To increase ‘college’ attainment, broaden the definition

Despite my deep respect for Dr. Glenda Price, I was troubled when I read her recent guest commentary in Bridge on why college isn’t the right choice for everyone. I fundamentally agree with her thesis, but am concerned by the rhetoric. I think prominent Michigan leaders are framing this issue in a way that is damaging. Let’s rethink the way we use the word “college”.

As Price articulates, it is clear that postsecondary education is essential for most students. In fact, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce, 62 percent of all jobs in Michigan will require postsecondary education. However, her column conflates the word “college” with “university” – and I think there is a distinction, and one with an important difference. I am the first to argue that not every high school graduate should pursue a four-year degree – but it is dangerous to say that those who don’t aren’t college-bound.

A postsecondary educational program that results in a valuable credential is precisely the definition of “college.” College is the umbrella term for the many variations of education beyond high school. When a student decides to pursue a professional certificate or associate degree in a technical field, we should celebrate that as a college completion, and not bend over backwards to emphasize that this accomplishment is not college. There is a drumbeat (one that the Michigan College Access Network hopefully played a role in amplifying) that every child should go to college. However, there has never been a rallying cry for every child to attain a bachelor’s degree.

At the beginning of her column, Price mentions seniors working on college applications and juniors attending college fairs as they prepare for their next educational steps. To be clear, all of the postsecondary certificate programs in the skilled trades also require applications and admission, and representatives of these programs can and do participate in college fairs. These programs aren't free and they aren't casual. Seniors who are choosing a trade/technical route should complete applications, fill out their financial aid materials, apply for scholarships, and weigh their options alongside other seniors who are choosing a university route.

In both instances, they are applying to college. When we separate these pathways and distinguish them from traditional four-year college, we inadvertently minimize their value and importance. Dividing students into college-bound (read: university) and career-bound (read: non-university) does much more harm to a student's self-confidence and self-worth. Students who pursue education beyond high school are going to college – whether they are pursuing an engineering degree from Michigan State University or a welding technology certificate from Lansing Community College.

Price argues that school counselors and parents must help today’s graduates find the “best fit.” Again, I emphatically agree. However, she argues that for many students, the best fit means forgoing a college education. My concern is the message we are sending, and to whom we are sending that message. We rarely advise our own children to not go to college. We are talking about other kids – and those other kids are probably low-income (and qualify for a Pell Grant) and probably don't have parents with college degrees.

Without a doubt these students have bigger barriers to overcome. However, our response as leaders should not be to push them into programs that will limit their professional opportunities and wages. We should provide them with the social, academic, informational and financial supports they need to fulfill their career dreams, whichever pathway they choose.

Price says “there is too little attention given to the opportunities that advanced manufacturing, the skilled trades, and other non-degreed options might offer.” If I may be so bold, that is all I hear us talking about. The governor made it a centerpiece of his education message in 2013 and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. recently launched a major program to promote these fields across the state. The phrase “college readiness” has now been replaced with “college and career readiness” as a reflection of the shift – and for good reason. If anything, I worry that the pendulum has swung too far. The “Is College Worth It?” headline is now a daily occurrence, despite the clear and compelling evidence that the attainment of a bachelor's degree is the surest path to economic well-being of individuals, as well as of their families and communities.

I don't have kids – but if I do, I will do everything I possibly can to set them up for success, including encouraging them to go to college. The bottom line is this: I believe that we should prepare all students for college – and that simply means we shouldn’t set an expectation of a high school diploma as a terminal completion point. College is anything from a technical certificate to a PhD, and we should celebrate and value students that complete any of these credentials.

Brandy Johnson is the founder and executive director of the Michigan College Access Network, and a first-generation college graduate.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

About The Author

Brandy Johnson

A guest author for Bridge Magazine.

