Author offers Academic Senate education solutions

“I am a futurist. I know the score of this week’s Homecoming game, but I won’t divulge the results,” said author William Draves at the beginning of his presentation to Cal State Long Beach’s Academic Senate.

Draves was a guest speaker at Thursday’s meeting, explaining the concept of his book, “Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century.” Draves, who co-wrote the book with wife Julie Coates, described the future of technology-based education patterns through the year 2020.

He explained that, if American teachers don’t embrace and incorporate technological tools such as the Internet in their educational arsenal, tomorrow’s youth will be ill-prepared to succeed in a competitive economy.

“We are witnessing a transition from a very safe world to a world of uncertainty,” Draves said, comparing the impact of advances in computer technology between the years 2000-2020, to the impact the advent of the automobile had on society from 1900-1920.

The concept of “nine shift” in his book describes difference in the use of our “discretionary” time. According to his book, out of a 24-hour day, we have no discretion over the 12 hours we need for eating, sleeping and chores. The other 12 hours leave us some discretion for work, play and family.

Describing current learning institutions as “factories,” where young people are trained to work factory schedules, Draves said, “America cannot afford to send 2 million bright youth off to work at McDonald’s.”

Draves said the teaching system of America needs to embrace technology in the classroom like those in England and China do.

He went on to say that educators need to include more online learning programs and make every classroom an online experience, pointing out benefits of distance learning such as potential for developing virtual learning communities, lower educational costs and availability for students to study during their peak learning times of day.

Draves said online courses will help youth in the upcoming years by eliminating such practices as punishment for tardiness or truancy, detention, and suspension or expulsion.

Shefali Mistry, president of Associated Students, Inc., said she agreed with much of what Draves had to say about the future of education.

“I really think it’s important that we start grading on performance rather than behavior,” Mistry said. “An understanding of the material is more valuable than having to track things like attendance and other behavioral factors.”

Draves, the president of Learning Resources Network (LERN), a private education advocacy group, drew laughter from the Academic Senate when he compared modern handwriting skills and face-to-face teaching practices to those taught in the early 20th Century. “Writing in cursive is a vanishing art, as outdated as practices like milking cows and shoeing horses.”

Praveen Soni, chair for Academic Senate, told the audience that the state-level Academic Senate appreciated CSULB’s Senate for their support in the recent endorsement sent to the Cal State University and California Faculty Association contract negotiators. The referendum demands that both sides reach agreement on the nearly two-year long battle for higher wages and other benefits.

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