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What really works in education?

What are the goals of education? Do we always measure progress for those things that we have established as our goal? Did we select goals that really matter? If we cannot clearly answer those simple questions... how will we ever know what works in education?

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    Oct 24 2012: i think we should forster students to learn by themselves i find many students when they get out of school they wont learn ,and their knowledge is lowing ,they forget most of what they learn from school ,
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    Oct 24 2012: We have big problems in education. Everyone has stated one problem or another. We have federal and state intervention mandating No Child Left Behind, STEM, Common Core Curriculum, and state laws for each day of the week. The agendas and syllabus are based on what the texbook writers provide each year. The textbook is analyzed by the test writers and the test is based on that. Due to budget constraints the educational budgets have suffered. We have unions making demands that budgets and mandates deem impossible.

    Teachers have hoops that are expected to be achieved. Each year the hoops are raised and made smaller and smaller so it has become impossible to jump through those hoops.

    The answer is that Superintendents, Principals, and teachers, have little control over the very system they are paid to administer. Parents ask questions that Supers and Principals try to answer. The questions that the Feds and the States should answer but throw the educators to the dogs.

    Much of the success of the Charter schools is in two areas: 1) selective enrollment; and 2) they are not under all state and federal laws.

    If the PISA Exams are the indicator that the educational world follows then your answer is the Singapore school system is the most effective in all of education. They blew everyone out of the water last year.

    The problem is that the parents, students, and the administration of the local schools have lost control. Arne Duncan the Secretary of Ed has stated that the Federal government wants to write all text, tests, syllabus, and all curriculum. It is my belief that we are well on the way of that occurring.

    My solution is to learn about the multi-billion dollar business of education, federal and state involvement and work to resolve the issues. Until that happens .... "how will we ever know what works" as you said.

    2000 characters is never enough.

    All the best. Bob.
  • Oct 24 2012: have been a Special Education Teacher for 30 years. I never tell my students that they have made a mistake.
    I say it's a Miss Take. You can try again! We must empower our students
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    Oct 23 2012: Doesn't Sugata Mitri's TEDTalk answer this question? It is not about education, it is about fostering learning. The most important learning we do takes place before the age of 5 years.

    At some point we stop attending school, but we continue to learn or at least should continue to learn.

    I suggest this talk as well, about learning that takes places when there are no teachers, no schools.
  • Oct 23 2012: The only one thing that works in education is the commitment of the students to learn. Anything else is noise.
  • Dan F

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    Oct 21 2012: Teachers Union
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      Oct 23 2012: Teacher Unions do work, but not for the purposes of educating children.
      • Dan F

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        Oct 23 2012: My point exactly, even to the point of being at the expense of educating children. I disagree with unions representing public employees across the board. In the private sector it's a different matter. The nature of capitalism justifies it, but public service is not capitalism.

        This is a factor in meeting the goals of education and should be part of the discussion. Any system is only as good as its weakest link. Our public schools are in serious trouble. Incidentally, I don't see this as the only problem.
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    Gail .

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    Oct 21 2012: When the great industrialists helped establish public education standards, they were clear about not wanting to give a real education to children. Their goal was to create workers. This was publicly stated.

    Our educational paradigms are established to support the economy rather than the individual. Public education is a corporate subsidy. It is at this level that education needs to be reframed.

    When education serves money rather than students, students are trained, not educated. They are remodeled through a system of indoctrination until they become commodities rather than people. They are given the pieces of knowledge that will help them get a job (sell themselves into fiscal slavery), but not enough of the pieces to know what is being done to them or how to solve life's more complex or interesting problems. Which is how creativity is drummed out of students. For those who naturally think outside of the box (most kindergartners), education is kind of like a death march.

    Dan Pink's TED lecture should be combined with Ken Robinson's.

