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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?

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    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.
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      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.
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          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.
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      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
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    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
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      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 .
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    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.
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    R H

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    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.
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    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!
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    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:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak.html
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        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!
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    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.
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      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
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        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.
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          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.
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    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.

    And...
    make sure students are asked this question because grown ups don't know nearly as much!
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    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.”

    Right.

    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.
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    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.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud.html

    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.
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    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.
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    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
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    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.
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      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.
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        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 :)
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          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 :)
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    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.
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    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.
    [https://twitter.com/coursera]
    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.
    [https://twitter.com/edXOnline]
    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]
    http://www.open.edu/openlearn/

    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.
    [https://twitter.com/UoPeople]
    http://www.uopeople.org/
    • Apr 25 2013: Hi,Adelo Vant,thank you so much for sharing free learning materials with us:)
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    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?
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        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.
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    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!!

    Aroha
    Brent
    • 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!
  • Apr 21 2013: Hi,

    This is suresh working as systems engineer. The main thing to change education is to make the students to get intrest in studying not the theory part the education system must be change to give practical knowledge regarding the subject they teach. TOday students having lack of knowledge in practical part.
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    Apr 20 2013: we are the students can reexplain the lectures after the professors end their lectures in our simplified way and by our expressions and recording them audio and video then upload them for all people all over the world and making world wide library by students for our ideas sharing for lectures and topics explaining
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      Apr 21 2013: Reexplaining lectures to yourself or in groups is one useful way of making sure you understand. An advantage of groups is that you are more likely to find the gaps or errors in each others understanding.
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        Apr 23 2013: we can also explain them in simplified way like that in documentary films providing chance for public people to understand and know what students learn in schools,faculties and courses thus we can increase people level of info. and decrease the gap () public and learners.
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          Apr 23 2013: I think many teachers choose their careers precisely because they enjoy putting material into a form that makes it easy for others to understand.

          Further, I read yesterday in a book written by the neuroscientist who is the author of the leading medical school textbook in that area that people have an inborn drive to close the gap between what they know and what others know, which accounts for why people share information and their understandings of things.
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    Apr 19 2013: The school of the future will be far more sophisticated than it is today. Education will be delivered to the homes of the students and the material presented will be from the best of the best educators. Any person will be able to study whatever they wish, whenever they wish. The internet is part way there already. Distance education is a common fact in Canada, today,so it is a proven system. I suggest that students that are free to study what they wish when they wish will be very interested in learning and will progress much faster.

    The cost to the taxpayer is 1/100th of what it is today.
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      Apr 19 2013: there are 16 pages on bullshit ... that equates to two pages per letter ... must be very sophisticated bullshit...but I shall try to ingest it
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    Apr 11 2013: This depends on how you define potential. Surveys of high school graduates nationwide show on average a mere 20% retention of the curriculum one year after graduation, and that's the graduates. If retention of facts and a few basic skills is your definition of potential then the current system appears to be a near utter failure. If creativity is your goal then Ken Robinson's talks seem to indicate even worse results. If we look at Finland's schools, which according to PISA international tests are the best in the world, then they must be doing something better if not right. Yet they spend less money per student, fewer days per year and less hours per day in class and do nearly no testing and assign very little homework. I have been studying every report of their system I could find in the last ten years and have had the chance to interview a few Finns and here is my take. They have no standard all encompassing curriculum and every school is in effect a charter school for which there are no districts. The students and their parents can choose any school to which they are willing to travel . They do pick only the brightest candidates to become teachers(top 10% of undergrads). They do have smaller class sizes of 15 or so and all the teachers have Master's or Doctoral degrees. They do not separate the students by IQ with very few exceptionsfor extreme handicaps and also not rigidly by age with a three year spread being common. The teachers often stay with the same group of students for three years or more and form virtually a learning team in which they assist each other and the teacher. Their motto is not "no child left behind" like the boy scouts on a hike going as slow as the slowest, but "whatever it takes" for each child, acknowledging the wide range of learning styles and needs that make each of us unique and special. The impression I get is of much more freedom and flexibility and respect to and from the teachers.
    • Apr 11 2013: So after 12 years of schooling, people only retain, on average, 20% of what they learn?

      "They do pick only the brightest candidates to become teachers(top 10% of undergrads). They do have smaller class sizes of 15 or so and all the teachers have Master's or Doctoral degrees."
      -Does this mean that the teachers are paid better as well? Compared to the US.
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        Apr 12 2013: Hunter the 20% figure is an average of those who graduate. This implies that some do better and some do really badly. Have you ever heard the question "How many teachers or therapists does it take to change a light bulb?" Numbers are irrelevant, 1 or 100, since they can only succeed if the Bulb really wants to change, thus motivation is key.
        As to the compensation of Finnish teachers, I hear they have a little better pay, but the big difference is the working conditions, where they have more creative freedom and are respected on the job and in the community. Of course their health benefits and Holidays are MUCH better too. This situation of each school being like a charter, with even more autonomy, and competing with all the other schools in their area has led to a situation where there are NO bad schools. Since the client can easily vote with his feet, a school must quickly respond to the needs and wishes of their clients or they will have to shut down. I often ask people what they think the primary source of wealth on our planet is after the energy we get from the Sun. Eventually they agree that it is the energetic application of human intelligence. That
        being true then every student who fails to reach their potential represents a net loss to the global GDP. Finland walks this talk better than any other nation that of which I am aware. The American obsession for objectivity is reversed in that the teachers in the course of several years working with the students actually bond with them and get to know and understand them very well. Their motivation must be better for so many reasons. I like the fact that they may well be working with them next year, so no passing the buck. This gives even more incentive to get it right as soon as possible. Having taught in Europe and America myself and being a sixth generation teacher I can tell you that all the dedicated teachers I know wish nothing more than the chance to truly help their students succeed.
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    Apr 10 2013: Hunter, I have often proposed a course map for all subjects k - 12 composed of modules that allow a student to advance through competency. It is a simple competent / non-competent system if you demonstrate competency you advance to the next module in the subject ... if non-competent you revist a remedial module and recieve assistance until competency is demonstrated. All students remain with their peers for social development. Students work at their level of understanding ... there is no grade just documented proficiency. The course map has no limits if the school would join a local college and have the modules and goals adjusted to meet the requirements of the college.

    Transcripts would be where your are on the course maps. Every thing elese is bragging rights and parental pride.

    This wouold solve the majuor problem I see in schools today ... getting the right answer is the goal ... I think the goals should be to demonstrate application and proficiency.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Apr 10 2013: Regardless of what type of scale you use, students will always shoot for the highest and nothing past that to make everyone happy. Instead of changing how students are graded, we need to change how students are taught. Nearly all schools teach their students in a way to reach a certain goal set by the standardization of education. While standardization is beneficial, it relies heavily on the use of memorization of facts and taking things for face value. Students study what they know will be tested and nothing more. Most simply put, teachers need to try and promote better critical thinking skills by pushing their students to question and challenge the accepted concepts being taught. If they can get their students to realize that there is more surrounding the topics discussed in the classroom than what is shown in their textbook, then the students can then be driven to come up with their own ideas and use relevant arguments to support their theories and have a more holistic understanding of the world around them.
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    May 10 2013: This is a million dollar question, "How to me mark people with out making it a competition?". In an ideal world we would have enough slots in education that all people could do any course they wanted and progress in any direction. The problem is that this is just not logistically feasible. We need the grading, but i wholly agree that the approach should be changed.
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    May 9 2013: There are good public schools out there, but overall, the system is broken. It needs to be fixed. Without an educated electorate, our nation is in deep peril. I have stated my solution which some see as too radical. Maybe so, but there is no time for more repetitive discussion if we are to fix the problem before even more serious damage is done.
  • May 9 2013: Below is a quote from a prof in CA Univ who participated in writing the "Core Standards" to be force-fed to the teaching of fractions in math for all the elementary schools in the U. S. You can judge whether their proposed method is any easier to understand than the traditional method. In the italicized quotes,the author try to equate their method as the "truth" as opposed to the traditional. Remember, fraction is taught before geometry.

