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Futuristic Education is Here Now

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Blog entry by Richard Williams posted 12-27-2008 12:09 AM 933 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I apologize to everyone for my first try at this very article. Grammatically written the first time in a terrible way. It has been redone after a lot of hours. I also do not see well anymore so I did the best I could.

Futuristic Education is Here Now By Richard Williams, 12/24/08

Wow, some school districts have moved into the future with innovative approaches in teaching methods for our more gifted youngsters. If you have a few minutes let me tell you about what we are doing in my school district that will make things better for our teachers and the way that we will be engaging our more gifted students with their education.
To start with, let me be honest and state a basic fact about school aged youngsters. If you ask any kid if they would like to do something that they only hear and see adults do, you will immediately grab their attention and get an affirmative answer. What kid would not be interested, right? You do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out and when it is used properly it is a really good teaching method. Let me also say upfront, that I do not advocate taking any youngster and making them grow up way before their time. That should never be allowed to happen. However, when a method can be used that will inspire a much deeper interest and understanding in the school subject and with a great career choice adventure, extraordinary results happen. That is what is happening at a high school technical academy near me. It is necessary to state here now that I am a community volunteer who sits as a member of their curriculum advisory committee. This very fine school named, the North West Career Technical Academy, just recently won the coveted MacConnell Award from the Council of Educational Facility Planners International or (CEFPI). The schools web site can be viewed at: http://schools.ccsd.net/nwcta/ and you just might want to wander over there and go take a look at it. It is only two years into its operational status so there is a lot more that is going to happen there.

**Find the same article re-written with pictures at http://www.engineering.com/**

Now admittedly these high school youngsters that have been chosen to attend this academy have shown that they have the “right stuff” like, social skills, academics and interests. It must also be shown that they are capable of this rigorous, disciplined, academic life. It is a sheer pleasure to serve them in my capacity here at this school and apparently NASA thinks they are worthy of their attention as well. They have partnered with this school, the teachers and students to give them internet control over a resurrected radio-telescope, that NASA would like them to use to keep watch over certain heavenly bodies out there in the cosmos. Pretty exciting stuff at the high school level isn’t it? Well this necessary job assignment that our youngsters will be doing will help to produce data that NASA needs that will help in some way with the Space Program. I’ve seen three poster sized conceptually rendered designs that these students did for their Mission Control Room that they will physically build themselves with grants and materials donated by some Community Partners. I can honestly state to you, that after being involved with the CAD (Computer Aided Design) industry over the last ten years, the designs that I have seen for this empty space were of the finest quality. If I had not been told beforehand that it was our very own students that created them, I would have thought they were done by professional staffs at an architectural firm. No kidding, they were that good. This whole approach to motivational teaching methods is designed to inspire our future scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, architects and other very essential service workers. The type of teaching methods employed here at the NWCTA, will help to keep them inspired to achieve the highest levels in their chosen fields. When youngsters are challenged with real meaningful hands on science and technical industry skills that they perform with teacher guidance, only great things will come about. This particular school complex and teaching staff, along with a very fine student body, is being watched very carefully by decision makers from a wide audience in the educational industry here and abroad. A standard model or mold is being created now that could be used for many other schools to come. Perhaps in short it could be summed up like this. “The need for highly skilled workers in technology fields here in the USA, is in great demand. So a conscious effort was made to combine the best school architecture, with as many state and nationally certified teachers as we can get, along with a very fine student body and get them all under the same roof together.” My prediction is that we will see some Noble Peace Prizes, awarded in the future. Yes, you can quote me on that one. Also, short of some Noble Peace Prize winners, we will be producing our fair share of really great future leaders and technologists that will help to solve the many problems that still exist in the world today. Just think of those possibilities with schools like this all around the world.
This is not a military academy but one that builds on a Professional look and Stature. Appropriate attire for the task with no sloppiness allowed at anytime. Not one wad of bubble gum is seen on the cement walks anywhere on this campus. With some schools that I go to it is like walking in a mine field. I even tried one night saying to some of these students when I attended a spectacularly done presentation on environmental ecology, that this school was over rated. It was a chance I wanted to take because most of the students do not know me there because I work behind the scenes only. What I did get as a response was a very respectful, but fiercely defended position by all four of them on behalf of “their school” and its mission, the teachers and even the subjects they were studying. Guess how that response made me feel?  Then I told them who I was, what I helped to do for them and how proud I was of all of them. What a feeling in seeing something really right for a change. The NWCTA is teaching other career disciplines too, like the culinary arts, nursing health careers, media arts, transportation sectors and other very important career choices and the interest that is shown by the students is extremely high. Last year during testing week we had a 100% attendance during that week. When have you ever heard of that being done? I have never heard of this being done before and the scores were very high too. A different approach is being used here to show students that they are very important and that they will be given every available chance to work in and learn everything possible for their success paths. This is done in part by utilizing our community partners in industries like local hospitals, construction jobs, behind the scenes show performances (we are in Las Vegas), commercial kitchens and many other places when it can be arranged. Education taken to the highest levels that we can, along with great community support, will all work together to keep young people connected while learning in their fields of interest. Don’t they deserve the very best shot we can give them? The Administrators and Educators and those many volunteers in our Clark County School District, deserve a lot of credit for coming up with this plan and helping to put into action here in this valley. This article in a way applauds their sincere efforts to move into the third millennium with a new direction and bring with it new ways of thinking and of doing things in education. The communities should back them whole heartedly and once they know more about this school, they will. I know some of you out there might be thinking that we are putting all of our eggs in one basket here by creating an atmosphere that only answers the needs of our most talented and gifted students. It might seem like that but it is not that way at all and far from the truth. Many of us, who are involved with our school district’s push to get better education going here for our children, think we are starting to make some real progress. That is our goal and we are struggling along with the same bad economy as the rest of the nation. We have a very high representation in the Spanish Speaking languages that must be addressed. There are many older schools that are in need of massive make over’s or whole new schools erected to replace those that cannot be saved efficiently. We have had a quickly expanding residential building boom here that has increased our population explosion tremendously. In some ways we are bursting out at the seams here and our schools and roads show this effect very well. We as a city and the fifth largest school district in the United States cannot run away from this renewing task for our schools and other infrastructures and we must meet it head on with all the correct moves. I will keep this topic open as a newsletter article and update it as news comes about. We all need to help to get our country back on the track again in many different areas and education has to be a top priority. After all, to solve those problems in future years we are going to need the best minds we can help to create today. Take care.


