On Connecting Egypt and Schools

With the power of instant news, we watched the events in Egypt as they happened. Whether the peaceful gathering of the masses or the few days of violence, there were and still are so many stories intertwined into this overthrow of a long-standing regime.

These two thoughts repeatedly played in my mind: the desire of people to be free and the peaceful nature of the masses – and each of these took me back to the 1960s and the way Martin Luther King treated civil rights. However, the Egyptians had something that Dr. King’s followers did not have: social media.

Some have described it tweets versus tanks. Columnist Kathleen Parker wrote these words:

Unarmed men and women inspired by tweets of freedom stared into the bullying armaments of dead ways. It was a stark image of the prolonged battle between good and evil that human apparently have been fated to fight. This time, enabled by what we casually call social media, evil finally may be outgunned.

Today, news travels faster than ever – and Revolution 2.0 has spread to other countries in the region – yet we are witnessing different behaviors by those with the tanks. Nonetheless, the events in Egypt have demonstrated social media’s power – and as this outstanding video shows, the numbers are staggering. (Sorry, this one can’t be embedded.)

Many people use social media as modern-day paparazzi to keep up with the latest news from someone they deem important. Businesses use social media to increase revenue through communication, customer service, and marketing. Many people (as me) use blogs to fuel our appetite for learning through informal means. Some corporate training departments are now incorporating social media tools. Meanwhile, can social media tools be the lightning rod to ignite public education reform? Do you really think schools entrenched in the industrial age model could react that fast?

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13 thoughts on “On Connecting Egypt and Schools

  1. Hi Frank!

    How are you?! Appreciate reading yet another of your interesting post. Have to agree that, whatwith the rapid nature of news spreading in today’s culture, the human experience is fastly becoming something that focuses upon our common ground as fellow human beings as oppose to our differences.

    Off to read my favorite segment of your fascinating blog–“Opinions on the Short”…have a great week ahead, Frank.
    Carpe Diem, my friend.

    • Al,
      News sure does travel fast … even the incorrect stuff. Watching things happen live is stuff amazing, and I can recall watching Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald! Thanks for commenting.

  2. I’ve felt for some time that education reform has to come from the Federal level. There are too many patchworks of laws and rulings that determine how schools are funded, what can and can’t be taught, even who can go to what schools. (Check over at WriteChic’s site about the Ohio mother and her two children. Shout-out, M!) Education reform must start with a level playing field. If some schools can have the latest PCs while some schools are stuck with 40-year old textbooks, we start some of our children off at a disadvantage. Social media could be used to demonstrate this inequality. It could also be used as a tool, initially, to bring less-well equipped schools up to par as reforms are initiated. Perhaps most importantly, social media could be used to educate and direct our political leadership as to the problems, and solutions, that are so desperately needed.

    • John,
      Education reform is a complex issue, and as we know, filled with a lot of talk and rhetoric. In my opinion, it does not come from the fed level, but more so from the individual state. However, it is important for the two to act in concert with one another.

      Years ago, I recall someone saying that education needed a jet engine because it was the jet engine that totally changed the aeronautical and defense industries – thus I’m wondering, could social media be the jet engine?

      Meanwhile, he’s my take on the difficulties of educational reform.
      http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/on-school-reform-the-difficulties/

      Thanks for commenting.

    • The main thrust of my suggesting Fed reform is to overcome local inertia. If done at local or state levels, “good” schools and their parental populations (usually in richer areas) will resist change, because they don’t want their children receiving a lower-quality education (a reasonable concern). “Bad” schools and their populations will want change, but won’t be able to afford it. Even entire states can swing one way or another economically – can most of, say, New Jersey be considered as well off as, maybe, Washington state? (I’m just pulling names out of a hat as “for instance” examples.) By tying school money to an area of a state, or even to an entire state, you make the school systems “hostage” to the economics of the state. Michigan was reasonably well off when the US car companies were king – now parts of Detroit look more like Mogadishu than an American city. You also need standardised textbooks. Allowing the Texas Schoolbook Authority, by dint of their sheer size, set the topics for our schools is ludicrous. If they decide Creationism is the ONLY thing to be taught, many schools will follow because they buy the same books as the TSA. Without a NATIONAL level of what our children need to know, state-level or area-level schoolboards can end up setting wildly different levels. Reform does need to start at the local level, but without firm leadership (and occasional nudging) from the federal level, there may not be enough will power at the local or area level to see the reforms through.

