Why edu-cat-tion?

For the summer months of June and July, edu-cat-ion.com will repeat its “Continuous Improvement =/= Transformative Innovation” series of articles.  But first, a little more about why this site was created.

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?

In launching 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 college dropout named Bill Gates would create a company that has had the impact and influence which Microsoft has on the world of computing.  He wanted to create a computer operating system – one that could handle more than one program simultaneously.  Do you 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 64MB iPhone can store more than 128 times that amount…and it fits in your hand.

(By the way, if you haven’t had the opportunity to watch “American Genius” on the National Geographic Channel or on your computer, take some time to do so.  The episodes would be great learning opportunities for your science, history or business curriculum.  The Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates episode is particularly fascinating).

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” you could name.  Many of today’s attempts at improvement are indeed remedies, but, similar to health care, designed to treat the symptoms.  The upcoming 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.  Each of the upcoming 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 Schrödinger’s Cat, a quantum physics thought experiment which provides an analogy and not a proof to paradoxical observation that 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 than that – it refers to 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 them.  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 perceived 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 Schrödinger’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.

As this week’s assignment, 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 to see where education may be going.  Sure, it’s 10 years old, but when I received my Master of Education degree in 2003, we were all told, “Ten years from now, education will look completely different than it does today.”  2013 came and went, with some technology changes, such as the introduction of a new concept called “STEM.”  But how education was delivered in the classroom was only incrementally improved.  It took a worldwide pandemic in 2020 to drastically change things, moving them forward in a way that was thought would be in place by 2013.

We hope you enjoy the ride as we blast off!