A Way of Life Revisited
Mary, Neal, and Alice in Chapter One represented real people in today's world who have learned to utilize self-direction in learning as a means to cope with life and its many challenges. However, we think the future holds even more challenges and anticipate that increasing numbers of people will find self- directed learning activities crucial for survival in a world of ever-increasing change. Thus, we would like to introduce you to the Hammond family, five people who find themselves, in 2005, employing self-direction in many of their daily learning efforts. Join us in observing a day in the life of the Hammonds.
George Hammond-Treska is 45 years of age with a doctoral degree in educational psychology. He is an adjunct professor at the local university, operates a consulting service that concentrates on middle-management recruiting, training, and counseling, and is an avid electronics hobbyist. He generally operates the consulting service alone, although he has several colleagues he can call on for specific needs. George has been a computer technology nut since the late eighties and owns two computer systems, an optical scanning system, and a laser transmitter for long-distance communication.
Greta Treska-Hammond is 43, has a masters degree in social work, and since 1999 has been the director of the local educational brokering service. She has taken special courses in small group work for the past three years, belongs to two national learning networks, and tries to keep her hand in the local peace network, an organization devoted to maintaining the world-wide nuclear freeze achieved in 1998 after the Euro-Baltic missile scare. She does not regret the 12 years of her life devoted to being the major care-giver for the two children, but continues to be surprised at the difficulties in now meshing a full-time career with the support required for two older teens.
Julie is a vivacious 19 year old who has just started her second year at the New Jersey Open University. She spent the summer in Spain on a United Nations Study and Volunteer Program where she studied advanced Spanish,
helped tutor Chilean refugees, and increased her skills in weaving. She had commented in August to her parents that the Westville Alternative High School program had prepared her well for both the tutoring and weaving experiences, although the notion of sitting in a class on weaving with several others was quite different from her tri- video instructional kits.
Stan is a muscular young man of 17 who is in his junior year of high school at the First Westville Preparatory School. Taller than his father by a full six inches, Stan has just found out he made the varsity on the robo-ball team, that new sport that has taken the country by storm in the past few years. He will be playing halfwing on offense and robo-tech on defense. Stan was worried that he might not make the team because of spending his interim year apprenticing on the moon's Star-III colony, but steady work with the anti-grav equipment apparently had paid off. In addition, he only had to spend one week in the SEAT center (Star/Earth Adjustment and Training) upon his return so the extra workouts he got in during July and August helped, too.
Bill Hammond, George's father, is a healthy 73 years of age. George had been Bill and Wilma's last child. Wilma's death in 1969 of cancer had resulted in Bill and George having a closer relationship than many fathers and sons, so when Bill retired in 1996 George and Greta built on another bedroom and would not hear of Bill moving anywhere else but into their Trenton home. The symbiosis had been fruitful in many ways as Bill's tinkering ability left everything around the house in tip top condition and George and Greta's culinary skills left Bill in a constant state of having to watch his waist line. Fortunately, the anti weight gain and cholesterol reducing drugs of the past few years had made this latter need not as great.
So there you have a fairly normal family of 2005. As a matter of fact, an annual census would find the Hammond household just about mid-center in terms of American statistics: One registered Republican, one registered Democrat, and three declared independents; four automobiles and one commuter helicopter; an average family income from two wage earners of $300,000 per year; a house of 3300 square feet containing 4.5 bathrooms, six radios, one large screen video receiver and playback system, one fax machine, six video-phones, one optical scanning system with both audio and digital readers, five mini- computer systems, two laser printers, one dot-matrix multi-font printer and a print spooler, one laser transmitter, two electronic mail and data retrieval systems, two robo-cleaners, and one combination upload and download satellite transmitter system. Now that you have a picture of this middle-America family, let's follow them in a typical Monday.
6:00 a.m. - George, Greta, and Stan rise. George does his stretching
exercises, grabs a glass of water, gets in the car and heads for the Sunup Club for 80 minutes of exercising. Greta does her stretching exercises and starts out the door for her typical six mile run with a group of neighbors. Stan ambles over to the newly acquired home Nautilus machine and programs in the 20 minute physio-total sequence.
6:45 a.m. - Stan finishes his shower, grabs a frozen breakfast for the car's microwave, and starts off for his 30 minute commute to First Westville Prep.
7:00 a.m. - Bill wakes, contemplates resetting the alarm for another hour but remembers his important 9:00 appointment at the senior center so gets up, does his normal 12 minutes on the McKenzie plan, and heads out the door for his 45 minute walk.
