MaryAnn reflected on one of the recent discussions as addressing education vs. training. I wonder if these need to be seen as mutually exclusive goals in public education. Vermont's technical centers are excellent examples of institutions where education often takes place in the context of training. The most successful programs, and there are many, have a much greater positive impact on student learning than many regular high school programs largely because the learning is in context with its application, making the relevance easily apparent to the student. In these hands-on courses, training needs to be an integral component if the student is to be able to complete tasks. A student needs to be trained in the steps and tasks required to make a soufflé before he can get creative with its design and production--at least if the intent is for the end product to be palatable. Yet, if the student is only trained in the task, she will likely spend the rest of her life making the same type of soufflé over and over and over. That's not the goal of any technical center culinary arts program in Vermont.
There is a place for learning experiences that are focused solely on training, but most, if not all of these are outside the scope of public education. Likewise, there is a place for learning that is focused on theory or the development of general or foundational skills. But I propose that much effective and valid learning in public education can and should be composed of a blend of training and general education. The question should not be focused on one vs. the other, but the best blend for a given learning goal.
South Burlington High School
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"When we study music, we practice... because there is no other way to become a musician. Neither can we become engineers by just studying a textbook, because practical experience is needed to correlate the so-called theory with practice." Charles Franklin Kettering
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I am one who has lurked for years and has liberally used the delete
key, especially when the word pizza appears in the subject. While I
should be working on replacing the roof of my house or better yet,
getting the Sonic Wall to talk nicely to the Barracuda filter, I find
the recent discussions bouncing around in my brain. I am always
behind in reading the messages and I did not read through the recent
discussions until the middle of vacation. As I read, I went through a
series of reactions from "here we go again" to "what is he thinking"
to "we need to have more of these discussions."
To me the discussions were superficially about mac vs. pc. and
certifications vs. general knowledge. They were more about whether we
as educators in the state of Vermont believe that our role is to
educate our students or to the train them. We all use those beliefs
when we recommend a platform or a piece of software. It is easy to
become buried in our jobs and the minutia of keeping the system
running. Given the current perception of public education in this
country it is imperative that educators can articulate their beliefs
and defend their practices with those beliefs. Perhaps we need to
challenge ourselves to review the philosophy behind those decisions
District Technology Coordinator
Windsor School District
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