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Fix everything with a new school system.

We need to redefine the curriculum. If we are all honest to ourselves we would all admit there are some things taught in school we don't need to know. I think we need to reevaluate what's really important. Once children are taught what's really important they can make real choices for themselves. When I was a child I knew i wanted to be a detective, but now that I'm an adult I don't know what I want to do. Yes we can do whatever it is we want to do when we are an adult but this is after being taught we have to do, and to learn what others want us to do and learn. I think if children had the opportunity to do what they wanted to do (career wise) at a young age and were provided with everything they needed to do so, they would be more successful adults. How do you create a super soldier? You raise them that way. So, how do you create a super doctor or super anything? My best guess is to raise them that way. We can all say that a child can learn what they want on their own time but isn't that what school is for? We can blame parents for raising the child but how much time does a child spend with their parents? Children have school they have homework they barely have time to play. When do children learn what they want to learn and why do we force them to learn anything else? I declare teaching children what we learn (through studying) to be truly important such as social behavior (social behavior being my opinion on something important). Then when the child is ready to move on (at whatever age they happen to be, because not all children are the same) we allow them to study what they want to study. Children start doing the things they love at a younger age and as adults are much more successful in their line of work.

  • May 4 2013: Hi Ruben!
    Your thoughts remind me of this talk by Alan Watts:

    Our current education system is designed to fulfill our needs as a capitalist society. Our kids are learning how to work and earn and spend money, to become active consumers. What they need is time for self-exploration, like you say, kids have no time to play!

    I agree that stimulating kids from an early age in what they love and do best is essential to their becoming more successful adults. And by 'successful', I mean successful on their own terms, not those determined by society.

    Fortunately, education is changing, slowly but surely! Just recently, a few 'Steve Jobs Schools' have opened here in the Netherlands.
    There are already forms of 'alternative' education that stimulate social behavior, creativity, independence, and play, like Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Montessori... (I am a Montessori kid, myself.) Perhaps home schooling provides freedom for kids to develop the skills they love most? I don't know...

    Although kids spend most of their time at school, as parents, it's important for us to recognize what our children love to do, and stimulate it, and communicate openly with their care-givers and teachers about it.

    Did you see Rita Pierson's talk on education?
    • May 4 2013: I'm just confused as to why everything hasn't changed for the best. If we can see there are better ways of doing things out there, why isn't everyone doing it? I know not everything is right for everyone, but I know there is something better than the standard. Why? Why is the standard what it is and not what is better? This is the bigger picture. Thank you for giving this thought a look over.
      • May 4 2013: Your challenge here is the phrase "for the best". This is such a loosely defined phrase and so many different programs offer great results. Problem being, they disagree on how to do it and what is "the best" for kids. When kids are not a "one size fits all" package.

        Then, research in education has notoriously been weak in some areas. And those areas where it is strong or deemed "expensive" or "to hard to implement" on a wide scale so they are resisted. Lots of roadblocks jump in front of them. And, as an educator, I am always a bit leery of "programs" implemented by owners of companies such as Bill Gates company or Steve Jobs. I wonder what the under-lying theme is for running a school in their name.
        • May 5 2013: Hi Everett,
          you know, being a creative spirit myself, I guess I am more inclined to see the creative nature in children than someone who is not. You are an educator (thumbs up for that alone!) and know better than anyone that kids develop differently, have different interests, and indeed, that there is no one formula that will work on everyone. Kids - they're just like people, aren't they!

          So, what is 'best'? I would say, simply allowing kids the freedom to discover what they do best at their own tempo, while at the same time providing structure so they will learn how to prepare for the society they will eventually take part in.

          I am very intrigued by this Steve Jobs school thing, myself. From what I've read, there is as much praise as criticism about this new system in Holland (can't seem to find any info in the states, surprisingly enough!) Here is the link to the one in Breda (which is in Dutch):

          The main objectives are (I'm translating this from the website):
          1) every talent is recognized
          2. a combination of physical and virtual components - the school, which has no classrooms, is open all year round, and all students are equipped with an iPad to access the virtual school and educational apps, so learning can take place anywhere, anytime.
          3) 21st Century Skills - kids are stimulated in creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, leadership, productivity, and social motor skills using the very latest hard/software
          4) Community - because a large part of their learning takes place outside school, parents play an important, active role in their child's education. Community and school is connected and enhance the quality of education.

