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Failure is an option

 
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 03:11 pm
Me too, Ceili. I tried to post that about a half hour ago, and then my cursor did it's warning dance. Shut the computer off a bit, and now it's ok. Managed to save what I was saying -

After a quick read, I agree with Chumly re the behavior of the students being an effect of early schooling's coddling or lack of information about what further schooling is like. My idea of a possible remedy is that the first lecture classes be heavy in emphasis about what is necessary to pass the course (like pre-reading) and thus to move ahead in the program - - but you may already do that. I'd do it at least twice, since some miss classes. Maybe even type up a paper with the information to pass out to each student, and have the students sign that they got it.
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 11:15 am
@ossobuco,
Hi ossobuco,

1) There is a pre-assessment process inclusive of an entrance exam and interview process etc.; I am not involved in it as it's handled by the institution.

2) They do sign an agreement at the beginning of the course outlining their responsibilities, inclusive of attendance and homework and the fact that it's adult education; a list of fully defined considerations are addressed.

3) The course is laid out in such a fashion that by the time they get to electronics, they will have the requisite skill-set, if they have performed the prior learning tasks at the mastery level.

4) The assessment system is based on mastery, in that they must obtain 70% or better on the prior topic, else they cannot move froward with the next topic.

5) The course I teach is non-mandatory in that students are there of their own free will, not of some government mandate or law; in other words this is a far cry from high school, despite the fact that some of the student's prior educational experience is based on solely on high school.

6) There are also a number of students that have been in the workforce for years or are returning for re-education, these students I rarely have concerns with.

7) You may be aware of the lack of hands-on skills that is so common in today's society.

Quote:
A lot of guys can't do one-quarter of what their fathers could—and that's not a good thing. Contributing editor and Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds asks: Where have all the handymen gone?

Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once wrote: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

That's a tall order. Although I can only do some of those things, I approve of the principle. Now­adays, though, we're specializing more. A popular Internet essay is titled: "I Can't Do One-Quarter of the Things My Father Can." Are hands-on skills--building things, fixing things, operating machines and so on--really in decline?

I think so. SAT scores provide a record of academic performance, but there's no equivalent archive for tracking handiness. There is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence that what used to be taken for granted as ordinary mechanical skills now amounts to something unusual. When I recently wrote on my Web site about the importance of giving kids hands-on toys, a reader e-mailed: "Boy, can I second [your point about] the lack of basic skills in adults. I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity here in Los Angeles. The volunteers who come out frequently can't do something as basic as using a tape measure. ... Many of my Saturdays are effectively clinics on how to pound a nail."

Even the simplest of automotive tasks, changing a tire, seems to be beyond the ken of many people. According to AAA, nearly 4 million motorists requested roadside assistance last year--for flat tires.

And just look at the Popular Mechanics Boy Mechanic books to see the kinds of skills that boys and teenagers were once routinely expected to possess. These books (which PM published in the early 20th century and recently reissued) assumed that young readers would be prepared to construct a fully rigged ice boat, a toy steam engine, or--I'm not kidding--a homebuilt "Bearcat" roadster powered by a motorcycle engine.

It's hard to imagine too many teenagers tackling projects of that magnitude these days. To be fair, young people today are likely to have skills that earlier generations never dreamed of--building Web sites, say, or editing digital movies. But manipulating pixels and working with physical materials aren't quite the same thing.

Does this matter? And if people are becoming less mechanically handy, is that so bad? I think so--and not just because specialization is for insects.

We don't all have to be MacGyver, but from time to time all of us will face problems that can't be addressed with a laptop and a cellphone. In a genuine emergency, having some basic manual skills could be the difference between surviving comfortably and being totally helpless.

I think that a modicum of ability in dealing with the physical world is good even for those of us whose jobs are mostly cerebral. Engineer Vannevar Bush, one of the great minds of the 20th century, made his mark on everything from the Manhattan Project to the development of computers. But when he wasn't commanding vast enterprises, Bush spent a lot of time in his basement workshop building things. He said that trying to make a finished project match his blueprints taught him humility and problem solving.

Shop classes and the Boy Scouts used to teach a lot of real-world skills, but both have faded under the onslaught of budget cuts and shifting political winds. (Shop isn't just for boys: My wife took shop in high school, and is glad she did.) The traditional father-son route for teaching these skills has also weakened, as many fathers lack the requisite skills themselves, and others, because of divorce, don't have as much opportunity.

