Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.
John Kenneth Galbraith
Living in Minneapolis for the past two years has made possible re-connection with former colleagues at Normandale Community College. My former NCC colleagues were, and still are, an amazing group who, with few exceptions, were talented and committed people. Almost to a person they were very capable to putting words to paper to communicate their sense of their world inside and outside of the halls of the college. One, the late Gary Johnson, was amazing. Trained as journalist, Gary honed his writing skills to an awesome degree.
Having two recent conversations with aspiring writers and participating a couple of times with a free-writing Meet Up, I’ve realized that it is way over time to begin making much more frequent additions to my Blog, TGIF. It may be essential to return to another schedule such as I carried forward for ten years while living and working as a consultant in Bayfield County, WI. I hope the revived TGIF will continue to be loyally read.
Yesterday I commented to a former NCC colleague, sociologist Jack Sattel, about the writings of our co-worker Gary Johnson. Gary dealt with the interface between education and economics, particularly the part of the interface in which educ ation prepares people for a world of work. He was certainly prescient in recognizing how the world of work would change because of digital technology. His writing called “Brave New Work World.” was a great inspiration for my own “Taking Great Ideas Forward,” which began when I was President of the Bayfield County (WI) Economic Development Corporation. Perhaps more important was its influence on my consideration for education, which I called “New World Learning.”
Gary and I both, in the mid 1980s purchased Osborne computers, a pre-IBM/DOS command-line personal computer. We and used our Osborne’s for finding our way into the digital world with programs now long gone; WordStar and SuperCalc. Gary concentrated on writing. As a journalist and a psychologist, he had a way of finding words to convey the potential futures of industry in his courses, including “Industrial Psychology.” I do regret that I spent much too little time talking to Gary about his life as a teacher and psychologist. Admittedly, I had much more contact with his colleagues in the Psychology Department, and greatly appreciated all of them and their respective contributions to may thinking and world view. Gary passed away about a year ago, and I am belatedly realizing how much I missed as our lives were only thinly tangential.
I’m sure Gary would have had much to say about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). It is now increasingly apparent that ACEs are a highly important condition with health and educational implications with extensions into the workplace. The trauma of ACEs, particularly when they are cumulative in the life of a child, lead to toxic stress with lifetime disabilities including early death. For me, it is inevitable that ACEs are critically important to virtually everything abnormal in our society. Learning disabilities have many causes but ACEs must be considered for virtually all of them. I intend to write much more about ACEs going forward.
The Psychology Department at NCC was very behavioral in its orientation, as was all of psychology until the late 1980s, but none in the department was oblivious to the axis between psychology and biology. I don’t know if Gary would have characterized himself as a physiological psychologist. Probably not. Myles Johnson (no relation) in the Psychology Department was more focused on the physiology and neurology behind the work of the mind. Peter Maneno and Terrence Florin were much more deeply embedded in experimental psychology and, though not oblivious to biology, held firm views about behaviorist approaches to psychology.
The Brave New Work World is here. It is impacted by digital technologies but now has social impact that cannot be ignored by those of us concerned with education. The mix of ACEs and digital technologies have implications for the future of work in ways that is beyond our current knowledge. Much needs to be sorted out. I intend that future writing in these spaces will advance the sorting process.