    "To give one example, consider the fraction-phobia that has beset U.S.
    schools. Fractions are taught either by using pieces of pizza, or by using
    ill-defined notions like "ratio."

    Clearly, fractions should not be taught using only pizza slices, and this
    is where the Core Standards make important improvements. According to the
    Core Standards, fractions should be defined geometrically as points on a
    number line. Students mark whole numbers as a sequence of equidistant
    points on a line, like an infinite ruler. They then mark fractions. For
    example, 1/2 is the point on the line half-way between 0 and 1, and 1/3 is
    the point a third of the way from 0 to 1.

    Once this is done, students can identify any fraction with the length of
    the segment between 0 and the fraction itself, like a ruler. In this
    framework, it becomes crystal clear what the addition of fractions means:
    It is the total length of the combined segment when the two segments are
    put together end-to-end. Likewise, multiplication is the area of the
    rectangle formed by the two line segments, just like the multiplication of
    whole numbers.

    The Republican National Committee is opposed to the Core Standards on the
    grounds that education is the prerogative of the states and their school
    districts. But this argument ignores the fact that mathematics represents
    objective, timeless and necessary truths. These truths apply uniformly and
    equally to any citizen, regardless of geographic location. Fractions mean
    the same thing in Iowa and Alabama as they do in California and Texas".
    • May 9 2013: How interesting, Bart, that you should bring this up!
      I went to Montessori school, where fractions were indeed taught visually/tangibly using pie pieces.
      When I entered the public school system in 5th grade, I did an aptitude test and literally drew the pie pieces next to each question to aid myself in figuring out the answers.
      My parents were 'confronted' about this at the first possible parent-teacher conference - thank goodness they knew there was nothing wrong with me!
      • May 9 2013: Thank you for telling me about your experience with the pie-slices method. In my posting above, I was running out of the words limit, and also I hope that the readers/discussants could easily tell the choice of the methods in explaining the manipulation of fractions problems. May I offer you some ammunition on counterattack for this when you might get the confrontation in a parent-teacher conference, now as a parent. Anyway I would like to hear any challenge to say that my logic is wrong.
        First, let me explain what actually complicated the matter in the method in the "Core Standards" about the equation of 1/2 X 1/3 = 1/6. In their explanation they said the solution of 1/6 happens to be equal to the area of the product of the 2 fractions; 1/2 and 1/3. . But that's completely math computation which is very difficult for the children to relate to. They could use the physical demo by showing the cut up of a 1ft by 1ft square piece by first cutting it to 2 pieces of 6"x12", then cut each of them in 3 ways to get pieces of 4'x6', so that each sub-piece will amount to 24 sq inches to show that it would be equal to 1/6 of the total area of the 1 ft x 1ft (12" x 12" = 144") board. One may ask why should we do these measurement steps? But if you don't approach it in this way then what would this approach be any different than the pie-slices approach anyway.
        Now if you take this so-called "truth" method, it involves a stringent requirement that all the cutting measures have to be very precise. Because it not, the end "product" won't be equal to 24 sq inches exactly However, in the pie slices method, you may not realize it, the measurement process doesn't have to be precise to show the result, any roughly close measurement will suffice, and the latter method is much easier to understand visually and tangibly by the children/students as well. So why should we spend lot of time and effort to make all these measurements that really doesn't appease to intuition of the children.
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          May 9 2013: I have taught fractions often and find that almost everyone understands better with a visual representation. I believe that is the most usual way of presenting the subject, isn't it?
        • May 9 2013: I sure hope so Fritzie! My story did take place more than two decades ago...!
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    May 9 2013: Yeah! I was privileged to teach elementary school for a few years. That was more than twenty years ago now. Their little eyes really do light up when they begin to understand. It makes me giggle to remember.

    The rest of the time it can be like herding cats. Never never never look away; even for a single instant! You have to make the magic work ALL the time. And that can be really really hard to do. Good teachers are a treasure. Great teachers are priceless!
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    May 8 2013: Public schools have become in the last 50 great organizations with massive layers of management, variety of goals, new social challenges, even some political aspirations and in this explosion of pedology most school systems have lost sight of the goals... educating young adults. In fact, according to some measures, it could be said that American society is dumbing down..
    Some say that the system can be revived and refocused. I say it's time for demolition. We have elected school boards and we have schools headed by principals. Everything in between is out. Kids can bring a lunch to school. The local police can provide security, Child services can provide social services, Pop Warner can do after school football leagues. Schools are to teach the basic subjects needed by young adults to be functional adults after 12 years.
    No more, no less.
    PS Teachers who allow their. students to know their political bent are to be immediately terminated.
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    May 8 2013: TED took a great step forward last night with their PBS special. See the new talks.
  • May 8 2013: As a substitute teacher I am surprised that so many of the lesson plans provide almost no interaction with the students. The kids seem so amazed when I get up in front of the room and actually talk to them about the subject, or write on the board to illustrate a concept.

    Have we forgotten that kids think?

    In one 3rd grade class I took questions from kids a the end of the day. One little boy asked, "If you are paralyzed from head to toe do your eyeballs move." I didn't know, but I was able to explain to the child how to find out the answer. But was that a THINKING question or not!

    In another class (kindergarten) I gave the kids a "word of the day" (nocturnal). I repeated the word the whole day and the kids loved it. Five weeks later I did the same class, and asked the kids what their word was and every single kid remembered and KNEW THE DEFINITION and could explain it in their own words!

    In a middle school math class (7th grade) the kids were having trouble with FRACTIONS. I showed several of them an easier way to do the work, using tally marks, and although their goal was only to get to a score of 85, (why was that the set goal?) several were VERY excited when they were able to get scores in the 90s using just a little trick.

    So, if these kids are THINKING, and if they can LEARN how to do simple math just using an alternative approach, why are we losing so many of them in our present school system?

    I have learned something from working with the kids. I should have been a teacher all my life, and that there is more than one way to help kids learn. I have even noticed that in classes where the discipline is a major problem, if the kids are ENGAGED they tend to act a LOT better!!!

    IMHO, there may be a couple of ways to improve our education system. First, look at what WORKS (in all the countries who outshine us) and copy some of the methods. Second, ENGAGE our kids in the learning process.
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      May 8 2013: The lesson plan a teacher leaves for a sub is often quite unlike the lesson the teacher would teach were she there, particularly if the teacher has no idea who the sub will be.
      • May 8 2013: And I do understand that. However I have also subbed as a teacher assistant and in classes as inclusion teacher so I have been able to observe how they teach on a regular basis. In addition some of the classrooms are sort of two combined, with no wall between at the side area where teacher desks are between the two rooms. So in that case I have also been able to see and hear what the teacher in the other room was doing. While that is not EVERY teacher, I have seen several and those I have observed really do not seem to be doing as much TEACHING as they are just handing out papers, collecting them, and going on to the next subject each day. I just have not observed much dialog going on. I guess I need to see more classes.
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          May 8 2013: I hope you will see more.

