Monthly Archives: October 2013

Velma and the Frog, adapted from “The Princess and the Frog”

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a college student named Velma who was the daughter of a hated, overthrown king. One fine evening, while twiddling with her favorite bracelet, Velma sauntered into the woods to take a walk by herself. She sat down by a pond and began twirling the bracelet around her finger when suddenly it flung into the water. Velma, in a state of panic, stood up and looked in the deep pond as her treasured bracelet slowly disappeared out of sight.

“No, No, No! That was my mother’s 24-carat diamond bracelet! No! What have I done?” stammered Velma as she became hysterical and began sobbing.

While she wept bitterly, a gentle frog pocked his head out of the water and asked, “Why are you crying?”

“It-it’s nothing—It’s not like you can help me anyways. I accidently dropped my mother’s diamond bracelet into the pond. It’s my favorite bracelet and I sometimes borrow it without telling her. It was the last piece of jewelry my mother received before my wretched father was violently overthrown and exiled from the kingdom.”

“I’m sorry, young lady” the frog replied in a soft and consoling voice.

“Thank you. I would do anything to get that bracelet back. My mother will never speak to me again if she finds out.”

The frog sat for a while and watched Velma whimper when he swiftly exclaimed, “Why, I can bring you back your bracelet!”

“Really? You could do that? Oh, that would be wonderful!” exclaimed Velma in joyful relief.

“Yes, but only on one condition. If I bring you your bracelet, you must do as I say. You must love me, let eat from your plate, and let me sleep on your pillow.”

“This is ridiculous,” thought Velma. “I’ll just agree to whatever he says and sprint away after he fetches me the bracelet.”

“Uh, sure. If you bring me my bracelet, I will do as you wish,” Velma said with a deceitful smile.

The frog gracefully dived into the imperceptible depths of water. After a little while, he surfaced with the bracelet in his mouth, and threw it to the edge of the pond.

As soon as Velma grasped her bracelet, she became so euphoric that she completely forgot about the frog and ran away. The frog yelled after her, but it was to no avail.

The next day, as Velma sat down for dinner, she heard a strange noise at the door.

“Let me in, Velma. Remember your promise to me?” the frog croaked at the door.

Velma became pale with fright and explained everything to her superstitious roommate, Daphne, who suggested Velma do everything the frog says to avoid being cursed.

So Velma did and opened the door as the frog hopped into the room. The frog sprung to the dining table and ate the artificially flavored chicken ramen noodles from Velma’s plate.

“I’m tried now. Carry me upstairs to your bed” the frog demanded.

Velma unwillingly carried the frog to her bedroom pillow, where the frog slept all night and jumped out the window at sunrise.

“He’s finally gone” Velma happily thought. Unfortunately, her happiness was short-lived as the frog came in the following night, ate ramen noodles from her plate, and slept upon her pillow until sunrise. The third night he did the same. This time, however, Velma woke not to the frog, but to a handsome man gazing into her eyes.

The handsome man, named Fred, explained to Velma, “Twenty years ago, I had been cursed by a spiteful witch and she turned me into a frog. I would have remained a frog the rest of my life if I had not let some woman let me eat from her plate and sleep on her pillow for three nights.”

“You, Velma, have broken the cruel charm.”

“You-you’re welcome,” Velma stuttered, awed by Fred’s beauty.

“Oh, by the way, did I tell you I was a prince? I would like you to come with me to my father’s kingdom.”

Velma graciously obliged and married Fred a year later in a extravagantly royal wedding and lived happily ever after.

Paradigm Shift Rough Draft

Please let me know what you think! Note: I have not yet been able to complete my in-text citations, but my references are listed at the bottom.

