Chelsea Alley

Core-Integrated Creative Dance Specialist K-6, Provo School District

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Revolution in Education. Let's talk specifics... What can we really do?

As an integrated-arts teacher in the public education system, I love how inspiring and galvanizing these talks can be. Yes, we all realize America's education system isn't quite doing what we want it to do. And speakers like the magnificent Sir Ken Robinson have a wonderful way of illuminating ideas and increasing the desire to make the changes we so desperately need. But these talks tend to sweep grandly over the general nature of the thing. I listen to them and I'm like, "Yeah! PREACH. It's all true! .... Aaaaand ....now what?"

So, let's talk details. As educators, as students, as parents, as citizens... what ideas are out there for actually implementing the revolution that Sir Ken and others like him are calling for? I mean, really. What can we actually do?

I don't want to believe that nothing can be done, but it's difficult for me to imagine what can be done. It's such a large system, so steeped in tradition, continuously shifting towards more and more national standardization, and I'm left feeling a little overwhelmed. What is within our power? What are some good, viable ideas, models, and propositions for actually applying this "revolution" in the daily education experience?

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley
http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution

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    Jun 2 2014: Advocates of change should focus on what needs to be changed. What is not working? What are the new societal challenges that education needs to meet?
    What are successful models in other parts of the world that could be adopted to meet local demands?

    One thing that should be noted is that discipline and structure are essential; in fact, inevitable in the school system. There has to be a general criteria for assessment.

    If you talk about the US school system, I think fewer students are not taking responsibility for their own education and most people are expecting teachers and schools to do magic.

    The school system is just like an intro to education. It is not the A to Z of it.
    • Jun 9 2014: The won't agree on what's not working. They won't even agree on what education is for. Is it to teach "sensitivity", sex, whose version of history, what dialect of the agreed-upon language, ANY agreed-upon language, prepare children for the workforce or "enrich" them, und so sehr weite. THERE IS NO AGREEMENT ON THE GOAL!

      No agreement on the goal means no possibility of agreement on the means.
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    May 28 2014: Adopt the Finnish education system. Start training teachers and re-designing the syllabus over a period of 2-3 years. try it out for about five years and make improvements accordingly.
    • May 30 2014: Good point but the question is who decides what the teachers should teach?? Corporations? Government? (another corporation) Colleges and universities? (still more corporations)
      There in lies the problem, corporations are simply training more obedient slaves to work in and buy their products.
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        May 30 2014: I think everyone needs to be involved because as a society you need to know what you want the future to look like. Effectively the whole point of the system is not to what is taught but more of how the children are taught. The current system ranks people and thereby encourages competition and the only person that can help you is yourself which doesn't really motivate you if you're failing to keep up. The Finnish system encourages learning at your own pace, with a lot of attention along the way. What will probably happen is the current syllabus, plus or minus a few things will continue to be taught but its the methods of teaching will change.
        • May 30 2014: I am not familiar with the Finnish system but the Gates Foundation is working with Kahn Academy to develop and online type system which allows kids to work at their own pace also. Because of the real-time monitoring the teachers are much more effective as they can see which students are having trouble and spend more individual time with them. The kids that are self teaching at a faster pace are not slowed down and can advance according to their own capabilities.
        • Jun 9 2014: In India there are few schools from J.Krishnamurthy foundation. Key concepts of classes is to discourage every form of competition and reward along with punishment. Teaching means involving students. There is a single class for Class 1 to 4. Lot of emphasis is given on freedom, natural environment and simplicity.
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      May 30 2014: Ashley,

      What may have worked well for the Finnish may not be that effective for the Americans, for various reasons: demographics, culture, values, economics, and politics.
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        May 30 2014: True but you can't shoot down another idea without trying it, especially when the current one is not doing a great job. Probably the best thing would be to test it out on a few states first, take note of what needs changing then eventually move to other states if the idea is good or cancel it if it's not doing anything for the kids.
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          May 31 2014: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." Winston Churchill

          Maybe we haven't tried "everything" else, YET!
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      • May 31 2014: That's the dirty little secret of the left. Von der Wiege bis zu Bahre programs only work in the long run in racially, ethnically, and culturally homogeneous societies. And, to forestall the stupid, it is NOT because of the "racism" of the "ignorant rednecks" or whatever they want to call the proletariat they love to spit on and pretend to care about. When homogeneity is lacking, what happens is that the administrators and actual beneficiaries of these programs usually happen to be somehow concentrated among the same racial/ethnic/cultural group as the political leadership.
    • Jun 5 2014: If memory serves me correctly, it took the Finnish 20 plus years to get their education system in order. 3 - 5 years is an ambitious goal. Not to mention their schools are smaller, kids don't have to attend until 7, students are held to a high standard and that is supported by the parents. School is about learning not childcare. That is a deeply rooted philosophy that must change in the states to improve.
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        Jun 5 2014: It's better to try and change things than to continue falling back into a system that's failing. In the long run after all the obstacles you'll be thankful that the system was changed and better individuals were raised and you're not chasing around school dropouts.
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    Jun 7 2014: Thanks for the great comments and questions. I have been a high school teacher for 16 years and have I taught grade 10 to grade 12 students in Ontario, Canada. I can remember when I started teaching a long time ago, and I felt that within each class, I was the main focus of almost everything. Today, I think education has taken some major strides in making a student-focused approach where we focus on the students' background, passion and maybe where they "want-to-go" (ie. career, etc...) within our curriculum and lessons. Ultimately, the greatest changes will be seen when students feel empowered in their own learning. School Boards, teachers, parents, local communities (including local businesses, Churches, and other community partners) must play a role in providing resources and support to offer students unique learning environments that allows each student an opportunity for success. One of the best ideas to come out in the Ontario education system is the Specialist High Skills Majors Program (SHSM) which includes a more specialized high school experience rich with experiential learning and reach ahead opportunities. Students also have to complete a 240 hour co-op placement in the community to get some hands-on experience in one of the student's career paths. Ultimately, what works best for our students will work best for our society.
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    Jun 5 2014: The easiest thing in the world to brainwash is a Human infant and the hardest thing in the world to un-brainwsh is a Human adult. First the child is exposed to the thinking, actions, beliefs and belief systems of the parents, community, society, culture, languages and local environments. This is then complicated by institutional belief systems and practices such as politics, government, business, theologies, social movements, advertising, "entertainment" in industrial societies and the influence these have on the various educational systems. This creates a climate where children can't ever be on the same page when it comes to understanding an A-priori comprehension of Biological reality and what it means to be a Human Being and how the Human species is only one among many. To me, the first thing every child should learn is Biological Reality because this is the one thing we have in common regardless of variations amongst our own kind. The first Physical Allegiance and Oath of Fealty for every Human child, no matter where they are should be themselves as the Caretakers and Protectors of Mother Earth. They need to understand Ecology and Environmental systems, Geography, Meteorology, Biology and Evolution. Overpopulation and Sustainability. ALL of the other things they learn, in its variety around the world needs to be SECONDARY to this PRIME educational foundation. This way, the differences from each other they accumulate over the years will be less important and less likely to fight over. For every child, no matter where they are: Planet First, Nation or any other subdivision, Second.
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      Jun 5 2014: Re: First the child is exposed to the thinking, actions, beliefs and belief systems of the parents, community, society, culture, languages and local environments.