          What I cannot tell is whether you are interpreting the absence of lecture as an absence of teaching. In inquiry-based classrooms, or "flipped" classrooms, the teacher circulates among students as they work in groups, asking questions and encouraging students to learn via their small group discussions as they work through the questions/problems at hand. Teachers aim to be alert to when their input is actually needed rather than answering things kids could, with a bit of guidance or interaction with peers, answer for themselves.The period's work then may be pulled together in a full class plenary in which students report in in a way that is channeled by the teacher but as much as possible the findings and analysis are drawn from the students.

          This should look like a lot of discourse going on about the work at hand but less teacher-talking than the traditional models of decades ago.
    • May 8 2013: Dee, have you seen Sugata Mitra's cincept, SOLE? He won the 2013 TED prize with his wish to build a "school in the cloud" which is all about what you describe - engaging kids to think, to ask questions, and to find answers. His work is truly inspiring, and you can get involved!
      http://www.ted.com/pages/prizewinner_sugata_mitra
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      May 8 2013: I wish I'd had a substitute like you when I was in school! Most subs are far less motivated than you. And yes, it really is amazing how engaged kids can be when you take the time to open up the world for them a bit.

      As to that particular question from that particularly bright young child. If someone is a quadriplegic and unable to move either arms or legs due to a spinal cord or neck injury, they almost always have the ability to move their faces, speak, look, smell and hear. Most of the head is run by 12 cranial nerves that never enter the spinal cord at all. It's all just how we are wired together with neurons.
      • May 8 2013: I did learn the answer to that very interesting question! I was simply floored to have a young child even ask it. It made me wonder what motivated the question, and also about the though processes of the student.

        I always try to engage the kids, and always try to provide at least ONE fact about the work that is not covered in the material, and try to make it something that will encourage the students to look for more info on their own.

        I just love the look in a kids eyes when he/she learns something. Their eyes just light up. It makes the day worthwhile!
  • May 7 2013: Mr. Robinson has some brilliant insights on this question. My contributions come from 16 years of formal education and parenting two bright and accomplished children, the eldest recently completing cum laude her Masters of Education at UCLA.
    The parenting equation as it relates to the success of education is HUGE and frequently undervalued in our world today. Motivating and supporting parent excellence I suggest to be a very efficient way to improve the education experience of students from preschools thru graduate programs of esteemed universities.
    Parent presence and involvment and actually rewarding in some manner in the child's education activity is a tremendous accountability strategy for improving the RESULTS of educating students.
    Given the organizational strength and success of our American teachers unions; I suggest a mobilization beta testing effort be established along these lines. The Gates Foundation could fund the beta test, the union could benefit in some fashion (? - TBD) and critical to our country's welfare ---- the student performance would be LIFTED UP !!!
    Start with preschool groups, engage kindergarten, first and second graders all in the first years. Measure results, GROW the kids more positively and assuming success ---- do it all MORE !!! :):):)

    This really is a HUGELY important subject that deserves serious investment of many, many resources. It needs to become a higher priority industry that all PARENTS can more joyfully and rewardingly EMBRACE !!!

    Key Words: PARENTS POSITIVE PRESENCE -----note the intentional omission of apostrophe; we need many, many parents to be more positively present !!! :):):)
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    May 7 2013: Waiting for "Superman" is a documentary film. The film analyzes the failures of the American public education system by following several students as they strive to be accepted into a charter school.
    It is a very powerful and moving documentary that asks the questions: "What can we do to help change the educational system in the United States which appears to be failing so many students?"

    I think that we are moving away from the model in which learning is organized around stable, usually hierarchical institutions that have served as the main gateways to education and social mobility. Replacing that model is a new system in which learning is best conceived of as a flow, where learning resources are not scarce but widely available, opportunities for learning are abundant, and learners increasingly have the ability to autonomously dip into and out of continuous learning flows.
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    May 6 2013: Hi Hunter,
    Sorry to be a bubble burster, but grades where not for students. I don't know when the change came that students were to get grades for themselves. Grades originally where for teachers to evaluate their success in getting information across to the students. I heard that grades got to be important when college selection officials found it too hard to select students based on SATs and other basic criteria, so the grade on a high school junior english class became the final selection point.
    I know it's the dumbass thing I've ever heard of too! So, if you want just learn something well, you can do that, but if you want to got to college, you got to get "A"s. So, you got to lie, cheat and steal to make sure you get those "A's. Isn't that sad? Worse, I don't think there is a change that can be made.
    • May 7 2013: Hey Mike,
      I was just discussing this topic with some friends this morning!

      I mentioned both my kids are tested and get grades in elementary school, even the youngest who is 5. Obviously, he is oblivious to the whole grading system, which is a very good thing. I argued that grades represent nothing more than how my kid is doing academically compared to other kids his age. I know what my child is capable of, where his strengths and weaknesses are, and his grades simply tell me which areas 'need work'. We integrate those areas into our play here at home.

      Clearly, this is a different story than older students, who are responsible for their own academic improvement. I think it's another one of those things, that when authority places emphasis on this kind of thing, kids assume they need to place emphasis on it too. On the other hand, like Adora Svitak said, "If the expectations are low enough, believe me, we will sink to those expectations":
      http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak.html
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        May 7 2013: I would question why it is important for the comparison of one child with his peers. Each child is a unique individual who must achieve to his own capabilities. I find bragging rights of five year olds
        just a tad boring. Just think of the delayed development child when his parents are disappointed that he is not as precocious as a neighbor. If you can use this information to help your child overcome his weak areas is a good thing. But, let him lead on the information he must process. Exposure is one thing, beating him over the head with it is another.
        I'll bet you know some parents who expound on the achievements of their child as a status symbol of superiority. Boorish behavior.
        • May 7 2013: Unfortunately, I do, Mike. Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by them.
          Recently, when a parent I know recently posted her daughter's report card on Facebook, I felt slightly ill. Her daughter is in my daughter's class - 1st grade. They are six.
          SIX.
          I also know of parents who were ashamed to tell anyone their child was gifted, and when they moved so he could go to a gifted program, they lied about the reason. The other end of the scale... perhaps having to do with the deep-rooted Calvanist nature of the Dutch people? I don't know...

          The purpose of these grades I think is to provide a statistic from which educators can learn and (hopefully) improve the system. I hear every year on the news how the Dutch educational system is doing compared to the rest of the world. Each individual is compared, schools are compared, countries are compared... it starts so absurdly early and just never ends.

          My kids' development is all over the place, which I encourage wholeheartedly. My son was way more interested in climbing on stuff than talking, so I followed and encouraged him in his passion for developing those motor skills. I also made sure his pre-school experience was one where he would feel successful in his own achievements and confident.
          Compared to his peers, he has 'delayed speech' (according to those statistics) but I honestly did not need a set of grades to know his language was going to come later than other kids his age. A grade says nothing to me, it reflects but one aspect of an entire individual, and is based on a generalization.
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          May 8 2013: Clearly, the last time you observed playground behavior in a child -- might have been when you were a child yourself. I was privileged to teach in a U.S. elementary school for a couple of years. Young boys in particular have a pecking order between and among them that resembles a wolf pack. They always know who the alpha-male is. I always did. And I am a handicapped individual who had to hide from those other cruel children when I was young. Growing up was miserable.

          My handicap was minimal, but it made me a failure in the feral eyes of the Little-Boy-tribe that universally dominates elementary school playgrounds. My alternative was to go the teacher's-pet route and get good grades. That wasn't a complete solution, so I had to strike a balance to just get along. But good grades did help, and they have helped me as a adult.

