TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What can we do to change education?

My name is Hunter. I am a senior in High School and my english class recently watched this video.
This question was asked to me by a teacher to me back in 9th grade. His take on this was that there should not be an A - F grading scale because all kids do is shoot for an A. That's all. Nothing past that. All they need is an A to make everyone happy. I agree with this statement 100%. The problem is, how do we fix this? What scale can we use in order to make schooling more beneficial to future students? How do we get students to reach their full potential?

Topics: education
  • thumb
    May 5 2013: When I was in HS, I had a similar problem, where kids were taking lower level classes because succeeding (meaning getting an A or B) in an easier class was more rewarding to your GPA than taking harder classes and challenging ways of thoughts.

    I have a lot of thoughts about education, but my biggest complaint about the system is not so much the grades but the way it is taught. Sir Robinson got it right when he claimed that schools stymied creativity: they absolutely do. What's worse, I think, is the way we treat creativity as limited to a certain set of subjects (visual art, music, dance, etc). I'm a computer science major, and when I was in high school, I hated programming. I thought math was (mostly) a waste of time. I knew how to work with computers, but because I was making games instead of interest calculators, I was told that I would have to change my mindset so as to treat software development as clinical, boring, and not-at-all-useful. It was only after I started programming as a job rather than as a student that I realized that creativity is not only encouraged in CS, it is required. And I think the same thing applies to the other STEM paths.

    I guess what I see as the solution is a more hands-on, kid oriented approach to education. Forget grades, if you build a classroom that allows children to explore what they are interested in, motivation will come naturally. When you're a kid, you make baking soda volcanoes or learn how to bake bread and suddenly you're fascinated with chemistry. But then, in school, you don't make things explode or taste good. You write equations and read textbooks designed for accuracy rather than ability to inform. That should change. We should be teaching experimentation first and formulas second. And from that, we will develop generations of kids who love what they do and are inspired to explore it further.
  • May 1 2013: Perhaps the first step is to see that education is not just about school. However we try to reform schools and formal educational establishments, what goes on there can only supplement and build on an education provided outside school, both in the family, through the media and in other parts of society that children come into contact with.

    The BIG problem is that the culture we have now is fundamentally anti-education in that there is no longer any shared search for the True and the Good. Although there is a lot of easy talk on the TED stage about things like a learner revolution made possible by the new tech, there won't actually be a revolution in education until there is something like a cultural renaissance, with a rebirth of the older concerns for truth and goodness as shared values in terms of which we consent to live.
    • thumb
      May 1 2013: You make an interesting point that attitude toward education, toward being educated, and toward educated people affects the priority people give to learning and the opportunities they have for learning, regardless of what technology may afford them..
      • May 2 2013: Yes, Mr Reisner. My own experience as a teacher left me feeling that the aspirations I had in class for the students were continually being undermined by the very powerful culture outside school. The new tech does nothing to change that situation.
        • thumb
          May 2 2013: I have been lucky as a teacher to be able almost always to stimulate a high level of motivation in students. I notice this phenomenon, actually, more in the general population- that there is a bias often against, or suspicion of, educated people, professors, research scientists, and so forth. This bias affects lifelong learning but also is communicated to children.

          An example might be when people have convinced themselves that scientists haven't found a cure for cancer because there isn't enough money in it or because they are consumed by petty rivalries, or some such theory. Blame comes easier than recognizing that some mysteries are hard to crack, even by the best of minds.

          Another example is when people discount research by specialists or those knowledgable in in a field whenever it doesn't fit in with their own conceptual biases.

          The stereotype that teachers go into their work only for the vacations or the money is another belief many people hold. We at least used to have a participant here who frequently claimed to know loads of teachers and never to have met a single one who liked to learn herself or who was not in it for the money. It has become hip (is the word still used?) in many settings to think of teachers as the enemy of learning.

          All these kinds of attitudes stand in the way of people's being able to learn from those who may know more in an area than they do or who may have a different way of looking at a problem or subject.