      The paradox being presented is that brainwashed adults can and should instill a different orientation than there own.
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    Jun 3 2014: I believe this will take a true revolt, for those in running the current education will fight any change. It will take a complete bulldozing of what we have now.

    I would love to see the Khan model use and enhanced.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education#t-800578

    Imagine the knowledge maps being international and covering every subject in the world.
    integrated-arts could be part of the divergent-thinking-knowledge-map and well as arts-knowledge-map.
    Imagine it being international and any person could travel down any knowledge map and be certified.
    And not just khan classes, but also classes from Coursera and educational game developers, with solo MOOCs and group MOOCs that work similar to the hole in the wall program. http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud#t-102110

    Plus :) how about some crowd-source classes with students, teachers, hobbyist, and anyone with the desire working together to learn, discover or create something new.

    P.S.
    With the end result being, the current grade/degree system being replaced with our own personal knowledge map.
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        Jun 4 2014: WOW!
        Did you not noticed I give 3 examples, and proposed an fourth.
        Did you not watch the 3 year old TED talk on Khan, and notice it is growing beyond lectures?
        Do you not realize MOOCs are still only in their early stages, and that most propose a MOOC and classroom hybrid system?

        I agree a knowledge map limited to calculus or even all of mathematics would be too limited, and was not trying to suggesting that. Instead something like
        http://cmapspublic.ihmc.us/rid=1138240071905_52095080_7330/MAP%20OF%20HUMAN%20KNOWLEDGE.jpg
        but as complex as
        http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_H6XW_a4TYus/ScgNgDlOmuI/AAAAAAAAAgo/jNgeBsh5f1I/s400/map+of+human+knowledge.bmp
        in fact to create such a map would be such a complex matter it would take a major crowd-sourcing effort to create it.

        P.S. See my posts below for partial reasoning behind my snarkiness.
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        Jun 5 2014: I consider myself scared by K-12, but not vengeful. My last 12 years of MS has taught me to embrace hardships, question every primus, and what seems ugly at first often only needs a change in prospective. So my goal is to help reform education into something that is adjustable for all learning styles (and that does not mean the current style use should end, for it does work for many) just that teaching for other learning styles need to be used also.

        I look forward to those firms also, and still enjoy the modern versions of them on PBS, history channel, etc. Like Nova's making stuff videos.
        Analytically speaking such films could be reaching people with auto and/or story learning styles.

        LOL, I was thinking about how Cornet firms covered every topic, and that people need to learn about every topic and see how everything is interconnected for a holistic knowledge. But discovered Holistic education is a term already being used, in a much more profound way and just happen to be how I view the world. (see comment above)
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    Jun 3 2014: My grandson is just finishing up his first year (7th grade) in a brand new charter school that is using a project-based learning model. The students chose topics they are interested in, create a proposal describing what they want to do with their chosen topics and then, with the guidance of their teacher/advisor, they research, experiment, work and play their way through their projects and produce a presentation to demonstrate the essence of what they have learned. Students go on lots of field trips, do community service, work in internships, and have quite a bit of freedom. They have no homework.

    Students learn in different ways. They have different interests. They have different abilities, capacities, energies, styles, needs, potentials, attention spans, etc. Infants are incredibly curious; toddlers and young children are insatiable learners. Kids explore, experiment, play and learn, and they come to understand an amazing amount. Then we put them inside, in seats, give them standard books and tests, and call it school ... and these same kids come to dislike and even hate learning.

    That kind of one-size-fits-all mass education approach is only more or less efficient for managing large numbers of students with the fewest possible number of adults for the least amount of money. It is not efficient, nor is it ultimately productive, for encouraging and facilitating the learning and understanding students are actually capable of.

    Students need to be individually inspired, encouraged, equipped, assisted, allowed, guided and given the freedom to pursue their innate interests to the best of their abilities and capacities to become who they are capable of being in life.

    My grandson, the other students, the school staff are all trying to figure out how to make this project-based learning model work for them. It's a project in progress, fraught with stumbling blocks and abundant in inspiration, excitement, joy and rewards.

    I think this is the way to go...
  • Jun 10 2014: As a current student at Bryant University and someone who has felt that my best learning has come outside of the classroom, my understanding is that the most important thing that can be done to the education system, is an active revival of reading. One of the biggest problems people have with the education system is that they believe students should not be told what to learn, but rather, have the choice for themselves. Every Saturday at my University, I enter the library within minutes of it opening. Before I begin any of homework, due the coming week, I read whatever I want to read. Usually I end up returning to my table with about six or seven unrelated books; anything and everything I can possibly get my hands on really. In my best attempts to avoid picking particular books that have been recommended, I end up picking a lot of old books that are falling apart on the spine, dated back into the 16th century and further, and/or books that no one person I know has ever seen or read. As a result of this interest in knowledge- this interest in mental clarity and my passion for every bit of information that is out there- I feel more intellectually competent than I have ever felt. I have rejuvenated a passion for learning that has been lost for quite some time. The key is not to be taught what to learn, how to learn it, and what all of it means, but to rather, teach yourself all these things. Tim Ferris, a world renowned de-constructor of all things learned, took it upon himself to do just that and has had fantastic results for himself and his many followers. It is important for everyone to give the gift of passion to themselves. This "passion" does not come from a teacher telling you to memorize the great works of each other, but rather, your discovery of these great pieces upon your journey through a library. This is not to discount the usefulness and necessity of teachers but instead to recognize them as an aid for learning rather than a platform for it.
  • Jun 6 2014: No solution will ever come from teachers's unions. They are nothing but political agitators hell-bent on extorting as much money as possible out of governments with as little effort as possible by their members. The children? They're just bargaining chips to teachers' unions. No solution will ever come from for-profit "education" companies. They are nothing but commercializers hell-bent on squeezing as much money as possible out of anyone with as little effort as possible. The children? They're just advertising props. No solution will ever come from government officials. They are nothing but government officials hell-bent on padding their own pockets and doing whatever corrupt activity is necessary to keep their no-effort jobs. The children? They're just propaganda tools.

