Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thank You, Mr. Mangold


Post-Script: I can certainly understand the value of secondary school as preparation for college and to gain essential life skills. Still, even when I was in school so many decades ago, there was an emphasis on jobs training, whether that be through Industrial Arts or, in the case of the Math Department back then, teaching kids how to operate cash registers(!). I personally never enjoyed a classic liberal arts education, which seems so foreign these days in America, but am personally familiar with a family of kids who did gain such experience, through being home-schooled; they have subsequently excelled as adults, being emotionally well-balanced and mature beyond their years, in comparison with their peers.

My experience of being tutored under Rob Mangold was so rich because he let us explore our ideas. Partway through my second year of Architectural Drafting I experienced an explosion of interest in air-supported structures. Instead of telling me to just drop it, he permitted me to build several prototype inflated structures in the back of our class, along with drawing the blueprints as everyone else had to. The result was not only a design for a private residence using air-inflated tubes as structural members in the walls and roof (the drawings of which are in the top photograph, under the drafting instruments I used), but also an inflatable dome large enough to accommodate several people.

I'm certain, looking back upon the experience as an adult, there were some hard feelings on the part of other students in the class, who thought that perhaps I was the teacher's pet. Maybe. But perhaps Mr. Mangold took an interest in this geeky kid because he saw something in me that I couldn't at the time perceive; but which, in the passing of the decades since, has served me well.

Perhaps S.T.E.M. - based curricula are the way forward for our society; or perhaps we need a renewed focus upon classical liberal arts education; or perhaps we need to cut everything else out except Common Core Curricula. Whichever way, what's most important is that we retain and reward talented teachers with the heart to see the latent potential in kids like myself, and enable those teachers to go the extra mile to ensure the creative potential of their students is satisfied. Such talent is the heart and soul of effective education, and can't be programmed into existence through Power Point foils and the latest fad in educational theory. I'm living proof.

Top photo via Lumix G5, typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.


Blogger Ted said...

You know, I don't remember anything at all from school except the experience of being the first class to get to touch the Commodore PETs, and much farther back, some odd POD education curricula from the late 70's where we spent several months doing "planning" for an imaginary city. I kind of wonder what happened to those fanciful open-ended curricula that flourished during the Carter presidency.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Bill M said...

I remember all those tools. I still have many, and I still use them. I too, enjoyed drafting and industrial arts. I had a great teacher in Jr. High. I also had a good teacher in our agricultural shop where I learned small and large engine repair. The normal IA teacher was just there to earn his pay.

It would be nice if the schools still taught a good liberal arts classes as well as shop and drafting, but considering schools are too lazy to teach proper penmanship, reading, and other basic skills I guess we can't expect much. Most schools here spend all their time and effort coaching students to pass standarized tests. The private and home schooled I know are way surpassing the public school students in education and as you stated they are much more mature. Many receive a better and more rounded education. I know they get STEM also as many are in our radio club building and learning all things electronic.

5:25 PM  
Blogger RobertG said...

Oh yes recognize :-) Worked a cpl of years designing and drafting machines on the drafting board, still white coats in the drafting office. Changing over to CAD was efficient and all, but by hand you did put a bit more into it. Obsolete skill perhaps.
Was amazed that my eldest now gets taught technical drafting in 'high school', hadn't expected that in this 3D CAD modeling age :)

2:48 AM  

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