Why edu-cat-ion

(Author’s Note: During July and August, the seminal articles of this site will re-posted with some potential re-editing.  It’s a good practice to go to the very beginning from time to time and reiterate (in the truest form of that word) the “why” of any undertaking.  Even though the articles are somewhat the same, as individuals, we change over time, and what was once skimmed over as not important in the past may be the precise thing that brings about a moment of clarity.  Also, you may have discovered this site long after the initial articles were published, and the initial articles can provide a foundation for continued reading.  Additionally, our current pandemic puts an new emphasis on “how” education will be delivered, just as the airline industry was transformed after the events of September 11, 2001.)

Why do we need another Web site that talks about education?

Why is there a picture of the space shuttle blasting off?

And why is education spelled that way?

As we re-launch this site (now you know the answer to “Why” number 2), there are many voices about education in cyberspace today.  This one may have impact, or it may not.  However, you can’t gain anything without risking something.  Who could have thought that a guy named Bill Gates would create a company that has had the impact and influence that Microsoft has on the world of computing.  All he wanted to do when he started out was to create a computer operating system that could handle more than one program simultaneously.  Anyone remember the IBM XT that ran MultiMate as the word processing program?  If you wanted to change to Lotus 1-2-3, you had to close out of MultiMate on that computer which could store a whopping 512MB of information on its hard drive (as a comparison, your current iPhone has 32 times that amount of space).

Then what will make this site different from other sites?  We’ll share that in next week’s article.  As a preview, let’s just say that everyone wants to improve education, but the “what” nor “why” are the issues.  It’s the “how” we’re going about doing it that causes frustration, consternation and a lot of other “ations” that you could name.  Many of today’s attempts at improvement are remedies, but, similar to health care, are designed to treat the symptoms.  To get to the real cause, we need to what’s happening long before the child steps foot into their first classroom.

The first five content articles will take a look at things that must occur to “prepare” the child’s mind to be open to learning before the child begins that experience known as “schooling,” which is not to be confused with “learning.”  Learning happens from the time the child takes its first breath to the time it, as a person, takes its last.  Parents are a child’s first teachers, and children learn differently than adults do.  Each of these 5 things that need to happen by themselves can have an impact, but when simultaneously considered as a system, the results can be astounding.

So why edu-cat-ion?

We all know what “edu” stands for.  It’s the URL extension that signifies an educational institution.  “Cat” provides a reference to “Cat Theory.”  Some would think this is an erudite reference to Schrodinger’s Cat Theory, a thought experiment which provides an analogy and not a proof to paradoxical observation, that, in quantum physics, matter can exist in two states simultaneously.  The analogy is that the cat can be both alive and dead at the same time.  And isn’t that how we sometimes think about education?

But it’s more along the lines of Cat String Theory, which is often discussed when talking about human attraction.  Cats are always curious about things, but they’re only curious when something “remarkable” happens to things.  Put a ball of string down in front of a cat, and they’ll ignore it (unless it’s filled with catnip).  But set it down across the room, and, after a period of time, move some air across it so that it rolls, the cat will go investigate on their own.  Then they’ll sniff at it, bat it around, pounce on it, bite it and have a grand time with it until it no longer does something remarkable.  That said, education must be continuously fascinating to the learner.  Once it becomes “boring,” it holds no interest to the learner, no matter how well-crafted the lesson plan is…or is thought to be.

As for “ion,” to continue the physics reference, that’s a charged particle.  It can be positively charged, or negatively charged.  And isn’t that how our discussions and ideas regarding education are today?  “Common Core is a good idea!”  “Common Core is a bad idea!”  “STEM is cutting-edge innovation!”  “STEM is old news!”  “Classroom education is alive!”  “Classroom education is dead”…and there’s Schrodinger’s Cat again!  Education is all about change, since learning occurs only when change happens, yet everyone seems to not just dislike, but hate, and sometimes, abhor, change.  Discussions about education are indeed “charged” with emotion.  And, if you don’t believe that, you’ve been asleep for the past four months.

Before you leave today, subscribe to this site, take a look at Sal Kahn’s TED presentation from 2011 at http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education?language=en

We hope you enjoy the ride!