Educators Urged to Make Teaching Cooperative Effort

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Forget traditional education, eliminate departments and direct more efforts toward a cooperative venture of all academic communities, Oklahoma educators were told Wednesday.

Education and the delivery of knowledge must change to meet the needs of students, Washington state legislator Randy Dorn told 800 educators and business leaders at the opening of the School to Work Conference in Oklahoma City. Dorn, a former teacher and administrator, was keynote speaker for the two-day conference at the Clarion Hotel.

Many things are taught the way they are today simply because that's the way they have always been taught; there's no good reason, Dorn said.

Dorn gave a highly energized, audience participation speech lasting one hour, highlighted by blasts of country and western and rock'n'roll music from different eras. He pointed out that student needs have not changed so much as the way the world views the graduate.

"Do you know why we teach science the way to do today?" he asked. "Back in 1907 there was a study done which said there's no particular way or progression in teaching science so it should be done alphabetically. So, today, nearly 90 years later we first teach biology, then chemistry, then physics. There's no reason for it, it's just done."

One of the biggest changes Dorn advocated is elimination of departmental boundaries, with teachers working together in a coordinated effort so there is a logical progression for the students. An example is where a business teacher starts a course on keyboarding and resumes, showing students what is needed.

The English teacher then teaches proper grammar, spelling and punctuation for the resume, while the social studies has students write resumes of Civil War generals.

"In this way, everything is coordinated so that the student can see how this all fits together," he said.

Cooperation among common schools, vocational-technical education centers, community colleges, four-year colleges and business and industry is mandatory to turn out the proper students, he said.

"For too many years, we've concentrated on preparing students for a four-year college career after high school," he said. "But the fact is that only 15 percent of the high school graduates actually go directly to college, and 25 percent go to community college. The other 60 percent has been forgotten. These students who go directly from high school to work need to be considered.

"I also heard a rumor the other day that some of these students bound for college are really going to have to find a job some day soon. Shouldn't we be preparing these students for jobs?"

Eight hundred people jammed into the conference room, set up for 500 people to attend the session on better ways to prepare students for both the college world and the workplace. Idea behind the conference is to develop a statewide plan for the school-to-work transition, an umbrella for the other programs already in the place, tech prep, the High Schools That Work program and youth apprenticeship programs. …