Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ability to keep pace with technology deemed priority

March 20, 2007


Lawrence's public schools need to prepare students for a quickly changing future, according to Mike Machell.

Experts claim that technology is doubling every two years, said Machell, one of eight candidates running in the April 3 election for four spots on the Lawrence school board.

"Our challenge is to ensure that the students have the skills to succeed in that reality and adapt," he said.

Machell said he recently read that the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in 2010 didn't even exist in 2004.

"We're going to need to make sure that we challenge students to develop skills that apply across industry, jobs and technology," Machell said, "such as the ability to analyze and solve problems, the ability to think critically and challenge assumptions, and the ability to work collaboratively."

Machell, 46, is a human resources manager in Lenexa for Ingenix, a health care informatics firm. He and his wife have a seventh-grade daughter at West Junior High School.

He said his background in business and in educating adults would help him when serving on the board.

Machell said the board shouldn't forget that not every student will find a career by going to a four-year college. Many students will find success by learning a trade or a technical skill, he said.

In terms of competing for teachers in the future, Machell said Lawrence needs to look at the pros and cons of what it is offering teachers.

"There's a lot to sell, so I think the total offer proposition is a way to look at it," he said.

The district should not only look at exit interviews of teachers who leave, but "stay interviews" of teachers who remain in Lawrence, he said.

He also said the district needs to find a way to make sure its early retirement plan for teachers is viable for the future.

Machell says he would favor all-day kindergarten if the state pays for it.

"We're going to have a real hard time paying for all-day kindergarten across the district," he said. The cost would be $1 million to do so, he said.

If the state is going to phase in and fund all-day kindergarten, then the district should do so, too, starting with the Title I schools, he said.

Those are the schools with the greatest numbers of students who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.

"I think there is some evidence that those children benefit most from all-day kindergarten, if we have to make the choice of who were going to give it to," Machell said.


cool 7 years, 1 month ago

I like it. mm mania

my first year at college was kind of wild and more growing up experience than learning. a final year of - finding out what you REALLY want to do could be in order.


Machiavelli_mania 7 years, 1 month ago

I think the answer could be to create just one more year of school. K-13.

Maybe the 13th year could be spent in schools of educational concentrations and in various civic duties, to introduce them to a world they may not otherwise ever see.

Just one possibility.


Machiavelli_mania 7 years, 1 month ago

The research I wanted to bring up was that parents are doing their children a disservice by not letting them on the computer, since most jobs will require computer work when those children are older, some solely requiring computer work. But I cannot find it. Here are some others that ought to be of interest. TV, Computers Can Be Tools To Encourage Young Readers, Scholars Say Looking for a way to boost your child's interest in reading? Experts say something as old as the human voice and as new as cyberspace may help.

Virtual playmates help real children with language Can "virtual" playmates -- what the Northwestern University researcher who created them calls "embodied conversational agents" -- help "real world" children develop language ... - size 5.7K Computers used differently at home than at school, says new report Teachers need to recognise that children are using computers in a variety of different ways, says ESRC-funded research.

New software will help children design their own games and aid learning Pioneering software that enables children to design their own computer games could significantly improve the teaching of literacy, design and ICT skills in our ... - size 9.1K


Machiavelli_mania 7 years, 1 month ago

First, all-day kindergarten: As it is today, our public schools consider recess to be a "privilege", in the day and age where obesity is a problem for our children. Hmmm! What is wrong with this picture? You take a 5 year-old and put them in an extremely structured environment for 6-7 hours a day, when they have not had that experience before, and label their ability to exercise their growing bodies' needs to move and express itself as a "privilege" (!), and you are asking for trouble. Growing kids need to grow and to physically run and play, to BE a kid, in an unstructure environment. I am against all-day K and anyone who thinks seriously about it should be.

I wonder why the people think that the school should take on the role of the parent, including the thinking of the present school system. It is a parent's job to enable computers. Schools can too, but kid's use the computer differently at school than they do at home.

Critical thinking? I dunno. Some people do that kind of thinking instinctively and, when you force them to slow down an innate process by breaking it down into basic steps designed by someone else's idea of critical thinking, you lose the instinctive, and sometimes intuitive, criticial thinking process. I don't think critical thinking can be forced on people. Don't think it can be taught to be done at thought-speed.

But I think that "critical thinking" makes "common sense" obsolete. Maybe writing a letter will be obsolete someday as well.

Have you ever watched a young child's hands dance on the keyboard while they are playing something like that Lego's Star Wars game? It gets to the point where they don't even look at their fingers while they are doing complex computer maneuvers. Even the youngest know how to run the computer. This is a good thing.

What if we are teaching educational basics that will no longer have significance 10-20 years down the road? Why aren't we more concerned about a bilingual education? Preferrably Chinese, Hindu or Latin languages. That is the way the world is spinning, folks. Like it or not.

It is my present belief and hope that my offspring will be going to college on the internet (ought to put a kink in Lawrence's long-term agenda, huh?). I heartily embrace the changes in this world.

You want to know where we are going in the future? Just read Robert Heinlein, the fantastic prophet-guy who wrote a story in 1949 which had a hero pull a phone from his pocket and begin to dial. You want to know the future? Read Heinlein, preferrably with book in hand.

Or read New Scientist!!


Machiavelli_mania 7 years, 1 month ago

I hope you all are not getting me confused with Machiavelli. Just want to make that clear. We are two different people and I do not know this Machiavelli.

As for his/her opinions, I have not read enough of them to make any kind of impression.


cool 7 years, 1 month ago

yes PARKAY thanks !

basics are really neglected currently.

some students cannot write a 'note' --- they barely know how to write a letter not on the word processor.


Ray Parker 7 years, 1 month ago

K-12 reading ability has declined miserably for 40 years, math skills have fared worse. Without mastering the basics, there is no hope for technical skills, except for maybe the top 5 or 10% of K-12 students. The rest - left behind by inadequate methods, bogus curricula, and misdirected funds.


cool 7 years, 1 month ago

i agree of course with machiavelli !

the basics of child rearing and the basics of education need to be taught and mastered FIRST !

this is the responsibility of the educators / not the latest techno fad.

up to age 16 a lot of reasoning ability occurs and is learned outside of the realm of technology.


machiavelli 7 years, 1 month ago

Machell's full of it.

Just because he has a "background" in education; and just because he works at a "health care infomatics firm" (whatever the hell that is) doesn't mean he has the slightest clue what he's talking about.

Techno-nerd, alarmist idiots like him are always proclaiming that we need to prepare our children for the reality of the coming technological revolution that's going to throw us all out on our asses. Problem is, it's all bull with absolutlely no basis in reality.

It may sound very un-PC to folks like him, but the fact is that there are limits on how fast a society can and will accept technological progress, and that is dictated by our wonderful free-market system.

In our society, technological change happens when a product or device survives the rigors of the market by performing a useful function for the people that operate said device. Even gasp KIDS!

Technology and people adapt to each other. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a "doubling of technology" that the free market system is not capable of preparing us for. Has never happened; will never happen.

The most important thing we can do to prepare our students for change of ANY kind is to educate them in the basics...then back off. Give them room to grow, expand their minds, use their imaginations. If we do this successfully, then they will be the ones driving technological change. They are the future, after all.


compmd 7 years, 1 month ago

If Machell's teaching experience is in educating adults, why is he making definitive statements regarding early childhood education? They are apples and oranges; one cannot apply the principles of teaching adults to teaching 5 year olds.


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