State of General Educ LO7105

Mariann Jelinek (
Wed, 1 May 1996 13:45:38 -0400

Replying to LO7014 --

Benjamin Wagner wrote:

>Schools are in a state of transition as are many businesses.
>Unfortunately, public education can only provide what the public allows.
>We begin to teach team skills (we call it cooperative learning) and a
>large number of the public demand a return to the basics- a typical paradox.
>We know that children learn better by doing, but our resources are limited
>enough to make it mostly impractical. There are too many students and too
>little planning time to routinely teach by doing. I teach in elementary
>school. The perception of much of the public is that I have an easy job
>that anyone with a little training or worldly experience can do. It is
>essentially "daycare" in their minds. Why do we need additional planning

Alas, Ben's right: but how come the public believe this? It seems
to me that we in the education business have a major job of education to
do with the public! We need to communicate to them why we are of value,
and why what we teach is worth their children's knowing. (For even
slightly older kids, we also need to communicate to the students why they
need to know what we're teaching.) Perhaps as well we need to shift our
focus from "facts and techniques" learning to learning to learn (a concept
much honored in the breach, often claimed and far less often really our
focus). To do so, it seems to me, means that we in the classroom must
overcome the context of "what matters" as communicated by the society
around us (see other posts on the subvertion of learning by such obvious
"doing" as football, which takes precedence over the academic side). This
isn't just an elementary or secondary problem; colleges and universities
too continue to struggle with the over-emphasis on athletics that many
alumni demand.
We cannot wait for society to catch up to us in seeing that
learning matters. We can't abandon our students, and we can't expect
enormous support from school systems, administrators or even society at
large. So what to do? What has worked for some of you in igniting
students' enthusiasm? How can we subvert the self-satisfaction that
ignores learning in favor of trivia? How can we transform our students,
one by one and class by class, into enthusiastic self-directed learners
for whom insight is an everyday explosion of delight? Ideas?

Mariann Jelinek
Richard C. Kraemer Professor of Business
Graduate School of Business,
College of William and Mary,
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Tel. (804) 221-2882 FAX: (804) 229-6135
The only enduring strategic advantage is the ability
to change the rules of the game.

-- (Mariann Jelinek)

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