    So, exclude all of the above and start from there.
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      Jun 9 2014: Bryan brings up several 800 pound Gorillas in the classroom. I briefly taught in both Public and Private schools in 1982 Los Angeles. The LAUSD and the Teachers Unions were both passing known and suspected Child Molesting teachers from class to class and school to school, with the same frequency as a certain well known religion transfers Child Molesting priests from Parrish to Parrish /Church to Church. They were also failing to report them to law enforcement and actively interfering with police investigations of the Child Molesting teachers. It's even worse now, in spite of their fraudulent "Public Relations" soundbites.
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    Jun 5 2014: What are your thoughts on Holistic Education?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holistic_education
    http://www.holistic-education.net/visitors.htm
    http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/methods/holistic/

    As an Autodidact I firmly believe in thinking holistically, but should it and how should it be part of education in schools?
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        Jun 5 2014: Is this to say that we are not self directed learners and therefore must be taught?
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        Jun 5 2014: I just found this great video and I think you will enjoy it also.

        http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=learning+styles&FORM=HDRSC3#view=detail&mid=F75B714C5660A53A5F5FF75B714C5660A53A5F5F

        I see a few styles that I’m good at, and others I’m not good at. So like Theodore Hoppe is asking, I wonder can a natural visual learner be taught to learn Auditory and/or be taught to enhance his/her neutral learning style?

        Also like people have natural learning style, we can also reason that teachers have natural teaching styles. AI propose that that teachers and MOOCs should be given a style rating, and than used to best match student with educator. If done properly this could be a great revolutionary/evolutionary step in education.
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        Jun 6 2014: But we all have a "learning style" as you put it, and for the most part education as we know it continues to make it about teaching. Isn't this why Robinson says we need a revolution?
        Teachers need only to provide mentoring and encouragement to help children learn.
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        Jun 6 2014: Re: "Are you a follower of Sir Ken?"

        The question here asks: "So, let's talk details. As educators, as students, as parents, as citizens... what ideas are out there for actually implementing the revolution that Sir Ken and others like him are calling for?"
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        Jun 6 2014: I appreciate your directing people to some of the many scholars and practitioners who research and write about educational reform and have over many years, both before and since Robinson's viral TED presentation.

        Too often people not seriously engaged in actual work in this field are not at all well acquainted with what is really happening in schools, in education, and in educational research.

        People who participate here sometimes DO look to resources others recommend in areas of interest to them, so I think it would be useful if you were to identify your top three or so from your list and even a book or article title if one is handy. Theodore is a reader, but I also ask for others who may be following along.

        Is your work primarily at elementary or secondary or in a specific subject, if I may ask?
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        Jun 6 2014: My work too has centered on mathematics education, curriculum and pedagogy, but also settings to cultivate critical and creative/expansive thinking, grades 5 through adult.
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      Jun 6 2014: Hi Don, Thanks for the "Thumbs Up" and I absolutely agree that a more Holistic approach needs to be incorporated into the current educational systems.

      Stephen J. Jacobs
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    Jun 5 2014: "In summary, we are inclined to argue that neuroscience can eventually impact on mathematics education by providing hints as to (a) what mathematics curriculum should be provided at which age, (b) which skills should be developed in parallel, and (c) how to reliably assess the effects of early diagnosis and interventions in the case of specific learning disabilities. Research on the timing of maturation of brain areas involved in mathematical cognition appears particularly important as some economic models propose that earlier economic investment in education, i.e., in preschool programs, always lead to larger economic return than later investments (Cunha and Heckman, 2007). There is neuroscientific evidence, however, that indicates continuing development of executive functions throughout childhood and adolescence. Thus, educational policy makers should be aware of the current neuroscience findings when deciding on the timing of educational investment (Howard-Jones et al., 2012)."
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      Jun 4 2014: Interesting :) I just found out that Google-chrome has something similar called Spreed, it looks about the same but with an (I think easier on the eyes) black background.
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      Jun 5 2014: Are reading scores a problem or are math scores?
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        Jun 5 2014: I see a problem with scoring and it is true in grades, degrees, and knowledge maps as I talked about below. Do you score for knowing the facts or for understanding and having the aha-moment?

        For example who should score higher, the people who knows every line and all about the author of a poem, or the person feels the emotion of the poem and can read it to others form the hart.

        I use math every day and understand it, but I will likely never see the poetry in it. And vice versa with history, who should score better those knows the facts or those who understand the why?
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          Jun 5 2014: Yes, indeed. And this is my point about how math is taught in schools.
          So it really does not matter whether you test or assess.

          See my comments that include the research on math and neuroscience..

          “Knowing-about” forms the heart of standard education: students can learn and be tested on it. But success in examinations gives little indication of whether that knowledge can be employed when required, which is the essence of “knowing-to.”
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      Jun 9 2014: Hi Brendan, thanks for the thumbs up, SJJ. Interesting info on the "Spritz" method.
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    May 29 2014: As a business executive who grew up in a academics home, both parents are college level professors and one also an MD, my perspective focuses in on discover thru experience and emotional intelligence. By placing focus on the value of discovery and creating excitement about the collaborative exercise of discovery the leads to an emotional reward of success and understanding. I reference my upbringing because with a sibling this is how we often learned together. My parents would invite faculty over to discuss new works or papers and at a young age my bother and I wanted to be included but soon understood that working together to try and understand what was being discussed, we had to read and come up with our own understanding and questions to be able to participate. Our reward was being emotional happy to be able to contribute and participate in an environment where we where accepted. To the other end, there was no per sa test, so the validation of what we learned was receiving the validation that our involvement was substantive and added to the conversation. We often would discuss in recap what we all could take away from the conversations.
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    May 29 2014: 'The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.' Toffler.

    I salute your intent here Chelsea and we certainly in a time of great change. I think what matters most is that children become open to continuous learning through guidance by passionate and technically skilled people. I agree that we should not be teaching to the test even though in an age of readily available knowledge accessibility, the British system empathises memory recall and summative exams as a way to 'measure' children. At my school we are developing ' Habits of Mind' to build learning power in our students, things like resilience and empathy are just as important to success as traditional subjects (hence the Toffler quote which I think nails the point). Helping young people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to find what they love to do and how to become healthy successful contributors to society is the ultimate goal of our school.
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    May 29 2014: For starters, we need to reform the No Child Left Behind Act. Perhaps one of the biggest problems with our educational system is that we focus too much on quantitative performance. We "teach to the test" and provide a huge disservice to students by doing so. In other words, life isn't anything like a multiple choice test, yet we promote such "academic" methods.

