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Published:October 26th, 2010 09:17 EST
Dr. Ussery on Public Schools and Education

Dr. Ussery on Public Schools and Education

By Ernest Dempsey

Dr. M.R. Ussery in his short book Public Schools Are Archaic(Outskirts Press, 2010) points to the failure of public schools in educating children to develop their potential for development to its best level. He proposes a new system of schooling that would operate on the fundamental principle of delivering practical education and cover the range of educational demands of children in the 21st century. Following is my e-conversation with Dr. Ussery about his proposed system of schooling.

Dr. M.R. Ussery


Ernest: Dr. Ussery thank you for joining me here! Let me ask you what is your concept of education at its best?


Dr. Ussery: Education at its best is the process through which we develop behavioral patterns that change us into higher order mammals. We learn to communicate with sounds, symbols and actions. Through these, we find our places in the culture into which we were born. We learn to do the things that make us unique; able to contribute to society and accept from others the unique services they have learned.


Ernest: How do public schools as we see them today fall short of delivering the best education?


Dr. Ussery: We fall short of this by failing to give each student equal outcomes. The time we give to a particular subject is constant; a term or semester. The learning achieved by each student is variable, depending upon what he/she brings to the class in terms of past learning, intelligence and desire to learn (among other factors). Our delivery system is often lecture. Confucius say I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I DO and I understand.

Ernest: And who is to blame mainly for the lack of quality education in public schools?


Dr. Ussery: I hesitate to blame any particular group for this. Playing gotcha doesn`t get the job done. I suggest that we appoint an ad hoc committee at the national level to investigate better ways to educate and design a system to get it into motion.

Ernest: Okay, please tell us briefly about your proposed system of education and the kind of institutions to deliver it?


Dr. Ussery: As an ad hoc committee of one, I suggest the following preliminary steps:

a.       Motivate as many interested people as possible to make lists of what they feel high school graduates should be able TO DO to earn a secondary diploma.

b.      Place these suggestions into the most plausible order from which a revised curriculum will be developed.

c.       Convert these into Mager-like Criterion-referenced objectives.

d.      From these, contract with producers to develop media versions of them. Media versions might be video, audio, print, theatrical scripts or other creative presentations.

e.       Reproduce these and make them available to the new learning centers, schools or the public.

f.       Concurrently, the committee has been working on design of a learning center for using these media. The new pilot school would probably be a developmental tool for the future.

Ernest: What role do you see or propose for homeschooling in this system?


Dr. Ussery: Home schooling families would have full access to the learning center and media modules.

Ernest: All such enterprises as you propose need funding, and I think a good deal of it. Whom do you expect to fund these proposed learning centers?


Dr. Ussery: For the initial development of the pilot school, funding could come from one or a combination of the following sources.

a.       Federal grant(s).

b.      Contributions from foundations such as Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Rockefeller et al.

c.       A new corporation, bent upon making the plan a profit-making institution.

Ernest: Don`t you think that a lot of people will disagree with you on the issue of public schools versus instructional systems development (ISD)?


Dr. Ussery: The Learning Center approach would not be ISD versus Public Schools. Consider it a new version of charter schools or private schools or magnet schools. The difference is in METHOD.  

Ernest: You see a central role for the modern technology, like digital gadgets and multimedia " in delivering better education in our times.


Dr. Ussery: To ignore the new developments of technology would be like returning to Walden Pond. With media modules, teachers would be nearly extinct. Managers would develop study maps for students, based upon their individualized needs. There would be BIG libraries of media and print materials for the students to study, made smaller by the sizes of memory chips and thumb drives. To accelerate development, every student would need a lap-top computer.

Ernest: What role can our mainstream media play in initiating/popularizing a new educational system?


Dr. Ussery: LISTEN UP, mainstream media. It is your patriotic duty to see that every citizen of the US knows about this proposed or in development project. Perhaps all we would need is to get Oprah and Glen Beck on our side.

Ernest: Finally Dr. Ussery, how will your proposed system of education bring about a change toward a better society with little or no crime and abundant opportunities for actualizing one`s creative potential?


Dr. Ussery: Failure in school creates a negative attitude toward authority figures " toward law " toward other citizens ". Some of these failures will eventually have to go into lockup --- jail, prison or mental institutions. Success, by means of individualized, self-paced and interesting subject matter would surely reduce the numbers of ex-students in lockup. If students learn TO DO, they will most likely keep on doing. Teach them to DO, and they will understand.

Ernest: Many thanks Dr. Ussery for sharing your views!