Tom Shields sent the following letter:


Dear Tom (a great name if I do say so myself)

Your new theory of learning is great! As a person currently employed at an institution of higher learning I can definitely say it's an enlightening perspective. Here at the University of Illinois students are not often given the chance to solve problems, but are processed through large assembly line classes and spit out after four years as "educated." Many students I meet are amazed when I spend a half hour talking to them, because their professors never do.

This all being said, I need to point out one problem with your new theory of learning - it's not new. John Dewey talked about it earlier this century. So did Piaget and Paulo Freire. Of course few had the same wit and style of your presentation. Also, there are organizations whose sole purpose is to support such styles of learning. Among them: National Society for Experiential Education Association of Experiential Education

Any way, while writing this, a crazy thought occurred to me. Even though your bio says that you don't teach anymore and are drinking coffee in Harvard Square (at the Tasty?), I was wondering if you would ever consider coming to Champaign-Urbana (alias Shampoo-Bannana) to give a lecture to students about Backwards Learning, or a related topic. If you would consider such a trip to the land of corn, please e-mail me an idea of the kind of compensation you would expect, and I could look into it.

Thanks for the time and the many chuckles you and your brother's show has provided for me.

Yours in spirit,

Tom Shields

P.S. - I don't seem to be able to get Car Talk in Champaign-Urbana and am going through withdrawl, so I'm thrilled to have found the Web Page. Question: Does this mean I need a life? ;-)

Response from Tom Magliozzi:

Yes, you need a life. Yes, I'd love to talk to students about the NTL, but No, I can't come to Shampoo-Banana, since I refuse to get on another airplane type thing until they install hundreds of parachutes all over the wings and fuselage. I know that the "New" theory isn't new (I think I said that someplace, didn't I?). It's interesting to me that bad ideas-- like the current educational system--get perpetuated. As usual, it's probably because someone decided that it could make money, whereas the right way of doing it, probably doesn't. It's mass production, and we all know that mass production makes money. Thanks for the names of the two organizations. Do you have addresses or URL's?

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