          In education, there is, and, I think, always will be experimentation with different ways of meeting the needs of learners with diverse needs. Labeling some players in this effort as villains may feel satisfying for some people- a simple diagnosis, but I don't think it is valid or productive. Tyler Cowen's TED talk is about how humans are wired to be attracted to the good versus evil simplifying narrative.
  • May 1 2013: The top 3 things we need to do to change education are:
    1. Get parents involved
    2. Get parents involved
    3. Get parents involved

    Other thoughts:
    Education must be about preparing our children for life - whatever life they think will serve them best.
    Education (K-12) CANNOT have as it's primary goal to get everyone into college (we all know of highly educated CEO's that are idiots and other people with GED's that are building very successful companies).
    An essential role of Educators is teaching children not only HOW to learn, but they must also instill the desire to want to continue learning throughout their life.
    We must reinstate the apprentice program for virtually all fields of study. And no, it probably WON'T require more Teachers and more money because Teachers will be able to spend ALL of their time teaching rather than being referees and disciplinarians for otherwise bored students. As far as resources - we have the entire WEB available - if a Teacher and her student can't find the resources they need there (probably for free). odds are they didn't really need it anyway!
    Stop teaching to tests - a good Teacher does not need a standardized test to know if a student is succeeding.

    Teaching must once again become an honored profession, not merely a low-paying job.

    By the way, I am new to TED and I am amazed at the fundamental common sense offered here.
    TED should be required reading for all Executives and Politicians, if for no other reason than to keep them in touch with the REAL world.
    • thumb
      May 5 2013: It would not be all that difficult to organize TEDx events at the legislatures around the country. Educate the politicians on issues like health, education and the environment by bringing speakers to address local concerns. Law makers are far from experts in any of these fields and would benefit greatly from new cutting edge ideas.
      • May 5 2013: Unfortunately, politicians get their educated ideas from the lobbyists and benefit greatly from said influences.
  • Apr 30 2013: My name is Clark, I am also in High School.
    A) There are several things to consider about school reform. The biggest problem in my opinion, is the attempted quantification of students. There is no way for a teacher to know all the variables that students are conflicted with. Plus, the idea that students have to conform to teacher ideas and teaching methods is ridiculous, for instance I'm slightly above average for IQ yet I am still a C student. Therefore i submit there no grades should be applied to students, after all it is the job of the teachers to teach the students, not for students to become smaller versions of their teachers. In a very interesting talk (unfortunately I forget who) but it talked about School Killing Creativity, which according to Einstein is the most important element that one could posses. That occurs because students have to submit to their teachers and their wishes and not the other way around. If there are no grades... how then are the school system going to measure students? They won't. If college becomes public funded then every student should be accepted into it. After that period, let tests tell how much students know and have learned. B) As a culture, the United States has to encourage the idea of self made though hard work and hard studying. C) We have to change the idea that the objective for school is to become college professors (which are needed) but to become successful in whatever job market students decide to affiliate with. D)encourage the use of study hall and other programs like it... if students what to learn it, then let them come and learn more instead of having teachers cram information at a staggering rate down students esophagus... which students will be less likely to try and understand or even comprehend or even question the information given to them E) teach critical thinking and encourage curiosity so that students might take the information and research it at their own time. F)Quit thinking that $ will solve it
  • thumb
    Apr 27 2013: Allow people to dip into and out of education as a life long process. Teenagers get very bored and frustrated with schooling - what a waste of time and energy. Let them take a job in a store for a year or two and they'll come back into education hungry to improve themselves.
  • Apr 20 2013: another thing to add, i think its easier for us to change the attitude of the students rather than changing education as a whole. we just have to make people more interested to find out about different topics on their own
    • thumb
      Apr 20 2013: Which is a lot harder than it seems. lol
  • Apr 30 2013: Throw Away Answer Keys & A "Less is More" approach to Education Reform is Absolutely Necessary!

    For some reason, we think that more HW, more pages, more writing, more details, equals better-equals smarter. This is simply not true. Rather, more emphasis must be placed on the quality and methodology of the learning process not just on the quantity.

    Answer Keys desensitize teachers from being allowed to evaluate their students work based on creativity and ingenuity.
    Answer Keys remind students that their individual ideas do not matter.
    Answer Keys teach students to get really good at cheating and really bad at thinking.
    Answer Keys turn enthusiastic motivated educators into assembly line red pen X makers.
    Answer Keys snuff out brilliant minds at a very young age.
    Answer Keys turn risk takers into passive thinkers.
    Answer Keys continue to perpetuate the myth that our current standard of education actually works and will continue working for future generations.
  • Apr 29 2013: First they need to understand they are in charge of their own self development and their own potential .
  • thumb
    Apr 12 2013: On the most basic level it comes down to motivation. A motivated learner can do well in poor circumstances and an unmotivated one will achieve little even in a very good school. It follows that the ideal school would create conditions that motivate virtually every student. Finland apparently does this better than most. How? Their emphasis seems to be on the needs of each child. Much recent research points to different learning styles and further, to as many as seven different types of intelligence within each brain that appear to be able to function discreetly. The factory model school, as Ken Robinson points out, tends to treat children as empty containers with more or less intelligence and thus capacity to be filled with knowledge. The belief that a very intelligent person could do anything, and that a less intelligent one nearly nothing, is deeply rooted in Western Culture. Thoughtful observation refutes this. We all know people who are able to do one or more things very well with enormous gaps in between and others who can do a lot of things quite well but still have important deficits. A true polymath may not really exist The Classic Greek, Roman and Medieval models of the trivium and gymnasium all emphasized rhetoric, the command of languages and capacity for memorization of accepted truths. Basically the lawyer model. People with these skills still tend to rise to the top of Academia because they are still accepted as the hallmarks of "true intelligence". I think we need to stop viewing children as generic raw ore to be ground down, smelted and poured into square molds. Instead we need to view them as unique gemstones that must be individually studied in order to help them reach their potential.
  • thumb