    Instead of focusing primarily on quantitative academic metrics, we should place more of an emphasis on career planning and development. Towards the end of a student's high school years, they should already have a career trajectory planned out or even viable work experience (via internships and accreditation) in the career of their choosing. Certainly one could argue that this is what college is for, but the fact of the matter is that a college degree isn't always necessary for some careers. Not to mention that there are plenty of employers who are willing to pay for their employees to attend college and advance their careers.

    The reason why I stress such educational reform is that, according to recent studies, over 40% of recent college graduates are unemployed. Meanwhile, for those who managed to find jobs, only 53% managed to find jobs in their field of study, where they were "lucky" if they managed to make more than $25,000 a year. Factor in student loan debt and the rising costs of living expenses, and it's hard to imagine how college graduates even manage to make ends meet without working multiple jobs (usually not in their field of study, and jobs that typically don't require a degree).

    Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/college-grads-disillusioned-unemployed-poll-article-1.1331346
    • Jun 4 2014: Hi Dear Micheal...I think you hit the point of China's education as well:focus on too much on quantitative performance,we teach to test...China has been doing so all the time,it seems one of our culture.Now we want to have a reform in education.But you can't imagine how hard it is...
      • Jun 4 2014: yet, test-oriented. I hate that. Actually, all Chinese hate that but it seems that we can do little to change the current education system. We still strain to do mountains of exercises in order to suceed in The Entrance of College Examination.
        • Jun 5 2014: hi Dear varlum Wei,why hate?anything we did to change it?why can't we change that?
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    May 29 2014: I think the educational system needs to be redefined and the school curriculum rewritten this is because so many of the lessons we adopt in school do not stand the test of time in todays 21st century that is the reason for people like steve jobs,bill gates etc dropping out of school to carve a niche for themselves.
  • May 28 2014: 1: Actually decide what schools are for.
    2: Everything and anything else.

    Right now, there is no decision on what schools are for. The children are just bones to fight over.
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    Jun 10 2014: In my view revolution in education system should be done after some specific time. Now a days most of people in every country go for school not gain knowledge but they are going for obtaining education degree/graduation/certificate.

    So education system should be made in such a way that student easily can obtained all required knowledge which are helpful in day to day life and also get them certificate (mindset of student).

    http://zedaa.net
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    Jun 9 2014: i'm a teacher but i only deal in day-to-day relief teaching (supply teaching, substitute teaching) because i got fed up with the frustrations of working in a clumsy, outmoded system.

    what needs to be done:
    1. reduce class-sizes. this is the simplest way to improve quality.
    2. who decides on curriculum content? the school, students and parent community. forget centralised government.
    3. reduce, remove and reinvent assessment. standardised assessment is completely out of sync with reality and focuses on the system instead of the student.

    the real revolution needs to happen in peoples' heads - putting less stock in institutional education helps enormously.
  • Jun 9 2014: Well first of all, don't reprimand mistakes like we currently do. As a middle-schooler, being wrong is one of the harder things to accept in a class. This may be because of various factors (such as being judged by your peers or teacher).

    The second thing is simply to give more of an incentive for students to do well (however that may be achieved). The main reason for one not doing well in school is because he/she has no motivation to do well. If I'm honest, I can't blame them. Its hard to see (from our point of view) how school is actually going to beneficial in life (of course it is, but from a perspective of a student, its a little demoralizing spending about 1/4 of your life in something you absolutely detest).

    If we are able to achieve those two things, then I think the rest will come in turn as a result. But then again, the goals I listed out are not easy to attain by any matter. Much reform is needed to achieve such a utopia for students.
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    Jun 9 2014: "The works wonders project" look to be a good reason to have hope :)
    It is too early to know what will come of it, but it will be interesting and something worth putting on your radar.

    http://www.microsoft.com/office/workwonders/
  • Jun 9 2014: It is easy to give directions to a child but it is a challenge to make them realize why things are done in certain way. In a sense training a child to look at bigger picture. Training a child to understand direct impact is one thing but training a child to look at overall consequence is another. Ability to realize sequence of events from any thing we do (Like a chain reaction).
    This is a gradual process but can only be achieved through self realization and experimentation.

    "If one understand's himself he can understand the universe.

    I find this funny when a teacher tells that "we teach sharing"....C'mon how the hell someone can teach sharing. Sharing is voluntary.

    Teaching should be helping the child learn not making the child learn because learning is always achieved by the child himself. Even in computer science we know that reinforced learning is better than supervised learning. In supervised learning, each training example is a pair consisting of an input object (typically a vector) and a desired output value (also called the supervisory signal). This is what we do in schools.
    In Reinforcement learning there is a focus on on-line performance, which involves finding a balance between exploration (of uncharted territory) and exploitation (of current knowledge). For children it will also include exploitation of intelligence. Reinforcement learning is more like self learning where system is trained with real data, and constraint and rewards are defined. This is what should be doing in schools.
  • Jun 9 2014: I think we should also have classes on tool making and animal and plant caring which are important missing elements in our education system.
    The way science is taught teacher explains all the theories and then ask question.
    We should be doing this in reverse. Ask questions and let the child explore because science is about how nature functions. We can do something similar with Geography or history.
    What is the use of teaching poems and stories when they can't write one. I mean telling a story or poems is a different thing but expecting them to memorize them is different.
    I would not want to teach my version of history to my daughter. I'll let her question and create her own version because we don't know reality. Best way to understand history to revist and refine repeatitively.
  • Jun 9 2014: I think teaching something has to be reactive process not proactive process. If a child is not picking up on her own then we need to explain her and not do this at the beginning. If I want to teach my daughter skating. I'll first give her pair of skates and tell her what not to do and may be buy one more pair for my self. instructor led teaching only comes when you have done enough self learning. We are learning super computer give a child enough freedom to self learn.
  • Jun 9 2014: Today we give lot on importance on sentiments. Any action or thought should not hurt other sentiments. In this way we are putting lot of restriction on individuals. I mean if I find some evidence against a historical religious leader, we should be allowed to talk about it. Because "reality must take precedence over public relations" (Feymann).
  • Jun 9 2014: We need to first understand stages of child development. For first 5-7 years child is trying to build brain and body interconnections. Until child is 3-4 years he/she is not very good at group play but they may enjoy playing with 1 child.
    We are evolved to learn things by seeing others do or by play, whole method of teaching is stressful for a child.
    So we don't need to send our child to schools till he/she is 4 years of age. School should be good place for socialize. We should have single class between 5-9 years, in which elder children help younger children in activities. We need to give lot of importance to story telling apart from physical movement and fine motor activities because our incredible ability to imagine made us human.
    Early schooling should involve:
    1. Physical movements: Skipping (cross-lateral), Hopping, Rolling down hills, catch/throw ball, Jumping rope, Running/Walking, Clapping games, Circle games
    2. Fine motor activities to strengthen important neural pathways: Cutting with scissors, Digging the garden, Kneading dough, Pulling weeds, Painting, Beading, Drawing, String games (e.g., Jacob’s Ladder), Sewing, Finger crochet/knitting,

    3. balancing
    4. Imagination:
    Interesting ways of Story telling, Playing with blocks, clay, paper, colours
    5. Pattern:
    simple pattern games like arranging items in certain order, odd one out
    6. Hide/Seek, Search odd shape/colour from similar objects.

