REFLECTIONS ON  TEACHING

 

Things I learned over the years.  Worked for me, but might not for you.

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TEACHING PHILISOPHY

One thing that had an effect on my idea of good teaching goes back to the 1950s, before I even consider teaching as a livelihood. It was a TV show called the Loretta Young show.  Loretta Young was an actress who played a different character in each episode. In this particular episode she was the principal of the school.  She got a call saying that some of the administration was to come over, meet with her after school and they were going to fire a certain teacher. She knew very little about the teacher so she went to his class to set in on his science class. The school had certain rules and regulations that each teacher must abide by. They must use good English, they must not lecture all of the time. This teacher was from another country and had poor English and he was lecturing the entire class period. According to the book he was wrong and should be fired. However, he made the class so interesting she forgot why she was there. She made a statement that has stayed with me all these years.  "He may do everything wrong, but he loves his subject and he loves the students."

 

To date the content of the program. The reason they wanted to fire him was not because of his teaching technique, but a girl had complained that he had made sexual comments about her. When pressed for specifics as what had happened, it turned out in his science lecture he had said that everything is not as it always appears to be and she was wearing falsies.

 

The comment that he loved his subject and he loved his students was reinforced years later when I was teaching. As one of my student teachers was leaving to go to class, I asked him which class he was going to?  He told me and said the teacher was one of his favorite teachers and told me his name. This came as a shock to me because when I was getting my degree I had him as a teacher in an entry level course and he was a very poor teacher.  Later when I was on staff at the college good students complained about him and some wanted him fired. The statement that he was one of his favorite teachers got me to thinking. Teachers often have to teach courses they do not care for, I had to teach courses I did not like. The teacher that I considered poor was probably having to teach a course he did not like to teach, but in the courses he did like he was an excellent teacher. This would explain why many did not like him, but my student teachers found him to be one of his favorites.  He loved his subject and loved the students.

 

I am not knocking education courses but after I wrote this I thought of Dr. M.  He had the reputation as an outstanding teacher.  Students loved him!  When I was getting my teaching degree a classmate worked for him.  One day the student said he had to go to class.  Dr. M asked him what class he was going to?  It was some education class.  Dr M said he had never had an education class!  I know he loved his subject and knowing him, I had one of his sons in class, I am sure he loved his students.     

 

TEACH ONLY WHAT IS NEEDED WHEN IT IS NEEDED

An example of this is drafting. By the way I had no industrial arts in high school.  Based upon vocational guidance tests I needed a degree in industrial arts.  I was told I would have to take a course in drafting, I knew so little about drafting I did not even know what kind of wood drafting was.  I literally checked out a book to see what drafting was.

 

In my first course in drafting we were told the first thing we must do is to learn the alphabet of lines.  We were taught the names and how to draw the lines.  We did not use some of the lines until much later in the course.  Why teach cutting plane lines the first week of class when the student might not even use them until the very end of the course?  In my drafting program there are 112 problems, cutting plane lines are not taught until they need them in problem 101.

 

DONT TRY TO TEACH TOO MUCH AT ONE TIME

The first thing my junior high students had was drafting.  I used to get so frustrated when students could not understand how to use read a rule. Finally I figured out the problem, I was trying to teach them two things at the same time, the concept of measurement, and the markings on a stick.  With this in mind my drafting program starts out by teaching the concept of measurement.  It was about three weeks or more, before I started teaching them how to read a rule. There are other advantages to the method I used but I won't get into that now.  When we did introduce reading a rule, it was easy, they already understood the concept of measurement, all they had to learn was the markings on the stick, or a piece of plastic, or whatever the rules were made.

 

Another example of asking too much at one time is an 8 night course I took on using CAD.  For the very first exercise, we were given an isometric drawing with no dimensions and were to use CAD to make 3 orthographic views of the object.  We had to:
    (1) make measurements, using fractional rulers,
    (2) convert fractions to decimals,
    (3) be sure the individual measurements matched the overall measurements,
    (4) translate the isometric drawings into orthographic drawings.
    (5) make the drawings using CAD.
The purpose of the course was learning how to use CAD, but on the first exercise we had to do five different things, four of the things we had to do had nothing to do with CAD.  Even though I already knew how to do the first four, I found it confusing,  Imagine how it would have been to a student who was new to all five things!    

