"The Parke System"  WHAT IS IT?                                       
  1. An effective, self-directed, low cost system that quickly gives students a wide variety of lab experiences with many current manufacturing materials, tools and processes.
  2. A Research and Development activity.
  3. Two mass production activities.
  4. "LINES AND VIEWS," A different approach to introducing drafting.
HOW IS IT USED?

Each student selects a unit, gets a "how to" manual, reads and completes step one.
They keep doing one step at a time until they finish the unit.  That's it!

WHAT GRADE LEVEL?

Most schools are using it for grades 7 through 12.  Several units have been
used on the college level for many years.  Some have used it in grade 6.

HOW LONG DOES THE COURSE LAST?

How long do you want it to last?  There are about 150 hours of lab activities.  This does not include reference work and teacher-led class time.  Most units can be completed in 5 hours or less.  Select as much as you need to fit your schedule.

WILL THE PARKE SYSTEM FIT YOUR STATE CURRICULUM?

Probably so. "The Mid-America Vocational Curriculum Consortium" develops curriculum
for 11 states.  One activity in the MAVCC manufacturing manual is one of my units, with
minor changes.  Their material is also used in non-member states; sometimes the only differences are the cover pages.

THE PARKE SYSTEM has been referenced in many other state curricula
and the U. S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

Sometimes changing curriculum means dropping the old and putting in all new.
With THE PARKE SYSTEM you can have a completely new curriculum,
or just add units to what you are already doing.

WHAT IS THE TEACHER'S ROLE?

WHAT MAKES IT EFFECTIVE? WHY THESE PROJECTS?

Frankly, the way most typical projects are made, the course could justifiably be called a history course.  They learn how an item was made hundreds of years ago, not how it is made in today's industry.  This is not a tongue-in-cheek comment.  For example, on a visit to one school I saw a required project the students were making and watched how it was being made.  I had a friend who made the same type of product in  industry and the only similarity was the materials used.  None of the processes were the same as the ones used in industry!  And my friend's industry did not use any so called "high technology" processes.

There are no perfect projects.  Extensive analysis, selection and design has made
The Parke System projects much more "educationally effective" than typical
projects.  Many questions were asked about each individual project and also how it relates to the
other units. The first question about each unit is always, what does it teach?

  1. "What does it teach?"   Other questions were:
  2. Is this process a valid industrial process?
  3. How long does it take to complete?
  4. Are the experiences provided worth the time needed to complete the unit?
  5. Is the materials cost acceptable?
  6. Could these experiences be better taught using another project, or projects?
  7. Are the experiences taught in one of the other projects?  (Avoid duplication)
  8. Can the project be redesigned so it could be made in less time without losing valuable experiences?
  9. Does the project have repetitive activities that will cause the student to get bored?
  10. Will the student have a quality product?
  11. Is it a personal project, or one where several can be used in a family?
  12. Does it have broad appeal?  Don't use projects that appeal to only certain groups of people.
Some questions could only be answered through testing and sometimes the results
are surprising.  Most people do not play chess and I thought a chess set would have
very limited appeal.  Was I ever wrong!  Testing  showed it has a very high appeal
among students and parents, even among those who do not play chess.

ISN'T A LOT OF READING REQUIRED?

Many users of the system say, "The number one advantage of The Parke System is:       IT GIVES THE STUDENTS A REASON TO READ."  

For details go to READING ADVANTAGE

WILL IT WORK WITH SLOW LEARNERS?

Years ago an 8-week trial study was made using a class of 22 Junior High School students.  Six of the students in the class were diagnosed and classified as Emotionally Mentally Retarded with IQ scores ranging from 62-88; eight were identified as Learning Disabled with IQ scores from 70-99; seven were identified by school processes as Slow Learners and one was diagnosed and classified as gifted.  The gifted student had swam a river under machine gun fire to escape Vietnam and had a language problem. 

The system worked very well.  The project output for the group was estimated at 83 percent as much as an average class would complete.