          This raises questions for me too, but I have to say, I sure like those objectives!
      • May 5 2013: I know what you mean, Ruben. I do think change is going on, though, slowly but surely. We know more than we ever did, and it's frustrating to see that knowledge not implemented in a way that will improve the situation! It's tough to get everyone facing the same direction, though, if our directions are all so varied.
        • May 6 2013: I agree, I just feel there has to by a better standard not to suggest that anything can be perfect. I really like where this conversation has gone. I think most people are willing to believe things can be better and that's good. I also agree it's hard to say whats gong to work for everyone because it is so varied. I feel there has to be a teaching standard out there that can help everyone fine their personal strengths and utilize them for their own success. Maybe we don't have to have personalized teaching, maybe we just need to teach each person to be capable of it for themselves, as well as giving support by having open courses for each subject. This is why I believe it needs to be researched. Not everyone learns the same but everyone can learn. Why are special education classes special? Shouldn't any class that teaches children in ways right for them just be considered a normal class. We might need to find different ways of teaching different people but whats wrong with that? I also realize money is a very large issue but if it works wouldn't it be worth every penny we have? To create a more successful more beautiful and more fulfilling world for all generations to come?
      • May 5 2013: Lizanne, I think your thoughts about the Jobs school, like most charter type schools, is correct and they will be good for the students that they serve. Most are at least as successful as public schools and have more flexibility than public schools as their charter allows them that flexibility.

        For the most part, organizations like this attempt to provide a quality program and usually succeed quite well. But every program is only as good as those serving in it and those that wish to be served. Which is always an interesting part of the equation.

        Overall, any program that offers more choices and a greater chance for the students to discover their life's enjoyment is a good one.
        • May 7 2013: So true, Everett.
          Recently, I did a workshop at a sort of charter school here in Holland that integrates music into their lessons. I spoke to the principal who told me with pride that they were 'the most musical school in Holland'. When speaking to the teachers, it was quickly clear none of them had any musical background. The children played instruments that were plainly difficult for them, (to name a few - sax, bugle, accordion, guitar) so the level of success was low for them.
          I found out later that this school is on the verge of closing.
          This could be an example of what you say, "every program is only as good as those serving in it and those that wish to be served".
      • May 7 2013: Lizanne, sadly, the example you cite here is only one of many examples of programs around the world. During my master's program, we discussed a school that made amazing academic gains in high risk populations due to the administration change and the teacher brought in to support it. When the principal left, the program reverted back to low performing levels because the staff didn't really support the program.

        Good programs are not easy to run and require focus, energy, and buy in from all parties if they are to work. Plus, it is not as easy as just dropping a program into a school to make something new or demanding change. You have to have people who believe in it, buy into to it, support it, and are willing to work hard for it. Great schools out there have those characteristics.
        • May 8 2013: Everett, you are clearly one of the educators out there today who IS passionate about improving education with a good understanding of what's needed to implement a change.
          I actually have a proposal for you - would you send me a message through TED so we can talk about it?
      • May 8 2013: Lizanne, I have considered posting a couple of questions for people to discuss regarding education. Several topics are kicking around my head and I am working on putting a few thoughts together in a cohesive manner. I will wait about a week or so though because I will be offline for the next week and wish to be in the conversation. In a funny twist of fate, I will be offline as I will be with a group of students on an outdoor education trip showing them part of the country that they have never seen before and learning skills that they have never learned. So, I will wait until after the trip to post something for questions.

        And thank you for you kind comments. I do try to do the best I can by my students. I am not always successful nor spot on, but I try to get a little better each day and year as a teacher. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing educators and learn from some very good mentors in education.
    • May 5 2013: I love these thoughts Lizanne
  • May 5 2013: Do we really have a firm grip on the actual PURPOSE of Education? We live on a tiny rock spinning about 1000 mph and screaming around a ball of burning gas at about 60,000 mph. Our current system seems to be oriented around obtaining some fantastic job sometime in the future. :-)
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      May 8 2013: I swear Scott Bell. (We meet again! :D)
      Something has given you the ability to make some of the best points out there! :)
      Kind regards,
  • May 4 2013: My initial reaction to your title was less than favorable, as I thought is was another "change school" thought. I am glad I read your thoughts about this idea.

    As a teacher, I have watched education go from much of what this is to "everyone will go to college" as a mentality. The current trend of "everyone will succeed and go to college" needs to go away first for this to happen. I do think your idea has merit, but on a small scale. Large scale, you would face multiple challenges to this thinking. And they would come from inside and outside of education.

    Your greatest challenge, and I would say educations greatest challenge right now, is the assumption that all students will succeed at the same level. That line of thinking is hamstringing education today. And, I would say, it is what is "dumbing down" education over time.

    I do believe that all children should have a chance to succeed in their lives. But not every child should be expected to go to a four year university. The tech programs that existed in schools need to come back and schools should focus on specific areas, as they did in the past. Teachers and counselors should track students into those areas they are interested in and support their education. To much emphasis is on AP courses and college prep rather than real life prep. As one friend once told me, "I still need someone who knows how to fix my car. And that ain't a college level job yet."

    This line of thinking would be opposed by many groups though. It smacks of elitism and tracking which is why public education would oppose this, at least the policy makers would. Though it has merit on the small scale where you could work with a dedicated group of folks from Pre-K through high school at least.
    • May 4 2013: Thank you for giving it a chance. I just believe that whatever is best for children is what should be done, whatever that may be.
      • May 4 2013: In this particular case, your best bet is to start with a small group of dedicated educators and parents who buy into this idea and move forward with them. To implement a massive change across the states would be stopped in its tracks by educators, government, and parents alike.