Academic Inflation

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 37.5 percent of Americans aged 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, compared with 24.7 percent in 1995, compared with 21.9 percent in 1975. Skeptics may argue that an increase in degree attainment is likely due to the increases in population: with more people, we should naturally have more degrees. From 1975 to 2012, however, the population of Americans aged 25 to 29 has risen only by 18.3 percent, indicating that the trend between individuals and degrees is not as linear as we once thought. Now, to keep up with increases in academic competition, jobs that once required a high school diploma now require a bachelor’s or technical degree; jobs that once required a bachelor’s degree now require a master’s; jobs that once required a master’s now require a Ph.D. And the cycle continues. Such a cycle, dubbed “academic inflation,” is the process by which the value of higher education degrees becomes inflated as a result of too many people becoming educated. Such a shift in paradigm, where too many people are now becoming educated and obtaining degrees, affects not only on America’s academic infrastructure, but shapes young individuals and society.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What is wrong with that? People getting educated and having more degrees is a good thing, right?” According to the United States Census Bureau, if the pattern of academic inflation continues at a linear rate, we can expect approximately 55 percent of Americans aged 25 to 29 to hold at least a bachelor’s degree by 2025. Such a trend suggests that people now have to become increasingly educated and obtain more degrees to be deemed employable. As Keith Rispin, an education technology integration specialist, remarks, where once a bachelors degree was a ticket to the good life, we have seen its value decline and become little more than the minimum level of education one needs if they hope to be ‘gainfully employed’… The High School Diploma, societies previous academic minimum, is virtually useless as a gateway into today’s work world.” Now, the observe degree devaluation has infiltrated the sanctified realm of postgraduate degrees. Even in the 1970’s, having or needing a master’s or Ph.D. was rare, whereas today, it is ubiquitous. From 2002 to 2012, the highest rate of increases in education attainment levels was doctorate and master’s degrees, according to studies from the United States Census Bureau. The population with a doctorate grew by approximately 1 million, or 45 percent, while those who held a master’s climbed by 5 million, or 43 percent within a decade alone. Ultimately, the education of too many people has rendered a high school diploma and progressively, a bachelor’s degree, more or less obsolete in terms of job prospect.

Aside from a lackluster job outlook, academic inflation has a powerful and telling influence on what society values today. Nowadays, children steamroll through their education by acquiring degrees and theoretical knowledge without a hint of tangible experience in their fields. In the past, attaining a postgraduate degree was something special, an indication exceptional academic achievement, but today the degrees have simply become part of the common currency used for acquiring gainful employment. Where once, the phrase “experience tells us” was something valued and respected, it has now been replaced by “studies have shown us” or “the research tells us.” Such a stark contrast from experience to theoretical knowledge shows a shift in focus: getting degrees with theoretical knowledge is more important than experience itself.

With degrees losing their value, certain parties of universities and corporations are harboring massive gains from academic inflation. Instead of focusing on on-the-job training, as in the past, young individuals are paying to stay in academia to procure more degrees. As more and more people obtain degrees, university revenues inherently increase, enabling them to justify tuition hikes and increase investment. Likewise, corporations are now hiring graduates of master’s and doctoral programs for the same position they used a high school graduate less than decades ago. Hence, in a way, the corporate world is profiting by hiring “more brain for the buck.”

Although universities and corporations benefit, academic inflation has a particularly deleterious effect on students. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, over the past 40 years, household income has increased by a factor of 6.5, while college tuition costs have increased by a factor of 15 for instate and 24 for out of state students. The cost of attending a private college has increased by a factor of more than 13. As stated in a 2010 issue of “The Economist,” “academic inflation makes medical inflation look modest by comparison.” As a result of academic inflation, young people not only need increasing amounts of education to find jobs, but they also need the financial resources to be able to pay for the price of education.

