Thursday, January 24, 2008

QGE=A: The Foreword

How do you deliver quality generic education?

According to Win Straube, this may be the most significant question we have before us in the United States and the rest of the world. No one will argue that education is not one of the most important issues facing us today. And, no one will argue that quality education is not needed for the world of today and tomorrow. But just acknowledging that education is an important issue requiring our attention, doesn't guarantee quality education will be provided to all.

There are people who are totally involved in education at all levels, including, government, academic institution, and the acquisition of information and deployment of knowledge. Most of these are dedicated professionals serving in a variety of capacities to create, improve and deliver education. While many of these professionals feel that their contributions are significant, especially to the student population that they serve, they would readily list a number of modifications, changes and suggestions that they feel would improve their educational systems, if only they could be heard.

This book is one that needed to be written, as it lays out before us the major factors that influence education and those that hinder its improvement. Looking at the various levels of educational institutions and delivery systems, as is done in the first part of this book, will help the reader understand two things, 1) there are a variety of ways to deliver education, via established institutions, and 2) there is an inherent reluctance on any institution to adjust the educational channel to become better distributors of learning if it involves change.

The investors in the existing educational systems are, by their very nature, protective of the standards and accepted best practices that have evolved over time to support that system and generate an optimal outcome. These individuals will declare that for those who qualify and meet the minimal standards of entry, the existing system does a very good job of molding and educating the students during their passage through the well-defined educational process. While these educators will sympathize with those who are not accepted into the educational learning talent pool, or will feel badly for those in other environments that do not support or provide access to quality education, they will shake their heads and say "if only we could establish another system just like the one we belong to, we might be able to help".

For those who see the larger picture, who see more people not served properly by the existing education system, who visit communities or countries that cannot afford to invest in such a system, or for that matter sustain one even if it were created by some well-meaning government aid program ... these people shake their heads and see the need for very different strategies to meet the growing educational requirements of the rest of the country and world.

My background is that of a secondary school mathematics educator who came from a family of educators (my father was a history teacher, mother was a reading teachers, my two sisters are art teachers, one of my brothers-in-law is a science teachers, and my wife is an elementary teacher). I also spent three years on my local school board, one year as its president, so I think I have a valid perspective on what the current hard working, professional educational practitioners think. But I must tell you, for me the river of thought on education has been formed by the confluence of two separate streams. I also had the opportunity to work with emerging computer technology over the past 30 years, participating in its development and use from simple PC's to the world-wide-web. I was the major force behind the first (and most successful) comprehensive basic skills curriculum delivered entirely via computer based education terminals, and am currently the author of a published K-8 mathematics curriculum delivered daily via computers to thousands of students across the USA. So, I have a somewhat broader view of what can be accomplished within and outside of the traditional educational institutions.

For example, if you understand that the need for learning is life long and that the traditional educational resources available to adults are over booked, often inaccessible, and mostly too expensive for those who need to acquire the knowledge, then you are immediately forced to look at alternative methods for educational delivery using technology deployment. To respond to the emerging global need with the existing educational infrastructure is folly. We would not even have enough time to educate the teachers needed before they would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of learners they would need to serve. The old ways have worked well for the established social structure, but that structure is changing dramatically with the advent of the global economy. We need to find more universal methods that will still produce quality results, if we are to progress effectively and keep pace with the development of educated workers.

It is very clear to me that the issues addressed in this book need to be given careful consideration. And, having someone like Win Straube, who is a world citizen, look at the symptoms, problems and potential solutions is refreshing. Win has no hidden agenda to put forth except that he wants all individuals around the globe to have access to quality education. Win sees clearly that certain established educational systems, while quite effective within certain domains, are deficient and inappropriate responses to the larger educational crisis we are facing. Win sees that technology has advanced to the point where it might become the great equalizer by providing the opportunity to access quality education from anywhere, at any time, for any purpose. Whether you agree with Win or not, if this book gets you to think about the need for alternative educational innovations, it is worth your while to read it. I must say that I support him in this quest and hope that by raising the issues he is motivating us to consider alternative actions, while striving to maintain the best of what we current have in place.

Peter J. Rizza, Jr., Ph.D., President,
Princeton Center for Education Services, Inc.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WNYC Radio Interview regarding QGE=A

On January 3rd, 2008, Win Straube was interviewed on WNYC Radio's Brian Lehrer Show. The radio segment was entitled "Straube Effect" and included discussion about Win's life, how he became who he is today and his interest in what he has called, Quality Generic Education. The full length audio version of the interview is downloadable at Following is a transcript of the portion of the interview pertaining to "QGE=A; Quality Generic Education is the Answer" published in 2007 by University Press of America, Inc.

BL: Your new book is about this concept that you call Quality Generic Education and technology is very involved in that; correct?

WS: Correct.

BL: Tell us about that.

WS: Yes. Well as a matter of fact our education system, the way it works, today still is very much, I would say maybe 2000 years old. It is teaching a classroom of people or it evolved into this. While today you could teach the whole world from one TV studio provided you had the right kind of setup and the pupils were paying attention. In other words, it’s a matter of, to learn you’ve got to be present, not necessarily in person but your mind needs to be present. So the issue is how to connect your learning mind with the teacher and nowadays this is possible to have the best teachers in the world provide the knowledge to essentially everyone. And this is what this book is all about.

BL: Ah. So, even though people may consider it kind of cold and maybe even dehumanizing to do education in front of a television monitor or computer monitor, you’re saying that an advantage of that would be that there would be fewer teachers and only the best ones would be doing the job?