    Our schools don't teach intellectual creativity or intellectual curiosity. They don't teach how to think outside of the box. They teach how to live inside the box. But the joy is outside of the box, as Dan Pink's lecture explains. Once you see that there IS an outside the box, then the motivation for learning the tools that work inside the box is increased. The truth is that certain basic skills are required to solve creative problems.

    Finally, I remember when, in 1st or 2nd grade, I realized that the teacher called me by my first name but I was required to call her by her Mrs. (name). I found it insulting & disrespectful. I felt shame, and it pierced me deeply.

    One tiny little thing that teachers could do is stop talking down to and insulting their charges thus lowering self-esteem & creativity.
  • Oct 20 2012: The industrial revolution significantly shaped how schools operate and the perception of important goals that schools should seek to attain. Our society has shifted significantly over time. I am going to suggest that our rules, regulations, perceptions and expectations surrounding schools have created significant barriers to change. As technology becomes more sophisticated and virtual education becomes more prevalent, we must be willing to allow old standards and expectations to fall by the wayside. However, staying focused on human development, while allowing educational practices to shift will develop new educational constructs that have the potential to redefine schools in the 21st Century.

    If technology can manage certain aspects of teaching, shouldn’t that free teachers to work more on developing interpersonal skills, social habits and emotional intelligence? If those become significant goals for people in schools, do we need to define students using grade levels? Do we need to train teachers in the same way? Will there still be efficiencies in large comprehensive high schools, or will small learning communities allow us to redefine a sense of community within our towns and cities?
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    Oct 20 2012: I'm not an educator, so I likely can't answer the question adequately. However, I will offer the following.

    Many years ago, I watched an episode of the Oprah show, wherein the guest was talking about reforms in education. I'm sorry, I can't recall the guest's name. But, he said some things that stuck with me.

    I'm paraphrasing a little, but he said that, typically, schools set the same rules, standards, methods, etc., for everyone – in an effort to treat everyone equally. Furthermore, because children have such diverse talents, abilities, strengths, aptitudes, patterns of thought, etc., to treat everyone equally, is actually to treat them unequally. He implied that a customized approach, or sorts, was required – and that this customized approach would work well.

    I think Ken Robinson touched on similar ideas. In one of his talks, he mentioned (as an example) that some children learn better in groups, while others learn better independently. I believe he implied that the education system should be revolutionized to offer that flexibility. Obviously, that revolution would include scores of other concepts as well.

    So, there appear to be many reformed approaches to education – some of which would really work. But, as is often the case, implementation is another matter.
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      Oct 21 2012: What you are describing is called "differentiated instruction," which was considered the best approach to educating students until very recently. I would guess that professionals in that discipline and programs to train teachers still put that principle forward as best practice.
      It is best practice.
      What I think has happened within the last ten years is that schools have moved to more standardization for political reasons. Teachers tend to fight hard to be able to continue to differentiate instruction, as anyone in the practice of teaching- anyone on the ground- understands that one cannot meet different needs by doing the same thing for everyone!
      What has become a primary way of conceiving of the classroom for at least the last couple of decades in schools, at least in the US, is that the classroom is a learning community. There has been an increasing emphasis on using class time for group work and discourse, particularly in k-8 but increasingly also in high school.
      Students do not always prefer group work and group projects, but educators recognize and convey to them that being able to collaborate in learning and in projects is an important skill in both economy and society.
      Those outside of a school setting, interestingly, do not realize this is how it looks in the school building 'on the ground," not in every class but in quite a majority and what the administrators are looking for when they stop into the classroom to evaluate teachers. This way of teaching/learning/using class time does not require technology at all. It only requires commitment. I have had a chance to be in many classrooms and the learning community/collaboration-oriented classroom, the experiential classroom, is very status quo now.
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    Oct 20 2012: Two of the classic books in this field, one older and one maybe ten years old are: Bruner's The Process of Education and Bransford's How Children Learn.

    Another I like is the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, which was published maybe in the last six years.

    I think there is little controversy within the field of education today as to what the goals should be. The challenge is how to achieve them best given the different needs students have and challenges they face.