7:15 a.m. - Greta returns, showers, gets dressed and sits down to a breakfast of amni-biotic flakes, milk, and fruit-bits. She turns on the Neuter-Rotandnews and begins to read the articles scrolling on the screen in front of her. A piece on the revival of the old National Training Laboratory catches her eye, she requests a hard copy, checks the spooler menu to make sure there is an open slot on one of the laser printers, and hears with quiet satisfaction the humming of the machine as the downloading begins. She walks over to the scanner's audio reader, puts in the audio tape she dictated yesterday on her way home, and begins to read the material as it pops up on the screen.
7:30 a.m. - Stan arrives at First Prep and ambles into the daily assignment center. He punches in his ID and password and receives some suggestions from his psychology mentor for some readings he might try. There also is a request from the micro- biology study group leader that all members convene for a seminar at 10:00. He audio-inputs his affirmative response and heads for the library to do some reading before the meeting.
7:40 a.m. - George returns, wolfs down an applo-fiber, a glass of lacto-milk, and a cup of that new mufti herb tea Stan brought back from the moon colony. He then fires up the BIS internet and reads his electronic mail accumulated since last night. He returns three necessary messages, uploads a file on management counseling to one of his consultants living in California, and downloads a copy of the latest issue of Socio-Psych News for reading later in the day. He picks up his new clipboard mini- computer, presses the corner latch, and lifts up the lipto-laser display panel to reveal the touchpad keyboard. After a check to see how much memory is left in the Datamold Field Mini-computer's three megabytes bubble field, he begins creating some ideas for how he will pursue mastering the new on-line conferencing techniques for one-on-one counseling developed by his professional association.
8:00 a.m. - Bill finishes his shower, gets dressed, and ambles over to his
mini-fridge for a usual breakfast of old-fashioned corn flakes and 2% milk. After rinsing his dishes, he walks out to the car for the 30 minute drive to the senior center. As he drives he considers what his answer will be to the center director's request that he teach a woodworking course to center members. He has never taught before, but had often thought about it.
8:15 a.m. - Greta picks up her briefcase, pops into George's study and gives him a kiss goodbye, checks the electronic sensor to see if Bill is still in his room and then says goodbye to him through the intercom, types out a quick message to both Stan and Julie, and uploads the messages to their electronic mailboxes. She then ambles out to the helicopter, HELEN (Helo-ELectronic-Energy Network), hears its quiet hum as she turns on the network system, and lifts off for the quick commute to her office.
8:30 a.m. - Meanwhile, in that exciting new community under the dome, West Brunswick, Julie wakes and goes through her normal routine of aerobics, jacuzzi showering, and breakfasting on egg whites, juice, and cellulose with high iron toast (what Stan always laughingly calls that "sawdust and rust" bread). She also gives Annie, her friend in Miami, a call on the video-phone and they critique each others new haircuts for awhile.
9:15 a.m. - George connects to the laser transmission satellite, uploads the graphics needed for today's class, and checks his mini-lecture notes. As soon as he receives the class connect signal, he begins his initial talk on using learning contracts with his class of graduate students in psychology. He describes the various learning contracts, holds up various examples for students to see, and tells them how to download copies of any of those in which they are interested. He answers an important question from Thabo Bolatto in Capetown and another one from Hilda Correro in Mexico City. He then announces the on-line study group assignments, asks the groups to work on the initial model-building assignment and their initial ideas on either group or individual learning contracts, and reminds students how to contact him on-line for both interactive and delayed communications. Assuring himself that all questions had been answered and the assignment was clear, he signs off the satellite, sends a report to the central administration data bank, and begins checking his electronic mail for any new messages.
9:45 a.m. - Greta finishes a meeting with a client, dictates a quick note via the Newfair Lipto-neutron network her organization time shares, and heads out to catch the subway across town for the weekly tele-conference meeting of the Africa-to-America learning exchange network on small group techniques. She checks her brief case to make sure her notes are there as well as the micro-diskette on which she has stored the three files that need to be uploaded to all participants today at the beginning of the meeting.
10:00 a.m. - Julie heads to the West Brunswick Interactive Museum to work with a family of low-grav monkeys being groomed for life on the Star colonies. Her Open University course on anthropology requires this hands-on experience plus a term paper she has been painfully dictating into the laser steno each evening.
11:15 a.m. - Bill pulls into the central library parking lot. He walks into the lobby and up to the on-line catalogue that he has used so much in the past few years. He keys in a few boolean- based commands centered around the subject of teaching adults and watches the resulting "hits" scroll on the screen. He selects several possibilities and requests a hard copy printout. As he heads for the stacks to look at whatever he can find on his list, he muses again about George's suggestion that he learn to use the electro-library software on one of the home computer systems, but recognizes he would miss hunting up real books on his own.
11:30 a.m. - As soon as the study group session is over, Stan heads for the student center to have a lunch of syntho-burgers and real fries with Cindy. He remembers to drop off his chemistry assignment that he had completed last night. He sights Cindy at the front of the building and they head for the cafeteria's food line.
