Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GE Wants to Bring Manufacturing Back to the US


We are very susceptible to gimmicks. I just adopted a free-range cat. When he first started hanging around, he would eat whatever was put out for him. After I brought him inside, he remained consistent. Then, he became choosy.

If he left what had been put down, I would simply pick it up, stir it a bit with a fork and put it back down. Then he would eat it. I don't expect that to last too long. He still remembers being skin and bones, as it were. He will forget.

We watched Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign. When he appeared on MTV his hair was brown. When he addressed the AARP his hair was grey. This was noted in the press. It didn't matter. People saw what they wanted to see.

"If people like you, they will overlook your faults. If people don't like you, they will overlook your virtues." -- Slim Fairview

We used to teach reading with phonics. Children learned to read. Now, with apologies to Meredith Willson who wrote, The Music Man....

"You've got trouble here, right here in River City, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for phonics. Yes, my friends, you've got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, vowels in the alphabet. With 21 consonants that give you 9 billion, 63 million, aught '9 COMBINATIONS. No wonder Billy can't read trying to remember all that.

"You don't need to know phonics to speak do you? You just think of a word and say it. That is the whole language approach to reading is the think-method to speaking."

We've fallen for every gimmick imaginable in educating our youngsters. (The character of Harold Hill, in the Music Man is what is known in Americana as the lovable rogue. We know he's a crook, but we love him anyway.)

And it is not simply a question of older employees. Having served on committees in organisations whose functions included the "new hire" problem, consensus is that young people lack basic skills. They cannot add, subtract, multiply, divide, or use simple tools: micrometers, calipers, or even rulers.

In addition, at the initial stages of education, the fundamentals are necessary--crucial.

I am good at math because I memorised the times tables. I didn't want to, it took me longer than my classmates because I didn't want to, but I did it (because I had to).

That, coupled with one small tool in math, 3(a+b) = 3a + 3b, means that I can instantly determine the cost of several cans of green beans in a supermarket and do a cost analysis of 3 small cans v. two large cans. Not important? No, the VP Finance is not buying green beans to bring a covered dish to the next board meeting. However, as he, or she learned this (probably in the 5th grade) the concept was learned along with it.

When it comes to teaching youngsters how to think, not what to think, there is a point in time where analysis will come into play.

GE will need young people who can do what I can do. If they haven't memorised the times tables, they won't be able to do much analysis.

While there may be more than a few youngsters coming out of school who are fluent in technology, that won't meet the demand. Hence, the influx of people from countries who value education highly and apply themselves as a means to financial success and social elevation.

No doubt, the technologically literate will run things in this country through a combination of immigrants and outsourcing, and the rest of the students will be taking jobs that pay just enough to hang out at clubs and party.

BTW: The equation above: The distributive property of multiplication (over addition). I actually had to Google the term to be sure I remembered what it was called accurately. That information I can Google. The ability to use that skill cannot be Googled.

We have become victims of our own success. Good luck to GE if they are using the old business model.

If they want to build it here with workers there. It isn't going to work.

If the want to build it here with workers from there, that won't put the unemployed to work.

It will be interesting to see how Harold Hill explains GE's plan to the people of River City. OOPS, I mean to the shareholders and the stakeholders.



Mail: slimfairview@yahoo.com

Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

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