Topic Tuesday #41 2013/04/30 - "Teach the Controversy?"

Topic Tuesday #41 2013/04/30 - "Teach the Controversy?" 

Ready to get mad? Ready to get fired up? Ready to take on a big bad taboo subject? Faith and science in schools; here we go.
In the United States, and around the world to varying degrees, there is a movement known as Intelligent Design. For those that are not familiar with what this is: ID, or Intelligent Design is the theory that life, or the universe, cannot have arisen by chance and was designed and created by some intelligent entity. This is largely a Christian Fundamentalist backed position.
ID's asserts that:
It is a scientific field of research
Darwinian evolution by natural selection is wrong
There is an "design agent" working to fine tune the universe.

For the extreme positions asserted, one jumps to a stance known as "Young Earth Creationism" which asserts the following:
The Universe is, at most, 15,000 years old.
The planet Earth is, at most, 10,000 years old.
All of the book of Genesis is fact.
Noah and his ark were real
The flood compressed the plant life into our fossil fuel, covered the world with the observable sedimentary layers, carved out the Grand Canyon, the Norwegian and Icelandic fjords, and even continental separation and plate tectonics.
And lots of other items.

As you can tell this is a very religiously oriented world view.
ID arguments are somewhat acceptable and represent a Deistic view; the same view was held by most of the talked about Founding Fathers of the USA. Here is where we run off the rails and into the schools and "teaching the controversy".

It sounds great, on paper. From, "Instead of mandating intelligent design, the major pro-ID organizations seek to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks by teaching students about both scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolution.  Most school districts today teach only a one-sided version of evolution which presents only the facts which supposedly support the theory.  But most pro-ID organizations think evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned."

The failure with their premise is that the evolution that we have been teaching in school for decades is not at fault, it just doesn't leave room for a designer, as it is the designer. There are no real gaps in the data, certainly less gaps than in an ID discussion that pleads to a supernatural agent for tweaking what we do not fully understand at the moment. The research and understanding are quite complete and there is no controversy except for what they "believe". As has been said before, the nice thing about science is that it doesn't care about your beliefs, it only cares about what is real.

This has come up because a few things have breezed past me to draw my attention to them. 

1) A copy of a test from an ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) school was trotted out on Reddit for all to see. Those involved are waiting to disclose all the details around it until the end of the school year to prevent any adverse reaction to the students, but it is amazingly awful what they were passing for science. check out Snopes for the dirt on it.

2) the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its Central Florida chapter will be distributing secular documentation to 11 area high schools to balance a bible distribution done Wednesday, January 16, 2013. The initial Story - here and here - The FFRF response here -

The group responsible for the Bible outreach is World Changers of Florida, Inc.
I will let them to speak for themselves here:
"We should resist trying to force the Holy Scripture to fit with popular scientific consensus.  What would science tell us about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?  How about Moses and parting the Red Sea?  What about a virgin conceiving without sexual relations?  How would science explain the resurrection of Jesus and his many appearances afterward?  Science says it can’t happen, but we know that with God, all things are possible, even a 6-day creation.  Do you trust man’s interpretation of events that were not witnessed and that cannot be duplicated in the laboratory?  Flawed suppositions supporting weak theories promoted by scientists who will not accept the possibility of a supernatural explanation for our existence.  I’ll trust God’s explanation because “the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate.”"

What we have is a group, the defines themselves as YEC (Young Earth Creationists) touting the Intelligent Design arguments and trying desperately to get their view alongside hard science in the classroom as a possibility, rather than the science that works, and can be built upon.

That is the "teach the controversy" argument.
Their argument is that science is lacking this side of the debate. It's not up for debate. One is theology and mythology and the other is science, tried and true.
I am up for teaching about theology in school. It is a part of humanity, and part of our culture. Something that pervades our speech and habits. We should learn about it. We have classes for that. Mythology and Humanities and Social Studies. I highly recommend a comparative religions class too. But you see, that would not forward their position. These groups, and there are many more, have their built in proselytizing agenda to contend with. They venture forth with the banner of equality, but that only opens the door so they can sneak inside and start making changes.
I personally find it offensive and insidious. It is a danger to our future. Many students are in for a harsh wake up when they get to college or in the real world and "god did it" is not the answer to the real problem in front of them. To manage in the real world with these ideas, you have to have a dualistic view of reality, and you have to be comfortable with cognitive dissonance. You may believe that the world was created in 6 days, but the math you use to make the rocket fly to the outer reaches says it wasn't and could not have been. You may believe that man was fashioned out of clay, but if you cut one open you see the same organs as our cousins in the animal kingdom and all we become are animals made of meat, bone, and blood. Reality doesn't care about your beliefs.

Science works. If you water it down at all, you cause our future to be watered down too. This is a heated fight, because it damages the view people have of reality. People don't want to think they have been wrong for so many years, and potentially wasted their life in the pursuit of a fallacy. It's hard to swallow. But that doesn't mean that they should be coddled, especially when they adversely affect others. What you do at home, none of my concern. What you bring or force into the schools and the mind of our children, will always be my concern.

Teach the controversy? We would if there was one.

Topic Tuesday #14 2012/10/23 "The Signal and the Noise"

Tuesday #14 2012/10/23 "The Signal and the Noise"

Last night was the final debate of this presidential election season. (I am going to refrain from partisan support in this post, but those that have read my work before will inherently know where I lean.) The talk was heated, but fluffy through most of the debates. All of the debates were far less about facts than they were puffed chests, interrupting the moderator, going over on time, and the ever so important last word. They were quite entertaining, and even sickening at times. Overall, I would give them 2.5 stars out of 5 for a you should have seen them, but didn't need to since it wasn't anything new, AT ALL. 

This leads into today's topic. 

We are getting a lot of noise through the media outlets and mailings and signs in years, and graffiti on said signs, and stump speeches and rolling roadblocks when they come to our cities etc... How do we filter the noise to get the right signal? I have been talking to several colleagues about the polls and who is doing well where and it never fails that when I bring up a website or media outlet, it is immediately disparaged and dismissed because of their slant. I bring up another, and another, and another; then dig deeper to find where they get their data and show how they arrive at their conclusions. This is to little avail other than showing that I am actually fact checking and not talking out of my arse. Overall, the chat has been civil, if not mind-numbing. And that's the problem-There is too much noise and not enough substance for the signal. The most bi-partisan organizations still seem to lean one way or the other, or at least someone will tell you they do and dismiss them as biased. It seems the only way to know what you need to make a rational decision is to do your own digging and sifting. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes booze in many cases...
I have said it a few times, but I would encourage you all to read the platforms of the main parties, since until campaign reform happens, there is little point in casting a vote for another candidate (sad but true). Keep in mind that an evolution of ideals has happened and these ARE NOT the same political groups we grew up with. They certainly are not the ones your family has supported for generations. 

