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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 26, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Thursday, September 26, 1974 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 Education: the key to cope-ability? As a tribute to the one hundredth birthday of the city of Winnipeg, The Great-West Lite Assurance Company will hold a centennial symposium at the Centennial Concert Hall, October 27-30. Entitled the Dilemmas of Modern Man, the symposium has been designed to bring together some ol the world's out- standing thinkers to discuss where man has been, where he's at, and where he's going. To stimulate public interest in some of the major areas of concern with which the sym- posium will deal, a seven-part series has been prepared. This is the fourth in the series. Will illiteracy in the year 2000 mean not knowing how to program a computer? Will the mass production of students in brick and mortar schools and universities become a thing of the past? Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock and a keynote speaker at the Centennial Symposium, believes much of the present educational system will become redun- dant as society moves toward super-industrialism. In his view, the technology of tomorrow will not require millions of "'lightly lettered men" ready to work in unison at endlessly repetitive jobs. It will not require men who will obey orders in an unblinking fashion. In the words of C. P. Snow it will require men who can make critical judgments and who "have the future in their bones." In the fifties, education was regarded as the answer to all of society's problems; the means for all minorities in society to gain equal oppor- tunity: a stepping stone toward a better life style. Less than 20 years later the taxpayer looks at education with a jaundiced eye. He is sick of bearing the brunt of rising educational costs, only to be answered by a drop-off in university enrolment, drop- outs in society who don't want to work and support the system which support them, student riots and professors' and teachers' unrest. Qbviously education will have to change, but how? Toffler would like to see education future-oriented. He notes that in the future machines will be synchronized lor mass production, but men must become desychronized, with the emphasis on in- dividuality. Children must be taught to be flexible, to adapt to a new learning and cope creatively with rapid change. Ivan Illich, radical educator and ex-priest, talks of "deschooiing society" and giving the individual a credit card with alternatives of for- mal learning, travel and ex- perience as his teachers. Most schools still seem to expect students to sit in classrooms and absorb knowledge in a sponge-like fashion. Creativity and in- dividual thought are supposed- ly not encouraged and much of the learning is derived from hard-bound textbooks which are out of date before the printing ink on them is dry. Lord Ashby of Brandon, a British educator and a speaker at the Symposium, feels that students should be divided by their abilities and allowed to pursue studies to the level of their own abilities There must be "oppor- tunities for the intellect to be stretched to its capacities and the critical faculty sharpened to the point where it can change ideas by close contact with men who are intellectual masters." Lord Ashby prefers a gradual shift toward change rather than the overthrow of all tradition. Changes are beginning to take place in education. Universities have opened their doors to thousands more students, have expanded curricula, and in some places have introduced the concept of an 'open university" where students participate in choos- ing their own curriculum. Community colleges have opened where more students are trained for careers more technical than academic. Their graduates seem to be doing well, while men and women with PhD's sometimes have trouble linding a job. In elementary and high schools, walls have been eliminated experimentally; highly disciplined classrooms operate opposite schools with little or no formality Montessori schools let children learn through their own stimulated curiosity. Night schools offer university courses to working adults and correspondence courses allow students to learn and earn educational credits in their own homes. Yet amidst this diversity, discontent still proliferates and the cost continues to rise. Older adults believe the education system like society, has "gone soft" and that we are planting destructive seeds for the future. Is the education our children are receiving today really a preparation for the future? Will they be able to cope with a world changing so rapidly that even the finest brains in the land admit they cannot keep up with the "in- formation explosion" which constantly threatens to make their own ideas and teaching out of date? Says Toffler. "Our school3 lace backwards toward a dy- ing system rather than forward to the emerging new society." He believes the school system was a perfect Book review. introduction to industrial society, but now we are mov- ing toward a super-industrial society where this is no longer good enough. "The most criticized features of education today the regimentation, lack of in- rigid seating systems, grouping, grading and marking and the authoritarian role of the teacher are precisely those that made mass public educa- tion so effective an instru- ment of adaptation for its place and time." But we are in a different place and time. The world has changed The push for diver- sification in learning is leading to bitter conflicts in education, a trend Toffler sees as directly related to con- sumerism. "It is not accidental that at the precise moment when the consumer has begun to de- mand and obtain greater diversity, the