Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why the world is different and schools must be as well

Boeing, according to the Seattle Times, is now using robots to "wash, apply solvent to remove dirt, rinse and then spray two different paint types. They reach,even into complex spaces inside the open wing root that must be painted for corrosion protection."

It used to take a team of painters 4.5 hours to apply the first coat of paint. The robots do it in 24 minutes.

The inspiration for this change - the automobile industry. 

Jobs that used to be there are no longer there. Those jobs have been going away for a long time. Those of us who live in the industrial Midwest have seen this trend - have lived this trend - with the automobile industry for quite some time. As we continue to move forward the routine jobs, the manual jobs, the jobs that used to pay well will continue to go away. 

They will be replaced by jobs that require students to think more and do less.

Those of us who educate students understand we need to educate students to program the robots instead of educating students to paint. 

The world will always need doers but the present and the future require schools to produce thinkers.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Did I learned anything important in school?

Did I ever learn anything important in school?


But, of course, I'm supposed to think that. I'm a Superintendent.

The question is what?

Neil Gaiman has said:
I've been making a list of the things
they don't teach you at school.
They don't teach you how to love somebody.
They don't teach you how to be famous.
They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor.
They don't teach you how to walk away from someone
you don't love any longer.
They don't teach you how to know what's going on
in someone else's mind.
They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying.
They don't teach you anything worth knowing.

Each of us could add to the list that Mr. Gaiman started.

They don't teach you how to laugh.
They don't teach you how to enter a room and feel comfortable.
They don't teach you how to react when you get
a phone call with terrible news.
They don't teach you how to be a friend.

The list could go on and on. School does not teach us everything. 

But is it true that school doesn't teach you anything worth knowing? No!

School doesn't teach us everything. It is not supposed to. School can't teach us everything. There is just too much to know.

That's where parents, grandparents, friends, uncles, aunts, and others come in.

That's why we develop passions and interests and do our own research. 

But that brings us back to the question that we started with - what did I learn in school that is important?

It's not so much that school taught me specific things that I will remember all my life - although it did. I learned about the periodic table and simplifying equations and the APA method of citations for papers. I learned specific tasks to help me complete specific homework assignments. I learned multiplication tables and spelling words. I learned the classics and the not-so classics. 

I followed the tried and true math trail - algebra, geometry, algebra 2, and pre-calculus. I circled the globe learning about countries. I wrote papers. I completed projects in shoe boxes. 

I learned the curriculum that was taught. And that was important.

The things I learned in school prepared me for college. It gave me a foundation that allowed me to continue learning. 

But I also learned the curriculum that was not taught and that schools on occasion don't want to recognize.

I learned that people are not always nice. I learned that some people turn their backs on you and others embrace you. I learned that navigating the social pathway helps you learn a lot about yourself and a lot about other people.

I learned that looks are not everything. I learned that some people think they are.

I learned that some adults are your advocates and some adults are not.

I'm in a school because I believe in schools. Can schools be better? Absolutely.

Do I believe that schools help people learn things that are important? I believe that they do!  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On Teacher Appreciation Day, I would like to say thank you

I've had teachers whom I've loved.

Miss Hixenbaugh, 4th grade teacher at Inez elementary School. She had never married, stood over six feet tall, drove a Studebaker, and promised a Hershey candy bar and a dollar bill to any student who had perfect attendance. Plus, she was a wonderful teacher. We wrote stories, we acted out plays, we enjoyed coming to school every day.

I've had teachers whom I've respected.

Coach Braig, 10th and 11th grade Latin teacher at Sandia High School. He looked me in the eyes when he talked to me, challenged me to do better in his class, and always said hello to me when I walked by his classroom.

I've had teachers who challenged me.

Miss Ely, 10th grade English at Sandia High School. She helped me see that I had a voice and that I should share that voice with others. She challenged everyone in our class to try and do things differently, to engage people, to make people hear what you were trying to say.

I've had teachers who let me know that someone besides my Mom and Dad cared for me.

Mrs. Getz, 9th grade Speech teacher at Monroe Junior High School. She spent time helping me learn how to be on the debate team. She made sure that our class won the after-school PTA party. She laughed and cried with us because she cared.

Today, May 7th is officially Teacher Appreciation Day.

For all those teachers who have touched my life, had a hand in making me who I am today, challenged me, cared for me, inspired me, and taught me - I say thank you!