In arguments denying academic inflation, many contest that jobs can still be found without a master’s or doctoral degree. While it is perhaps true, it is critical to understand that the percentage of jobs that higher with a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree is steadily declining. With rapidly increasing numbers of candidates with master’s or doctoral degrees, employers have a more favorable pool to choose from and will typically defer to the candidate of higher academic achievement. Oftentimes, college-educated individuals choose jobs that do not require higher degrees due to academic inflation itself. In interviews conducted by the LA Times, Ryan Flagherty, a bartender with an economics degree, and Saim Montakim, a taxi driver with an accounting degree, share their stories. A college degree once guaranteed a well-paying job and higher earnings than a high school graduate, but now, the guarantee is lost. When asked about the trend of degrees becoming valueless, Flagherty remarked, “The main reason is a pretty simple one. The number of college graduates has grown vastly faster than the number of jobs that require high-level education skills.” Hence, too many people are being educated. Similarly, even after receiving a degree in accounting, Montakim was not offered more than $10.00 and hour. Montakim, who is from Bangladesh, came to the United States to receive an education. He believed that with a college degree, he would be able to find a well-paying job and build a life for himself in America. Now, he is pursuing a master’s degree in human resources to find a better job and acknowledges that his perception that a job came with a college education may have been unrealistic. In the interview, he explains, “I’ve always had a dream of being in America, for an American education in the United States. But now I think my expectations were too high. I was far, far beyond reality.” In concurrence with academic inflation, college degrees no longer guarantee a job due to their devaluation as a result of too many people becoming educated.

Over the past few years, the number of people pursuing higher studies has grown exponentially while job outlook has remained stagnant. The resulting devaluation of degrees attests to the reality of academic inflation and can be seen even in our generation. When I was young, my grandfather received a job offer right out of high school to work as a mechanical engineer at his community train station. Now, the same position would require at least a bachelor’s or technical degree, if not a master’s or a doctorate.

As more and more people receive degrees, it will be interesting to see the effect of academic inflation on academia, the job market, and our generation, who will be the primary guinea pigs in having to combat such a phenomena. Academic inflation has benefited universities and corporations, but has been an impediment to students and young individuals who are struggling to adjust to the changing academic climate.



Paradigm Shift Map: Academic Inflation

I decided to do my paradigm shift on academic inflation, which is the phenomenon by which too many people are being educated. Some implications of academic inflation are that a bachelor’s degree is no longer enough to get a job and that people must stay longer in academia to pursue higher degrees. Occupations that once required a high school diploma forty years ago now require a masters or a PH.D., which I thought was an interesting shift to observe.
Let me know what you think!

RCL Paradigm Shift Flowchart

The Golden Goose: Bunny Edition

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a man who had three sons: Larry, Mo, and Curly. Larry, the eldest son, was very handsome and charming, for he was quarterback of his football team and Homecoming King for three consecutive years. The father knew that Larry would one day become wealthy. Mo, the second son, was very gifted and intelligent, for he could recite the value of pi to the three hundred digits while simultaneously proving Fermat’s Last Theorem, notoriously considered as one of the most difficult proofs in the history of mathematics. The father knew that Mo would one day become famous. Despite the excellence of the first two sons, Curly, the third and youngest son, shared nothing in common with his brothers. Curly was dull and lackadaisical, for he lay in bed all day watching “Breaking Bad” while consuming jars upon jars of nutella. The father knew that nothing would ever become of Curly.

As time passed, the father aged and decided it was time for his sons to leave home and enter the real world to make their fortunes. First bidding farewell to the eldest son, the father gave Larry an insomnia cookie and some chocolate milk. Larry left with his father’s food and blessing.

While on the dusty and tumultuous path to the real world, Larry met a strange little man with an unkempt beard and scrawny face.

“I am starving, young one,” the old stranger said. “Would you share your meal with me?”

“No,” Larry replied staunchly. “I will never share my cookies and chocolate milk with anyone and I have many miles to travel, so I need as much food as I can get.” He looked resolutely into the distance and continued his path to the real world, leaving the old man behind.

The following morning, the father prepared to bid goodbye to his second son, Mo. He gave his son an insomnia cookie and chocolate milk, watching him disappear into the distance on his way to the real world.