    We should avoid both reward and punishment. These techniques are used to force children to make her do certain things which we think child should do. Instead we should convince and involve. Reward makes a child happy for short term but has negative impact on his behavior and satisfaction. So teachers should not put stars in children book or hand. Cartoons and candies are rewarding and should be avoided. Competition is also rewarding and should avoided.
    4 yrs onwards we should have group play activities and also we should give free time.
  • Jun 7 2014: I was working as teachers for 2 years in an elementary school. In Indonesia, I would say some of the parents are pretty conservative. I saw some of my students who has talent at art or sport forced to go to school and need to join endless math course outside school. I love about new way of teaching to make lesson more attractive to students. What, I don't like in Indonesia how the teachers in elementary school forced by rules to pass every students even if they should repeat the year. I was teaching mathematics for fifth grade, There were some students who can't even do math problems for 3rd grade and i tried my best to fix their math basic yet the time is not enough and they were not ready for 6th grade lesson. But then, because the rules from government I needed to mark up their grade to pass. I didn't want to do that so I did countless remedial and yet their score still not good enough to pass. The principal told me to tell them make a poster for math and take the score to pass. I was speechless because what is the point of making poster has any relationship with their math ability. In the end, i gave them take home remedial. And i didn't feel good about that. I think it's not fair for them and they will suffer more in the next grade
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    Jun 6 2014: Education reform involves 1) recognizing the current debilitating prioritization of political and economic imperatives (i.e., behavior modification, workforce development, etc.) and 2) advocating for intellectual development and the expression thereof. For further details, consider reviewing the text, Crisis of Democracy (1975) by Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joji Watanuki.
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    Jun 6 2014: Most teachers feel like they have no voice in education. They are told by others what the best teaching practices look like. Many of these people have never been in a classroom where they are responsible for student's learning, or they have forgotten what it is like to be in a classroom. Often the most important outcome is the results of standardized testing. Teachers know that teaching to a test is not best for learners. Schools need to focus on the learners.
    I have just finished another year of teaching wonderful kids. I felt like I had students that showed growth in both reading and math. Are they going to pass the test? I really don't think so. They began the year 2 to 3 years below their grade level. Many were not reading very well. Many were learning English as a second language. Yet they were expected to pass a test that did not take into account where they were, but where someone thought they should be.
    As the end of the school year ended I feared for a few of my students that were being sent on to a highter grade level when they still were struggling with the grade they were in. They are not ready to advance. They are failing where they are at now. How will they find success in what the higher grade expects from them?
    Moving children through school in batches seems to be the easiest for the educational system, but not so for the ones that are failing where they are currently placed.
    Those in charge of education really need to listen to teachers. We are not teaching the CORE, we are teaching children to become successful adults in society.
  • Jun 6 2014: XDF, that is New Oriental, is really a famous, popular education in China. If you have Chinese friend, you can asked them about it.
    • Jun 7 2014: Hi Dear Varlum,New Oriental,I am Chinese,I know it,It is sort of popular among young students who want to take part in exams but nothing more so far I can see from it...It is just a present product of Chinese students learning english.it is an orientation of teaching to test,because test is so hot in China...hope it can be changed soon.Didn't you notice The New Oriental isn't as hot as before now?
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    Jun 6 2014: I think 3 things need to be taught:
    1. bare necessities a person needs to survive, specific to local area. How a person survived in harmony with nature before things changed (growing food, music, dance, cooking, practicing for battle, depending on animals, notions of life and death)
    2. reasons civilization is no longer in harmony with nature
    3. specific training for an available job that will provide food and shelter
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    Jun 6 2014: The Virginia Community College System’s remedial math reforms have placed more students in college-level math courses, raising gatekeeper math completion rates for incoming students, reports a Community College Research Center study. However, pass rates “declined modestly” for students in entry-level math courses.

    “Changes to how academic supports are deployed and changes to teaching and learning strategies used in college math courses could improve conditional pass rates over time,” writes Olga Rodriguez.

    In addition to introducing a new math placement test, the system now requires lower math competencies for liberal arts majors than for STEM majors


    On a related not:

    Illinois community colleges are teaching remedial math to high school students, reports Community College Times.

    Half of new community college students need at least one developmental course. The Illinois STEM College and Career Readiness program identifies high school students who might be placed in development education and provides remedial instruction and support services before they arrive on a college campus. College instructors and high school teachers work together to align math curricula.

    Participating community colleges include: Heartland Community College, Illinois Central College, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, John Wood Community College and three Chicago city colleges.
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      Jun 6 2014: “Illinois community colleges are teaching remedial math to high school students, reports Community College Times.”

      Community College Times has it wrong! Saying students in Illinois need remedial math is saying that they are slow learners and that is highly insulting wording.
      It is not the kids that are different; it is the quality of teachers.

      The Ill. STEM Outreach delivers off-campus programs and on-campus activities designed to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and enthusiasm among P-12 students, their families, and educators. (And I’m happy to say it is making a difference)
      The sad fact that the Illinois’ P-12 school system is doing the minimum required educating for 99.9% of the students.

      The fact that universities have to step in and do basic education, shows that K-12 system is broken.
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        Jun 6 2014: Re: "It is not the kids that are different; it is the quality of teachers."

        This is another complex problem (see complexity). But this is what they are doing there and this is in part what we are here to discuss.
        I know first hand that there is a problem with the way math is being taught in schools in general in the US, not just in Illinois.
        We hear it all the time, "I can't do math" or "I hate math." We are by and large and a society that suffers from innumeracy . Researchers such as Dr. Sian Beilock, University of Chicago, are examining the causes of "math anxiety." In fact, Beilock's research shows that those in college with the highest math anxiety are those majoring in elementary education. Dr. Paul Stephen Prueitt's research takes it a step further by coining the phrase "math distain." So if it's a part of our culture, why are we surprise that it's in the education system.
      • Jun 7 2014: Wow, that's a lot of venom and silliness. Saying that Illinois students need remedial math ONLY SPEAKS TO THEIR SPECIFIC SKILL LEVEL and says nothing about WHY they need remedial math. Let me guess, you're a big fan of "social promotion" and "let's just give everybody an A".
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          Jun 8 2014: Let me guess, you're a big fan of "social promotion" and "let's just give everybody an A".
          Your guess is 100% incorrect.