12:30 p.m. - Greta heads to the conservatory two blocks from the tele-conference site to take her weekly lesson on the electro- organ. Her lifelong love for music has not dampened from her early days of piano and trumpet lessons and she finds the discipline of nightly practice to be quite rewarding. As she walks, she reaches in her purse for a laser-dry lunch wafer, reminding herself to grab a non-caffeine soda from the vendor in front of the conservatory.
12:45 p.m. - George pops a frozen dinner in the laser-wave, pours a glass of milk, and pulls out the steaming dish. As he eats the synthetic meat dish, getting used to the taste now that real meat was almost impossible to get, he puts on a headset and lets the theta wave stabilizer clear out the cobwebs. He remembers that he needs to use the SCALE (Super Computer Analog Library Educer) to research and extract some new management conclusions before tomorrow's training session with those clinical psychologists from Asia and Africa.
1:00p.m. - Meanwhile. Julie finishes her lunch of sprouts and fruit and heads for her study group on the cultural history of the Aztecs during the late 1400's. Friday they had observed some construction activity during their retrogressive scanning probe and were nearing an ability to record some supporting data for their hypothesis that the Aztecs had actually invented a
form of electrical transmission. Today she hoped they could refine the picture, at least on the small scope, to the point where it could be recorded and translated by the Newfair 4792 lipto-neutron parallel architecture-based computer on which they had leased space.
2:15 p.m. - After a lunch of synthetic pork chops, carrots, green beans, and coffee, Bill checks the pneumatic mail tube to see if any information on the elderhostel in Denmark he will be participating in next month has arrived. Finding only a copy of his Self-directed Learners Guide, he heads for his room carrying the dozen books he checked out on teaching adults. Having made the decision to teach a woodworking class, he follows his customary plan of attack in learning about a subject, knowing that he will be as prepared as possible when the class starts next month. Whoever said that retirement would be boring!
4:00 p.m. - Greta finishes training her new triad leaders and provides each with a list of their lifelong learning case groups. She then fires up the desktop computer in her office and contacts the LID (Learning Information Database) system in San Jose, California, to see if any new learning exchange groups or free university organizations have been started in her area.
4:15 p.m. - Stan heads for the locker room to get dressed for robo- ball practice. He is still thinking about the French class and the discussion that emanated from his debriefing group regarding the Star-III experience. The mentors had urged each member to consider astro-physics as a career, but he is not sure. He still thinks a lot about a career as a professional robo-ball player, but has not discussed it with Mom and Dad recently. Perhaps he should take up that offer of Pete Marley of the New York Titans and spend a few weeks working with the team during their spring training.
4:30 p.m. - George and Bill head for the basement shop to continue work on their experimental motor. George's skill in computers and Bill's experience with piston-driven motors have convinced them that they can build a better motor for that old rider-mower Bill had brought with him when he sold the house. Bill would like to adapt one of the robo-cleaners to mow the lawn and George has accepted the challenge of redesigning the computer networks to operate the system. The video version of the Electronics Encyclopedia is already scrolling on the scene in front of them.
5:00 p.m. - Although the study group had not been able to find the same construction site because the satellite position had changed and they did not have the new site coordinates, Julie felt they had made nice progress in the refinement scan. The etched lines on the face of that woman carrying the
water were so powerfully shown that Julie had decided to use the hard copy printout as the basis for her next art project. As she entered the studio of her water colors mentor, she began to think of how to convince him that she could combine her electronic pictures with his somewhat archaic views on water colors by hand brush strokes.
6:30 p.m. - Greta finishes her last report for the day, files a copy electronically, and requests the software to archive a hard copy in the Trenton central office. She walks to the "chopper" as Bill fondly calls it, heads for home wondering what George has prepared for the evening meal, and looks forward to some conversation with the men in her life and her later work with the electro-organ. Fortunately, tonight she has no office work to catch up on. She might even have an opportunity to do some pleasurable reading, she muses.
6:45 p.m. - George heads to the kitchen and pulls out several containers from the proto-freezer. He has decided that they will eat Mexican food that evening and busies himself with setting the table, chilling the wine, programming the robo-cleaner for a quick run-through of the dining room, and checking the electronic mail while the food cooks in the standard oven and laser-wave. He then decides to give his brother, Charley, a call on the video-phone and see if he would like a game of astro-golf on the weekend.
7:30 p.m. - Stan rushes in, says a quick hi to everyone, wolfs down an enchilada and taco still warm on the dining room table, punches in a ticket request for he and Cindy at the holograph- movie downtown, gets a confirm signal, and waves bye to everyone. He announces that he will be in by his midnight curfew. As the dust settles, Greta sighs and says "was that a tornado or what that just went through here."
