TED Conversations

Taylor Kendal

Teaching with Primary Sources

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How do we reform education?

I recently witnessed a TEDx event in Colorado and heard Ramona Pierson discuss her philosophy on education - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5aHL2qd_08.

She believes there's an equation (ok, actually an algorithm) that can be used to prescribe a unique education path for every student. This idea comes in the wake of a near nationwide adoption of the Common Core Standards. Where do the resources in the United States currently need to be focused to assure positive progress in education?

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    Sep 1 2011: Resurrect Socrates. Teach them how to think, not what to think. Teach search, not memory. Teach them how to filter the crap, not how to eat it. Nurture the rational mind, not irrational beliefs. Argue every side of every question. Empower them with the ability and the desire to be responsible for a better future. How? Probably requires a personal omnipresent tutor in the form of an AI, in addition to plenty of personal attention from a human mentor.
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      Sep 7 2011: I definitely agree with you Don, the Socratic method is actually being advocated in alternative schools and it should not be long before mainstream schools pick it up.
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      Sep 8 2011: Don...this is the most powerful response I've seen in this entire thread! The brevity and use of contradictory dualism is unmatched. If you're not already, you need to be absorbing the SGU podcast. Here's the website, but I usually just grab it from iTunes - http://www.theskepticsguide.org. In my opinion, skepticism is one of the most powerful tools, and the reform I imagine is only possible when critical thinking and skepticism is embraced by teachers and taught from day one!
  • Sep 2 2011: Part of the problem isn't just reforming the system itself, but helping the students and their families to reform themselves. How do we get students to want to learn? How do we get families to take an active role in their child's education?

    There are some of students who want to learn, who take an active role in their own education and understand the possibilities it gives to their futures. Yet it seems there are nearly twice as many students who don't want to learn, don't want to do the work, don't care and will do whatever they can to distract their classmates and drag them down, too.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Are there any answers? Positive or negative reinforcement doesn't seem to work. Rewards give only temporary results.

    Ramona also says we should be giving kids more personalized education:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGcDCjwZky4&feature=related
    but will students do this? The same students who have no interest in doing homework, reading the chapter, listening to lecture, taking notes, participating in labs, watching movies, or attending school for more than the social aspect?
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      Sep 7 2011: Oh, you described my crazy batch at my school perfectly. Those are exactly the type of questions we ought to ask. How do we get such students to get interested in life? Is the present education system doing that? Anything, everything ought to be tested. Because these are lives we are talking about, people who are going to be future fathers and mothers, which means entire generations.
    • Sep 8 2011: Andrea, you are so right! We need to change the mindset at home. Parents need to be involved and excited about learning, and that excitement will flow to their children!
      • Sep 8 2011: To Rosemary and Arshia,

        It's the same thing that I've experienced, too. I really feel that it is a top-down problem, where;
        if politicians and the media could stop using education as their hot-button topic for elections and attention,
        if the general public could stop seeing educators and the "system" as part of the problem but a part of the solution,
        if the parents could change their listening of teachers and school administration,
        then students would change their listening and behavior in the classroom and in life.

        Not all teachers are bad, but we go discarding the entire school's worth for the sake of possibly weeding out one. However the re-hire process is the same as it was when they were originally hired, except with a review of their past classroom grades. What results is we don't know what teachers are able to connect clearly and with proper purpose to their students, and we don't know why those teachers got distinctly higher or lower grades than their peers. Administrators are forced to rehire teachers based on impossible or unrealistic criterion and we never really weed out the 'bad' teachers, just the ones who don't hand out A's.

        Is that really what the world wants? A generation of kids who had everything handed to them, with no way of measuring themselves for personal improvement?
        • Sep 10 2011: It's like with any profession; there are good and bad. However, because taxpayer money pays for teachers'salaries, the general public jumps on the bash-all-teachers bandwagon. This is especially true in New Jersey. Being a NJ elementary classroom teacher, I work diligently everyday trying to create meaningful and interesting lessons, all the while dealing with preparing students for standardized tests, constantly changing legislation, complaining parents who want their children to get As, but don't want them to work for those As, children who do not care to learn, and administrators who haven't stepped foot in a classroom for a long time.
      • Sep 13 2011: Rosemary, I would recommend you rent "The Cartel' a movie adaptation of NJ schools. for a classroom of 20, over $300,000 is spent. The teacher, as you implied, receives average 55,000 (I think that's right.) Anyway, your salary is miniscule vs the amount available. Money for 'education' often end up in the pockets of 'suits' who mill around behind the scenes and when a topic gets to a "hearing,' its already too late to change anything.
        I say bottom up solutions best where possible and our schools today keep going the wrong direction; top down.
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      Sep 8 2011: Andrea,
      Thanks for posting that follow-up video from Ramona. It's always about making that final jump to action. Anyone can preach and sound like they have the answer, but until it's seen from a ground level, such as the home, then it's hard to believe the change will ever come.
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    Sep 17 2011: We watch TED because it's interesting. Make education interesting and students will watch. Schools fail because most of it is boring. It's not the material that's boring, it's the presentation.

    OMG - Is he saying that education must merge with that other E-word.......entertainment?