Some further advice: 

  • Read the platforms - But do it alone, but aloud, first. If the language is difficult to get through, you are not supposed to get through it and it is deceitful by intent. Your challenge is to... 
  • Critically Compare - Take a highlighter and red pen to the platforms and mark the heck out of them. Compare which side believes what. You may need to translate the legalese doublespeak into plain english. This usually makes the paragraph a sentence. 
  • Look to the future -  The one that is elected will be setting policy for decades to come. Not only that, but the likelihood that they will pick Supreme Court Justices (2 are most likely this time) will weigh heavily on law going forward for a long time. Laws can be overturned and our lives directly affected by this decision. 
  • Science & Education - As the song said, I believe the children are our future. If we do not educate them correctly, we lose as a nation. What is being taught is as important as how it is taught. Examine the tail tail markings of where the education is going and ask yourselves if that will hurt the next generation. The best technology that we have came out of the furnace of scientific exploration of space. This is a cold and rational endeavour that is filled with wonder. There is no place for superstition in science. Tossing salt over your shoulder or whispering an enchantment will not replace an antibiotic to make your ear infection abate. Act accordingly in this regard. It's your grandchildren's futures you will be deciding.
  • ASK - If you are still left asking questions, then do not keep them to yourself. ASK EVERYONE. Communication is key. You may get some rather interesting answers but you may do a service by prompting others to ask the same or other questions. Remember back to your days in school how a single question in class could derail a lecture and make everyone engaged. It's exactly the same in real life, just you are both teacher and student. This principle is for everyday, not just politics.

In conclusion: 

Educate yourselves and Vote. If you do not vote, I don't want to hear a single complaint about the next 4 years; beyond, "Man, I should have voted!"

How do you sift through the noise to get the signal?

Topic Tuesday #12 2012/10/09 "Book Hangovers"

Topic Tuesday #12 2012/10/09 "Book Hangovers"

Have you ever been touched by a book so strongly, that you couldn't immediately move on? I was reading a series by Peter F. Hamilton, referred to as the Commonwealth Universe Saga, and after I finished reading them (OK I listened to them on Audible - IT'S STILL READING) I immediately started them over. I had to read the first two books again, immediately... HAD TO. I was stuck in the universe that had been presented to me. A similar thing happened after I read the sequel, the Void Trilogy. Then I read the entire series, all 5 books, again. This was not isolated to Mr. Hamilton's work. I had the same Experience with David Webber and his Honor Harrington series (13 books), and Daniel Suarez's Daemon and Freedom TM.
These books, which I consider excellent, were able to get in my head and make me a part of the universe they presented. I was engaged and they made me think.

Today's Question - What books have given you a book hangover? What books have traumatized you and made you different? Tell me about your library and how you absorb content.

Topic Tuesday #10 2012/09/25 "Water World - Part 2"

Topic Tuesday #10 2012/09/25 "Water World - Part 2"

We need quite a bit of water to survive on. It needs to be clean...
Last week I discussed the requirements of how much water we need to survive. Today, how do we make it safe?

I am going to quickly give some ways to clean up water so you don't die. 
There are 4 categories; Separation, Chemical, Filtration, Oxidation.
  • SEDIMENTATION gravitationally settles heavy suspended material. 
  • BOILING WATER for 15 to 20 minutes kills 99.9% of all living things and vaporizes most chemicals.  Minerals, metals, solids and the contamination from the cooking container become more concentrated. 
  • DISTILLATION boils and re-condenses the water, but many chemicals vaporize and recondense in concentration in the output water. It is also expensive to boil & cool water. 
  • ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT is a good bactericide, but has no residual kill, and works only in clearly filtered water. Still in its infancy stage is a new technology involving super white light.
  • CHLORINE is common, cheap, but extremely toxic. It does not decrease physical or chemical contamination, it does increase colesterol formations, is a carcinogen, amd causes heart disease. 
  • IODINE is not practical, and is mostly used by campers. 
  • HYDROGEN PEROXIDE kills bacteria with oxygen, is chemically made and is very toxic. It is used in emergencies. 
  • COAGULATION-FLOCCULATION adds chemicals which lump together suspended particles for filtration or separation. 
  • ION EXCHANGE exchanges sodium from salt for calcium or magnesium, using either glauconite (greensand), precipitated synthetic organic resins, or gel zeolite, thus softening the water. Minerals, metals, chemicals or odors are not affected, and the water is salty to drink. 
  • SLOW SAND of 1 cubic meter passes about 2 liters/min, and does a limited bacteria removal. 
  • HIGH PRESSURE/RAPID SAND of 1 cubic meter passes about 40gpm and must be backwashed daily. 
  • DIATOMACEOUS EARTH removes small suspended particles at high flow rates, must be back-washed daily and is expensive.
  • PAPER or CLOTH filters are disposable and filter to one micron, but do not have much capacity. 
    • -COMPRESSED CHARCOAL/CARBON BLOCK is the best type of charcoal filter, can remove chemicals and lead, but is easily clogged, so should be used with a sediment prefilter. 
    • -GRANULAR CHARCOAL is cheaper, but water can flow around the granules without being treated. 
    • -POWDERED CHARCOAL is a very fine dust useful for spot cleaning larger bodies of water, but is messy and can pass through some filters and be consumed. 
  • REVERSE OSMOSIS uses a membrane with microscopic holes that require 4 to 8 times the volume of water processed to wash it in order to remove minerals and salt, but not necessarily chemicals and bacteria.
OXIDATION - These are most often used in big water treatment facilities. These techniques attempt to mimic what mother nature does with rivers. See THE SELF-PURIFICATION OF RIVERS AND STREAMS, from 1919. You can read a great deal about it to understand how it is supposed to work.
  • AERATION sprays water into the air to raise the oxygen content, to break down odors, and to balance the dissolved gases. However, it takes space, is expensive, and picks up contaminants from the air. 
  • OZONE is a very good bactericide, using highly charged oxygen molecules to kill microorganisms on contact, and to flocculate iron and manganese for post filtration and backwashing. 
  • ELECTRONIC PURIFICATION and DISSOLVED OXYGEN GENERATION creates super oxygenated water in a dissolved state that lowers the surface tension of the water and effectively treats all three types of contamination: physical, chemical and biological.
The easiest for you and me to go through is likely to be the separation method. An issue to remember here, and one that has caught entire villages with a bad case of the runs, is proper storage of the water once you have sterilized it. There are many methods to do that, but that will be another topic. Look for "Food Safety" later on.

Now for your consideration: 

  1. What are your plans on keeping a supply of available, CLEAN, water on hand? 
  2. What would be the best method for scaling up for family clusters, to villages, to towns, etc? 
  3. Are you going to try any of these methods?

