My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Parable of Drive-in Banks and Cars

Well, okay, this isn't really a parable. Parables come from the real world, and this analogy comes from an alternate universe.

In this world, there is one major automobile manufacturer. It sells more than 80% of all cars. It also sets a bunch of implicit standards relative to the way cars are built and used. For instance, all cars have a driver's-side window at a specific height, of a specific size and shape, to match drive-in service facilities, and all drive-in service facilities are built to match the standard driver's-side window.

Moreover, all drive-in service personnel are trained, and required by law, to only serve windows of the standard height.

The reasons for this standard are said to be safety and efficiency, but there is one other reason that over-rides the rest. The window also has a special encoded certificate in it that identifies the person who is authorized to drive the car. This certificate, of course, is hidden, so that the casual thief won't have an easy time of copying it.

The certificate was originally intended only for banks and other financial institutions, but they proved so convenient that even the fast-food industry has taken to using them. They weren't supposed to be trained to read them, but you know how it is with secrets.

Besides, it provides another revenue stream for the banks, to handle the money for other drive-in services automatically. It's considered a win-win situation.

This works for a little while, because the "bad guys" go along with it for the most part. They knew that they could get away with copying only a few certificates and using them only occasionally. The banks and other companies are insured, so the customers don't lose money, and if the bad guys don't steal too much, nobody gets overly concerned.

But, just like in this world, not all countries are created equal in our alternate universe. And there are some countries that, because of war, or graft, or by tradition, or other reasons, have a large number of people who have no prospects of finding work, and very little access to the charity hand-outs.

These people have grown up without the traditions that would help them plan ahead and not steal too much. So, now, suddenly, certificates are being copied all over the place, and the insurers are losing so much money that the economy is threatened.

Okay, it's not a really great analogy. Don't try to push it too far.

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Courtesy is courteous.