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Comments

Jarrett Skorup
Tue, 02/25/2014 - 4:04pm
Ms. Price argued that not everyone should pursue a university degree - everyone agrees that people should pursue education (which the author above lumps in with "college"). So the first half of this is largely a discussion over very little difference. Here's the main discussion: "[Price] argues that for many students, the best fit means forgoing a college education. My concern is the message we are sending, and to whom we are sending that message. We rarely advise our own children to not go to college. We are talking about other kids – and those other kids are probably low-income (and qualify for a Pell Grant) and probably don’t have parents with college degrees." That's silly. There are lots of forms of education besides "college" (even as broad as the author makes it). One is not a bad parent if they encourage their child to be an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a waiter, a programmer or web designer or one of the other jobs 60% of people do without a college degree. The Pell Grant comment is interesting. The federal government's involvement in higher education skyrocketed in 1970 (Pell grants leading the way) - and yet, despite a 10-fold increase in federal funding, a lower percentage of low-income citizens are getting college degrees today than 40 years ago (12 percent in 1970 vs. 7 percent today): http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/19076
VOR
Thu, 02/27/2014 - 9:21am
Jarrett, I think that Ms. Johnson has an excellent point. Most college educated parents, when they talk about "whether college is for all kids or not", are talking about other people's kids. It's sad that the cost of College and Universities in particular is rising so fast. Some so called fiscal conservatives are blaming college loan programs, while at the same time they are severely undercutting State funding for Michigan Universities. Inflation is going to happen to tuition, but that number is often doubled when you cut State support by 5% or more. A third tier, or cause, that neither side seems to address, is the un-ending investments that Universities are making to stay the "Best in the World". MSU's $1 Billion Science Building comes to mind, along with over $1 million / year in maintenance costs for that building. I spoke to MSU's past President Peter McPherson about this, and he said that $900 million of that building came from Grants, and that some of the rest came from private donations. My Dad correctly pointed out that the $900 million in Federal & State Grants came from taxpayers... We can spend our $billions being the "best equipped", attracting scientists from around the world, or educating our Michigan kids. Lets find a way to do both, without outpricing an education for working families... By the way Jarret, I think you must not have read that 62 percent of all jobs in Michigan will require postsecondary education, because your comment suggested that 60% don't require college.
DBG
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 6:24pm
Jarrett - I can appreciate your position as there are still a few careers that don't require education beyond high school. But what you're missing is that many of the jobs you listed (including auto mechanic, programmer and web designer) DO require some post-secondary education; certificate of 2-year degree. And that education is referred to as a "college education". So to say "college" when you mean "university" is not for everyone is misleading, limiting and even a bit degrading. We need students to see themselves as life-long learners. They need to be prepared and excited to pursue education and training beyond high school in order to get living wage jobs. They should not feel they are "less than" because they chose to go into a career that does not require a 4-year degree. That is what Ms/ Johnson is trying to convey.
Danielle Funderburg
Thu, 02/27/2014 - 9:30am
This is a wonderful summary and rebuttal to Dr. Price's article. I strongly agree that the emphasis on this argument is more about semantics than methods. We are ultimately responsible for preparing our children, whether we birthed them, teach them, or mentor them, for life BEYOND college. And this preparation includes academics, social skills and work skills if possible. We are concentrating on the minors of what "college" means and not the very task of READINESS for what our children will have to accomplish once out of high-school. I personally champion behind the 'college-ready' initiative because I was considered one of THOSE kids. I lived the importance of continuing my education to break the cycle of poverty that plagues our children today. Whether it's a traditional four(five) year degree, or an entrance exam into the armed forces our children MUST have the academic rigor needed to pass these exams. We are getting caught up on the minors of semantics, are our children "COLLEGE MATERIAL" (a term I despise), and the tired conversation of affordability, which by the way, most low-income students have meaningful access to financial resources and could reasonably go to school for free. We have to be laser focused on the fact that students must have the necessary fundamentals of math, reading, science and social studies. Be equipped to problem solve and have certain soft skills in place in order to compete in our now global workforce. I applaud Ms. Johnson for her clarity and boldness in challenging the conversation and defining what college preparation really means.
nana63
Thu, 02/27/2014 - 9:34am
ms. brown- the issue is post-secondary education by whatever means necessary and according the individual's needs and aptitudes. Dr. Price knows what is real. the idea of college and career readiness is not new. the state of Michigan needs to get back to being one the best states to get a good education "from the cradle to the grave", (70's). no time to waste on semantics. ijs
Thu, 02/27/2014 - 11:49am
I believe the fastest way to both increase college completion rates and reduce student debt load would be to prevent state and federal money from going to for-profit colleges such as ITT Tech. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now suing ITT Tech's parent company for building their entire business on the basis of defrauding primarily Pell Grant-eligible persons that can ill afford the loan payments for incomplete educations or dubious credentials. http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-cfpb-itt-tech-enforcement... http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201402_cfpb_complaint_ITT.pdf
dmgb
Thu, 02/27/2014 - 12:23pm
I have followed the education debate & articles published on Bridge with great interest. What I am writing is based not on statistics but on personal experience. First & foremost, before considering post high school continuing education (under whatever name you want to call it) we have to have most of the kids actually graduating from high school. I am not sure that statistics truly reflect the numbers of kids that are not completing high school for many reasons. We have moved the career programs that were in high schools to community colleges. Too often we lose those students that used to graduate high school & be certified to work the day after graduation. They are simply dropping out. With respect to higher education, there are many people out there with advanced degrees that are too far removed from college to be tracked. I have family & friends with advanced degrees who loved Michigan, wanted to stay in the state but could not find jobs in their fields. I know others who are working in jobs outside their fields. Some are making a reasonable living, others are not. Many are continuing to work in jobs that require no degree. It is oversimplifying things to state that post secondary education improves chances of employment. It is especially problematic due to the numbers of students taking out loans. Repaying of these loans keeps them from buying cars, houses, etc. The costs of higher education historically were born by the taxpayer because the benefits of a higher educated workforce. Now that cost is being carried by the individual who often is not earning enough to repay those loans. It is why the student loan bubble will eventually turn into a future crisis. And the tax payer will have to pay for it.
Duane
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 1:01am
Ms. Johnson's approach reminds me of the emphasis on social success over academic achievement in acquiring a high school degree. After that it seems we saw a significant rise in degrees being awarded to students that couldn't read what was on their diploma. I think the issue is about demonstrating the value of post high school education. What has happened is the media and others are using a convenient shorthand of 'college' to discribe that added education, whether it be a welders or pipefitters certification, special electronics knoweldge and skills, or some other specialized skill cerification. College is the description of a certain place for and type of training. It describes those things, it does no change the value of any other types of training. Redefining what 'college' means does not change anything except adding to the 'politically correct' vocabulary that can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings. Ms. Johnson may feel better about saying anyone with post high school training has gone to 'college', but the reality is a welder needs special training to develop a highly valued skill which is not available in college, and engineer needs classroom and lab instructions that colleges are designed to deliver. "...we inadvertently minimize their value and importance. " this remark suggests Ms, Johnson doesn't understand what many of these non-college trained people do and she fails to understand how those who utilize their knowledge and skills value what they do and respect their contribution. This returns me to the thought Ms Johnson is more about adding to the 'politically correct' lexicon than she is about promoting people matching their interests and capacities to the best training for them. She seems to have never seen a quality welder drawing a bead on an alloy tank in the middle of winter when a process is down, they are more valuable then any Phd at that moment (and everybody there knows it). "We rarely advise our own children to not go to college." My high school counselor did, she just didn;t know what to recommend in its place.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 11:40am
Duane, re: Your comment, '“We rarely advise our own children to not go to college.” My high school counselor did, she just didn't know what to recommend in its place.' Here are some recommendations: 'Write a book.' Or just write something. I told my sister and a fifth-grader about a local Library Contest where people wrote about local history and may win a $1000 prize, $500 for kids. My sister won the first year, and could not attend the presentation of the award. So, I arranged for the fifth-grader to receive the award and the check for $1000, on her behalf. The next year the '5th grader,' wrote her own article for the contest. In 1939 a survey was done at a New York Literary Guild meeting. One question was, How many writers here have completed college? It turned out that none of them had. This one group of writers turned out writing in 1939, amounting to $250,000 per month. These were the top writers in America at the time. None had gone to college, and none had learned to be productive writers, in college, either. The author of the Harry Potter series, was self taught, and after she became the first writer to become a billionaire she was invited to Harvard to tell them how she did it. Now, I would widen this to all arts. One child I know, loved to draw and to paint. So instead of advising her 'to paint.' I asked her if she would accept a contract, to paint something someone needed, and I explained what they needed. She did it, and she got paid. Now I think if one looked at the Masters down through history to see which had learned their mastery in some sort of 'college' and which ones had not, I think the self-taught group would be much larger. I wouldn't say they all were self-taught, but then I haven't done the survey either. I don't think any college that teaches Art, or how to paint, would dare. Now how about Engineering? My wife tells the story of her grandfather, working as a boy in a Lumber Mill, here in Michigan. There was a huge engine to power all of the Mill, and one day it broke down and all work was stopped. An Engineer was called in to fix it. The Engineer needed an assistant that knew where things were to fetch things locally. Grandfather became the assistant to the Engineer. The Engineer carefully explained to an eager boy how things worked. The boy learned as the Engineer made certain marks or scratches. The Engineer said, this mark shows where the wheel should be, on the shaft. If it is not right, the engine will not run properly. There were a lot of things to know, and lots of 'marks.' One day the Engine worked again, and the The Engineer went away. A few years later, the great Engine once again came to a stop and all the plant was shut down. The owners began a desperate search for an Engineer to fix the great Engine. A still rather small boy said, in a small voice, 'I can fix it!' All eyes turned to the little boy they all knew so well, or thought they knew, in astonishment. The owner's did not stop looking for an Engineer, but they kindly said to the boy, 'If you can fix it, you can be our Engineer.' He did, and he was The Engineer from then on. One Professor I had at Michigan State told us what was required for a person to be an Engineer in the 1930s. He said the person had to know just one formula. It is called the Flexure Formula. This is the formula anyone might use to see how a beam or anything flexes when you put a force on it. People that build buildings, bridges, roads, towers, etc, do use this same formula today. When I worked at a local company they rejected all 200 applicants for a position, with graduate degrees, because they 'didn't have any experience.' So what is more important: A college degree? Or experience? Or shall I say, the ability to do. My recommendation to your counselor, is to tell such students, to acquire the ability to do things, by working your way up. And I would include saying this to the college-intended as well. My wife tells the story of a local boy that did just this. He was in her class in a one-room school, K-8. He later became a billionaire. He founded Domino's Pizza. When he later decided to complete his education, he said, 'If I had learned to do things like this, I never would have become a success, a billionaire.'
Duane
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 6:04pm
Leon, The comment was an example to Ms. Johnson that it requires more than simply saying 'college' or not 'college', those positioned to help students look to their post K-12 education need to know what is available and be able to help the students investigate for better understanding. I would like to hear how the K-12 schools are reaching out to a diverse cross section of professions, inviting them into the classroom to describe what they do, what it takes (educational and effort) to achieve what they have, and to talk about the interests they have that their professions fulfill. That counselor had a college degree, she worked with those who had college degress, all of their extended professional training was in extended college courses, her point of reference was college education. Neither she nor her peers seem to have any apparent contact with professions other than college degreed. I had the advantage my father (who had completed only the 8th grade) worked himself into a job that allowed him contact (auto industry) with many certified skilled people and with engineers. He share his experiences and his perspective on each of them. Based on his expectations and later my desires for control of my life, I ignored that advice. In my career I have had greater opportunities to work with a diverse groups of professionals and have found my choice was right for me. However, I confirmed my Father respect and appreciation for the college, the non-college, and the self taught professionals. I have found those who have invested most in their knowledge and skills seem to enjoy what they do, some even in the most inclement conditions. Aside from the teachers kids have in school what exposure do they get to a diverse set of professions? How do we change that so 'college' is not the goal, rather knowledge and skills for a life time are?
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 6:58pm
Duane, re: 'Aside from the teachers kids have in school what exposure do they get to a diverse set of professions?' From my 5 year experience putting myself in that exact position, as a substitute teacher (one or two days a week as my Consulting Business, allowed). I would say none, to very little. In one classroom, after I had introduced myself, and gave only a few high lights from my career, a child asked this question, with kind a wondrous look on his face, 'Why are you here? Instead of off doing more of those amazing things?' I said, I think, just what you might have said, based on your various comments, 'I'm here for you!' In another school in a vocational education class a girl found I was from her home town. She said, 'No one's from there!' She had had zero contact with professionals from her home town. 'How do we change that so ‘college’ is not the goal, rather knowledge and skills for a life time are?' Well, I actually have thought about that a lot. I wrote up 10 Standards, written from the viewpoint of the student. What skills and specific training could I, as a Professional Engineer and father, give a student, in 25 hours or so of tutoring, so he or she would have such a viewpoint? How could one learn fast enough, learn to set new goals for himself, no matter how fast things were changing in the world around him? I did my best to write 10 Standards that do encompass such a goal. I wrote ten little courses to match them to give the student those abilities. I found after the five years of teaching that a few more 'standards' might be needed to do the level of effort I think is needed at this point, with the skill levels being taught in public schools. I envisioned one on 'Attention' to teach the student sufficient attention skills that he would never need to worry about ADD. Another had to do with false things, what if people tell you, or convince you, of false things? How might one handle that? Another had to do with 'Emotion.' One eighth-grade girl was so far gone on this issue, she seemed to be a magnet for bullying. Boys would come up even when I was working with her to torment her. I handled each in turn, but this girl was in trouble. I felt compelled to do something. I wrote a suggestion to a local school on 'Bullying.' I found, that they seemed to act very much as bullies themselves. Unfortunately, I was not very effective on that one. What are your ideas on this issue?
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:06am
Leon, I have no ideas about addressing 'bullying' or 'bullies'. I have been so blissfully ignorant of it at the time people were attempting to 'bully' me, thus I am not a credible source of ideas. As best I can tell those trying to 'bully' me simple got tired of by ignorance of their intentions they gave up. I would not recommend this as a means to address it. This could be an opportunity to establish a few ad hoc teams to investigate local 'bullying' to first frame the issue, describe the profile of such events, developing a vision of what would be a desired environment without 'bullying' would look like, identify the barriers to achieving that vision, create and inventory of means to address the acts of 'bullying', addressing the barrier to preventing 'bullying', and means for supporting those who are being 'bullied'. My limited experience makes me a poor source of ideas on the subject.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:45am
