Thursday, August 20, 2009

Student as Hunter/Farmer

Yesterday I posted a Tweet considering using the metaphor of hunter or farmer for the student. @lauradoggett responded "Stephen Covey uses the metaphor of school as farm- very powerful. There are no shortcuts to deep learning." Based on Laura's response I did some additional research and found that Covey makes the argument that in school real learning often doesn't occur because students cram for their exams at the last moment. On a farm, however, there is no cramming. Every seed and animal must be nurtured to the fullest extent or they don't develop and produce to their potential. According to Covey, schools should ideally be treated as farms.

My main point in wanting to compare students to hunters or farmers is because I want students to be seen as the key actors. Hunters must chase their prey just as in an ideal educational setting students would chase knowledge. (Students cannot simply be spoonfed or the information won't be as meaningful to them.) After hunters catch their prey they use it in a variety of ways (sometimes the prey is put on the wall, other times it is barbecued, other times it is roasted). Similarly, after students acquire information they should use it in a variety of ways.

Though I unfortunately think that some people will be turned off the hunter metaphor, the farmer metaphor seems to neat and orderly to me. Learning is not a neat and orderly process. Instead it is the process of following clues from one point to another, just as hunters, and hunting dogs, often follow the scent of the quarry.

By the way, this idea is not meant to be fully fleshed out. It started as a Twitter reply to @lauradoggett and then I realzied that I could never convey a meaningful message on this topic in 140 characters or less.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

GM's New Unveiling

Yesterday I was invited to participate in a General Motors event for consumers. The event started at the GM Tech Center in Warran, MI. We then moved across the street where we watched pilot assembly of the new Volt, an electric car that can get up to 40 miles on one charge and 300 miles on a single tank of gasoline, giving it a total distance of 340 miles. Later in the day, we visited the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan. While at the Proving Grounds I had the opportunity to drive in a Volt. The New York Times is running an article on the Volt today entitled, "G.M. Says Volt will Get Triple-Digit City Mileage."

1. Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM, explained that GM has been developing innovative, green friendly cars, for years. One of their largest problems is getting the word out to the public. If you could advise GM on three successful strategies to most effectively get the word out to the general public at the beginning of the Twenty First Century what would you advise? Why?

2. Bob Lutz explained that the federal government does not want to control GM operations, as a socialist government might. Instead the government simply wants to get its money back that it invested in GM. Based on your knowledge of the GM bailout, do you think that Mr. Lutz is correct? Why or why not?

3. In the introduction to this blog post, I explained the information that I learned about the Volt, yesterday. The information contained in the linked article contains some discrepancies. What can we learn about the written word from the differences in these two accounts? Is it really ever possible to verify the accuracy of written/spoken words? Why or why not? What questions would you ask in an attempt to verify accuracy?

4. What three industries do you think that it is most important to learn about in order to understand the United States economy? Why these specific industries?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fewer People Laid Off

The New York Times is running an article entitled, "247,000 Jobs Lost in July; Rate Falls Slightly to 9.4%." The article states, "Although businesses are expected to keep cutting jobs through the rest of the year, the Labor Department’s latest figures offered some faint signs that the sinking job market was approaching bottom."

Perhaps there's some faint signs of hope in a macro-sense but from a micro-perspective it still hurts to be unemployed. Karen Triplett, 61 of Atlanta said, "I’m beyond down to basics...My daughter’s tried to help me. My son has given me money. But what I can’t do, I can’t do.”

1. Is it easier to look at the economy from a macro perspective or a micro perspective? What does the word easier, even mean?

2. What do you think is the single most powerful thing that you can say to somebody who is down on thier economic luck? Why is this powerful?

3. If you had $1 Billon to spend to improve the economy, what would you do with the money? Do you think that you could make a different with $1 Billion? Why or why not?

4. Do you think that the U.S. economy is ever going to return to its previous heights? Why or why not? If you believe that it will return, how long will it take? Why will it take this amount of time?