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    Celestial Navigation - a gut
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jan 12, 21:44 -0800

    This made me laugh, or rather, snicker. Jay Mathews of the "Washington Post" 
    writes about the trendoids, probably all chanting "change... change... 
    change...", frantically trying to bring so-called "21 century skills" to the 
    core of the American education curriculum. It turned out he had seen this 
    emphasis on collaborative, problem-solving, teamwork-driven skills while 
    taking a class years earlier in, you guessed it, celestial navigation. 
    Checking his Wikipedia biography, this was at Harvard back in 1967. Here's 
    what he has to say:
    
    "...reminds me of my last personal encounter with what I now realize were 
    21st-century skills. I needed a science credit to graduate from college. I 
    signed up for Celestial Navigation. I was assured it was a gut, the popular 
    term then for a course that required little or no effort. I was in love, soon 
    to be married, obsessing over what to do with my life, with no time or 
    patience for study. I was a classic case of delayed social development, 
    thinking and acting at age 22 like a typical high school senior. My college 
    treated me like most high schools treat distracted 18-year-olds. It wanted me 
    to graduate. It was not going to let a trivial thing like academic standards 
    stand in the way. 
    
    My final exam would be applauded today by promoters of 21st-century skills. We 
    had to plot a course on a Boston Harbor cruise ship, strategizing, analyzing, 
    collaborating. I don't recall understanding any of what was going on, but I 
    turned something in. As I expected, I got a good grade and a bachelor's 
    degree, despite learning no science. 
    
    That's why I get nervous whenever I hear of some brilliant new teaching method 
    that is going to sweep our students into a new century, wise beyond their 
    years. It takes hard work to teach this stuff, and even harder work, by 
    poorly motivated adolescents, to learn it. "
    
    -FER
    
    
    
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