same moment when new technology promises to make destandar- dization possible, a wave of revolt has begun to sweep the college campus. Though the connection is seldom noticed, events on the campus and in the consumer market are intimately connected." Already student strife in France has led to a massive decentralization of education and increasing emphasis on individuality. Futurists believe mass production and centralized work places will be as dead as the dodo by the next century. In a sense the present educa- tion system is also a mass production assembly line, with the school as the central work place. If this system becomes irrelevant, what will take its place? Toffler believes most educa- tion will take place in the student's own room at home at hours of his own choosing: "With vast libraries of data available to him via com- puterized information retrieval systems, with his own tapes and video units, his own language lab, and his own electronically equipped study area, he will be freed for much of the time of the restrictions and un- pleasantness that dogged him in the lockstep classroom." Toffler would like to see councils of the future set up in every school and community to plan for these changes. He would like to see an educational system develop which will be able to "help learners cope with real-life crises, opportunities and perils to strengthen the in- dividual's practical ability to anticipate and adapt to change, whether through invention, informed ac- quiescence or intelligent resistance." In short, education must be educated to the needs of the future. It is the key to cope- ability. Impairing man's normal judgment "The Mind Possessed: A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism and Faith Healing" By William Sargant (J. B. Lippincott Co., 212 pages, distributed by McClelland Stewart An earlier work on brainwashing, Battle for the Mind, almost inevitably suggested a further study of the non rational factors fre- quently associated with religious persuasion. Some techniques employed in religious exercises can sub- ject man's nervous system to so much strain that normal judgment is impaired and the mind becomes highly suggestible. Dr. Sargant found that in his study of religious 6 year old whisky Syearddprice. ISIU Beautiful! PalliserGilotty House CanadianWhisky: groups in various places in the world there were times when he was nearly caught up in what was taking place despite the" fact that he was trying to be completely objective. What Dr. Sargant has found in his studies raises questions about the reality of the divine power supposedly responsible for such things as possession, conversion and healing. He himself admits that the result of his long years of research is the arousal of the suspicion that "it is man who has created the gods and made them in his image." Yet, as he says, most people evidently need the support of some general religious, political or social framework of faith. The susceptibility of the mind to psychological coer- cion is a matter of grave concern to Dr. Sargant. In the future the conquest and control of man's mind may be a greater danger than nuclear weapons, he thinks. Dr. Sargant hopes man can be controlled rationally but isn't confident. I think this is a most impor- tant and most interesting sub- ject for study but I have to say that I did not find the book out- standing. I grew impatient with the accounts of Dr. Sargant's visits to various religious groups and at times I suspected he was making assumptions rather than drawing conclusions e.g. the dubious equation of the phenomenon of "speaking in tongues" with automatic writing. Dr. William Sargant is a British psychiatrist. For many years he was director of the department of psy- chological medicine at St. Thomas Hospital in London. DOUG WALKER Books in brief "The Downfall of Temlaham" by Marius Barbcau (Hurtig Publishers. 253 Originally published in 1928. this book is difficult to read due to the style differences when the book was written as compared to the writing style of today. I! is not a particular- ly interesting book and one wonders about the justifica- tion of reprinting it. GARRY ALLISON "The CalUornias" by Louis L'Amoor, (Clarke, Irwin and Company Limited. 188 pases i. A novel of the west set in Spanish California lhal IclJsof 3 family's fight to save their ranch (from the laxman's hands by fighting off all elements and finding mysterious gold just in time Mr writing style keeps one's interest up and if it is any indication of other books he has written, is a good advertisement for the man RIC SWIHART Hidden meanings So often we seek security behind locked doors when real security is being able to leave the door unlocked. Photo and text by David Bly. Herald staff writer The school book business By Louis Burke, Lethbridge teacher The school book business is far more hard- nosed than most parents know. It is part of a low-key, vicious race for billions of dollars and millions of young people. A look at some of the facts and practices may prove an eye- opener for everyone, especially the. public. which has the pool from which the billions are siphoned. Ninety per of all textbooks are a waste of energy, money and paper. Today, teachers use their own material to teach and they draw it together from many sources which no text- book can accommodate. Teaching is a per- sonal performance and the teacher more professional than ever. Thus textbooks possess an inflexibility which make them im- possible in today's classrooms. So, to balance the lack of use, certain abuses have been developed in the last decade. At the upper level, professors de- mand that students buy expensive texts which are often used but little in their lectures and work. If books are not used fully the waste is enormous because the cost is high. The moral