Topic Tuesday #6 2012/08/28 "Crowd Sourced"

Topic Tuesday #6 2012/08/28 "Crowd Sourced"

Once upon a time, a man had an idea for a product or business. He had to go to the bank and borrow money, maybe a loan, maybe a mortgage against his property. Once he had the money in hand he was able to proceed with the idea. Today we find ourselves in a fascinating and fast paced world of instant communication and global collaboration. Recently the concept of "Crowdsourcing" has hit mainstream. If you have a question you may poll your social graph of followers and friends and get a variety of real world answers. Not all of them good, or right, but you will get contribution almost all the time. Now it has taken a more interesting turn. Crowd Funding. Websites like, and are providing a new way to get resources for projects, ideas and causes. There have even been some dramatic and notable projects that have been crowdsourced. Mathew Inman of has just performed two such actions. There was a legal kerfuffle that was staunchly put to bed with massive contributions to a good cause being the result and more recently over $1,000,000 was raised to purchase land for a Nikola Tesla museum. A company called Pebble Technology was looking for $100,000 to put an Android powered E-Paper watch that will be called, "Pebble". They raised $10,266,846 through their Kickstarter campaign.

Non-profits have been using it, individuals have been using it. Some succeed, and others fail. Some get funded and fail to deliver later. It's like venture capitalist gambling, but for everyone. Pledge a dollar, and you help. Pledge more, and they may give you a cookie.

The topic for discussion today is related to the bigger picture. With the way our economy is going, these alternatives to traditional funding can provide rapid iteration and product evolution and allow more people to compete, where the barrier to entry was far too high previously. So what are the consequences? Where could this go? Do we need banks to provide loans anymore? Is this just cyber panhandling?

Topic Tuesday #5 2012/08/21 "The Family Village"

Topic Tuesday #5 2012/08/21 "The Family Village"

My Grandfather  and I, just after his 95th Birthday
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. I always felt that was true, but I come from a standard model "Nuclear Family" with 2 children and a few pets somewhere in suburban America. Here in the "developed world" we have baby sitters and public education systems and all sorts of helping aids that make it possible to go 'alone' in parenting. I was fortunate and always had enough of whatever I needed. My sister is 10 years older than I am; I'm sure that made some things easier on my parents in some ways and of harder in others. I remember spending time with my grand-parents, aunts, uncles and cousins but I know that these were pretty few and,  sometimes, far in between. I remember so well because they were special, not because they were plentiful. I suppose then that my village was not a large one. As I have grown older and been exposed to the world and had children of my own, the concept of the "the Family Village" has taken on a new importance to me. I have seen how developing nations and undeveloped third world cultures, nurture children among large groups and everyone is essentially a family; protected and cared for. My wife and I decided that raising children in an urban center an hour away from a family support structure was a mistake. We have since uprooted ourselves and moved closer to my family. Over the past few years, we have experienced an inward migration and now my sister lives just a mile from us, and my parents are in between us at only half a mile. Our Family Village is set and we see each other much more often and it gives my two girls a second and third place to call home and be safe. We have a safety net, and that is simply invaluable.

Now for the topic of conversation: What place does a Family Village serve in your lives? How have you gone about creating it or coping without it? Are your close friends an extension of your Village? I sure hope so. Tell us about it.

From Facebook

  • Jim Mathews Family was the original village, ties of heredity that are impossible to break and last from birth till death. It's also as old as man himself..... You are geek, hear you roar??
  • Jon Jimenez When I lived in Venezuela, we had my grandparents, me and my sister, my aunt, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin living in one 3.5 bedroom apartment. This went on for many years. When me, mom and sis moved to the US, we moved in with my other aunt, uncle and cousins. Now that I've been here for a long while, I live an hour away from my family. I get the urge to move farther but I know that they are my strongest form of support and the people I love the most. I see them mostly only on holidays and bdays.
    Although ive made good friends and created momentarily extended families, I have a hard time keeping people close to me. I don't know why.
    So to me, family is the most important thing. It's a base and what keeps me grounded. It's what I search for when looking for new friends, and what I like to call people whenever I feel like I fit in. Unfortunately, like I said, I'm still kind of a loaner most times. Don't know how to change it.
    August 21 at 1:30pm via mobile · 
  • Andy Cowen Jon, you just haven't found what you need yet. Keep looking, but don't forget the things you learn along the way.
    Jim, ROAR. Not sure why I roared... But it is cathartic. Everyone should roar and howl from time to time.
    August 21 at 1:58pm ·  · 3
  • Jim Mathews I'm always here for you buddy.....
    August 21 at 2:01pm ·  · 1

From Google +

Tony SandovalAug 21, 2012 (edited)
I grew up in South Omaha.  Still live here.  back then I had relatives who lived scattered about up to a mile away but always nearby.

If  I was to be walking up the block to visit a friend of mine,  I was guaranteed to pass at least 2 relatives and several long time neighbors

If I happened to be getting myself into trouble out and about, those same folks would scold and kick my butt all the way home where I would REALLY get the meaning of the words "in trouble".

To me, that's what is meant by "A village to raise a child".

Having those people living in proximity to you to reinforce family values and expectations, etc...

Now, for my kids, a lot of family members have moved away and my kids don't have the same family /neighborhood like that.

to make up somewhat for that, in my opinion anyway, being a part of a church/school community allows for somewhat of the interaction of kids being able to interact with  trusted and known adults who see kids and one kid is the same as the other , they look out for them all.

it's not quite the same as being able to wander the neighborhood like I used to do, but by making an effort to participate in activities and events gives as much similar as possible.

Topic Tuesday #4 2012/08/14 "Skills"

Topic Tuesday #4 2012/08/14


Topic Tuesday #1 2012/07/24 "The Education System Is Broken"

Topic Tuesday #1 2012/07/24:
The Education System Is Broken
I want anyone that reads this to think back to their days in school. Catholic school, Montessori, k-6, Junior high, senior high, middle school, home school, raised by a pack of wolves, college, university, What Ever! and I want you to complain about what irked you without limit or criticism for your personal experiences. For those with children that have gone through any formalized education, I want what you didn't agree with with your own, and what you really can't stand or understand about what your children have to go through now. We all have a story, and I want to hear it. If it was tragic and you don't want it public but are still willing to tell me, please email me, private message me, whatever you feel comfortable with.

Responses from Facebook (my wall is PUBLIC, so always remember that the world will see it.):

  • Jim Mathews My own experience??? New math. Came into existence when I was in second grade. Proclaimed a failure, when I was in the twelfth grade. My kids, the social indoctrination. My opinion? Teach the kids to read, write, how to put together a proper sentence and be able legibly put that thought on paper. Basic science (lol, in my opinion, it starts getting sticky here because this is where opinion and dogma start making things cloudy... The rest... Well, why try to teach shakespear or anything else to kids that haven't mastered the above..