    R H 30+

    • +2
    Apr 10 2013: That's easy, when it comes to public schools, get rid of school boards. What other major organizational governing body can you cite that would have on it's board publicly elected members with no experience in the field? What 'business' would have on it's board someone with no business experience? What public 'scientific' organization would we support that had no scientific skill requirement for board members? What public medical board would we put people with no professional medical experience? 0, or at the extreme 'wide-viewpoint' approach, a token member with complimentary experience. Education is a highly complex, extremely well researched discipline with employees with the highest level of specific education compared with any other group. Yet, we hire 'neighborhood folks' to be their bosses and make policy decisions and give them half of our tax dollars to spend in their buildings. We wonder why teachers and administrators are discouraged - even in high performing, affluent districts. And another thing :), the 'business' approach, or having 'business' be involved in the decisioning of education, is another mistake. What makes them think they know anything about education? Just because I use a garage doesn't mean I'm a carpenter. "Oh, but we'll just manage the 'business' side of things and let the "professionals" handle the ed part..." Oh sure. Teachers: "Hey mister/ms. board business person, we have this great long-term reading math/reading/language program that all of the research shows had lasting effects but the results don't show for 5 years?" Business board person: "Hmm, I probably won't be on the board in 5 years and my resume needs to show results. So I'm sure there's a 'cheaper more efficient' way to approach this subject - and we all want cheap and efficient, don't we? We have a responsibility to those who elected us, and they want accountability. Plus, I have a colleague who has a 'somewhat similar' program..." Yea. sounds great.
  • thumb
    May 9 2013: To change something we need to first know how it works fundamentally. The syllabus we get thought in schools are based on the way our minds as humans develop with time. This is not specific but a gross generalization! that's our first place to start! if we can cater to teach our children according to their specific developmental capabilities, i feel that we may have a solution to efficiently educating our children! the problem i do find with this is the problem of size, (that's the next problem) not enough teachers to children to attain this! this can in fact be aided by having the children's primary teachers (parents) take a more productive role in their education!
  • thumb
    May 8 2013: Hunter, I used to be a school teacher and it was really hard work. In fact, most adults don't realize what hard work it really is to do a teacher's job. It is hard work to teach. Especially if you want your students to learn something! Your 9th grade teacher had a point. And she/he cared a lot about your future and your potential. I see this in your teacher's willingness to have asked you this question.

    What do you think about Sir Kenneth? Have you read his Wikipedia entry or visited his web site? Read any of his books? I am not the smartest or the most important guy on this thread. In fact, I have offered about as much here as I am able. But do take the time to engage some of the (other) adults on this thread and find out what they think about things. Also, do comment and ask questions of the adults here. If you don't, they'll take over your thread and leave you entirely out of it! Adults do that sometimes. They can't help themselves. Good luck and work hard.
    • May 9 2013: Juan, I laughed out loud at "If you don't, they'll take over your thread and leave you entirely out of it!"
      Adults have a tendency to take over, when so much can be learned from you kids! Adora Svitak, my new heroin, has so much wisdom on this subject:
      • thumb
        May 9 2013: Adora Svitak is awesome! She's the kind of kid I'd like to know. And that much, in that she's the kind of kid that any adult would want to learn from. Optimistic and kind too. Also, very pragmatic in an unexpectedly adult kind of way. I wonder what the adults in her life did; to help her move forward in the way she has. That's the hidden story. As a parent, that might be the story I'd value the most! Kids don't grow up that awesome accidentally. They can, but there's help. Not always, but almost always.

        And although I haven't seen the inside of a classroom in 20 years, your note here did strike a nerve. H*E*R*O*I*N*E is the correct spelling. She's your new heroine. New heroin is something else. I am a terrible speller. And when the spell-check doesn't catch it, you can really get some goof-ball sentences. I always doe.
        • May 9 2013: Juan, absolutely!

