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The 'old way' of education
bressler color

    I was in the waiting room of our favorite family practice here in Statesboro — I am fine, but they just wanted to look at my legs — and started up a conversation with an intelligent-looking guy sitting across from me. Reading the magazines was out of the question as I have looked at them so many times that I have memorized the articles.
    Anyway — and I can't tell you his profession because you'd know him and I did not get his permission to write about our conversation — we got to talking about the old way of working for a living. Here is a man who grew up learning his trade the hard way. As a young man, he began his career by being a gopher. "You go fer this and you go fer that." (Do not proofread, just enjoy.) He did all the lifting, watching, helping and after a length of time, was given more and more responsibilities. As he progressed in his ability and earned the trust and respect of his elders in the work place, he was promoted accordingly.
    He told me how new technology began to be introduced into the old tried and true methods. At first, he was resistant to change. He was sent to a special school that explained, taught and proved that these new techniques were invaluable. The great thing was that not only could he be an expert with the old equipment and its peculiarities, but could easily grow into the new futuristic world of engineering.
    There was a catch. Many of the new people who were now being trained had little if any knowledge about the old and still used equipment and refused to learn some of the old tried and true techniques. It was much easier for them to junk or replace some of the models that were not only in good working order but doing a great job. This was hardly a cost effective process, but no one seemed to care.
    The unwritten motto was sort of, "Don't worry about the expense. Buy a new one and when it breaks, buy another one. In the meantime, use some bailing wire, glue or duct tape. No one knows how to fix this old stuff anyway."
    One of the questions I asked on a recent test was, "Explain the certification and qualification and how these apply to your education."
    The answer that I expect would be to first read the chapter to understand an overall explanation of the question. Secondly, I would like to read a definition of each of the points, and thirdly, the student is to write his or her response using all the proper writing principles.
    I want to read clearly written sentences that let me know the student understands the question and can answer it to the best of his or her ability. I am not looking for a novel or a text-message short-hand response.
    One student wrote, "Certification means earning my grade through study and hard work, maintaining an acceptable GPA and graduating with a degree that proves I did it. Qualification means to gain knowledge of the world and the ability to think critically and apply that knowledge to new challenges."
    I will read her answer to every class. I do not want anyone to memorize what she wrote and simply parrot her answer in a rote manner. I want every student to hear such words as, "earning my grade, working hard, gaining knowledge, being prepared to enter the work place with integrity and capability."
    I guess that's the "old way" of education and it can't be replaced. What good is an unearned grade? What good is an employee who can't show up for work on time, does not have pride in job performance, is satisfied with mediocrity, does only enough to get by and chooses self over service?
    For me, success is not a diploma, a degree or a fist full of credentials. Success is doing it the hard way. As the old adage reminds us, "I worked for it!"
    Thanks for your time. You did it the hard way and you earned it!

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