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Sep-16-2006 01:53printcomments

Op Ed:
Modern-Day Curse
Capturing Oregon

We have allowed our Legislators and others influencing them to indulge in “transactional lobbying” shaping decisions with desperate consequences.

Empty classroom
Are schools keeping up with a new century?

(SALEM) - Education today in Oregon and our nation is organized on the pattern set in place over 100 years ago to meet strong pressures felt then for social, economic and educational change.

That pattern --craft organization-- was slowly abandoned, changed for-the-better in nearly every element and component of our still-modernizing society.

Not only “new technologies”, widely varying, of assorted varieties, and all with exceptional impacts, have brought about those rapid, compelling changes; but we’ve learned more about communications and learning itself, while creating opportunities and applications well-proven in widespread practice.

Every societal and economic segment except education itself long ago seized upon these new ways-to-learn with the most impactful tools derived from academic research --ironically including the very digital-principle on which most are now produced. (Skinner for “teaching-machines”, 1950s-60s.)

In education craft-organization still prevails reflecting earlier societal situations, with one person --the lone teacher-- “doing the heavy lifting”.

Confusion and diverse difficulties embroil our educational system as universal forces in the modern world force rapid, radical changes to prepare our newcomers for the 21st Century.

We can no longer maintain outmoded manners or morals --or operational patterns of the past-- without making our society extremely vulnerable as the world rushes on, leaving us definitely “in the lurch”.

Craft-work was the way of the world then: Individual very-personal skills-activities shaping up not only the product but the enterprise --and all it made possible.

The farmer was the wizard-at-work, deciding for himself and his family every step-and-stage of one-owner decisions for crop-success OR failure.

Supporting services and supply sources operated that way: The blacksmitb owned his shop, his tools and his practice; The grocer’s small store was family-staffed with simpler and much cheaper basic supplies; The retailer was also aided by family and supplied by other entrepreneurs; Each operating pretty much on his own or with a partner or two or three.

Even our “free press” units, well-protected and strengthened by our admired First Amendment, were then mostly family owned-and- operated, on family principles and ethics.

Schools were small, dependent on individual teacher travail for everything, at every level, for all learners.

Not much has changed in classrooms. Schools are much larger, more complex, more demanding --and much more costly, too.

Teachers still have the same travail, lightened a little, if lucky, with some additional materials, media and a few specialist and volunteers for succor-and-rescue.

But they mostly still do “the heavy lifting” with learners on their own --with steadily-increasing classroom-counts, in Oregon.

Transport was changing,then, rapidly and radically, long before highways were built: The steam locomotive and iron-wheeled cars-in-train were building life-changing impacts; opening the way for the industrial world to overwhelm what we were until the rails arrived.

Responsibilities were immediately-felt then; local- "customer satisfaction” was direct and demanded. Corporate conglomeration and mass-persuasive merchandising arrived when the rails did, with irremovable results ever since.

Many feel that way-of-life was highly satisfying, while understanding that pattern became no longer efficient or workable.

No need to fill-in all the rest; your own American history will recall “the rest of the story”:

Widespread American leadership in industry, business and many other fields; Burgeoning business, then corporate consolidation; Economic, social, psychological advancements funded and fully-driven by industrial development and growing profits; With school structure providing workers characterized as demanded by that long era.

That lasted from arrival of rails-everywhere until our twenty years of precarious recent survival; forced by consequences of much earlier history and current political mismanagement.

SO--where does that leave us NOW ? We still hold to one person “doing the heavy lifting” in most classrooms, without skilled-specialist support and effective learning technologies.

We allow our coming generation to find for themselves substitutes and substandard experiences outside the classroom --with a bare minimum of parent supervision or participation.

I-Pods and MySpace and highly confrontational “sports” experiences substitute for effective learning experiences, fully capable of providing real substantive progress, via learning technologies widely used everywhere else in our society.

Business, corporate, industrial and other working areas for most parents cannot operate effectively and efficiently without the informational, communications and instructional technologies we still deny our learners and their teachers.

Constant new-learnings for current workers are provided at all levels, to make this world operate at competitive speeds now demanded.

Parents-at-work experience all-of-this --and then wonder when their children and youth turn to parallel-commercial channels both to learn and dis-learn, under little control; with no learning-objective organization --the sine qua non for the same media and methods applied by business, corporations and leading public agencies-- and “the heart of the matter” for the proven, practical, cost-effective learning technologies.

We have allowed our Legislators and others influencing them to indulge in “transactional lobbying” shaping decisions with desperate consequences.

While we stall-and-stammer, they fail-to-deliver adequate funding for Constitutionally-guaranteed educational effort to provide any competitive future for our children and youth.

We question proven operations still protecting learners with surprisingly good results; even while we deny half of textbooks-needed --that old print-presentation learning-media, still essential for skills surely demanded in the real world.

That’s in the “good schools”; the other ones we ignore, deny and defy in depth, pretending they are not really there.

Political-cult personages examining school programs promise “ten percent efficiency savings”; coded communication meaning to slash still further what the Legislators of confrontational-history have deigned to provide; and “privatization” to guarantee a cut-off-the-top while threatening all else in the budget for contracts cannily contrived for “one of ours”.

Does “Halliburton” help ring your bell ?

Comes the New Dawn, soon and inevitably, with millions of newly-competitive hard-workers, newly-motivated in newly-emerging nations. The 21st Century is already here...

Are we ready ???
We may be willing, even still able...but ready ?
What do you think ?




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Henry Ruark September 17, 2006 7:44 am (Pacific time)

Readers-here should also explore further re the Local-section story in Sunday SJ about CHALKBOARD reaction to Saxton piratical attempt. He has no educational plan of his own; Gov-K's stands have been public for months. SO again "see with own eyes".

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