Monday, November 7, 2016

No Citizen Left Behind

On this election eve, I am no longer willing to watch television and the campaign advertisements. I voted early, but I am still quite concerned about the election and what happens afterwards.

It is not the best of times nor the worst of times. It is perhaps the least thoughtful of times. It is the Alt-Right waging war against socialists. The tea and beer party against the wine and cheese party. What happens afterwards?

I recall a war waged in my discipline (instructional design and technology) between those who favored direct instruction and those who favored discovery learning. 

That war is being abandoned by a more pragmatic approach that favors what works for whom in which circumstances. Sometimes, for some learners, some learning tasks and some situations, direct instruction is effective and efficient. On other occasions, for some learners, learning tasks and learning situations, discovery learning is effective and even efficient given an appropriate time perspective. What matters is supporting every learner (and teachers) in every different learning situation. What matters is what works and not what ism one invokes.

What is needed afterwards is a set of common goals and shared values. It should be possible to identify a few of these. Some of these might involve national aspirations. For example, the USA  might aspire to have the lowest infant mortality rate – right now we are about 46th – far from the lowest – see

Or, we might aspire to be number one in terms of longevity – we are  not even in the top ten today – see

Or we might agree to lower the rate of illiteracy in the USA – now about one in five adults in the USA cannot read at a 5th grade level. One in five! 

Well, the USA is in the top ten with regard to spending per capita on defense – see

If we were to agree to a few common goals and then agree to the general principle of not leaving anyone behind or out, then the healing could begin. When has that ever happened, I wonder? I hope someone has an answer.

J. Michael Spector
Election eve, 2016

J. Michael Spector, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Learning Technologies
College of Information, University of North Texas
3940 N. Elm St., G150, Denton, TX 76207   USA
TEL +1 940 369 5070 / +1 706 202 9350 / FAX +1 940 565 4194

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