Hi friends :)
I am currently taking a summer course at TC in the Applied Linguistics program, and had to come up with a short essay about my ESL (English as a second language) teaching philosophy.
My learning experience in the C&T Principles of Teaching and Learning course has certainly impacted my thought process when I was brainstorming about this assignment :)
I thought some of you might be interested in reading what I have come up with thus far - so here you go:
Teaching Philosophy Assignment - First Draft - H. Ngan
Having worked full-time at a local New York City hospital in the interpreting services department for a number of years now, I have encountered many patients with limited English proficiency and witnessed firsthand how challenging it could be to live in America without the ability to communicate with others through a common language. In a life-threatening situation, non-English speaking patients often receive subpar clinical treatment, as the burden of communication inevitably affects the quality of healthcare provided. While it is certainly unfair to the disadvantaged, I have come to realize that instead of simply being pessimistic about social injustice, the best thing I could do for them is to actively share my linguistic resources by means of teaching English as a second language (ESL) courses.
Keeping in mind that my objective would be to equip adults from all walks of life to communicate with others they encounter here in America, I find it important to gauge their personal goals and expectations while supplying them with knowledge that would be useful in their daily living. By conducting classes with a communicative focus, I consider it crucial to impart knowledge that integrates English grammar with the four interrelated skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Having taught for a few years in various settings (e.g. community center, school of professional studies, private tutoring, etc.), it is evident to me that as students begin to master one skill, other skills tend to improve as well. Besides, it is not practical to expect that students can get by in real life with speaking and listening skills alone without being able to read and write, or vice versa.
In order to impart these vital skills, I often devote a significant amount of time to identify, adapt, and develop authentic course materials. Depending on the context of the course, like one of my beginners ESL classes for Chinese restaurant workers, suitable textbooks might not be readily available. Hence, it is the teacher’s responsibility to provide materials appropriate for the students’ proficiency levels, objectives, and interests. In addition, during the process of adopting authentic materials, I would encourage feedback and suggestion from the students on a regular basis, while inviting them to bring in resources found in their immediate environment. The benefit of this practice is two-fold: it shows the students that one need not wait until he or she is native-like or even proficient to start tackling daily communication needs using a second language; it boosts the students’ motivation in acquiring the language because the practical needs driving their learning endeavor could be met in a realistic and timely manner.
One of the advantages of having adults in the ESL classroom is the students’ ability to monitor their own learning progress. In addition to the linguistic and pragmatic knowledge they already possess in their native language, I often find it beneficial to draw upon their cultural understanding and life experience to motivate them in defining their personal learning objectives. As a teacher, I believe my role is not about supplying all the ‘right’ answers as an authoritative figure or depositing knowledge into the learners’ minds. There is bound to be an end to any given language courses, but language-learning is a life-long journey, so it is essential for students to be independent in their quest for knowledge. Therefore, I believe that as a teacher, I ought to guide the students on the side by encouraging them to come up with their own questions and goals, while supporting them as they continue to search for answers and future directions.
In view of my objective in teaching ESL to aid adults in better communicating with others in real-life settings, I find pragmatic knowledge and communication strategies valuable as well. Knowing that when we converse, the needs for clarification and explanation are not unique to second-language learners, I often have my students practice asking each other clarification questions in a pragmatically appropriate manner. Additionally, I also share with them memory strategies that I frequently employ and find effective. Since adult learners have the capability to analyze language and metalinguistic information, I find it helpful to draw on their cognitive strengths when I teach.
In sum, I have witnessed firsthand how powerful a role language can play in many aspects of people’s lives, and I would like to contribute to improving others’ quality of life by guiding adult learners on their journey to acquiring English as a second language.
Saw this online and thought of you all :)
FINAL BLOG POST
The beginning of a lifelong journey: A quest for social justice and equity
As I reflect on my experience this past semester from attending the Principles of Teaching and Learning course, I have come to see how far we have traveled together on this quest for a better understanding of the abstract but crucial concepts of social justice and equity in relation to teaching, learning, curriculum, and assessment. If I were to summarize this journey in three stages, I would present them as follows:
1. Where we started
In the beginning, we mainly focused on exploring the idea and manifestation of social (in)justice in educational contexts, as well as problematizing the ‘common sense’ that many of us have come to accept and perpetuate in our worldview and teaching practices. Two of the concepts that stuck out to me were brought up by Oakes et al. (2013) and expanded on by other assigned readings and Tumblr posts shared by the class: the pretense of fairness underlying the idea of ‘meritocracy’; and some of the socially just ways to begin addressing deficit thinking and inequity.
Coming from a traditional Chinese family in which strict parental upbringing constantly demanded academic excellence, where an A- grade is taken to be a sign of laziness and willful negligence of one’s studies (even if in reality it’s a matter of interest and/or aptitude, among many other factors), the prevalence and half-truth (and half-lie) of meritocracy resonated deeply. Upon inspecting my own journey of learning and teaching in Hong Kong and America thus far, I realized how different sets of judgments are often passed regarding high-achievers and underperformers. High-achievers are perceived as hard workers who are coincidentally smart, and they deserve to be praised for their academic prowess, as well as receive better educational and career opportunities. Underperformers only have themselves to blame as it is only fair that they suffer the consequences of their own lack of effort. However, what is masked behind this sense of ‘fairness’ or ‘equality’ is the disregard for the many individual differences that could influence learners’ level of achievement: race, gender, aptitude/multiple intelligences, socio-economic background, etc. On the flip side, sometimes people acknowledge these factors, simply to exploit and misuse them as clear-cut labels to rationalize or even predict the high likelihood for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to fail. In that sense, deficit thinking unjustly positions educators to set some of their students up for failure and brings about self-fulfilling prophesies that could be avoided. In contrast, teachers who are social-justice-oriented ought to treat each student as a unique individual and provide guidance and accommodation to each one as needed, while remaining conscious about potential background factors that could affect their academic performance. One of the Tumblr posts that elucidates this specific issue is the picture attached above, and it will continue to stay with me.
As a result of contemplating long and hard about meritocracy and deficit thinking, I was led to explore in some of my blog posts and eventually the mid-term paper how these constructs are often employed by U.S. policymakers and educators to justify that underperforming students just aren’t working hard enough. Asian Americans (labeled as the ‘model minority’) are usually pitted against other minorities (e.g. Latinos and blacks) because of their seemingly better overall academic achievement especially in the realm of standardized testing. They are often erroneously used as living proof that hard work is the single element in the equation that matters, and that the current standardized testing system is fair (based on the ideology of meritocracy).
2. Where have we traveled to
Upon establishing a basic understanding of the concept of social justice and raising our awareness in how it manifests in multiple ways in education, I found the latter half of the semester bringing more intriguing questions than concrete answers for our consideration. Instead of being gung-ho about becoming the most socially-just teachers we could ever hope to be and calling it a day, we were led to examine and reexamine whether equity is a reasonable and pragmatic goal. Does democracy matter? Is it feasible and/or important for a capitalistic society to implement a socially just educational system? Is education supposed to equip students for their future careers and vocations, or more for the collective economic / political / military wellbeing of the society? How do we go about teaching content knowledge – is collaboration among peers and interactive learning necessarily better than rote memorization and teacher-centered lectures? What are the pros and cons of implementing standardized tests? What are some alternative assessments that could be employed, and yet what are the trade-offs? Do students’ opinions and interests matter? What about their parents’ expectations and the local community’s needs? Should we teach ethics/moral principles to students, or is that type of knowledge too absolute and narrow-minded?
As these questions continued to brew in my mind, I started to speculate that what matters most here is not necessarily that we have the perfect or even remotely definite answers. What counts is that we tirelessly ask ourselves and each other honest (and sometimes brutal) questions, inquiring constantly whether we are mindful about the reasons underlying our pedagogical practice, and if what we do day in and day out truly reflect what we believe to be socially just (if we profess to believe in such). I was solemnly challenged by Kumashiro’s (2009) article, which warns about the danger of getting comfortable with settling on concrete answers and ‘best practice’, so much so that we no longer are reflective practitioners who would consciously challenge the status quo when changes are warranted.