          If you read my other posts here in this thread you will see that they do give passing grades to students without even trying to teach them.
          And that universities rightfully say that is not acceptable and have proven that with proper teaching the Ill. Students are in fact good learners.
          The WHY is clear, and it is not the that they are “slower learners” as the Ill. Public k-12 school system claim.
          Illinois students need grade "A" teachers that can and want to teach them, so the students can earn A grades.
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    Jun 6 2014: "So this is part of what we're up against when we're trying to support a more egalitarian system of education: "whether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on just one factor — how much money his or her parents make.... it will always be the case that the kids who have need are going to have been denied a lot of the academic preparation and opportunities for identity formation that the affluent kids have been given." I can speak to that from experience."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/magazine/who-gets-to-graduate.html?_r=0
    • Jun 6 2014: Theodore,

      I clicked the link and it was about graduating college. I am trying to understand your comment. By the way, you forgot one study that indicates if the student is Asian and being raised in an Asian family, they are most likely to graduate from High School and College, regardless of poverty level.
    • Jun 7 2014: Theodore,

      I am not sure what your experience is but

      1. At University, I saw many smart students fail because they were not ready for the competition.
      2. I gave my entering freshman students a simple math test, two examples are 1/2 + 1/3 =?, 2+3*4 = ?
      Over 25% got both answers wrong - It was the only time I gave a multiple choice test.
      3. I have been part of 2 mentoring program - one an enrichment program for students to challenge them more and one to aid struggling students. The major difference between the two groups seemed the parents (not sure if the educational system can overcome the difference). It seemed that many of the struggling students did not know where the public library was or have a library card. They never saw adults reading books, newspapers, etc. They never heard discussions about history or current events at home. Most of the students in the advanced class had their library card and had spent hours in the library and borrowed book.
      • Jun 7 2014: Perhaps proles simply beget proles and would hate any child of theirs who didn't likewise become just another prole. Maybe they want jocks and cheerleaders as children not people who can actually read a book, or sign their own name without assistance.
  • Jun 5 2014: Here, I would like to share a true story with you which just happened a couple days ago. One day last week, I happened to see a message from a subscription account which is owned by a XDF(a famous education organization in China) teacher. The teacher usually share information about CET4/6 for students who are going go take those exams, such as grossary required for those exams or writing skills. In that message I received last week, he said he would like to tell students again about the truth to pass those exams(just two things they need to do ), that is , " Recite vocabulory and do examination paper that has tested in the past few years." To be honest, I don't agree with him though he is an English teahcher. And I replied him politely that this kind of method of learning is right test-oriented. They teach to the test and students learn to the test. And I also told him that this method can help students little to improve English. Maybe students can pass the exams after menmorizing substancial vocabularies and doing mountains of examination paper, but I believe that many of them may still not be able to speak English fluently and may still have a poor comprehension. It is true among students. Many students do really a good job at school, i mean they usually get high marks at school, but they are incompetent once they go out from the campus to find a job. What's more, English is a language which require us to use it for communication not for tests.
    Do you know how that man replied me?? He replied rudely which does not match with a teacher's image,"Don't talk so much useless. Then get out to foreign countries! Last, give you some words that not everyone who pass the exam are good at English but everyone who could not pass them must be super poor at English!"
    He is a Chinese teacher! He should know theChinese current education system. And he ought to be think about it and try to contribute to changing it and improving it. He oughtn't to teach students like this.
    • Jun 6 2014: Hi Dear varlum wei,what is XDF?who is the teacher?what is the so called famous?
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    Jun 5 2014: Chelsea, This has 6 days to ending. I am seeing the conversation turn to "brainwash him my way ... your brain washing is not a good way."

    It is time to re-focus and even to summerize what you have learned and possible solutions.

    As you say and I addressed we are rapidly shifting to Nationalization .... that should be of primary concern. I addressed this and other "Large and looming issues" about three quarters of the way down.

    The current educational philosophy is the Golden Rule ... he who has the gold rules ... that is the federal government. We have a system of educational blackmale ... do as I say or lose funding.

    That above all must be addressed in order to find any viable solutions.

    Please share your thoughts with us before this closes.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jun 5 2014: Transforming or restructuring schools may be a gigantic undertaking. However, we can start by transforming the first five years of school, Kidergarten to Fourth Grade - the FIRST PHASE. The first five years are the foundation that will determine success or failure not only in school but in life.

    If we have good K-5 schools where children have good study habits and are proficient in Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Arithmetic, there will be much less problems in middle school.

    From the lessons learned in K-5, we can then fix the middle schools - the SECOND PHASE. Students graduating in middle school should have achieved proficiency in Grammar and Writing, Algebra 1, Social Studies and Civics, and Basic Science.

    The THIRD PHASE: Fix the high school system. Unless the elementary and middle schools are fixed, we cannot improve the high school system. Students graduating from high school should have achieved proficiency in Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry, and Basic Calculus in Math; advanced writing skills and good understanding of Literature; proficiency in Basic Biology, Chemistry, and Physics; and fair amount of exposure to the arts and technology, especially in computing and coding.

    And finally, and quite possibly the most difficult, the FOURTH PHASE: making higher education within the reach of the bottom 80% of the population. As it is, about 80% of families cannot afford college education. Programs such as work study, internship and externship, grants, and scholarships should be expanded. For those high school graduates who are not ready for college, vocational and technical courses should be available. To provide employment to our graduates, the government should institute sensible policies that would encourage companies to keep their operations local.

    An American general once said that to ensure success of a mission, give your men all the tools and training they need and take away every reason to fail. True in the military, true in education.
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    Jun 5 2014: "It does not come as a surprise to realize that mathematics education traces back several thousand years. However, still very little is known about the fundamental principles of how individuals learn mathematics and at which age education should start. The issue is far from trivial as it is commonly assumed that mathematics is a special subject area perhaps requiring specific motivation, interest and teaching methods in order to be learned efficiently (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000). Here, we are attempting to make a case for neuroscience methodology as a modern tool capable of contributing to the debate, where a special but not exclusive emphasis is on brain development."