WS: Well, as I explained in the book, there are going to be different versions of teachers. Now the one teacher who is making the presentation, is the one let’s say like Brian Lehrer teaching to the rest of the nation and having the audience. However, there is another group of teachers in front of him which would be the one who would prepare the material to be taught, and this is very essential. In other words, you have the best materials to work from and to teach and the ones who would develop the tests, like the people who would work for Educational Testing Services in Princeton, these are all in essence teachers. Now on the other side would be teachers at the station where the message is being received. In other words in front of this monitor, or a classroom with a monitor, a teacher would be present or it could be the parent or other; I call them facilitators.

BL: If you have teachers present in the room, why do you need the TV monitors?

WS: Well because of what is being transmitted. In other words, the teacher in the room may not have the qualifications or the knowledge which is being transmitted.

BL: It’s a very centralized view of education then right? It’s one that believes that expertise can be disseminated by the experts more effectively than by trying to have – you know in New York we have 80,000 teachers just for one city’s public school system – more than relying on them as much as we do today. Do I understand it correctly?

WS: Well, let’s take the example of pilot training. If you have to learn how to fly a specific airplane, you had better get the correct instructions and hopefully from the best instructor you can have for this, and it doesn’t matter where this instructor is located so long as this message reaches you. However, if you leave this or if you have 20,000 teachers disseminating the same information and assuming they don’t have all the same knowledge and not the same qualifications then this message will become quite different.

BL: Are you talking about all ages, by the way, or only older kids or higher education?

WS: I am talking about all ages.

BL: You are?

WS: Yes.

BL: Well let me take a caller who wants to question that, I think, for younger children. Joshua in Greenwich, you are on WNYC with Win Straube author of Quality Generic Education. Hi Joshua.
Joshua: Hi, I am an elementary school teacher in Greenwich and I actually have the pleasure of working in two buildings so I am driving from one school to another right now and as much as I would like to beam myself into these classrooms and stay at home, possibly in my bed, I think a lot of what is being said is operating under this largely-accepted fallacy that there is one right way to teach it or one method.

BL: Right, or one best way.

Joshua: Yes.

BL: I’m going to leave it there and ask our guest; do you believe that as he stated it?

WS: No. In fact there are a quite a number of things which can not be taught long distance. For instance, if you had to do laboratory work, in chemistry or things like this, definitely you’d have to do this in person and you may have disadvantaged children who need far more than an image to learn from and obviously this would have to be dealt with this way. However, I would assume, that in a school or, like your listener reported, you would have two of them where you are teaching, and particularly for small children, you may have presentations in there like from Sesame Street Workshop which are essentially distance learning methods while the rest goes on. In other words, I am not saying that 100 percent of the time and that in all cases, there is only one way of how knowledge can be distributed; not at all.

BL: We just have a minute left, what do you hope that your foundation will accomplish?

WS: The purpose of the foundation is to show and to accomplish how anyone, anywhere can obtain a high quality, world class education at the least amount of expense or at no cost at all.

BL: Win Straube is the author of QGE=A, which stands for Quality Generic Education is the Answer. Thank you for joining us.

WS: Thank you.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Is Quality Generic Education the Answer? Consider this book review...

QGE=A, Quality Generic Education is the Answer
By Win Straube
ISBN-10: 076183771X
Web Page:
Review by Heather Froeschl

I have been an advocate for my children’s education and I will continue to be, despite being labeled by some teachers as “the problem parent” of the classroom. If that is what it takes to be involved, then so be it. Win Straube encourages parents and educators alike, as well as every citizen, to become more involved in our nation’s children’s education, in our own education, and subsequently, in our nation’s future. In his book “QGE=A, Quality Generic Education is the Answer” readers will be inspired to find ways in which the best education can be offered at the lowest possible cost.

Is this book relevant to every United States citizen, regardless of their being a parent, teacher or student? Absolutely. We are all parts of the main cog system and we all have the power to make positive change. So what is Quality Generic Education? It is identical quality to “brand name” education that is universally applicable, available to all, and not ideologically directed. In short, it means that an education garnered from a state university would be of equal value to one from Harvard. I can hear the gasps of disbelief at such a notion, but I am all for such a concept to become a reality. How can it? Straube knows about education, and he explains it all very nicely.

The author discusses a motivation to learn that he hopes all citizens are capable of, the roles of parents and teachers, the purpose of public schools, and what we should all be doing to encourage learning. His explanation of generic education includes the examination of lessons taught without bias or religious influence on student’s opinions and focuses on what we need to do in order to make our nation’s education systems more efficient, and more readily accepted by other educational systems. Looking at our higher education possibilities, and what is now available through long-distance learning, and the internet and the costs of those things, Straube is explaining the future of our children’s and grandchildren’s education. He speaks of what distracts us as students, what is lacking in our learning, and even explains how a college education is not enough to ensure success. What is the cost for education? Is it simply funds? Is it the promise of student loans, or is it also the price of our personal beliefs when the school we attend is telling us what to believe? There is much to examine, and Win Straube certainly opens the eyes of his readers.

“QGE=A” is a greatly researched and fact backed book, offering a lengthy and valuable appendix. The style is straightforward and convincing of the need for change, yet Straube’s voice is not demanding in an overpowering way. He knows what needs to be done and offers his guidance, wisdom, and plans to every reader. I encourage everyone with the slightest interest in our schools and colleges, students and teachers, and our nation’s competitive future, to read this book and take a step toward creating a better learning environment for all.