Duane, I was actually thinking of all those issues, not just bullying. 'What exposure do they get to a diverse set of professions?’ ‘How do we change that so ‘college’ is not the goal, rather knowledge and skills for a life time are?’ and 'Bullying.' Bullying is more than a local thing. It's influence has been emphasized nationally in the news as people have died from it, quite a few movies have been made dramatizing the issue, at the state of Michigan level not too long ago, a Michigan death, prompted a new state law requiring all public schools in Michigan to comply within six months by submitting copies of their revised school policies on 'Bullying' that comply with the new law. I got excited about the issue and reviewed the local school policy and took the liberty of updating it to the new law, just as a suggestion, to the school board. I took it to the local Superintendent of Schools, and got a bit of a surprise. Instead of reading it, he had me send it directly to their Attorney. In a few days I followed up with the Attorney to see if he had gotten it, and if he had any comments. He had received it, but not read it, and had not read the new law. His company represents 750 schools in 4 or 5 states and I expected their response would be a coordinated thing and appropriate to all the schools they represented. To make a long story shorter, my suggestion was finally nixed by the schools policy committee and I was not notified or asked to talk about it. I found out about it later as I submitted a request to talk to the school board about International Competitiveness and what our local school could do about it. The Superintendent 'trash canned' my new request to the board, and when I asked why he said it had to do with my suggestion on 'bullying'. He said he could not even discuss it in mixed company, as his secretary was nearby. I had to laugh to myself, 'What is this all about?' I had put in a paragraph about offensive language, and how a bully might take a normal English language word and make it seem negative by adding strong negative emotions and gestures and timing to it. So the words are unimportant, it is how a person says them that might be offensive and most important. So as an example, after describing the use of normal language to make words offensive in this way, I used a four-letter 's' word as an example. The dictionary defines this word, one definition, as 'a girl that doesn't dress well.' Even in this context, he chose to take my use of this word as something unspeakable, a 'zero-tolerance' type word. I had no idea the school was so far away from society on this issue. The guy was totally, or was acting totally offended, that I would suggest such a word to be used in a school policy. So I said, just change the word, or delete the paragraph. He said no..., he just could not even bring himself to discuss this. He was enraged. I think this school, and policy committee are hyper-sensitized to this issue and in fact are being 'bullies' themselves on the issue. I think this condition occurs because they have nothing to compare it to. I think you mentioned this in your comments on bullying I think. But I am adding a discussion below to expand on this a little. My suggested policy also had this information in it. One should never describe a set of characteristics for a bully, or any anti-social personality, without also describing the social characteristics that compare to it, and are the way people should act, the social personality. If one does not do this then it may be used for witch-hunts, or as this school had progressed to, they were demonizing everything to do with this issue to such a level, they could no longer discuss it freely. How could they possibly be treating kids fairly on this issue? I'm sure they are not, it might be as simple as this one point they failed to put in their policy. By the way, the state law also does not set this straight.
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 2:11pm
Leon, With regard to the exposure to profession, I would see schools setting up a program in which people from different professions were recruited to visit classes and describe what they do and how education is a factor in what they do. I would also asked the students what they saw as important issues to them and have the visitors address them. As an example if it was about where they would most likely find jobs, if it were about the hours they worked, if it was about pay. With regard to pay I would have the school/students do the searches looking for starting salaries, average, top, and who the employers might be. I would encourage the participants to try to see what they are doing through the eyes of their audiences and frame their presentations accordingly. Sometimes, particularly with professionals who are geer to working with peers they can fail to change their mindset and present as if to peers. I also feel that simply taking a class (by subject) through a setting they would use and describe how education applies. As an example walking through a grocery store would be a good place to introdude kids to the engineering that goes into the packaging on the shelves, the marketing, logistics. Visiting a brokerage or bank and introduce them to the math and reading and analysis that is required. Visit a construction site, a manufacturing facility, a auto repair shop, etc. I would encourage finding out what sports the like and introduce them to the physics that apply. Not every student will be reached in any one situation. However, a persistent exposure to how education is needed in everything and especially for personal success will build to an acceptance and to the reality that it is with their grasp. As for the changing focus to knowledge and skills would be partically addressed by the career professionals in talking about how the knowledge and skills they have learned outside of school and how they have applied it to work. Where possible bring local successes and have them describe what knowledge and skills are important to them and how they gained that knowledge. Bring in employers and have them describe the knowledge and skills they are looking for and how that affects the jobs people are hired for and how it works into career advancement and longevity. I would start these programs in middle school and continue them through high school. Where possible I would encourage the students visiting operating facilities to see how education is applied. I feel there are many volunteers that would be good resources to develop and administer such programs, even participating in them.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:40pm
Duane, these are all excellent ways to get professionals more involved in what students are learning. 'I also feel that simply taking a class (by subject) through a setting they would use and describe how education applies.' This is what I did when I was substitute teaching for five years. I would always do the Lesson Plan their regular teacher left me. But when I answered student questions, I would use real life examples, of where it applied. One day the plan was a puzzle, where the students had to define 50 words, and the result was then a mystery symbol drawn by their correct answers. I assumed the words were review words, from the whole year. I took the first student question, which involved one of the more complex or difficult to answer. I correctly defined the word, and gave examples of how I had used it in my career, usually on some big glamorous project. that took a few seconds. Each time I answered I spoke loudly enough so that all could hear easily. I suppose many of them just wrote down the correct answers they had been expected to know, but didn't. By the end of the 50 minute class I had defined, asked to define, each of the 50 words. After class, three of the students were so happy. They told me they had learned more in that one class, than they had the whole year with the regular teacher. At one time I wrote up 62 of these stories, hoping that one day, I might have the opportunity to put them into some kind of movie. But that has never happened. But if your plan works out to have schools organize such an activity, I would like to see that in movie of some sort. I received some pretty adventurous questions from the students, that would probably not be appropriate here, but you are right answering the questions they have in this way would be extremely important. One student wanted to be an Astronaut. Another had been in an Honors program at another school, and her parents had transferred her in the middle of the fall, to late to start with the Honors Program at this new school. She was despondent. She thought she could never get back on track again. I told her how to do it. Another student asked about having a purpose for Calculus. He said he had asked his regular teacher and got an an honest answer, 'I don't know.' Then the teacher said he would find out, I suppose from the other teachers or the school. In a few days he came back in said, 'We don't know.' I told him 7 purposes off the top of my head, showing where I had used it in these ways. Then I told him about the idea that he should work a reason to study each thing he is learning about. Find some type of purpose, but a purpose that brings the subject alive for him. will be the most important one. One parent I was tutoring asked about her son, who had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. They had prescribed drugs and she didn't want that. What could I do? I defined correctly what 'attention' was and suggested to here to use the knowledge and skills from my tutoring, to tutor her son. I recommended to her almost exactly the things you recommended, with a slight twist. I asked her to arrange for her son to observe people at work, using excellent attention skills. Just have him look at them and notice how they did things, how they used their attention. Several months later she got back to me. Her son had just been accepted to a Gifted and Talented program and was no longer ADD. I never saw a mother so thankful. Years later, a friend of hers, confirmed to me that the boy, now the man, was doing great in college.
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 1:54am
Leon, The challenge is to get people to breakout of their model of operation by larning from other fields. Congratulation on your success.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 11:35am
Duane, re: your ideas for acquiring skills and knowledge. [I have a devil of time losing some letters here when I type things in.] I woke up with a Dream this morning, and thought I might run it by you: What if you and I started a reading program for, that means dedicated to, the 8 kids in Kary Moss's ACLU thing, where some kids in Michigan are not learning to read at grade level. Our program would incorporate the ideas we have discussed here, on this site. So far, it is kind of directed to the same people her class action suit aims towards. Our program might be called the, 'Grade Level or Death!' program, or something cute that kids might like. A friend told me an amusing story about a robotics class he taught, where he had a Drill Sergeant available, tell the kids about organization for 10 minutes. The Sergeant kept saying, 'Plan or Die!', when he was saying how they organized their tactics going door-to-door with a squad of armed men, each depending on all the others. Each man had a function and they all had to coordinate with each others functions, second by second. One of the kids kept saying that phrase out loud, to himself, with eyes closed, for the rest of the day, as he hit the desk lightly with his fist, to emphasize a thought he was having, in a funny way. My friend's class in high spirits had buttons made up with that slogan, and it was kind of their, The Robotics Kids, special secret as they wore them around school, enjoying the reactions of others. This program would be directed to all kids in Michigan, though. I would train each child in a few study things, like how to acquire knowledge and my six barriers to study, or hire my tutor to do it, so they could learn enough to learn to read, then bring them up to grade level in Reading. You might coordinate with businesses to work out how your ideas and their ideas, might fit in to a common effort. And, you might coordinate with educational people to see how they might fit in. In my dream, I imagined a little 3X5 card, or Ticket, that each student might present to our program. On one end of the top side, it would have only the student's name and two grade level numbers, beside the name, on the left the grade level he has attained, and on the right the grade level he seeks to attain. If he is an eighth grader that reads at 2nd grade level, that would mean he intends to start as having achieved 2nd grade and seeks to attain 8th grade reading level, and our job would be to bring him up to 8th grade reading level. It might look like, 2 John Doe 8. It would also have these words across the face of the Ticket. 'I am willing to be here and help others.' Meaning he or she is willing to do the program and help others to be successful when reading. The child would have to present the Ticket to me. He may withdraw his Ticket at any moment he wishes. On the back of the Ticket, at one end, we would have these words, 'We are willing to have this student complete this program.' It would list the names of those responsible for this child's compulsory education, and we would have a check box for each. For example; Rick Snyder, Michael Flanagan, Joyce Parker, Kary Moss, a Parent, etc. If you find one of those people have the authority to authorize a payment for completing our program, then there would be a place for a signature. If their box is checked, it means you have this child's name on a log somewhere of persons that that person has authorized to do this program, and they are willing for the child to be there. When a student completes a grade level in reading, when he presents evidence he has completed and complied with the law, we give him a one ounce silver coin, and his Ticket back. If he completes 12th grade, we give him a one ounce gold coin as well. This is our version of 'a gold star.' Basically, these students would be any students where compulsory education has failed to comply with the law yet. Our fee would be $20,000 for each coin (a reading grade level) we give out, or as agreed. Our program would be one more way those responsible for the law, could comply with it. What do you think?
Duane
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 8:58pm
Leon, The idea of creating an innovative approach to reading and learning definitely has appeal. I am a strong proponent of piloting programs/processes before making a big push for broader implementation, so the group of students you mention would seem to be right. As you mentioned we have been sharing ideas. Turning those ideas into action plan/program/protocols will require some work. Having learned using a disciplined approach when developing a project is an effective method for the desired outcome I would want to develop such a protocol for the project you are proposing. If that is of interest I would share the core map of that process. As I have mentioned many times, I like to engage a diverse group to explore an idea and develop an action plan. I would like to have 6-10 people involved in the initial exploration of your suggestion to see if it addresses what will be needed and I think various perspective will only strength the final product. I could see recruiting some from commenters here, I would surely want at least one experienced professional (especially one that has had to teach kids to read). My experience with Drill Sergeants has been they are more focused on a single approach rather then adapting to the people needing to be reached. The more detailed ideas and practices you have mentioned seem to apply broadly not just limited to reading that is why I could see this being initially applied to reading with it expandable to other subjects/skills. Another of my lessons is that people lock on what they first hear, whether it be the cost, the outcome, the concept, and unless one is assured of what the first present it becomes a barrier to success. I would like to see a though out project plan before presenting it beyond the initial development team. I would like to see this explored into more detail. One of the methods I use to test an action plan is, is it more about the solution than it is about the results. I have heard referred to as ‘don’t fall in love with the solution, fall in love with the problem.’ I am not one for dreams, I always see my thought process being divided just between the conscious and subconscious, one working with a lot of distractions and the other (most commonly when first falling asleep or just prior to waking) with little or no distractions. Both efforts contribute to good results.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:32am
Duane, re: 'Having learned using a disciplined approach when developing a project is an effective method for the desired outcome I would want to develop such a protocol for the project you are proposing. If that is of interest I would share the core map of that process.' I would be interested in your approach to such a problem. This is hypothetical, of course, but not entirely. I would envision three rather distinct phases; it might help if I expressed some steps and a desired outcome for each. I will add in the primary responses I would expect. Phase one: We would start with 8 or 10 kids, that have achieved 5th grade reading level. Only one of Kary's 8 kids are at this level. I would spend 2 hours giving them my Applied Knowledge Workshop, the same one I gave the 5 robotics kids. So this would be 2 hours, class time, for me. That would be done in one day. Then I would do my first standard. This takes 10 hours, my time, that would take two or more days. The students work with others part of this time, so they are ready for Phase 2. This should be enough about study for phase one. I would then do 'reading out-loud' for about 25 hours, where they pair up and work as twins, five sets of twins. This should bring them up to reading grade level, with the ability to increase their own reading grade level faster than one year per grade. This step is 5 days or more. These students may have to do some amount of reading of progressively higher level materials on their own until they can present evidence of reading at grade level. So, this is the desired outcome; each of the students presents evidence they can read at the grade level they signed up for. To achieve this result, you would have to set up a room schedule, possibly weekends or evenings, with a school superintendent, and get the first 10 students from the school, then get the approvals from all the folks to attempt this. I expect no one will step forward to pay for this or assume any responsibility, even though they are not complying with the law until the kids do present evidence they are at grade level. I believe this could be authorized by the Emergency Manager, Joyce Parker. As with Kary's kids they may be six grade levels below the grade they are currently placed in. It would be nice if we had a liaison reading teacher with the experience you thought of. I only need them to do the before and after testing and provide the graded reading materials or list for us to use at the library. You may want her to do more. You should add to this your ideas (and some of mine) on having kids interact with business people. They should observe what study skills. and professional skills, are used in about five different businesses. The business people should be coached in advance on what is expected of them. That the kids will be observing specific study skills and business skills, and excellent examples should be arranged, but also poor examples so the kids get the idea of what is poor in the real world and what is great. This is not a simple walk through of the plant or 'work shadowing' with a question and answer period. This will be students getting very personal and straight to the heart, with employees about the essential skills businesses need. We could do Phase one over and over at different schools. This is about 40 to 50 hours each of my time. I would expect parents to get personally enthused about this at this stage. I would not expect any great enthusiasm from the public at this point. I would expect a little back flash from the school and teachers, and much disbelief. I do not expect anyone to come forth with money to fund a program like this, at this point. They will consider it 'too different', 'it does not fit with the way we do business.' People may find some reasons to stop it during this phase. We just have to bear with it all, be effective and move on. The back pressure should not be too great. Not being funded at this point is not a failure, it is our investment, and paying our dues, and a simple demonstration of technology. We will be busy enough convincing ourselves we can do this. Phase two: The graduates from Phase one will be able to help others effectively, but not without intensive supervision. We should require this as a vital part of the program. Now each of the 10 kids must work with 10 other students. So here you need up to 100 more students, 10 per class with one or more of my graduates acting as tutors for each class. Each of these tutors do a Phase one, with me intensively supervising the tutors. I would start with just one class for me to train the tutor, and myself, and handle the kids effectively. We should be able work up to 10 classes at once if things go right and some of the trained tutors are interested in doing more. Again, about 40 to 50 hours, for each Phase two. This phase will probably attract too much attention. Having kids that can do what these kids, tutors, will do is new in the world. Again, I would not really expect anyone to fund us from one of these demonstrations. I guess I would rather not say why. I would expect tons of questions and requests to explain every single thing about it to everyone. (It is easier to 'just do it', and observe it.) I would kind of expect a bolt from the blue, if one person, the right person, in the public actually gets the concept of this. I would expect students, parents and businesses, and home schools to fully cooperate on this. Parochial schools and churches might even join in. But I have yet to see public schools express a willingness for kids to succeed at this level. Phase three: With funding, we could hire my tutor to train teachers. Or to do their program with larger numbers of students to teach them how to study better, and to bring them up to grade level in Reading, Writing, Science and Math. I would expect that you would do well to get into communication with Emergency Managers, at some point, in such a program. I'm looking forward to what you have in mind.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 8:29am
