On Fri, May 31, 2013 at 1:24 AM, Robert Hansen <email@example.com> wrote:
> Well, I suppose if we were all independently wealthy, we could do a lot of > things without any particular purpose or return. I have a friend that > inherited quite a bit, and I don't recall how many degrees he has, but I've > always respected him for knowing that the rest of us have to work and that > changes things. It changes what you learn, how you learn, and what you do > with what you learn. He is sometimes envious of my ability to turn my > education into actual opportunity and to do the things that he only read > about. And I am sometimes envious of him not having to. As far as education > goes, I got the better deal. As far as life goes, I guess I would rather be > independently wealthy. > >
I do think the model of "independently wealthy" is a good one. That may just be a cubby hole working and living space, some urban ninja suits, and free time for study. A lot of students study in receptionist type jobs, where their screen is now hooked to the Internet. You get paid to read, but what you read is up to you (or watch -- "browsing" is indeed the better word here, is more encompassing -- maybe you mostly do Facebook who knows (actually the company has records of the websites you go to, in quite a few cases)).
Everyone wants to make school be about X's performance whereas X on his or her own maybe prowls bookstores to find out more about string theory, how airplanes were invented, what stocks she should buy. Formal schooling is about being "graded" i.e. "judged" as to one's own proficiency at this or that whereas "education" often involves reading biographies or traveling (vacations).
When we "learn for ourselves" it's not always to give ourselves a standardized test -- we have other ways of assessing the worth of the experience, with testing maybe a part of it (to travel is to test both stamina and shared infrastructure, and offers lots of stressful, yet potentially fun and rewarding, jobs).
My STEM curriculum is more like scouting in that I work with other adults to build a bicycle trailer infrastructure, with dispatchers, kitchens and serving areas. Our goal is to turbo charge the city's use of local fresh produce, so much of which gets composted, wasted in ridiculous quantities, while adults sit around in couch potato fashion or protest their innocence in church settings. The logistics, planning, math, science of routing, "just in time" providing, and cooking for large groups in a sustainably healthy and satisfying manner, with turnover in personnel, is worthy of academic credit but also looks good on the resume. You're helping with that safety net I was talking about. Ironically what we do is illegal in Orlando, FL, home of EPCOT, at least according to some accounts (figures).
> I am all for electives, but I think the core of your education, be it > STEM, non-STEM, academic or vocational must resonate with you and you must > be at least moderately successful with it. Because that will be you and > probably is you. Unless of course, you are independently wealthy, in which > case education probably has very little real value even it it is one of > your enjoyable pastimes. I think students should be exposed to new things. > I think students should be driven. But as things progress and they find > what they like and don't like and what they are good at and not good at, I > don't know of any good reason to not work in their direction. > >
I agree we inevitably go with whatever strengths we're able to go with, and people sort themselves out by what they're good at. However, we have this myth around "declared major" that you're supposed to have "a good idea of what you want to be" by early 20s latest if not sooner. That'd make more sense if the media weren't saturated with delusional fantasies about what it's like being a policeman, lawyer or superhero (or mathematician like on NUMB3RS). We tell young people to figure out what profession, and at the same time expose them to lies about those professions 24/7. Go figure.
This cultural norm puts a lot of pressure on the sorting out process, and dare I say a lot of people end up making a lot of mistakes and end up in "dead end" jobs that they hate, or in prison, or both. And when I say "dead end" I mean they don't see a way out, because there's no safety net to speak of. People don't see a way to "transition" to something they might better like. They have dependents in a lot of cases.
The pressure to "get it right the first time" is way too crucial and, I will add, unsophisticated, naive and not befitting of any great civilization -- and I'm not saying they're all great, some are snivelingly poor and have no notion of independently wealthy (including the institutional wealth of shared assets -- no one owns the aircraft carrier or at least there's no personal sponsor, though there might be a personhood, like Betty Crocker -- she has kitchens and a TV show, or used to, a mask for General Mills (Bob Dobbs, Uncle Sam... so-called "corporate persons" (like Beatrice, whatever happened to her? Or "En Ronnie" - didn't Texas execute that guy?)).
People who decry (object to, fight the creation of) a strong safety net are saying they want to freeze everyone in their current state, ending social mobility either up/down or sideways. But it's to everyone's advantage to enjoy their jobs. Better to be cut on by a surgeon who likes to really do surgery and not just fantasizing about the golf clubs he's hoping to buy. Better to not be handled by police who hate their jobs, hate themselves, and hate you -- which is what "dead enders" end up like (walking dead).
We need to encourage that ability to leap from position A to position B and then on to C if need be, to both allow (permit) and enable people to continue their all-important sorting process, especially now that they're living longer. That "new career" in your 50s is starting to make more demographic sense.
> I view education as having a purpose and that purpose > is the student. >
I view formal schools as very easily turning into discouraging experiences for all but a blessed few, who have the ability to become fawning and sycophantic to the nth degree (that's what some schools are like not to mention whole companies).
Other times, a formal school is at some apex of empowering its people, in some kind of Renaissance. It's like stars (the astronomical kind): they have well-known phases or chapters.
On the other hand, we have students. They should be free to jump out of "dead end" schools. Like for me, that'd be US high schools that don't mix in coding skills with STEM / Math i.e. they eschew using programming languages in favor of sticking with those calculators. I see students in such institutions as by definition "ripped off" or "abused" w/r to STEM / Core. I'm sorry their community standards are so low.
Of course I understand how I could be viewed (and dismissed) as some independently wealthy Silicon Forester who espouses elitist ideas but hasn't the slightest grasp on what it's like on the ground, on the front lines, in Detroit or wherever. I seem out of touch maybe. But then I do teach, including teenagers, and demonstrate whereof I speak. I walk my talk, which is often more than my competition does. I actually think I'm winning my "math war", over the long haul. Lots of positive signs. Lots of strong allies.
But then, when I stop talking about Python and start talking "safety net" that sounds better, to teachers, as many are ready to jump ship not out of disloyalty to students, but out of a sense of really needing more formal schooling themselves.
STEM is not a place where you just get to coast. If you've been playing the same tapes day after day, running the same racket, for too many years, then you know in your gut you need to upgrade. That's why this "safety net" idea is appealing. Better to have some lazy freeloaders take advantage than trap whole families in prison-like dead end jobs and life styles. That's like not letting troops back from Iraq or Afghanistan, even while admitting the dead end nature of these campaigns. That's like paralysis, rigor mortis.
I'm saying more fluidity and a willingness to embark on fresh learning, on the part of its populace, is a hallmark of a true civilization (vs. maybe backwaters like Florida :-D).
> > Your view seems to be that education (just the act) is the purpose. > > Bob Hansen > >
Education is an end in itself yes, as life is an experience of learning, and life too is its own end, in the sense of all encompassing and immersive. People say they want "eternal life" but what would that look like in the absence of "coming to learn more"?
You've probably seen where I switch between "Spaceship Earth" and "Global University" as monikers for our planet, the former being coined by a mentor, the latter being a reality I think we've lived to see (with me working in Food Services, as well as STEM teaching -- what I call "my work / study program").