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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.

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  • May 4 2013: Hi Ruben!
    Your thoughts remind me of this talk by Alan Watts:
    http://www.openculture.com/2012/10/what_if_money_was_no_object_thoughts_on_the_art_of_living_from_eastern_philosopher_alan_watts_.html

    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?
    http://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion.html
    • 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):
          http://stevejobsschoolbreda.nl/
          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

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