Duane, re: The companies I would like to see kids visit. The kids will be learning how to acquire skills quickly. They will be learning that skills are specific abilities one can learn. They are being trained to acquire an Ability by Observing, Deciding and Acting. Or 'To Observe, To Decide, To Act' for short. So, I would like to see them acquire the essential skills of American Business by observing the skills each of the following have acquired to do their work; an Owner, a Manager, a Project Engineer, a Plumber, a Ditch Digger, a production line worker, a quality inspector, a shipping and receiving Clerk, an inventory control manager, a cost control person, a Purchasing person, and a Salesman. I once was assigned the task at a Boys Ranch, to take six delinquent boys to a river bed and have them load gravel and rocks into a trailer for a decorative walk at the Ranch. Each of the boys and I, had shovels. So I made it a Challenge. I assigned one boy to simply observe the activity for the first five minutes and tell us who shoveled the most shovelfuls of gravel into the trailer, the five boys or me. He said I had loaded more than all five of the boys combined. Without saying a word of instruction these five boys were now able to load the trailer in good time like workers that knew what they were doing with shovels. They had an idea of the work a ditch digger might do, at least in terms of handling a shovel in gravel. The task had taken about half and hour. In other words, we should coordinate with the people in business the kids will be visiting, to see that they do demonstrate key skills, the actual skills they use, and be prepared to say the circumstances where they had acquired them. When I was first asked, How do I 'Do it?' I was kind of taken aback. I had to think about it again, as I had long since simply thought it as a skill acquired and did not think about 'doing it', at all. I think a business person will have to think through how to articulate what skills they consider the most important and what they do at this point in time. But most of all I want the kids to see the skills for themselves, before there is any discussion of them.
Duane
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 6:24pm
Leon, My approach is to first establish the desired outcomes (project purpose), know where you are going before you start. Establish project scope. A major risk to project successes is project creep, people become so enthusiastic about what they are doing they expand it beyond what they were designed to do. Establish the results that is planned to be achieved, being as specific as possible. You need to know if what you are doing will/is working, you need to demonstrate to other real results (this is counter to politics in almost any setting). Develop the critical activities that will achieve the project expectations, what are those things that must be done to deliver the results specified. Identify the barriers to critical activities working, such as lack of information/knowledge, lack of willingness to change, lack of interest, lack of perceived value, limits to resources and by scope of project, limits on pool to draw team from, etc. Develop methods to address those barriers. This is in conjunction with activities developed to achieve the project expected results. This should also include necessary resource, activity, materials, knowledge/skills, etc. Develop of a project map that includes the activities, critical and sub critical, the sequences of activities, the resources, regular status reporting, and with a firm timeline Develop a list of roles and responsibilities and the person identified for each role. Team members will be given the authority to act within their responsibilities. I favor this disciplined process approach, it helps to minimize surprise problems, to reduces the creation of problems by preventing activities happening out of sequences, it ensure communication within the team, and aid in communication with those involved in the project and those outside with interest in the results. People have a tendency to become energized by certain activities and aspects of those activities and can be distracted from other elements that are critical to achieving the desired results or they can undermine leveraging the successes to other applications, this discipline reduces that significantly. It also is effective at integrating diverse knowledge and teams in the process. It allows for individuals to be most effective with their expertise while affording other expertise to be employed. You have describe several particular activities, I have seen well designed activities fail because supportive needs are overlooked that is why I lean on the adherence to a disciplined project approach.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 11:06am
Duane, re: 'the adherence to a disciplined project approach.' Your approach has eight 8 major sections, which I might number with roman numerals from I to VIII, and give each one a key word or two so you can see each of them match up with your discussions of them. Then I can number items within with Arabic numerals or letters, and so on, that an outline might use, as more details are added. With the various project management and organizing materials I have used, this comes in handy to keep track of things. One system I have used simply uses basic steps that might be used to organize any activity. It starts with 10 main things, like goals, purposes, policies, plans, projects, orders, ideal scenes, and so on down to the final products needed. Then one works them up and down to fill in the blanks of the activity, and only enough of this is done to encompass the activity to the level of detail the people involved need to do it. I will use your method here to make it easier for you. For now I will not write down much for you, but will allow you to edit mine freely, and note or add yours as you wish. I will put more detail into the first sections for now, and we can fill in other areas more as we wish. Please note the purposes you might like to do. I would need help from my tutor for larger efforts. I. Purposes: 1. to bring 10 students, S, at grade level 5 or higher, GL5, up to grade level, GL, in Reading, R. or 10 S at GLR5 to GLR 2. bring 10 S at GL5, up to grade level in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science. or 10S at GL5 to GL. 3. bring 110 S at GLR5 to GLR. 4. bring 110 S at GL5 to GL. 5. bring S at Leona group up to GLR 6. bring S at Leona group up to GL 7. bring S in Michigan up to GL 8. bring parents and businesses on board to assist the effort. 9. recruit a board to compare what we propose, to current practice, and provide their recommendations for improvements. II. Project Scope: with before and after testing 1. 10 S at GLR5 to GLR 2. 10S at GL5 to GL 3. 110 S at GLR5 to GLR 4. 110 S at GL5 to GL 5. S at Leona group up to GLR 6. S at Leona group up to GL 7. S in Michigan up to GL 8. parents and businesses do their part 9. board provides recommendations III. Results: each student presents evidence they have demonstrated what was required for a level. This includes test results. 1. 10 S at GLR5 to GLR 2. 10S at GL5 to GL 3. 110 S at GLR5 to GLR 4. 110 S at GL5 to GL 5. S at Leona group up to GLR 6. S at Leona group up to GL 7. S in Michigan up to GL 8. parents and businesses do their part 9. board provides recommendation IV. Critical Activities: 1. Each student must be tutored to learn how to study well enough to achieve one of the purposes. Then a student and twin work with each other till they can present evidence they have achieved that level. 2. The Applied Knowledge Workshop must achieve the result that students are now willing to learn. 3. My standard 1 must result in a student that can study well enough to learn to Read. 4. My other standards must result in students that can study well enough to complete K-12. 5. Licensing may be required to legally deliver these results. V. Barriers: 1. Six barriers to study have been identified that are expected to increase student willingness to learn. No doubt one or more of these barriers will be grasped by a student and used by them to learn well enough to learn to Read. VI. Methods: 1. six barriers to study have been isolated and are presented as 10 written standards. Each standard has a little course with it, so a student can do the little course and learn how to apply the content of the standard to what they are studying in life. The Applying Knowledge course is the little course for standard 9. VII. Project Map: 1. a Map or Plan will be developed in due course. VIII. Hats: (or a list of roles and responsibilities each person will have, showing how the team functions as a group to produce the final products.) 1. Hats will be developed in due course.
Duane
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 7:56pm
Leon, It seems you are focused on making your action plan fit an outline of a project. I think a bit of discussion about the why and what of the process maybe a better starting point. The risk of having the answer (how people should do something) before the project is developed risks narrowing the focus at the beginning and precluding people from having a contribution and taking ownership of the project. The project development team can be both an beneficial source of ideas and a critical resource in the project implementations. I would like to have draft a purpose and not precluding others involvement by focusing on the action plans too early. How that purpose is developed or finalized could be an opportunity to involve a diverse group that would feel ownership of the project and activities. As an example; the purpose might be about elevating the read skills and learning process for elementary school students. This would allow people to determine if they felt that fit with their concerns or results they would like to see achieved. With that then the group to draw team members from would be defined and recruitment could focus more on knowledge and skills to develop a diverse team. Experience has taught me to follow the process, trying to force the process to fit an identified answer commonly creates problems that can derail the solution.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 10:05pm
Duane, Alright. I understood I was responding to your request for 'a disciplined project approach.' I believe, you know where I'm coming from now. My response was worded as the type of project I have had great success in doing alone. At one company that was 20 major projects over a period of 12 years. 100% success rate on 20 proposals, 20 projects over $500k each, 20 prototype sets of engine mounts for commercial aircraft, 20 qualification tests accepted by the FAA, all with on-time completions. 40 million in net present value at 20 percent profit projected for the next 30 years. I resolved after the first project to refine my methods to become more expert with each new project. So, Yes, focused on project work. So let's regroup, that was 20 years ago! I'm understanding now you are suggesting, to not follow that disciplined approach, Grade Level or Death' plan, to an immediate solution for 110 kids at my expense, but to follow a more general process to further evolve a development team. The plan from here would be to develop the whys and whats of the process further, to expand to a more diverse team to include their concerns, purposes and wishes more easily. This suggests to me you may have a more general purpose here that has not been discussed enough yet. I'll put my planning in a drawer, and listen.
Duane
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 10:23am
Leon, With your project management successes and with a completed reading program in hand, I am unclear of how I might contribute to what you want to achieve.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 9:02pm
Hi, Duane, Honestly, I found myself trying to answer that same question yesterday! The planning system I usually use has 10 parts, and 'project' is just one part, maybe 10% of a whole activity. It has another part called an Ideal Scene. This is what an existing activity might look like under more ideal circumstances. One estimates the existing scene, like the 8 kids Kary Moss discussed in her article. Then one does the planning to bring that about. What would be a little better or little more ideal than the existing scene, the results those kids got? One might choose to do a little or a lot. An ideal at the level of heaven or some such thing would be way too high, so one might choose something easily attainable, or within one's reality at least. So, I believe I have a handle on the technology to achieve a little higher ideal scene as regards some type of reading program. Or actually, I have been working with 'study', instead of reading, so that is why I use only one or two standards to maybe do a little better with reading. A lot more could be done with it. So, I need help with the other 90%. Let me give some examples. I wrote my standards for a school to work program associated with an intermediate school district with 25,000 students. At that time I had no little courses to implement them as well as I do now. I had done no pilot testing to verify a fifth grader could make it though such a little course. They agreed to fund, but with a little twist. Or maybe it was a big twist. They asked me to supply the students. That threw me. If I have the project and the know how to do it, and they have a huge number of kids that need help, why put this one additional wrench into the mix? So that is the kind of help I need. How do parents get access to such a program? How do kids get access to such a program? How does a community get access to such a program? Do we have to build all the infrastructure, or a parallel infrastructure, to do it? possibly. If I did the before and after testing then that would be the first thing others might take issue with. I would like the school or someone else to do that. I might fund a very small project, and I have been. But if others provided some funding that would help. At Highland school they are spending $20,000 per year per student, apparently. And to no good result. Shouldn't that $20,000 per year per student buy something? According to the law, as Kary sees it, it should. Regardless of the cost, the school has contracted with people to provide services to students that are required to be there by law, till age 18. For my program to be accessible by more people, I will need help. From what we have discussed on this site, I feel we may be kindred spirits, or at least we are willing to believe there is something more ideal that could be done for the education of children in Michigan. If we do nothing here, that is alright too. But there may be some bigger worthwhile thing we could do that we both would be proud of. Would you like to help?
Duane
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 9:00pm
Leon, I am interested in altering the educational discussion to focus on the results we are getting and what we can do to get better results. The challenges I see to doing that is turning the attention from systems to results, moving from fault to facts, shifting attention to the student roles and responsibilities, and doing it without adding to the spending. The reason I start with purpose in a project is to draw people in that have a common concern. By starting with the answer or specific method many are excluded. They may be excluded by having heard such claims before with no change in results, it is different from what they envision, or it does no address their concerns. I believe to change the discussion the process needs to be inclusive of students and parents and public, of experts, and of the public, even government.. I would like to develop this process in the open enlisting a diverse group of people. A major barrier to taking this approach is the risk of having (for you specifically and all who would participate) ideas, specific programs and methods, even discussions being changed. Another challenge is finding the platform for a project team to do much of their development work in an open forum with regular reports into that form, and to find a team that would be willing to try such open approach. The approach I would like to take is less for a technical problem with a technical solution and more for a solution that is more influenced by people and local culture and personal perspectives. At the early stage of a project I see value in developing support of implementation. There have been the technical means for this approach for years, I could see the platform being Bridge and making it a regular feature. If this doesn’t fit how you applying your work I understand. I look forward to other opportunities that may fit our approaches.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Mon, 03/10/2014 - 1:06am
Duane, re: Your comments March 9. My son was in trouble in grade 4, and it was 1979 when I took up these matters in earnest. I have tried a lot of things. It looks like some of the things I learned doing those things might help you on your way. You should contact me by email, I do not have enough info to contact you. I wrote quite a few articles for local newspapers about things I felt strongly about. I would get a call or two after each one. One knew me from high school and invited me to be a co-teacher for a few days to share our experiences with the new kids. Another was from a group called the Futures Group in a small town near Kalkaska. The Kalkaska school had budget problems and decided to shut down the school early and shut down busing right away and other things. Hundreds of parents wanted to riot and it was making national news. The NEA and others sent in teams to try to put a lid on it. The leader of this group wanted a better future for her child and the kids she knew and invited me to talk about my ideas to all these people as guest speaker. She said at the last meeting, they had about a hundred parents and it was pretty much chaos or revolution. She didn't want to repeat that. What I'm saying is that if you were to write articles for local papers, or libraries or TV shows and such you would soon be having the people you want to talk with getting back to you. For some reason I seemed to be able to work little miracles in Kalkaska. The group leader used up all the time just trying to keep control of a riot just waiting to happen. I was able to see a very specific thing the parents were upset about and I asked the man next to me, who unknown to the group was a school board member, to talk with a group of about 25 remaining parents about 'the busing issue.' That collapsed the whole thing. Kalkaska was no longer in the National News, and everyone went home. The moment in history had passed. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to talk to the group myself. I didn't know about 'emotional moments' then. I'm also saying when there is chaos or a confusion and people want to revolt, it is easier to get their attention, they know they want change. One of the Engineer's I asked, 'Had they ever had a course in study?' said, yes and told me he had had seven such courses. He was working for Rolls-Royce and had been working with GM, when they were having their managers trained by a guy by the name of Raymond Massey. Massey's thing about learning was one needed to create an emotional event, or moment. In that moment, the other person may be more receptive. Like in the meeting above. This Engineer had just talked to a group of high school students and he had mentioned where he worked and if they worked hard and set him their resume after finishing school he would see that Rolls-Royce people looked at it and they may have a job for them. That is just what the kids wanted to hear. That was their emotional moment. They were all ears. They could see at that moment, there was a direct path that was real to them to get one of the jobs he was talking about with a good company. I'm not saying to create the chaos, and from what I know of Kalkaska, that might not be too hard to do. I'm saying to look for them. They are very likely springing up around you, in schools around you every couple of months. Step in and listen, talk to people, reach out to people. So, I'm also saying to seek out these parents groups. Go to school board meetings at some different schools. Go to their PTA and PTO meetings. Their School To Work groups. They will have volunteer groups to do various things like, Band Boosters, and Athletic Boosters. I went to a group in Indianapolis that were 'Academic Boosters.' Talk to the mentors of Robotics Teams. I went to a local Maker's Group and talked to the Robotics people there. They gave me an introduction to robotics kids and a whole school class of robotics kids. The Robotics teacher also had 18 students that were under achievers. 'Would I like to tutor them?' More specifically, from what you said, it sounds like you should also write something for Bridge that might amount to an ongoing forum in the direction of a development team, like you said. There are other groups out there, like Mackinac Center that might have something like that. I would just like to encourage you to try a lot of those things. You might try writing 10 articles for papers and see how many responses you get. Our local papers have Letters to the Editor, Forums, and other opportunities. I wrote about our local schools wanting a new school. How they had said six reasons for the new school, and I showed how each of them was false. The news paper held it up till the day after the election, just 'after' everyone had voted. So lesson learned, the paper can help you or destroy you. So you just have to know that, I guess. I think it helps if you have some support from folks, so maybe I can help you with that. It also helps to ask for more information. If you see an emotional moment in your local schools or newpaper forums or on TV editorials, get in there. You may find a head ofA group that needs what you offer, right there talking to you. From what I have seen, you already know how to do that. A local TV Station, Channel 9, heard from one of their staff about my ideas, and the local Program Manager soon gave me a call, wanting me to escort their reporter around the community. I suppose there are some smart ways to do things, but I seem to have explored most all of the ways that weren't, in retrospect that is. Try not to burn too many bridges.