          I am laughing out loud right now about my obvious typo above! No wonder the spell check didn't catch it! Perhaps it was slightly subconscious - TED and all its inspiration is a sort of drug!
  • thumb
    May 8 2013: This is very important and critical question in regard of the worldwide education, I'm not fully ware of the education around the world, as I know, it is way better than here in the middle east especially Iraq. One of my greatest dreams is to change the education method in Iraq. it is so old systems, I guess we need too many experts around the world to assess the education in Iraq then they suggest better solutions to develop it.
    • thumb
      May 8 2013: I am curious, and I hope with respect that my comments here are welcome. You mention Iraq, and your first name is shared with that of the Holy Prophet of God the Almighty and Merciful. I know that Islam is the faith of most middle eastern nations. And that this faith plays a major role in where, when, and how children are educated. I choose my words carefully out of respect and proper deference to core beliefs and faith held dearly for the sake of our children.

      Although Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God, I would be foolish to suggest that we all have not all suffered out of our many differences. Of Respect, I promise to keep that in mind. And so should everyone else on this topic. That is not an issue that anyone should dare to ignore.

      My point? I have to leave that open ended. I want to learn more. And the topic here is on the education of children. My first training as a child was in one of several forms of Christian fundamentalism. I did not attend a Catholic University. But some have (perhaps accurately) described my approach to many subjects as very "Jesuit." I like to think before I speak. And I prefer to write because that forces me to think. And if I believe anything, well, I have to think about that too!

      With this in mind I ask you: Help me think some more on this subject. Our children deserve that much. As for the rest, may fortune bring you "fair winds and following seas" in all your travels. As for me, anchor's aweigh, underway, making way -- time to paddle my small canoe elsewhere in hopes of a later visit. JV
      • thumb
        May 10 2013: Dear Juan,
        Many thanks for your interest. Yes Islam is the faith for most of our nations, but we are the most uneducated nation due to the circumstances of the wars, dictators etc.. produced "The Political Islam" it is very far away of real Islam, its create new Islamic thinkers focusing to serve the political government & the dictators, However this situation produced new era of anti-political Islam and that's led to cold civil war between each other costing us the most important think which is as I believe (Education).

        Day by day our nation became so radical believers. Education became so difficult, the top universities only for whom supporting the government. most of us were couldn't complete the education due to the circumstances I mentioned above, but now we are looking forward to get better opportunity in education.
        • thumb
          May 10 2013: The Islamic/Andalusian States (Spain) were the most advanced states in Europe in the middle ages. The people were educated and diverse. The economy was prosperous. The leaders were tolerant and just. The rest of Europe was constantly at war and locked into meaningless disputes. I believe that education made this prosperity possible.

          Before World War Two, the U.S.A. was neither the most prosperous nor the most advanced nation on Earth. The U.S. was well behind Germany, France, and the U.K. After WW II, the U.S. made a major investment in education. All the soldiers returning from the war were guaranteed a college education if they wanted it. 25 years later there are U.S. Astronauts on the moon. A commitment to education made that possible. The U.S.A. is prosperous because the people are educated and productive.

          For dictators and totalitarian thinkers, education is not a good thing. Educated citizens have learned how to think. Educated citizens have learned how to question. Educated citizens have learned how to demand change. Educated citizens are difficult to lead. They demand much more from their leaders. Sometimes educated citizens choose to question their religious beliefs. They resist dogma. Educated citizens are less willing to accept simple or intolerant or hateful statements from their religious leaders. Educated citizens are more challenging. The people know how to think for themselves. It is much harder for a dictator to make them crazy for war with false words of hatred. Educated. people are more difficult to frighten. I have never known of a dictator who made education a priority

          My hope is that the new nation of Iraq will heal from the past wars. I also hope that the political and religious leaders of Iraq will invest greatly in educating all the people, both men and women.

          Today the greatest opportunity for education is with the internet. This is my reason for hope on this issue. The internet is a good place to learn.
  • thumb
    May 7 2013: Hunter, KUDOS for starting such a thoughtful conversation.