  • Andy Cowen Thanks Jim. I'm working on a little sociology project... Just need feedback outside of my own head to grasp the various issues our culture face. How do I make the world a better place for my girls to live in? Only thing I can practically do, is teach them how to live, the best way I can, and avoid the pitfalls built into the systems in place now. Can we fix it? We won't know unless we try. We can't try until we know what we are up against.
    July 24 at 9:55am ·  · 2

  • Daniel Fox Schools tend to instill a "what to think" mentality. I'd rather see kids learn HOW to think.
    July 24 at 9:56am via mobile ·  · 3

  • Jim Mathews The best thing to do is to teach them "How to think", to be able to look at all points of view and to devine the truth. Success in life is directly based on the decisions that you make in how it relates to your life. As you know, too many bad decisions is pretty hard to recover from.............

  • David OConnor I see a lot of people pointing toward the indoctrination thing that they see. Bottom line - It's easier to say "This is what/how/why/when things are/happened" than it is to lead a debate and instill critical thinking skills. I don't see a big conspiracy, I just see the results of underfunding, unrealistic expectations, emphasis on sports over educational achievement and the lack of an instant gratification reward system for doing well in school.

    Here's a true story for you: My Junior year in high school several area school created the 4 day rule - If you had a B or better in the class and had missed 4 or less days of school, you were not required to take the final exam at the end of each half of the school year. Attendance and grades shot through the roof. The school board stepped in after the first year and killed the program, various reasons for that but they missed the lesson of that experiment: If you put a tasty enough carrot at the end of the stick, even the 'bad kids' will bust ass to try to catch it.
    July 24 at 11:44am ·  · 1

  • Andy Cowen I did not like high school. I attended, and tried to find my way. I found most of the education pedantic and ineffective. VERY few of the teachers appeared any more interested in what they were doing than I was. The ones that were excited to be there were the ones that made a difference. I can rattle off names but won't right now. In high school, I found theater. I was all in. Theater was the reason I went to school, and the rest was just killing time to get back to the black box and create something. During that time, the wood-shop closed. Ceramics was shut down. The arts were being dismantled. Vocations were being snuffed out. The years that followed my graduation saw the demise of the theater program as well, and I think photography. It is hard to teach people how to learn, when you are taking away the way were are built to learn, through play and with action.
    July 24 at 12:15pm ·  · 2

  • Andy Cowen Another rant: The worst thing I remember was a 7th grade transfer from a middle school in South Florida to a junior high in Brevard County. I was tutoring other children in algebra and was really progressing well. When the school tried to place me based on my classes, they saw that I was in algebra, but they didn't offer algebra for the 7th grade. They had Honors Pre-Algebra. Sounds great right? "Honors" I went from A's to a D. Obviously I was no longer allowed in the honors program and it wasn't until the next year, that I realized, I was in the wrong class. 8th Grade was learning what I already knew from my old school. What happened? They were teaching me fundamentals, that I did not need. I skipped over them and learned a different way and didn't know I needed to unlearn what I knew. I don't know how that could have gone better given the systems in place and the obstacles that they have to surmount. As it went, I lost my momentum and interest in math and never got it back.
    July 24 at 12:15pm ·  · 1

  • Jason Watson Andy, you remember how long our school day was? Started around 7 and ended around 3:30. My daughter's school goes from 8:20am to 2:20pm. Keep cutting the amount of hours she's there and will only teach for a test.
    July 24 at 1:34pm · Edited ·  · 1

  • Andy Cowen Jason, she's in kindergarten?

  • Jason Watson She will be, but the whole school (up to 6th grade) is on the same time schedule.

  • Karen Cazessus Watson Andy, did we have the same Honors Pre-Algebra class! LOL! Leaving 6th grade I was doing so well in math that they placed me in the same class you mentioned @ Jefferson. My grades plummeted down to D's and F's as well. After that, I never regained my confidence in algebra or most of math for that matter. It was only when I was in geometry (something visual for my visual brain) that my grades went back up to A's.
    July 24 at 4:33pm ·  · 1

  • Andy Cowen Must have been. That class ruined my groove! But really that's all it takes to sour someone. It's my belief that it didn't have to happen that way, that a placement test at te end of each school year to determine where someone needs work and where they excel and place them in the right environment. Does no one remember Doogie Houser M.D.?
    July 24 at 4:39pm via mobile ·  · 1

  • Andy Cowen This conversation was hopping on Google+ as well.
July 24 at 5:05pm ·  · 

  • Karen Cazessus Watson yes, that class not only wrecked my "groove", but it opened my eyes to the truth of what I was going to deal with thru the rest of jr school & high school. That teacher of said Honors class liked to spend his time "socializing" with a certain group of students. I won't describe them any further but you can guess which ones I mean. When I needed help understanding something and asked questions, I might as well have been talking to the wall. It seemed like this unfair system continued and not only sucked up the attention of the teachers, but the grading scale towards them always seemed to be a bit jilted. It wasn't all teachers- as you know we had a couple good ones-but if one of my parents had been a surgeon or an attorney, my final GPA and maybe my confidence in myself might have been higher. Maybe this is all schools everywhere and not just our little island...and maybe I should shut up and be happy that I did graduate with honors...but I hope for better for my daughter.
    July 24 at 5:33pm ·  · 2

  • Johanna Wilson I'm a teacher and a mom. I taught full-time plus overtime to do the best I could with each individual group AND when I came home in the late afternoon I worked with my own children to make sure they were doing their homework well AND I cooked fabulous meals for family dinners. Parents + Teachers = education. We are ALL responsible for quality education.

  • Andy Cowen I agree with you, but what did you think of the system with which you had to work in? Any improvements? Any changes? Biggest gripe?

  • Johanna Wilson PS - no grammar in school? Then insist upon excellent grammar at home. My father permitted no grammatical errors at home and took the time to explain each error I made throughout my childhood. I used to wonder if he actually heard what I was saying, but realized he was both listening and monitoring. Because I knew English grammar, I was able to fully understand the grammar of German and French. Parents + Teachers = we must work together.

