Monthly Archives: January 2016

Apollonian v. Dionysian Music Experience

January 28th, 2016


The other day, while listening to KCRW’s weekday program, Morning Becomes Eclectic, I was listening to a new Coldplay song called “Major Minus”, a big and absorbing musical tapestry that you can get lost in. I also thought about the film premiere of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Hollywood Boulevard the other night, where Kaskade and Jason Bentley were deejaying and the crowd went over the edge.  Several people got hurt but most had a great time.

Then I saw a picture taken the other day at the El Rey performance of the punk rockers Pink Eyes, where the lead singer was handing the microphone over to an ecstatic fan held aloft  in the mosh pit.

It occurred to me that all three musical items, the Coldplay song, the Pink Eyes show, The Electric Daisy Carnival were modern day versions of the Dionysian concept from Greek mythology that was revived by Nietzsche’s book The Birth of Tragedy.

Let me explain: According to Greek mythology, both Dionysus and Apollo are songs of the über god Zeus. Dionysus is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. Dance.  Body. Music.

Apollo is cerebral: the god of the sun, reason, and dreams. Head music. Music to meditate or levitate by.

I listen to a lot of classical music and jazz. Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy, Coltrane, Miles Davis. Also tropical latin music by Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Celia Cruz, and others. I like dancing to Latin music, but have to remember various steps and combinations moves. And as listeners to my KCRW shows know, I love the Brazilians too: Jobim, Dori Caymmi, Gal Costa, and many others.

I guess my preferences run more to the Apollonian. I sit in my living room, enjoy a glass of wine, and focus my listening on these artists regularly. I sit still in the sweet spot, focus on the music, and absorb the beauty.

The Electric Daisy Carnival, Kaskade, electronic music, the Coldplay song, raves, mosh pits are a collective flight into ecstasy, where people happily leave their normal senses behind and become engulfed in music. Ecstasy, after all, means “out of body”. It can and does get wild. That’s the essence of the Dionysian experience.

Apollonian involves stillness and thinking. Dionysian involves movement, dancing, individual and collective trance and ecstasy. The later sufi works of John Coltrane are a combination of both—works like A Love Supreme and Ascension seek closer union with the Divine. Ditto for works of the late qawwali (qawwali=sufi music from Pakistan) singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

I guess I enjoy both musical experiences, but my musical lifestyle tends to be more Apollonian than Dionysian. Which one defines your musical preference?


Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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China and Fraud…an On-going Problem



In a recent article in The Boston Globe the spotlight was back on China and the “wave of admissions fraud striking U.S. schools.” The issue of fraudulent transcripts from China is not new to those of us involved in the evaluation of international academic credentials. I still remember one of my colleagues, a senior evaluator at ACEI, who had traveled to Beijing several years ago and had first hand eye witness experience with fraud. She had visited a bookstore in Beijing and when she used its back door to exist into the alley she had come face to face with a vendor who had on display a wide range of blank diplomas and transcripts bearing the names of known Chinese universities. For a fee, a person could purchase a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or a Doctorate, in a major of their choosing from Beijing University or Shanghai University and present said document to prospective employer or unsuspecting college admissions officer overseas. I can still hear how flabbergasted my colleague was from the tone of her email. She couldn’t believe her eyes that this was happening in public and in broad daylight.

When it comes to college admission, falsifications of documents from China covers everything that plays a part in the U.S. institution’s decision process, starting with paying someone else to complete the application and essay, to fraudulent letters of recommendation, financial statements, passports, SAT and English language proficiency test scores, to academic transcripts and diplomas/degrees. It is, therefore, unfortunate and an occupational hazard but we cannot not speak of Chinese educational credentials without having our dander up and be suspicious of their authenticity.

When it comes to academic documents, especially those from China, it is more of a case of guilty before proven innocent. At the moment, the one approach most of us involved in credential evaluations, at least those of us who work for companies that are approved and endorsed by the Association of International Credential Evaluators, require our Chinese students to first have their academic documents verified by either one of the following 2 non-governmental Ministry of Education designated entities in China: China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) and China Higher Education Students Information and Career Center (CHESICC).  This step in our evaluation process has proven very effective.  (Just to be sure, in case you’re wondering, we don’t receive any fees or royalties from these entities.) Those students who have nothing to hide, contact either one of these entities, depending on the type of verification required and request to have their verified academic documents sent directly to our company. And then there are those who put up a big fuss, claiming it to be an inconvenience and costly (yes, the CDGDC and CHESICC do charge the student a fee for the verification). The bigger fuss they make, the more insistent we are in the verification. If there is no problem with their documents, then obtaining the verification should be a piece of cake.

We recently had an applicant from China who submitted photocopies (not original or official) of his academic transcripts and refused to go through the CDGDC for the verification.  As a rule, we do not accept just photocopies of academic documents for evaluation from anyone and anywhere. This individual was incredulous and did not want to have his documents verified and even accused us of being ‘unethical,’ which is an interesting twist on using reverse psychology to win a point.

