Frank Charney's Sunday Postcard
December 17, 2006
U.S. Educational Challenge
A Time Magazine article in the December 18 edition discusses the important topic, "How to Build a Student for the 21st Century." With world globalization and foreign countries like China and India competing for a piece of the economic pie, the United States faces a strong challenge in the future. Our children and grandchildren will face an especially challenging work environment for which they must to be prepared. A case in point: the state of Michigan affirms that it can no longer count on the ailing auto industry to absorb its poorly educated and low-skilled workers. The once-thriving steel and minerals mining industries are additional examples of this fact. Over the years, we have all seen the rapid increase in services connected jobs; i.e. fast food workers and store cashiers with jobs paying minimum wage.
Many of our current educational practices needs to be revamped and strengthened. For example, more high school students need to be enrolled in a foreign-language class, whereas fewer than half of these students are enrolled now. Social studies curricula should broaden to cover more of the world, not fixate on U. S. history. Educators stress that a right balance must be archived between core knowledge and "portable skills" like critical thinking, connecting ideas, and continued education. The Time article stresses that kids need to leap across disciplines because that is how breakthroughs created web sites like "YouTube" and "MySpace."
What especially interested me was a new web site, www.curriki.org, introduced in January 2006 and founded by Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems. The goal of this web site is to utilize the Internet as an even better educational tool. For students and avid learners, additional courses are in the works on this site to provide a sight and sound learning experience. Curriki isn't meant to replace the school room, but to supplement it. I have viewed its Calculus and Physics subjects, taught by knowledgeable volunteer instructors, and highly recommend it to students and interested readers like yourselves.
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Thought for today
Another thing this country needs is a college that gives a degree in common sense.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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