          My point? We cannot escape being evaluated. And we are evaluated at every step of our lives. We are evaluated by our peers. We are evaluated by our employers. And our grades in school are just another reflection of how we always must suffer "evaluation" always, while we live.
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    May 6 2013: For k-12 make parents accountable for their children and quit thinking that teachers are social workers. Generally we should quit confusing education with training. Let business train, colleges educate.
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    May 6 2013: There is a point in this talk, minute 15, where the speaker mentions the importance relationship, the social emotional model a child creates early on, has on learning mathematics. I see this observation as spot on and might need to be considered in any peer to peer learning model. Peer to peer learning assumes the skill of a social competence is acquired and functional to a certain level. How is this measured?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqSBWEjRggs&feature=em-subs_digest-newavtr-vrecs
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    May 5 2013: As George Orwell noted and I agree, no proper schooling can occur without proper corporal punishment. It's not the grade of the student that counts, it the character (how have they integrated all their learning)
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    May 5 2013: ditch all standardised assessment. everything gets tied down to how learning is measured so if the assessment systems are limited and out of date, then everything else will follow.
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    May 5 2013: Every individual has the capability to learn and teach. For children if we guide them to teach. Given the opportunity, if wrong in their teachings the instructor will intervene and let the class reconvene and find the correct answer. During a lesson a student has the chance to reiterate the literature; whether part or whole the amount of information gives the class some unity. Revolving direction among the class.
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    May 5 2013: I don't think the grading scale is our problem. The major concern is delivery. We sit kids in a classroom and expect them to focus on education. They have no way of understanding how important education is.

    We need more programs that identify children having problems in class. We also need to identify children that aren't getting enough help from home. Some of these kids are in abusive environments. They are then expected to pay attention in a math class?

    Teachers need to be more connected with individual students. They cannot pick and choose the students who deserve their attention.

    Curriculums need to change. Schools need more funding. We should not be putting billions of dollars into tank building when our schools are in grave need of resources.

    Teachers should be given top pay. They should also be expected to facilitate dynamic learning environments. An inert set of policy leads to children falling in between the cracks.

    The solutions are simple. As a matter of fact they are so simple it makes me sick. Why can we not get off our rear ends and fix our schools?

    We need to move away from our formal definition of education. Education needs to be a deep reaching system. Our schools need not end their influence at the ring of a bell.

    1. Community Programs
    Schools should be given funding to establish activity programs outside of normal school hours. Sports, academic, and social programs can increase our chances of seeing a positive change.

    2. Teacher Education
    Teachers need to be involved. They also need to be well educated. Not just in the areas they teach. They need to have good internal control, conflict management skills, and have a good grasp on how to handle behavioral problems.

    The issues here are not complicated. It's all a matter of people taking the steps necessary to fix this. They may be entirely too busy filling their own pockets.

    Just remember. As corny as it sounds....our children will define our future.
  • May 2 2013: Firstly I would suggest that the meaning of educate has become distorted/lost. Educate literally means "to bring out" - to draw out of a student what is already there.

    Next I would suggest - to all who are concerned about this - to ask these questions first.

    Who are we?
    What are we doing here?
    Where are we going?
    What kind of society do we want to produce?
    What do you imagine your life is about?

    Asking these questions first will help you find the answers you are looking for.
  • May 2 2013: Let me quote 2 "Letters to the Editor" from the Wall Street Journal today.
    "..... (Eric Smith's Op-ed, No Child Left Behind Gets Left Behind, Apr. 9, WSJ) .....The federal government provides about 10% of the funding for education, but its regulations increase the cost of education by much more. Eliminating the Education Department and returning the full responsibility to the 50 states would be much more cost effective and in keeping with the U. S. Constitution..." by Bill Peter, Edina, Minn.
    "...The NO Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires every student to be on grade level in 2014.....Every single school, including those which are well funded and exceptional, will fail NCLB in 2014......the backlash against the (NCLB) testing regime that has distorted and dominated public schools. The best reason to send your child to a private school is to escape the tyranny of testing." by Sara Stevenson, Austin, Texas.
    That's what I wanted to say also. However, I have to modify the final suggestion about the private schools. Not everybody can afford the private schools' tuition cost as well as the necessary cost of transportation. Therefore, the states' assistance to divert their fund allocation and legislative changes (such as requirement of standardized tests and establishing alternative to public schools) are needed.
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    May 2 2013: I think that the first that we have to know is the change will be for futures generations (it seem to be very pessimistic) but it's necesary that we accept the reality that we have; governments need invest a lot of money in education infraestructure, updates and technology. solutions are more easy than we think
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    May 2 2013: If you really want change, don't fix the system. Let it collapse! Education is more than just the formal part delivered by teaching institutions. They only function like screens.
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      May 2 2013: Instead of letting it collapse, how about making it compete? The three Rs are all about communication; and although communication had evolved, education has not. For the simple reason standard education, currently is not competing with other forms of education.
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    May 1 2013: Just because all kids should shoot for an A, does not mean all kids should get an A.
    The problem with education is people are not all the same and they teach as if all kids had the same interest, skills and way of thinking.
    In schools today if you have a good memory you will do good, if you have good divergent thinking you will do badly.

    Education needs to switch to a national online class system, so it can cover all types of kids and be equal no matter if you live in a poor small town or a rich city. I propose starting with a 50/50 split, 50% classroom/school time and 50% online class time. With some online classes being done at home and others being done at a school. This would let any kid including Hunter take an economic class by a Harvard professor in the morning, followed by an Ireland history class by a top Irish professor.
    • May 1 2013: Brilliant concept!
      In the event the home environment is not conducive, the local school can have computer labs available.
      And perhaps "Teachers" who help keep the kids focused on their studies
  • Apr 30 2013: To change education , we need to reform elementary schools so that we can eliminate everything after.
    Anything after elementary school should be tailored for the individual person.
  • Apr 30 2013: 1. start with defining the purpose of education
    2.. we need to improve the home environment of the students and i do not mean money but make education, reading important to the parents. look at ben carson and vivien thomas bios both came from poverty but the parents pushed education and reading
    3. money helps but is not necessary - it can not guarantee a good teacher, only good facilities which is nice but not essential - look at Abraham Lincoln and many others
    4. I would suggest starting at the earliest age with small classes and more personal guidance until the 4th grade and we should not do it age alone
    5. teachers will need to change from lecturers and gurus of knowledge to mentors or fellow travelers to knowledge
    6. we should start an apprentice program allow students to learn to be a scientist to machinist to mechanic to chef
    7. we must allow students to change and try new things but always they will need the core desire to learn for the rest of their lives - there will not be grad from high school/college and stop learning after getting a job
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    Apr 29 2013: MIT, Stanford, Duke, CalTech ... many others globally are changing learning/education globally.

    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.
    [https://twitter.com/coursera]
    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.
    [https://twitter.com/edXOnline]
    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]
    http://www.open.edu/openlearn/

    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.
    [https://twitter.com/UoPeople]
    http://www.uopeople.org/
  • Apr 29 2013: One of the things that I think can be done is providing more options to the student. As of now, most students progress on a fixed track. Schools require that certain classes be taken in certain grades, in a certain order. This gets a little better in high school with the ability to choose some of the courses that you would like to take, but still lacks flexibility and options. This lack of options ends up holding students back. Pacing of the courses also hinders students, by preventing the bright students from taking more advanced courses, and overwhelming other students who find learning more difficult.
    Sure, you can enroll in courses outside of school, or in summer school. But that also requires money, and students may not be interested in committing that extra time towards studying those topics.

