I was watching my students this morning who had plenty to do but not much enthusiasm to get about any of their tasks. The intrusion of the phone into classes is some days pretty daunting. Anyway I saw the article on work and thought about what it is to be a student today. It certainly is not about the thirst for information Ben Franklin writes about in his brother's apprenticeship learning to print. And I wondered if job satisfaction as well as student satisfaction might be similar.
The media tells us 40% of the jobs today will be roboticed in the next 15 years. Truck driving will be gone. Most physical jobs may just go away. Designers and folk whose tasks can't be matched by AI will be safe..... for a while. In this crazy world where do you find your satisfaction and what do you think threatens it?
Yesterday I received two important pieces of mail. One was from a bank and I was instructed to make some changes on a form and send it back in the enclosed envelop. There was no enclosed envelop. The other was from Social Security. It was to verify answers I had provided by phone last week. I had to navigate their lengthy phone hall this morning correcting two errors there. In both cases, I know a computer could do a better job.
It was difficult for workers who bought into Ford's five dollar a day salary -- traded job satisfaction in a coach crafting shop where they had responsibility for the entire build of a coach for the much higher wage of doing a repetitive, highly focused task. Now the old folk talk about the old days and complain about the high cost of labor. Youngsters, on the other hand aren't interested in doing manual, repetitive work. They want to create video games with action and a story and a quest. Never mind their primary skill/experience is that of being a user.
Yesterday I asked my newspaper students to imagine the world in 20 years. Most saw it as a continuation of the world they live in now. I hope they are right and my concerns are not. Probably we are all wrong. Any thoughts?
I decided to give my website a makeover. I wanted to add a new feature in structure that lets you bring in color for backgrounds. Because my old website had this sunset driving the background the feature wouldn't fit on it. So far I have tried several skins to find a better look. I don't exactly like the white background, but with the option of bringing in color....I think I find that acceptable. Unfortunately the theme (skin) limits button colors and some don't project well at school. We'll see if I stick with the current choice.
One downside....when you do this you lose all of your custom header photos and I had a lot. I wasn't aware that was going to happen, but I guess there is always a price to pay for progress.
The other issue is that text sizes change and sometimes can't be adjusted easily. The setting is under theme and called "headlines" which made a big difference in reducing 80 point type to 30. Sometimes it pays to poke around and not just complain.
After a great summer we are starting a new era at my High School. Prior to this academic year we were a four day a week school. This year students get access to six classes on MTTF and an elective class plus core and specific help time on Wednesdays. We also plan to take school trips on Wednesday. The one for September will be to the Puyallup Fair which provides fun for students and some pretty awesome photo opportunities for yearbook, photo, and journalism students.
It’s too early to know how the change will affect everyone here. So far I am appreciating having a daily plan period which breaks up the day. Last year we basically went all day with no break. The other advantage I see is more of an academic opportunity focus this year. I think students will get traction a bit quicker with what we are doing.
I will provide my update next month.
My website gets about 30,000 hits a year which is quite a bit of activity for a teacher site. I try to link school events and activities and have always thought the district would appreciate this type of publicity. But, as often happens, I was wrong. This past year I was told that I should focus on schoology and google docs which are much less efficient ways to communicate classroom assignments (in my opinion). However we were recently told that we had to use those options only and we could no longer have a separate website like this one. The way I can continue with this site is to not have it linked from the school website, to not mention my current high school or district. And I can't mention any students. It can be a landing site accessible from Schoology as long as we strip out district information. The rationale from the school district is that they are responsible for backing up all websites. Never mind that a Weebly site can be backed up in about five minutes. We asked, but that doesn't count. They don't want to have to deal with individual back ups.
So, I now list my school as John Riebli University which has become a school without a district. When school commences in September I will delete any blogs that mention the school and everyone official will be happy. I will use schoology to link to the this site and everyone wins. The primary losers are other teachers who are being discouraged from creating colorful, interesting pages and will be stuck on the procrustean bed dealt them by the technology choices they are given.
So, on Friday night we graduated 21 seniors from our school of roughly 100. That's a large graduation. Staff set up 350 seats, created a stage, showed baby photos, had a reception area and put on quite a show. The Superintendent, assistant superintendent and a couple of school board members were in attendance. The community came out and passed out in excess of $50,000 in scholarships. It was a pretty amazing evening. Full senior activities and photos are available here.
So I did something I never expected. I installed a locking mailbox at the request of my mail delivery person.
Several years ago someone blew up my last mailbox with an M-80. It is now stacked behind my kayak rack.
I have always trusted my neighbors, but there is a row of mailboxes across the street and they have been broken into in the early morning. I consented to have a night vision camcorder placed in one of my trees to monitor evening activity. But he said that wasn't enough. So I went on line, looked at reviews and bought a large clunker of a box at Home Depot.
The new box has a key, but small hands or simply removing it makes security a mild deterrent, nothing to put much trust in.
As I look at my previous box standing by the fern garden with apparently no future I have to reflect on the state of things where we have to lock our rural boxes which rarely deliver anything of real value other than credit cards. I am also having to get use to the tall black box that requires me to now carry a key to get my mail.
Today the sun peeked out so I took my first bike ride of the season. My road bike is a Specialized Allez which hangs in the garage from a hook.
But to ride you first get dressed when you are an old guy. That means padded underwear which I skipped, cycling pants and jacket, a helmet and a mini rear view mirror that attaches to glasses. This all went well. Then you pump up the tires, do a quick visual inspection of tires, brakes, seat and chain. All was good so I was ready.
You would think jumping on and riding toward the sunset would be easy. It was awkward. Shifting didn't feel natural. Balance came back gradually. And the traffic seemed heavy. However, after about a mile I was twenty years younger and could sense I was flying.
Unfortunately to the casual observer I was just one more over weight guy trying to stay upright in a world designed for cars.
I wasn’t intending to write about turning 73 so I won’t. But I did want to share walking through Tacoma on the first full day after. The sun came out to transform downtown Tacoma. Beth and I had decided to walk through the University of Washington Campus at Tacoma. We found the architecture and the tie in with the former historic buildings uplifting. The campus is in a part of town where as a kid I attended dances at the Swiss Hall, went shopping for shoes with my mother, hauled malt from the breweries to the cows back on the farm, and eventually purchased construction hardware and materials for building. It is difficult to imagine how city streets could be transformed into quiet conversation nooks that one expects at university.
The photo below is of Chihuly glass and Beth on the bridge across the freeway. It was a beautiful day, even for those of us older than dirt.
Yesterday my mother turned 99 years young. On the way to her home I stopped by the family burial plot. My father was laid to rest there 18 years ago. Standing at the foot of his grave I shot this picture. The school in the background is where I teach and the windows in the center on the second story look into my room where I am now typing this. How strange is that? We travel through life and five hundred feet away from my place of work, across the freeway is my father's grave. My mother told me they chose it for the view. She was referencing the water and Mount Rainier view. Who knew they would be able to see my school as well.
John Alfred Riebli