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On Setting Goals

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W. Clement Stone said something along the lines of, “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” But, humans have been to the moon already, and haven’t been to the stars. What’s next?

What’s an appropriate goal, and what’s just dreaming? Is dreaming really all that bad? Or does dreaming create the next reality?

Perhaps dreaming leads to inspiration, which leads to reality. Reality seems, to me, to be a pretty good goal.

So what’s a good goal for obtaining teachers? Obviously, we want our teachers to be good! No,no… the best! And the smartest in their respective fields. And they should be personable and save our kids from harm (like Jaime Escalante and Erin Gruwell). And they should work hard and get our kids good grades.

How do you measure the readiness of teachers? The same way we measure our students: with standardized tests! How much does a standardized test tell you about the dreaming, the inspirational and aspirational thinking of a teacher? What does it mean for a teacher to dream, and I don’t mean, “gee, I really want a good class of kids this year,” but “what kinds of resources and materials can I get for my students next week?”

Perhaps teachers can fade out all together? After all, the internet makes information cheap and ubiquitous!

Is the internet as a teacher any different from being taught by robots? Is it any different from being taught by an inflexible teacher? Does being taught by the internet mean that every child will learn what they need to know, or what they want to know, or what they’re required to watch? Arguably, the information is out there already, just waiting for someone to access it. But why don’t they? Why don’t we?

Perhaps this is really more of a motivation thing. I mean, news sources now (sadly, fairly routinely) get the news wrong, when what journalism traditionally required was finding and vetting sources. The internet and nearly-instant communication systems have made it easy to disseminate information and misinformation with blinding speed. CNN and Fox News both got the health care ruling wrong initially. Wikipedia has an entire entry dedicated to premature obituaries. The Onion was taken seriously.

How do we teach our kids (even if they don’t watch news anymore) that they should verify sources of information instead of just Googling for the first hit?

AND, how does this allow kids to dream? If all information seemingly exists online, how can you help a kid to think and imagine something altogether new?


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