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00314/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Neuroscience-w23-2014
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    Jun 5 2014: What the history of science shows is somehow reproduced in the learning process. “Knowing-about” forms the heart of standard education: students can learn and be tested on it. But success in examinations gives little indication of whether that knowledge can be employed when required, which is the essence of “knowing-to.” When must a specific intellectual habit be called upon? Knowing-to has to do with the conscious use of cognitive habits. It implies a conscious judgment of an upper-level truth about the problem. The practice of reflection is a means to help students improve their knowing-to act in the moment because the triggering situation for the enactment of a new behavioral schema must be conscious. Thus being explicit about one's own thinking improves mathematics teaching and learning (Lim and Selden, 2009). The “aha” moment is experienced by someone who learns a new strategy to tackle a problem, develops a new intellectual habit and knows when to use it. This paper comments on neuroscientific support of the “aha” moment through the inhibition mechanisms of the brain.

    http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00312/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Neuroscience-w23-2014
  • Jun 3 2014: Chelsea,

    Here is something different but one that is quite interesting. Saw some studies on this technique back in the 60's and the establishment thought it was too "hippie".

    http://www.riversandrevolutions.org/

    Team teaching with all the teachers involved with an integrated approach.
  • Jun 2 2014: Hi Dear Chelsea...teach little kids to be kind,to be coorperate to others,to be smiling to deal with anything we meet in our lives.For that,we can keep the orientation to build all kind of projects upon them...alway be standing by side when children needed in growing...

    Dancing,singing are children's passional things,Once I focus my teaching theme on Mother's love,healthy relationship...my students tried dancing and singing to express their ideas on them...so much happy time...
  • Jun 2 2014: so nice
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    Jun 2 2014: Has anyone heard of The Second School?

    http://www.secondschool.net/
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    Jun 2 2014: "a different approach, yes, but at least it's one more indication of an
    emerging movement that rejects the industrial age assembly line education
    machine for something more rooted in human cognition..."

    http://sadhanavillageschool.org/index.html
  • Jun 2 2014: Given you are a teacher, how about start one class at a time. If you are successful, then hopefully others will copy and spread the word. Unfortunately, if you do something different, the establishment will resist you (administration, other teachers, and the teachers union)
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    May 31 2014: Chelsea, All journeys begin with the first step. We have lost sight of what the objective is ... the student. The system is now about how to please the government (both state and federal) to remain funded and meet their demands. In the process of doing this we have alienated the parents and the community. My grandson brings home papers that are written in teacherese ... many of the parents just made it through school and may or may not have mastered the basics ... so assistance in homework is not always available. As a Engineer I wanted to help my grandson with his math (3rd grade). The problem was 376 minus 320 (I think) any way ... I started to subtract one from the other .. a simple three step problem ... you have this .. take away that ... what is left .... WRONG. I was informed that I did not understand math ... I watched in amazement as he did a twenty three step process to arrive at the answer. There is no way that any parent I know could have assisted a student from that class.

    So here is the issue: 1) Superintendents and Principles are not dedicated to education they are politicians attempting to ride the wave of political decisions and mandates. 2) Teachers are being evaluated by the grades the student recieves on high stakes testing ... so they teach the test ... the correct answer is mandatory ... learning is not. 3) the parents are not a part of the learning equation they are, however, held to blame.

    SOLUTION: Get the feds out of education ... bring control back to the states and in turn the district .... make the parent a part of the learning process ... not a enemy. Successful schools are made of caring people ... unions are not necessary ... delete them. Good teachers do not need tenure to protect them ... bad teachers do ... delete it.

    Small steps ... big gains. I have many other ideas but lets start at the begining.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    May 31 2014: There are a million ways that we can reform and improve education. I believe one area that can definitely stand reform is grading and promotion. In our schools, students are socially promoted, often regardless of whether they have mastered the skills and content. I often wonder how student participation and commitment to learning would change, if they were truly held accountable for their learning.

    This creates many other questions and challenges... how do we manage students learning at their own pace? how do we make adjustments for the learning disabled? What happens if student's don't master the content... are they moved to a different type of school? Tough questions, with no easy solution.
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    May 31 2014: Reforming our education will become attainable if we seriously recognize five critical factors:

    I) Students and their parents:
    - Students learn at different speeds: some are fast learners, some are average learners, and some are slow learners.
    - Students come from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds: some have parents who are involved and willing to pay more for education, some have parents who may value education but are unwilling or unable to spend more money, some have parents who are completely uninvolved and don't care what's going on in schools and their communities.
    - Students have different levels of motivation: some are highly motivated, some are somewhat motivated, and some don't have any motivation at all.

    II) Teachers:
    - Some teachers have complete mastery of the subject they teach, some are somewhat proficient, and some are not proficient at all.
    - Some teachers are committed to their jobs, some are somewhat committed, and some have no commitment at all.

    III) School administrators: Some principals and superintendents are competent and some are not. Some truly care about the students and some have questionable commitment to the communities they serve.

    IV) Funding and school facilities: Some schools have adequate funding and some don't. Some schools have adequate facilities such as science lab and equipment, computer lab, gym, and library and some don't.

    V) Most critical of all, instruction: Teachers should be able to individualize teaching by giving them the necessary support and tools such as well-trained teaching assistants, well-designed curriculum, and other learning materials that will allow them to differentiate teaching and learning.
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      Jun 3 2014: - Students learn at different speeds: some are fast learners, some are average learners, and some are slow learners.

      WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
      - Students have different learn styles, that thinking is why I HATE public education and consider myself recovering victim of public education. Is based on the false and harmful belief that only kids that can memorize quickly and don’t get bored quickly are good learners. :-(

      And here is proof, http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education#t-800578 Note chart at 13:32
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        Jun 3 2014: Do you have teaching experience, Mr. Anderson? If you do, please share your experiences with us.

        ."..Most kids struggle in some things and excel in others. And then there are a few who breeze through everything.

        This doesn’t stop. High school. University. Faculty. Government, military, healthcare, for profit, nonprofit. We learn different things at different speeds. This is caused by, among other things:
        ■Mental Horsepower. Some people can just get there faster than others.
        ■Talents. Some people find it easier to learn certain things.
        ■Motivation. I think I can; I value this; I’m curious; I’m distracted (or not). Level of persistence. Work ethic.
        ■Prior Experience. Parents. Other classes. Hobbies. Reading. Other roles, jobs, organizations.
        ■Learning Strategies. Monitoring, tracking learning. Study skills and habits.
        ■Abilities. For example, being able to see letters in the same order that they actually appear on a page, or being able to focus long enough to learn.
        ■Health. Exercise, sleep, diet. Physical, mental comfort (or not)..."

        http://www.jfarrington.com/2013/12/9-ways-to-design-for-learning-at-different-speeds/

        http://troidus.com/how-to-meet-the-challenge-of-addressing-different-learning-speeds-in-the-classroom.html
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          Jun 4 2014: Thank you for showing that I’m correct in that US public educators are of a single mind set and fights any change in their thinking.