After the study the teacher reported "One of the most significant factors of the program was seemingly its positive influences on attendance."  Before The Parke System absenteeism averaged 10.24 days per week by the group.  During the 8 week trial study the average was only 3.67.  The rate was high the first day and then it began dropping until there were no absences for 6 successive days!  The high absence rate started again the first day after the study and remained high the rest of the year!  Apparently The Parke System motivated them to attend school.

It has been said students don't want to work.  All they want to do is watch TV, or "goof off."  The students were given a choice of The Parke System, or watching the popular movie
of the time, "Apple Dumpling Gang," starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway.  Every student chose The Parke System!  Who says they don't want to work?

In another situation a teacher, the father of a Learning Disabled child, said, a father of an LD child tends to reject the child for being "dumb."  He related an incident told by the father of one of his LD students.  The student made the screwdriver and took it home. Being a typical father he bragged on the project and the beautiful "wood handle."

The student told his father, "it isn't wood"  and explained the process for making the handle.
He also explained the other processes he had learned, most of which were new to the father.  The son was elated because he "knew more than his father!"  The son's esteem in his own and his father's eyes was raised and their relationship improved significantly.  Just think, he made the screwdriver in 3 or 4 hours and that is only one of The Parke System projects.

WHAT ABOUT DISCIPLINE?

Two unsigned surveys were made after the trial study.  One of the questions was about discipline.  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.  No one said discipline was worse.  On second thought, these results should not be surprising: bored students cause problems; motivated students do not.

WHY SO MANY SPECIAL TOOLS?

Special tooling is one of the keys to the success of The Parke System.  One of the principles of production in industry is the use of specialized tools to enable a relatively unskilled worker to quickly produce a quality product.  The same principle works for students. Simple industrial principle tools enable the student to produce more and at a better quality.  For example, in most schools when a 2 13/16 diameter disc of aluminum is needed, the student uses dividers to lay out the circle and tin snips to cut to size and shape.  This method is slow and the quality will probably be poor.  Industry would use a blanking die in a press to do the work accurately and quickly.  The Parke System uses a simple blanking die and press to do the job.  Some teachers say, "But the students need to learn to use dividers and tin snips."  This is true--they do need to know.  The Parke System does not ignore the traditional methods.  Analysis showed a more educationally efficient place for the experiences.

DO SO MANY SPECIAL TOOLS MAKE THE SYSTEM EXPENSIVE?

No, just the opposite; the special tooling is one of the reasons for the system's low cost.
For example, a blowformer is used to make the cover for the 4-IN-A-ROW game.  It is
very simple, easy to use and relatively low cost.  Most blowformers, or vacuum formers, would
cost much, much more.  A form for most machines would probably cost more than my
complete blowformer. 

One administrator asked what the cost would be to add certain units in their school.  When he was told the cost he said, "Is that all?"

WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTION ACTIVITIES?

Students need to experience a well planned production run before they are asked to
develop one.  The game boxes which hold the chess set, chessboard, checkers and
puzzle is a production activity.  The teachers set up the fixtures and train workers for
each station, while the rest of the class watches.  This usually takes one, or two days.  After training, the class works together as a team.  Peak production rate is usually one box every 2 1/2 minutes.

Some schools do not have a course long enough to make the game set.  Making just the boxes without the games is not desirable.  The Note Tray Unit provides an alternative production activity for those schools.  Production rate, including finishing, is "ONE EVERY 30 SECONDS!"

WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES?

The primary purposes of an introductory course is to get the students to believe in their own abilities to work safely with tools and materials.  They also need an understanding of those materials, tools and processes.  It is important their early experiences are successful. The following objectives were written years ago when I started developing The Parke System.

A PROGRAM WHERE STUDENTS CAN HAVE PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES WITH A MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MATERIALS, TOOLS AND PROCESSES USING TAKE-HOME PROJECTS.