According to the article in The Boston Globe: “Justice Department officials (in the U.S.) in  May (2015) charged 15 Chinese, including a Northeastern University student, in a testing scheme in which some students paid others as much as $6,000 each to take their SAT and English proficiency tests. Students in China ordered fake passports and sent them to co-conspirators in Pennsylvania, who took their exams.” The article continues: “More than 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from US universities in 2014, according to a report by WholeRen Education, a Pittsburg-based education consultancy). Around 80 percent of the cases involved poor grades or cheating.”

Bottom line is, given that the U.S. continues to be the preferred destination for Chinese students for study, cheating on their U.S. college applications and transcripts will prevail. U.S. schools need not be blinded by full-paying international students, especially from China to boost their budgets. If all U.S. schools implement a strict verification policy, they not only benefit from capitalizing on the international student but also enjoy the peace of mind that their admission decision was based on bona fide and legitimate documents.

The Frustrated Evaluator

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Facts on the New Philippine K-12 Education System

January 14th, 2016

Until recently, the Philippines primary and secondary education entailed 10 years of schooling, of which the first 6 years covered elementary/primary school and the last four year covered high school.  The Philippine Department of Education, Sport and Culture has announced ending the Grade 10 (6+4 primary and secondary) system and implementing new reforms concerning the country’s primary and secondary education which are as follow:

Using the Philippine Government’s website as a primary resource, below are highlights of the new reforms:

The new K to 12 Program covers 13 years of basic education with the following key stages:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 10 (Junior High School) [compulsory]
  • Grades 11 and 12 (Senior High School)

(Kindergarten + 6 years cover basic / primary education, followed by 4 years of junior high school, and 2 years of senior high school)



Implementation of the new K to 12 has been accomplished in the following stages:

  • SY 2011-2012: Universal Kindergarten implementation begins
  • SY 2012-2013: Enhanced curriculum for Grades 1-7 implemented
  • 2013: K to 12 enacted into Law
  • 2014: Curriculum for Grades 11-12 finished

a) Transition to the New System in Public Schools


Note: Program implementation in public schools started in SY 2012–2013 and will be carried out in phases. Grade 1 entrants in SY 2012–2013 are the first batch to fully undergo the program, and current 1st year Junior High School students (or Grade 7) are the first to undergo the enhanced secondary education program. To facilitate the transition from the existing 10-year basic education to 12 years, the Philippine Department of Education is also implementing the Senior High School (SHS) and SHS Modeling.

b) Transition to the New System for Private Schools


Note: Private schools design their transition plans based on: (1) current/previous entry ages for Grade 1 and final year of Kinder, (2) duration of program , and most importantly, (3) content of curriculum offered.

Below is an overview of the curriculum and subjects for each stage in the New System:

philippine_4 Kindergarten

The Kindergarten Curriculum Framework (KCF) adopts the general principles of the       National Early Learning Framework (NELF) with the intent to ensure Kindergarten        learners have a smooth transition to the content-based curriculum of Grades 1 to 12.

philippine_5Elementary/Primary & Junior High School (Grades 1-10)

The curriculum for Grades 1 to 10 includes the following subjects:
• Mother Tongue
• Filipino
• English
• Mathematics
• Science
• Araling Panlipunan
• Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP)
• Music
• Arts
• Physical Education
• Health
• Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP)
• Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE)

philippine_6Senior High School (Grades 11-12)

Senior High School is two years of specialized upper secondary education; students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12.

Each student in Senior High School can choose among 3 tracks:

Business, Accountancy, Management
Humanities, Education, Social Sciences
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)
• Technical-Vocational-Livelihood
• Sports and Arts

Core Curriculum Subjects:

(There are seven Learning Areas under the Core Curriculum: Languages, Literature, Communication, Mathematics, Philosophy, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences)

• Oral communication
• Reading and writing
• Komunikasyon at pananaliksik sa wika at kulturang Filipino
• 21st century literature from the Philippines and the world
• Contemporary Philippine arts from the regions
• Media and information literacy
• General mathematics
• Statistics and probability
• Earth and life science
• Physical science
• Introduction to philosophy of the human person/Pambungad sa pilosopiya ng tao
• Physical education and health
• Personal development/pansariling kaunlaran
• Earth science (instead of Earth and life science for those in the STEM strand)
• Disaster readiness and risk reduction (taken instead of Physical science for those in the STEM strand)

Applied track subjects:
• English for academic and professional purposes
• Practical research 1
• Practical research 2
• Filipino sa piling larangan
• Isports
• Sining
• Empowerment technologies (for the strand)
• Entrepreneurship
• Inquiries, investigations, and immersion

Specialized Subjects:
• Accountancy, business, and management strand
• Humanities and social sciences strand
• Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics strand
• General academic strand


Elementary Education: Students who complete 6 years of elementary education receive the Certificate of Graduation.

