Jon Mark Beilue: The End of Educational Era?

July 26, 2019

The End of Educational Era?

Despite shifts in education, teachers must still invest in students

By JON MARK BEILUE

Digital Face

Richard Rose has seen the future – and it will look nothing like the present.

“Education has always been an interpersonal sensory experience,” said West Texas A&M University’s Program Director, Instructional Design and Technology. You got it mostly from other people, and you got it through your ears and eyes and to a lesser extent, the other senses. But as we move from homo sapiens to ‘homo technos,’ education will be implanted, and at that point, the question is, is it still education?”

Technology has changed the world at a dizzying pace. Maybe some remote jungle tribes in Brazil remain untouched, but its effects elsewhere are consuming. That certainly includes education, and the way teachers share instruction and knowledge.

Earlier this month, Rose sent an email to his education faculty colleagues on the approaching end of an era in education. What will be taught and how it will be taught will be as different in the not-so-distant future as the schoolmarm teaching grades one through nine in a one-room school house.

“Every assumption that we have taken as the bedrock upon which all else is built is going to give way,” he said. “The change we have seen up to now is like two adjacent shades of blue on the color wheel compared to the change we are going to see. We might as well approach the finish line of traditional education with fireworks exploding and pennants flying.”

Now it won’t be in the fall semester 2019, but much sooner than later. At issue will be the changing, or at least tweaking, of the canon of values. Those are the bedrock subjects and curriculum that educated persons must learn that were established in the 19th century.

At one time, reading the great works of literature, as set out by the University of Chicago, was a canon of value. One hundred years ago, mastering Greek and Latin was considered a canon of value. Now, not so much.

“There was a time that if one considered himself educated, he had to learn these,” Rose said. “But that has changed over time, and there’s a continued shifting of those canons with current ones being questioned.”

Cursive writing is an example. Until the last seven or eight years, it was a given that every elementary student was taught handwriting. Now, hardly any young student is taught cursive.

“People have said there is a body of knowledge that we can point to that this is our heritage, this is what we value,” Rose said. “Now, a lot of people are saying, ‘No, today what we really need are the skills the technological world requires as of this day. I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and the skills required today are not the skills required five years ago.”

And what Rose sees changing and soon is the way a changing canon of values is transmitted. The classroom and online lecture are giving way to the immediacy.

“Do you want to transfer information on a schedule?” he said. “What you want is to transfer information at that moment of need. If I want to order something from Amazon, that’s when I want Amazon to tell me how to order it. I don’t want to go to a class and learn that.

“Young people come from that place. That moment when they want to learn something, that’s when they want the teacher to give it. They have very little patience of what you might think you’ll some day need. We call it ‘just in time’ learning.”

Other buzz words are synchronous and asynchronous learning. The first is the traditional learning in a group either in a classroom or online with human discussion. Asynchronous is student convenience, kind of a learning on demand. Teaching occurs at one time, and the learning on the student’s schedule at another.

Rose sees pros and cons of both, but acknowledges that the future of education will move control of the learning atmosphere from the teacher to the student.

“That’s where it’s going,” he said.

But what’s in the future, way in the future, like another 100 years in the future, is equal parts adventuresome and frightening. Rose wrote to colleagues that MIT physicist Dr. Alan Lightman sees a world that will one day go from homo sapiens to almost ‘homo technos.’ Consider:

  • Special lenses in the eyes that can see through walls.
  • Computer chips implanted in the brain that can activate the Internet through thought.
  • That same mechanism will transmit thoughts and ideas to others in an all-to-all telepathy, a sort of headmail.
  • A knowledge receiver and storage chip in the brain that can learn the contents of a college class or a new language in minutes with a download.

“When MIT physicists predict the relatively near future,” Rose said, “I tend to listen.”

But what education must not veer from, Rose says, no matter how much the change in instruction is the human aspect. The best learning still comes from a teacher who cares to a student who knows that. In Rose’s WT bio, he states a concern with maintaining human relationships in an online world.

That’s one reason why, when the budget allowed, he drove around the state during breaks to meet students he taught in his online classes.

“I had a bumper sticker on the back of my car that I liked so much that when I got a new one, I put the same sticker on it,” Rose said. “It says, ‘No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.’ Until my students know I’m in their corner, they’re not going to learn anything from me.”

Rose points to Greek philosopher Aristotle and his value in Ethos, and what gets another person to believe in you. There are three ways – are you trustworthy? Do you know your field/are you credible? Do you have others interest at heart?

“If you want students to give their best effort and get the most out of what you’re offering,” Rose said, “you have to invest in them. Aristotle was right. That hasn’t changed in 3,000 years.”

And as education and instruction changes, that should at least remain unchangeable.

Do you know of a student, faculty member, project, an alumnus or any other story idea for “WT: The Heart and Soul of the Texas Panhandle?” If so, email Jon Mark Beilue at jbeilue@wtamu.edu.

—WTAMU—


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Lance Kieth
on 7.29.2019

Great read and something to think about as we plan our annual faculty retreat.



Wayne Machnich
on 7.27.2019

Enlightening article? Predicting the future is difficult and challenging. By the time you think you have figured it out, it goes and changes. Students want to learn and they understand sincere trust. Something America is a bit short of at this time in history. They will control our future, we need to give them our best efforts. For our sake! Have a great day.



Russell Long
on 7.27.2019

What all this fails to address is learning to differentiate between valid and invalid items. As we can plainly see, social media is filled with lies, opinion passing as fact, deliberate efforts to mislead. Education certainly needs to deal with how, but it also needs to present basic truths which allow an individual to make good judgments.



Steve
on 7.26.2019

How did this article get published? It is riddled with incoherent sentences.