 

SMALL DETAILS

When lecturing to a class be standing in front of the room, ready to start lecturing when the students come in.  They will be more receptive.  When lecturing and someone is talking, often stop lecturing and quietly standing there is more effective than calling for them to quieted down.

 

TEACH FOR UNDERSTANDING, TEACH WHY 

I have two examples for this. Somewhere in my earlier education I had to memorize a rule, now long forgotten, on when to use "a" or "an" in a sentence.  Later I was taking a course in Greek, and the teacher said it difficult to pronounce two vowels together so they added a consonant to one and the consonant they added was an "n".  An apple is easier to say than a apple or an elephant is easier to say than a elephant.  Makes sense and you don't need remember the rule.

 

Another example; was when I was taking electronics one of the rules to remember was a capacitor blocks direct current, but allows alternating current to pass through.  Actually it blocks any change. My question was why?  Memorizing a rule does not mean you understand and understanding is more important than memorizing.

 

I digress, one of the best compliments I ever had was from a student who said getting his degree had been easy, "I just remember what they tell me and write it down on a test." "Your course has been hard, I had to think."

 

 

USING MATH TO EXPLAIN A CONCEPT IS CONFUSING TO MANY PEOPLE

 

I had an electronics course in college where the teacher was teaching us Ohms law. He would put the mathematical formula on the board and say if "E" goes up and "R" stays the same then "I" has to go up, then he would use the mathematical formula to explain that other situations. I did not understand it, he just confused me.

 

I wrote and taught a two month course called Using the Electron to eighth grade junior. The course was electronics, but calling it electronics sounds hard so I just called if Using the Electron.  Without going into details the course is very successful and that is not just my opinion. I had the data to back it up.

 

When I taught Ohms Law to the students I compared flow to the number of students walking down a hall past a certain point. In electricity we called it amperage. Voltage was the force, why they wanted to go down the hall . I talked about how you could change the force.  Resistance was what problems they encountered going down the hall and how you could change resistance.  Then I talked about if you change the force, the reason they wanted to go down hall and if you made it easier to go down the hall more would go down the hall, there would be more flow, amperage. If we made it more difficult, increased the resistance and the force remained the same how would that affect the flow?  I used other situations like this. And they understood the relationship between volts, ohms and amps, but when I put the formulas on the board they were lost.  If I had started teaching using the formulas some may have never understood.  I am not saying the formulas are not needed, they are very important, but from my experience do not start there.   

 

TRY TO FIND OUT IF THE STUDENTS KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT

In one of my college class the teacher kept referring to wringing gage blocks together.  I had used gage blocks and knew what he was talking about, but after about three days one of the students raised his hand and asked what the teacher what wringing gage blocks meant?  Several of the other students indicated they did not know either. This was rather small class and afterwards I asked the others in the class individually if they understood the term. They did not. Almost all the class had no idea what the teacher was talking about yet none would ask.

 

In Using the Electron class, I started every day with a test. Then we graded it.  Sometimes only two or three questions, but that way I knew where they were.

 

START AT THE SIMPLEST AND MOVE TO THE COMLEX

Again using the text Using the Electron as example.  I taught how a diode worked and when they understood that it was easy to move to how a transistor works. There is a relationship.

 

Another example; they built an amplifier and tested it with the microphone, then we added an antenna and tank circuit to make it into a radio.

 

TRY TO SET THEM UP BY REVIEWING WHAT THEY KNOW THEN MAKE THEN MAKE A CHANGE AND NOW WHAT?

A variation of this was one day when the class came in I was standing in front of the classroom at the blackboard. The students were doing their normal talking to each other.  After a while I turned around and slapped the blackboard real hard. That got their attention. I asked, why did you all turn this way?  They said because you slapped the blackboard.  How do you know I slapped it? Because we heard it.  How did you hear it?  And we discussed sound waves. 

 

Teaching counter electromotive force was always problem. it usually took several periods and some still had trouble understanding the concept. I went to my classroom one night and used colored chalk to set up certain situations, which they knew, on the chalk board. I drew a line representing a conductor and labeled one end A and the other end B.  I would say current is flowing from A to B and drew an arrow in red indicating the direction of flow. Then I would ask what happens around the conductor?  The answer is there is a magnetic field. I would use a different colored chalk to draw lines representing the magnetic lines of force.  I kept drawing lines on the board for different situations and asking questions. I lectured to an empty room, if this happens then what will happen here?  If this happens then what would happen here and so on? I was leading them to a conclusion.

