LearnSafe:
Safety & Health Benefits of Telecommuting
for Students
(Page Under Construction)
 
STATEMENT BY RICK JOHNSON, FOUNDER, TSHBI
 
Education is not always easy. But you should not have to sacrafice your life to learn. Many students, today, are sacraficing their lives and their health for their education. You are placed in harms way as you go to school, attend classes, interact with you peers, and return back home. Many students die each year, before they have even had a chance to live. It's time for a change. The tool for that change is available today, if educators would just allow it. That tool is telecommuting.
 
I ask all students to unite in their strong opposition to the requirement for going to class. Don't get your hopes up - I'm not saying that you shouldn't attend class. I'm saying that you should not have to physically be in most of your classes every day in order to receive credit. As all students today know, you do not need to go to class. We have the technology to provide instruction to each and every one of you using the Internet, your computer, and a connection over your phone line. Whether your a student in college, a high school student, or a student in elementary school, you know how to use the Internet. You know that you could learn just as much from a computer on a desk in your bedroom as you can by going to and from a school building everyday.
 
Say what? You don't get this? Well, what would you say if I told you that you could finish your classes at your own pace without having to put up with all the violence, abuse, stress, danger, and disease that gets handed to you every day you go to school. That's what telecommuting would do for you. By telecommuting you aren't exposed to the hazards of driving or riding to and from school. If you walk, you aren't subjected to the dangers that confront you everyday from cars, bullies, drug dealers, rapists, thiefs, weather, and all the other stuff you have to deal with. By telecommuting you can avoid all the useless and unproductive daily "socialization" that some people say is the primary purpose of your going to school in the first place. You can get your socialization, when *you* want it, by selecting from *your* menu of social events rather than having socialization shoved in your face all day, every day. By telecommuting *you* control the degree of socialization, rather than someone else. Without all the distractions, with concerns for your safety and health pretty much gone, and with more time to focus on your studies, you can learn more and go farther than you could ever go stuck in a school classroom. It's your future. You decide.
 
There was a song once that went "the times they are a changing..." That's to be said every day of our lives. Unfortunately, even in the face of obvious need for change, some people hang on to the old ideas too long. That happened during the '60's, when people held firmly to old ideas about race and inequalities. That happened during the '70's, when some people refused to acknowledge the value of women in the workplace. That's happening today, as people refuse to accept the value of telecommuting as a means to improve safety and health and offer a better quality of life for people throughout the world. Continued subjegation of black people led to a civil rights movement. Gender inequality led to the campaigns for gender equality. I suggest to you that a continued lack of attention to the rights of students for a good, safe, and health education will lead to a similar human rights campaign.
 
You, as students, have a desire to learn. Your parents, teachers, and community leaders have an obligation to provide a safe and health environment for that learning. Telecommuting offers a new means to improve the safety and health of your learning environment, while conserving energy, protecting the environment, and allowing you to spend more time with your family.
 
Telecommuting to school uses the information highway, rather than the real highway to get you to class. You don't have to worry about being shot at. You don't have to worry about a terrorist throwing a bomb in the hallway. You don't have to worry about some guy pushing drugs at your or maybe something worse... Telecommuting sets you free.
 
At the Telecommuting Safety & Health Benefits Institute (TSHBI) we are looking at ways to encourage more use of telecommuting. We want people to have the option to work, go to school, receive care, shop, and perform many other activities with being forced to travel to another location. Sure, there are many times, when we *want* to travel or we *must* travel. But there are many opportunitites for telecommuting, today, and if we want to improve our quality of life, we need to take advantage of many of those opportunities.
 
We encourage students, and others interested in telecommuting to saves lives and improve health to think about our new perspective and take action.
Related information: Benefits of Telecommuting, Telecommuting and Worker Safety and Health
THINK ABOUT YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE - THINK TELECOMMUTING!
 