-- Rich, Nevada,



7 comments so far

View Karson's profile

Karson

34902 posts in 3121 days


#1 posted 12-27-2008 12:17 AM

Richard. Thanks for the redo. And a great job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Richard Williams's profile

Richard Williams

162 posts in 2512 days


#2 posted 12-27-2008 12:31 AM

Hi Karson, It was a total embarrassment but a good lesson. Sometimes I just wish I could escape from things and be totally alone when I try to write, off in a log cabin someplace. I’m not a professional at it and I do need quiet and to be left alone when I do try to compose something. With all that was being done and going on at the same time here at this house when I was writing it, is a wonder it did not turn out even worst than what it did. Oh well, lesson learned. Take care buddy and thanks for those nice words.

-- Rich, Nevada,

View lew's profile

lew

10127 posts in 2475 days


#3 posted 12-27-2008 02:03 AM

Re-written or not, your post brings home a powerful message to us all.

I am a semiretired Vocational Education teacher. I taught electronics and computers for 33 years and have continued to substitute at the same Career Center for the past 6 years. Academia has long passed off Vocational/Career education as the education for second class citizens. When entering high school, if you have not committed to be college bound, then you are “not worthy”. So those kids get “relegated” to “shop” classes and basically written off.

This country has been made great, not by the colleges, but by working men and women who knew the value of hard work and had the knowledge necessary to build, repair and invent. Today is no different. Yes, we have new occupations that require special skills and abilities but we also have almost all of the same job needs that have been with us since, practically, the beginning. Carpenters, Plumbers, Electrician, Automotive Specialist, Welder and the list goes on.

Our kids are no longer being taught the dignity of work. In fact just the opposite is taking place. The message being sent to kids and parents alike is “go directly to college- or be a failure”. College is being touted as the cure all for every financial and social shortcoming. Unfortunately, college is no longer about education, it’s about big business. The public is bombarded with “need for a college education” but unless you dig deep, you don’t see the underlying statistics showing that 1 in 4 kids drop out of college before their first year is up. Of those who stay, even fewer will graduate and less than half that graduate will work in their chosen field of study. Dismal prospects for such a highly advertised be all end all goal.