responsibility for this, however, rests square- ly with university and other third level in- stitutions. Look at the number of secondhand books in mint condition which students have for sale from one year to another. At the secondary level, too. there are abuses galore but the prime target for the book business is the elementary section of our educational system. Often this is a con- spiracy like action between the publisher and the author and the object of the game is profit. To make that profit the author and publisher work hand in glove. The author builds up a name in education usually in some university where he or she has programmed many young people who flood the classrooms when they graduate as teachers. One person in an ivory tower can influence hundreds of graduates over a decade and these in turn get control of thousands of youngsters. Once the statistical base is established, the book com- pany is ready to negotiate. Turnover is the key to the business: how many books can children destroy in one year is the game. To ensure maximum turnover obsolescence is built right into the book. And in the name of education this is deliberately done The author develops exercises where youngsters must fill in the blank spaces. This is the most profitable trick or technique. Once the blanks are filled in. the book loses 99 per cent of its use and thereby 100 per cent of its value. The next group of little people will not and. indeed, cannot use such a marked up set of texts They want something new. Publishers are fully aware of the psy- chology behind this want and desire. They have worked on it for years to create it. Text- book writers go along with this amoral philosophy no matter what the subject because they in turn have their emotional hungers and one is to see their names in print. Those teachers who reproduce material are hardly more immoral than publishers and authors who build wastage into school books. Not that the former are correct, but the latter are definitely wrong. Undoubtedly, the school book business is in one terrible mess, morally and educationally. Decapitation for headaches By Fletcher L. Byrom, from Chemical and Engineering News It is likely that soon after man discovered how to make fire, some child burned his fingers. It is just as likely that neighbors of that ancient Prometheus brandished their clubs and called for an end to the evil force that could scorch skin, devastate forests, and emit billows of noxious smoke. Fortunately, reason prevailed. Fire became one of man's most useful tools. Those club-wielding scolds have their modern echoes in the call to slow or even halt the growth of technology. There is no question that our ingenuity has resulted in many unforeseen and undesirable phenomena. To suggest that we turn our backs on further progress, however, is somewhat like suggesting decapitation as a sure cure for headache. Our very numbers, if nothing else, would forbid it. Neither do we find much enthusiasm for a return to the sim- ple life among those who are already there. Our own poor in this and other advanced societies the downtrodden in developing nations, the starving masses of Africa's drought belt all must look to technology as the only certain source of salvation. And still the cry goes on. It is loudest from those who have known no other life than that produced by a high technology society They travel swiftly by air to address public gatherings, and their ships are guided down safely by incredibly complex control systems. They print their literature on equip- ment whose quality and output would have been inconceivable half a century ago. They chant songs of protest through electronic equipment that amplifies their message to thousands of eager listeners who have dnven to the stadiums over well paved roads in large boxes of metal powered by internal combustion engines. If the critics see any irony in all of this, they seldom comment upon it. Let us examine some of the charges. "Technology is ruining the environment." No one doubts that we are fouling our own planetary nest (although the condition is not new centuries ago in Europe, where civilization was at its highest, writers condemned the stench of the rivers and the foul air of the cities The answer does not lie in regression. A million home fires in a metropolis would create more pollution than present methods of heating. "Technology is wasting our resources." It is the size of our population and the rate of our consumption that threaten resources. Modern industry conserves materials if only because it is in its own interest to squeeze as much as possible out of what is available. In colonial Pennsylvania, a typical iron making facility chopped down an acre of trees every day to provide charcoal for its operations. "Technology is dehumanizing the worker." This fallacy derives from a romantic view of the past Except for a iew who managed their own solitary occupations, most laborers spent Jong days in uninspiring drudgery For the great majority, there was nothing up- lilting about life in the fields, mines, shops. and factories "Technology is invading our privacy I musl agree that we have often gone iw jar. We need stronger safeguards But if we are to achieve the belter hfe of which we all dream! we must devise ways to gather that informa- tion without insulting individual dignity 1 could go on. but a standard reply should suffice In judging technology, we should not outlaw fire because fingers may be burned. Squeaks and creaks By Doug Walker When we were getting out of the Goodwin s car one day 1 reminded Goody that he needed to put some oil on the hinges ol the door on the passenger side "How is it that vou have never noticed that door before''" Eveline asked her husband 1 had noticed it. replied, "but 3 always thought it was your creaky knees ;