We Are All Unfinished Products … (New Video)

We haven’t had a breakthrough in my novel being available — hopefully we’ll get past the e-commerce roadblock today — so here’s a new video that considers the idea that we are never finished, but always in the process of “becoming,” as we move along the assembly line of life. And, unlike inanimate objects in a factory, we have a say in what we become.

What do you think? Where are you, and what are you becoming, on the assembly line of your life?

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Related Videos:
Looking at Education as a System
Just Doing Our Best
Every Student A Scholar?

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Every Student A Scholar? (New Video)

Talking about potential in this video, and specifically the idea that every student has the potential to be a scholar of something. The problem then is finding what it is the student is interested enough in to study in depth. Helping students find those topics of interest requires exposing them to a wide range of things, which is the nature of the “Musashi-Heinlein School” discussed in previous episodes.

What do you think? Can every student be a scholar, in something?

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Related Videos:
The Musashi-Heinlein School
Looking at Education as a System
Two-Dimensional Characters, and Education
The Dimensions of Sphericity

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New Video: The Dickensian Duo

The beginning of June seems an odd time to hearken back to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but that’s where Dickens sets out a pair of conditions that I call “The Dickensian Duo.” In this video, I introduce them, consider the relationships between them, and discuss the importance of education in addressing them.

Let me know what you think!

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Education-Related Stuff:
– Video: The Musashi-Heinlein School
– Text: Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It

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New Video: The Dimensions of Sphericity

A follow-up to last week’s video about “sphericity” as a metaphor for helping students grow and develop in multiple dimensions. What dimensions might we choose?

Let me know what you think!

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Related Stuff:
– Last week’s Two-Dimensional Characters, and Education video
The Musashi-Heinlein School video
– And, for good measure, Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It

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New Video: Two-Dimensional Characters, and Education

In writing, we try to make sure our characters are realistic; rather than “flat” and two-dimensional, we want them to be lifelike. So too in education, we want students to grow and mature in multiple dimensions. But is “well-rounded” the best metaphor?

I’d already posted the video to YouTube when I caught an error in it, so this version includes a correction I inserted.

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

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Related Stuff:
– As mentioned, The Musashi-Heinlein School video
– A lot of this derives from what I wrote in Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It

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Looking at Education as a System

Here’s a brief (5 minutes and change) video rundown of systems thinking and education, with a little take on why effectiveness is better than efficiency:

Do you think the education system near you is optimized to accomplish its overall goal, or do the internal components sometimes fight against each other to the detriment of the whole? Understanding how the pieces fit together is a good first step to getting the whole thing to work more effectively.

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Related:
– I cover the idea of education as a series of transformative processes in chapter 1 of Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It
– The debut episode of “Between the Black & the White” presented The Musashi-Heinlein School
– “Between the Black & the White” Series Introduction (extra episode)
– “Between the Black & the White” Host Introduction(extra episode)

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So, I Started This Video Thing …

It’s been a long time since I made a video, and even longer since I attempted a series, but now seemed like as good a time as any!

I put together my last video series back when I was with the Industrial Extension Service at NC State University, and it was called the “Manufacturing Minute.” I made 44 videos in that series, and probably would’ve made more except that I left that job 3 years ago this month. Each of the “Manufacturing Minute” episodes was “about a minute, about manufacturing,” and even though they were targeted at a niche audience folks seemed to appreciate them. (They’re still available if you know where to look.)

My new series is something different — it will cover a variety of things, not just manufacturing, because I have a variety of interests. For instance, this first episode combines guidance from a samurai warrior and a science fiction Grand Master to arrive at what I call “The Musashi-Heinlein School”:

I hope you liked it! I intend to keep all the entries about as short as this one; right now I don’t envision any of them running much longer than about 5 minutes.

If you have any thoughts about this new venture, I’d love to hear them. Let me know if you have comments, questions, suggestions for improvement or suggestions for future episodes — for instance, if you’d like me to expand on “The Musashi-Heinlein School” by delving into the different things Heinlein listed.

Thanks for watching, and have a great day!

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Related Items:
Series Introduction (extra episode)
Host Introduction (extra episode)
– I delve into some of the ideas from the video in my book, Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It

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What to Do With an Empty Mall?

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit a mall near my hometown. Here’s a picture of the inside of one of the stores:


An empty store in a nearly empty mall.

That wasn’t the only empty store, and I understand that mall properties in other places have also had difficulties due to the way online shopping has impacted anchor stores as well as smaller businesses. It was a little sad to walk through and see most of the big stores vacant and the remaining stores struggling.

Walking through the largely abandoned space, I wondered whether vacant malls might be ready-made infrastructure for expanding schools. A couple of years ago, not too far from where I live now, a new school was built in what was once a factory building — why couldn’t a local district purchase a declining mall and refit it into a school?

