Thursday, 3 May 2012

Transform Education


In my opinion the biggest issue in the school system is that it has outlived its design. The whole system of teaching young people the same thing at the same time and at the same pace was designed to prepare a compliant workforce and willing consumers to staff and fuel Europe’s industrial revolution. Because it succeeded in its primary purpose it has been used as the model ever since. This is a ‘one size fits all’ view of Education.

We continue to head down the road that is standardized testing, drill and practice and one-size-fits-all schooling. Schools are not measured on students’ ability to think critically, to be creative or expressive. They are measured by the number of students that have performed to minimum levels against standardized tests. For many of us who have been through the system, our memories of the classroom are often of boredom, repetition and a sense that we couldn’t get out of there soon enough. Given the wealth of resources available for the modern classroom, the alternatives that technologies offer and our own less-than-happy memories of our schooling, it seems that we (government, teachers, administrators, business leaders, parents, and so on) are denying children the opportunities to be creative, turning them into the same compliant consumers that we have become. We are encouraging them to wish their childhood away, as many of us did, in a race to get out of the system.  This is less of a ‘no child left behind’ system than a most children left behind one.

We are now in an era where ‘textbooks’ and/or accompanying resources no longer need to be linear (or merely linear), can have multiple entry points into topics and lessons, can self-mark and provide instant feedback and results to both teachers and students. Lessons can be tailored to account for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. Better use of technology can free teachers from teaching all students the same things at the same pace and give every student the chance to learn.  Here is an example of what can be done with content: www.hotmaths.com.au

The current schooling system has to go. It is not enough to want to improve schools, replace standardized tests with results that demonstrate critical thinking, imagination and creativity, educate more teachers to use new technologies and stop expecting every child to learn according to an unrealistic standardized timetable. Spending more and more on making minor improvements is not enough. We need to transform education.

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