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
"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
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. …