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What are the limitations that keep new educational designs from being implemented tomorrow in schools and especially in higher education?

School is my awful job and learning is my amazing hobby; This has been my take on life ever since and contrary to what I thought would happen, it hasn't changed in the last few months of college, when I have actually found that undergraduate studies aren't much different from its earlier analogous structures in what concerns quality of learning.
I figured something would change in college, it had to. No institution of higher education would, like it had always been done before, only try to standardize me through disengaging processes of memorization and mechanization in class, and then test me for it, but they did so, and so I keep dragging my feet through the halls like I always did, uninspired by it all.
Well, here I am watching 10 TED talks and having more fun than I had in any of my classes so far, where I am basically taught simple things as if they were complicated instead of the opposite.
I think the education systems we have are all about making us easily browsable encyclopedias of knowledge and funny looking calculators without ever compelling us to make our own connections between concepts and subjects, understanding them at their core or questioning the underlying mechanisms that drive the phenomena we study, but why? Why does this happen when we have computers that are infinitely better at storing data then our brain and when we know that in order to come up with creative solutions to real life problems we have to do so much more than just recall previous knowledge; also, there is an important link between the education of today and the leader of tomorrow, and if we continue using the educational techniques of yesterday then we will keep having the same uninspired (to say the least) leaders of today. Now my question is: Do you think this is a problem? Exactly what is causing this? Is it a economic or a sociological issue? Does the academic world want to solve this? Does the corporate world? Do the governments? Do you think it can be solved? How?


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  • Nov 17 2012: I'm an Associate Professor with 10 years classroom experience, a terminal degree in my field and about 10 years professional non-academic experience in the same field. I am pursuing another advanced degree in Education for the purpose of 1) better educating today's youth and helping to close the achievement gap, and 2) to contribute to the Education Revolution that needs to and hopefully will happen. "What are the limitations..." I believe that money, training, and apathy are central. Money because it is needed to modify every aspect of public schooling from buildings to curriculum to personnel. Training because it is needed to "re-educate" the vast majority of currently practicing teachers of every level from pK-16 equipping them with 21st C methodologies to effectively educate the individual while also teaching the group. Apathy because while the "silent majority" may agree that change needs to happen, they aren't willing to demand change, much less make enough noise that it happen.

    That said, my thoughts for your personal plight are these: you seem to be judging your entire undergrad experience based on 4 or 5 Instructors out of the 35-40 that you are likely to encounter, and judging it on 4-5 courses out of 35-40 that you'll likely take. Not all of us teach the same way so don't give up hope in your first term.

    I could have my students focus on memorizing names and dates and terminology, but that won't make them successful in their careers. What will add to their success is a comprehensive understanding of the why and how of their craft. I want my students to be able to converse, debate, evaluate and ultimately make a personal choice - it's those tools that will aid in their success as professionals and as human beings. I agree with your suggestion that there are two basic approaches to disseminating information - just the facts, go memorize them, or WHY, now let's look at it and talk. Old minds use the former, revolutionaries use the later.

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