    -Start fostering learning in classrooms using children's natural creativity, interest and curiosity.
    -Allow every child to bloom and excel.
    -Set aside scripts and textbooks that assume the place of a teacher.
    -Replace high-stakes tests at state and national levels with authentic assessments determined by the needs of the school districts, schools and classrooms.
    -Grades are old school. Get rid of them and replace them with student-created, teacher and parent monitored portfolios.
    -Learn how to construct and scaffold upon prior knowledge and free the learner to learn.
    -Teach peace in school.
    -Shift the paradigm in early education's approach to literacy. Refer to the question I asked in TED Conversations.

    make sure students are asked this question because grown ups don't know nearly as much!
  • thumb
    May 6 2013: Streaming children to classes of similar ability used to be the norm and now a lot of schools have stopped this and have classes of all abilities. The main problem I see in schools nowadays is that they are too large and so are the classes. How can a teacher be expected to teach classes of more than 30 children when some of them are disruptive because the lessons are geared to the top end of the class?
    I see no problem with mixing abilities in a class but I would say classes of 15 children in this case are a better number. Then the teacher has more time to spend with each child and group work would bring out all kinds of ideas.
    I think there should be a grading system because everyone is competitive, it is degrading the ones who have low grades I don't agree with.
    I know it would cost more money to employ more teachers but children in small schools are happier and learn easier than in some of the jungles that the government has created. Nowadays, there are children who go to school but as the schools are so large they can skip lessons and no one even notices.
    It is the human touch that is lacking, children need to feel protected and valued at school to thrive and that is lacking in so many. The teachers are often so stressed at work that they ignore bullying and spend most of the day wishing for its end so they can go home.
    Cure this problem and children will start to improve in schools in a very short time. That is my opinion.
  • May 1 2013: I am Stuart Thomas, I am also a High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Although my school is a private school here, I have plenty of friends in southern public school systems. The main issue here at least is the lack of connection of material from one year to the next. I have one story from my sisters roommate who is from rural South Carolina she told us that basically every teacher would teach things that they wanted to without consulting teachers from higher grade levels, a common practice in most good schools throughout the world. She also told us that she didn't know how to read an analogue clock until she was in the fourth grade because it wasn't on their EOG's (End of Grade Tests).
  • Apr 29 2013: “First, do no harm.”


    Many physicians recognize that they’ve failed their first oath - they've become enablers, prescribing pills that mask symptoms so patients can continue their sedentary lives eating junk food - and dying from it. We're smarter and richer than ever before - and sicker than we've ever been.

    Educators should see their profession similarly - they teach to tests so students can be certified, all while masking over ever increasing ignorance.

    The problems are many, and fundamental.

    The notion that education should be separable from the things it teaches was foolish to begin with. It spawned classrooms, teachers, school construction bonds, property taxes, dropouts, ADHD, forced busing, new math, sex ed., evolution or creationism - and more.

    Education used to be about learning how to make your living in the world. Apprenticeships paired learning with doing, employers footed the bill, students earned a skill, pride and an income simultaneously. Today we teach, year after year. There is no income. Is it any wonder our kids tire of waiting for a payoff?

    We need to stop preaching that the measure of a person's worth is the level of education they have attained, or the income they earn. A skilled tradesman deserves our respect and admiration no less than any PhD, and much more than most. Nor does the person selling whole, organic, local foods, or someone who has proven themselves a good parent, neighbor or friend. Or others.

    We need to stop telling our children that unless they go to college they will fail at life. Consider those poor impressionable kids, who in believing this damnable lie transform it into a self fulfilling prophecy. If they believe they'll never have the chance to go to college, what should they do? Drop out? Turn against the society that screwed them? Is it any wonder our urban youth fail?

    Why do well educated people say and do such stupid things? It is ironic that modern education is the least intelligent thing we do.
  • thumb
    Apr 29 2013: Re: How do we get students to reach their full potential?

    My suggestion is that you ask your English teacher to watch the TED Talk(s) by Sugata Mitra, this year's TED Prize winner.

    Encouragement is all that is needed to help children learn.
    That being said, we might try to understand what it is and inhibits the grow of the individual child. Learning is unique to the individual and impediments to learning start early in a child's development. Education often overlooks these issues.
  • Apr 29 2013: The first and foremost thing in education to change is choice. Parents and students should be able to select the school they want to go-vote with their feet. Some schools and systems are so mismanaged it is surprising anyone has a. valid diploma. Money should follow the student, so institutions work for the students best interest instead of being a monopoly for government funds.

    Educators need to recognize that one size doesn't fit all. All students learn differently some phonics work well, others sight reading. Some students thrive in a self paced environment while others need pushed and dragged through key subjects.

    You have to have passionate people teaching classes. I love American History , my 9th grade American Studies teacher, a nice woman, made the founding of our country so boring that I hated the class. Along those lines, somethings need to explain why you need to learn it. An example is The Pythagorean Theorem , by itself its just a math problem. Show it in the context of a contractor or a brick mason , it's how he gets his corners square.