    Decreasing the amount of required courses, and increasing the amount of more specialized courses, would definitely help students follow their interests. This can also help schools and teachers tailor a student's course load to their academic capabilities and interests. "Intro to Aerospace Engineering" or "Microeconomics" would be two good examples of a specialized course, things that you would not normally find in pretty much any high school.
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    Apr 28 2013: That is such a big question! Here are some of the problems I see that need to be addressed...probably not just in education:
    *Lack of accountability
    *Lack of resources/money
    *Significant social problems (i.e..: drugs, poor parenting, violence...)

    I do not think that education is a one size fits all and, maybe, we need to have students go to work so they see the value of getting educated. However, we have too many people that feel entitled and don't want to work for what they need (and that is NOT socioeconomic, that is across ALL income levels). We praise kids to a fault and when push comes to shove we back down the kids and their parents.

    Not a solution, but things that should be thought about and addressed. Oh, and too much money spent at the top!!
  • Apr 24 2013: Well I for one am all about making eduction more individualistic and humanitarian-like. Education should include more than just topics for our brains; our emotions are highly underdeveloped, resulting in an immature society, and thus should require a sector in education for that.

    Not only for the individual, but for large groups as well. There should be educational classes on how to be a better person, including awareness for stigmatized issues, serious issues, identifying some of the most common problems that neighbors face like human trafficking and child abuse or mental health issues that people hide and shove away. THAT's my proposition for bettering education... my theory is that if some emotional concerns are looked at then kids will less likely be wanting to cheat, to be competitive, to bully, because they would have learned how to handle those feelings and situations.
  • Apr 23 2013: If we teach lessons about learning beyond are own learning comfort zones fear of the unknown is a phobia many people have yet to confront they would prevent finding thier own answers in order to live in a state of denail or keep their own conclusion safe even when the evidence and facts tell them the real answer. Inconvenient lessons are the best ones in my opinion.
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    Apr 23 2013: ok, but when i look here in egypt i found that most teachers are teachers as this is the available job or the available source of money so alot of them don`t speak about their info. for public only in studying rooms :(
    for me as adentistry student many people have fetal wrong info. about dentistry :(
    i thnk if we tried to tell them the right and the wrong there will be difference and that what i seek for :)
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    Apr 23 2013: check this vid out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-eVF_G_p-Y
  • Apr 23 2013: I think Grading fails to accomplish anything if the student cannot recognize the implication and importance of the knowledge they are learning.
    More often than not young students are forced to sit down and take a class and unlike adult students they don't have a clear overarching goal that motivates them to gain understanding or mastery of what is being taught.

    A Kid is not taught that 'To become A they need to know X,Y,Z because of J,K,L reasons' etc... they are not even presented with the type of professions out there and why people want to get into these.
    At best that type of realization happens much later at their teens when it seems too late to improve upon their foundation knowledge and anyone who didn't sit down and study like a zombie for no reason is suddenly finding they are limited and is cast to a lower class..

    Also Teachers often have trouble presenting potential uses for what they teach:
    For example Literature, to me, was presented as a lesson that was meant to 'enrich my cultural knowledge' , What the hell was 'cultural knowledge' so important to a 12 y/o kid and what was I meant to take away from the class aside from a passing grade? No one would really discuss this and I think even the Teacher viewed this knowledge as a subject for some meaningless trivia where the moral of a story is mechanically declared and recited because it appears in some test or another.
    Hardly any mention about the power of storytelling and no real workshops where students understand structure and construct their own story, why? because it wasn't on the test and many students sitting in the class probably could care less about Litariture because they are not interested in becoming Authors,Historians, Anthropologists, Law makers etc...

    TL;DR The problem is in how disassociated the subject of study is made to be from the reason the student 'wants' to study.
    If you solve that issue then High-school might turn into a privilege rather than a prison for the youth.
  • Apr 22 2013: I have been astounded by the enormous potential to strengthen knowlede supportive culture on a community level. We have to get away from the idea that education for kids is mostly in the schools, done by teachers in the classroom.

    For example, education must be a cultural process with stronger paricipation of families and kids working together in ways that help kids to learn by doing projects that they choose and help them create motivation for knowledge eocnomy of the future and identify and use natural skills and talents.

    Education cannot be separate from culture and community building. But now in America, these are separate topics in most communities. Leadership in education can be broadened considerably with industry and foundation participation on a community level rather than on a mass level as done mostly now.
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    Apr 22 2013: Test taking in school as a form to see the results of a individual's learning process throughout a measure period of time, gives false readings and should be stopped. Tests in it's very basic form is something that causes anxiety as well as focuses most thought from the test taker to " Am I going to get this answer right ? " when it should be " The answer to this is this, I remember that " but since the level of anxiety is involved, the normal route of thought process if altered by the pure fact there is a test to take. So in a very basic form, you are basically always going to get from tests that more information is to be taught since your almost always going to have a majority of people who will not get 100% of the answers even thought 100% of the answers have be taught and reviewed.

    Retention and recall is based on the same founding variables of when the info is being taught. To throw a test down, and expect the same retention / recall to happen as it did during teaching / review, is the same as expecting a child to tell you something personal in front of the class, instead of in private. It's taking one action best done in one setting and expecting the same action / outcome in a completely different setting. Yes some will do it fine, but most will have problems with various parts.

    Engage people, school is more like giving man a fish each day.

    Instead we should Be Teaching the art of fishing.
  • Apr 22 2013: Hi Hunter , In my opinion we should make education more intractive where students or teachers should enjoy what they are in to . Give more practicle knowladge and demos , exams also sholud include innovation , its not about only learning its about how they applyor relate their learning in real scenarios .We sholud make them think that their learning is not only for exams or taking grades . If they have fun then they will start innovating it .
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    Apr 22 2013: Hi. In my opinion, it's (very) important motivating kids, and I think it also would be nice that the teacher could intensely share his / her way to understand and interiorize the different knowledge's areas, so that kids' mind don't be an 'information depository' but a non-stop data analyzing and fine processing machine, and having fun during all that. It ought to be particularly important learning and having fun.
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    Apr 21 2013: Good question Hunter. Why do you thinks kids shoot for an A ans why everybody is happy if they get an A?
    • Apr 23 2013: Hope you don't mind if I toss in a thought here...!
      I think it comes down to the 'success' thing again - kids are 'bred' to achieve an A, just as they are bred to strive for that ultimate level of success determined by society.

      Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the guys who are responsible for Southpark) did a series of animations to recordings by Alan Watts, which I think describes this pointless mission extremely well:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4
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        Apr 23 2013: I agree, I have no degrees. Grew up in an orphanage. Got tossed to the street at 16yo. At 17yo, late 1960s, I was a US Marine for a couple years. I am very well educated. Traveled and worked globally. I will retire in two years. I will always love learning.