I don't think the decline in hands-on skills is irreversible. In fact, it might be starting to turn around. The boom in home reno­vation has led many people to brush up their DIY chops. Home Depot and other retailers are finding success offering workshops in basic techniques.

We're also seeing changes in our popular culture. One example is the best-selling status of The Dangerous Book for Boys, by the brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden. It hearkens back to the Boy Scout manuals and ­other boys' books of the early 20th century, with instructions on how to build go-karts, bows and arrows, rafts and more. The book's success tells me people are interested in regaining lost ground. (It works, too: I gave my 8-year-old nephew a copy, and it got him away from the Xbox and into the outdoors.)

Conn Iggulden tells me he hopes the book inspires fathers to get out in the yard with their sons to build catapults and the like. "Most boys will value something they do with their dad, and they'll have an experience they'll value for the rest of their lives," he says. "If you show them how to beat the next level on the Xbox, it won't last the rest of their lives."

We can start with our own families, but there's no reason to stop there. Most people can do more than they think they can, and it's often fear of failure as much as lack of skill that keeps people from tackling hands-on tasks. So the next time you see somebody by the side of the road, waiting for AAA, pull over and show them how to use a tire iron. Who knows? It just might catch on.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/4221637
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 11:19 am
@Chumly,
Your most recent explanation concerning prerequisites absolves you of further responsibility to the students. My apologies.
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 11:47 am
On a somewhat personal note, my wife has her own toolkit complete with a good cordless drill and an OK set of hand tools.

She is 60 years old and replaced all the inserts on all the pot-lights in the kitchen and hallway and my office. I do not mean just the light bulbs which she upgraded to LED's, I mean the actual pot-light insert assemblies; a more demanding endeavor.

I can assure you that many of my students do not have the hands-on skill-set that my 60 year wife has!

Mrs. Chumly is somewhat uncomfortable with mathematics and physics and such, but even at that I suspect she could best a sizable percent of my students, if she was in the same class with them from the beginning of the course.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 11:56 am
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
Your most recent explanation concerning prerequisites absolves you of further responsibility to the students. My apologies.
Don't you worry, it's only an internet forum; plus I've read enough of your posts to know that you think rationally (well at least as much as might be expected of a human being, which perhaps is not saying much of our species).
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 12:52 pm
As Sir James Dyson said while being interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN this morning, students are often taught to "put the right answer in the right box".

Well gentle readers of this thread, I can assure you that's a recipe for disaster given that a sizeable portion of what I teach is hands-on.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 04:36 pm
@Chumly,
Yes, I am aware.
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 06:46 pm
@ossobuco,
Rather sad that texting is seen as more important than the principles of electric power distribution.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 07:43 pm
@Chumly,
Well, that seems rampant. I wonder if it will pass.

I'm an oldie. My father was born in 1906 and was sharp as a carpenter, though he worked in the film industry starting as a cutter and worked up. When I was a girl, he showed me how to do some household stuff. I started out as a lab tech but in time became a landscape architect, which means I detailed tons of design, including site planning. (My weakness was re electricity.) As a craftsperson in person, I was never at the level of a good workman, but did my own bunch of remodels. I know the difference, knew some superior craftsmen. Yeah, all of them men. I especially liked working with masons.

At one point in my sort of youth when I was fixing up my mother's house to sell or rent, I asked friends over for a work day, providing food of course. Cripes, they were all university fools, but it was a good enough party. That's when I first learned that educated men (or women) didn't know handcraft. That was 1970. Also around the time women started to take up knitting, crocheting, embroidery, weaving, anew.

Soooo, this isn't all about the lack of clue of your present students, but a general lack of touch for hands on engagement with making things.

Of course, that's not fully true - lots of educated people zone in on craft, and I can think of a2kers who do. But I think there's a trend of separation .. that I don't like myself.
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 09:17 pm
@ossobuco,
Thanks for that ossobuco. I've always split the difference between academics and hands-on. It's true that in North America (at least) the trades have often gotten short shrift. Naturally the electrical trade is by far the best of the bunch, and the most demanding from a technical / academic aspect Smile

In truth, no matter what assessment might be made in a reasonable time frame prior to the start of an electrical career choice, there is no definitive way to ensure all students will perform well in class.

I'll be teaching magnetism all week...long live Maxwell's Equations!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell's_equations
0 Replies
 
 

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Criminy! - re adult education - Discussion by ossobuco
 
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