Montana Ethic Project: Big changes in store for education


Joey and Libby Early

James Shanley, a former president of Fort Peck Community College, talks about the huge changes he sees in the future of education.

This is the 23nd chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features James Shanley, the retired president of Fort Peck Community College and a former president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, discussing the subject of “Education Reform.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is an edited transcript of how it begins:

“I entitled this talk, ‘Humpty Dumpty: The Future of Education.’

“We all know that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. My observations are that the educational system in the United States is very much like Humpty Dumpty. Because of this we are going to see dramatic transformations in the current K-12 and higher education systems.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Shanley’s presentation:

“What is necessary in order to educate a person, to give them problem solving abilities, concept solving capabilities, to build the whole mental framework that will move them forward in the future? Education hasn’t figured that out yet. Even though we have the most scientific data on how a human being learns, how a brain and our body functions on one hand, we still haven’t found a way to combine this data with our medieval system of higher education on the other. Both decks haven’t been shuffled together. This is going to cause a tremendous rift when it is shuffled because there are so many different stakeholders who have a piece of the present system who don’t want to see it changed.

“If you’ve been teaching for 25 or 30 years, on tenure, looking to cruise your last 10 years to retirement, you certainly don’t want to see this system changed!

“So I don’t know if there is a way that we can prevent Humpty from cracking. And perhaps we shouldn’t. Our culture and our information processes are changing so fast that they may push ol’ Humpty off the wall whether we want them to or not. But we need to start discussing possible solutions.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit

First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz on “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”

Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”

10th week: Carol Williams on “The Imperative for Female Government Participation.”

11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”

12th weekGeorge Metcalfe on “Economic Development in Africa and Its Relationship to Montana.”

13th weekBruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”

14th week: Peggy Beltrone on “Montana Wind Energy—Business and Politics.”

15th week: Mark Solon on “Creating an Intermountain West Startup Economy.”

16th week: Bill Yellowtail on “Futuring and Native Leadership.”

17th week: Judy Martz on “Trust in the Lord and He Will Direct Your Path.”

18th week: Bob Brown on “Teddy Roosevelt’s Shadow in Montana’s Big Sky.”

19th week: Gordon Belcourt on “A Montana Native Perspective.”

20th week: Dorothy Eck on “The Montana Constitution and the Right to Know.”

21st week: Pat Barkey on “The Montana Wage Disparity.”

22nd week: Thomas Power on “Valuing Montana: An Economist’s Observations.”

23rd week: Larry Simkins on “The Culture of Safety.”

Next week: Greg Gianforte on “High Tech in Montana.”

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