Systems Thinking and ROI LO13713
Sun, 25 May 1997 11:17:17 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO13700 --

Interesting thread. There aremany questions that pop into my head when I
read these posts. Does learning follow a schedule? Do we improve the
lives of our students by forcing their attention toward the matter at
hand? Should we teach to the tests in life?

It was a very hot and humid day yesterday at Sea World in San Antonio and
I took refuge from the heat in the White Whale arena which was between
shows and almost empty. The Pacific Dolphins were swimming freely and my
young son, his friend, and I laughed as we watched their antics. The
conversation ran all over the map as the boys wondered out loud how the
tanks were constructed, how the trainers got their jobs, what would happen
if dolphins were pets, what the various ropes and wires over the pen were
used for, etc.

We were not watching a scheduled show, we were escaping from the heat.
But as we watched something new and unusual (to us), we abandoned our
tentative plans to walk about a half mile in the heat to attend a
scheduled show at another arena. We were having a good time exploring the
wealth of new discoveries before us and we shifted gears to take advantage
of the opportunity.

As we sat there another family entered the arena and paused to watch the
same scene. Two young children noticed the dolphins and immediately
headed down toward the pen to get a better look. Before they got 20 feet
the father called them back. "Don't go down there", he said, "we don't
have time because we have to get to the other show by two o'clock". The
children, naturally, protested, saying that they wanted to see the

Now the father had a lot of options at this point. He was in almost
exactly the same situation in which we had been earlier and he could have
abandoned the schedule and enjoyed the moment. He could also have
insisted that their advance planning was worth sticking to and hustled
them off to another show. He could have simply walked off and forced the
kids to follow. But instead he said, "This place is closed, look - there
are no people here and no one else is going down there. Now hurry up and
let's get to the show before it starts."

He forced those children to abandon their immediate desire to learn
because no one else was doing it. Maybe they were just as excited when
they got to the next show, I don't know because I didn't see that. But
somehow I doubt it. I only saw a tiny slice of that family's world, and I
am in no position to judge them or to generalize about what they should
have done. But I know what they could have done and if I seem wistful
today remembering the experience, well it was only because I was reminded
for a brief moment yesterday just how mysterious life can be.

So, back to my initial questions. For me, no matter what anyone says
about efficiency, or schedules, or logistics or following rules; education
which does not recognize and revel in our sense of curiosity and wonder is
missing the greater picture - life is a journey.


Lon Badgett

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