 

The next day I was using the approach and could see they were getting it! I remember thinking, one more point and they have it!

 

Just then David called out a loud voice. "Today's the first day of quail season!" I felt like choking him, but said, David what brought that on? He said I knew today was something, but couldn't remember what it was and those chicken tracks on the board reminded me of it.  After getting the class's attention we finished and they understood counter electromotive force in one period.       

 

LOOKING AT BOTH SIDES OF A PROBLEM

A method of teaching the students how is to have a question each day.  Before I started doing this I asked how many thought they should be paid to attend this class?  Of course all hands went up.

Then I told them for the next two weeks I will give you a problem and 5 minutes for you to write down all the positives and all of the negatives.  I will then ask each of you to give a positive, then each of you will give a negative. That is it, there will be no discussion, it is only an exercise in looking at both sides of a problem.

 

Then the problem for today is, "Should you be paid to attend this class?"  After 5 minutes I had each give a positive, then each had to give a negative.  I then said we will not vote again, but I am interested in seeing if this made any difference.  How many of you think you should be paid to attend this class?  No hands went up. 

 

REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH WORK YOU ASSIGN THEY WILL NEED MORE TIME TO COMPLETE

I have found this to be true on all levels from grade 7 though college seniors.  I would adjust the required course work, making it more or less and that made no difference. They said they still need more time, usually say 2 weeks.    

  

WORKING IN PAIRS

I did not find work in pairs effective. I have a saying, "Give me a boy for a day and I will get what a boy can do in a day, give me 2 boys for day and I will get half of what a boy can do for a day, give me 3 boys for a day and forget getting anything done." That is tongue in cheek, but there is some truth in it. When working in pairs one usually does the work and the other lets them, 

 

Teamwork is important, that is one reason I had them do mass production.  More about mass production later.    

 

This idea of working in pairs seems to be popular for two reasons, one, computers seem to be the choice today and it cost less to put two at one computer.   

 

Another idea seems to come from the statement that “85% of the people who get fired get fired because they cannot get along with other people."  Assigning them two work in pairs will teach them to work together. My question is, if it will work when they are students, then why doesn’t it work when they work with someone on their job?  Teaching teamwork is very important, but it must be structured properly and there are ways.  Industry has workshops that are effective.  Just assigning them to work in pairs will not teach them.. The outcome must depend upon both working as a team. Team sports helps.

 

One of my college courses was IED 300. One of the first assignments was to come up with a project for a multiple activity class.  Many of the students would present their project and when I asked what it taught, they would proudly say it teaches layout.  In future courses, I was mean, their first assignment was come up with a project that cannot be used to teach layout.   

 

The major assignment in the class was to come up with a project that taught as many industrial processes as possible, more than just sawing a board, sanding a board, gluing a board, putting a finish on a board.

 

One year, four students came to me and wanted to work together as a team. I tried to discourage them, but they kept insisting. Finally I relented, but said whatever the project grade is each of you will get the same grade. They agreed. They came up with a very good project, and they all got an A, however two of the people were very unhappy, they did most of the work, one of the others did some and the forth did nothing. When the two that worked hard complained to me, I said just "what I expected, I told you so."    

 

In my way of thinking the reason teamwork often fails is one is not doing their part, if you teach individual responsibility they will work well in a team.  I know, sometimes  there are personality issues.

 

TEACHING PROBLEM SOLVING

There are ways of teaching problem solving.  Just saying here is a problem, solve it is not very effective.  One method is state the problem properly, state the parameters, list as many possibilities as possible, research and test the ideas.  Teach brainstorming.  Brainstorming is not just a bull session. There are certain rules and good ideas can from the sessions.  I think they are a lot of fun.  There are good books on creativity and brainstorming. 

 

WHO SAYS IT HAS TO E DONE THAT WAY?