Duane
Mon, 03/10/2014 - 11:51pm
Leon, Emotions are mercurial, they go up quickly and high, they fall quickly and disappear. Emotional moments are good for politician but poor for sustainable change. As I recall Massey was a professor in Colorado. He said two things that stayed with me; you are what you were when, and the older you get the more you need a severe emotional experience to get you to change. The first is about how we learned, as much to do from modeling as it is from learning. Kids can struggle but if they see their parent persist they will be persistant. That is one of the reasons I talk so much about expectations, if their models have high expectations of them they will take those expectatons and make them their own and work to achieve them. I have had a bit of experience working outside my training, early on found that it is people that you need to work with and how they relate to it can determine whether something works or not.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 10:58am
Duane, Massey's work at GM for my purposes, was just an example of when I surveyed people and found there was little out there that addressed the individual and how the individual applies himself to study. I use only what I have had success in using in business or with the kids I tutor. That is how I wrote my standards, from the viewpoint of a Professional Engineer, 'How would I, a Professional Engineer, do it.' 'Emotions are mercurial,' I agree. I presented a student's emotional win to one of the demonstrations I had him do, where they had worked out how something applied to their own life, to my Engineer friend at Rolls-Royce. He agreed that was an emotional moment. But it was the exact opposite of Massey's idea. Massey used a mercurial moment to teach one of his thoughts to the student. I had a child work something out for himself and then feel great because he had worked out something and now knew something I did not tell him. In this way a student learns something and gets a win after doing it. Massey's way was for him to create some heavy emotions, then insert something to be memorized. My friend got the difference and admitted my way, was the way students should learn to work things out for themselves. The technology of the mind, public and charter schools are using, and the various state standards are using, is basically that of S. L. Vygotsky, Stalin's favorite, that died in 1934. Stalin funded the development of these ideas. When Vygotsky died, Stalin froze all education research in Russia for 20 years, the rest of his life. No other research was allowed. I think Stalin felt Vygotsky's technology was sufficient to teach the kind of obedience he wanted and nothing further was needed to create the ideal Marxist state. (Of course he also had Pavlov and his labs doing research with pain-drive theory on dogs.) On page 6 or 8 of Vygotsky's book, 'Society and Mind', or was it 'Mind and Society?' Luria is giving an introduction and says, Vygotsky's works were so inline with the Marxist views of the regime in Russia of the day, that no editing was required at all (by Stalin's chosen men). Vygotsky's books are promoted to education in America by The Harvard Fellows. Vygotsky teaches three methods that are used in schools exactly as he presents them in his books. One day I looked at Amazon.com and found 152 different books citing his name and crediting his technology. This is the technology American education is using. Vygotsky's primary idea is called modulated or moderated stimulus response. One might have the child read something from six different sources and they all are chosen, or calculated, to say the same thing to the child, the same party line. Or in a classroom the child may be told the same thing from six different students and the teacher. The child is not asked look at things for himself or to work it out for himself. He must 'work out' what others, the regime if you will, is telling him to do or the way things are to be. When I was substitute teaching the regular teacher might leave instructions to divide the classroom up into groups of about six. So there were five groups. Then I was to give the students an assignment. I watched how this worked. None of the groups knew the answer. So one group would ask another. Finally, one boy in one group worked out an answer. That group told the other groups, and every student in every group, got the same answer. The answer their regular teacher had expected. That is how they did it. That is not how I would do it. I would not use moderated stimulus-response. I would not use Vygotsky's stuff and I would not use what Stalin funded and required in Russia (under pain of death). The state of Michigan, and the other states should not use it either. We should have free people that know how to study freely, know how to observe things for themselves, how to evaluate things rather than just accept things, have their own purposes and the know-how to work things out according to their own lights. Then they can be free, rather than what Stalin and Luria, and the Harvard Fellow intended for others. Students are not taught how to evaluate such information. If they become confused when they are trying to apply it they are not asked, 'Have you been taught something you feel you can not apply?' What are your views on how a student learns? Should he or she be encouraged to be free, or to learn freely, to be 'self-determined' or should he only be 'taught', to have only the views of the teacher, the school, or the state, Joseph Stalin, or Karl Marx, or others. Should he be 'other-determined?' My standards are intended to encourage the student to have his own viewpoint, to be self-determined, to evaluate all things for himself, to have a set of tools to learn each new thing he comes to in life if he wishes. If there is a sea of information, he may have the tools to evaluate it and find what is important. He can learn judgement. He can learn the level of literacy we discussed earlier. I require no change to curriculums, because they do not teach these things to students, and I do not teach what they teach. There are study courses of a sort now in some schools, but they do not teach these things. They teach the student to guess, to memorize, to take notes, to have a place to study, to have a time to study.
Duane
Sun, 03/16/2014 - 9:35pm
Leon, My approach is more of showing how a concept is already part of the everyday. I see ‘concepts’ being founded in the everyday rather than being developed and then applied to the everyday, by doing that way it helps elevates it credibility with people living in the everyday.. There are many things that are best learned by repetition, the times tables, I have been told that the application is when the bulk (70-80%) of learning (retention and application) happen. This will vary by individual and change with. Whether it is a newly minted engineer or a second grader they need to be exposed to what the possibilities are in a way that expands what they can see. A second grader will not understand the concept of engineering, but they can be exposed to a diversity of topics/genres to test their reading skills on and begin to expand what their mind will accept. Similarly the engineer can be introduces to the different facets of engineering in school or in the workplace to allow them to recognize and decide on what interests them. Each should reflect where the person is in their growing process. The Fifth grader can begin to see how engineers impact them simply by taking them down a grocery isle and describing what goes into what they see. Expectations that are carved in stone quickly become barriers, best in wood where it takes work to change them. Purpose and expectations and objectives can be interchangeable, it has much to do with how the individual applies them. Whichever is used it needs to be measurable so the individual can monitor their progress. When I talk about ‘THE answer’ it how the mind is conditioned, it is not about authoritarian or democracy. When one is taught to have ‘THE answer’ they learn to believe if they don’t have THE answer (all inclusive) they should not say anything. If the teacher asks a question in class they are expecting a single answer and don’t raise your hand unless you have that answer. This discourages the competition of answers, the collaboration of individuals. It creates the mindset of there is a right way and if you don’t have it you are going the wrong way. As for listening it is about teaching open mindedness. The most common approach is to hear what you are expecting to hear. This can be due the source, the environment, what was last said, what is the stereotype one has of the person, what one’s own ideas are on the subject, what others have said before a new statement, even how something is said. We are not taught to confirm what we hear, to question in a way the brings out more about what is said, how to recognize and overcome our barriers to actually hearing what is said. Behavior modification has a lot to do with creating desired behaviors through repetition, confirmed repetition. When you said reading a chapter is commonly received as reading the whole chapter, not specifically relevant parts. How large the barrier is determined by who has to overcome it. A few minutes of extra reading can be large to a weak/poor reader. How one learns about expectations can determine how they use them. If you want someone to make expectations a person tool for success then they need to be introduced to expectations in a personal way. If it is for applying to a group/organization/community then it will be presented in more structure or conceptual way. I like to draw in a diverse group; self-selected Bridge readers would be good. I could see such a discussion creating a new approach to how problems/issues are addressed and a means to developing new/innovative ways to approach them. I feel that much of the commenting is emotion driven, I would like it to be more learning and sharing.
Duane
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 7:25pm
Leon, What I recall of Massey’s emotional moment wasn’t so much to teach, but to breakdown a barrier and open up to learn. The example I recall was one of a student who took her bike into the building where he taught, disregarding rules and doing some damage, so he stomped on her bike wheel to get her attention. He wasn’t teaching, simply trying to break her self-serving view of how she acted. As for the moment the student succeed at learning and realized their success with emotion seemed more about self-reinforcement or feedback. More of the ABCs of behavior management. I look at the stages for kids, the early years learning the mechanics (reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.), the middle years the basic though process/thinking, the rest of life applying what has been learned and learning /thinking more. I don’t know enough about the teaching of mechanics to contribute much. However, the ABCs of behavior I have found as a valuable tool to support learning. I talk a lot about expectations, I see student expectations, others expectations, lesson expectations (when this is not address I see it as a barrier to learning), expectations of others and of the process.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 11:17pm
Duane, I think you might know more about 'expectations' than me at this point. I have researched it some, and my ideas were more in the direction that there is a lot to know about it, and that I did not know much and didn't know anyone to ask. I hadn't gotten to the idea it was a barrier that I might address with students. What I know still seems to be in the anecdotal stage, the story telling stage. I have tried things, and I was so amazed I was afraid to do too much with it. Example; a substitute teacher in California got a list of locker numbers, and thought her students were geniuses, and treated them that way with super high expectations. She won an award for her accomplishments when her student made the Honor Roll that year, with class of misfits and delinquents. Example 2; I had a 14 year old girl, Chrissy, from Edmonton, email me and say she had lost her last debate and wanted me to tell her all about simulators so she could do better on her next debate. I decided to do something like the teacher in California. I just made up a super high expectation, at least what I understand it to be. I said I will believe she is Jesus Christ, at least when I write her, I will only use the same respect and high expectations as I would for Him. I am not a Christian. I sent her the most respectful letter doing my best to represent all I knew of simulators that she might use, and about debate. She won her next debate. This dialog continued till she had won Nationals in Canada for the year 2000. She qualified to go to South Africa for Internationals, but since she was only in 10th, she could not go. But her partner Beth a senior, did go. For my Standards, I try to refine what I know of something new, down to a correct definition, one that is absolutely true, and possibly a new standard. Then I try to make up a little course to teach this true concept to others. For example with my first standard, I define the word study. For the little courses I try to fully develop the concepts that add up to that definition, with the idea that if one can fully grasp two things individually, two concepts individually, then it is an easy matter to fit two of them together into a new combined concept. For a standard that represents a barrier, I need to work out the true definitions, a statement of exactly what the barrier is, and then a clever solution of how a student might handle the barrier, or solve it. In practice this more or less has to come down to an instantaneous ability. The person sees the barrier, as you stated for himself, or as others may see it for themselves, and so on. Then at least for my first standard, I put about 10 parents through the first part. Each time I put two parents through it, I would refine it. Then I put a fifth-grader through the whole little course. I refined the parts she had completed as she went along. So I verified what I have works for a fifth-grader. He sister was in second-grade, so I know what it takes to get a second-grader through the first part of that. So if you could, would you mind trying to define the concept of 'expectations?' Then explain how it might be a barrier to a student. To a teacher. To a parent. or to someone in business. Then what might a student or teacher or parent or worker do to overcome the barrier. I have the student make up examples of how they might apply the idea. I then have them then demonstrate applying the idea till they can apply it more or less instantly and feel great about it. Then I might give them some tough examples to demonstrate how they would handle it. I agree this could be a barrier, but can we work out how it might be solved by, or used by each student in America? Are there limits to it, where one might take caution? Educate me.
Duane
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 9:39pm
Leon, The analogy I commonly use is taking a trip where the destination is the expectation. There are many ways to get there but if you don’t know where you are going you have no interest in planning a route or in making the necessary effort to get there so you never know if you have arrived. If a student doesn’t know what they are to learn (no expectations) then how will they know if they can learn or will have the interest to study? When a teacher lectures and leaves it to the student to figure out what will be on the test and they fail why should they try again? The teacher creates a barrier to learning by not creating an expectation for the student of what to learn or how to learn or when they learn. If a teacher has low or no expectations for a student what will they teach to? If parents have low or no expectations for their child how will they support them? If all those who are resources to the student (teachers,, parents, peers) have low or no academic expectations for the student how will the student have other than low or any expectations for themselves? If they are not taught about expectations then how will they develop them for themselves? As for those in the community (such as businesses), their expectations will reflect what the schools have of them and when they are included in the learning process. If the school asks them to describe how education fits their business then they will frame for the students they will see. If the school asks them to provide training on a topic they will. If they school asks them to describe the expectations for students they will. If the school ignores the community they community will work to meet those expectations (that seems to be what is happening most if not all school districts). People work to the expectations, whether high or low. It is their road map and they will do what they believe it will take to get there.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 11:51pm
Duane, Very interesting. This reads like you are explaining it to students in a class. I see what you mean. I have been thinking about this today, and below is the way I would approach it. This is just a first draft. Then I will look to see if it answers your questions, and explanations. The standards I have are a bit of context and pattern for me. So far, I do not really see how this content is different than my 10 standards, and six barriers to study. But I will take a fresh look and see if the lights come on. I reviewed many definitions of 'expectations' from Onelook.com and conceptualized the idea of it, and then put words to that. Written like one of the definitions in my standards it would go like this. 'An Expectation is when someone decides how something will be.' I would then have the student read the definition, and any sample sentences, and then make up sentences of their own until they can do this quickly and easily. Then I would have them make up some examples or share some from life. Then do some quick demonstrations with actual objects to develop the full context intended. Examples: A teacher says to a student, to read Chapter three as homework. The student understands this as the teacher's expectation, now he or she may decide to do it, or not. Demonstrate what happens, what will be, if the student decides not to read Chapter three. Now, demonstrate what will be if he does choose to read Chapter three. Now, demonstrate how a teacher might use this concept of an expectation to relay her instructions to students. Demonstrate what a parent that has the expectation that their child get at least a 'C' might do. Demonstrate what a parent with high expectations might do. As a twin, demonstrate how a twin, studying with a student, can keep the student's expectations high and exceed the teachers instructions, or exceed what he might choose to do without help. Demonstrate how you might apply this idea in business where employees have to coordinate with others and know what others are doing. Demonstrate what would happen in business, if one did not know this idea of expectations. One type of problem is when two people or groups have different expectations for each other, but do not talk to each other much. Demonstrate how you could talk to each of the groups and sort this out with this concept of 'expectations.' Demonstrate some ways, 'expectations', can be a barrier to study. These demonstrations only take seconds. But sometimes a student has to work things out. So what I learned to do, is to have them do the demonstration over and over till they can do each one very quickly, without hesitation. When a student does these demonstrations, his twin would be listening and checking to see if he got all the things right. Then they would switch around, and do them all over again with the twin doing the demonstrations and the student observing. A tutor sees all these things are done. Now to your description. I think this would address most of the things you described.
Duane
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 8:36pm