  • Johanna Wilson What did I think of the system? It worked. We took little money and great effort and did the best we could. Improvements? Encourage the teachers to teach and cut down on Department of Education paperwork requirements. Changes? Find ways to incorporate/expand quality vocational education. Biggest gripe? Complainers. I prefer problem solvers who recognize problems and actively solve them. No solutions? Wrong! Make improvements one step at a time, affect your own world and watch the ripple effect on the rest of the world.
    July 24 at 6:25pm ·  · 1

  • John Morris i think one of the biggest things to be a let down in brevard was the vocational tracks. they have initiated tracks for kids to follow for vocational skills...great!! however, once you're on a track, you can't change it. discover you don't like mechanics half way through your first year?? tough, you're in it til you're a senior. but also, not enough courses offered, and it's very school specific. if you want to go to another school with different vocations, you can, but you have to find your own transportation.
    even if it's not something a person chooses to continue down, i think the idea of these vocational paths are an essential part of a person's education. you get confidence by performing, achieving, and then believing in yourself. it can act as an instigator for other improvements. plus, for kids that don't do the educational thing well, it's a big plus coming out of the school system to say they have some appreciable skill.
    plus, and i'm a little biased here, i think they should teach more philosophy in schools. critical thinking, debate, and logic are invaluable skills for anyone at any point in their life.

  • Johanna Wilson Dear John,
    Florida offers the Bright Futures scholarship for either 75% or 100% of tuition. It's an excellent scholarship. Back in 1996 the 75% scholarship was called the Goal Seal Scholarship. One qualification was to complete three consecutive years in a vocational subject. It wasn't that students couldn't change, rather that it benefited them immensely to complete three years in the same field. My daughter Amanda took Drafting I, which at the time was all completed with paper and pencil. She excelled. During her second year the program switched to computers with level 1,2 and 3 in the same class. She immediately wanted to quit, because she didn't like computers; she was a hands-on artist. I convinced her to try for a year. During the third year she absolutely wanted to quit. She rejected school and the scholarship. With paper, pencil and a calculator I showed her how the Gold Seal scholarship would benefit her - it would be money in her pocket. She didn't care about money. We talked about "real world" finances. Senior year was difficult, but she finished her third year of drafting (and excelled at it!), completed one hundred hours of community service, attained the necessary grade point average and indeed received the Gold Seal Scholarship. Not many students did. Later when Pre-Paid tuition paid for her tuition and she received a check once per semester, she was glad she had not changed vocational tracks or given up. She has since earned a Bachelors and Masters degree in Fine Arts, lived for years as a "starving artist" and will be teaching art at Florida State University in the fall. The Gold Seal scholarship doesn't exist any longer.

    Another story that related to transportation - it's true that if a student wants to attend a school of choice, he has to find transportation. Perhaps that has changed, because I hear stories about one student riding a bus, but allow me to continue. Amanda tool French 1 in eighth grade, but it was not offered at the middle school in ninth grade. However I was teaching French 2 at the high school and at that time ninth grade was not a part of the high school. In order for her to take the class, I paid a friend to pick Amanda up at Jefferson Junior High (before it was a middle school, drive her to the high school, wait for her while Amanda took class and then drive her back to Jefferson to finish the day. Amanda received high school credit for French 2, but junior high elective credit for French 1 and I paid my friend $100 per month from August until the end of May. Consequently when Amanda entered tenth grade at the high school, she took French 3. We were not rich, but we paid for transportation and it was worth it.

    Here's the situation now - students begin Spanish 1 in seventh grade at their middle school and receive HIGH SCHOOL credit. When they take Spanish 2 in eighth grade, they receive high school credit. Therefore a student can earn his/her required high school world language credit before beginning high school. What a deal! There are also middle school classes for which they receive high school credit.

    Those are examples of what we parents have to do if we want to ensure our students' education. Money is tight in the school. Each school offers a concentration of courses to attract students to attend that school, but not every school can offer every course.

    We parents really do have to pitch in and help direct our students and make things happen. Child care was expensive when both us of parents worked, the school extras were expensive and in spite of Bright Futures scholarships and Pre-paid tuition, college fees and housing expenses are expensive. We had to live frugally. One way we saved money was never to eat out in restaurants. That got us through the year when both daughters were at the university and most of my paycheck was going to expenses. I learned to cook very well that year and have never turned back to restaurant food.

    I continue to hope that high school vocational education will at least point students into the right direction to attain further vocational education, here either at BCC or through employers willing to train students. Study the schools' programs and make it happen.

    Philosophy, critical thinking, debate and logic as credit courses in high school are expensive electives in these times, but in upper level classes with excellent teachers and at home with devoted parents and in community clubs, students will still learn these enough about these subjects to tide them over to the time when they can elect them at a high level.

    The government can no longer afford to offer the perfect curriculum to every person in every school district, but we parents can still make it happen. Parents + teachers = education.
    Hang in there and if you have children, teach them well. Never ever lose faith in a good education. You can make it happen.
    Peggy B (Johanna Wilson)

  • Responses from Google+ (my wall is PUBLIC, so always remember that the world will see it.):

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012
    my only two problems with education system is 1) they work toward the average.  if you are a kid who is a bit quicker than the rest or a bit slower than the rest, you get ignored, you get bored and you fall through the cracks.

    2) Way too much rhetoric and political agendas/propaganda are involved in what students are taught.

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012 (edited)
    np.  my kids go to a small catholic school (I'm not christian, but it beats our public school system right now)  and I am the product of nothing but public schools.

    one other thing I am about tired of is teachers doing more than being a teacher.  My daughter expressed an interest in being a baker and owning her own bakery when she gets old enough.   I love it.  she picked something for a future she really loves to do and has plans to follow up on it.  one of the teachers at her school literally tried to talk her out of it saying she was "too smart" to be "just" a baker. and she should look at being a scientist of some type.

    that ticked me off.  Big time.  how dare she demean bakers and entrepreneurialism just because she has a hangup on girls in science.

    just teach the subject matter and let her parents guide her on life choices thank you very fricking much.

    Mike LehikoinenJul 24, 2012
    When i look back on my days in school, it was the lack of grammar education that i resent.

    Ask me again in a few years about current day once my daughter has started :-P

    David OConnorJul 24, 2012
     I see a lot of people pointing toward the indoctrination thing that they see. Bottom line - It's easier to say "This is what/how/why/when things are/happened" than it is to lead a debate and instill critical thinking skills. I don't see a big conspiracy, I just see the results of underfunding, unrealistic expectations, emphasis on sports over educational achievement and the lack of an instant gratification reward system for doing well in school.

    Here's a true story for you: My Junior year in high school several area school created the 4 day rule - If you had a B or better in the class and had missed 4 or less days of school, you were not required to take the final exam at the end of each half of the school year. Attendance and grades shot through the roof. The school board stepped in after the first year and killed the program, various reasons for that but they missed the lesson of that experiment: If you put a tasty enough carrot at the end of the stick, even the 'bad kids' will bust ass to try to catch it.

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012
    yes, but when the direct information they are teaching the kids are outright lies in the name of indoctrination then it's a bad thing.  it happened then and still happens now.