        Following an uninteresting demanding (curiosity free) script is a waste of time/money.
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    Apr 21 2013: Indeed professional schools have for many years used case studies as a central component of curriculum, because students need to learn how to solve problems in authentic situations or in adaptations of authentic situations. I know many undergraduate courses do as well.
  • Apr 21 2013: That's great to have u a senior high school student to offer a topic about education here,There are a lot of biases in education now,I called them:fake education or wrong education.Education means more than schooling:we are educated or educating all the time.Our education doesn't limite to schooling A-F grading scale.Of course schools are very important for our educations,so we should help students to have more multiple understanding and various perspectives to think,to learn.But limited them.The more we think about education,the more we will benefit from it.
  • Apr 20 2013: emphasis should be given on affective domain which means how we interect with what we learn to how we use it.......where as education now a days gives emphasis more on cognitive domain aka bookish knowledge..............so what we must do is start reading case studies on topics we learn........what often happens with us now a days is that after getting a hounours degree from a great college we are not abled to relate our knowledge with real life problems......we should often prefer to follow practical problem case studies to be ready to face the compitition in present day industry..........
  • Apr 20 2013: this has been a question running through my mind for about a month now, im a freshman in a school for the talented. the educational system, as i do believe, is not the best we could have. I love learning, i want to learn, but you could never find me really learning in most of my classes. At the beginning of the year, when each teacher tells us his or her plans for the year and the subjects we are to cover. you find me hyperventilating with excitement. as the year proceeds it feels more like a burden. Why is that i ask myself? some of the answers ive found, is that the teachers themselves are not excited to give the subject. they make it really hard for me to keep up and to truly understand. a successful teacher for me is the teacher that gives me information in a way to get me to search for the subject on my own, or to at least think about it after the class is over. unfortunately, till now i have not encountered many teachers who are like that.
    the educational system should not be looked upon as a thing, its holding the minds of peoples and no mind is like the other. the human mind is in diversity and therefore, there should be no set rules to the system. im not really sure if thats possible though.
    • Apr 21 2013: hi dear Ban Altakhaineh,I think only when we can keep thinking what I want to learn,but teachers wanted us to learn,then we can learn sth useful.
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      Apr 21 2013: I wonder why your teachers seem not to be enthusiastic about the subjects they are teaching. Some teachers love their subjects but are either not dynamic (and so cannot effectively convey what is intriguing in their subjects), are not skilled teachers (so they get frustrated when students don't understand), or are distracted by various adult concerns in the workplace or outside of it.

      They may start out the year as excited as you do.
      • Apr 23 2013: I think that some teachers lose enthusiasm because they are forced to teach a scripted curriculum. All creativity is stripped from the teachers as well. They are not trusted as professionals to adequately teach the students. Teachers need to be treated as professionals and if there's going to be a financial investment made in schools, it shouldn't be in more testing and test-prep... it should be in the profesionalization of teachers. My proposal is for teachers to become 12-month employees (and PAID for 12 months). Then, when students are off during the summer, teachers work all summer to research teaching practices, refine lesson plans, share lesson ideas with colleagues, attend professional development workshops and seminars, etc... all things that teachers do not have time to do during the school year. Can you imagine the impact that would have on the time spent in the classroom and giving feedback on homework? If teachers were paid to work all year, those summer months could be used for lesson planning and for training... which would benefit the students all year. If we expect teachers to be professionals, we need to treat them (and compensate them) as such. Teaching can no longer be a career that's "convenient" for parents because they have the same schedule and have the same days off as their kids. We consider doctors to be professionals, right? Yet they don't take three months off in the summer. Teaching is not looked at with respect and that won't change until teachers are compensated adequately and until teachers truly have the time needed to develop professionally. I am a high school teacher and I know how lovely teacher work days are during the year when I get so much done when students aren't present... I would WELCOME the chance to work all summer to hone my craft... but I need to be paid for that time... currently we are NOT PAID during the summer even if we work on lesson plans... I have to wait tables all summer to be able to pay bills.
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          Apr 23 2013: I agree that when one forces on teachers a scripted curriculum, many leave and those who don't become demoralized. Teachers typically enter the field because they want to make the best choices for the students in their classrooms that year- learning environment, shaping of the curriculum, and pedagogy. Teachers resist delivering prepackaged content in a prepackaged way.

          One reason I somehow doubt your proposal of paying teachers through the summer will take hold is that many teachers do commit a large part of their summers for professional development and independent learning, even in the absence of being paid for it, because they are intrinsically motivated to spend their time that way.
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    Apr 19 2013: The dilemma of institutionalised education is that is has to produce bell-curves. The choice of the F-grade is a very unfortunate one in the English speaking world. When I got it I always felt f***ed.
    • Apr 21 2013: I think I should feel lucky I can come across those hard time at school.I also feel lucky I can keep the gratitude for those hard times.
  • Apr 19 2013: We need to stop changing education, look back in time see what worked, figure out why, make a plan, make it interesting, make it worth of bright minds to uplift everyone and stick to it. Children are too often the guinea pigs of well minded people.
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      Apr 19 2013: What did work?
      • Apr 19 2013: That's an excellent question. I fear that what worked in history won't work anymore, that fundamental changes need to happen in order for education to move forward.

        In Holland, where I live, a few cities have embraced the 'Steve Jobs School', which claims to be a kind of education for this day and age, concentrating on each individual child's talents, and providing the very latest in technology. It's still a new concept, but I intent to follow it closely and see how it develops.
        I can't find anything on a Steve Jobs School anywhere else in the world - does anyone know about that?

        Here's one of the schools in Breda: http://stevejobsschoolbreda.nl/
        • Apr 21 2013: Hi Lisanne hennessey:).That's great to see Steve Jobs School there.Once I shared Steve Jobs quote with my students:Stay hungry,stay foolish.That's good idea we can concentrate on each individual child's talents.Best wishes.
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          Apr 22 2013: Hi Lizanne,

          I've never heard of the concept, but please do follow it closely and keep us up-to-date. I took a peek at the link you provided and I'm a bit skeptical, really...

          I can't stop getting a picture of a TV-documentary 20 years from now - "I was in a Steve Jobs School so I'm pretty creative but I don't know how to use a thread and a needle, how to make a sandwich or catch a fish and if my tools of education and leisure break, I'm completely dependent on Apple-people." Maybe I'm overacting, I do not fully understand what no. 2 (Combinatie van fysiek (schoolgebouw) en virtueel) of the 4 main components in the concept should mean... One question - who's paying for the project?

          We do need to find and concentrate on each individual's talents but some basics need to stay. iPads don't hold a battery forever and no individual should be helpless if the playtools break.
          Another question - aren't the products designed to be user-friendly so that nobody needs to learn how to use them before they use them? It's a part of the concept, isn't that correct? And if it is, why create a school?
          Another thing is that if you really want to get anybody - child, teen or adult - to understand HOW things work, you don't provide an iPad, but basics of Unix and DOS. Not in pre-school, obviously, but at some point it would be profitable to mention those...

          But really interesting, thanks so much for sharing! :)
        • Apr 23 2013: Lizanne fear that what worked in history won't work anymore, that fundamental changes need to happen in order for education to move forward.

          so you think that literacy, and numeracy are things that didn't work...

          Well judging by the standards of some American schools and some Europeans ones...I can see why they dropped it.

          As for 'Steve Jobs School' i think that's an absolute travesty, i pity the kids that go there, but I wonder if the teachers know that Jobs... Dropped out.