Leon, I have had opportunities over time to work on explaining the topic and have found making it relevant to the everyday is more effective for those I am talking to and makes it more likely I will get my message across. My approach is more about the individual taking ownership of their expectations. The first step is helping them understand what the expectations can be. When you ask the students what they want to be doing in 10 years and they have no clue what an engineer does then you can’t expect them to include the work of an engineer in their expectations. Expectations can fit any time frame for a day to a lifetime. But it will still be determined by what the person is aware of. To me expectations are what things can be or what we want them to be. It is not what things will be, we don’t what effort it will take or what barriers will have to be overcome. For people that have never used expectations, creating their own, realizing they can achieve them, and determining what it will take to achieve them is something that has to be learned. One of the challenges I have found in the K-12 education system is that they don’t modify the education process as the student progresses to encourage exploratory thinking. When learning skills there is only one answer, the rights answer, to demonstrate the skill is learned. However, when learning to think and especially to apply what one has learned there is no single answer and yet the schools continue to expect THE answer (their answer). I wish they would teach listening so students wouldn’t feel they had to have the answer and give it before they have asked some clarifying questions. What you describe seems to be more of behavior modification. The teacher provides the antecedent, the student the behavior, then the consequences. That is critical in studying to learn. And that does fit the expectations, an antecedent. Using you example of the assigned Chapter to be read, in any textbook I have read there has been some parts that weren’t necessary to the particular class and still the expectation was to read it all. That creates a barrier for the slow reader, they invest a lot of time and struggle for no gain. For the exceptional reader it is also a barrier as they see how the teacher had little concern for the student and was simply making it easy on themselves. Expectations need to take into consideration the person who is to take ownership of them. If the assignment had been to read these pages or these topics then those barriers would have been removed and the students would have been more effective in what they spent their time on. I see expectations as personal and not as an exercise, unless it is to learn how to use them beyond the personal. Establishing expectations for a team or an organization needs to be taught, establishing them for yourself or for those who support you needs to be practiced. This is the type of discussion that would be part of a project development effort, and would be good to have with a diverse group.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Fri, 03/14/2014 - 8:30pm
Duane, I would like to respond to your comment, but I will have to get back to you tomorrow.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sat, 03/15/2014 - 6:51pm
Duane re: March 13, 2014 at 8:36 pm I wrote my responses in red, but now I don’t think that will show up here, so I put brackets around them too. ‘Leon, I have had opportunities over time to work on explaining the topic and have found making it relevant to the everyday is more effective for those I am talking to and makes it more likely I will get my message across.’ [I like to use the concept of Comparison to help a child learn something new to them, A New Idea. The new concept often is something quite new to their everyday world, but by having them compare it to many things they do know, ‘making it relevant to the everyday’, one can not only get the idea across, but the skill of using it, outside their world. I have them read the accurate definition, ‘the true data.’ Until they feel they understand it. Then I have them see that word in print, in sentences correctly illustrating its use. Then instead of explaining to them, I have them make up sentences using it correctly, quickly and easily. Then I have them make up their own examples, and if they cannot, I give them examples from their world, or my world, they might understand, until they can make up examples for themselves quickly and easily. So this is a new higher level ability, to not only use it in sentences, but to conceive examples in their world and mine. Then I have them demonstrate it with little objects. This is much tougher again. They usually have to now work out how to do this. One girl said, ‘I don’t know how to do this!’ We worked it out, and in a just a few seconds, she was doing it and knew how to do it, and was happy to have learned something new to her. Then I have the student demonstrate using it to solve a few situations that were or may be actual situations in life. Now this New Idea and the ability to use it in most any situation, is a part of their world. An explanation to them, is quite different than when they personally work out a series of increasingly difficult situations, from very simple to very complex. Do you see how this is different than a verbal explanation?] ‘My approach is more about the individual taking ownership of their expectations. The first step is helping them understand what the expectations can be. When you ask the students what they want to be doing in 10 years and they have no clue what an engineer does then you can’t expect them to include the work of an engineer in their expectations.’ [That is true as an example. But that being said, I do not expect them to have a clue at that point, as a second-grader or as a fifth-grader about anything to do with Engineering. On their first day of work after announcing to me they are my new Engineer? That is quit different I think.] ‘Expectations can fit any time frame for a day to a lifetime. But it will still be determined by what the person is aware of.’ [True, for that instant in time. But five minutes later, they may be aware of more. Right?] ‘To me expectations are what things can be or what we want them to be. It is not what things will be, we don’t (know) what effort it will take or what barriers will have to be overcome.’ [I guess this is probably expressed in the context of ‘reasonable expectations.’ It is also possible a person might have ‘unreasonable expectations.’ I still see these as expectations, not necessarily the ones we might want, but still they are their expectations despite not knowing the efforts and barriers. If they cannot fully achieve an expectation then it might be helpful to know how to handle such things. I call these things ‘failed purposes.’ On a special job I once had, I put out a thousand proposals in one year. Only 20 succeeded, to my expectations. I had to learn how to accept failure, on my expectations, with grace. It was a tough thing to learn.] ‘For people that have never used expectations, creating their own, realizing they can achieve them, and determining what it will take to achieve them is something that has to be learned.’[I agree. But I just want to point out here, I have been calling many such things ‘purposes’ as defined in my standards, or a personal reason for something. If it is an objective they intend to achieve.] ‘One of the challenges I have found in the K-12 education system is that they don’t modify the education process as the student progresses to encourage exploratory thinking. When learning skills there is only one answer, the rights answer, to demonstrate the skill is learned. However, when learning to think and especially to apply what one has learned there is no single answer and yet the schools continue to expect THE answer (their answer).’ [I agree. I think it is rather authoritarian, rather than democratic.] ‘I wish they would teach listening so students wouldn’t feel they had to have the answer and give it before they have asked some clarifying questions.’ [I don’t think I understand enough about what you mean by ‘listening’, beyond your examples here.] ‘What you describe seems to be more of behavior modification. The teacher provides the antecedent, the student the behavior, then the consequences. That is critical in studying to learn. And that does fit the expectations, an antecedent.’ [It was not my intent to use, or not to use, 'behavior modification.’ I don’t know enough about it speak about it.] ‘Using your example of the assigned Chapter to be read, in any textbook I have read there has been some parts that weren’t necessary to the particular class and still the expectation was to read it all. That creates a barrier for the slow reader, they invest a lot of time and struggle for no gain. For the exceptional reader it is also a barrier as they see how the teacher had little concern for the student and was simply making it easy on themselves.' [I don't think I said the context for 'Reading a Chapter', at least the one I had in my mind. I was a Guest Teacher and the regular teacher had assigned the class to read Chapter 13 of an Art textbook. The students had no such expectation. They said, they had no text books. We found them on shelf in a closet at the back of the room, never opened, never used. They had just done things like finger painting. Chapter 13 had three sections and 4 sets of questions. The Principal was so amazed that the teacher had given me those instructions, he demanded to see her Lesson Plan. So I gave them to him.] 'Expectations need to take into consideration the person who is to take ownership of them. If the assignment had been to read these pages or these topics then those barriers would have been removed and the students would have been more effective in what they spent their time on.’ [I understand your example and what you mean by ‘barrier’ there. That is true. My six barriers, I guess are intended to be a higher level thing, a block of a whole subject for instance. If one has a certain consideration, he will devote no attention to a subject and neglect it thereafter. Going back to comparisons for a moment, that is quite a different thing, than spending a couple extra minutes reading a portion of a Chapter that was unneeded for a specific task. Assigning the extra reading beyond what is needed, is still true. But on a scale of 1 to 1000, its importance might be 2 or 20, where if he might never look at the subject again, that barrier, or that concept of one barrier a student can know about and have a handle on, is closer to batting a thousand.] 'I see expectations as personal and not as an exercise, unless it is to learn how to use them beyond the personal. [I'm not sure what you are saying here exactly, shouldn't one learn more about 'expectations' so one can apply them to oneself, to the personal?] 'Establishing expectations for a team or an organization needs to be taught, establishing them for yourself or for those who support you needs to be practiced.' [I agree.] 'This is the type of discussion that would be part of a project development effort, and would be good to have with a diverse group.' [Do you have a specific group in mind?]
Duane
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 12:23pm
Leon, I apologize, I placed my respons to your March 15 comments above this et. See my comments made on March 16th.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 9:09pm
Duane, 'I apologize, I placed my respons to your March 15 comments above this et. See my comments made on March 16th.' I found it alright. I'll get back tomorrow.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Tue, 03/18/2014 - 9:41pm
Duane, March 16, 2014 at 9:35 pm All these ideas seem to be from the viewpoint of ‘a teacher.’ I try to make the viewpoint of the student the primary focus, and do not present the viewpoint of a teacher at all. My things are only about study things, the things one might learn before being exposed to things teachers talks about like multiplication. I do use examples from Engineering that students can grasp. ‘My approach is more of showing how a concept is already part of the everyday. I see ‘concepts’ being founded in the everyday rather than being developed and then applied to the everyday, by doing that way it helps elevates it credibility with people living in the everyday..’ [We have different definitions of the word ‘concept.’ Which one are you using?] ‘There are many things that are best learned by repetition, the times tables, I have been told that the application is when the bulk (70-80%) of learning (retention and application) happen. This will vary by individual and change with.’ [I would agree some things must be memorized or learned by heart. But I have found understanding a better approach for multiplication, multiplication tables or multiplication facts, addition facts, and ‘calculator math.’ When I tutored an eighth-grader to understand multiplication, she could do multiplication more or less instantly, she then could study very fast and confidently, and did move up to As in school, she did not use the tables, and did not depend on the use of ‘calculator math’. I asked her what she did when she did ‘calculator math’, before understanding. She said she just typed in what was written and accepted the calculator answer with no idea of whether it was right or not. She had no judgment when she did that. I think that might be true for people using memorized tables as well. Is it ‘right’, or ‘wrong?’ They don’t know. The legal definition of sanity is ‘the ability to tell right from wrong.’ One should not teach people in a way where they can not distinguish the difference.] ‘Whether it is a newly minted engineer or a second grader they need to be exposed to what the possibilities are in a way that expands what they can see.’ [I agree.] A second grader will not understand the concept of engineering, [I do not agree.] …but they can be exposed to a diversity of topics/genres to test their reading skills on and begin to expand what their mind will accept. [I have not found this to be the case. One of my second graders conceives of starting businesses, doing projects like making Danalion Wine, or Black Berry Wine, and others. She had her own idea of starting a company to repair sewing machines and provide them to poor people at low cost. I explained to her about how they, the used sewing machines, would need to be cleaned, adjusted, parts replaced and repairs made. I could not find an adult expert to train her how to do that, but she was game.] Similarly the engineer can be introduces to the different facets of engineering in school or in the workplace to allow them to recognize and decide on what interests them. [This looks like the way a teacher would do this, and from my experience that does not work too well. Young Engineers tell me they have experienced that no one shows them how to do actual things. A business owner said, new engineers will ask other new engineers how to do things, and get a group of five or six together to 'solve' a simple skill. By the end of the day nothing is done. I was hired, to be the 'grey beard,' the one who knows how and show others how to do things. The same task the fiver or six young engineers were struggling to learn, is done by one person in an hour or two when one knows the skill of it.] Each should reflect where the person is in their growing process. [I don’t agree with such an 'airy fairy' teaching approach.] The Fifth grader can begin to see how engineers impact them simply by taking them down a grocery isle and describing what goes into what they see. [I think it is better to have them, the second-grader and the fifth-grader, do something. I set up a contract for them to do something and they get paid for a high quality product. I choose things for them to do that are not too difficult, and do not let them fail. I get them expert help, and make certain they succeed. They become competent.] Expectations that are carved in stone quickly become barriers, best in wood where it takes work to change them. [I find that new Engineers seem to have many ideas carved in stone. The task is what will the business world do with them till they change their minds and become fully productive in the real world? How do they get work that requires experience, if they are not experienced? How do they get experience, if they are not willing to experience? My standards handle that, but nearly all businesses do not know how to do it well.] Purpose and expectations and objectives can be interchangeable, it has much to do with how the individual applies them. Whichever is used it needs to be measurable so the individual can monitor their progress. [I don’t think a teacher would use something, show a child how to do this, here that is recognizable by someone in the business world. At Highland over half the kids are dropping out of the school before graduation, and the school does not correct the teachers? Who is competently monitoring the progress? I think maybe no one is doing this. I just read about Bill Gates investing $300 million in common core standards because schools do not prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to be college ready or career ready. Your idea may have some merit, but I do not believe students know how to do that. A student that can study competently can do this. The simplest test, the simplest measure, of such progress is to have the student demonstrate, to himself, how he can apply an idea or a skill. I don't think any school in Michigan even knows that it can be this simple.] When I talk about ‘THE answer’ it how the mind is conditioned, it is not about authoritarian or democracy. [I disagree. What you are describing is exactly what ‘authoritarian’ means. Using such a conditioning technique is authoritarian. The student is not free to participate freely, and doesn’t. He is not free to investigate, or experiment, or demonstrate, or observer freely, and he does not. ] When one is taught to have ‘THE answer’ they learn to believe if they don’t have THE answer (all inclusive) they should not say anything. If the teacher asks a question in class they are expecting a single answer and don’t raise your hand unless you have that answer. This discourages the competition of answers, the collaboration of individuals. It creates the mindset of there is a right way and if you don’t have it you are going the wrong way. [I understand this issue.] As for listening it is about teaching open mindedness. The most common approach is to hear what you are expecting to hear. This can be due the source, the environment, what was last said, what is the stereotype one has of the person, what one’s own ideas are on the subject, what others have said before a new statement, even how something is said. We are not taught to confirm what we hear, to question in a way the brings out more about what is said, how to recognize and overcome our barriers to actually hearing what is said. [Alright.] Behavior modification has a lot to do with creating desired behaviors through repetition, confirmed repetition. [This is an authoritarian technique. I believe Pavlov developed this under duress, following Stalin’s orders and funding, in the 20’s and 30’s. It should not be used or encouraged.] When you said reading a chapter is commonly received as reading the whole chapter, not specifically relevant parts. How large the barrier is determined by who has to overcome it. A few minutes of extra reading can be large to a weak/poor reader. [I understand what you are saying.] How one learns about expectations can determine how they use them. If you want someone to make expectations a person tool for success then they need to be introduced to expectations in a personal way. If it is for applying to a group/organization/community then it will be presented in more structure or conceptual way. [I understand.] I like to draw in a diverse group; self-selected Bridge readers would be good. I could see such a discussion creating a new approach to how problems/issues are addressed and a means to developing new/innovative ways to approach them. I feel that much of the commenting is emotion driven, I would like it to be more learning and sharing. [I think this might be difficult here, as the article, where Al says to ignore reformers. He has a lot of support there for the status quo, like the failure at Highland, and few people trying to create new approaches to problems or such issues. I would rather just sit down with students at a school like Highland and tutor them to know how to study well enough to get themselves to grade levl, and see them through doing that. Or see them hire any tutor and contract with them to do just that. It is not that big of a problem. It is not rocket science, and it is not unsolvable with existing budgets. It does not take a committee. Just insist that teachers teach each student to the grade level they are in. Have School Boards publish what grade level students are at, on a continuing basis. Have them publish how many of the graduates of a teacher are at grade level. If a community can see a teacher does not know how to teach a student and bring them up to grade level, they will do the correcting I think they might riot, like they did at Kalkaska in the 1990's. The community just has to be made aware. This might be a good use of the 'measurement' idea you were talking about.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Wed, 03/19/2014 - 8:02pm
Duane, I thought you said something about wanting to get more kids involved here. Do you want to talk about that? - Leon
Duane
Wed, 03/19/2014 - 9:05pm