    Andy CowenJul 24, 2012Edit
     I did not like high school. I attended, and tried to find my way. I found most of the education pedantic and ineffective. VERY few of the teachers appeared any more interested in what they were doing than I was. The ones that were excited to be there were the ones that made a difference. I can rattle off names but won't right now. In high school, I found theater. I was all in. Theater was the reason I went to school, and the rest was just killing time to get back to the black box and create something. During that time, the wood-shop closed. Ceramics was shut down. The arts were being dismantled. Vocations were being snuffed out. The years that followed my graduation saw the demise of the theater program as well, and I think photography. It is hard to teach people how to learn, when you are taking away the way were are built to learn, through play and with action.

    Andy CowenJul 24, 2012Edit
    Another rant: The worst thing I remember was a 7th grade transfer from a middle school in South Florida to a junior high in Brevard County. I was tutoring other children in algebra and was really progressing well. When the school tried to place me based on my classes, they saw that I was in algebra, but they didn't offer algebra for the 7th grade. They had Honors Pre-Algebra. Sounds great right? "Honors" I went from A's to a D. Obviously I was no longer allowed in the honors program and it wasn't until the next year, that I realized, I was in the wrong class. 8th Grade was learning what I already knew from my old school. What happened? They were teaching me fundamentals, that I did not need. I skipped over them and learned a different way and didn't know I needed to unlearn what I knew. I don't know how that could have gone better given the systems in place and the obstacles that they have to surmount. As it went, I lost my momentum and interest in math and never got it back.

    David OConnorJul 24, 2012
    Andy I shall address your comment shortly but first I must reset a viewpoint!

    Indoctrination happens to every person in the world every single day of the week. Right now you sir are trying to indoctrinate the rest of us into the thought process that schools are doing evil things, whilst I am trying to indoctrinate people into the thought process that they are not. From different points of view, we are both right. I can point out examples where people go above and beyond to promote accurate information, you can point out examples where someone has distorted the truth to suit their own ends.

    There was an article the floated around about how FOX was banned in Canada because it's illegal to lie on national TV. I encourage you to really dig into that and read the details of what happened, who the players were and then think about why it happened and why FOX news made the decisions it made. It has everything to do with a private company wanting to promote an agenda and using a media outlet to indoctrinate the masses into believing something that wasn't necessarily true.

    On the other side of the coin is CNN - which promotes a different viewpoint that has a different target audience. CNN and FOX are two sides of the same indoctrination coin - They say the things that the target audience wants to hear in order to then provide ads which people are now interested in based on the reports they were just listening to.

    Back to the schools - Lies to indoctrinate are incredibly subjective, especially when it comes to history and discussing the politics of it. I challenge you to provide some examples of what lies are being spread in the name of indoctrination, and I'll find you proof which proves the lies true AND false at the same time. Should be a fun game.

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012
    I believe you have indoctrination and influence mixed up.  per the dictionary..

    Influence: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others

    Indoctrination: the act of indoctrinating,  or teaching or inculcating a doctrine, principle, or ideology, especially one with a specific point of view:

    each word has it's own meaning, we can't just make it up as we go along.

    Andy CowenJul 24, 2012Edit
    David, Not Evil... Misguided. Formalized schools in America, the way they are today, didn't emerge until around 1910 along with the industrial revolution in the United States. They were essentially geared towards giving a baseline set of skills for industry jobs. It took off from there and we have been assembly line educating for over 100 years. We don't have the same end game to our education system now. There isn't an assembly line job waiting for us to walk into. Even college now is expected where once it was a very honored and respected thing in families.
    I am working off the premise, that the way schools operate, is not the best way for children or humans in general to learn. That is what, in my opinion, is broken.

    David OConnorJul 24, 2012
    Andy post 1 - I think this points toward what I was referring to. Kid's get lost in the existential question of "What the hell am I doing this for?" For many of us (Myself included) I lacked the wisdom that extra years on my age and life experience has granted me to understand fully why trying so hard was important. Getting a letter at the end of each semester didn't matter to me one way or the other, as long as I progressed forward (didn't matter whether I leaped or crawled) I felt like I was doing well enough. The honor roll seemed neat to me but nothing more. It wasn't until the 4 day rule showed up that I took a sudden interest in going above and beyond the bare minimum needed to succeed.

    Andy post 2 - That points toward a lack of standardization, which is impossible unless you elevate setting what kids will learning to high levels of state and federal governments. Which flies in the face of states rights to decide what's best, which usually gets delegated down to the county level. In addition, they did a very poor job assessing what level of math you needed to be placed in, and so the screw job, while likely unintentional, happened.

    Andy CowenJul 24, 2012Edit
    I think what it may point to more to a lack of proper analysis of the individual. The system that we have in place seems to be wary and reluctant to use placement tests to determine the proper level of the student. They are very hung up on keeping an age group together from start to finish. Grade skipping and being held back are all under the blanket of "no child left behind" and yet more standardized tests, for a non standard populace.

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012 (edited)
    this was my point in saying they focus on the group average and those a little quicker or a little slower get ignored, get bored and fall through the cracks.

    David OConnorJul 24, 2012
    TONY! How oh how do I indoctrinate someone without first having the ability to influence them? Indoctrination is the end result of having influenced someone to the point where the 'actions, behaviors, opinions, etc' more closely mirror your own because they now share the same 'doctrine, principles or ideology' that were spewed forth from your point of view.

    Sure it happens in schools, it absolutely does not stop there.

    It's built right in our nature as human beings to inluence those around us to the point where they follow blindly. For lack of a better term, it's how we build our personal empires and legacies.

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012
    personal empires and legacies?  wow.   I wish I had a personal empire.

    "You" individually don't indoctrinate.  it takes a formalized and usually required closed system to indoctrinate others, like public schools, military training, even labor unions with "training" requirements engage in it.

    individually, we exert influence.

    David OConnorJul 24, 2012
    I realize now that the whole argument of indoctrination is a tangent.

    As a kid, I almost always hung out with older kids. I found that I had very little in common with the rest of my classmates other than the material we were all learning.

    Perhaps they need to be testing regular for emotional level vs intelligence level. Group kids by both emotional and intellectual scores.

    But still my sticking point is providing a carrot on the stick that kids would really strive for.

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012
    on that  I agree completely.  Incentive is very important.  but it, in my opinion, is not up to the school to provide incentive, but the family.

    They took away all the classes that prepared kids to get a job out of high school in meaningful tasks.  shop classes, etc...

    Now they tell kids that high school diplomas aren't enough to get a decent job and push everyone to college.

    What is left besides personal motivation for the kids if they can't count on the education they are required to participate in doesn't even help them get decent job skills?

