Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The mad scientist vision strikes the churchly as irreverent, which, in a sense, it is. And it strikes the personnel office folk as error-prone and kind of loose, which, again, it is. You can’t have trial and error without error. But to my mind, it’s both the most humble and the most future-oriented approach. Job markets change quickly, and reducing the future to the size of the present is a crime against progress. I don’t know what the hot occupation will be ten years from now, but I’m willing to guess that the abilities to communicate, to synthesize difficult and disparate information, and to adapt will still be relevant. What better way to learn those things than to stew in them, in a place that does exactly that?
Maybe we realize that sometimes the most we can do for people is make opportunities available and work closely with those who reach out and try to take advantage, and any effort to go beyond that timeless model is usually a gimmick.
Maybe we realize that when some enthusiast is all excited about something that they got to work, the real key is not their approach but their excitement, akin to the way that in many areas of social science (note the word "Science!" in there, Mr. Mad Scientist Enthusiast!) the mere act of doing something different with people tends to lead to better results if everybody is enthused. It's basically a placebo effect. The real question is what happens when that fired-up mad scientist hands it off to somebody with a totally different philosophy. Will they get the same great results if they haven't first gotten all fired up and drunk the same kool-aid?
To the outsider, what I'm writing might appear to be religion, but in fact it's science.
... making opportunities available ... to reach out to try (something) ... sounds a lot like experimentation to me.
One point is the ability to have an idea fail without a severe repercussion. Eventually an experiment will reveal a good breakthrough that facilitates learning. Certainly there were a bunch of little steps and failures before someone in the mid-90s marked up text so much that it was beyond or "hyper" text and was considered a form of a language. That innovation has certainly encouraged learning.
As an engineer, I certainly prefer an environment that allows some experimentation rather than requiring strict adherence to dogma. We need protocols, sure; so we have safety committees, standard lab operating procedures, and processes for introducing new courses and temporary experimental courses. (At my school they are even called X courses.)
Re: vision 3, public radio remix recently introduced me to this Dan Pink Ted talk (and its commentary) about creativity and rewards. (Does that show really have a use for me now?) The talk reveals new ideas about creativity that were learned through (safe) social experiments.
DD, I hope your vision is pursued this year, and not only at DDCC.
Dean Dad, I think this paradigm could equally as well be applied to our K-12 system, with the caveat that the personnel office function should be held at bay until late high school, and should never be responsive to the requests of specific employers at that level. But the pressure on developmental education at the post-secondary level would be greatly relieved, I think, if the K-12 schools were more committed and successfull in experimenting around better mastery of math, reading, and writing at their levels.
Tenure and funding favor the church.
The Mad scientist and the edu-priest both want to educate because that’s a self-evident good.
The personnel office is educating people to go and do /something/. The goal is to make them better prepared for some specific thing.