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Mentor Dilemma in a nutshell

This is brilliant. From my sister. It is the underlying social message in the ‘NetWalkers series. Plus…it’s fun!

6 comments to Mentor Dilemma in a nutshell

  • CJ

    Bravo. MASTER teachers, of which the system was only temporarily fond, understand these principles and use them as far as the system allows. Unfortunately, in a system obsessed with ‘standardized tests’ (be afraid of that word ‘standardized’)— and with the ‘brain drain’ in which many extremely gifted women left the field of teaching once social change gave them other opportunities— the system is in a mess. The physical plants built in the post war years of the 50’s are unairconditioned, vermin infested, and falling apart. The new schools are more comfortable, but they’re too quiet to my ears, too regulated, too much like office buildings. Gifted people who stay in teaching–bless them—deserve far more than they’re getting.

  • Greenwyvern

    A very brilliant video!

    I remember myself that as a small child I loved drawing pictures of all kinds and creating complex geometrical patterns with a pencil and ruler and coloring them in. Then at about age 6 or 7, I somehow got the idea at school that I was useless at anything to do with art and drawing – and I still am to this day.

    Here are some more videos in the same series:

  • Bri

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this–I knew you’d love the art aspect of it, and the message is extremely significant.

    Inertia can be a terrible thing. Our educational system really needs to be completely demolished and rebuilt from the ground up. And this from someone who not only did well in our current educational system, but has been a teacher for too many years to think about without shuddering ;^)

    Oh, and if you want to see some truly delightful, hope for the future education happening, check out Shugata Mitra and the “Hole in the Wall” project.


  • Tell me about it! I’ve devoted my life and career to getting a story based on this very message published! This from someone for whom (near 4.0 GPA notwithstanding) the educational system as it stands did NOT work.

  • That’s a brilliant talk and a marvelous video. I recently found the TEDtalks via YouTube, and many are wonderful.

    I was a good student, a bookworm, someone who likes academics. I’m particularly strong in language skills, it turns out.

    But I had real trouble in my first go-round in college, for many reasons. I am not a traditional student. I’m not sure of what’s in that. But it’s there, and I see it in teaching myself or in dealing with others.

    I have also seen friends and kids of friends who were plainly bright, even gifted at some talents, who don’t fit the system either, and I’ve heard from teacher friends who see the problem of how to reach kids in a system that doesn’t always give a good means of engaging and keeping the kids learning.

    And… I am a mix of the “liberal arts” type and the “technical math and science” type. But my primary leaning is toward the arts.

    I cannot understand the current fashion or mindset that thinks the arts, any or all of them, are superfluous, something to cut out of the budget, a silly hobby for outside of school in private training if at all. Baloney. Yes, technical subjects and business prep are important. Yes, it’s fine to have athletics, and kids do need to be physically fit, learn team and individual sportsmanship and cooperation…and have fun…but…. English and other languages, the ability to communicate and persuade in all forms, a knowledge of history and the world, that our country’s way is not at all the only way, now or in the past or for the future, visual and performing arts, the ability to create and imagine and share what you’ve thought up, music, cooking, skills at making things not only useful but beautiful, with your own brain and brawn…. These are necessary to our today’s and to our future tomorrow’s.

    Yes, we are all bombarded with media and information…and a lot of mere noise and unordered or senseless data. It’s true for adults and certainly for kids. But…why purposefully dull our kids? What they need are skills (taught) to filter, manage, and form patterns, to make sense and order all that input, even if it is too much too fast. Because there are times when we do have to function in crisis and still come up with creative (aha!) solutions.

    So why do so many schools lack basic materials and a conducive environment? And notice other countries are doing better in this. But they too face the same dilemmas.

    Yes, we live in a very different world of rapid and sudden change. Adult learners and youth students alike have to adapt to that changing world. Education has to adapt also. We must.

    Great video!

  • Bri

    I just loved watching those kids teach themselves and each other from that computer stuck in the wall–brilliant experiment, and what Mitra has done to follow it up is wonderful as well.

    One of the problems with our educational system is that it basically developed from an industrial, “assembly line” philosophy. It’s based on the assumption that you can teach all children the same way, and unless they “misbehave,” they should all respond pretty much the same way. It ignores the individuality of the students, both in needs and abilities. Many, many excellent educators over the years have fought against this model, but it’s the superstructure of our entire educational system, especially in primary and secondary education, and truly changing the system, from the bottom up (which is what it desperately needs) is an overwhelming task; inertia may be the strongest force in the universe, at least when it comes to government controlled human systems ;^) And of course, excellent and innovative teachers typically have only local and ephemeral impact, because they have no power to make larger changes, and administration is basically a marriage of business and government mentality, especially at the higher adminstrative levels. And sadly, the true motivation among high level administrators (and, of course, the government officials who control the all-important purse strings) is not generally excellence in education. And the major impetus behind limiting, and eventually eliminating, arts and music from our schools comes straight from the desire to control the bottom line.

    Another fundamental problem is the way we fund our schools. It’s poisonous. Funding is based on local control and economics, which means the money available to any school is inseparably determined by the local tax base. THis means any major spending on innovation in education is going to be done in those areas that need it the least. Until we change the way we control funding of schools, wide-scale innovation will remain a wistful dream.

    And of course, also on the money end of things, until we show a real commitment to excellence in education–by priotizing our spending to show it–there will never be enough money to introduce wonderful programs like Mitra’s SOULs, or to train enough teachers well enough to really implement the changes we need.

    Sometimes I can really depress myself by thinking too much about this stuff **sigh**

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