While on his path, Mo met a strange little man with an unkempt beard and scrawny face who blocked his way.

“Pardon me, young one,” the old stranger quietly requested. “I am very hungry. Would you mind sharing your food with me?”

“Never!” screamed Mo. “How do you think I can memorize pi and solve math equations without my food. My father warned me of people like you!” Mo ran away angrily with his cookie and chocolate milk, leaving the old man behind.

The subsequent morning, the father eagerly bid farewell to his youngest son, Curly. He gave curly an insomnia cookie and chocolate milk, excitedly waiting for the moment he left the house.

While on his path to the real world, Curly came across a strange little man with an unkempt beard and scrawny face.

“I am so hungry, young man. Could I have some of your food?” the old stranger requested earnestly.

“Sure,” replied Curly. “I may not be as charming or as smart as my brothers, but I don’t mind sharing a meal.”

The old man was in pure delight, so when he finished his meal, he decided he would repay Curly for his kindness. As he chugged the last drop of chocolate milk, the old man gave Curly an ax and instructed him to cut down and old tree and sprinted away before Curly could stop him.

Seeing no other option, Curly did as he was told and chopped down the tree, which to his amazement contained a golden bunny.

Now Curly hated rabbits, but at the sight of its lustrous golden fur, he fell to his knees at the feet of the golden bunny. “I’m rich!” was the only thought that Curly could express.

Curly tied a string to the golden bunny’s neck and skipped off into the real world, where he was met with “ooohs” and “ahhhs” as people paid thousands to see the enchanted golden bunny. Meanwhile, Curly’s brothers, Larry and Mo, struggled coping with the difficulties of the real world, and ended up in positions far from fame and fortune. Curly became rich and famous and lived happily ever after.

Moral of the story: Never discredit the lazy ones. They may surprise you.

The Princess and the Pea: President Edition

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived two wealthy men, Drake and Joshua, who wanted to become president of the land. Drake, the first presidential candidate, was renown for his intellectual acumen, for he could solve the most complex of mathematical equations, memorize all the works of Thoreau, write fifteen novels in a year, and was on the path to singlehandedly finding a cure for cancer. Joshua, the second presidential candidate, was widely appreciated for his looks and charm, for he had the ability to entrance anyone, man or women, simply by gazing into their eyes.

As time passed, the people of the land realized that the position of presidency would become a battle between intellect and charm. For four strenuous and demanding years, the two men scoured the entire land to earn the appeal of their constituents and plead for votes. On the day of the election, the people of the land gathered to cast their votes, some succumbing to Drake’s intelligence and some succumbing to Joshua’s charisma. After a very competitive and highly anticipated election, it was learned, to the people’s sorrow, that the result was a tie. Both Drake and Joshua had received the same number of votes, so neither could be granted the title of president of the land.

The following morning, tens upon hundreds of councils and ministries gathered to seek a solution to a seemingly tricky conundrum: who should be president, Drake or Joshua? Suddenly, the secretary of the land had a flash of brilliance having fathomed a solution to the dilemma.

“I’ve got it!” the secretary screamed with excitement. For centuries, tales had been passed from generation to generation that glorified the president and declared only those with presidential blood were fit to rule. Such presidential blood was only found in a select group of the chosen few, who displayed a sense of delicacy, elegance, and sensitivity. The eyes of secretary gleamed as she marveled at her own genius and announced her plans to the council: “Presidential blood is something only a few chosen few are born with. We shall have both candidates, Drake and Joshua, sleep on their luxury hotel mattresses, however, we shall place a penny beneath each mattress and whichever candidate notices the discomfort caused by the penny will become president of the land. Only the man who can notice the penny has presidential blood and is fit to rule the land.”