    Our education system will not improve until we quit trying to ensure equal outcomes in a monopolized system. If our school districts would have to treat parents and students as consumers, we might begin seeing improvements in our schools.
    • May 1 2013: Your last statement was really loaded and probably touched on the most important problem with OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM. The point is the school administrators and teachers have no incentive , or even prohibited to treat the students as their customers, because the money which is given to the schools comes from either the school districts by their taxing authority or from the state and federal governments. And more importantly all the money have strings attached that are NOT WITH THE STUDENTS" INTEREST IN MIND. The school districts have to satisfy the mandates from the governments. So their hands are tied even if they wanted to improve their efficiency or purpose. For instance, under the "no child (should) be left behind" program, why should the majority of the students suffer the diluted instructions, or the teachers attention be concentrated to a few students who mostly don't have any desire to study regardless how much of the teachers time are devoted to them.
      I believe a better solution is, like several previous comments (including yours) suggested, that the money should be appropriated to FOLLOW THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS TO WHERE THE STUDENTS CHOOSE TO LEARN ACCORDING TO THEIR CHOICE OF THE PREFERRED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.
      You can see that with this arrangement, even all your previous items could also be solved. as well.
  • Apr 27 2013: I think that you are right Hunter in asking this question. Education needs to be an adventure and not a prison. Our challenge as educators is to create this sense of adventure while at the same time helping each learner to keep growing. Face-it, depending on our personality we need someone to push us to excel. At school this is what marks and exams do. At home, this is what parents do. Our challenge is to push ourselves to new heights - if we as a community can encourage each other to do this without making others feel smaller or inferior, then we have made progress. Thank you for putting the question out there. It is something I need to think about more.
  • Apr 27 2013: Is there a way we can create a virtual school that teaches scenarios in place of reading a text book. Kids go on an adventure in which they learn about events that happened and must work together with their guide to come up with solutions as a group. Have people from all ages work together to understand the mindset of our ancestors and find ways to evolve collectively toward the betterment of the world? Set up specific areas of historical significant as testing areas and create a game around them? Just throwing that out there.
  • thumb
    Apr 27 2013: i was reading some article but in it was talking about animals going to school. there was a mole who loved digging the bird who loved singing the prairie dog who loved such and such. anyway all the animals had many different strengths and weaknesses. society has put high demands on certain fields of study because that's what society needs. so student these days are being strip mind like the earth for the resources that are needed. and ultimately the people who design the courses are professors and teachers with there doctrines. who spend a lot of time in books and not in the actual work field. but there making students in their own image. the question is who do we want students to be like and act like and think like. there best self obviously. what is that? only god knows. question is how does man create a similar organization to the school of life. one that prepares students for what lies ahead. or gets more out of the way of that system that is already in place. somthing that flows more and harmonizes more with that system. great question.
  • thumb
    Apr 26 2013: Hunter, I still stand by my first answer at the beginning of this conversation. However your question "How do we get students to reach their full potential?' is at the center of this discussion. Please explain to me how do you measue "full potential". Since you know "you" better than anyone ... what is your full potential? Have you set the bar to high .. to low ... what are the rewards .. consequences .... if you do not achieve this "potential" are you a failure? Is this another way to "label".

    Putting schools on scales ... Isn't that what your arguing against?

    If I say your potential is shoveling dirt .. and you do it then I (and you) have arrived at our goal. Have a nice life. I pat you on the back and tell you to keep it up and depart. Siince you have arrived at your "full potential" you will never be evaluated or promoted. End of the road.

    In my earlier post I provide you with the opportunity to excell and learn ... you determine your potential and the "full" potential is always in the fulture.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Apr 25 2013: First we have to address government corruption . this should be on the top of you to do list Rootstrikers.org
  • thumb
    Apr 24 2013: I always feel when a topic like this arises that if you take a step back and look at the educational system that if you're not a person who 'achieved well' in school then you're just bitter so I really just bite my tongue and hold back an opinion. That's not how I feel but how I think people perceive me.

    I saw this lovely picture of a man sitting at a desk addressing a plethora of animals saying "Right, I want to you climb this tree" and in the line up of animals were elephants, monkeys, giraffes, penguins..etc.. It oversimplifies the situation completely but you get the idea.

    One thing that I witnessed in school was negativity towards asking 'questions'. People felt that questions were dumb or they were 'wrong', clearly I'm missing something here because how can a question be wrong? Sure, there is a time and a place for questions but a classroom of all places would be assumed to be a safe bet. I would say that throughout most people's lives people are scared to ask questions for fear of being punished. Maybe not even fear of being punished but a fear of being scolded by peers or something.