          Probably not, and in that lays the rub.
      • Apr 25 2013: "What did work?"
        Kids from all over the world would learn the exact same thing "back in the day" so that no matter where they went in the world, they could function in society. All people needed to know in past times was how to read, how/what to right, and how to solve basic math problems. If you knew all of these things, you functioned well in society.
        This way have thinking still hasn't change. The main subjects that are still taught in schools are English, Math, and Science. Yes we have added more than a few subjects in school, but if you do well in these classes, you will function well in society.
        What worked then does not work now.
        The question we should be asking is "What/How can we teach to make students reach their full potential?"
        One of Sir Ken Robinson's videos talks about a young woman who did not do well in school. She could not sit on a desk listening to a teacher lecture for 12 hours a day. This young woman's mother took her daughter to a psychologist of some sort. The mother and psychologist left the room BUT right before they left, the psychologist left the room, he turned on the radio. The young woman started to dance.
        The problem was not that the girl wasn't smart or anything of that sort. The problem was that she did not fit into society's way of teaching. The girl was taken to a school of dance where she fit in perfectly with all of the other students because she was just like them.
        The young woman is now a very well know dancer and makes millions of dollars.
        She reached her full potential and did so by doing what she loved rather than sitting in a classroom learning how to take a test.
        What if she had just stayed in school? She could have been a "horrible student" meaning she failed her classes.
        There is a problem with education.
        Whoever "we" is needs to fix it.
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          Apr 26 2013: What is meant by "functioning well"? Contributing to the depletion of the planet by making more unwanted packaging?
  • Apr 19 2013: We (the students) need to find a purpose, way too many people get educated because; That's what you do.
    We don't know why we study, we don't know why we learn what we learn, we don't know what other knowledge there might be out there, (unless you go out there and find it yourself) and it kills our motivation for good.
    It's because a "good" teacher will always tell you what to do, then how you do it, and then why, that's the commen way to teach. (Taxonomic levels) We should flip it around. Teachers should first present a question, a why, a reasoning, a drive to do something.(Do you wanna know how much money there's on your bank account if you leave it for 3 years) Students should now be allowed to guess, experiment, discuss and most importantly; Be wrong. With the teacher as a guide, who can lead the students on the right path. And that way the students will learn how they can solve the problem. And next time they are presented with the problem they know exactly what to do, how to do and why they do it.

    I apologize for any grammar mistakes, i'm not a native speaker.
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    Apr 19 2013: I don't really understand the argument because it suggests that 'A' is a definitive value, which it isn't. A means excellent. I don't think I could understand this argument in a science or humanty subject because in science the answer is either right or wrong (at high school level anyway), therefore the more right answers you get the higher your mark is. With humanities and arts, it is down to the marker's discretion as to what he considers to be a better essay or better performance than the other. I think the A - F scale is getting over examined here, they are simply symbols that suggest a piece of work is either good or bad. If the scale was to be retired and we resort to being more descriptive and evaluating with high school exam results, we would lose the idea of 'merit' and hence defeats the whole purpose of the objection you raise.
  • Apr 19 2013: I just saw Sir Ken Robinson's "Schools Kill Creativity" presentation: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

    I am in the process of writing a children's TV program based on encouraging expression and creativity in kids, and couldn't agree more with what Sir Ken has to say. Like he said, schools were designed to fill the needs of industrialism, and the arts still are the lowest of the low on the educational hierarchy. If we want well-rounded citizens who are able to communicate with each other and express themselves as active members of society, we need to encourage creativity, not just in pre-school but during the entire course of education and beyond!
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    Apr 19 2013: If we need to keep the cultural bias of mastery being grades A through F, I'd love for teachers to start every class at the beginning of the year with "You've all got F's!" which is somewhat true if you haven't learned the topic at hand. The best classes won't let students progress day by day until they reach mastery of core concepts necessary to get to the next step. With each learning iteration, as you learn more and more your grade goes up, to a D, then a C, etc. until you've reached mastery for the class. The more you learn, the better your grade which doesn't have to correspond to a final test. It is important to show mastery with a final product, for your portfolio, that might be the difference between an A and a B. Building a class-long project has got to be more rewarding from a learning standpoint than how you do on a last minute, 'get me outta here' rote memory final test.
  • Apr 14 2013: Free Market education K-12! such an obvious solution. Plus maybe we can get the social-cultural dogma out of education. We need to teach Education again and stop teaching Self-esteem. If your stupid you shouldnt pass the class, period... Efforts cool but if you dont grasp the lesson FAIL!
  • Apr 12 2013: I can't speak for the public school stem at Fairfax County Public School System (FCPS.EDU). But as a teen parent in the country, I must say that we still have among the best public schools in the State of Virginia.

    Why ?

    Well one reason is that Fairfax County Supervisors (our elected local government) have published for all to see the 7 priority goals where county resources in order of priorty are being made . This list I found at the Fairfax County Government website about a year or so ago and have been following up on the 3 top goals listed , currently as follows:

    (01) Education (Preps for Knowledge Economy Future)
    (02) Community Safety (includes safety in schools and community facilities)
    (03) Healthier community.

    More Conversation: If you like the idea of Converstion Fairfax Community to Community topics where I am focusing. A good way to link for more specific prototype and demo projects that are easy to do with community and citizen support , I suggest you link via my new group I just set up at LinkedIn.Com called "Potomac Knowledgeway" (just such groups at LinkedIn.Com) and we can get connected your community and mine at Hometown USA. Thank you.
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    Apr 12 2013: The reason for education is based on a method to share knowledge from our experiences from across the world and time. Education however is structured into a curriculum to not only teach people things in a structured logical way, but also do develop the minds of people according to the way that our minds develop as we grow older.

    Other than this basic education at schools which follow a certain curriculum, we dont see past this as a mean to learn more about things. As people, we don't "aim" to learn more, rather we aim to live a comfortable life. We fail to see however that part of this life should also be to seeking knowledge.

    I feel that if we can somehow find a way to integrate this passion for seeking knowledge, we can learn to understand things better and at the same time we can making the search for knowledge something entwined in our daily lives. We would do it almost subconsciously even.
    "seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave"
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    Apr 12 2013: The target I'd set is being confident at whatever level (for level above minimum)

    More on my website vulpeculox.net/12/index.htm
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    Apr 12 2013: The A>F grading scale reminds me of the Soviet saying under communism. "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work" My own observation is that unless the intrinsic motivation is there ( the student is convinced of the relevance to him personally) to begin with most "learning" fades quickly. I have conducted an informal survey for forty years asking many people, 1st if they took Geometry in school and 2nd did they ever use it? Results so far are two out of hundreds that said they did "study" it. One was a math teacher the other said she used Pi whenever she made Pizza. The assumption seems to be that exposure to Geometry and Algebra even when they are not mastered builds abstract reasoning ability. Yet it seem this idea is refuted by every election in this nation where it is usually 49 >51 unless one of the candidates is very good looking. If high level logic were the basis for voting then most everyone should find the same solution, shouldn't they?
  • Apr 11 2013: Before changing education, there is need to understand where change will strengthen education such that kids are motivated to careers of the future.

    Also, public education in America is a responsbility of local government suppored by local taxies. Thus any protype "demo projects' must be successfully demonstrated at a community level such as a small group of us are working to do here at Fairfax VA__Hometown USA.

    Finally, it's pretty clear from education research of last decade or so that "non-cognitive" skills are critical to develop as much as "cognitive skills". Kids who play a music instrucment for example that requires "non-cognitive" creative skills, inevitably do better in cognivtive skills preps as measured by SAT. This new understanding is a key element of education demo projects on a community level.
    • Apr 11 2013: So what you're saying is what we are doing right now in education is acceptable?
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      Apr 12 2013: Does Fairfax still have very fine schools? Would you share some of the things you are prototyping?

      Many people who talk about schooling are really not well informed about what districts are experimenting with right now or have been over the last decade or two! So share, please!
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    Apr 11 2013: What's wrong with shooting for an A? Means you work harder.
    • Apr 11 2013: It is wrong if the A score the student earned was from "hard works" on the subject materials he is not interested, and it is not useful for his future careers, such as memory retentions of certain useless historical facts or some government mandated doctrines the students don't even believe in them.
  • Apr 11 2013: it's not about the A but about what the A represents. if 75%+ is enough for an A then i'd agree it's not a high enough mark to shoot for. i prefer to use 100-95% A, 94-85% B, 84-70% C, 69-50% D, 49%-25% E, 24% and below F. you're only going to have problems if you lower that top bar, or make tests and assignments so easy that many students are reaching it.
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    Apr 11 2013: Hi, I am Thomas, I am in Year 10. I think education needs to be more flexible and interesting for the students to want to reach their full potential. Students are not going to be able to make a change to their education if all they do is sit in a class room with only one teacher with the experience and expertise of one person.

