I’ve been away from ESL for a while. I bought a little church in Niagara Falls and spent a few months renovating it. It is fantastic and fun. Now I have taken the opportunity to escape Canadian winter and visit friends in beautiful Mobile, Alabama on the Gulf coast. There is a slogan posted all over this part of the world IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING encouraging everyone to speak up when they encounter something not right in the world around them. I love it.
Was it just a coincidence that the first few files I encountered when I finally opened my work computer were from people who SAW something wrong with Education and had lots of suggestions to SAY to address it? The first one is by Dr. Peter Diamandis. Reinventing How We Teach Our Kids . Here is part of it:
Here in L.A., it’s kind of insane that a great kindergarten requires a competitive application and tuitions that exceed most colleges.
I started asking myself, given the fact that most elementary schools haven’t changed in decades (maybe longer), what do I want my kids to learn? How would I reinvent elementary school during an exponential era?
This blog covers five subjects related to elementary school education:
- Five Issues with Today’s Elementary Schools
- Five Guiding Principles for Future Education
- An Elementary School Curriculum for the Future
- Exponential Technologies in our Classroom
- Mindsets for the 21st Century
Excuse the length, but if you have kids, the details might be meaningful. If you don’t, then next week’s blog will return to normal length and another fun subject. Let’s dive in…
Five Issues with Today’s Elementary Schools
There’s probably lots of issues with today’s traditional elementary schools, but I’ll just choose a few that bother me most.
- Grading: In the traditional education system, you start at an “A,” and every time you get something wrong, your score gets lower and lower. At best it’s demotivating, and at worst it has nothing to do with the world you occupy as an adult. In the gaming world (e.g. Angry Birds), it’s just the opposite. You start with zero and every time you come up with something right, your score gets higher and higher.
- Sage on the Stage: Most classrooms have a teacher up in front of class lecturing to a classroom of students, half of whom are bored and half of whom are lost. The one-teacher-fits-all model comes from an era of scarcity where great teachers and schools were rare.
- Relevance: When I think back to elementary and secondary school, I realize how much of what I learned was never actually useful later in life, and how many of my critical lessons for success I had to pick up on my own. (I don’t know about you, but I haven’t ever actually had to factor a polynomial in my adult life.)
- Imagination – Coloring inside the Lines: Probably of greatest concern to me is the factory-worker, industrial-era origin of today’s schools — programs so structured with rote memorization that it squashes the originality from most children. I’m reminded that “the day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” Where do we pursue crazy ideas in our schools? Where do we foster imagination?
- Boring: If learning in school is a chore, boring or emotionless, then the most important driver of human learning, passion, is disengaged. Having our children memorize facts and figures, sit passively in class and take mundane standardized tests completely defeats the purpose.
An average of 7,200 students drop out of high school each day, totaling 1.3 million each year. This means only 69% of students who start high school finish four years later. And over 50% of these high school dropouts name boredom as the No. 1 reason they left…. And continues with concrete curriculum suggestions.
If you have any interest in Education Reform you have probably heard about Will Richardson. If you haven’t google him and get a coffee. He is a true pioneer in education reform. Here’s a new article from Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon. Ten Principles for Schools of Modern Learning.
I used to feel like a complainer and anti-establishment whistle blower. Now I feel like part of a movement that is growing exponentially and changing the way people learn. Together we are making a difference.
Until next time,