 


THOUGHT PROVOKING SEGMENTS FROM SOME OF MY EMAIL INTERACTIONS:

 
This recent incident in Arkansas (students shooting other students and an English teacher) has made me realize that I need to present my ideas for safety and health benefits to teachers and students by telecommuting. I've had this on the list for many months, but have not had the time or resources to spend on it. It is clear that the information highway could allow teachers to teach from their homes. It is also clear that students could also be attending class via "distance learning". If there are other family members home (telecommuting or homeworking), kids would be much safer and healthier attending class from the comfort and safety of their own home. Teachers and students (there are millions of them) could be much safer and healthier, if they were allowed to telecommute.
 
---------------------------------
 
The drive to Pasco High must be interesting for [ ]. I hope she's careful, especially once the roads get icy. She's one of many commuting teachers I would surely miss, if she were taken by the "meat grinder" we call our highway system. I see the education arena as a whole new area for me to examine wrt safety (using telecommuting/distance learning as the means to prevent harm to students, teachers, and adminstration folks - it's on my list).
 
 
---------------------------------
I plan to draft a new webpage devoted to safety and health benefits of telecommuting for teachers and students (TeleLearning). I see this as a *very* big opportunity for saving many lives throughout the world and reducing injuries in many different ways. (See "Strategy" section of TSHI home page for my present near term planning.) If you would like to help I would welcome your participation. Unfortunately, until we obtain funding, I have no money to pay for your efforts on TeleLearning.
 
---------------------------------
Teachers could do more teaching and less babysitting, if they taught their classes using the Internet. Students could do more learning and less posturing with their peers, if they had breakfast and went to school by going back to the computer in their bedrooms. TeleLearning offers an opportunity for our education system to vastly improve safety and health of teachers and students, while offering other potential benefits. Not only would teachers be spared unnecessary commutes to/from schools, they would not suffer threats of violence so prevalent in our schools, today. Students would similarly be taken out of harms way and placed into a classroom without boundaries, without constraints, where fighting and drugs are no longer the major elements of their day.
 
---------------------------------
To an Oregon teacher:
 
Wasn't the violence at that school in Arkansas terrible? Two children accused of killing four other children and a teacher. If students and teachers were encouraged to perform their learning/teaching by telecommuting, many safety and health hazards (such as this shooting) would be eliminated. I hope to have the resources to begin working on my "safety and health benefits of telecommuting to teachers and students" at some point soon. The thought of saving many men, women, and children from death and injury by encouraging more people to telecommute gives me hope for the future.
 
From that Oregon teacher
 
...I totally agree about the dangers to kids and teachers in schools.
 
I taught, as you may or may not know, elementary school in San
Francisco in the 1960's. My area of specialization and great interest
(still is) was inner city kids and their educational needs. Remedial
reading and parent involvement in the schools, as well as Kindergarten
were my areas. I taught in Hunter's Point and related areas -- where
there were the somewhat smaller equivalents of the Watts Riots a short
while after I taught (substituted and did my student teaching) in those
areas. I also taught 4th grade in Richmond Calif. and there was a lot
of violence in that school, even then. No murders or shootings, in
those days. One of my students acted so bad one day that I sent him to
the principal. We did not have in-room phones, then, and instead of
going to the principal he threw rocks so hard at the classroom door that
theysounded like shots. Later I was told that his mother and stepfather
were in jail and the poor kid had not had any food for 3 days. And
still -- he is required to be at school,instead of getting needed social
services first. Tragic, and very, very scary. One teacher got beat up
by a SECOND GRADER who jumped on her back, grabber her around the head
and beat her face, breaking her glasses. There were mob fights on the
school grounds several times a week. When a fight broke up my class one
day, I walked out and never went back.
 