This is one of my favorite sayings. A favorite story is the woman would always cut the ham into two pieces before she put it the oven to bake.  Her husband asked her why, she said that was the way mom always did it. He said but why?  She did not know why so she called her mother and asked her why? The mother said my pan was too small and I had to cut into smaller pieces to get it in the pan. 

 

Related to this are two stories related to NASA.  Astronauts could not use ball point pens in space, they would leak and not write so NASA spent a lot of money to develop a pen that would.  I have seen them, you could buy one for $10.00.  It would write on anything in any conditions, even under water.  Russian astronauts had the same problem.  They solved the problem by using a pencil.

 

NASA developed gun that would fire a chicken. The purpose was to see how a bird would affect a missile during launch if it hit a bird.  A company in Britain was developing high speed trains and made arrangements for NASA to loan them the gun to see what would happen if a bird hit the windshield of the train. They fired a chicken against the windshield, the windshield shattered, the chicken knocked the back off of the seat and embedded itself in the wall behind the seat.  They sent the test data to NASA and asked for suggestions.  NASA wrote back, "Thaw the chicken."    

 

WHAT DOES IT TEACH? 

I taught Industrial Arts. When I told my students we were studying industry I was lying, we were studying home handcrafts. I had a teacher friend who manufactured home accessories which his wife would sell at home parties.  One of the items was a "what not shelf" to hang on the wall. It was similar to what one students might make in "shop."  They would lay out the 3 parts on a piece of wood, use a jigsaw, or bandsaw, to cut to shape. They would sand the sides and round the corners, then layout the location for the screw holes. They would drill pilot holes and countersink them, then apply glue and put in the screws. Next they would clean off the glue and do any needed finish sanding.  The next step was to brush on a finish, it probably required a light sanding and another coat of finish.  When the finish had dried they would nail on a hook to hang it on the wall and it was ready to take home.  I would probably take the student at least 5 hours to complete.

 

I like to tell stories. In the cartoon the young boy was holding what looked like a 3 legged stool, except 2 legs were going down and 1 was going up. He said "Look what I made in shop!"  The other person asked, "What is it?" The boy replied," I don't know but mom said it is what she always wanted."    

 

Back to the shelf. I related how it would be made in class, my friend used a pin router which cut out the 3 pieces in less than a minute.  Another router was used to route a place in the back to hang the shelf.  Glue was rolled on, the parts were put in a fixture and a pin tacker fastened them together. When the glue had dried several were hung in a spray booth and finish was sprayed on. If I remember correctly it took him a total of 2 minutes to make each shelf.

 

Years ago the government funded the development of a program called the World of Manufacturing and the World of Construction. The company that was publishing the materials was upgrading and because of my projects I was invited to be part of a rewrite team. One of the team members had several projects and they all cost less than $1.00!  One of the projects was a cup holder to hang on bicycle handle bars to the group. The students were given two strips of about 24 gauge sheetmetal which were about 1 inch wide.  On one they would locate places for 2 holes, then drill 3/16 holes. Next, by hand, they would bend one strip into an S shape. They would use the hands to roll the other piece into a circle.  The two pieces were spot welded together, a nut and bolt was added and it was done. The editor got very excited about the project, it was sheetmetal, something the student could use and inexpensive. I did not say any anything but I wanted to scream, What does I teach? For another of his projects the student was given a piece of sheet aluminum and used the peen of a hammer to beat it down into the cavity of an aluminum casting to the shape of a bowl. They would then trim off edges and they would have bowl.  Privately I suggested to him a simpler way, put several layers of rubber on top of the aluminum and a steel plate over the rubber, then use a hydraulic press to form the bowl.  He said, "Sometimes I want them to work for a while."

 

A college had weekend course for their graduates. The class met Saturdays and Sundays. The teacher invited me to show and tell on a Saturday.  After I was done one of the men said, "This sure beats my 3 years of sanding in high school."

 

I did a lot of soul searching in my first years of teaching. I taught General Shop, Drafting and Woodworking.  A student in woodworking would learn to identify some woods, learn how to saw and make some joints, maybe use the router, glue some boards, maybe how to install some screws, sand a board and put a finish on a board. They might end up with a nice project but is that all they learned?  Oh there were some intrinsic things, but my question, "Was it worth spending my life?  I had experience as a motor grader operator and could make more money running them.