    At my school (Birdwood High, Google it!) we have an "Academy"called the "Academy of Innovative Learning". Students in this from year 8 to 10 have multiple teachers to access at anyone time, so if they need help with a particular subject they can go find a teacher that know english, not just any teacher. We also don't go to all traditional classes, so we have a "campus" area I guess you could call it. So we have 3-7 teachers walking around helping, while we sit on couches and in friendship groups...

    We still have issues that are being sorted out, but the results from the last three years (out of three) have been good. We have had a 97% reduction in Time Out, since AIL started in 2011.And academic scores are up too. We only have 2 year 10 traditional classes left, and all AIL in Years 8 and 9.

    Students are allowed to express themselves and work on projects that they decide. We ran a Adelaide Fringe venue for the first year and WON Best Venue out of the entire state. Students were involved in almost every facet of that project, including the brewery! (yes, we even have a brewery at school!).

    My second big project this year is ..running a TEDx event at our school exhibition centre...

    Did I mention we are a Public Education School?

    So, education can be change, but there is never any perfect solution.
    • Apr 11 2013: flexible i agree, but interesting? is that to say that anything that isn't interesting isn't worth learning?
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        Apr 11 2013: We have to still go by the Australian Curriculum with the topics, but our teachers present the work and we are allowed to present differently though other media means...
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        Apr 11 2013: Also something I forgot, Grades are not as important, as what Improvement is...
        • Apr 11 2013: ah i see. sorry for jumping on that but i've heard too often kids and parents who complain about boring material: "just what use is shakespeare in the modern world? let them read what they like!", "he wants to be a musician, why on earth should he have to take maths if it doesn't interest him?" etc. i'm all for flexibility within a framework though, it's frustrating to be forever pushed around by people who don't understand that it's not about the work, but what students gain through completing the work.

          by the way if you forget something in a comment, use the edit link.
  • Apr 11 2013: I agree with RH about the school boards. the interference of student learning actually also comes from the state and federal governments as well. They put mandates on the teachers and students to use textbooks they choose, edited or defined. They mandate tests by which the students must take to graduate. They have the power to defund or close a school when the a large proportion of the students fail the tests. By all the restrictions, their policy discourages the freedom of the teachers in how to teach and the students how to learn.
    Let me quote a comment by an official from the ministry of education in Finland; "We teach the students to learn how to learn, we don't teach them how to take a test......" As you probably know that the students in Finland ranked consistently much higher in international competition in skill tests for reading, writing, math and sciences. More information can be found in the URL below.
    I also agree with other comments about the students ability to learn based on their own initiatives. The graduates from some very good private schools, not only they have a high percentage to be admitted to colleges, but if we make a follow up study, we might find that their future achievement would also be superior, on average, to those, in the same colleges, who graduated from public schools, because the former group KNOW BETTER IN HOW TO LEARN than their peers in the latter group.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html#ixzz2PjaIbtHD"
  • Apr 11 2013: Part of the challenge facing education is the lack of an answer to one simple question, "What do you want as a product when these student finish their education?" I will qualify the following with my background as an educator originally from the United States so you understand the context of what I say when I generalize.

    Their are competing elements in education that don't know what they want the students to know and learn. All subjects think that students should know everything about their subject, which quickly leads to information overload. Most districts say that students will go to college when they graduate. Most districts are hamstrung by poor test scores from low performing segments of the population whom they must educate to a level so that they can go to college. If they don't then they are penalized.

    We must first establish what is it that we want from education. That is not clear. That is the target that keeps moving with every change of the standards and the teachers are trying to hit this moving target that is not even clear. Once you establish what it is you want, then the rest becomes easier. Sadly, we have establish a paradigm of comparing ourselves to everyone else based on assessment performance.
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      Apr 11 2013: "What do you want as a product when these student finish their education?"

      12 Rs - Essential basics
      Reading
      wRiting
      aRithmetic
      Relationships
      Reviewing
      Responsibility
      Reflecting
      Researching
      Reporting
      Reasoning
      Remembering
      Resolve

      12 Maturities - Proper education
      Ambition
      Sociable personality
      Fitness and good health
      Curiosity, enthusiasm for learning and knowledge
      Confidence
      Stand up for principles
      Develop and defend own opinions.
      Artistic appreciation and accomplishment
      Empathy
      Excellence of Rs
      Imagination and abstract thought
      Temptation : Awareness and resistance. Self discipline
      • Apr 11 2013: Peter, you have a very clear and simple list of what you wish to see from students at the end of their educational career. I can respect that.

        My experience, as a teacher, is that this list is variable and many people don't think that these topics are important or should be taught. For example, Empathy and Temptation, man parents don't want us, the teachers, teaching that. The district can't evaluate and quantify the learning of that and thus, don't value this either.

        One interesting conundrum I ran into while teaching science is that all the subject area experts believed that students should know everything about their area. And, if it must be know, it can be equated to a standard, and then quantified and assessed. But, it is quite a bit of overkill to expect every student to know everything about everything. Limting subject areas based on needs and interests would be wise.

        A holistic list of ideals and expectations, with high academic expectations, is important. But the public, government, and education has taken that to the extreme and now values content knowledge over anything else. Administrators care more about your ability to perform on a test, in many cases, than in your ability to deal with others.

        I believe we have lost a holistic view of education and I don't know if it can be retrieved based on current philosophy and educational beliefs. Great list and worthy of consideration.
  • Apr 11 2013: I think we need to go back to the basics. Respect, honesty, responsibility, self worth, a job well done, doing their best, having fun, being compassionate, sharing.....integrity.....need I go on. Even though passion leads the way, the way in which we lead has the most impact. Kids need to feel competent in the world, their community and with others.Kids who learn these characteristics will feel capable, encouraged and will make the most of their journey and contribute to the world positively. Some might say they should learn that at home......I say its so important we need to make sure.
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    Apr 10 2013: Hunter, I'm from Brazil and here, the education is completely focused on 'vestibular' (it's like a test that decides if you're going to get into a college or not, it decides your future). I think it's very wrong. I think that the schools should stimulate the learning for life, not only for a test. And mainly, I think the schools should care about the creativity. Creativity moves the world.
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    Apr 10 2013: Follow Ken Robinson up with this video from Sugata Mitra, building a school in the cloud :) https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud.html
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    Apr 10 2013: First we have to clarify what is school for?
    It should prepare you for your upcoming life and in someway that you can develop your skills and personality further .
    If you assume that every kid is hunting for an -A-then they will learn and recite things what the teachers are aimed to teach. So we have more kids who are less improving their individual talent and more kids who are trying to adapt the mass standard.

    Rating systems are not the reason for you described problem. Its about losing interest to learn. Losing the passion to learn. I think you should see rating systems only for your own reference about which topic needs more attention by the next time and to know where you good at.

    "How do we get students to reach their full potential?"

    The full potential begins with passion. If someone has a passion on something, the rest is history!

    Next to your school you can do things that you really like and you have an extreme interest on it.
    Maybe you find people,friends and so on to learn about your topic.
    Creating learn groups in your near, find people who are sharing the same interest.