At that moment, the members of the council stood upon their feet and applauded the cunningness and wisdom of the secretary. The following night, the hotel manager walked into Drake and Joshua’s extravagantly luxurious five-star suites, and placed a bronze penny beneath each of their mattresses. Both Drake and Joshua returned to the hotel to sleep, unaware of the council’s plans.

The next morning, both Drake and Joshua emerged from their rooms to the sight of hundreds of paparazzi and press officials inquiring how they had slept. Joshua winked at the cameras and stated that he had a restful sleep, looking dashing as always. On the contrary, Drake looked withered and pale with bags beneath his eyes and a lifeless expression.

“I don’t know how you could have slept, Joshua, for I slept very badly. I kept tossing and felt such an extraordinary lump of discomfort in my mattress. Never have I slept so poorly!” exclaimed Drake in utter fatigue and exasperation.

The press and the crowd burst into a medley of cheers.

“Drake’s our new president! Long live Drake!” the crowd chanted in pleasure.

Both candidates were then notified of the council’s plans and the implantation of the penny in their mattresses. Joshua left the hotel in a disappointed manner while Drake delightedly accepted his new position as president of the land and lived happily ever after.

Reflection on Rhetorical Analysis

Although I was initially uncertain of how I would go about writing my rhetorical analysis, I think the overall process was quite beneficial. I enjoyed going through multiple advertisements, especially the Super Bowl commercials (which never fail to impress) and found myself subconsciously thinking about how ethos, pathos, and logos-based appeals applied to these pieces of text. Through the assignment, I feel like I was able to improve my writing and revision skills in addition to developing a keener analytical eye in assessing how companies try to influence us into buying their products.

While I had learned about ethos, pathos, and logos in high school, I had never learned to truly analyze such appeals in application to the real world. Prior to the rhetorical analysis, I had only used ethos, pathos, and logos to analyze essays or prepare for the AP test. Admittedly, it was refreshing to analyze these rhetorical strategies as they are presented in everyday life through billboard advertisements, comics, commercials, leaflets, and much more.

In this unit, I found the concept of kairos quite interesting. I was familiar with the concept of “seizing the moment,” but never realized their was a rhetorical term associated with it. I liked how our textbook used the gun control example since it placed the rhetorical terms in modern context and made it much more understandable.

I also appreciated having my work reviewed by a peer and being able to peer-review someone else’s work. Oftentimes I find myself rambling and writing sentences that are completely logical in my head, but end up being confusing to others who read my work.  The peer-review activity gave me an opportunity to clarify my writing and learn to help others in making their writing better, which I believe is an invaluable skill. Overall, I found the rhetorical analysis very effective in getting me to  apply rhetorical terms to everyday propaganda and helping me become a better writer and critical thinker.

The Ugly Duckling: Chipmunk Edition

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, the sun shined warmly upon four newborn baby squirrels and their mother, who sat in a tree devouring an acorn. In a land a little bit farther away, dark clouds blanketed the skies as Johnny the chipmunk was born. Unfortunately, Johnny was an only child and with the somber skies and eternal gloom of his land, Johnny often became lonely. Wanting to live a brighter and happier life, Johnny decided to leave his land in favor of a more joyful surrounding. So after a couple of restful days, Johnny decided to explore a whole new world.

Johnny began his trek the next morning and ran and ran until he saw sunlight. He reached another land and upon entering, became overwhelmed with delight at the sight of clear skies and a glowing sun.

Happy Chipmunk

Johnny being delighted by his sights.
Courtesy of

He ventured a little further when he saw another litter of animals that looked similar to him and tried to befriend them. Johnny unknowingly entered the land of squirrels and was subsequently introduced to Tom, Tim, Ted, and Tod, four of the young newborn squirrels. Over the next few days, Johnny and the squirrels became best friends as they chased each other around the trees, jumped into piles of leaves, and ate as many acorns as their stomachs would let them. In due time, however, the distinctions between Johnny and his squirrel friends became wider and more pronounced. Johnny’s friends had long bushy tails, long bodies, and beady, devilish eyes. Johnny, in contrast, developed dark and light brown stripes along his back, had a smaller and narrower body, and a skinny dark brown tail. With their physical differences, the friendship between Johnny and his friends slowly deteriorated.