Leon, I see 'concept' more as how scientific concepts are a description what already exists and not what they think should exist. I have limited experience with the reading, but what I have seen that when a person (even in 2nd grade) finds a topic/genre/author that strikes their interest they can become a voracious reader. And if they don’t find it they will always be a poor reader. I subscribe to the view that a person’s brain continues to grow until their in their early 20s, and kids have different growth rates/spurts, so where they are in their brain development can affect what they learn and how well they learn it. As for you example of about the half dozen new engineers, that sounds like an issue of the workplace culture rather than an issue of new engineers or it may have been the nature of their expertise. As for the students being ‘paid’ for doing something, I lean more to finding out what their interests are and matching feedback with that interest. I like to move things where they are providing their own feedback, it is usually more timely, though it needs to be strengthened by feedback for those they respect. If new engineers are allowed to have an extended time to be productive suggests that an organization is either overstaff or has a near monopoly on their market. I did seem that when new engineers were hired there were already a few projects given to them with specific expectations, deliverable results in a set time. We were a rather lean company. Developing the expectations so that they are measurable by the individual maybe a break from the historic educational culture, but if it works in one setting why not try it in another? Why not work with teachers to develop metrics such that the students can be involved and using them to provide self-feedback? It seems this happens in K-12 sports all the time and even library programs that track the number of books kids read, the kids are making the same counts for themselves to get a prize for so many read. I agree that having only THE answer is conditioning, one that stifles individual thought. I can see why you would see it as authoritarian, but it is much more conditioning than creating the authoritarian structure. We have too many choices to allow it to create a social subservience. Those same distractions do support the conditioning that if ‘I’ don’t have THE answer then I should be quiet. [Listening] “Alright” suggests a disagreement or less than acceptance. What do you find weak or different from your experience that I might consider rethinking? I am not clear on how behavior modification is authoritarian. If the individual identifies the habits they want to develop, they provide their own feedback and triggers, how is it authoritarian? It can be a tool/method used in controlled environments, such a totalitarian societies, but that doesn’t make it authoritarian. I like to start with a group whose members are self-selected, simply being interested in the topic, because they have already shown and interest so the environment can draw in their contributions. It has to do with creating a critical mass that with success keeps pulling in more and more. It is always good to have talked through many of the barriers to an ideas success before taking the step into application, that way the earlier bumps in its testing are expected by all so they don’t become barriers. The measurements are a good example, you need to know why people don’t want to have them succeed before you try to use them. No Child Left Behind is a good example of how the barriers weren’t addressed before application.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 5:07pm
Duane March 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm I see ‘concept’ more as how scientific concepts are a description what already exists and not what they think should exist. [When I selected an exact definition of ‘concept’ to use, I had in mind a child learning a new skill, acquiring a new ability, or acquiring all the skills he might acquire in a lifetime, or all students might acquire over eternity. How exactly does one acquire a skill? I had to know, and I had to be able to articulate it terms a young child could understand with ease. I understand science is based on ‘Conservation of Energy,’ as a basic concept. This is in the sense you used the term, concept. But if we considered that energy (and mass) can not be created or destroyed, then how does it come into existence? If I were now to define ‘concept’ in that context, then I think we would be in error. It would mean that the ‘concept’ is conserved and not created or destroyed by the child. I wanted to know how a child could bring an ability into existence. How could he or she create an ability. I settled on, he or she could ‘observe’ one and decide to acquire it, then they would have it. But I had to broaden ‘observe’ a little to include ‘imagination’ and an inherent ability to create. One could imagine an ability, and decide to have it, and have it. I settled on; ‘Observe, Decide, Act.’ As my definition for ability. With such a definition one could learn to observe an ability, decide on its nature and acquire it, and then do it. Like, ‘Read it, Do it.’ So, Yes, your definition may be fine for science, but not in the context of acquiring an ability, or conceiving a new idea, let's say, like Newton’s Laws. Before Newton the law did not exist. He conceived it, he observed things and thought out how they might work, and was able to articulate to others so they might also see it. Now his laws are conserved for posterity in the annuls of ‘Science.’ Yes, there is an irony here, he could Observe, Decide and Act, but in general ‘Science’ does not. So I try not to make that error. I teach children to acquire skills and have them demonstrate they have the ability to acquire skills they can observe.] I have limited experience with the reading, but what I have seen (is) that when a person (even in 2nd grade) finds a topic/genre/author that strikes their interest they can become a voracious reader. And if they don’t find it, they will always be a poor reader. [I think that spark you observed is very important. I have observed it with interest as well, but I have seen it otherwise many more times. Once in High School, I was tripped up while running a mile-run in Track, at a Regional's Meet. I was running about 13th coming into the last lap and got tripped up. I seemed to get that certain spark, which I understood as ‘Second Wind.’ I found a place where I had a huge amount of energy and took off sprinting. I went so fast, I passed 11 of the 12 runners in front of me, and had nearly overtaken the lead runner. I came in 2nd by 4 hundredths of a second. I qualified for the State Finals. But I got a passion for trying to find out what this ‘Second Wind’ thing was all about. When I had learned a little about it, I taught my son to run with it. He had been diagnosed with Scoliosis, and had leg braces and heavy boots on. It challenged my knowledge a little but when that moment happened for him, he sprinted around our track many times at high speed. He exclaimed, ‘I feel like I can run any distance!’ That was the same thing I had realized when it had all come together for me a couple of years before while running 3 miles a day. Yes, the interest you see is important, but there is more to it than that.] I subscribe to the view that a person’s brain continues to grow until their in their early 20s, and kids have different growth rates/spurts, so where they are in their brain development can affect what they learn and how well they learn it. [I subscribe to the view that a being is not his brain, or any body part. Down through history people have thought of the navel, the spleen, the heart, and other things like ‘chakras’ as the seat of various things. One group even felt ‘the cell’ was a better choice, and explained more. On one question and answer website I wrote something on Artificial Intelligence about this. A fellow from an AI site asked for permission to place it on his AI site. It stayed there for years. I basically said that modelling AI on the human brain may be the reason AI has gone nowhere. Why not model AI on the intelligence people have shown down through history instead? Why not use the actual capabilities of the human mind as a starting point for intelligence, instead of a body part, a piece of meat? People have had much of their brains removed and if it is done gently enough they still live and have regained skills. One chicken had its head cut completely off and it lived for three years without it.] As for you(r) example of about the half dozen new engineers, that sounds like an issue of the workplace culture rather than an issue of new engineers or it may have been the nature of their expertise. [The example illustrates my experiences with dozens of Engineers and many companies and discussions with many managers. A manager at a local company says it takes 5 years to bring a CAD Operator, meaning ALL the CAD operators, from a local Community College up to speed after hiring. (I assume this means HIS expectation speed.) When I went to Pratt & Whitney in Florida there were 1500 Engineers on the Third Floor there. They had a six-months training program for new-hire Engineers. I went through that program. At Rolls Royce I talked with a new Engineer that had been assigned a Mentor. I dialoged by e-mail with the mentors for nine First Robotics Teams I talked with the Director of Education in charge of training at RR Indianapolis (about 40,000 employees). I talked with a local High School in Indianapolis and reviewed their CAD contract with RR to document their buildings built in World War II with little documentation. ] As for the students being ‘paid’ for doing something, I lean more to finding out what their interests are and matching feedback with that interest. I like to move things where they are providing their own feedback, it is usually more timely, though it needs to be strengthened by feedback for those they respect. [The pay was nominal, the format was exactly that of business world contracts I had been using to double the size of a local company; specifying terms, price and the exact quality of product expected. They did provide things they were interested in without much prompting from me, I merely chose a novel format for my reply to them and the dialog. Each of the contracts were at their choice only. Some they did not accept.] If new engineers are allowed to have an extended time to be productive suggests that an organization is either overstaff or has a near monopoly on their market. I did seem that when new engineers were hired there were already a few projects given to them with specific expectations, deliverable results in a set time. We were a rather lean company. [Those seem like arguments that are rather dismissive of the whole issue. Yes, I was and they were assigned, projects and tasks, and schedules within the training programs. When I took such planning, from senior Engineers, to the owner of a Space company, he countered with, ‘I could do those tasks in one-third the time you have here.’ I know what the expectations were for college graduates and experienced senior engineers. After I trained my new-hires within my department I estimated their project planning hours could be measured on the basis of a senior Engineer was four times, 4X, as fast as a new-hire from college. When I had trained these senior Engineers to a level above the level the owner of this Space company expected, they were 10X the speed of new-hire college graduates. My expert opinion is that your ‘lean company’ was not ‘leaner’ than these specially trained and carefully managed employees.] Developing the expectations so that they are measurable by the individual maybe a break from the historic educational culture, but if it works in one setting why not try it in another? [Alright, let’s do it! It is simple. Just have the student do it. Have the student demonstrate with the actual objects of the subject the ideas and actions of the subject. Have him show how he would apply them to actual situations. If the actual sized objects are not so convenient, use smaller generic objects, or have them draw a picture of the action, or model it in clay. Why not do this…it requires the student to be at a far higher energy level (interest level). It would also require the student to have the discipline and know-how to be able to do this. For example, doing the little courses from my standards would provide these skills. Tutoring provided by others would not accomplish this.] Why not work with teachers to develop metrics such that the students can be involved and using them to provide self-feedback? [Just have them demonstrate each important point in the curriculum, for starters. The metric is, can he do it? Or not? Currently, it may not be EVER be done, not at all, not even once. The barrier that prevents teachers from even looking at this idea in the slightest, is the content of my Standard 9.] It seems this happens in K-12 sports all the time [did they learn to do this in an academic course? I don't think so.] and even library programs that track the number of books kids read, the kids are making the same counts for themselves to get a prize for so many read. [Do they count ones read out-loud? Ones read to others? One's they can apply to something in life? I think what is used, is only a very simple sort of metric.] I agree that having only THE answer is conditioning, one that stifles individual thought. I can see why you would see it as authoritarian, but it is much more conditioning than creating the authoritarian structure. We have too many choices to allow it to create a social subservience. [Does the student really have many choices? Does he have to sit in that chair, in that location? Is he free to change his personal location at his own will, or is this determined by another? Does he control his time? Or is there a bell? What does he control, and what is not under his control? I think schools are more about social control (subservience), than academics.] Those same distractions do support the conditioning that if ‘I’ don’t have THE answer then I should be quiet. [Listening] “Alright” suggests a disagreement or less than acceptance. What do you find weak or different from your experience that I might consider rethinking? [Can you say this ‘listening’ idea to a 7 year old in such a way she will get it?] I am not clear on how behavior modification is authoritarian. If the individual identifies the habits they want to develop, they provide their own feedback and triggers, how is it authoritarian? It can be a tool/method used in controlled environments, such a totalitarian societies, but that doesn’t make it authoritarian. [Here is an illustrative story. Pavlov liked to work with dogs. He developed his behavior modification ideas with dogs. The dogs obeyed, did certain things when a bell rang, when triggers were used. Stalin wanted the ideas published so he could control millions of people. So Pavlov published them. One day there was a fire in Pavlov’s lab. All the dogs got away and were ‘free’ for three days. Their behavior modifications, their conditioning, vanished. It no longer existed for those dogs. I think if you train a child like a dog, it will not turn out well, for you or the child, when he is free to act according to his own will. This is what I understand of behavior modification. I call that ‘authoritarian’, as it is not done according to the child’s own wishes, by his own free will. It is done by an ‘authority’; a mom, a dad, a bus driver, a teacher, a principal, a police officer, a doctor, etc. The ‘authority’ chooses, the child does not choose. The authority commands, or ‘expects’, the child complies. Abraham Lincoln used to tell a story about a pig with four legs and a tail. If we call a tail, a leg, how many legs does the pig have? A southern gentleman responds, ‘Five!’ Lincoln, then says, ‘That is the difference between you and I. Even though you say a pig has five legs, I know, it only has four! I know the difference.’ In your example, you say, ‘If the individual identifies the habits they want to develop, they provide their own feedback and triggers, how is it authoritarian?’ I say, ‘How does that conform to your definition of behavior modification?’ If we call a tale a leg, it is still a tale. If the student is perfectly free to do all those things, and is not under the duress, the expectations, the orders, of an authority, in any way, then how can we call it ‘behavior modification?’ in the sense of Pavlov’s works with dogs, defining the subject for Stalin?] I like to start with a group whose members are self-selected, simply being interested in the topic, because they have already shown and interest so the environment can draw in their contributions. It has to do with creating a critical mass that with success keeps pulling in more and more. It is always good to have talked through many of the barriers to an ideas success before taking the step into application, that way the earlier bumps in its testing are expected by all so they don’t become barriers. The measurements are a good example, you need to know why people don’t want to have them succeed before you try to use them. No Child Left Behind is a good example of how the barriers weren’t addressed before application. [I agree.]
Duane
Fri, 03/21/2014 - 1:17pm
Leon, A skill has no physical state; it resides in the mind. The actions of an individual may utilize a skill, such as how a carpenter pounds a nail. The skill facilitates the value that pounded nail may provide, but that skill did not take a physical state (solid, liquid, gas) or energy state to provide that value or lift the hammer. Your examples of ‘Observe, Decide, Act’ or ‘Read it, Do It’ are concepts describing how things happen in real life. Before Newton gravity did exist, it did not change when Newton describe ‘Newton’s Law’. He simply presented it in a way that others could understand, recognize, and apply what was happening in nature. Newton’s concept wasn't created it was simply a description. My concept of learning is that the mind has to apply what is to be learned before it is learned. Some may be able to make that application theoretically, but most (at least I do) need to make that physical connection such as doing the arithmetic to learn to add and subtract. Still my concept is nothing more than the description of how a person learns. With regard to ability, it seems more of a capacity that one has and which may be developed rather than it is about being created. A person may not have the ability to dunk a basketball, and no amount of training/practice will make them capable/able to dunk a basketball. It seems to me that what we learn resides in the brain and is processed in the brain so if the brain is changing then why wouldn’t that affect how we store, retrieve, and process what we have learned? “My expert opinion is that your ‘lean company’ was not ‘leaner’ than these specially trained and carefully managed employees.” You could be right, the technology difference and the cultural difference could be the reason for my different experience. The company was a flat organization with a culture that was more about individual responsibility and authority. When comparing to peer organizations using such metrics as revenues per employee, number of new and total patents, supportive metrics such as EHS, all seem to reinforce the effectiveness of that approach. The idea of the paying wasn’t my point, it was how to help the individual to internalize what they needed to do rather than be dependent on an exterior drivers of their actions. As for getting a student to have personal metrics they can use for self-feedback, it may need to be adjusted by grade level. It can start by asking the student what they would like or expect to achieve in a given time frame (semester), ask what the barriers they see that might prevent them from achieving their expectations, ask what do they think they would have to do on a regular/daily basis to overcome those barriers to achieve their expectations, then have them set a spreadsheet to track their practices and set up an index that reflects the impact of their activities that they follow. The metric isn’t the expectation, the metric is what he can control and will lead to his learning. It is about providing the student with a the means to reinforce the practices/habits that will help them to learn. How much they read leads to how well they read, how much homework they do leads to how well they learn. Schools are designed around efficiency of the teachers not effectiveness for student learning. Why else would there be multiple guess tests? The way you start to teach others to listen is by the teacher learning to listen to the student. The younger the student the more they learn by modeling rather than by being told. If the teacher doesn’t practice what they are teaching then which speaks louder? I do not believe a child and a dog are equivalent in their ability to learn, in how they learn, in what they learn, or in what they can be taught. We learn that when the doorbell rings there will be someone at the door, that seems analogous to Pavlov’s work. Does that mean we are controlled by the doorbell? Pavlov’s work was an example of modifying behavior not the concept of modifying behavior. The dog was controlled by external forces; the individual has the capacity to be their own controlling force. A student can decide to change their study habits, the individual can change their exercise habits, and each can be influenced by external force and by internal forces. The methods we use maybe similar in principle to what Pavlov did, but that does not mean they are based on an authoritarian structure. What issue or topic would you like to see opened up for a group discussion and possible approach to addressing them?