Junior High School Education: After completing Grade 10, a student in the vocational technical track of JSH can obtain Certificates of Competency (COC) or the National Certificate Level I (NC I). After completing a Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track in Grade 12, a student may obtain a National Certificate Level II (NC II) on passing the competency-based assessment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). NC I and NC II improves employability of graduates in fields like Agriculture, Electronics, and Trade.

Senior High School Education: Students who complete Grade 12, received the Diploma (Katibayan) from the school, and the Certificate of Graduation (Katunayan) form the Department of Education. They are also awarded a Permanent Record or Form 137-A what lists all classes taken and grades earned.

The transition period from the old to the new system will end with the 2016-2017 school year.


Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert President & CEO


Alan Saidi  Senior Vice-President & COO

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Mad About English: A look at 4 Countries and their Use of the English Language

January 7th, 2016

As a child growing up in Tehran, Iran (circa 1960’s & 70’s), I attended Bonyade-Nov, a private co-ed school that covered kindergarten and grades 1-5. In the mornings, our classes were taught in Farsi and in the afternoons, instruction was switched to English. We were taught English by our Farsi-speaking teachers and with that knowledge at age ten I spent two months during the summer holidays at Stoke Brunswick School in East Grinstead, England. It was sort of a summer camp for non-English speakers. I was lucky to befriend an English girl, Fiona Campbell, whose mother Mrs. Campbell was the housemistress for the girls’ dormitory at the School. Fiona really helped me with my conversational English and in a matter of days I had acquired the perfect British accent.

All others attending the School were mainly from various parts of Europe: Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Holland, Spain, Portugal and varied in age from 13 to 19. At ten, I was the youngest and not wanting to be left out, I immediately told everyone that I was 13. Fortunately, my command of the English language, which was stronger than my European counterparts, helped give me the confidence I needed to support the additional three years I’d sneakily tagged onto myself. I was so comfortable in conversing in English that my teacher, an Oxford University student who was working over the summer by teaching English to a group of privileged children, wrote a letter to my parents praising me as a “marvelous chatterbox.” Fact was that I was the only one who bothered to make an effort and would engage him in conversation on topics as pedantic as pop music, current cinema, to more sophisticated discourse on history, politics, and God while the others stared sleepily ahead waiting for the morning sessions to end before the start of the afternoon fun.

On returning to Tehran, I was so pleased with my short stint at the English summer school that I urged my parents to ship me back to England to continue my studies. My wish came true within weeks after receiving news of the sudden closing of Bonyade-Nov. Soon after, I was back on board a plane with my mother heading to London and settled at Charters Towers School, a private international boarding school in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, where I spent the next 5 years completing my secondary education and preparing for the GCE O’levels, one of which was in English Language and Literature. From Charters Towers, it was only natural that I continued heading west, across the Atlantic, to the U.S., to complete my university education. After all, it was George Bernard Shaw who said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” Though, Oscar Wilde would have disagreed having said: “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except of course, language.”

Today, non-native English speakers need not travel to English speaking countries in pursuit of studies taught in the English language. Many universities around the world, where English is not the official tongue, have begun to offer English as a medium of instruction in order to attract international students and even prepare their native students for the global economy.

Below are examples of 4 countries which have embraced English as the medium of instruction or regard it as the primary language of learning after the native mother tongue:


1. South Korea: English with an American Accent


In South Korea, learning English and speaking with an American accent are akin to a national obsession. Though South Korea allows only citizens from select countries such as Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Ireland to work as ESL instructors in the country’s public school, preference is to hire instructors from North America. Some teachers even fake an American accent to secure the teaching job. For more on this topic, click on this link to PRI:

2. Germany: Popular Destination


More and more U.S. students are looking at Germany as a destination to pursue their higher education while less German students are seeking university studies in the U.S. By teaching university subjects in English, a report issued by the Institute of International Education, shows the number of US students coming to Germany in 2014 rose by 9% compared to the previous year, peaking at 10,377. The attractiveness of attending a German university has much to do with the rising cost of higher education in the U.S. and cost of living but the idea of studying in Europe is also a key factor. For more on this topic, click here:

3. Indonesia: Mandatory English


The Indonesian government will make bilingual curriculum mandatory at universities effective at the start of 2016.  The government sees it necessary that students must learn interact in English in order to prepare them to compete in the ASEAN Economic Community. For more on this topic, click here:

4. The Netherlands: Bad English


In an effort to attract international students and prepare Dutch students for an international career, Dutch universities and colleges have been introducing English as medium of instruction for their degree courses, but there have been some pitfalls. According to research by students’ union LSVB, almost 60% of students polled said the lectures at Dutch universities and HBO colleges which were given in English were so bad that they were incomprhensible and impeded their learning. For more on this, click here:

No matter what we think or wish, English (besides soccer) continues to be the language that serves as the common denominator amongst most people from around the world. The learning of the English language or using English as the medium of instruction is rapidly growing in demand around the world. English is here to stay, at least for the long run.

For a little fun on the English language, check out the video clip of Eddie Izzard, the British comedian in this link from PRI’s The World:

Share with us your experiences, if any, of studying English abroad.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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