AI and Education

hanks for sharing your perspective. I actually found that being at a public school detracted from my ability to potentially learn about any of the trades I may have been interested in now. Maybe it is different now, but when I attended Oñate HS in the 90’s, because I was in the “gifted” program, I was highly discouraged from taking any of the hands-on trades-based offerings. I would have loved to take machine shop or welding, for instance, but instead I was discouraged from that and pushed towards the STEM-type classes. It wasn’t until attending NMSU in the mech engineering dept that I was able to actually get any of that hands-on experience in machine shop, welding, etc.

When I started at NMSU, I originally majored in biology because I wanted to be a pediatrician, but I thought the bio classes were so boring and ended up switching to engineering. And only many years later did I find that engineering isn’t even what I’m passionate about; after working 10 years at NASA, I finally left and ended up coming full circle back to children’s healthcare, which is where my true passion lies. In hindsight, I think the public school did a very poor job of helping me find and cultivate my own life’s mission, and I think that is true for many students judging by the number of engineers I worked with who were doing it for the “good job” aspect instead of because it was what they were really made to do.

As far as how homeschool kids get those kinds of experiences, there are many other opportunities that can be found outside school. For instance, my son is planning to be either an auto mechanic or a mechanical engineer (unlike me, he definitely has the natural talent for mechanics). While homeschooling, he is getting exposure to car maintenance already here at home, and he is planning on taking the automotive courses available at the DACC once he is 16+yo. (I’m actually encouraging him to be a mechanic instead of an engineer, as I think the overall life satisfaction will be greater worker hands-on instead of stuck behind a computer desk. But I’m encouraging him to take the engineering classes anyway, which would make him a much more effective mechanic since he will understand how why things work the way they do.)
I do think there is a place for electronic instruction, but in the end the student has to want to learn or none of it sinks in anyway. I personally don’t think that game and video-based instruction should be primary; they get kids brains stuck into the easy-reward cycle that can really be a detriment to them being willing to put in the hard work it can take to learn. I know homeschooling families that have imploded because of MineCraft and Youtube. I do believe Youtube is a powerful tool for learning, but only if it is being used in advance of hands-on experience. People can watch youtube all day and think they know all kinds of things, but then in the real-world that will fall flat. (We use Youtube frequently, though, to learn how to do things that we need to do, and then go and actually do them, such as appliance repair, auto repair, etc.).

I am in definite agreement with you that far too many youths are being pushed into college (and the debt that comes along with it), when many of them will be better satisfied working in trades or other fields.

Thanks for the book recommendation; I hadn’t heard of that one. Here are a couple for you ?:Essay: Invitation to the Pain of Learning by Adler (attached)A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille

–Hopefully no one knows their children better than their parents even though they are deluded by a utopian feeling that this also provides. It is hard to be just the observer. This is not the role of formal schooling. We would have better teachers if we had better parenting. Child psychologists state that beginning at 9 years of age parents should be weening them off of parental dependence. The challenge we all face is that we will never have any idea if we did it right or wrong until we kinda get a picture when we watch our children raise their children but that is also skewed by there being two parents from different backgrounds and experiences so we really only get 1/2 the story.
I am unsure why you fight the exceptional online content that allows student, parents or anyone else the ability to learn independently. As I keep saying it is not this or that, it is all the options. I use the Great Courses, Hillsdale College and Khan Academy for starters because they all stay functioning because they offer some of the greatest educators and exceptional content. I was also invited to participate in a PHD thesis prep class by one of the NMSU education professors. I use whatever I can. I think another thing being left out is the inclusion of single parents who desire nothing but the best for their children. Where do they get it? Definitely not from Zoomed classroom public education which I feel is what s being talked about as far as online.
As far as industrial education it was my college major until I asked what kind of person were they looking for to teach it. I was told ones with actual trades experience so off I went to never look back especially when I thought about the quality of life I could provide my family on a teachers salary. I raised my family with all the outdoor life experiences one could desire in Ski Town USA, Steamboat Springs CO as a welder, machinist, and millwright for the coal mine that supplied Denver Public Service and Illinois Power and Light with their coal.
My point is that k-12 and even upper level in todays world of so manyways to further ones education throughout their lives should never close future opportunities for just the reason you stated. Once actually doing it it may not have been what you ever envisioned it to be. Teachers are a classic example.
I keep asking ”What is the purpose of school” and have not yet received an answer. I will give mine but a greater study on this question can be found in Michael Horn’s “From Reopen To Reinvent”.
The Purpose of Formal Education is to teach students how to learn so they can continually learn through self direction throughout their lives. I sum it up into one word, Empowerment.
 I am dumbfounded by all that think we should learn as they did. I would never suggest for anyone to embark on the path I took but at least I took maybe because my parents never put life career paths based on their beliefs as guiding guardrails (except for the mattress factory). They never said boo when I said I was enlisting in the US Marine Corp at the height of the Vietnam War. One must be willing to risk which of course no parent of any salt wishes on their child. I am not talking about taking ceramics over calculus or soccer over lacrosse. I guess it can be found in the old book ”The Road Less Traveled”.
As far as your son’s interests in auto mechanics I have a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine that I used with my grandkids for  disassembly and reassembly instruction. Unfortunately not living in a mechanically inclined family it was dificult to hold their interest and unlike me in my youth they were not doing it so it would power their go-cart. I offer this engine to anyone that is interested enough to find a YouTube on how to rebuild it, take it apart and reassemble it so it runs again. Interested? I want it back though either in pieces or reassembled. My son builds low rider trucks and rebuilding a Briggs engine as a kid was his only experience in engine mechanics. Everything he knows of auto mechanics pretty much comes from YouTubes and all those that wish to share their knowledge “For Free”. 
My daughter had a timer problem on her washer. Not being the Maytag Woman she just found a YouTube on fixing it with links to where to get the parts. She would have called in the repair person but her brother just said look it up on YouTube. My Granddaughter was stuck doing her homework on quadratic equations. Fortunately her Charter school encourages their students to use the internet and yes there her needed explanation was in a YouTube. 
I am belaboring this point because times have changed and we are not about to dump our computers and go back to nature. It is  a tool and like any tool it has a purpose that can provide solutions. Of course personal guidance is needed which is why I say, “all of the above” in education choices not one or even three. Pick the tool that is most convenient and accomplishes the task desired. The shock someone gets when they try to replace an electrical outlet without turning off the breaker is a necessary part of the learning experience. But do not do it with the 220 drier outlet.
 I found Adler’s treatise of interest especially in light of coming out of the Great Depression as many inspirational authors came out of that period because of the national state of traumatization and depression. Also what came out of that period are parents that did everything possible to insure that their children and grandchildren would not have to work or suffer as they did. Today 2% of our nation is actively engaged in farming. Back then it was 60%. AI is playing a significant role in it. ie John Deere.
 I struggle with the Academic’s like Adler because few as him (judging from his bio) have ever struggled in the world of actual work especially in those times, ie Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. I marvel at inspirational leaders of that period like Dale Carnegie who worked as a salesman for a meat packing company hopping freight trains to get from town to town to make sales calls so he could feed his family. He saw the desperation of the times and created a course he taught at a YMCA that brought him to write, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, the all time handbook of effective communication. I just wonder how Adler would view the availability of the Classics and the world wide online discussion forums we have today? It is easy to criticize looking back but difficult to see our blindness looking forward caused by it.
I will review the Thomas Jefferson Book but I am not here to be critical but to just open others eyes to the world of necessary ed our children and their children will face. I ask, will they be open minded enough to embrace it or just drive ahead always looking in the rear view mirror?
I hope my writings are of interest enough that they are being shared because other wise these discussions are just some waste of time bantering defending a position back and forth while the children fall further and further behind no matter what school of thought it is.