      • John,
        Educational inertia is at all levels (local, state, federal, school boards, teachers, administrators, and parents). Simply massive … thus in accordance to Newton’s first law, it will take a lot of energy just to get a slow budge. Let alone the perception factor of communities promoting their schools as “good” when in reality, judgment depends on the benchmark one chooses as a comparative standard.

        You mention available finances. Some believe that the kids in the well-to-to suburbs deserve a better education than the kid from the low-income district … but in our hearts we know that shouldn’t be. When it comes to textbooks, I will simply say don’t get me going. :)

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

        • Rats! I put that little dig about the textbooks in JUST to get you going! ;) And trust me, I got to see the “well-to-do” schools firsthand. There’s a little town called Oakbrook Terrace that was about 10-15 miles from where I lived. I believe that ancient term “Rich-bitch” (that phrase is gender neutral) was specifically coined for that lot. Tons of money, and the most MISERABLE people I’ve ever met! I think they were also the inspiration for “money can’t buy you happiness”. (Well, for that lot it was. Me, I’ve had plenty of money and I’ve been dirt-poor. Poverty sucks! :D )

        • John,
          I’m not sure which is worse, the textbooks, the selection process, or the selectors … but I won’t go further.

        • Oh, now the textbooks aren’t that bad. I bought a barely used one from a local library. The title? “The Franco-Prussian War – Why France Will Triumph” – copyright 1870. Now, how much more up-to-date a book could you ask for? It makes a nice companion piece to the science book “Why DC Power Is Electricity’s Future”. That one actually belonged to some guy named Nick something. Telsa? Tensor? Teflon? Rats, can’t make it out, I think I need new glasses….. :p

        • LOL … so I’ll clarify. Texts are ok with content, especially stuff students don’t need to know at that time, but (as a whole) are pathetic in offering a research-based instructional strategy. However, our 1870 book sounds like a classic.

        • Actually, I did get a deal something like that. One of the places I worked decided to have some weird kind of fundraiser. One part of it was supposed to be books that others could use. Yeah, like I’m gonna find detailed texts on the infantry maneuvers used in the 1800s, right? One woman brought in a box of her father’s schoolbooks. Nothing specific military, but a half dozen books, all from when he was in trade school, all about airplanes. How they work, how to fix them, how to weld them, how to wire them, about 8 in all. The LATEST date? 1942!!!!! (One of my WW2 re-enacting personas was as a flight engineer with the US Army Air Corps.) She wanted a buck a piece – I gave her a $20, and (I’m told) skipped out of the room squealing like a schoolgirl. Well, maybe not skipping…… :D
          Somewhere around here I do actually have a “we’ve lived through the first year of the great war, what will 1915 bring?” that’s dated 1914. You’d be amazed at the weird books out there – that one was part of a yearly series. Yeah, every year, they summarised where WW1 had gone, and where they thought it was going. WONDROUS stuff! :)
          Yeah, I realise the content, and especially the methodology presented, leaves a lot to be desired. We used ripple tanks in science – light shining down through a thin layer of water to study how waves propagate as part of physics. That was late 1970s. I found out recently the area schools only draw diagrams – like learning how to rebuild a car engine using Greek texts! We’ve gone BACKWARDS! Grrr!!

        • John,
          Look at it this way … you helped the fundraiser and you got something of interest. After all, history tells more about today than most people realize.

          In terms of textbooks, and this is true for science texts, teachers avoid (like the plague) texts providing a teaching methodology based on learning research …. plus I find it hard to believe that the same isn’t true in the other content areas.

          Hope your wife is getting better. Thanks for sharing.

  3. By the by, I may be quiet tomorrow. (Alright, quit cheering!) The wife got a bad tooth pulled, and the cold I’ve been fighting has gotten the upper hand. So enjoy the respite from my smart-alack remarks!

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