    That's a huge chunk of motivation right there taken away from them tot be replaced by what?  "sorry kid, you invest this time of your life in education but it won't get you anything at the end that's worthwhile"

    Andy CowenJul 24, 2012Edit
    So +Tony Sandoval where do we go from your last statement? By "we" I mean society. Your statement is pretty darn bleak, and also frighteningly accurate. We have a legacy of a nanny state to contend with. Government controlled programs such as Public Education, serve some interesting needs and have existed long enough, that if we were to pull the rug out from them, we would be doing a dis-service to those that are in the program. School lunches (another topic for another Tuesday) may be the only good meal some children get. The tax money being returned to the tax payers for education services would not be enough to offset the cost of private education and given the state of our economy an overwhelming majority of families are dual income, leaving no one to tend to the care and education of our youth during the work day. Of course then we have the basic question of qualifications to teach basic skills. So many adults fell through the cracks in the last few generations that without professional teachers where would they learn?
    Now we need to brainstorm. How do we repair the education system? 

    Tony SandovalJul 24, 2012
    in my opinion, we need to stop being a consumer society.  move away from that idea and get back to being a product society.

    "Made in America" is a joke because only about 1/3 of the product is actually required to be assembled here to qualify.  and assembly is not quite the same as being "made" here.

    When we have the production jobs, we have something for our schools to prepare students for.

    In today's America, being an Entrepreneur means to sell something made somewhere else.  Where are the opportunities to build, create and repair the products here?

    you can't just open an auto shop anymore because of the technology built into the cars.  it's being part mechanic and part computer tech now.

    woodworking, cabinetry, metal working.  those are all things farmed out of the country anymore by and large.  imported and assembled instead.

    What are we preparing students for is what it really boils down to I think.

    If the politicians say "jobs" then what jobs? because according to the "experts" a high school diploma don't cut it anymore.

    if we say k 1 12 is to prepare for college, but not all kids get to go to college because while k -12 is mandatory and funded, college is not.  so that's just a huge lie right there.

    We need to answer the question what are we educating our students for.  to what end?  Just for educations sake?  That isn't happening effectively enough to justify mandatory school attendance if so.  Too many high school kids are still graduating at horribly low reading and writing levels to justify that.

    David OConnorJul 25, 2012
    Perhaps an idea would be to break the mold of you are in this age group you are expected to move forward at this pace. But that requires a different kind of classroom I would think.

    Andy CowenJul 25, 2012Edit
    I like history. Back in the old days when my grandparents went to school, it was a 1 room school house, the kind with the big bell tower, and you were there from 1st grade through 12th, along with all your brothers and sisters no matter the age and everyone learned side by side. It was a holistic education, one where everyone learned everything if they could grasp the concepts. I am now inspired to dig deeper into the practices used by those pioneer educators, just for comparison sake. Now of course, that was when a graduating class was 12 kids or less. Small towns, few families, maybe only 1 formal teacher and the parents to help where they could, though most of them were not very well educated themselves. The truly fortunate had tutors. Today, there are many great resources, such as and countless other free online education services. Our society has changed since the school house was enough, and there are obviously logistical problems when you have to handle class sizes over 30. I may be delusional, but there is a sense of change about us that I can't shake, and I can't help but look to the past to understand where the future could take us. 

    Matthew O'ConnorJul 26, 2012
    +Andy Cowen I find your question amusing, disturbing, and curious, all at once.  Amusing, because we all have interesting stories, and it's been fun to read some.  Disturbing, because it takes only one point of view on the education system, and does not give any service to what actually DOES work in it - and yes, I believe there are some things about it that do work.  That isn't to say it isn't still in a dismal state.  Curious, because it brings to mind some of the reasons my wife and I intend to educate our children in what would be nowadays considered non-traditional.  But to answer your question, and to provide counterpoising perspective:

    What went right and wrong for me:  Teaching relies on an unwritten contract between a teacher and a student, and it's as much the student's responsibility to learn as it is the teacher's responsibility to teach.  Yet, too often the burden of an entire class leaves many students without sufficient "teaching" in a manner that works for them.  Example - 8th grade I took Algebra-1, and did poorly, even though I had excelled in math in my prior school (a private school).  Against my teacher's wishes, I proceeded into Geometry in the 9th grade, and did quite a bit better.  Algebra-2 in the 10th grade was a blast for me.  I attribute all of this to the teachers teaching in a manner I found effective for learning, or not (in the case of 8th grade).  11th and 12th grade I began to slack off, for reasons beyond this conversation.  In other classes, my interest was simply not held, or I questioned why such topics were important, like many other students.  Having been out in the world now I can appreciate those topics much, much more, and believe I could impart some of that appreciation to my children at least.

    I had very good teachers, all in all, until college - and even they were not all bad.  Of all my friends, I am one of the very few to have achieved a bachelor's degree from a major institution (UCF).  I mention that only because I want to speak to the notion of what college prepares us for, and what it doesn't.  I certainly learned a great deal there, and have used my knowledge in my career.  Not every college degree will grant that, but I believe there is great value in upper-education.  What we must dispose of is the mythical promise of wealth and riches as the reason for upper education.  From a purely workmanship point-of-view, I can offer this:  I have seen the output of both a university and a technical school - UCF versus Full Sail - for software engineers.  Full Sail teaches the how.  UCF teaches the why.  That, I believe, underscores the awesome difference between technical/vocational schools and those that offer full accredited 4-year degrees.  If I could change anything about upper-education, I would combine the two schools into one.

    That being said, I also learned in my post-graduate days that much of graduate school is designed to produce people who stay in the university system.  A Masters will get you a little farther than a bachelor's in the private sector, but a Ph.D. will get you tenure at some big-U, if you can pull it off...of course, in the US, you then spend your days peddling for research money for the university.  That's part of the reason I decided that a Ph.D wasn't for me.  (Sometimes Ph.D.s make it into the private sector, but really the degree tends to become a liability there.)  Yet its frequently Ph.D.s that make inventions that change the world.  Point is: people in this country need college a lot more than anyone is willing to admit, because frankly they're not getting that quality or quantity of education in the primary schools, and it's the sort of advanced knowledge that other countries (Germany, for instance) believe should be provided FOR FREE.

    There are many things I find disturbing about our current culture, and our public primary education systems.  First, the notion that we send children to schools for the "social experience."  This has got to be one of the most laughable excuses people pipe up with when they want to rail against homeschooling.  Social experience?  I was bullied, taunted, and generally depressed - how does that help my learning experience?  Not everyone experiences that, but the point is that school is supposed to be a learning environment, not a social conditioning mill.  While it's important that children be taught the ways of the world and how to interact with others, I think it's perfectly achievable without having to resort to public, or even private,  education complexes.  It starts by removing them from under the rock and letting them see the real world.

