November 18, 2008

Being An Educator, Is It Enough?

What does a second grade teacher and a GED tutor have in common?

They both deal with people whose cognitive and psychological needs and capacities are so different yet in need of the same thing: to be guided through life.

It’s fascinating how much of an impact can our teachers have in our lives. I will never forget my first teacher, Mrs. Helen from 1st through 4th grade, who convinced herself that I was a lost case when it came to math. To this day, I remember myself, an 8 year old, thinking that I didn’t have the talent or skill to do math and plus I really didn’t like math! My new 5th grade teacher was so dedicated (not to mention strict) and actually got me to change my mind about math and end up getting straight A's until I finished elementary school.

Fascinating times! I started junior high school with my confidence boosted and real high objectives. That teacher will always be remembered, because he didn’t settle with the conventional methods of education. The determinant that made him stand out, in my opinion, was that he wasn’t a mere educator but a pedagogue.

The word has a great history. We hear it quite frequently and in different formats such as pedagogical methods or pedagogy. It doesn’t merely describe the educator, the teacher but also the person that really takes you by the hand and guides you through life.

In ancient Greece, the pedagogue was nothing more than a servant at the family’s house, whose mere job duty was to take the children to and from school and make sure their homework and all extracurricular activities were completed. The etymology of the word expresses exactly this action: the composite ped- means child (παιδί) and the second composite –agogue (άγω) means to guide through, to conduct. He was responsible with all aspects of the cultural and educational upbringing of the children of the house and the family thought really highly of him. A famous pedagogue was Aristotle who tutored Alexander the Great in ancient Macedonia.

The main difference between being an educator and a pedagogue: the latter is a broader concept encompassing the first. One cannot be a pedagogue without educating but an educator can easily veer off any pedagogical objectives while teaching.

A pedagogue gives life lessons through the teachings of algebra and marks your consciousness by illustrating how the history of your country is a vital part of who you are. Why can’t we have pedagogues anymore? Is it too vain or unnecessary to demand a broad – spectrum cultivation and enlightenment for us? Or has it become such a strive that we don’t really care anymore?

I believe in the necessity of pedagogy rather than sterile education and the beneficial impact it may have to the human condition. Whether it is children that are being taught at the dawn of their lives or adults looking for second chances, they all need the multi-dimensional approach of a pedagogue.

This post was written by Marina Sapountzoglou, M.D. an aspiring Human Rights Lawyer, active community volunteer and blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project.

November 6, 2008

Save the Children vies for large proportion of $1 million prize

Save the Children’s mission is simple enough: to meet both the immediate and long-term needs of children struggling to overcome poverty. Poverty is a challenge that both the US and the world have yet to overcome. According to the 2007 US Census Bureau, poverty in that year stood at 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the World Bank’s latest figures show that in 2005, 1.4 billion people in developing countries were living in extreme poverty.

Save the Children has tirelessly worked to reach out to those children who live in such conditions, and to their credit, they have met with some success, as it claims to have reached a staggering 41 million girls and boys the world over. One of the areas the organization works in is education, an area at the core of the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project’s mission.

While Save the Children and the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project target different audiences, both organizations believe that education is an extremely important factor for poverty alleviation. An example of Save the Children’s work in education is their language, social and economic development programs in the rural areas of the US, which aims to increase the reading skills of young children.

Being such a worthy cause, Save the Children could win a hefty financial prize after November 9 as part of Trip Advisor’s ‘More Than Footsteps Campaign, which is giving away $1 million. The more votes an organization gets, the larger percentage of the prize money will be won. However, TripAdvisor says that each organization will get a minimum donation of $50,000.

TripAdvisor provides recommendations for a number of travel-related organizations such as hotels, resorts, inns, vacations, travel packages, vacation packages, and travel guides. But with the launching of its More Than Footsteps Campaign, the organization aims to do something else other than provide recommendations for travel-related organizations. The idea behind the campaign is that any person can leave ‘more than footprints’ when he or she travels; he or she can also make a difference in their community and the places they visit – through their vote.

Four other organizations – Conservation International, Doctors Without Borders, National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy – will compete for a large share of the prize money too. But it can only be won through a vote – which anyone can do with a click of their mouse.

All you have to do is visit TripAdvisor’s voting website, by 11:59p.m Eastern Time on November 9, and follow the simple instructions. Remember, the more votes an organization gets, the larger percentage of the prize money will be won.

Learn More About Save The Children and CAST YOUR VOTE!

This post was written by Shipra Prakash, Executive Assistant Intern with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. Please email your questions to