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Education

I attended elementary school in Shelby, Ohio and Mobile, Alabama and then returned to Columbus, Ohio for Junior High (Johnson Park) and High School (Walnut Ridge). I had a strong interest in science and applied science and was an "honors" student until my junior year in high school when I became aware of just how ridiculous the whole process was. Since the fifth grade I had found education useful since I had found a way to learn outside the system (as teacher's aide, office "boss", playground monitor, safety patrol leader, audio-visual "expert", and the like). Luckily, I elected electronics as my elective and found applicability therein. I avoided classes at every opportunity performing every ancillary function they would let me. It's a strange testament to the institution that they graduated me in 1968 since I virtually missed my entire senior year (as club president, AV-go-to-guy, stage manager, and all-around troubleshooter). Luckily I "aced" the PSAT and had no trouble getting college offers.  

My "college years" were an interesting mix: starting with Columbus Technical Institute, transferring to THE Ohio State University, and finishing with Eastern Washington University. In 1968, CTI was a fledgling new school where I learned plenty - especially how to earn lunch playing cards (Euchre). I learned more electronics working repairs in the evenings and weekends at Olson Electronics than I did at CTI. OSU was chaotic in 1969, but it was fun being on campus when the Buckeyes won the national football championship. Unfortunately, I drew #59 in the draft lottery and the draft board was desperate for recruits, so they took away my educational deferment because I had changed majors. Besides, as a "newbee", I found it almost impossible to get the classes I wanted or needed, so my interest waned. It was so bad that I flunked "skiing" winter term because I spent too much time on the ski slopes - just not on the bunny hill at OSU. My memories of OSU will always start with our anti-war demonstrations - especially the one right after the Kent State murders ("killings" to some). I never would have guessed that six months later (October of 1970) I'd be in the Air Force (and married with a son on the way at age 20).

Boot camp was as much an awakening as it was an education. Who would have thought that you have to relinquish all your constitutional rights in order to defend them? And what better way to make one appreciate those rights than to forfeit them so abruptly. It was a constant struggle for me to "play along" with the silly games, but I learned plenty about myself in the process. They can say all they want about learning discipline in "basic training"; what I learned was to hold my tongue. I suppose that was a valuable lesson in discipline.

I volunteered to enter the Survival Instructor Program because it was a guaranteed four-year duty assignment (stateside) located in the Pacific Northwest (which I had fallen in love with during the summer of 1970). Of course, that meant that I had to be among the small minority of wannabes who actually survived the training. The training was intense, demanding, diverse, and fun. Among the most unexpected lessons - just how adaptive and durable the human body and mind can be. We are amazing creatures. My specialties: edible plants (I was a vegetarian at the time), fire starting, navigation, and totally undermining the military bearing of my "superiors" (aka, the "lifers"). (See "Military" section for more).

EWU was a breath of fresh air compared to OSU: better managed, more intimate, and student-centered. As a three department major (IE&T, Ed., and Psych.), I can affirm that each was just what you'd hope for in "higher education". I found a section in the catalog titled "honors program" which nobody knew anything about, so they pretty much let me define what it meant. In my senior year, I was allowed to teach three courses (as an advanced graduate assistant might at other colleges) and I was given a research budget and wrote my own course description under "material science" where I plasticized wood (using anhydrous ammonia) and created odd new composites ("scotch wood"). That work got me invited to WSU as a graduate student, but I had a family to support and job offers.

I took the offer of The Dalles High School in Oregon where I would open the electronics and welding departments in their wonderful new technology center. I hadn't taken an electronics course in eight years and I had about two hours of welding instruction and ten hours of welding experience. Needless to say, my first year was challenging as I dealt with two curricula, two budgets, moving two shops (old "skill center" to new building), and students who had more hands-on experience than I did. Thank goodness for Heathkit's learning systems - where one gets hands-on experience with excellent self-paced instruction. 

Of course, to maintain my teaching certification, the State of Oregon insisted that I take additional coursework - almost none of it useful to what I was actually teaching. Nevertheless, I was able to take a variety of courses through PSU, OSU, U of O and other colleges where I gained legitimacy as an electronics, computer-science, and welding instructor. But, more importantly, I was busy starting and running computer related businesses, attending workshops and training seminars in new technologies, and generally staying "ahead of the curve" (gaining professional experience in areas where no college courses were yet available.

Frankly, my experience with the "education system" taught me the value of good teaching and more about what to avoid as a teacher than anything else. I am a great believer in self-directed learning based upon personalized interests and well-defined applicability, practicality, and pragmatism. If we can teach others to love learning, value truth, and earn a living, we have done well. 

(Click here to go on to "Educational")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You might also take a look at...

CherryComputers.net

TheHumanFuture.net

 

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rich1vanwinkle@yahoo.com


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"A perfection of means and a confusion of aims seems to be our main problem." (A.E.)