    Second, no one takes public education seriously enough to invest serious money in it.  We took my son to the county school office and I was surprised at how dismal the building looked.  I quipped to my wife: "Yep, this must be a government building."  Money doesn't cure every evil, but a lack of money certainly doesn't help either.  We don't pay good teachers worth their feed, we don't keep our schools in good order, we don't have enough teachers to go around...  So that's certainly broken.  But supposing all of that was fixed...would public school still be broken?

    My son currently attends a day-care that has a learning curriculum.  I spent a day there recently to observe and interact.  I was interested to see how two teachers in a classroom of 9-to-15 2-to-3-year-olds managed.  I can say this much: they needed a lot more help.  I also saw a lot of missed opportunities for interaction, involvement, and interest stimulation.  That's a private institution, and of course they are three-year-olds.   I wonder how it will be in public school?

    Not just anyone can be a teacher, but a teacher could be any one of us.  What is it to teach?  How many who have responded to this post have taught?  I can only say that, as the parent of a child with a communication delay, I and my wife have worked hard to teach my son how to talk, to interact, and in some cases to learn.  But until we learned how to teach him, we had no idea what we were doing.  It turns out that teaching is more about understanding children than it is about understanding the topics we're trying to teach them.  I think that's where many people get it wrong.  You can teach a topic 100 different ways and never be understood - understand how your child learns, and now you can teach them exactly how they need to be taught.  But what are we trying to teach them?

    I pine for my math skills, slowly deteriorating from lack of use and a poor practice when I had time to practice and a teacher to question; my joy of reading has taken off so many years beyond when it mattered for a grade; I would love to really learn some foreign languages, yet it's ever more difficult with age; politics, economics, chemistry, many interesting topics, so little time now.  I want my children to be forces of good in the world, to be part of positive change.  For them to be that, they have only this one chance to learn as much as possible about how the world, the universe, science, nature, math, language works.  One chance.  This is their only time.  It's not that our education system is broken, it's that it is overburdened and crushed under its own weight and the various beliefs that people hold against it.  Society is broken - we believe we just need to pawn our kids off on other people who are "qualified" to teach, when in fact we have an innate responsibility to teach our children ourselves - to be part of the teaching equation, to build up their self-esteem and the belief that they can learn and achieve great things.  We need to teach them the joy of learning, rather than sitting by while random events stomp out all desire.

    We waste our children's opportunity to learn if we ourselves, as parents, are not active participants.  Asking if their homework is done and going to PTA meetings does not quality.  Of all the things I could do with my spare time, all the things I could do for myself, I gladly sacrifice it all for my children and their continued learning and development.

    Andy CowenJul 27, 2012Edit
    Thanks +Matthew O'Connor. I agree with everything you said. Do begin a good debate, I choose to look at it from that side. It gets things moving well and left it up to others to bring the counterpoint. I posted this conversation on Facebook as well (I'd link to it but it's not as easy as it is on G+. Check my timeline for Tuesday. One of my teachers from High School chimed in from the other side of the "fence". No matter what this is a valuable discussion to have and get everyone's story. At the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves. We are not taught self reliance or how to learn in school. Society has the crutch of a system and have largely forgotten how to teach or how to learn. We now relegate those tasks to the noble teachers that have taken up the torch of knowledge, and the system that is supposed to serve the task. It is taken for granted, that there will always be people to perform this task. It's true that there will be, but they will be in the institutions less and less if things do not change, as the incentive to remain there diminishes. Society certainly needs to be turned on it's ear. I get the thought that to move forward, we must look back and learn the lesson of history, from as many angles as we can find.

    Bobby ShaftoeAug 4, 2012
    Without jobs , or job prospects , those not involved in technology will never find work no matter what we throw at them in education.
    The educational "system " just did not keep up with reality.

    Andy CowenAug 6, 2012Edit
    "the world needs ditch diggers too." Having worked in construction, it is one of the more gratifying jobs I have ever had. It was hard. I was sore. I was hot. I was sometime hungry and thirsty and bathroom breaks could be restrictive. It did not make me rich. On the other hand, I was in great shape. I was using my hands and that felt good. I could see progress being made in minutes opposed to maybe never at all. I got to work outside, and most of the time had fresh clean air to breath. To be a laborer is to be honest. I will always contend that there are jobs out there, but there are cavetes to that statement. One may not make what you are worth, and more likely not as much as you need, and the job may fall below your "station". For my part, an income is better than no income and I would dig a ditch, frame a house, lay cement, install fences, and nearly any job that Mike Rowe have ever done. It feels good to be dirty, and everyone should have a dirty job once in their lives so they can feel a little respect for those that can't or don't want to work in an office and attend meetings about nothing day after day.

    Matthew O'ConnorAug 6, 2012
    +Bobby Shaftoe, opinion time: Which came first, the worker or the job?

    This is a little off-topic, but while recently considering the various notions as to why the middle-class is displeased with the upper-class (in a blog post), the notion of "job creators" struck a key with me and I realized there was something very wrong with the notion of wealthy being touted as "job creators:"  it doesn't account for everyone else who is also a "job creator."  The fact is, we all create work for other people to do - everything we choose not to, or are unable to do ourselves, is something someone else can and usually does do.  Think about how many services you use in any given day.  Think of all the work that has to be done to make those services available.  If you didn't buy those services - if few or no one did - there'd be no work and no employment in them.  Yet many somehow cling to the belief that there are two kinds of people in our country: those who create jobs, and those who work them.  Whatever we do to earn money, the minute we spend it we are "creating" jobs.

    But how do we compete in a "global market?"  There are so many problems - standard and cost of living differences, education differences, environmental concern differences...  Back before the world got really small, I imagine it was a little easier to compete in your "local" market for work.  For a living, I can't compete in a market like eLance, because regardless of my skills or education people in India can afford to charge 20-50% less.  This is no exaggeration.  As we watched thousands of jobs disappear overseas with the promise of "lower prices" or higher profit margins, those in our own country who were displaced felt the sting of the global economy.  Our education woes underscore the current war of attrition unconsciously waged on us, and as we have waged on others, by the very nature of open and unregulated competition between very different populations of workers.  How will we ever compete with a people who are better educated, better skilled, and whose base income requirements are significantly less than our own?  It occurs to me that of all the ways our education system fails, the teaching of money and economics matters is the way in which it fails the absolute worst.

    Bobby ShaftoeAug 6, 2012
    Nasty bit of trickery there Mr. Cowen , chicken and egg. Hmph.
    Dead dino laying at the cave door . "Well I'm not moving that sucker ! , Dave , you move it."
    Dave, " Gimme some stuff and I'll move it."
    Dexter, " I'll move it for less stuff."
    Sue, " It's moved , I own you."

    Andy CowenAug 6, 2012Edit
    Unless that's a boy named Sue, she was going to win the whole time anyway. :-)