“Hey Johnny! What’s that on your back?” berated Ted.

“Yeah, it looks so stupid,” said Tom, gnawing on yet another acorn.

The days passed and the insults towards Johnny became progressively worse. Since he ran away from home at an early age, Johnny never knew he was a chipmunk; upon entering the land of the squirrels, Johnny too believed that he was a squirrel. Nonetheless, Johnny could never explain his physical differences, and he knew something was wrong. Johnny had shorter legs and could never run as far or as fast as his friends. He could never climb trees as fast or as high as his friends. His stripes made him very distinct and different from his friends, earning him the title “ugly squirrel.”

“Hey! Ugly squirrel, come here and catch this acorn!” yelled Tod.

But Johnny’s arms were too short and he missed.

“You’re such a loser. You can’t do anything right,” criticized Tom, who shook his head in shame and dismay at his friend’s failed efforts.

After days of criticism, Johnny became very unhappy and resolved to run away to another land. So the next morning, Johnny packed some acorns and ran for as long as he could, when, all of a sudden, he reached College Avenue. Johnny was in awe of all the sights—the people, the stores, the restaurants, and most importantly, the chipmunks. Johnny finally recognized his own kind and reunited with the tribe. While the weather was very erratic in this new land, Johnny was nevertheless thrilled to be among his species and explore his new surroundings. Every morning, Johnny and his chipmunk friends crawled into trashcans, eating all the French fries and scrap food available, and then proceeding to jump out on nearly all the people nearby, terrifying them much so. Johnny was no longer called the “ugly squirrel” (which meant a lot to a chipmunk with an identity crisis). He, along with his fellow chipmunks, lived happily ever after.

RCL: Kairos

Chastising the academic infrastructure of public schools, Sir Ken Robinson attributes the trend of unidimensional thinking and lack of creativity in modern youth to deficits in the public education system and as a result, distorted perceptions of “education.” Robinson’s plea for reforming and modernizing the traditional education paradigm arises in an age where education no longer guarantees a job and students nationwide have an ingrained, albeit misinformed, belief that if they do not pursue science or mathematics, they will never be successful. As Robinson informs, the current system of public education still holds is foundations in the past, when Industrialization created an initial burst in education and in consequence, schools were, and still are, organized on factory lines. Robinson reinforces the lack of advancement in schools to show that education is not progressing and may in fact be regressing towards a strictly regimented institution void of creativity or critical thinking. In light of an outdated infrastructure and declining academic performance, Robinson takes the opportunity (kairos) to share his vision for reformed education in a TedTalk, a platform conducive to sharing ideas and new ways of thinking.

To bring awareness and urgency to a nonfunctional system, Robinson discusses a study that showed the deleterious effects of the current public school system on student creativity. In the study, a group of children were monitored for creative capacity from the time they were in kindergarten to the time they were fifteen. A higher aptitude of creativity, which corresponded to a higher level of genius, was observed in kindergarten children (who received a genius score of 98%). As these children were retested at ten and fifteen years of age, their aptitude of creativity declined by more than half (to a genius score of 40%). As Robinson explains, society can no longer afford to believe that twelve years of grasping theoretical information constitutes an “education.” Rather, the influx of theoretical knowledge and the concept of “There’s only one answer. And it’s in the back,” has essentially purged modern youth of its creativity. The publication of the study substantiates Robinson’s claim that students are losing creativity and provides an appropriate context for Robinson to bring up the issue and spread it to wider audiences. In reference to kairos, Robinson utilizes the recent findings of the study to create a window of opportunity in which people across the nation are unanimous in their belief that the public education system needs to be reshuffled and remodeled.

Link to speech: