Sunday, November 23, 2014

Investigative Historical Learning

I would venture to say that all of my past historical learning has focused primarily memorizing information about political powers, imperialism, war, and the state. Important dates I have been asked to remember include a year like 1914 when World War II started, not 1990 when the first website was invented. Which of these dates has more impact on my life today? Well let me give you a hint: I'm using the internet to publish this blog post. 

Throughout the History & Culture module that I went through in my Praxis curriculum, all of my assumptions about history were challenged. Was the west really all that wild? Were the dark ages actually dark? Was slavery in America profitable? Is art only legitimate if it is created for non-commercial purposes? Did the industrial revolution enslave Americans and their families? 

This Praxis module turned everything on its head. Every assumption, every story, every "fact". Okay, maybe not everything in history. But it challenged enough of what I have been taught to make me wonder... 

Through the Praxis module, I learned not to take things at face value. Because the facts presented to me through this module were so different from the facts I have been presented with in history classes before, it made me question and investigate my knowledge. 

Students like to complain about what a waste of time it is to study history. In many regards, I must agree. If all their class consists of is compiling information about imperialism, political power, and failed economies, it can be downright depressing to study and kind of a waste of their time. In addition, students are presented a one-sided view and not asked to question or investigate the facts for themselves in any way. 

Praxis encouraged that investigative learning that has to be practiced -- not taught. And although I will not use all of knowledge I learned about the Great Depression every day of my life, I can use my investigative learning skills to challenge assumptions and think outside the box. It's a whole new way of looking at the world, past and present. History is a tool to practice our examination and exploration skills, if we let it. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I eat cereal I don't like

I normally don't have a problem with the store brand of food. There are a few items I won't compromise on, but in general, the store brand is the same quality and taste as the name brand at a lower price. 

Recently I decided to try the store brand of a particular cereal I have been enjoying for months. I thought I'd save a dollar ($0.05/ounce to be exact) and get the store brand this time. Might as well give it a go. I could save a few dollars a year if I switch. 

Big. Mistake. 

This particular cereal needs to be respected. The name brand is heads above the store brand. The name brand is crunchy, yummy, sweet, and all out delicious. The store brand tastes like a mix of cardboard and chalk. It lacks the little clusters of sweetness that I love so much. It skimps on the good stuff and what's left is definitely sub-par.

But I've been eating it anyway. I mean, I already spent a couple bucks on the box, I might as well suffer through it and then I can go back to the delicious name brand and never make that mistake again.

As I ate this second class breakfast food one morning, more than halfway through the box at this point, I realized something. I live in a society where customer service is king, where we can get our money back, where we don't have to endure cardboard cereal if we don't want to.

And what do I find on the side of the cereal box? A promise. A guarantee. 

If I am not 100% satisfied with the product, I can return it for a replacement or a refund. 

It said it -- right there on the box. I don't have to endure this madness. I can get my money back! 

Image found here
But then I realized, despite all my complaining about the cereal, that I would just finish the box and return to my name brand on my next trip to the store.

But why? Why suffer through the nasty? 

A few reasons...

1. I didn't think of it. While some people might be on the look out for how to get free stuff, I honestly didn't think of returning the box. It's a food item and once opened, it can't be reused by the company. In my eyes, buying the cereal was a risk on my part and I honestly didn't think of it being a returnable product. 

2. I'm not that kind of person. I'd like to think that I'm not the type of person to get worked up over a few bucks and a couple weeks of less than perfect breakfast experiences. Surely I can just eat the cereal and then move on -- never returning to it again after this box. 

3. It isn't worth it. Let's be honest. The real reason I didn't return the box, even halfway through, was simply because it isn't worth it to me. In order to get my money back I would have to try to find a receipt, get the box of cereal, and go to the store. From there, I have to find a spot in the parking lot, walk all the way inside to the customer service desk, and then stand in line. Then, I have to explain to the employee that I don't like the cereal in the box. They will ask why. I will have to communicate (ugh). It's just too much work. I might get my $2.58 back, but after how many minutes of work? 

Finding receipt: 2 minutes
Driving to the store: 10 minutes
Parking: 5 minutes
Line waiting: 3-10 minutes
Exchange time: 3 minutes

Even at minimum wage, I probably won't cover the cost of the time spent returning the box of cereal. If I make more than minimum wage, it's certainly not worth it. 

It's a cute gesture, really, that the store guarantees my satisfaction with the product. But unless I am truly disgusted and extremely tight, I'm not going to bother returning it. I'd rather suffer through the cereal or even just throw the box away before bothering to return it. And the company knows that, so they have no problem adding the guarantee to every box they produce. It's not that they won't oblige you, it's that they know you likely won't bother. And they're probably right. 

What would you do? Would you return the box?