    FNU Sheany, I loved your post. Would it be fair to say that when you enjoy doing something it comes more naturally and is easier. Perhaps if students were to identify what they actually enjoy doing, they would learn better. But I suppose a lot of other issues come into play when thinking about motivation in education. Competition of 'hobbies', be it video games or the likes, or sports..etc.. These things aren't bad, don't get me wrong. But they compete.

    Sarah Myers: What constitutes "a better person", and who decides what's better? Would that be the syllabus? What is core and key values? Better in self-improvement or in relation to.. well, in relation to the given norm, or in relation to you and your values? The only way for some to learn is if they want to learn. But yes, issues that you discussed hit very true. Children don't understand complex emotional issues.
    • thumb
      Apr 25 2013: Henry, you make several interesting points. One is that not managing to succeed in school can make people extremely bitter, which has a separate negative impact from their not having learned whatever they might have had learned. One sees the scars of that standing in the way of learning effectively over the lifetime, even if people don't realize it.

      For example, I suspect, but cannot prove, that people who struggled in school are more likely to see conspiracies under every rock than those who succeeded in school. They may be more likely too to follow without serious examination anyone who sells them an alleged conspiracy. Many people, I suspect, look strenuously later in life for the validation they did not get early in life.

      Which brings us to another of your points. That is, it is vital to engage kids in their schooling by tapping into their interests and connecting what they learn in the classroom to their interests and aspirations. It is also important to give kids challenging enough content so that they can feel a sense of satisfaction in meeting the challenge but not so much challenge that they will confront a string of failures. This shapes an attitude of enjoying learning experiences, an attitude that serves for a lifetime. A side benefit is that kids are less likely to harbor a resentment into adulthood of those who actually know more about a subject than they do. To learn one needs to be able to consider what other people offer and to learn from others rather than shutting them out because of an unconscious hatred for teachers or learned people.

      I went to ordinary public schools now a long time ago and don't remember ever thinking we were discouraged from asking questions. I do think small children can be afraid of asking questions of strict teachers. I wonder how often students remember that as having been discouraged to ask questions.
      • thumb
        Apr 26 2013: I think you're both right about SOME people who struggled in school. I have seen friends and colleagues become embittered by the experience and absolutely determined to go in the opposite direction (for my high school friends it involved joining the peace corps, for my college friends it usually meant work in corporate America).

        I would add just one more deviation, though. Struggle in our current system can also make people determined to change it. I wasn't a terrible student in school, but homework definitely interested me less than friends. I can clearly remember a biology teacher in 9th grade telling me I probably forgot my homework in my locker because I was too busy chatting with the other cheerleaders about the dance on Saturday (it was a Friday and I was wearing a uniform at the time).

        While the sexist remark did bother me, (and I made it clear to my counselor that it did), I didn't follow the path you describe. Rather, I went to college. Became engrossed in Victorian America and Sonny's Blues through my History an English programs. Applied that content knowledge to my M.Ed. Taught public, private, online, and urban high school students. Completed my Ph.D.

        Now I work with people in every field of education imaginable and spend my days convincing them that our current system just doesn't serve students in the way it could and should. I don't remember my biology teacher with bitterness, but rather one (of many) signs that it was my job to advocate for students like myself.

        And despite all the things that are still a struggle for our students, I think those efforts have paid off in small ways that will be apparent down the road. My kids are in elementary school, so I sincerely hope so anyway :)
        • thumb
          Apr 26 2013: I know it can go both ways, just as some children from trying home environments become wonderful parents themselves or creative geniuses, while others may come to withdraw or even abuse their own children.

          The damage it does to some people to be embittered by their school experiences to me warrants being attentive to this frequent scenario.