 

But that was not an option.  When I went back to college to get a degree in IA they asked me two questions.  One what area did I want to have as my major?  Since I had never had a course in IA, I said I will take the beginning required courses and the one with the best grade will be my major. That did not work out, all of my grades were the same.  The other question was, do you want a teaching or industry degree?  I could not answer that either, but I said a person with a teaching degree can go either way and it is does not require a lot more to get so I will go for the teaching degree.  During the summer before my last year I could see the time was coming when I would have to decide.  Being a Christian, I asked my Lord to show me and He did. I can vividly remember, almost audibly, being told,  you are to teach.  Years later I told my pastor I was called to teach, he said "only ministers are called." That was not the only thing we disagreed on.                

 

AVOID DUPLICTION

Someone said in elementary school they learn to make an ounce of ammonia water in science, in Jr. High they learn how to make a pint of ammonia water and in Sr. High they learn how to make a quart of ammonia water.

 

Duplication was a problem when developing The Parke System. The tool tray and toolbox may seem to be duplication and there are some, but the purpose of the tool tray was mainly a layout exercise. They do not do that anywhere else. The tool box is mostly metal forming processes and gauges are used. 

 

There are duplications in the system, but on purpose. Many schools did not have time to make the game set so the tape dispenser was developed to get some of those processes. Nor did they get to experience mass production. The note tray meets that need. 

 

MASS PRODUCTION

During my first 3 years of teaching I had some of my students do mass production.  A lot of good experiences, but one problem, what do you do with the product?  When I was looking for a school to take my Master's degree I asked if they did any mass production?  At one school they assured me they did, and showed me a spice rack with drawers which they had made.  I asked what they did with the finished product and was told each student got one. I asked how many were in the class?  There were 16.  Each person would make 16 of a certain part and on a given day the class would assemble the spice racks.  That teaches interchangeable parts and some assembly, which is good, but it certainly is not mass production. The production rate of the note tray is 2 a minute and that includes finishing.  One of my classes ran it several times to demonstrate to others and started trying to speed up. They got it down to 4 a minute but the quality dropped off.

 

Three of my students and I took the special tooling and materials to a school where a district Industrial Arts competition was being held. They rearranged the workbenches and stretched a rope across the room so people could come in and watch without getting in the way of production. As they were setting up my students would ask observers to volunteer to help. They had no idea as to the ability of the student volunteers.  It took about 45 minutes for the students to get everything set up and train workers.  They would teach the volunteer what to do at a station. Then production began and they were making 2 a minute.  Teachers would come through and shake their head in disbelief. The workers were their students! The finished products were sold during the awards ceremony. 

 

KNOW WHAT THE STUDENTS KNOW

When teaching Using the Electron I gave a short test every day and we went over it the first of the class. Very effective, that way I knew what they knew before going on.  

 

COLLEGE PREP

My first experience with this was when my children were in Jr. High.  One of them came home and said they had to take a foreign language, because it was a requirement to get in college. I knew this was not so but I asked a friend who was a high school counselor.  She said there were a few exclusive schools which required a foreign language for entrance.  In order for them to legally select who they wanted to attend they set almost impossible entrance requirements.  If they wanted you, they would waive the requirements.

 

My second encounter with college prep was when one of our sons was a junior. We wanted to enroll him in vocational auto mechanics during his senior year.  We were told that he should not, he needs to take college prep courses. His mother and I were both teachers with college degrees and they felt sure he would go to college also. He had told us many times," I'm not going to college."  We said okay, but you have to get something to make a living.  We prevailed and he took auto mechanics as a senior.  After graduation he could not get a job as a mechanic, but was able to get a job at a manufacturing plant where they worked 10 hours a day, four days a week. The first day he sanded 800 headboards and when he came home from work, he said, "Dad what you think about me going to college." He did and majored in auto mechanics. While he was in school, he worked at a telephone company. Upon graduation he took a job full time job with the company and ended up at corporate headquarters. I remember saying to him, I know your job title, but what do you actually do? He said I am responsible for improving the performance of 226,000 people.  And he retired at age 50. By the way he wouldn't even work on his own car. Some may say it was a waste, but it got him though school.

 

Some look down on vocational as lower ability. A student in the high school where our children attended took vocational electronics and the science students would go to him for help in their class,  he was learning more than they were.

