November 7, 2011
Change for the Better?
In both John Staddon's "Distracting Miss Daisy" and Albert Shanker's “The Smiley Face Approach" essays, both authors are primarily concerned with change. The essayists have both looked at two very different situations and have either decided that change would, in Staddon's case make things better, or as in Shanker's case, make things worse. According to Staddon’s, changing signage and traffic controls on American roadways might bring about increased awareness and stimulate better driving. In contrast, Shanker contends that changing the traditional academic letter grading scale will surely encourage mediocrity and decrease work effort in students.
Author John Staddon, who has spent his "professional life studying adaptive behavior-how changes in the environment lead to changes in the ways humans act" (Staddon 307), and much time in both the U.K and the U.S, has noticed a disturbing fact about the American roadways. "often when I return to the U.S., I see a fender bender or two within a few days. Yet I almost never see accidents in the U.K." " ...I begin to think that the American System of traffic control, with its many signs and stops, and with its specific miles tailored to every bend in the road, has had the unintended consequence of causing more accidents than it prevents."(Staddon 306). Research and years of observation by Staddon in both the U.K and the U.S, show that when driver's spend so much of their time and attention seeking out all the signs on the roads in the U.S., they
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are more likely to get into a wreck. "The more you look for signs, for police, and at your speedometer, the less attention you will be to conditions" (Staddon 306). Though it appear in reading Staddon's essay that driving in the U.S is hazardous to health, he does offer some suggestions for changing and improving the situation. What Staddon proposes is "a more modest...adoption of the British...