Friday, March 13, 2009

Five changes

I was tagged by Alan Beam to write five things I would change about education. The rules are as follows:

“List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system. Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students…tag the following people…from a variety of perspectives...”

Disclaimer: This post is as much of my expectations and aspirations as it is a confession of how much I'm just a traditional and boring teacher.

1. Motto #1: It's not about me. (its all about the learning)
Man is a brute 1. Call it social contract or God's providence, I believe that a main goal of education is to civilize us and make us constructive members in our society (the kingdom of man). The best part of this contract is that when we lay down ourselves and submit to learning, to Truth, we benefit.

I fear that all too often in high school2, students feel a sense of entitlement. If I am king, then there is no reason to learn the quadratic formula, heroic couplets, or the price of tea in China... unless it serves me right here, right now.

School will be done wrong until we all agree that learning is good and worth our time.

2. Motto #2: Often in life, the harder things are better (its all about the learning)

We have an great football team. This is due, in large part, because we have a phenomenal conditioning program. Unfortunately, we do a poor job of translating that diligence and dedication to the classroom. Half is given, half is earned. Our brains like wrinkles, but we don't.
Math is hard3, but that does not mean that there are no rewards for the deposit given.

3. Remove the walls.

I compartmentalize. This statement itself, though, is a confession that the world does not come easily packaged. How about an example:

What is facebook?
  • a place for socialization
  • photo/music/art - sharing
  • advertising (personal and corporate)
  • self-expression
  • a mask
... that's the short list4. Inasmuch as our world is becoming digitized, the well-defined boundaries are hazy at best. In order to be effective, teaching must elicit learning that creates connections, connections within a curriculum and across curricula. The three R's are easy to keep separate. Its those darn 21st century skills that call for more than Mr. Math and Mrs. English5, expounding their isolated subjects. So, in the new school I would form, there will be no conceptual or curricular walls (drywall doesn't bother me, we don't all need to move to the gym). is a crescendo!
4. Make School Bigger.

Not the building or class sizes: no, the scope. Since curricular walls are coming down, students will be equipped to tackle real problems from the world. Whether that be snapping a picture and asking "what would you do with this?" or changing the world Information is no longer in short supply with the teacher as the sole source of all that is true... but rather, knowledge and how-to's are readily available at a mouse-click. Education must change.

5. Standardize and Simplify.

Not the students or delivery-of-content: no, the scope. Focus. Clearly communicate the expectations. Let me propose this overly-simplified recipe:
  1. Define your standards for high school graduation with as much career/college specificity as required. [In other words, list every skill in every class that students must master in order to complete the curriculum, which can include: space science, statistics, social skills... in other words, the written AND hidden curricula.]
  2. Learning takes place (see changes 1-4 above).
  3. Implement accurate assessments for these standards. When all standards are met, the student is done. If this happens in 3 years or 5... great. When mastery learning is achieved, students graduate.
Let's remove the time-wasting game from the equation.

That's it, those are my 5 changes I would make to education.

  • First things first (ie learning).

  • The Good, the Beautiful, and the True would be appreciated, loved, and sought (and these exist outside of ourselves, but we grow in goodness, beauty, and truth as we comprehend and apprehend 6 them).
  • Teamwork, it takes a village, as it were.
  • Go global. Hit this one out of the park.
  • Make the goal of high school S.M.A.R.T.

1. All humans... but guys especially.
2. Make that K through retirement.
3. ... or is it beautiful?
4. I dare you to ask a high schooler all that facebook does for her.
5. If you'll let me play on stereotypes.
6. or, more aptly, they apprehend us.
Now playing: Alaska In Winter - Staring At the Sun
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

mathercize said...

I didn't tag... do you want to be tagged?