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.


compmd 11 years, 2 months 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.

machiavelli 11 years, 2 months 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.

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