Marathon Nextgen Realty Ltd.

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Where is the revolution in education?

I work with Marathon Group, a real estate firm and we are embarking on a school project. I am personally leading this project and I'm very inspired by the thoughts of Ken Robinson, Salman Khan and even Sugata Mitra. We want to change the traditional classroom characterized by one-dimensional lecturing and make it more interactive and leverage peer learning. Moreover, we want revolutionary and cutting edge teaching methodologies and curriculum.

So how to achieve these objectives? It seems that the best we can do at the moment is go for International Baccalaureate in terms of the board and curriculum, but that doesn't ensure any of our objectives.

One could even challenge what is taught at schools: why don't we teach things in school that will actually matter in terms of life choices like positive psychology, personality theory, etc? How relevant is history, geography, higher level chemistry, physics, etc why not impart skills and knowledge that actually matter like negotiation, presentation, etc?

Coming to my primary question: where is the revolution? who is thinking about such things and why aren't things changing?

And practically speaking, how and to what extent can I introduce such revolutionary methodologies and ideas in the school that we have to make NOW?

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    Mar 21 2012: I did not at all mean to suggest that the US is particularly cutting edge in this regard. What is certainly true, though, is that there is a practically universal awareness of the need to prepare students across the socio-economic spectrum to participate in a world and economy in which adaptability, creativity, and the tools to continue to learn are premium skills. Educators, school boards, public officials, and the general populace understand this. And there is no subject about which people are more passionate.The reason I replied to your questions point by point is that understanding how to improve things often requires us to have a clear idea ofd where things are. Among those who discuss education, few spend time in classrooms. Views are more likely derived from anecdote, which does not provide a comprehemsive view, or from hearsay.You are correct that there are differences in what schools emphasize, or what you say they touch upon, but my experience in big public school systems suggests that many things that popular opinion suggests teachers and educational systems routinely neglect are not necessarily neglected at all. What that is progressive in schools is too big a subject to address in a little response. But one thing I will say is that lecturing to young children, or even not so young children, is far out of vogue. Discovery or inquiry-based learning, active engagement and discussion have in most cases taken the place of passive listening, and an appreciation of the multiplicity of legitimate views in many areas is much more common than training in accepting a specific position simply because it is articulated by someone with authority.I might mention that my experience comes from urban school districts perpetually struggling to raise student achievement in literacy and problem-solving rather than from any sort of exemplar schools.
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    Mar 21 2012: A true revolution in education would be for someone to realize that in order for all students to succeed we need to use different tools to measure that ability to succeed. As an analogy...The way I see education today is kinda like those old play-do spaghetti making machines. We take all these I don't like that term...We take all these individuals and press them into one machine and expect them to all come out the same in a nice easy stream. That we can later chop up and fit where we want. We do a pretty good job of mixing the colors and cultures but what about the kids that aren't even "play-do" They aren't of the same consistancy. They are rocks or mud that jam the machine or run right through-it. Today we are just pressing harder on the machine to make them fit because we are looking for the same end result from everyone going through the machine. We need to be able to recognize the different areas of the brain being used we need to recognize different outcomes as valuable other than the standard. Eg. My car broke down. It blew a gasket. I am en excellent test taker and book smart ..witty...good looking...errr off track... but needless to say. I was lost when it came to my car. It made no sense. I was below basic..Failing in every attempt to fix it. I took it to a near by garage that had just opened up and the mechanic fixed it the next day. While taking with the man He informed me that he was a drop out. He just "wasn't a very good school boy." Who was more intelligent..Well in that instance He was by far. A true revolution would be to find a way to measure the success of a student based on more than one factor. we need to recognize the intelligence in Art, Mechanics, Music, People skills, public speaking as well as the conventional forms of measuring school success. We need to recognize them and place legitimate value on them.
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    Mar 21 2012: In answer to parts of your questions: Q: Who is thinking about such things? A: It seems almost everyone within education, parents, politicians, government, think tanks, and people in the private sector. Q: Why aren't things changing? A: They are continuously changing. New experiments are continuously launched and evaluated, both in curriculum and pedagogy. Q: Why not impart skills like negotiation and presentation? A: Work in these areas has been part of what K12 teachers work on with students for decades, at least I know this is true in the United States.Q; How relevant are history, geography, high level chemistry, and physics? A: I believe these subjects are increasingly important if we want to give all children a role in understand our world and participating in changing it for the better.
    • Mar 21 2012: Fritzie, I'm not really sure about K-12 education in the US, but having gone through the liberal arts curriculum at Yale I'm sure that K-12 in US must be the most updated and world-class system. However, in India and from what I here even in Western Europe, systems are totally outdated, hardly any innovation is taking place, and things haven't changed for decades. And you're right I shouldn't have taken a swipe at History/Geography, but yes I do feel that many important skills and abilities that would be highly critical in life after education are just not touched upon at all.

      In any case, would love to hear regarding what latest cutting edge stuff can be adopted for our project.