          Everyone understands, I think, that there is plenty of room for improvement in schooling. As you have a Masters in Education and a PhD, you also know that schools have not been standing still, content with doing exactly what they did in 1950 but rather try one experiment after another to see whether the new model of curriculum or pedagogy works better or worse than the last. Meanwhile, some kids have a knack and disposition to extract a lot of learning from flawed learning environments and others less so. I would like to see kids have the resilience to make the most of the learning opportunities through which they pass, particularly because most of the environments though which they pass over the lifetime will not be customized to optimize their learning, even if that would be the ideal. Users, if you will, can do some customizing from their end.
  • Apr 24 2013: This might not answer your question, and I'm really just sharing my views on the subject. I've just recently been exposed to this very topic, and how the current education system needs to be changed. Standardized testing isn't an accurate measure of a person's intelligence, and many institutions should go beyond grades to consider applicants. I've recently thought about this through myself, initially having agreed that we do need a better system - I realized that there are countless people out there who are struggling with the current system, who might actually be brilliant on some other aspects in academics - but are potentially undiscovered because we all follow a certain guideline, that's supposed to serve millions of people out there. We're missing out on uncountable brilliance, because we lack a working system that notices them. This needs to change, obviously. And you're posing a very important question, Hunter. How do we do it? It's not impossible, and we can definitely work on it from many different angles. But which one is the best, really? It seems to me that every angle serves a purpose, but doesn't necessarily fulfill the whole criteria. But if we do find it, it's going to be revolutionary - might just be the change we need in creating an overall better world. I believe we can. So let's get on it :)
  • thumb
    Apr 23 2013: I am +60yo. I am a HS dropout. Between 1974 and 2005, I have earned more than 160 SemHrs of academic credit experimental psychology, statistics, art history .... Interest and curiosity were always my major incentive for knowledge and experience acquisition. IMO, make learning available to all. The ones that want/need will. Grammar schools need to train children to read, write ... and learn (forget test taking) expeditiously and efficaciously. Use hands-on collaboration and task-completion to prove knowledge and skills acquisition. Yes, some will ride for awhile, but eventually everyone sees their failure looming if they don't try to be their best.

    The problem is, how do we fix this? Make learning 24/7 available and teacher access/help 8/4. What scale can we use in order to make schooling more beneficial to future students? Production and performance should always be the scale. How do we get students to reach their full potential? For me positive support, personal interest and curiosity, and availability of learning materials, time, and frequent changing life situations.
  • thumb
    Apr 23 2013: USA education petition http://wh.gov/eEaI may be appropriate for US, EU ...?

    Please share with US, EU and others colleagues, family, friends, and schools, FREE and OPEN online education and books. These W3 resources are affordably, and travel not required.

    CourseEra - Take the World's Best Courses, Online, For Free. CourseEra is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. A future where top universities educate millions of students.
    There are 62 Universities partnered With Coursera. https://www.coursera.org/

    edX - The Future of Online Education for anyone, anywhere, anytime. EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. A new online-learning experience with online courses.
    There are 12 Universities partnered With edX. https://www.edx.org/

    The Open University's mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realize their ambitions and fulfill their potential. [https://twitter.com/OpenUniversity]

    United Nations - Tuition Free Online University University of the People (UoPeople) is the world's first non-profit, tuition- free online university dedicated to opening the gates to higher education for all individuals otherwise constrained.
    • Apr 25 2013: Hi,Adelo Vant,thank you so much for sharing free learning materials with us:)
  • thumb
    Apr 23 2013: We could do all essay testing instead of having a grading system. Either you understand the information or you don't.
    • Apr 23 2013: I like this idea a lot, John. The only problem with that, is that some kids are better at expressing themselves in words than others... To expand on your thought, what about if they dictated themselves and handed in their 'essay' as an MP3? Or gave a presentation/report on it, or wrote a song about it?
      • thumb
        Apr 23 2013: Penciles and paper use less electrical energy than mp3's.

        Writing and learninig to write would be a requirement. When you start lowering the bar, you set kids up to become lazy and non-productive, which is where we are today.
  • thumb
    Apr 23 2013: Hi Hunter

    I think passion breeds passion, I think we can all remember at least one teacher that had a positive impact on us, even those of us that haven't seen a classroom in many years. I think students could get together with teachers and suss out ways of making the classroom more vibrant which in turn could give student more motivation and passion. There is always going to be some kind of grading system so the powers at be have some kind of data, to do something with, but what really matters as you say, are your fellow school mates reaching their potential? No A or F can really show this, you might be sick on the day of your test or whatever, I challenge you to get a bunch of your friends together and brainstorm idea's about making the classroom somewhere you want to be, is this possible?, I guess not for everyone but I challenge anyway. The other key things is support, do your fellow students feel supported, if not tell your Principle, if they don't listen tell your Mayor, if they don't listen tell the Governor.

    Awesome to see a young man interested in potential of his fellow students, keep it up!!

    • Apr 23 2013: Hi Brent,

      I love your idea of involving kids and teachers to "suss out ways of making the classroom more vibrant which in turn could give student more motivation and passion"! I work with children, and the very first thing I do with them is make up our own list of rules together. The kids are enthusiastic about coming up with ways to make the lessons flow, and because they were instrumental in coming up with those rules, they adhere to them without any difficulty!