Education and Community: The collective wisdom
of teachers, parents, and members of our community.

POLITICS

In defining the paradox of the user-driven system and the federally supported system, Mann introduces five categories initiating and sustaining change in our school systems. In essence change must be voluntary, user-driven, and reinforced by the authorities. This element of volunteerism is upon us again with Colin Powell leading a volunteer corps into our schools to assist in the education of our youth. Mann next provides a discussion of values as a driving force in helping change happen. In appealing to self-interest, natural entry points, learning theory precepts, a user-monitoring system, overdesigning, and disjointed incrementalism, Mann has outlined many important facets to telementoring. In the aspect of self-interest, survival tactics and learning to survive are the self-interest of the learner as well as to the teacher. Appealing to a base need as outlined by Maslow supports Mann's notion. Ambition self-interest and telementoring are very compatible bedfellows. Teachers and principals can use their charges to demonstrate the fine work being done at the direction of the curriculum leaders. And certainly self-realization, self-interest has merit as one teacher's work is imitated by others, provides professional pride, and verifies that teacher's work. Telementoring assists in early professional imprinting as student teachers are mentored and in turn become mentors. Making telementoring part of the process to become a teacher then facilitates its use in the classroom. Telementoring further helps to tap into slack resources by exploiting the facilities already available. Second circle emulation is telementoring. Using distant peers so as to not threaten a teacher is a prime use of telementoring for advancing teachers to becoming good teachers and in affecting a more practical form of professional training. Mann presents sound learning theory precepts which lend themselves very well to my own telementoring theories and practices. The participation hypothesis purports that as one participates in an innovative program one becomes more accepting of that program. Having clear tasks in a new venture can be "murky" as Mann states but nevertheless, having "components, requirements, and actions sharply delineated," make for greater successful implementation of innovative programs. Early and frequent success is crucial as success breeds success just as failure breeds failure. Non-aversive feedback or proper peer review becomes a new lesson to be taught and discussed in this new innovative program. Sense of fate control is the same as user empowerment. Empowering the user makes for more successful involvement and a better chance for success. User-monitoring system seems a bit vague and difficult to implement, however in the telementoring model there will be many users thereby facilitating better user-monitoring. In a final section on the reality of disjointed incrementalism, Mann methodically moves through the catalogue of reasons for failures in successfully implementing an innovative program. All of them should be heeded as the final supposition is that "Change must incorporate more attention to the users."(Mann, 1978, p. 407)

The modest proposal follows Mann's definitions and explanations of previous failures. His proposal is a call to "get out of the box" thinking and to consider the problem from a different view and to implement in a different way. Stop repeating the mistakes of the past is the clear message. Initially any proposal which is so far out will receive skeptical reviews, but upon reflection, on may find some of the ideas in the proposal quite sound and doable. To begin with Mann links schooling to society and the wall between the two seems to be a hindrance. Secondly he states that a user-driven system is project oriented. And thirdly students are the subject of improvement not schools or teachers. With this in mind he presents his proposal: identify a specific group, predict achievement, set a rate to pay students for improvement, pay the teacher for student achievement. three examples follow which illustrate how such a plan would be implemented. Many of the precepts are brilliant and inspiring. However logistically speaking quite impossible, especially as one has to deal with teacher's unions. However, with the proposal in mind and considering many of the elements necessary to make for successful implementation of a federal program and considering the reasons for failure, telementoring solves many of the logistical problems, provides for the bringing down of the wall between society and schools, is project oriented, and puts the onus of improvement on the user, the student. Mann's modest proposal may have met with the same rancor Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal" was met. Swift suggested that the poor eat their own children to alleviate starvation. He almost lost his life. The readers of his time were not ready for this satire. Is Mann, being satirical? In 1978, Mann's modest proposal may seem satirical, but in 1998, it looms as a very real possibility, played out through telementoring. The paradox presented by Mann is very real but in 1998, it is not such a paradox considering the political climate of the times. On close examination of the user-driven system and the modest proposal, his ideas have credibility in a school system about to enter the 21st century.