Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mr. Stricklands Profession

Mr. Bill Strickland presented upon his work, and his legacy, the Manchester-Bidwell Corporation.
At his workshop, he spoke with fluctuating enthusiasm. Often times it seemed he had done his speech a few too many times, and only at certain points did his passion really become evident. The biggest part of his workshop seemed to be Mr. Strickland, building his credibility through the speech. If I would not have read the first chapter of his book, I would not have understood the emotional appeal (or logical argument) of his mission and simply understood that he had powerful friends on his side. I immediately wondered if this is his successful business strategy. If after some 40 years in his fundraising campaign, he realized the most effective way to raise the necessary funds is by sharing his past success.
Though I believe Mr. Strickland's work is simply remarkable, I do have some criticisms about it. Mr. Strickland, though he believes the system is faulty (as he said at his talk "I'd like to take over the entire education system"), works with the system rather than trying to change it. I also think one essential piece missing in the achievement of his dream is the research. Strickland provided only brief bits of evidence as to why his methods are effective and rather expected the audience to take his word for it.

Having said this, my question is: 
How do we create support, on a government level, to implement Strickland's ideas into public schools?  

It seems that Mr. Strickland is getting much support for his programs from investors, such as the Heinz corporation etc, who are interested in funding his after school programs. But the reality is that these programs can only do so much work. There are many cities throughout the United States which will be unable to fund these million dollar endeavors and, even the ones which can, are still putting students in public schools lined for failure. Things such as standardized tests are still a huge part of public schools. States spend some $1.7 billion a year on tests rather than art programs. As Strickland points out, different people learn in different ways and the standardization of the student is not doing justice to the different types of learners. If you think there is a large fight against these tests, think again: recently many teachers have proposed standardized tests to evaluate TEACHERS. A recent NPR interview talks about the case. Teachers  My point is that we need to tackle the big issue rather than try to work around the issue.

Though my criticisms seem strong, I deeply admire the work Bill Strickland is doing. I only wonder what the future of his company will be like (with the aggressive expansions they are planning) and if his company will make any attempts to change the education system in Strickland's vision of "Every building I build is beautiful or I won't build it."

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