The biggest issue I encounter as a teacher in general education (high school), that is both a global and personal in scope is, "What is the relevance of the curriculum being taught as it applies directly to each student?" A large percentage of students are not motivated to apply themselves to learning subject matter because it seems to have no meaning for them: Trigonometry, World History, Biology. Teaching to the unmotivated student is a misadventure with negative, far-reaching societal impact.  Reflecting upon this issue I went to Dictionary. COM to look up the word "Education" as presented by some of its primary sources
  • The act or process of educating; the result of educating, as determined by the knowledge skill, or discipline of character, acquired; also, the act or process of training by a prescribed or customary course of study or discipline; as, an education for the bar or the pulpit; he has finished his education.
    Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

  • The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process. A program of instruction of a specified kind or level.
    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

These definitions basically state that education should result in the student obtaining knowledge or a skill. If our schools were to reacquaint themselves with this basic definition, they might find the answer to working with the unmotivated students and develop curriculum that is more relevant and meaningful.

Looking back through an education timeline, we observe words and terms applied to education in the year 2003, also being used more than two hundred  years ago:

  • Reform
  • Progress
  • Race
  • Government
  • Access to the public
  • Private
We see the earliest of schools providing students with the state of the art technology: The Hornbook The Slate  
the Battledore  and the Magic Lantern

Source: The Blackwell History of Education Museum http://www.cedu.niu.edu/blackwell/books.html

Presently we are incorporating the use of state of the art distance learning. The technology has changed, but one basic tenet remains: It is the teacher who directs and facilitates the learning environment. A good teacher can use a Hornbook and promote learning. A bad teacher, with all the resources of the Internet available, is still a bad teacher.


Formal education has been constantly undergoing a process of innovation and experimentation. There are examples of this throughout its history.  In 1825 Robert Owen and William MaClure established an experiment in cooperative living which incorporated a innovative system of education developed by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.

The Pestalozzi method of natural education had two parts, the specific method and the general method. He felt that children must feel secure before they could learn. He was a realist and he believed that children should learn through their senses, not through lecturing. Thus, he would begin with "hands on" experience called the"object lesson" and gradually expand to the general concepts.

HISTORY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION WEB PROJECT, maintained by Professor Robert N. Barger, University of Notre Dame, 1999 <http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/>  Education in New Harmony Indiana <http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/newharm.html>

I feel that the present educational environment is open to and anxious to embrace the new technology associated with distance learning in order to make another effort at improving itself.

(#4) What do you feel are the "driving forces" for change in education/training today and how it is delivered? What personal examples can you share?

The public school system is overburdened by (to name a few) :

  • Lack of financing

  • Exploding student population

  • Violence

  • Drugs

  • Apathy on the part of the bureaucracy that runs the schools.

  • Parental apathy and ignorance

  • Limited curriculum

  • Requirements to integrate special ed students into regular classrooms.

  • Requirements to tolerate disruptive students.

Because of this gloomy picture, many families are seeking an alternative to the standard public school program. I teach in an Independent Study/Alternative Education public school program. I have many excellent students who did poorly in regular public school and are now performing on a superior level in Independent Study. Almost all of these students fled the hostile environment of the public school. The ERIC article, "Trends and Issues" revised 2002,
compiled by Margaret Hadderman, <
http://eric.uoregon.edu/trends_issues/choice/alternative_schools.html> presents an excellen
t elucidation on the subject of Alternative Education, including the discussion of Distance Education.
Of all the forces driving for change in education, families seeking alternatives to utilizing the regular public school is the one that I consider the strongest and having the greatest potential for success.