          In the 6th grade public education classified me as a slow learner and group as such, and for 6 years I was told I was not smart enough for advance math, to read the classics, and science was only about memorizing the periodic table and cutting open frogs. Even thou I got B average grades, those like you convinced me that was dumb.

          Luckily I went to a trade school right after high school for drafting and had to take trig, and found it was both easy and fun.
          Encouraged by that and wanting to test myself, and I than got a copy of Einstein’s The theory of relativity and WOW! I got easily!
          I was never slow I was bored; therefor it was the teachers that were slow!

          So my teaching experience is 30+ years of Autodidacticism, (AI: Teaching myself) and being mentor to dozens over the years.
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        Jun 4 2014: Mr. Anderson, if you read and analyze my contributions on education carefully, you will realize that I have a good understanding and sympathy for students who have been mislabeled by the school system. There is a difference between capacity to learn and learning speed. Some students learn faster than others. It does not mean that those who learn faster are more intelligent or capable than those who learn at a slower pace, although that is the general impression of many. Unfortunately, some students who learn at a slower pace have been mischaracterized and became "victims" of a system that needs reformation and restructuring.

        By the way, I am an instructor who deals with every type of learner, many of whom where mischaracterized or misdiagnozed by the regular school system. My center, a private entity, is one of the thousands throughout the world that is successful in helping students who are performing below grade level to catch up and even exceed their grade level. Our program has a proprietary or copyrighted curriculum that allows instructors to individualize instruction.

        At my center, we have a lot of 5th graders who were initially struggling with math and in a matter of one year or so become capable learners who are able to do 7th and 8th grade math. We have many middle school students who can do high school algebra and pre-calculus and 15-year olds capable of doing the equivalent of AP English and Calculus. We have students who are reading at two or three years above grade level after one year in our program.

        And yes, I have never taught in public school, not that teaching in public school is bad.
  • May 30 2014: Reintroduce dicipline (corporal punishment) in the classroom. The removal has made it so that teachers cannot control their classes, with the result that any troublemakers destroy the learning environment for all others. Personally, walking home from school with a document for my parents to sign that said 'its OK for you to spank my child', then WALKING BACK WITH IT SIGNED THE NEXT DAY did more to keep me in line than any actual punishment.

    I had the great luck to be educated by the Jesuits. To this day I have never seen better educators. They were, by the way, very light on any religious indoctrination. Rather they taught you HOW to learn, which has served me very well in life. Although difficult to implement in today's secular society, letting the Jesuits run our public schools would reverse the decades of sliding into 'idiocracy' that has occurred in the past 50 years.
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      May 30 2014: And if no one signs the slip?
      • Jun 2 2014: If no one signs the slip, then you have gotten to the root of the child's problem: No dicipline, guidance or morals taught at home.

        Please note that the intent is not to have your child whipped daily at school, but rather NEVER TO HAVE TO DO IT because the proper diciplines have been instilled in the child already. If you are a parent that would NOT sign such a document then I submit that YOU are the reason your child is having problems at school. The document is merely stating that there are limits and that irresponsible behaviour is not tolerated. If the school becomes the primary means of instilling dicipline, then the parents have failed miserably and the child should be removed from their care.
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      May 31 2014: Martin, excellent contribution. Good discipline, respect for others, and appreciating the value of education start at home.
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      May 31 2014: I get education in China. Frankly speaking, all my professors make much account of discipline. As a kid, I was even taught how to seat "formally". And you may get confused about the fact that we do not allowed to interrupt the class. Well, the result of such eduation is obvious. For instance, no Chinese has won a Nobel prize. I make no attempt to eliminate the importance and necessity of discipline. Just wanna ask: does it worth? I sincerely hope the new generation in China can make a difference. Do remember your birthright of freedom.
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        May 31 2014: With all respects toward your experiences, China and the US are very different culturally.
        Still, all learning is self-directed.
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      May 31 2014: I'm willing to venture that you are unaware of the number of states that still permit "discipline (corporal punishment) in the classroom."

      My point is actually this; in which of those states are the academic achievements any higher?
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    May 30 2014: " ... It's such a large system, so steeped in tradition, continuously shifting towards more and more national standardization ..."

    Our government leaders from the federal to the state and local levels; school administrators from the state to the local districts; and educators from the superintendents, teachers' union officials, and classroom teachers have been working on "improving" our education for decades, spending billions of dollars, but the problem is just getting worse every year. Why? The greatest physicist of our age, Albert Einstein, once remarked, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Every initiative to improve the system is just the same dog wearing a different collar.

    Experts on transforming organizations agree that if the problem is big, really big, the most effective way is to divide the problem into small chunks.

    - What if we approach the problem from a different perspective?
    - What if we divide the problem into manageable chunks?
    - What if we design a new system starting from the ground up?

    Perhaps we can borrow the game plan that the auto industry has been practicing for years. While the old models are still on the road, car manufactures are busy designing their new models - starting from conceptualization to the blue print; then to the clay model; then building and testing the prototype, fixing the problems and making modifications as necessary; and finally, the final approval by the engineers and management to go ahead and start production. Even when the new models are on the road, constant modifications and improvements, and sometimes recall, are being done when necessary.

    The auto companies can operate the way they do because they are private enterprises, although the government intervenes when necessary.

    Can the above principles be applied to the public education system? Yes they could, if we have the political will and the participation of all the sectors involved.
  • May 30 2014: Yes Chelsea your awareness is correct and I agree that trying to change the system is futile as Socrates pointed out thousands of years ago here: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.
    My suggestion is look at the model the Gates Foundation is backing with the help of the Kahn Academy.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education

    However the most brilliant summation of the problem with education came from a 14 year old Jacob Barnett. He talks really fast in spurts so you may have to listen a few times like I did to get the complete message.
    http://tedxteen.com/talks/tedxteen-2012/111-jacob-barnett-forget-what-you-know
  • May 30 2014: Before going for specifics these questions are to be answered first :

    What is Education ?
    What is the purpose of Education?
    What Education Should Be?
    What should be the Impact of Education on the Society ?
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    May 29 2014: On a side note, I would consider bring video conferencing into the classroom with focus on touch solutions, much like how a smart phone works today but on a larger scale, allowing for collaborative interaction with experts and guest speakers via video for demonstration and interaction.
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    May 29 2014: A superb, progressive discussion paper which has changed the way I think ( and importantly talks about 'ubiquitous technology' for students) is 'A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning' by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy. It is a compelling read on the future relationship between teaching and learning. Brilliant.
  • May 29 2014: Maybe you could try to apply the principles in your classroom by reviewing your methods, and sharing the ideas with your collegues. I'm sorry as i'm not a teacher it's hard for me to consider the methodes that could work.