8:00 p.m. - Having read her Mom's plea for a phone call, Julie gives the folks a ring on the video-phone and has a chance to chat with Mom, Dad, and gramps. Mom liked her hair, Dad did not comment, and gramps wondered if it was perhaps too short. She asks Mom to send her that file on minority groups and color preferences the Euro-Americas Learning Network had pulled together, noting that it would be useful for the paper she was writing related to her socio-ethno course. Julie then gets ready for a fun evening at the laso-disco with Betty, Pablo, and Rhyne.
11:30 p.m. - George, Greta, and Bill finish watching the TBS evening news. George mentions that Jane Edwards looks better than ever, especially since their holographic fine-tuner had been repaired, and that he appreciated the networks decision to run a half hour of national news prior to the late show. Greta and George decide to head off to bed and Bill says he will remain with his addiction to Jake Burrows and the New Night show. "Tonight Jake is
interviewing Helen Weaver regarding her sponsorship of the Lifelong Learning Bill and I want to see how he turns that into something humorous," Bill exclaims.
We are going to leave Greta, George, Bill, Julie, and Stan to their almost frantic rush into the future. They do appear to have things under control, though. Is the story of their lives only fiction or is it possible? Obviously, it comes out of our imagination, but we believe the future can be something like that for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren if we want it to be. You only need to do a little extrapolation from today's technology and thinking to come up with what we have forecasted. In many ways, we have even been conservative on what is possible and even probable.
There is no question in our minds, assuming we can avoid worldwide calamities such as nuclear wars and ozone layer failures, that technological innovations will continue to amaze us and make life easier or at least very interesting. Obviously, we will have to continuously learn to cope with the changes, suggesting that lifelong, self-directed learning skills will be even more necessary than what many of us are advocating today.
The Hammond family certainly used many technological gadgets for their on-going learning endeavors, as well as for their day- to-day activities. Reading in their world took on a much different flavor than what we may be used to, but our current world of microform readers, electronic messaging, fax machines, and interactive video actually appears as a natural precursor to what they took for granted each day. We, for example, were in constant, almost daily, communication via email (electronic mail) throughout the writing of this book. Collectively, we communicate weekly with literally hundreds of adult education colleagues throughout North America as well as in many other parts of the world. This "instant" communication has enlarged our worlds and facilitated learning in a way neither of us could have predicted only a decade ago when we first became colleagues.
Such technology also is evolving as a device for facilitating self-direction in learning. Just as the Hammonds were involved in various forms of computer-mediated learning or electronic networking, many of us today working with the education of adults can recommend some similar resources, although still at the infancy stage in terms of what is possible. Just think how exciting it will be when that retrogressive scanning probe system is developed. We can go back and view Lindeman first writing the word "andragogy" or perhaps even Benjamin Franklin's first Junto meeting.
The Hammonds also employed a variety of learning techniques each day. Independent study, contract learning, learning exchange networks, study groups, traditional classes, internships, and just plain old reading a book all
appeared to be part of each family member's attempts to cope with the requirements of daily living. One of the messages we hope we have conveyed in this book is that all such techniques are very viable for people of all ages if employed in caring, facilitative ways. In fact, for the Hammonds lifelong and self-directed learning skills have all been blended together to where each family member uses such skills without thinking about them from the youngest member to the oldest.
One of the messages we also wanted to portray with the Hammond family is that lifelong physical exercise, good eating habits, and obvious medical advances, the precursors of which are in place today, are likely to produce healthy people with good minds who normally will live long and fruitful lives. As a matter of fact, we could easily have introduced great grandmother or grandfather Hammond into the story and described a healthy, vibrant person. Bill's learning throughout life will become increasingly more viable, we believe, and will continuously produce challenges for those of us desiring to promote effective experiences and resources for the self-directed learner.
The story of the Hammonds also revealed that a variety of "communities" can be expected in the future. From Julie's West Brunswick to Greta's learning exchange groups to George's worldwide electronic classroom, the concept of interrelationships with corresponding impacts on facilitating learning must be addressed by those of us moving toward such futures. No doubt, most of us have already experienced a widening of both our horizontal and vertical community bases and can recognize the implications for learning, information exchange, and forming new relationships.
As we move toward the type of future described in this chapter, and we are optimistic that this will happen, there are obvious important decisions that must be made by leaders at various levels of society. Political leaders must find ways of solving crucial problems, such as growing numbers of homeless, environmental hazards, and drug abuse. Educational leaders must solve problems of illiteracy, inadequate learning resources, and constantly rising costs. Those of us in the trenches must find means to meet ever-increasing learning needs, continue to carry out research on educational issues, and keep ourselves up-to-date with ever-growing knowledge. We hope that this book will contribute some to the efforts by many concerned educators of adults who strive everyday to help solve local, national, and international problems. In the concluding chapter we will provide some ideas and recommendations that we hope will lead to some solutions.
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