Could is the key word: of course they could, but that doesn’t mean it would be the smartest decision. In addition to up-front costs of purchase and refit, the long-term maintenance costs would have to be considered and compared to land and new construction. (Costs of a mall property might be particularly prohibitive in the out years, for instance, if the mall owners did not keep the physical plant healthy.) But schools have been built into malls before: e.g., in Joplin, Missouri, as a temporary measure after a tornado devastated the town in 2011.

For some areas, turning malls into schools may make reasonable economic sense. And mall properties are big enough that they might even provide the opportunity for collaborative educational enterprises, say between a school district, a community college, and a local business incubator. (I’m big on collaboration between schools and the wider world.*)

What do you think? Do you have a mall nearby that is fading into obscurity? What would you like to see done with it?

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*I wrote a little bit about that in Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It.

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Zombie Blog Post: ‘Training’ is NOT a Bad Word

(Nothing horrific here: a “zombie” post only in the sense of coming back from the electronic dead.)

Here again I’m reprising an old blog post that I particularly like. It was published on this date in 2012 on the old NCSU-IES blog, which unfortunately no longer exists.

At the time, we had been having an internal debate over whether we provided “training” or “education” to our clients. There was a definite push by the unit leadership to say we were not trainers but instead were part of the “education” mission of the university.

Unsurprisingly (and perhaps unwisely), I pushed back:

The distinction between the two, as I understand it, is a matter of practicality. Training gives us skills and techniques we can practice, hopefully with enough knowledge to know when and where they will be useful. Education, meanwhile, gives us new knowledge and insights, and a better understanding of the world. When I taught CPR, I trained my students in how to apply the life-saving methods; when I taught leadership and management, I educated my students about different aspects of and approaches to the two.

[In 2011] one of my colleagues showed a tag cloud she made of comments from our clients and “training” was the largest word in the cloud (i.e., had been used by clients most often). Immediately, a discussion started about how we might change that perception and the relative worth of one versus the other. The discussions have been interesting. From what I’ve observed, on one side of the debate are folks who came from industry and say of course we provide training. On the other, folks who grew up in the academy tend to downplay the T-word in favor of education. In the middle, folks who have spent time in both camps lean one way or the other, depending on how deeply they’ve immersed themselves in the campus culture.

Color me unimpressed by the whole thing, and firmly on the side of training.

I admit, I started out with my share of the “we’re-the-university-so-of-course-we-educate” mindset. But recently I’ve been studying and refining a model of how we … should fit into the academic side of the university, and after thinking about it I’ve (to borrow a phrase) come to the dark side.

The way I see it, education and training are two sides of the same coin: teaching. Both imply the delivery of knowledge — or at least information — from a person who has it to a person who needs it. I’ve flipped that metaphorical coin a few times and come up with what I see as major differences between training courses and classroom education….

At this point the original post presented the differences in tabular form, but I’ve arranged them in a bulleted list for this “zombie” version:

  • In terms of Location, EDUCATION is mostly On-Campus, while TRAINING is mostly Off-Campus
  • In terms of Audience, EDUCATION is mostly aimed at Traditional Students, while TRAINING is mostly aimed at Nontraditional Students
  • In terms of Source Material, EDUCATION is primarily based on Theory, while TRAINING is primarily based on Practice
  • EDUCATION mostly delivers Facts & Ideas, while TRAINING mostly delivers Skills & Tactics
  • In terms of Desired Outcome, EDUCATION primarily emphasizes Thinking, while TRAINING primarily emphasizes Doing (but smartly)
  • EDUCATION is taught mostly by “Professors”, while TRAINING is taught mostly by “Practitioners”

Adult Students in Business Class
Whether education or training, it’s all teaching and learning. (Image: “Adult Students in Business Class,” by Newman University, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

As part of its transition to become the “Industry Expansion Services,” the staff deleted the finale of that old blog post (and the entire blog itself,* which I still think violated the rules for retaining official state records). A former co-worker recovered what was left of the blog and sent me the results, and that post ends right after the table with the enigmatic “From that p.”

However, thanks to the “Wayback Machine” Internet Archive, I found the remainder:

From that perspective, our … courses and services fit much more into “training” while the university’s more general offerings are clearly “educational.” And that’s okay! In the end, it’s all teaching.

Finally, on the Internet I found an interesting paper on the subject of education versus training, which included this amusing item:

Think of it this way. If your sixteen-year-old daughter told you that she was going to take a sex education course at high school, you might be pleased. What if she announced she was going to take part in some sex training at school? Would that elicit the same response? Training is doing. Training improves performance.

So I say: of course we train people (though, not in sex). And if we educate folks at the same time — and we often do — that’s a bonus.

My perspective on this hasn’t changed: Education and training are both good and useful things. It’s all teaching.

And if you’re involved in the business of teaching — wherever you do it and whatever you teach — my hat’s off to you.** Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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* I can’t even provide a link to the old NCSU-IES blog, since they now redirect to the College of Engineering page for some reason. I find it ridiculous.
** For more on teaching and learning and organizing schools and systems for better teaching and learning, may I present Quality Education.

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