A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


My daughter, Sarah, the homeschooling mom of my two grandsons, is always on the lookout for articles about education that she thinks might interest me.  Last summer she Emailed me this one, and I can't resist writing a blog of my own around the theme of change-- a topic especially significant in my personal life as one year passes into the next, and also of great interest to me as a historian and citizen in this incredible experiment called America. How often I have heard the following arguments in one guise or another from well-meaning folks who know they have a firm grasp on the truth.

Maybe I have heard more of this than most people because I helped found one alternative school and led another.

Ballpoint pens…the ruin of education in our country

After writ­ing my last post, I recalled an excerpt from a book that I had recently read.  I dug through the book today and located the sec­tion that I had pre­vi­ously found so humor­ous. (I need all the humor I can get this week since I’m not in beau­ti­ful San Diego attend­ing ISTE with friends and col­leagues!)  The fol­low­ing list can be found in Rethink­ing Edu­ca­tion in the Age of Tech­nol­ogy by Collins and Halver­son (pg. 30).  Their list high­lights the many exam­ples of how edu­ca­tion has been very resis­tant to change.
  • From a principal’s pub­li­ca­tion in 1815: “Stu­dents today depend on paper too much.  They don’t know how to write on a slate with­out get­ting chalk dust all over them­selves.  They can’t clean a slate prop­erly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”
  • From the jour­nal of the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Teach­ers, 1907: “Stu­dents today depend too much upon ink.  They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pen­cil.  Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.”
  • From Rural Amer­i­can Teacher, 1928: “Stu­dents today depend upon store bought ink.  They don’t know how to make their own.  When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the set­tle­ment.  This is a sad com­men­tary on mod­ern education.”
  • From Fed­eral Teach­ers, 1950: “Ball­point pens will be the ruin of edu­ca­tion in our coun­try.  Stu­dents use these devices and then throw them away.  The Amer­i­can val­ues of thrift and fru­gal­ity are being dis­carded.  Busi­nesses and banks will never allow such expen­sive luxuries.”
  • From a sci­ence fair judge in Apple Class­room of Tomor­row chron­i­cles, 1988: “Com­put­ers give stu­dents an unfair advan­tage.  There­fore, stu­dents who used com­put­ers to ana­lyze data or cre­ate dis­plays will be elim­i­nated from the sci­ence fair.”

Photo credit: San­dor on Flickr
I read this list and won­der how future edu­ca­tors will view our resis­tance to change.  How will they view our adher­ence to seat time rather than com­pe­tency based instruc­tion? How will they view our rigid school sched­ule?  How will they view our assess­ment sys­tem that uses let­ter grades?  This list could go on and on, but it becomes evi­dent quickly when reflect­ing on our sys­tem that we do many things that don’t make much sense other than to stay in line with the cur­rent system.

Nick Sauers        BLOG  1 to 1 Schools.net

Nick Sauers
Nick Sauers, Ph.D., is cur­rently the Lead­er­ship Train­ing Coor­di­na­tor of the Cen­ter for the Advanced Study of Tech­nol­ogy Lead­er­ship in Edu­ca­tion (CASTLE) at the Uni­ver­sity of Ken­tucky.  CASTLE is the nation’s only cen­ter ded­i­cated to the tech­nol­ogy needs of school admin­is­tra­tors.  In his posi­tion with CASTLE, Nick works with admin­is­tra­tors help­ing them develop their per­sonal tech­nol­ogy skills and deep­en­ing their under­stand­ing of the impact of tech­nol­ogy on edu­ca­tion.  Prior to assum­ing his role with CASTLE, Nick has held posi­tions as an ele­men­tary and mid­dle school prin­ci­pal, teacher, and coach in pub­lic schools in Iowa.  Nick blogs at 1to1schools.net, and he can be reached at nck0208@gmail.com.

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