3. Where do I go from here
All in all, I am thankful for the opportunity to engage in such in-depth contemplation regarding the nature of our imperfect education systems and the many intertwined ideologies that are more often than not contradictory to each other once we disentangle them. While it remains uncertain whether I will adopt teaching as my profession in the near future, this journey has already influenced my way of thinking and changed the mindset in my daily living. Working full-time in an interpreting services department at a major New York City hospital has afforded me ample opportunities to witness the impact of social inequalities among those who lack access and knowledge, as well as how they are often misjudged and mislabeled based on where they stand in society, instead of who they are as human beings. It is my honest desire to live daily with a conscience that constantly challenges myself regarding my actions and my beliefs, so I could be an instrument of positive change to social inequity among those I encounter, be it in or outside the four walls of a classroom.
Kumashiro, K. K. (2009). Three teacher images in U.S. Teacher education programs Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice (2nd ed., pp. 5-17). New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L., & Stillman, J. (2013). Teaching to change the world (4th ed.): Paradigm Publishers.
Something I continue to wonder about: to what extent does moral/ethics teaching is of value in this country…?
"Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself!"
I could definitely relate to the reading on page 378, as I teach in a school where there are a lot of ESL and ELL students. My students are required to take high stakes tests where their achievement is measured by the outcome. These tests are often culturally biased and the readings and questions…
As a student and English as a second language speaker, I can empathize with your students. I certainly have my fair share of encounters with things that are American / western culture oriented. (Having to read Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Homer would definitely be on the list for me…!)
I think teachers can always help by introducing test-taking strategies. Exactly because we live in a world that is filled with biases and injustice, maybe it’d help students battle what they must encounter by providing these strategies as tools…
(e.g. I’d probably say to the student, next time, write something - anything, don’t just skip the section. Try to guess what it means based on what you do know in the passage before and after that word; write down what you think is reasonable answers even if you’re not sure, etc…)
I remember skipping a section on an exam when I was a child, and my dad taught me not to skip it in the future even if I had no clue - I’m glad he taught me how to get around it then! :)
The discussions we had tonight triggered me to think deeply about the seemingly intertwined relationship between technology and innovation education.
Some of my classmates questioned whether it is at all possible nowadays to separate the two. Should we even divorce the two? Why, or why not?
Another issue I had in mind was: with technology often comes the question of financial support. The newest and latest gadgets or programs are more often than not quite costly. Do those who come up with these new technology deliberately associate technology with the word ‘innovation’, as a way of securing funding? In return, when we hear about technological innovation in/for education, do we automatically expect it to work well since it costs so much?
As an educator, I think it is important for us to ask ourselves frequently: while we try to be relevant to the digital generation and incorporate technology because that is the general trend of this day and age, is it possible to do what we do with technology with pen/paper or chalk/blackboard instead? If so, then what is so innovative about it?
Another relevant thought that came to mind has to do with the much discussed technology in recent years: MOOCS - massive open online courses. The link attached is an article that has to do with the success and failure of MOOCS, and some other online learning methods that are distinctly different from traditional classrooms.
I cannot help but wonder:
To what extent can these open forums enable people all over the world to gain leverage necessary to overcome inequities they experience in their local contexts?
To what extent does technology remain a biased tool that privilege the rich as the poor might not even have access to such innovative means of learning?
Lessons from the Model Minority: Academic Success of Asian Americans and its Implications
by: Hazelin Hei Laam Ngan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The label “Model Minority” is often associated with Asian Americans, underscoring their high levels of educational attainment as well as financial success when compared with other minority groups residing in the United States. In the education realm, Kober, N. Chudowsky, Chudowsky and Dietz (2010) reported that Asian American students evidently surpass their peers from other racial and ethnic subgroups like African Americans and the Latinos in nation-wide standardized tests results. Moreover, Asian American students also progress at a faster rate at the advanced level of achievement than their white counterparts, causing a further divide known as the white-Asian American achievement gap. Sieff (2011) denotes in a Washington Post article that unlike the classic achievement gap between the well-performing white students and the underperforming non-white minority groups in America, this new achievement gap arises between high-performing Asian American students and everyone else. One of the explanations offered in the article for this phenomenon attributes their academic success solely to their exceptional hard work and effort unmatched by the other groups.
In light of this idea that the harder one works, the more likely one will succeed, the rest of this paper will delve into the rationale underlying meritocracy. Academically excelling Asian American students are often pitted against underperforming subgroups by policymakers, so as to justify that the current education system provides equal access. On the surface, the high overall standardized test scores of Asian American students appear to attest that academic achievement is attainable by mere hard work, the current national assessments are in fact rather flawed and continue to contribute to social injustice that everyone consequentially suffers from.
Educational Success and Meritocracy
Oakes, Lipton, Anderson, and Stillman (2013) state that educational success is often indicated by three elements: “academic achievement, high school graduation, and college attendance” (p. 23), by which categories Asian Americans consistently outperform the other minority groups and are often comparable to or even surpassing high-achieving white students. In 2011, the Institute of Educational Science published a report conveying the percentage of educational attainment among 25- to 29-year-old Asian and Pacific Islanders are unanimously higher than those from other racial and ethnic groups (white, black, and Hispanic) across all four categories: high school, some college, Bachelor’s degree, and Master’s degree (see Table A-48-1 of “Educational Attainment”, 2012). For this reason, Kristof (2006) of the New York Times labels the Asian Americans “perfect” students, and claims that other minority groups would be “fools” for not learning from their hard-work mentality (para. 17).
A belief widely held by the public, including many voluntary immigrants, about the concept of the ‘American dream’ is that America is a land of opportunities, where individual capability and determination alone can lead to upward mobility and economic success, despite lacking special connections or wealth (Nieto, 2010). In other words, success is based on the idea of meritocracy, as those who are driven to work hard should be rewarded with wealth and power (Oakes et al., 2013). On the other hand, it is also implied that those who are poor must deserve it in some way, perhaps due to laziness or their lack of ambitions. In a similar vein, students who receive good grades are perceived as deserving, as they must have strived hard for academic success. Meanwhile, the underachievers should justifiably bear the consequences of their own lack of effort. This ideology is so socially well-established that it has become ingrained in the American minds as part of common sense, which makes it very difficult to challenge or refute (Applebaum, 2009).
Given the presupposed correlation between academic success and merits, it should be no surprise that the existing achievement gap among various student populations is often explained away by delegating primary responsibility to each individual student, instead of attributing it to system-wide or collective societal factors that need to be addressed. It is mainly for this reason that the Asian American group is volunteered by policymakers, educators, and the media as the poster child for everyone else to emulate, since their overall academic achievement appears to confirm that hard work does pay off despite their minority status just as meritocracy promises. In reality, the ‘model minority’ stereotype is essentially being exploited to uphold a socially unjust mentality. Racism and discrimination allegedly have no bearing on the underachievement of students from other minority subgroups, as they are simply holding themselves back. Phenomenon such as ‘cultural inversion,’ where involuntary immigrants like refugees object to conforming to the dominant cultural expectations so as to preserve their self-identity, is largely overlooked and disregarded (Ogbu, 1992).
The Pitfall of National Assessments
In order to measure academic success of the students and the quality of education they receive, America has adopted the long-established ancient Chinese testing tradition since the early twentieth century (Oakes et al., 2013). Nieto (2010) points to the passing of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in 2001 for generating a snowball effect in influencing all aspects of teaching, learning, giving assessments, and devising curriculum. Essentially, NCLB promotes a “single-minded focus on tests as the primary criterion for viewing academic progress” (p. 58), which leads to a tremendous amount of pressure for teachers to ‘teach to the test’ and for school administrators to keep up with the ‘adequate yearly progress’ (AYP) as determined by the students’ standardized test results. Students are expected to learn the predetermined correct answers and show that they are capable of recalling such information promptly. The school curriculum is shaped primarily by the knowledge and skills that the standardized tests deem valuable and measurable.
Similarly, Oakes et al. (2013) suggest that the recent promotion of K-12 mathematics and language arts Common Core State Standards (CCSS) could be problematic, with the testing of mathematics and language skills once again placed at the forefront, while other subject areas are neglected. As Eisner points out (2003), the assumption that tests are scientific and therefore used expansively to provide the fundamental source of quantifiable data for evaluation is wide-spread. Hence, high test scores are highly correlated to, if not equated with, educational success. As a result, the American educational system is structured in a way that fosters competition, with high stake test scores being the key determiner utilized to rank students as well as schools, which directly affects their future schooling and funding opportunities respectively.
Under these circumstances, the Asian American students enter the scene and appear to produce test outcomes that largely prevail over other minority subgroups as well as whites. As per Spencer (2012) in a recent New York Times article, there is a disparity among various racial and ethnic groups in elite public high schools. For instance, one of the most competitive public high schools nationwide, Stuyvesant High School, determines student acceptance exclusively based on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) results. Even though Asian American students are fewer than 14 percent of the entire New York City student population, they make up 74 percent of the Stuyvesant freshman class in 2011, while only 3 percent of this student body consists of Hispanics and Blacks. Furthermore, a similar trend of overrepresentation of Asian Americans in privileged higher education institutions like the Ivy League is often suggested by the media. More often than not, this ‘Model Minority’ is either praised for proving to other population subgroups that practice does make perfect in a merit-based open system, or criticized for recklessly pursuing extreme test scores and widening the achievement gap without regard for knowledge and talents that actually matter and cannot be quantified.
To pick apart the reason for the seeming academic success of Asian American students, a number of relevant factors ought to be considered. First and foremost, it is important to bear in mind that Asian Americans do not form a homogenous group. Instead, it consists of numerous ethnic groups (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, Southeast Asian, etc.) that come from various economic and educational backgrounds with differing immigration statuses. While many students from the middle-class East Asian subgroups do obtain high test scores, others from Southeast Asia with refugee status tend to fare poorly due to poverty and lack of resources (Pew Research Center, 2012). It is rather distorted to view all Asian American students as high achievers.
In addition, there are cultural biases built into the current national assessments that happen to coincide with certain traditional Eastern values, where many students with Asian heritage are fortunate enough to be able to capitalize on. Stemming from the behaviorist view of learning since the 1900s, the current national assessments continue to solicit fact-based, preset ‘correct’ answers and place emphasis on regurgitation of knowledge that has been transmitted (Oakes et al., 2013). As cited by Oakes et al. (2013, p.209), Bruner has investigated the cultural view on what “being smart” means. It was found that the Chinese associate intelligence with the ability to memorize facts, while middle-class Americans typically value the ability to problem-solve quickly. Given the current standardized tests formats, both of these qualities are upheld as prized virtues. What’s more, Asian cultures by and large esteem filial piety and deference to authority highly virtuous. If the education experts, teachers, and one’s own parents all emphasize the significance of earning straight As and perfect test scores, then it is no wonder the Asian American students are so compelled to work hard and excel.
However, is the ability to pick out predetermined right answers in a limited amount of time just what our education system aims to cultivate? Do the current national assessments evaluate what truly matters? If the necessary path to achieving high standardized scores is to subscribe to the behaviorist views of going through habitual drills and putting in the so-called ‘hard work’, then how is the education system any different from a factory (Oakes et al., 2013)?
If truth be told, many high-scoring students are ill-equipped to tackle the social reality they need to face upon graduation despite their achievements on paper. As Eisner (2003) aptly argues, tests are rarely encountered outside of schools, and test scores predict not much else beside other test scores. Although many Asian Americans appear to be privileged in yielding high ranks in national assessments, they simultaneously suffer from abiding by and subscribing to the faulty assumptions underlying meritocracy and the behaviorist view of learning. To possess leadership skills, inter- and intrapersonal skills, creativity, and self-initiatives are all invaluable qualities, but many Asian Americans are thought to not measure up precisely because of their fixation on following instructions within the current system and simply working hard on what they are told to do.
What’s more, the general perception that Asian American students are being over-represented in elite institutions creates a setback for many. Espenshade, Chung, and Walling (2004) have identified that an applicant of Asian heritage needs to score 140 points higher on the SAT than one’s white counterpart in order to have a comparable chance of admission. Many excelling Asian American students also experience social, familial, and psychological stresses, as they are charged with the impractical expectation of upholding the “Model Minority” image. Meanwhile, the aforementioned diverse Asian subgroup members who fail to attain academic excellence are further despised by those in and outside of the Asian American communities due to their struggles with being unable to fit in with the assigned stereotypes.
Ladson-Billings (2006) proposes that instead of concentrating on the achievement gap, which is by nature centered on individual underachievement of various minority subgroups, we ought to shift our focus and recognize the education debt that the society as a whole needs to address. Instead of upholding the “Model Minority” group of Asian American students as the poster child and implicitly condemning other groups for not working hard enough, it is about time our educators, policymakers, students, as well as parents come to realize the pretense of fairness and equality masquerading behind meritocracy. Instead of perpetuating behaviorist views of teaching and learning, how are we incorporating social interactions and meaningful learning experience into every aspect of our schooling system? We should also rethink how to assess what we truly value as educational outcomes, even when they are not easily quantifiable. It is time we treat each student as a human being: an individual with unique talents, interests, aspirations, and strengths. “Model Minority” or not, with or without high test scores, everyone can be a ‘perfect’ student if only educators start seeing and nurturing them just the way they are.
Applebaum, B. (2009). Is Teaching for Social Justice a “Liberal Bias”? Teachers College Record, 111(2), 376-408.
Eisner, E. (2003). Questionable assumptions about schooling. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(9), 648-657.
Espenshade, T., Chung, C., & Walling, J. (2004). Admission Preferences for Minority Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities. Social Science Quarterly, 85(5), 1422–46.
Institute of Educational Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Educational Attainment (IES Publication No. Indicator 48-2012). Retrieved from Institute of Educational Sciences website: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_eda.asp
Kober, N., Chudowsky, N., Chudowsky, V., & Dietz, S. (2010). Policy Implications of Trends for Asian American Students. Retrieved from Center on Education Policy website: http://www.cep-dc.org/cfcontent_file.cfm?Attachment=Report%5FAsianAmerican%5F063010%2Epdf
Kristof, N.D. (2006, May 14). The Model Students. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/opinion/14kristof.html?_r=0
Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools. Educational Researcher,35(3), 3-12.
Nieto, S. (2010). Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L., & Stillman, J. (2013). Teaching to change the world (4th ed.): Paradigm Publishers.
Ogbu, J. (1992). Understanding Cultural Diversity and Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 21, No. 8, 5-14, 24. Pew Research Center (2012). The Rise of Asian Americans. Retrieved from Pew Social & Demographic Trends website: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2013/01/SDT_Rise_of_Asian_Americans.pdf
Sieff, K. (2011, April 5). Achievement gap widening between Asian American students and everyone else. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-04-05/local/35231851_1_asian-american-students-white-students-achievement-gap
Spencer, K. (2012, October 26). A Disparity in Top Public High Schools. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/10/27/nyregion/a-disparity-in-top-public-high-schools.html?ref=education
Thirty years later, we’re still “a nation at risk.”
"Successful schools — whether charter or traditional — have features in common: a clear mission, talented teachers, time for teachers to work together, longer school days or after-school programs, feedback cycles that lead to continuing improvements. It’s not either-or."
“Call it the industrial-factory model: power resides at the top, with state and district officials setting goals, providing money and holding teachers accountable for realizing predetermined ends. While rational on its face, in practice this system does not work well because teaching is a complex activity that is hard to direct and improve from afar. The factory model is appropriate to simple work that is easy to standardize; it is ill suited to disciplines like teaching that require considerable skill and discretion.”
“Teaching requires a professional model, like we have in medicine, law, engineering, accounting, architecture and many other fields. In these professions, consistency of quality is created less by holding individual practitioners accountable and more by building a body of knowledge, carefully training people in that knowledge, requiring them to show expertise before they become licensed, and then using their professions’ standards to guide their work.”
Do you agree with the viewpoints of this article? Or is it making everything too simplistic, still?