Monday, October 20, 2008

Emergency school

I'm surprised that I didn't find this in my archive. I've been thinking about this project for years.

Just because you haven't heard about it in awhile doesn't mean that the bird flu isn't still a concern. The Army wants lots of telecommuters (the managers do not) so that in case of an epidemic we can still work without exposing ourselves or others unnecessarily. It occurs to me that the schools will also need to close for awhile. Kids would expect to miss a couple of months of school at least and a year or two in several very possible scenarios. Even if the bird flu turns out to be nothing there are plenty of other reasons to go ahead with the project I'm preparing to describe.

With possibility of schools closing looming over us we need to find a way to continue the education of our children at home. Left with nothing to do they'll run into the streets and bring home the flu anyway. We need ways to continue their education and keep them occupied.

To this end I propose the preemptive development of educational programming. I know that the idea of government educational videos seems a bit suspect. I have my own visions of some monotone pale guy in earth tones standing under florescent lighting and talking at the camera. That's never, ever going to work.

I want to gather together some of the best teachers in the basic education areas in their assorted grade levels. I want to give them a budget and a development team. They'll have to write up curriculum in math, reading, and science clustered in grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Then they'll develop their materials. Overhead slides and internet clip art aren't enough. If they think they can do it better with Muppets we're going to talk to the Jim Henson Company. If they need animations and 3-D models then they'll have a staff to develop it. Sets, lighting, sound effects, and actors will be provided as needed. Whatever it takes to keep their attention and get kids to learn.

Science should be fairly simple. Math... well, that's why we're gonna look for teachers who have had success teaching this stuff in the past.

This is just the beginning. After we have that stuff we can also develop more grade specific programming and add some history, geography, and whatever else we can.

In the case of massive school closings we'd start to broadcast the lessons. On cable we'd just have the cable companies add a couple of stations just for our programs. We'd have internet streams of the lessons available upon demand.

For the technology have-nots we'd also have to convince some standard broadcast stations to let us use their transmitters so that people with rabbit ears could still watch. Copies on DVD would be issued to local libraries so that people could pick them up if necessary. If they just don't have a TV they're just kinda fucked. But they'd still be able to pick up the homework booklets available in libraries, bookstores, and online.

So what if there's no flu? You think I've blown all this money for nothing? Do you know how many completely crap schools there are out there? Places where you can still graduate without being able to read beyond a 1st grade level, let alone know how to turn on a computer? These videos could also be available to those schools or to the parents that want to pull their kids out of those schools.

There would be focus groups that would review the lessons as we go so we can tweek the early stuff and improve the later stuff. I expect the kids, and their parents, to actually learn this stuff. Schools focus on homework and quantifiable results for them to grade. Memorization, not learning. The videos would be for kids stuck at home. There'd be the homework available for their parents to give them and review to make sure they're getting it but we can't make them do it. There wouldn't be all the busywork the kids get now. The point would be genuine understanding. The videos may actually be better than school in that regard.

Any of you readers work for the Department of Education or Discovery Channel or something? Wanna help me pull this off?


Sweetly Single said...

We have a system in Manitoba that mimics what you are talking about. We have a very large population in areas of the province where access to even a computer and even cable is limited. But with satellite broadcasts a person can get through school and university without even leaving home.

Ibid said...

I do have a mental image of Manitoba having a very sparse population that would make getting to school tricky with lots of snow days. Correct me if I'm way off. I mean most people have a mental image of Kansas with a yellow brick road.

How are the broadcasts? Are they good or are they coma inducers? How do you get graded?

Sweetly Single said...

Well I have only seen the system set up because that is how we diagnose our patients from afar until we do our rounds.... it's fairly high tech and well defined... I was impressed! I haven't ever been in a video classroom myself but from what I hear they are as good as the teacher. The testing is done on paper and sent in the mail with the teacher watching through video link.

These are set up for communities (pop. 150) that are 8 hours flight (in a bush plane) away from the nearest town (pop. 500)Us big city folks only shut down when we get more then a foot of snow in under an hour(which doesn't happen often)... otherwise squirt even goes in -50 degree temps

And noo.... we don't live in Igloos

Ibid said...

Sounds kinds of familiar. I worked with a group in SE Kansas that ran high speed cable to poorish rural schools all over the four state area and taught remote classes. No one school could afford a Russian teacher but several together could. Things like that. They could see the teacher and the teacher could see them.
Mind you, my plan just has one way teaching. Possibly with a class on set to ask questions.

Nah, polar bears can get through the igloos.

Sweetly Single said...

well yes sort of... it is a bit different up here... the northern part of the province can only be reached by airplane and winter road (which is a road made on the frozen lake)

Either way... you got my vote! OH WAIT>.... I don't vote in America... and us Canadian voting stations consist of armed gaurds chasing us away ... hence only 41% of us voting last week!!!

Ps. Polar bears hate pet polar bear told me so

Ibid said...

I was confusing polar bears with ice weasels.

Dorn said...

You can see a lot of how to videos on