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 http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2008/01/03. 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.

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