I never felt under any personal threat by my kids, individually, at
all. I never, never had any confrontations with any parent, of any
race, type, economic circumstance, or ANYTHING else. I LOVED my kids
and my families -- and THEY loved me! It is the terrible circumstances,
in my opinion, of compulsory schooling [complete with topics the kids
know are lies -- like the Columbus tale that is so very false, and is
known to be false,now -- which, by the way, is also still required
memorization for an adult to be come a US Citizen, I think.] plus the
"jail-like" atmosphere at school, the bullying (I have bullying web
pages on my bookmarks) of kids by kids; teachers by administrators and
other teachers; and even administrators and teachers by school board
members sometimes - -- all that adds up to a very, very unhealthy,
unsafe, false and potentially and actually dangerous situation.
 
So telecommuting education really DOES make a lot of sense. I think
that a really good teacher who does home visits, or great children's
librarians who can answer specific questions and give DRASTICALLY NEEDED
ADULT INTERACTION, plus peers who answer questions and help, plus kids'
groups ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, TOO. I would worry a lot if kids only
got telecommuting, however I do think that THE BASICS could be really
helped by telecommuting. Then, there need to be some hands-on stuff.
For instance, a computer program could teach kids, incrementally, now to
balance checkbooks. (I wrote an 8 year checkbook curriculum last week
in 15 minutes. I would work.) Then, the teacher could take kids on
field trips in a van of 5-6 kids and 2 teachers (or 1 teacher and 2
parents, better) to a bank and have a tour, visit the officers AND THE
TELLERS AND OTHER WORKERS (why do kids only talk to astronauts and
senators and never to clerks and construction workers???!!! Builds false
ideals and then the kids get angry and feel betrayed and turn
violent.). Regular visits to the bank-- not just once a year!!! would
be important, too. How are computers used in a bank? Kids might be
encouraged to ask and have plenty of open ended Q & A between the kids
and the bank people.
 
How about library kid-telecommute centers in inner cities and poorer
rural areas where kids can come work independently? I feel sure that
the librarians would not have discipline problems, because then school
is a PRIVILEGE and the kids can be sent out if they break the library
rules. [That would be something to discuss with librarians to see if I
am right.] I would think that would be an excellent grant prospect --
funding by an partnership grant between 3 orgs: one that supports
libraries, One, that works with inner city problems (the Urban League
pops into mymind), (there are TONS of inner city grants) OR poorer rural
(there are plenty of those, too, but not as many as inner city, I think)
AND a computer corp of some sort (the dreaded M word?).
 
 
---------------------------------
[Aside: FYI, I've had personal experience with distance education by
taking the widely-acclaimed NASA-sponsored Univ. of North Dakota
"Telerobotics" course offered over the Internet at http://www.space.edu/ -
a "first-of-its-kind" event a couple years ago. This was a "live" on-line
course that made many of the ~100 students who participated each week from
throughout the United States feel like they were sitting right there in the
campus classroom, while they actually were seated in the comfort and safety
of their own homes. It was a wonderful learning experience.]
 
---------------------------------
Regardless of how you got my message, let me explain why I sent copies to certain students and faculty at some universities in Colorado. It's important that the people who will be affected by the issue of telecommuting safety and health (TSH) know about our new perspective.
 
If you are a student, someday you'll graduate and pursue a career one of these days. I'm hoping that you will remember my message and use some of the points I've raised to leverage a much better employment situation from your employer. Universities have always been places where ideas could grow, and I hope my ideas about TSH will flourish there as well.
 
 
---------------------------------
From an Australian:
 
In summary, there is strong potential for telecommuting here. Many of the
meetings we attend would be better run by computer. Some of the subjects
would be able to be offered from home by computer, or we could develop the
hypertext packages at home and have them loaded onto the mainframe here.
Entering of student marks should be done by computer, instead of the current
practice of having them entered on hard copy, computerised, then checked by
hand before validation. The costs of operating a fully equipped building has
to be vastly more than the option of a minimal setup for home-based staff
who have occasional need for office space. We have not had any staff injured
or killed on the roads yet, although we have lost several students killed or
injured while commuting. We have, however, staff continually in a state of
burnout because of the workloads. Surely anything that addresses this is
worth trying out.
 
 

 
Last revised: February 27, 2000
Return to TSHBI home page (click here)...