Schools such as yours (and others around the country) are once again beginning to make a difference in how we should view the education of our kids. Not every kid and not every profession requires a college degree. What our children need is a plan for life long learning. This simple idea needs to be nurtured along with the natural talents of our kids. We must encourage our kids to view education as a “practice” used to achieve any professional goal. A “hands on skill” will never be fully mastered in the high school setting. Mentoring, on the job training and even additional classroom hours- over a lifetime- will be necessary for continued growth and advancement.

Sir, I applaud you and your willingness to serve in your capacity on the curriculum advisory committee. Having chaired a similar group during my tenure, I cannot tell you how much a positive community influence does to support the administration, teachers and staff of the school. Folks like you are hard to come by. Please, for the good of the kids- continue the great work.

Thanks,

Lew

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Richard Williams's profile

Richard Williams

162 posts in 2512 days


#4 posted 12-27-2008 02:21 AM

Hello Mr. Lew, There is absolutely no way that I can improve upon, even by one syllable that which you have written back to me with. I am in complete agreement with you. I shall continue onward but only for the good of the youngsters that will inherit an imperfect world form my generation. We need young people that can produce those items that some will be creating on their computers and in engineering offices around the country. There will always be technical jobs for those that know and can apply good math skills to machine parts and other pieces of engineering marvels and consumer goods too. We will need properly and skillful tradesmen that can build those buildings that engineers and architects design. Everyone will have a spot ready for them if only they get ready for that spot. Somehow we must create a more wholesome attitude about getting educated and continuing it beyond school years. Too many young students are dropping out because they are needed in the workforce to help out the family budget. It is expensive to live here. This is seemingly what is done in their former countries at early educational levels. I’m fighting this as I speak to them in their schools. I wish I could also speak to their parents as well. Thank you Sir for your kind comments. It helps to heal a wound that hurt me badly to realize that I posted an article unworthy in its grammar to be read. Thanks.

-- Rich, Nevada,

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2881 days


#5 posted 12-27-2008 01:39 PM

doesn’t this conversation just make your heart glow?? !!!!

teach to their talents – whatever they may be.
Teach them that that talents, their gifts, the work is for the benefit of ALL
Teach them to do their best at whatever they do and to be proud of their work and their contribution.
teach them to honour everyone’s contribution as they would honour their own.

My (deceased) husband was a mechanic and proud of it. I was proud of him and was shocked by the labels put on mechanics as if they were second class citizens. He used to say, “It doesn’t matter what job they have, they come to me to get their car fixed.” :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2606 days


#6 posted 12-27-2008 07:18 PM

Thanks for the re-do Richard!!!
I fell victim to your scenario when I was in high school. Since I was college bound I had to take Spanish instead of wood working from a wonderful teacher E.Z. Winget. This has really come back to haunt me as I remember about 6 words of Spanish and I missed out on woodworking.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Richard Williams's profile

Richard Williams

162 posts in 2512 days


#7 posted 12-27-2008 07:43 PM

Hi Mr. Gray, Believe me that is not too bad Sir. My first introduction to wood working was to pull out all the nails and stack neatly all the various sizes of the wood moldings that two very large dump trucks dropped on the property. My summer job and it took many weeks to accomplish at about 12 years of age. It was all burned afterwards. What I did not know at the time was that my father wanted me to learn how to use some very necessary tools in woodworking like hammers and cat claws and breaker bars. He also wanted me to build up my arm power which to this day is really well developed even at 65. But now I type. My whole family history was in the various union building trades in New York. We were connected to many different historical buildings including the World Trade Center or Twin Towers and even the Empire State Building. I’m very proud of what my family did here after coming from Calabria Italy. I’m mostly proud of our mother who also was a builder of sorts. She helped to build something none of us knew how to do. She was assigned to building the LEM or Landing Excursion Module that landed on the moon. She did electronic assembly work back then with other specially trained workers. A fantastic feat to add to our families history. I’ll never ever forget those pictures of it standing their on the lunar surface. I’ll also never ever forget the collapse of the Twin Towers. We were all intricately tied into those projects with our family members. Its been a really great life, so far. Take care.

-- Rich, Nevada,

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