted programs significantly underfunded, according to USA Today.  Without funding for gifted programs, teachers often lack the time to meet smarter students’ needs.  This results in boredom, low academic achievement, frustration, and unhealthy work habits.  The following non-traditional educational alternatives offer gifted children more avenues for thriving and embarking on academic challenges.

Special Schools for Gifted Children

Many public schools lack the infrastructure to meet gifted students’ needs.  Specialized schools for gifted children focus on cultivating each child’s unique talents.  For example, the Baywood Learning Center in Oakland, CA, offers a curriculum tailored to each individual’s learning pace as well as enrichment sessions ranging from Introduction to Nanotechnology to Environmental Justice.  Alternative schools across the country recognize the need for high-quality gifted education, giving students the chance to interact with like-minded peers.

College Coursework

Perhaps your child excels in Mathematics but finds high school English coursework to be a sufficient challenge.  Dual enrollment at a local college or university can be a great way to meet your high school student’s specific academic needs.  According to U.S. News and World Report, school districts often cover the cost of college coursework for high school students considering dual enrollment.  Keep in mind that many bright students are at their peers’ level socially, so ask your child if he or she is comfortable heading to a local higher education institution for to complete college coursework.  Giving your teen the opportunity to set his or her own academic agenda fosters independence.

Online Courses

Supplement your child’s curriculum by enrolling him or her in online college classes.  Students living in areas with limited advanced learning opportunities are excellent candidates for online learning.  At Penn Foster (pennfoster.edu), students at can complete a high school diploma online while obtaining specialized instruction in healthcare, information technology, or building technology.  Earning an online high school diploma or pursuing online college coursework while in high school is an effective way for gifted students to broaden their academic experiences.  Inquire with your child’s high school administrators about whether the school helps with the costs associated with completing college coursework while still attending high school.

Homeschooling

Perhaps your child is at the 10th grade level in Mathematics, college level in Biology, and 8th grade level in reading.  Homeschooling provides you with the opportunity to tailor coursework to your student’s specific learning levels.  According to Duke TIP, the first step is to contact your state’s department of education or homeschool parent association to identify homeschooling requirements and regulations.  Keep in mind that social development is as important as academic development.  Enrolling your child in homeschool co-ops or community groups ensures that he or she makes connections with peers.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nick Cannon and the “Best Yourself” Campaign

Honda launched a new television and digital advertising campaign in support of the 2013 Honda Civic. Targeting millennials, the “Best Yourself” Campaign celebrates diversity and the drive to achieve success through non-traditional paths.

“We believe that things can always be better and this sentiment can be seen in the numerous improvements we made to the 2013 Civic.  Honda made the best-selling compact car in the U.S. even better,” said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda Motor Co., Inc.  The emotionally compelling and multi-layered “Best Yourself” Campaign is built on this foundation of continuous improvement by celebrating individual achievements towards personal greatness.

The campaign’s message is incorporated across digital platforms and initiatives that include a “Best Yourself” social campaign that encourages audiences to share their hopes and plans for taking their lives to the next level using the hashtag #BestYourself on Honda Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

For more information about the “Best Yourself” Campaign, please visit: http://access.honda.com.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Beauty and Value of the Quotidian

Nature

(Photo Credit: Red Bubble)

Too often we overlook the beauty and value of phenomena present in everyday life.  If we would look around us each day, there are things to adore and treasure.  Let’s never forget to be thankful for the beauty of the natural world.  We can honor the beauty of the natural world by doing things necessary to maintain and protect it.  Being an environmentalist doesn’t have to be an overtly political act.  While we can have honest disagreements about how to take care of our environment, there shouldn’t be anyone who is disinterested in doing things essential to preserve it.

When you’re blessed to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, take a moment to reflect on how appreciative you should be.  Never take anything for granted.  When we take for granted the beauty and significance of quotidian things, we’re not able to experience an authentic appreciation of those things that aren’t mundane.

K – 12 educators should work to instill in students an appreciation for the value and beauty of the quotidian.  We could begin to see a greater value for natural resources and a culture of life when we start teaching people about the importance of things that are commonplace.  Many of the things that we perceive as average are really far beyond average when we devote enough time to analyzing those things thoroughly.

Some people who live in large cities try to look down on those who reside in the country.  While there are numerous things to value about everyday life the city, there are some naturally beautiful phenomena in the country one cannot find in the city.  Those who live in the country shouldn’t feel any lesser than those who live in the city.

The Red Wheelbarrow, a poem penned by William Carlos Williams, affords us an opportunity to see the value of appreciating the quotidian when we engage in a critical analysis of this poem.  On the surface, this poem appears to be boring and simply about a red wheelbarrow.  When we look more closely at the poem, we are able to appreciate the labor of the workers who have constructed this red wheelbarrow, and we can also appreciate the beauty of nature.

What are some common things present in your daily life that you value and find beautiful?  

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison