SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / September 2006 / Superintendent's Message: The Work We Do
Superintendent's Message: The Work We Do
I taught high school biology for many years. The study of biological sciences raises many philosophical questions about human biology, which is one of the reasons I found it so fascinating. Questions such as the ones below I found intriguing:
- Are we a product of our genetics or upbringing?
- What is life and what is death?
- What is the role of human beings as the most dominant species on earth?
- Is man a part of nature or apart from nature?
- What characteristics are uniquely human, compared to other species?
Man has been variously defined as unique because of tool making, language, adapting to the environment, and social organization. Although there are individual species that express some of these characteristics, it is always exhibited to a lesser degree than humans. I believe these characteristics can be summarized by our ability to learn. Humans have a greater capability to learn than any other species. Using the computer analogy, humans seem to be more soft-wired than hard-wired. The outer layer of our brain has developed the ability to learn and overrule the more hard-wired or instinctual inner brain. We are uniquely designed to learn.
If learning is an important element of being human, then the work we do as educators is central to human function. All of us involved in the education of young people are doing very meaningful work! Not that learning only takes place in a classroom, but formal learning lays the foundation for a lifetime.
School districts in Southern Oregon are passionate about teaching and learning. As an organization, Southern Oregon ESD is equally passionate about education and our role in supporting districts to achieve student success. Our three branches (School Improvement, Special Education and Technology and Media) all know that we are here to support teaching and learning. We have identified three goals for Southern Oregon ESD in the 2006-07 school year:
- Continue evaluating existing services and explore new services.
- Continue implementing concepts from “Good to Great.”
- Continue improving communications.
We want to be the best regional education service provider and in order to accomplish this we have to continue learning and growing as individuals and as an organization. The “work we do” as educators is critical for the development of individual students, our respective communities, our state, our country, and our world. The nature of the “work we do” strikes at the core of what it is to be human.