Traditionally projects are "educationally inefficient."  They are time-consuming and provide few practical experiences that are similar to current industrial practice.  Most of the experiences are of the "home workshop" variety.  Some schools attempted to alleviate the "time" problem by discontinuing the projects and having students "do" experiments.  However, the motivation provided by "take home" projects was lost.  Motivation is very important for most students.

The projects used in The Parke System are excellent motivators.  Someone said I was trying to "slip one over on my students."  That's right, rather than dwell upon all of the processes first, I used the approach, "would you like to make these projects?"  As they made the projects they learned the processes.  Not everyone  teaches the system as I did.  It will work other ways.

A PACKAGED PROGRAM FOR TEACHERS

Most teachers do not have time to develop a series of "educationally efficient" projects, related tooling and manuals.  They need help.  The Parke System provides that help.

Teachers often feel inadequately prepared in some areas of materials, tools and processes.  The Parke System allows them to provide their students with practical experiences in those areas without going back to school.

AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM WITH MINIMUM INVESTMENT FOR THE SCHOOL AND STUDENTS

There are so many variables that exact costs for the projects are impossible to give.  However, most teachers say the cost for these projects is about the same as the cost for projects they have been using.  The value of the projects versus cost is excellent.  In 1996 unweighted chessmen were being sold in a Springfield gift shop for $67.00. One teacher said one of his students sold his chessmen, checkers, chessboard and the boxes.  He did not want to sell, but could not turn down the $250.00!!  And that was in 1986.

Inexpensive tooling is a must.  In the late 1960's I decided  to add explosion forming.  Each student would use the tooling for about 15 minutes per year.  Needed tooling was available through an Industrial Arts supply catalogue.  The cost was over $600.00 and that did not include the needed form.  That was about 40 years ago, imagine what it would cost today!  Most schools could not justify $600.00 for something used so little.  Affordable tooling was designed, built and tested.  The result, a complete unit, that still costs much less than $600.00.  And even with prices going up each year the explosion former still does not cost $600.00

A PROGRAM WHERE STUDENTS PROCEED RAPIDLY AT THEIR OWN RATE

The lab manuals allow students to "work without waiting."  These manuals are not typical steps of procedures.  One school copied my chessboard idea.   At the time I used plastic cut from floor tile for the squares.  They cut theirs out of sheets of plastic.   That was the only difference in construction, but there was a big difference in the instructions.  Their instructions consisted
of a photo of the finished project, a materials list and 7 steps.  The Parke System manual had 57 steps, 3 notes, and 13 illustrations. Theirs told "what to do," mine told "HOW."

When I used group demonstrations and traditional steps of procedures, it seemed the students were always waiting for me to help.  It was frustrating and a waste of time.  Why were they needing help?  They had been shown what to do in the demonstrations and had the steps.  Students forget and have to be shown again, especially if they don't do the work for several days.   "HOW TO" manuals eliminated the need for most demonstrations.  Where they are needed, the manual has the student get everything ready and go to the teacher.  The demonstration is given to that one student when the student is ready to do the work.  It takes very little time and the teacher is there to watch the student do the work.  This is a big plus for safety.

The steps are very detailed.  For example, a student teacher was helping a student and I noticed he looked at the manual and laughed.  I figured I had done something wrong and asked the student  teacher what I had done wrong?  He said, "Nothing, the manual told the student to sit down."

 WHO BENEFITS FROM THE SYSTEM?

THE TEACHER:

THE STUDENT FOR THE PARENTS AND ADMINISTRATION THE DOWN SIDE OF THE PARKE SYSTEM

No fancy, supposedly "high tech" bells and whistles to impress people.

To the uninformed, all the student is doing is making ordinary projects.

Reference material must be provided by the teacher.  A problem is that students will
experience processes used every day in industry, but not described in most beginning
textbooks.  I wish we had a video showing these processes being used in industry.
It would be great to have the student make the candle holder, then see a video showing
panels for water towers being explosion-formed, airplane parts being hydroformed,
spoons and forks being punched out using blanking dies, lavatories being porcelained
and covers for heating and cooling blowers on buildings being formed by metal spinning.

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