Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ode to a Pine Tree

I arrived at work today to find that the view from my office has been destroyed by "progress".  Specifically, a big swath of forest on Valencia property was destroyed - including one of the biggest and prettiest pine trees I have ever seen - so that another building can be built. 

Before any of you faint at the prospect that I have become a member of Green Peace or am connected by DNA or poor-reasoning skills to Albert Gore, please don't fret.  I still believe in capitalism, property rights and progress.

I do not believe in destroying trees in the name of tradition.

What I mean by that is simple.  Every area of our lives - when it comes to supply and demand - has found a way to meet up over the Internet.  We can buy virtually anything online, any time of the day.  Yet, when it comes to education, the suppliers still think that the demanders must be forced to meet at a specific time and place as if we all have the same monetary value of time.

Think about it.  Once this new building goes in students will be told, "Go to building ten on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00-2:15PM to consume this class."  That student can buy underwear from someone in the Ukraine at 3:18 in the morning and never meet or speak to the seller.  Why couldn't that student learn most subjects in the same manner?

I currently teach 3 "live" classes and 5 online classes.  Some of the best students I have ever had never met me or heard me teach live.  They use online lectures by me and people who are better than me in some areas, online discussions, websites and a book that can be purchased online, and do just fine.

When they have questions they email me or call me - and no pine trees die in the process.

I realize much of what we do in education is done better (cooking classes, for example) when it is done "on site", yet I cannot help believe that if we would just embrace what the computer and cyber-space geniuses have given us we could teach more students - effectively - when and where they want to learn - and in the process keep alive trees that have managed to survive everything but "tradition."

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