Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The 'Duh Test

by Madeleine Kando

The older I get the more I am confronted with the problem of finding enough time to read, listen to and watch the enormous amount of information we are all confronted with over our media tools: t.v., radio, papers and the internet. There is nothing wrong with information per se, but when there is too much of it, it tends to become toxic. I mean too much information is like too much rain: some of it is good for plants, too much of it will drown them and make them rot.In other words, we are suffering from information overload. One sure sign of information overload is one’s inability to produce the appropriate emotional response to information. Here is an example: I am driving my car, listening to NPR. The newscaster informs me that serial killer X has just eaten the cut up remains of his latest victim. Without interruption, the same voice continues to inform me that we might expect some rain within the next 24 hours. I don’t bat an eye. Just waiting for the next bit of news. THAT is a true indication of ‘information overload’. I am suffering from the toxic fumes of too much information.

So I thought it might be useful to devise a test. This test will help us, poor saps, who are subject to this endless torrent of information, to protect us, like an umbrella if you will.

Here is an example of the test, which I have named the ‘duh test’.Information:‘SMOKING IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH’.

Answer this information with the test: ‘well … duh!’If the information does not pass the test, scrap that information.

Don’t you find yourself often listening or watching programs that pretty much state the obvious? Even certain books that are on the best-seller’s list would not pass my ‘duh test’. Although I admit, if a book is well-written the writing itself makes up for the content. One such book is ‘In Defense of Food’ by Michael Pollan. Yes, the content of the book does not pass the test. I have known since I was 10 years old that vegetables are good for you. That lucky charms are bad for you. But it helps to have someone who writes so well reiterate my belief for me. So, in this case the ‘duh test’ is an affirmation. Meaning: ‘see, I was right all along’.

I highly recomment this test to you. It will save numerous hours of staring at the boob tube or ruining your eyes in front of your computer. Every time you read or watch something, say that mantra: ‘well.. duh’. The time saved by applying this simple test could be applied to going for a walk with your dog, planting your garden or wondering what you will make for dinner.
leave comment here

Sunday, July 20, 2008

About European versus American education

By Madeleine Kando and Tom Kando

The other day a Dutch friend asked me what 'M.Ed.' stands for, because I sent a letter to IFAW about mother's book and I signed it with Madeleine Kando, M.Ed. So this is what I wrote back:

There are three levels of higher education in the US:
(1): BA and BS (Bachelor of Arts or Science).
(2): MA, MS and MEd (Master of Arts or Science or Education) and
(3): Ph.D. and Ed.D. (Doctor of Philosophy or Education).

A bit like in the old days in Holland, when you had a Kandidaats, a Doctoraal, etc. Typically, it takes 4 years to achieve the first of these levels - the BA - so if you graduate from High School at eighteen, as most kids do, you can expect to get a BA or a BS at 22, if you apply yourself and daddy pays all your bills.

"College" basically refers to this four-year education, and it is also called "undergraduate" education. In America, therefore, the Baccalaureate refers to this four-year degree which you receive four years beyond high school , whereas the European Baccalaureat (le "bachot" in France, for example), refers to your High School degree, at eighteen. To make things even more complicated, the word "University" in the US can include a 4-year college but more properly refers to institutions that offer the more advanced degrees of MA and Ph.D.