Why Edu-Cat-Ion

Why do we need another Web site that talks about education?  And why is education spelled that way?

Author Simon Sinek in his 2009 book, “Start With Why,” says that “why” is a better place to start than “what.”  So rather than speak to “what” this site is about, it’s more important to share why it’s here.

This site was started in November of 2014.  Unprecedented changes in the education vertical had begun to accelerate.  Changes that began a few years earlier in higher ed (every student gets an iPad), were now trickling down into the K-12 space as STEM began to morph into STEAM and faith-based schools began morph it further into STREAM.  As a prediction, the next iteration will be STREAMS as “Sociality” (That’s a new word – which will be defined in the months ahead.  For now, think of it as a social studies, but not in terms of the historical perspective, cross-bred with Social Sciences, but not to use the word “Science” since it’s already what the first “S” stands for).

Since we’re at the third year of posting a new article every week, in the spirit of education, it’s time to review.  So the cycle will begin again, this time allowing for a new article to take the place of something that has lost relevance.  In this era of “bright shiny syndrome,” it seems that everything that’s new is interesting, while everything that’s old no longer is of value.  That may make sense with some things, but not with quite a number of others.  History and legacy are important, as they provide learning experiences to foster tradition.  After all, that 1965 Ford Mustang that listed for $2,368 may now be worth more than 10 times that amount over 50 years later!

While 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 at the same time.  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.  Your new iPhone might be able to hold 128 times that amount of information…and you can hold it in your hand and take it with you!

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 how we’re going about doing it is causing 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.  The next five content articles will take a look at things that have to happen long before school begins to “prepare” the child’s mind to be open to learning, since we all know that children learn differently than adults, and the most important learning in a child’s life takes place between the ages of 0 and 6 years.  Each of those 5 things 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 a cat inside a box with and provided with an amount of food and air holes in the box can be alive or dead.  The fact is that it’s one or the other…but the philosophical approach is that if we don’t investigate further, then we don’t know.  And isn’t that how we sometimes think about education?

But it’s not that – 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.  So, in a way, it could be vibrant…or defunct.

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.

Before you leave this for today, 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

Hope you come back next week for the first of the 5.5 articles needed to improve education today…even in the midst of a pandemic.  In fact, it may be even more possible to implement these things now that they have been in the recent past!