        It has merit and should be looked into. My only caution, start small and build rather than attempting to change a massive creation that is resistant to change at all levels.
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    R H

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    May 4 2013: Oh man, Ruben. Education is so complex and takes half of our taxes. I believe schools (mandatory ed) will become more and more privatized and more like colleges. Parents will be able to select the type of school for their children's skills and desires. But I agree with your basic premise - only education can save us.
  • May 5 2013: The topic reminds me what the education we are doing at schools.keep be aware of'what is the good education for children'.Infact we teach who we are.
  • May 4 2013: You're right when you say children are not being educated correctly.

    Today, children should be taught how to change their governance. How to take back their freedoms and civil liberties.
    How to end domestic spying, invasion of privacy, particularly when threatened with filming the abusive, illegal false authorities, who film you wherever you go and wherever you are!
    In order to succeed with today's educational system, and the one that looks like the future, children are to a large degree taught how to be successful in their society.

    However, their system is corrupted through and through, from top to bottom, so what they are really taught is how to become corrupt or corruptible in order to succeed, at whatever it is they want.

    Thus, they really need to be taught how to dismantle their corrupt system.
    If you think it isn't corrupt, then you most likely are crazy.

    Yes, helping children find out what they like, mentoring and monitoring them, at earlier ages, as is already happening, doesn't take into account the larger numbers of kids who simply don't know yet.
    But education certainly needs to change and one way is that, though it is against federal law (I believe), to have the government dictate curriculum,, that is exactly what has been going on for some decades now.

    Interesting that many Americans think educating children sexually is somehow immoral, but they willingly allow the gangs of government and their peripheral gangs, to solicit their minor children in order to teach them how to kill other human beings, and even tell them it's okay to do so simply because they are "authorities", which of course isn't the same as being the truth, which should be the authority.

    No, the American parent doesn't seem to mind in the least that their children are groomed as minors for killing, learning that it is necessary to be corrupt if one wants to get ahead, and how to do that, along with practically all other types of occupations that will require "team loyalty."
    • May 5 2013: My greatest challenge with this statement Random is that it is full of generalizations and assumptions. You start with the assumption that American kids are not being educated correctly. Based on what data do you make that assumption? Not everyone would agree with that statement based on the success of their children. And when you say "correctly" you are placing a value statement on that comment. "Correct" education is probably the most hotly debated topic out there today.

      So, I guess my question would be, what is "correct" education? What do you want to the children to learn? It seems you want students to learn critical thinking skills and thought processes. Which are good things and good schools teach their kids today.
      • May 7 2013: Everett.
        Okay. It's filled with generalizations but so too is your proposal:
        "Fix everything...........with a new school system."
        What is every thing?
        Is it corruption, crime, greed? Because those need to be fixed before an education will work because how and what children are educated, on, wth and about, will determine whether or not they will in fact be able to "fix everything." If their system is corrupt, and it is 100% through and through, then their education will still revolve around how to become successful in a corrupt system.
        The only way is to become corrupt.
        It is not a generalization to say that most or many Americans don't seem to mind their minor children being solicited and groomed for killing.
        That is exactly what is being done. If they don't agree, then stop it.
        They can't. They don't know how to, they're afraid to, so they are leaving it up to their children to do so, so, at least teach them how to do it.
        An unjust, corrupt system can never be made just.
        A completely new and just system must be created and implemented in place of a corrupt one.
        If you think it can be made just, then you are fooling yourself. That is what people have been trying to do for who knows how long, and they have failed.
        It is not possible.
        Which kind of education do you think is needed?
  • May 4 2013: Ready when you are when and how do you want to start?
    • May 4 2013: This is the most difficult start. I think part of it is getting the word out to everyone. I think everyone has to agree that whatever is best for children is absolutely what should be done.
  • May 3 2013: It's a good idea. One thing that might be an issue is motivation. Some kids will be motivated to do good work and progress towards a career. Others are much more interested in playing video games, sports, etc. They can try to make a profession as a pro gamer or sports player, but the percentage of people that make it vs. those that try is pretty small. Most people's career interests change over time, which in this model means that their education might make a drastic jump that they're not prepared for. This often happens in college, but at least they have the basics from high school to fall back on.

    This educational model would definitely help people specialize and excel at a career. It'd be very good at that. The only flaw I see is getting the kids to take initiative and maintain their attention spans at a young age.
    • May 3 2013: I agree but that might be something we would have to teach children in school. Teach children to make the right choices and give them a good understanding of why and how. School in America isn't really optional for children, that wouldn't change. Children would still have to go to school and if they don't choose a career they can still learn a general education. There are all kinds of jobs that need to be done that plenty of people can fall back on if in case they didn't choose a career early. I think schools should be created to help teach children and adults the fundamentals of whatever subjects they choose. I believe this will create new teaching jobs for anyone who knows anything relevant about any given subject.
    • May 3 2013: I also believe that anyone should be able to change subjects at any time. I believe giving someone the choice at any time in life will eventually create a person who knows enough about at least one subject to pursue that as a career.