 

The fact that educators believe college prep is the way to go should be no surprise, They went to grade school and high school, then four years of college and possibly some advanced degrees, that is all they know.  From their experience success depends upon college degrees. 

 

A teacher in Michigan taught in what they called an alternative school.  Basically it was a vocational school.  He said we keep records of their students and the percentage of our graduates who graduate from college was much higher than those that went to college prep route.  I was not able to get the statistics from him but seems like it was about twice as high.

 

This should really be no surprise, many students do not like school and when they graduate they go to college, hate it and drop out.  Some eventually go back but many do not.  Those who go the vocational route end up in jobs which they may, or may not like, if they don't like it they may be motivated to go back to college and graduate. If they do like it and remain in the job many companies encourage them to get a college degree. Some companies will even pay for tuition and books.

 

One of my colleagues at the University did his doctorial study on studies that had been made to see if there was a correlation between college prep students and those who took non college prep courses and their success in college. There were no significant differences  There's was a slight indication non college prep students tended to get better grades in college.

 

While I'm talking about teachers another comment. Managers and supervisors deal with people, school administrators deal with people, it is a big part of their job. I have talked to managers and human resources people in industry who tell me they do not think school administrators have been properly taught to administer.  I do not know whether this is so are not, but I suspect it to be so.  I do know I had two courses past my masters, one was statistics and the other was an educational administration course. The educational administration course was mainly how to apply for and comply with federal programs, nothing to do with how to deal with people

 

DON'T QUIT TOO SOON

You have probably heard Edison tried 5,000 materials before he found something to use as a filament in his light bulb. Supposedly someone asked him if he  got discouraged at so many failures? He said those were not failures, I found  5,000 things that would not work.  I do not know if the story is true or not, but in my third year of college I probably spent more time playing ping pong than studying. And I have the grades to prove it. In one game my opponent had me down 20 to 1. I was able to spike the ball from below table level and did so the next 4 serves, the score was 20 to 5. That frustrated him and he was determined to spike it hard to get the point needed to win.  No luck, and suddenly it was 20 to 10.  His confidence was shattered and I ended up winning.       

DISCIPLINE

The student who causes problems is bored. Not always but usually.  As a follow up to trial study in 1978, I sent the schools a questionnaire. For some reason, I do not know why, I had a question concerning discipline, they were to score it on a scale of 1 to 10.  The results were a pleasant surprise.  One teacher reported a 90 percent decrease in referrals to the office for discipline.  Another said before implementing the system he was sending 8-10 per week to the office for discipline and after using The Parke System the referrals dropped to a total of 2 for the entire school year.  The survey was supposed to be unsigned but this teacher had signed his.  I said to him that is a rather at strong statement.  He said, I have the records to back it up. By the way, he used The Parke System in 3 classes and had 30 students in each class.  

 

No teacher said discipline was worse.  On second thought, these results should not be surprising: bored students cause problems; motivated students do not.

 

A teacher at a school near where I taught made arrangements to bus his class of 22 students to my school to take our class.. They were in the class because they were problem students. The teacher said in his years of teaching the class he had 21 murderers in the class.  One day the principal came and brought an administrator.  One remarked how a certain student could not walk around a room without causing trouble and here he was working. The other person said, not only that, he is helping someone. The class had an average absenteeism rate of 10.4 days a week   When they came to my school the average was only 3.67.  For 6 successive days there were no absences. They were motivated. The school had a movie day when a movie was shown school.  They were given the choice of coming to class or staying and watching "the Apple Dumpling Gang," starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway.  Every student chose to come to class!  Motivation.      

 

COMPUTERS

Great tool, this is being written using a word processor.  Before word processors I could type a page letter in 10 minutes.  With a word processor I can do a page in 45 minutes.  Seriously it does take longer, but it is much better, I can correct bad key strokes, check spelling, and rearrange phrases.  The biggest advantage is being able to save it for future use.  The way to tell a first time user of a processor is by "white out" on the screen.  If you do not get that ask some older person to explain it to you.

