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What standardized tests should assess

Mar 27, 2012   |   by Marion Brady   |   The Washington Post

Dean Myron Tribus Myron Tribus, Dean 1961-1969

If you fly, thank Myron Tribus for helping make your flight safer. He played a major role in the development of the equipment that keeps airliner wings free of ice.

Myron was a captain in the Army Air Force during World War II. Later, he was a gas turbine design engineer for General Electric, dean of Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, senior vice president for research & engineering for Xerox, an author of scientific papers and books, director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and co-founder of Exergy, Inc.

What brought Myron from California to my house in Florida for three days many years ago was our shared concern about what kids were and weren’t being taught. We both believed that the traditional curriculum hadn’t adapted to the 20th Century — much less the 21st — and that the reforms being promoted by business interests and politicians weren’t just making the situation worse but blocking real reform.

Myron agreed with me that deciding what knowledge is most important, and using systems theory to simplify the organization of that knowledge, were logical first steps in real education reform, and that’s what we talked about...

...Postscript: Myron hasn’t been well for a long time, so we haven’t talked in years. I last saw him at his 80th birthday party. A documentary film crew from Russia was there. When I asked why, they said that in Russian scientific circles, Myron was a hero.

He’s also one of my heroes—a genuine genius who understood the absolutely critical role that school curricula play in promoting and maintaining societal well-being, and dedicated his pre-illness retirement years to trying to improve it.

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