First-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after 2020).  This entry assumes the Revenge Revolution has occurred.  For more about the anticipated 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution — and more about the author, Entry #1.  Note: most characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments. 

Scene: Conversation about education starts Entry #153. Jordan and JC, a long-time friend (and frequent character) are having dinner. Time of year – just about when school starts.

Jordan: “To me the board of education mission statements seem awfully complicated. How would you measure results?”

010414_1635_16TeachingS1.jpgJC: “What I don’t understand is why there is little, if any, emphasis on teaching kids to think. Lots of touchy-feely kinds of words that are politically correct but are hard to measure.”

Jordan: “If we are to make work the idea of ‘teaching kids to think,’ then schools will need to teach core courses and measure progress against the baseline in the core courses.”

JC: “I agree. Kids need to learn the fundamentals of math, English, social studies, history and some basic science. At the same time, society, especially parents, needs to understand not every kid is going to become highly proficient in every course. Like it or not, people have different skills.”

TurtleneckJordan: “I agree. My skills lean toward math. But I am lousy at the skilled trades. My carpentry is a joke.”

JC: “Little Jordan can’t saw straight?”

Jordan: “Ever watch ‘This Old House‘? I love the show. I also marvel at how much math and physics are used in carpentry. Tom Silva and Norm Abram use math and physics all the time to solve problems.”

JC: “Yes, I do watch it. And here’s what I fund humorous. Norm Abram may be the most famous Jewish carpenter since Jesus.”

ThisOldHouseJordan: “Funny.  So maybe we use Norm and Tom as examples why we need to teach all kids certain fundamentals, whether or not they are college bound.”

JC: “What about kids with learning disabilities? How do we teach them?”

Jordan: “We need to teach them to think. Thinking might be at a different level but we want the kids to leverage whatever skills they have.”

JC: “How are we…collective we as you say…going to teach these kids to think? You talking about mainstreaming these kids in regular classes?”

Jordan: “My view is mainstreaming is disruptive to the class. I know that sounds discriminatory but you can’t slow down 90-95% of the students for the sake of 10%, or 5%. We need 122813_2140_15Education4.jpgto think hard about how to educate kids with disabilities.”

JC: “That’s a touchy subject.”

Jordan: “May be. But parents, educators and citizens need to have an honest conversation. I am not an education expert. My expertise, at least according to the people who know me, is providing practical solutions to complex problems. Teaching kids with disabilities is a complex problem. And the current system does not appear to be working.”

JC: “You know someone knows how to teach kids with disabilities to think?”

Jordan: “Not personally.  But, there are people with lots of very practical, valuable educational experience.  My guess is the skills required for teaching kids with disabilities differ from skills required to teach other students.  Why try to mix them?”

JC: “I find it ironic we are focusing on teaching kids with learning disabilities. We all have some kind of learning disability in some subjects.”

Jordan: “Point well taken. So how do we teach me carpentry or teach me how to sing better?”

cookingJC: “I’m learning disabled when it comes to cooking. I just don’t get it.”

Jordan: “What Princess knows how to cook? Ordering in is your idea of cooking. That was too easy.”

JC: “See if I ever invite you to dinner.”

Jordan: “Where would we go, Steak & Shake? Back to topic at hand. Maybe we should take a lesson from the ‘Dummies’ books. Apply the same principle to education.”

JC: “First step might be to change the name from ‘Dummies.'”

Jordan: “Think about this. What if supposedly smart people enrolled in classes for Carpentry for Dummies‘dummies’? Would that remove some of the stigma of not being proficient?”

JC: “You mean if a MIT-guy like you enrolled in a ‘Carpentry for Dummies’ class, other people might be willing to enroll in say ‘Math for Dummies’?”

Jordan: “It just might work.”

JC: “Here’s another idea. What if participants in the ‘dummies classes’ were awarded merit badges, like the Boy Scouts. Your merit badge then becomes something of a bBoy Scout sash-smalladge of honor. You know, like guys show off their trophy for winning some golf tournament.”

Jordan: “Interesting idea. Merit badges for completing a ‘dummies’ class. Eliminates the stigma…reduces it anyway…of not being proficient in a certain skill. And encourages more people to continue with their education.”

JC: “Let’s run that by some people and get their reaction.”