 

As I see it, computers are great tools but they are just tools.  Even they have limitations. Students need to be taught how to use them. The problem is, if you add something to the curriculum something else has to be taken away.  The question is what?  You can bet it will not be any sports.  A superintendent told me it may not be right, but if you have a winning basketball team, the community is more likely to buy reading books for the first grade   

 

A teacher in a large school system sent me a letter.  He said he lived in a small town near where he taught.  He said his son was learning so much in the school where the Parke System was used he wished they had it here he taught. The school where it was being used built a new campus and, as often happens, they updated the curriculum. The teacher was told by the superintendent his course was to be 80% computers.

 

One thing some people do not like about The Parke System is, there are no computers.  It could be put on computers, but even if money was not a  problem, I would not do it.  If you want to know why go to my web site and look under reading advantages.        

 

I have some ideas how computers could be used to keep track of student progress and report to parents. It would also keep inventory and even automatically reorder as needed.   

 

DON'T LET THE EXPERTS TELL YOU HOW IT SHOULD BE

This antidote is not necessarily about teaching, but makes a point.  When I was young I thought I liked to fish.  Then I realized it was not the fishing, it was being out in the country where it was peaceful. I tried canoeing and liked it. But it took 3 hours to get to a good stream and 3 hours to get home plus having to arrange for shuttle service. Too much hassle.

 

I had ridden a bicycle most of my life and started riding in the countryside.  I decided I wanted a better bike so I went to a bike shop and told the salesman I wanted a bike, I did not want fat tires, nor the skinny ones, I wanted handle bars that were high because I wanted to see the scenery.  He proceeded to tell me that was not what I wanted, the lower handle bars made the body more aerodynamically efficient and that is what I needed.  Needless to say, he did not sell me a new bike, I went to another shop.  Later I was telling this to a biker and he said, I understand, "I rode all the way across Oklahoma and all I saw was blacktop."  His face was down and his rear end up in the air so he would be aerodynamic.

 

I now ride a recumbent,  I sit in a comfortable chair like seat with a back, no seat to straddle, no neck pain, no wrist pain, as far as I am concerned the way to ride.  But there is more to the story, in the early 1930's second class professional racers started riding recumbents in races, they were winning and setting record times.  About 1934 the bicycling association outlawed them for racing because of aerodynamic advantages!  You will not see many in bicycle shops and the salesmen will probably have reasons why they are not the thing for you.  I could argue their points, but it is mainly money, you can go to Walmart and buy a bicycle for $100.00 or less.  $500.00 will buy a nice bike at a bike shop.  A cheap recumbent costs about $600.00 and the prices go up from there.

 

CONSIDERING TAKING A JOB IN A SMALL COMMUNITY?

To find out the scoop on the school system talk to the custodian and the barber or the beauty operator in town, they know what is going on and can tell you about the school.  Quite likely the custodian has been there longer than the principal or superintendent.   

 

HAVE PURCHASE ORDERS UP TO DATE AND READY TO  GO

One of my college teachers said this, so I did.  I was in the front office late one day checking my mail box when the director called me into his office and asked, "Can you spend $600.00 in 45 minutes?"  I said "I will be right back."   

 

DOING WORK FOR THE SCHOOL

One of my professors said "Do not work extra to save the school money."  Example, do not work nights and weekends to paint the walls of your lab. That is the schools responsibility. I agree, but I did not do it. I graduated in May, moved to the town of my first teaching job and spent June and July working for the school for nothing. I even made my young children help clean up.

 

At the lab school where The Parke System was developed I got a parking ticket for parking near the school.  The time on the ticket was 11:45 PM!  That is just one example of the hours I put in. Without getting into details, it certainly made no difference to the school.

 

THE FUTURE

When I was young it was predicted everyone would be flying around everywhere in their individual airplane. We don't.   When I started teaching IA, I thought it would be around forever.  It isn't and what replaced it is uncertain. Things are happening so fast now it blows the mind.  Michelin now has a tire with no air. Mercedes has a car with no steering wheel, or pedals, it is controlled using a joy stick. They have cameras so small you swallow them and your insides are seen on a monitor.  They predict if you want a steak from Jimm's Steak House, go to your computor, order it and a machine at your home will make it for you. Not just cook it, actually make it.  They already can design a part on a computer and have a machine which will "print" the actual part. Some schools have the machines.  One is available in kit form  for $1,000.00.

What does the future hold?  Who knows?  Not I.