A Paradigm Shift…..

January 15, 2014

Paradigm shiftI think I first happened upon the words paradigm shift sometime in the 1980s. Here are some of the words that Wikipedia use to describe it:

The term “paradigm shift” has found uses in other contexts, representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing.

Paradigm shift don’t happen very often in this world. In fact they are quite rare. Lets face it change is very hard for many of us to face and to basically throw out most of what we currently do or believe about things is near impossible!

For those of us who embrace change, paradigm shifts when they happen are generally considered good things. I don’t know if I have ever revealed that I am an avid fan of the movie “Tron- The Legacy”. I have watched the movie dozens of times and have accumulated several quotes from it. One of my favorite is:

Chaos. Good news

It seems that we at a nation mainly embrace change when it is forced on us by chaos.  Paradigm shifts only occur with the wheels are about to fall off.  There are at least two fundamental problems in our country that will require a paradigm shift and they are very intermingled with each other

Unemployment/Education

It will take a paradigm shift in American mentality to change the current trends in the unemployment rate. Too many of us are stuck in the 1960s mode where good middle class jobs were readily available to anyone. You could get out of high school, or for that matter not even finish it, and then go to a local automotive factory to get a good paying job.  It was usually a mind numbing assembly line job but it did pay good wages. Today those jobs have either been turned over to robots or exported to countries paying less than a dollar an hour in wages. They are just no longer available and will never be again.

In order to join the middle class now requires an educated work force. Someone who knows their way around the digital world and I am not talking about video games. It requires that we think in different more innovative ways than we have in the past.

Education is one of those things that still is for the most part maintained at the local level.  We all seem to think that the problem with education is what other schools have; ours is fine.  In order to change the way our kids are educated we need to come to the realization that most of them are not exceptional.

“All of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought the were.”

— Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary, criticizing “white suburb moms” for balking at the stringent Common Core standards designed to improve education in 45 states — Time Magazine November 2, 2013 

It will take a paradigm shift to finally get our unemployment situation in hand. Until that happens we will continue to struggle with those who cannot find anything but a minimum wage job…

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11 responses to A Paradigm Shift…..

  1. 

    I look forward to the shift.
    Surprisingly, I think Duncan has it wrong. White suburban moms are not worried that common Core makes their child looks stupid. They are worried that Common Core has nothing to do with the changing world. The good part of Common Core is it finally gives a bottom to the least amount of education a child should get anywhere in the US.

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    • 

      I kind of think the the Secretary of Education has many more resources than you and I do as far as determining what “white suburb moms” are balking about. But you and I are certainly entitled to our opinions even if they might not be as fact based.

      In other words, to call him wrong is well just wrong… 🙂

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      • 

        I doubt very much that he knows what “white suburb moms” are thinking. His background is inner city schools. Why did he bring race into the discussion? How does he know it is only whte moms?

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        • 

          Donna, please don’t take that very simple quote as the whole of what Mr. Duncan says or believes. He is not just about inner-city schools and I’m sure there are many in his department of 17,000 employees who are looking at the whole of the education process. The quote was taken from an article about how some subarban school mothers were shocked to see that their children tested as no better than average on the common core tests.

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          • 

            He has apologized for that comment. I found it very upsetting as did a lot of other people as reported in the media.

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        • 

          Thanks for adding some more info here Donna. Yes, if he had thought it through he probably would have used a couple different words.

          But the statement does go to the heart that many local school systems think their kids are getting a first rate education when in reality they aren’t. I think we are number 16 in the world when it comes to primary and secondary education. Much of the rest of the industrial world is simply doing it better than we are. We need to learn that lesson and do what it takes to get in the top tier in this category again.

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  2. 

    I totally agree with you on this paradigm shift as well! And I think the issue is multi faceted – we have a system today that works for the 40-50% of high school graduates that go onto college but what about the other 50-60% that don’t?? Should we have a much more aggressive “trade school” type program to help develop skills in those individuals for jobs in their communities? And what about the 40-50 year old (or older?) whose jobs disappear due to technology – should we build an educational channel to help them develop new skills needed to stay in the market place so we can continue to take advantage of their experience, work ethic and overall wisdom/knowledge? I agree with you that the jobs people use to do aren’t coming back but we haven’t done much as a society to change our perspective on how to prepare people for the jobs that exist today that are still going unfilled while so many people are struggling with minimum wage positions and the jobs likely to be created in the future that we can’t even predict right now. And what role should businesses have in the training/development of their employees and labor force? It seems that over the past 40 years, many businesses and industries have eliminated their training and development departments as a way to reduce “costs” assuming that the labor market (locally or globally) would simply figure out a way to prepare itself for the changing demands of our workplace. And the saddest part is that there are so few leaders in our country having this dialog. But perhaps, blogs like this may help that dialog move forward.

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    • 

      Hi Mike. You provided us with a score of impressive reasons for why a paradigm shift is needed and I agree with all of them. We should no longer consider that once you are 16 you can stop going to school. Education is a life long event and should be geared and treated as such in a “new” education system. It will take someone with a very powerful voice to even get this to begin.

      Since educating our youth is still very much a locally controlled function there is little foresight given to it and less standards. That is not the way to prepare for a future where education is so critical. I hope the common core standards are at least a start of this process but there is a long long way to go after that meager start.

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  3. 

    The implication of “all” does not work when talking about “white suburb women” or “Christians” or “poor”.

    There was a great debate article about Common Core written in Forbes in August. The comments are mind provoking by people who work with it.
    I think Duncan is on the right track- putting in the bottom, as I stated before. The problem is that most of the federal resources only go to the bottom- or bottom middle- rather than pushing for the top. It pushes testing (old fashion) over teaching. It pushes excerpts over full bodies of literature. It pushes Algebra one over Calculus.

    Has Sidewell Charter embraced the Common Core? How about University of Chicago lab school or Arlington Va? No? Maybe because they highly recommend a developmental k-1 and a rigorous 8-12 that pushes far past Common Core. These are all places our top leaders send their children to school.

    But what do I know?

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    • 

      Wouldn’t it be great is all kids could go to the schools that the “leaders” send their children to? Common Core is just that a core, not a complete plan but only establishing a most basic level. Yeah, We all want more than “basic” for our kids and I hope someday we all get that wish.

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    • 

      Interesting that you mention Arlington Va. That is where Duncan lives and his children attend the public schools there.

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