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sat, 03/22/2014 - 10:03pm
Duane March 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm [Well said. I thought you might be saying, ‘I can’t do this!’ pretty soon. I expect if there is such a thing as ‘a box’ in all this, you might be looking over one of the edges.] ‘A skill has no physical state;’ [for the purposes of my standards, the sequence of defining things is important. I define ‘ability,’ first, as said, before defining ‘skill.’ Then a skill is presented as a learned ability. Even before I define ‘concept,’ I have students learn what abilities and skills are as ‘concepts’ by having them use these ideas in certain ways, and I include how to acquire new skills quickly. I just use this same pattern. ‘it resides in the mind.’ [I define ‘mind’ differently than you might. I say a person has ‘a mind’, in much the same sense as you, or people commonly use the word ‘brain.’] ‘The actions of an individual may utilize a skill, such as how a carpenter pounds a nail. The skill facilitates the value that pounded nail may provide, but that skill did not take a physical state (solid, liquid, gas) or energy state to provide that value or lift the hammer.’ [ I think we are close enough on this.] “Your examples of ‘Observe, Decide, Act’ or ‘Read it, Do It’ are concepts describing how things happen in real life.” [I think so. When I talk with VocEd people, they often say, “That is how I learn skills.” “That’s how I do it!” as if they had never thought of it quite in those words before. I haven’t heard teachers that teach academic subjects, say this, and they don’t seem to quite grasp it so easily.] ‘Before Newton, gravity did exist, it did not change when Newton described ‘Newton’s Law’. He simply presented it (the concept) in a way that others could understand, recognize, and apply what was happening (with actual objects) in nature. Newton’s concept wasn’t created, it was simply a description.’ [I think we are probably talking semantics here, or that you have a personal dislike for the word ‘create.’ Newton is credited with originating The Law of Gravity, The Three Laws of Motion, and others. They had not been formulated before him, they had not been proven, they had not been put to practical use, before him. They had a lot to do with bringing about the Industrial Age, and Newton is credited with the value they played in that. They have far greater value than the mere descriptions others had before his time, they explain and can accurately predict how new things will behave in the real world. I disagree that we should value these laws as descriptions only, they define and set the boundaries of Classical Mechanics, and to a degree Physics.] ‘My concept of learning is that the mind has to apply what is to be learned before it is learned. Some may be able to make that application theoretically, but most (at least I do) need to make that physical connection such as doing the arithmetic to learn to add and subtract. Still my concept is nothing more than the description of how a person learns.’ [This sounds a lot like my Standard 10; The student must present evidence that they have applied the material. And a part of that is using the actual objects, or at least ‘objects’ with some mass, or sketches of the actions, locations, positions and forms related to the material. I distinguish between ‘the mind’ and ‘the individual.’ I expect the individual to be there and do the things he is learning, not just robotically repeat or duplicate an action or sequence without thinking.] With regard to ability, it seems more of a capacity that one has and which may be developed rather than it is about being created. [I think you may have some confusion here with what a ‘talent’ is. But that being said, if the person thinks or feels he is learning it, or developing it, then I would put that into the category of skills, a learned ability.] ‘A person may not have the ability to dunk a basketball, and no amount of training/practice will make them capable/able to dunk a basketball. [I taught myself to dunk a basketball in high school. I have major problem with this. A parent may be so protective, that they will feel or say, there is little a child can do. A person may have such low self-esteem or have such a poor self-image, that they won’t even try many simple things they could easily do. Now a good coach can raise the bar quite a lot on what a person can actually do. A good Olympic coach can raise this even higher. There are limits I suppose, but I would rather work with a child that believes they can accomplish anything, than one that has an attitude that amounts to an unwillingness to try anything.] ‘It seems to me that what we learn resides in the brain and is processed in the brain so if the brain is changing then why wouldn’t that affect how we store, retrieve, and process what we have learned?’ [This sounds a lot like the old philosophical discussion of which comes first, ‘form’ or ‘function?’ For example, in computers there is the idea that the speed of a computer increases at the rate of doubling in 18 months. That has held true for a long time, until recently. So that would emphasize ‘function.’ What if one considered that a very simple chip, ‘a form', like the 8086 chip was the final form, and said, This is the form we have to work with, see how much you can increase the function without changing the form? The computing world would be in a far, far different place if that had been used instead of the change the function by 2X thing. When I wrote the AI article, I used a simple calculation. What if we wanted to calculate the maximum storage capacity of the brain? Say, 20 trillion cells. So many molecules per cell, etc. All that capacity might only store 2 or 3 months of data. Data calculated from the amount of data a human mind has been demonstrated to be capable of. Why tie both your hands behind your back and close both your eyes tight shut to accept this ‘brain’ thing? Well, that was part of the article for why the brain assumption was not a good starting point for AI.] “My expert opinion is that your ‘lean company’ was not ‘leaner’ than these specially trained and carefully managed employees.” You could be right, the technology difference and the cultural difference could be the reason for my different experience. The company was a flat organization with a culture that was more about individual responsibility and authority. When comparing to peer organizations using such metrics as revenues per employee, number of new and total patents, supportive metrics such as EHS, all seem to reinforce the effectiveness of that approach. [I don’t doubt it was effective. ‘individual responsibility and authority’ sounds like a good thing to me. But who trained these folks? How did they come to have that level of skills and good judgment? That sounds very similar to one company where I had a corporate mandate on many projects. Having that level of authority, and the highest level of priority in the company, made my life a lot easier.] ‘The idea of the paying wasn’t my point, it was how to help the individual to internalize what they needed to do rather than be dependent on an exterior drivers of their actions.’ [the contracts idea was in addition to my standards. I wanted to give students some reality on how businesses work in the real world. How they get work and how all that works together to make the world go round. To my knowledge that is not taught in schools. What the students had learned about how to study on my little courses, has to do with how they might internalize knowledge and skills, be self-motivated and self-determined.] As for getting a student to have personal metrics they can use for self-feedback, it may need to be adjusted by grade level. It can start by asking the student what they would like or expect to achieve in a given time frame (semester), ask what the barriers they see that might prevent them from achieving their expectations, ask what do they think they would have to do on a regular/daily basis to overcome those barriers to achieve their expectations, then have them set a spreadsheet to track their practices and set up an index that reflects the impact of their activities that they follow. The metric isn’t the expectation, the metric is what he can control and will lead to his learning. It is about providing the student with a the means to reinforce the practices/habits that will help them to learn. How much they read leads to how well they read, how much homework they do leads to how well they learn. [I had thought about a point system, where defining a word might have one point, reading a page might have a certain value, completing a book might have a large number of points, giving an example could have a point value, writing an essay or doing a demo could have a certain number of points. More complex demonstrations could have more points. But I haven’t worked out the details. One has to start somewheres.] Schools are designed around efficiency of the teachers not effectiveness for student learning. Why else would there be multiple guess tests? [You are right.] I do not believe a child and a dog are equivalent in their ability to learn, in how they learn, in what they learn, or in what they can be taught. We learn that when the doorbell rings there will be someone at the door, that seems analogous to Pavlov’s work. Does that mean we are controlled by the doorbell? [Yes. And the school bell to start a class, to end a class, to start a basket ball game, or end it. The ringer for a phone. A police car siren. The horn for an emergency vehicle. A hurricane alarm system. Stop signs. Stop lights. Yellow lines on a road. When a sergeant orders troops out of a trench up and over the bank into the machine guns.] Pavlov’s work was an example of modifying behavior not the concept of modifying behavior. The dog was controlled by external forces; the individual has the capacity to be their own controlling force. A student can decide to change their study habits, the individual can change their exercise habits, and each can be influenced by external force and by internal forces. The methods we use maybe similar in principle to what Pavlov did, but that does not mean they are based on an authoritarian structure. [I can accept that. How much training (hours) in how to study, does a child receive in K-12, and how much training does a teacher receive on how to teach? A child has little, or no, training in how to be ‘self-determined’, a teacher has thousands of hours of training or conditioning in how to ‘other-determine’ students, or to use authoritarian methods on students while teaching. A child must say ‘sir.’ The teacher says, 'Johnny, take your seat!' The teacher wears a suit, the child rarely has a uniform or similar dress standards. The teacher stands, the student sits. The teacher controls the class, the student is controlled. Stimulus-response. The bell rings, the student responds. The teacher moves about freely, the student is confined, must not move and must sit-up-straight. The student wants to go to the bathroom, he must ask the teacher for permission. If the student does not conform, he is sent to the principal. What does the student do, when a teacher misbehaves?] What issue or topic would you like to see opened up for a group discussion and possible approach to addressing them? [I wrote up somethings, and will respond tomorrow on a new note.]
Duane
Sun, 03/23/2014 - 6:30pm
Leon, “I haven’t heard teachers that teach academic subjects, say this, and they don’t seem to quite grasp it so easily.” That is an indication of an opportunity for change. I respect and am even in awe of those who develop an idea that no one else has seen. For in almost all such case they change the world. Newton is a great example for what he recognized and articulated was a step change in science and the world. He turned his discovery into a tool that others would build on. He was creative in his thinking, he wasn’t creating in the mas or energy sense. I don’t ‘these laws’ as setting boundaries, rather they are guideposts for testing of the ideas and stepping stones for new ideas. The ‘laws’ of man (how we act and react) are much more dynamic and change as man and society changes, a moving from authoritarian to democracy, so we those ‘laws’ need to accommodate change. I would offer it isn’t just an individual’s thinking they can be an Olympic athlete, there are certain physiological capabilities that they must have. Having achievable expectations can lead to ever greater expectations and the efforts required to achieve them. Moore’s Law may not be that effective analogy to use, I believe a reporter coined it after interviewing Mr. Moore. The engineers I worked with were trained by their respective schools, the employer felt the next stage of their training was to be done by them (analogous to the old sink or swim teaching method). There were given unlimited access to resources in the organization and were provide regular feedback, but they were not put into where they used the technical training and drew on the available resources to apply their knowledge. There were those who weren’t comfortable with the structure and move on, others that changed jobs inside the company. Not every activity was successful, the CEO once said he cost the company more money with his mistakes than anyone else so he expected failures, but he expected each employee to learn from those failures. “And the school bell … ringer for a phone… police car siren … alarm system. Stop signs. Stop lights. Yellow lines...” Are you sure these are totalitarian controls or simply means of communications, school bell seems to be more about a time of day rather than the indiscriminate control of an administrator, the siren/alarms seem to be more about communicating what is happening then about an administrator control, the yellow lines seem more about a warning of risk than of a control. “..sergeant orders troops out of a trench up and over the bank into the machine guns.” That is from almost 100 years ago, that hasn’t been the case for at least 50 years. I would encourage students to be taught and having re-emphasized regularly how to study, how learning works, what they can do to improve their learning, the mechanics of learning. Having it part of K-12 each year. I haven’t seen a suit in a classroom in years, or in many companies, and many of the old student decorum you mention. “What does the student do, when a teacher misbehaves?]” That seems like another opportunity for change.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 9:56am
Bandy, the title of your article starts with these words, 'To increase ‘college’ attainment' and your arguments are well stated, but.... Here is my suggestion to help you, parents, teachers, school board members, legislators, and others to do this. I ask high school students, that I'm personally teaching or tutoring, 'What would you like to be doing in ten years?' Now, the key idea here is 'doing', rather than 'being.' I would not bother to say, 'What do you want to BE when you grow up?' As a manager, I have had dozens of new-hire Engineers, top of their class in college, sit before me on their first day of work, in their professional life. Do you know what their first question is, always is? 'I'm your new Engineer. What do you want me to do?' You see, at this point, not ten years later, they have achieved 'being something', being a college graduate, or expanded definition, college graduate. They are now ready TO DO, what they always wanted to do. They feel very free. They may have only invested in 'BEING', up to that moment. Now, I, or their first manager, must choose what they will do next, their first task. Now if they had had their attention on learning how to do what they always wanted to do well, or on something they chose to want to do well, things might have been quite different.(They might know how to do some of the things they will be doing that first day.) So here is a key question, to consider. Were they studying for some kind of status, or for others? Or were they studying for something they actually wanted to do? I was being shown around a tech school one day by a Liason Teacher, a teacher assigned to show people like me around, and this issue came up. We came upon a student, all covered in grease and sweat. So, as a part of the very brief conversation that came up, I lightly asked this question, 'What do you want to be doing in ten years?' The young man broke out into the biggest smile you ever saw and enthusiastically exclaimed, 'I don't know what it will be, but I know I will be using my hands.' I think this student was actually telling me his basic purpose in life. But the Liason Teacher didn't see it that way, she didn't see what he said as most important. She jumped on this instantly, and rushed in to say, 'No!, No! NO! You want to be using your mind!' She could have been saying, you should be studying for a college degree. So we have a child, or young man, saying what they most want to do, and we have someone else not listening, and insisting on what they thought was best. So if you choose to use this question, to find what a young person wants most to be doing, you may then want to help them fit that into 'college plans' and helping them achieve what they most want to do. Now when I graduated from high school, college intended, three teachers conspired in an odd way, on my behalf. They helped me get 'a high tech' summer job. This was 1965, but the job was automation. A local company was installing high tech electronic sorting machines, to sort cherries. I got the job of learning all about these machines and operating them, and displacing 200 women line-workers that sorted cherries up to that time. That job helped pay for college for three summers. Now what did those teachers conspire to do? One got me a job driving a dump truck, for a couple of weeks. Another usually worked, summer work, at this cherry company and had heard about this high tech stuff coming into the world, and coming into a plant near him. He researched and found they were setting up a special program for a very bright young man related to the owners of the company. Somehow they expanded this program to include a second person, me. The bright young man, was to do the Day-Shift, and I could to the Night-Shift. So how, with 20-20 hindsight, was this so important? It gave me something I wanted to do in a high tech setting. It gave me valuable experience in the real world. All in that critical three months before I even started college, before I had chosen what degree I wanted from college. So 'To increase ‘college’ attainment', I recommend people focus on 'doing', on what a young person wants to do, rather than being a status symbol. Ask them one of my questions, 'What would you like to be doing in 10 years?' Also, do a little conspiring and arranging. Help young people get some actual experience, as young as possible, in doing the work they really want to be doing in life. I have even set up a contract with a fifth-grader to learn a skill and provide a high quality product, and paid them. I set up a little bank, put the money in it, and gave it to her. When she completed one of my contacts, she could then remove the money. I never lost a dime, and she learned about 'contracts', and 'banks' for that matter. You can do this too. It will look good on their resume. So when a young person you know, sits in that chair on his or her first day of their professional life after college, they may have the presence of mind to not say, 'What do you want me to do?', they might say with a smile, 'Hi, I can't wait to see how you folks do things?' and he will know what means to do things. He may find that business is not at all like the public educational experience he or she has experienced up to that moment. It is not about status, it is about doing things and accomplishing real things in this world. Good luck!
Chuck Jordan
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 1:13pm
There is no argument that students today need to go beyond a high school education. The problem I have is the real message we will be sending to students, which is, since you are not college material (I too hate this term), we will dumb down the curriculum so you can be successful and get a job. The reality is that students don't know what they want to do in high school and probably will change jobs many times. The vocational-technical jobs of the future will take more education than the 4-year degree. We need to prepare all students so that after high school they can go into a job, get special training, go to community college or go on to a four year college. Community colleges are full of students who have been in the workforce, need re-training, need special skills or want to go on to a four year college who aren't prepared to be successful. We need to be raising expectations not lowering them or arguing about what post secondary really means. We shouldn't fall for this either/or reasoning - it's either skilled trades or college. Kids need to be prepared to do both, so they can decide, so they have choices and still have choices after their current job is outsourced or mechanized.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 2:41pm
Chuck, re: 'Kids need to be prepared to do both, so they can decide, so they have choices and still have choices after their current job is outsourced or mechanized.' What do you recommend to accomplish this?

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