Recalling the Loma Prieta Quake of 1989, the following is an excerpt from a letter Penny and Brent Duncan wrote from near the epicenter shortly after the "big one".
With Penny Duncan
In our neighborhood, first came the Earthquake on an unseasonably warm and sunny October afternoon, knocking out everyone’s power, not to mention our senses. Then began the jumbo aftershocks that continue to rock and roll, most often in the middle of the night. Next came a record windstorm, which blew out our neighbor’s windows. Soon the rain began to fall on our damaged roofs, leaking over our bed and causing even more landslides than before. We awaited the locusts.
Facing 9 days of use-it-or-lose it vacation time and a dog going through a medical treatment that prohibits travel, it looked like I was doomed for couple weeks of staycation in scorching Phoenix. My son’s recent relocation to Everett for a new job gave me the perfect out. Time to visit my son. Too late to buy plan tickets, and I’m not going to strand my wife without the car. So, my first choice became the only choice: a 3,000 mile Wild West loop from Phoenix to Everett through Salt Lake, then back to Phoenix through the West Coast.
This is the kind of epic journey I’d wanted to take since seeing my Grandpa Denver pull up to Andy & Cleo’s nut farm in Hurricane, Utah while I was helping to dry peaches. Denver was making a stop on a cross-country tour from Los Angeles, riding an all-white Electra Glide and wearing all-white leathers from head to toe.
As student needs and society demands become increasingly diverse, didactic teaching methods imposed by teachers who lack practical experience have diminishing effectiveness in higher education. Teachers and institutions who suffer methodological myopia risk escalating commitment to static practices in a dynamic context.
Put differently, scholarly lectures to prepare students for passing tests is increasingly irrelevant.
A practitioner-scholar instructor with deep subject knowledge and extensive practical experience knowledge is better equipped to drive student success in emerging environments. The practitioner scholar can bridge the gap between classroom and career while fostering student success by serving as mentor, coach, and guide who can help students recognize immediate and potential value of course content.
Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" is an archetypal image that Westerners associate with Japan. But, more than a picture of waves threatening to devour fishermen as Mt. Fuji looks on, a closer look illuminates key concepts in chaos theory that Western science did not “discover” until the advent of chaos theory, while offering lessons for fostering adaptability and growth in turbulence.
Reality: Student preparation is the most accurate predictor of student success.
This is why traditional institutions generally have such strict entry standards. Students who have proven successful are more likely to continue to be successful.
Institutions that open doors to underserved populations are essential for providing opportunities to those who cannot overcome barriers of traditional institutions; but, they have a moral obligation to prepare students for success before putting them into debt. This is why remediation programs are important. Ideally, remediation should be initiated before the student enters a program. Otherwise, boosting enrollment by pushing into the classroom students who lack the capacity and competency to succeed is like recruiting high school students into the military, then sending them straight to the front lines of combat. A few may survive, most will not.
In short, to immediately impact attrition rates, prepare students for success. At least, give them a "boot camp" to prepare them for the challenges of higher education.