And just like that, it is suddenly 2015. January marks a year since the CRSD Snippets has been appearing weekly in the Copper River Record. We’ve covered a lot of subjects and passed along bits of information that I hope brought you and our classrooms closer together.
If ever there was a year to write a weekly article for the local paper, it would be 2014. Our community and schools have gone through significant change and from the looks of things, our state is about to experience a very difficult time as it balances spending and dramatically decreasing revenue. If you follow Alaska news even a little, you can foresee that 2015 will include shifts in policy and reductions in spending from the AK legislature. It could be a very difficult year for Alaska’s economy.
However, even with all the changes and challenges we are experiencing, it pales in comparison to the changes that have occurred in our society over the last one hundred years. Much of what we take for granted in our daily lives would have been hard to imagine for those who lived a century ago.
In 1915 Alexander Graham Bell made the first coast-to-coast phone call. It was truly a headline event. The January 26, 1915 front page of the New York Times included the headline, “Phone to Pacific from Atlantic.” The article includes exclamations such as, “4,750-Mile Conversation” and “First Voice Across the Continent.” President Woodrow Wilson is quoted as insightfully saying, “It appeals to the imagination to speak across the continent.” Even President Wilson’s imagination could not have comprehended all that has developed in telecommunications.
Also in 1915, the first photograph of Pluto was published. Back then, they didn’t even know what it was they were looking at. Over a decade later it was discovered that they were looking at the tenth largest object to orbit the sun (based on no scientific reasoning at all, I’m still calling it a planet). The photo was blurring and void of texture, yet it was cutting edge science to photograph something so distant.
In 1915, the world was also in the midst of its first global conflict. The First World War was horrific and an entire generation of young men was decimated as nation fought against nation. A new technology, U-boat submarines, terrorized 1915’s primary mode of international travel as they lurked beneath the surface unseen. To those living in 1915, the outcome of the war was uncertain.
Now, one hundred years later, technology has advanced the good and the bad. Not only can I call coast to coast, I can video chat with someone on another continent using a phone I carry in my pocket (even Antarctica – shout out to Philip Baur). In 2015, the New Horizon planetary probe will reach Pluto, the first such spacecraft to do so. The close up videos and pictures promise to be spectacular. And despite our accomplishments, evil has advanced its mission to annihilate freedom. Terror on the sea has moved to the skies by using airplanes as missiles against innocent civilians.
I don’t know about you, but the new year reminds me that our mission isn’t simply to prepare students for the next test, it is to equip them for life’s opportunities and challenges. The lessons of the last one hundred years remind me that our students need knowledge, grit and character to seize opportunities and overcome challenges. As the tools we use continue to develop, our students need to learn how to use technology and not let technology use them. That means they will need a greater measure of knowledge, grit, and unwavering character.
The young men and women of 1915 would go on to lead us through a unprecedented time of war and technological advance. They did it by earning their grades, not expecting them. They worked hard, under much less convenient circumstances than we enjoy. And they had the character that didn’t wince at hardship, faced down tyranny, and sacrificed so others could enjoy the blessings of freedom.
If we look back to 1915, we’ll quickly realize we have big shoes to fill. But, we have some amazing resources. We have more money, more conveniences, and amazing technologies for educating students. I hope those looking back from 2115 will see that we also had courageous grit and character.
Happy New Year!