Commentary from our friend David H. Brown who is an accomplished author and experienced speaker:
About 20 years ago, when I was an adjunct professor at Montgomery College, I was asked to teach a continuing education course to about 20 high school teenagers who were elite students. I forget the subject, but I remember asking them, “Who is your idol?” Of course the responses ran the gamut – with one startling omission. Not one mentioned a parent. I wonder whether the same would hold true today.
Those who know me well expect some “sermon” on education. This is no exception. There are those who recall I did a survey of 9 Ohio colleges asking students and professors what each thought of the other. That was in 1959. I don’t think much has changed, except for the classroom use of electronics.
My beef is that too much of education today seems to still be straight up-and-down like 6:00 or 12:30, when it should be wider like 9:15 or 3:45. What’s missing in this picture? The answer is one word – Why? Why did I learn long division? Why did I have to read novels? Why did I have to memorize dates in history?
A companion is this — What did I learn from my courses? The answer is one word – relevancy.
My approach to this is something I have said before but bears repeating. When I reported for work as a copy boy at The Cleveland Press, Associate Editor Norm Shaw said, “Forget everything you learned in college. We’ll teach you our way.”
Did you enjoy all those courses you took in public school and beyond? Is there one teacher whom you feel made a difference in your life and could rate the title of “idol?” Did you ever thank that person? Did you ever thank your parents for guiding you through your early years, or did you do it on your own?
Have you instilled the love of learning into your progeny? Do you encourage them never to stop learning? Did you emphasize grades over what they learned? Are you your progeny’s “idol?”
I feel too much classroom instruction is still linear because textbooks are linear. Did you or your progeny ever take more than one class in analytical thinking? Too many “teachers” spend too much time getting through a course based on how many chapters in the text book have to be covered, and the tests reflect that. I feel more textbooks should be written by top people in that subject field, and not by academics for their advanced degrees. And, more of those top people should give back to students the lessons they have learned. Call it a reality check.
Yes, I have pulled an Obama and sermonized. But, I did not want to Simonize education. When we stop learning, we stop living.