 I always also appreciate your feedback because you have fully taken the bull by the horn and done what any responsible parent would do in the situation. Took your kids out of our failing system.
I think the challenge in our discussion lies in only seeing the method of education being an all one way or another. I can find plenty of ways to criticize home schooling and its lack of on hands experiences that a large well funded public school can provide like the auto, wood and machine shop classes mine provided which led me to a highly lucrative life in the industrial fields. As a career welder I wish I would have had available the tutorials found on youtube that exist today for welding because it is almost entirely about being able to see the arc and how the metal flows together over and over. It was not possible to pause work or my family and go back and find an inspiring physical class to take. Night school was totally lame. I ended up teaching the teacher.
 How will a homeschooled child ever realize they might like to be a welder, a crane operator or an iron worker? All are highly lucrative careers and much in demand in comparison to ones being obtained with a bachelors degree in business or even engineering that involve great expense that many do not have and a debt burden that ties them to a career as we find many are really not all that inspired by (think all the teachers that are dissatisfied or my dentist who wishes he could be in sales but his parents dream was for him to be a dentist). What about sales? 
My Dad tried to encourage my advancement in academic subjects by pointing out the workers in the yard of a mattress factor by the freeway saying if you do not improve that is where you will be working. Unfortunately he never asked if that interested me because I thought it looked cool. I mean making things, trucks and forklifts. How cool is that. Only till my academic grades fell low enough and putting me in those shop classes did my spark get ignited. The humor in this is my Dad’s parents wanted him to be a doctor studying at Stanford. He flunked out because he could not pass German (his parents were German). Well, I think he did ok even with that failure on his books as he became the President of the largest airline in the free world without that college degree and interestingly enough he never learned to fly or was interested in flying. He was a master sailor though which came out of being a Sea Scout. There may be a Sea Scout program at Elephant Butte. It was in its infancy about 4 years ago. I feel my dad’s sailing skills were foundational in his advancements in his business career.
But, as I keep saying, our ways of educating at the rate of change we are experiencing needs to be a combination of all the methods. No classroom teacher can slow, pause or rewind their presentation, no matter how great they are, if just one or two in the class had there mind drift off or just did not quite catch an idea, fact or concept. We are educating children without a process of mastery of content being available to them. This is where Khan Academy steps in as an instrumental piece of the many pieced puzzle.
Yes, we have an enormous number of parents and students that are uninspired and unmotivated but unless the motivated ones step out of the unmotivated box (that they are demanding of it to change so they don’t have too) we will continually leave many aspiring students behind in a mediocre system with no way to actually be life long learners which fully involves using online content which they will be unprepared to use. It should be noted that most kids of today, no matter how much we do not like it, are highly skilled and comfortable with interactive online gaming and actually frustrated that educators cannot figure this out and create education models that use a form of it. They play it on a full computer, an iPad and even comfortably on their phone.
Yes, the process for change will leave public ed with the less motivated and poor students as is found in Columbia and Brazil but are we really willing to sell our children short because of it? It is called disruptive innovation which has brought many of our great advancements that overturned large megalithic businesses to bear fruit.
Not leaving without a book recommendation, “Disrupting Class” by Clayton Christensen.

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Hi Rob,Thanks for continually thinking about ways to improve education. I, personally, do not believe that online learning can be nearly as effective as an in-person, engaged teacher/mentor. And I have even more doubts that an AI teacher would be able to effectively inspire children to want to learn and take ownership of their own education.

In the end, effective education can only happen when the student takes ownership instead of being forced or cajoled or pressured or cramming for tests, etc. The lessons learned through force are quickly forgotten, yet the lessons learned through children being truly engaged, interested, curious, and hands-on will stick and be retained.

Teachers/mentors who ignite in the children a desire for learning/supporting their inborn curiosity are the ones who will be most effective and I don’t think Khan Academy or AI can ever get there. Those tools may be helpful for students who are already engaged and interested, but I believe that the foundation of a Love of Learning would have to be laid before those could be really effective.

You also may be interested in this study which shows how many more parts of the brain are activated in-person than through Zoom:
This study provides interesting insights into why remote learning does not work well. “We measured inter-brain synchrony between young adolescents and their mothers during live face-to-face interaction versus a remote video-chat using hyperscanning EEG.” The researchers found that Live interactions create many more cross-brain links and activity than video interactions.

“Our findings suggest that the gains to social development, empathic abilities, and brain maturation afforded by face-to-face interactions may not translate to technological encounters…

“children’s engagement and empathy during interactions with their mother predict well-being and lower psychopathological symptoms… Our results may suggest that live social interactions provide the evolutionary-typical context for the maturation of neural coupling, findings that raise concerns about the rates of youth involvement in technologically-assisted communication and the potential risk this poses to the development empathy and collaboration.”


Sarah–Sarah SmithLas Cruces, NMFree People of the Southwest (local)

As we sit here waiting for public education to change the change is already happening outside that archaic entrenched system. How quickly can the public ed adapt to the technological changes that are happening that they have no knowledge of or time to relearn on? We are plagued by entrenched minds that will always resist change but change we must or our children will suffer the consequences. Khan Academy takes that leap forward. All children learn in different ways and at different rates. How can an old school classroom teacher versus a facilitator of learning ever address that. AI can. Check this out: Rob


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