    Yes.
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      Sep 17 2011: to a very large extent I agree. I do beleve tailored delivery is the key.
    • Sep 18 2011: I think learning itself should be an entertainment.
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      Sep 26 2011: Absolutely, as an educator and curriculum developer I can't agree more! We call it "engaging", and it is an attainable art for every teacher -however old.
      But give teachers a little slack from home too: turn off the TV and select the videogames children play, both are reducing student's attention span to near zero. No amount of entertainment can get through otherwise...
    • Sep 26 2011: i get your point but school isn't disneyland. there are some things that kids need to be able to do in order to be able to handle themselves when they become adults and enter society. many of those things aren't really all that fascinating... no doubt you haven't watched every ted talk and haven't found them all interesting?
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      Sep 27 2011: You, sir, are completely correct. We students find the drudgery of school to be incredibly tedious and boring, with little relevance to our personal interests.
      I am a 17 year old senior in high school currently, and have a real love/hate relationship with my education. I attend an alternative school called Steller Secondary School, which is structured much more like a college than any other high school in my state, as far as I know. Students are allowed to individually select each and every one of their classes, save for the handful of required courses interspersed throughout one's time at the school. The school's philosophy is unique in that it stresses the importance of individual responsibility and responsible freedom (we are not forced to go to class, per say, though we are responsible for any information we miss by choosing not to attend class). The emphasis on these aspects of learning make Steller a great environment for breeding creative thinkers, along with the Socratic seminar method practiced in most, if not all, classes.
      With all this creative thinking going on, many intellectual discussions arise on a daily basis, and education is a popular topic in these group discussions. Most of Steller's student body agrees that a blanket education paradigm is not at all the way to go in today's society; there are far too many different fields of interest for one structure to work for every single student, and this becomes even more of a problem when one considers the different skill levels of students. If one student excels in math but is horrible at writing, why should that student have to dedicate equal time to both subjects when they could be spending twice the amount of time focusing on expanding their math expertise? Granted, the dual focus would create a more well-rounded student, but is that really what is necessary in today's society, where there are enough people for ten excellent writers to make up for the one person's lack of skill in that field?
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        Sep 28 2011: So well said, Ethan! Thanks for your insight, and for letting us know there is some place out there where education is really happening. We have been touching on creativity in education and the Socratic method in another conversation here, and your comments -and how well you put them!, make this one educator excited for the future! Will look into Steller now :-)

        Back to your points, I don't see where the hate is in your love-hate relationship with the school. It seems it is handling the education dilemma pretty well...
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      Sep 27 2011: Sorry, I ran out of room in the last reply.
      Nearly every student I've talked to in this small school of 300 or so students believes that it is not what's necessary. They, like many others, believe that a more individualized approach to education is necessary, one that doesn't set one standard for the entire student body, where students are judged by their scores on a tedious test full of busywork administered each October. It's ridiculous to think this system will help to produce creative-thinking individuals to come up with solutions to problems our country faces and will face in coming years. Just go to your local high school and look around at the apathy.
      I believe that students should not be required to take all four of the core classes once they get into high school. By this time in their education, students usually have a general idea of what career path they plan on taking, whether it's to become a civil engineer or the next greatest slam poet. Any classes that do not directly help them achieve their career goals are viewed as tedious work that gets in the way of their perceived 'crucial classes' that are vital to said goals.
      Student A has aspirations of becoming a musician? Wonderful. Place them in a music theory class, a vocal class, a percussion class and any other available classes that will help them become the best musician they can possibly become. If a student is truly interested in the subject matter, a teacher will have no trouble whatsoever keeping them focused and engaged in class. I know from experience, as I am on the edge of my seat, hanging onto every word uttered in my spoken word class, though I really could not give less of a damn about pre-calculus.
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        Sep 28 2011: Hi Ethan Korpi Love
        I am jealous of the teachers who get to teach you, being a teacher myself. I see you have an opinion and a way with words. I'm also happy for you as you describe how well the program at Stellar is working for you. Have you heard Sarah Kay? If you are interested in spoken poetry, you might like her material.
        I have to agree with you about individualization. It seems obvious to me that it's necessary. I also hope for so much more when we begin to really recreate this thing called an education system.

        Thanks for your insights,
        Mark Hurych
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    Sep 16 2011: First thing to reform is to realize that it's not "education" system we have , rather it's certification system.
    • Sep 18 2011: The knowledge that we possess should be the "Main Course" and Certificate is only "Dessert".
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        Sep 18 2011: Hi Lucius unfortunately currently DESERT became Main Course......
  • Sep 14 2011: I add one piece to the puzzle.

    Think about this quote. It should be kept in mind when planning any education system.

    "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

    Another point. I choose to not report the author of the quote for two main reasons:
    1) if you agree and you are interested in the concept, you will be involved in searching for the source,
    and most likely it will be part of you, and you will realize the power of the approach;
    2) I believe that when an idea/concept is powerful enough and we truly believe in it, we will tend
    to spread and defend as if it is ours. I think we should weight differently ideas/concepts vs "notionism".

    Don't be shy to spread new ideas, if I give you an idea and you give me an idea, we will both have
    gained something ;)
    • Sep 16 2011: Marco, I really do like your quote.

      It identifies the relationship between learning and the learner. something easily forgotten I am afraid. I have been involved in the design and delivery of vocational based learning and the success oftencomes with delivery that is central to the experiences and relationships that reflect the needs of the learner and what is being learnt. Developing agentive learning styles creates responsive knowledge.
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      Sep 17 2011: I teach adult students and yes, that's different than teaching youths but I believe that you are rright Marco. I haveunits to deliver that I am sure could be delivered in a classroom with a whiteboard or chalk board. I do use that medium but I also equally or more so, use a hands on approach where I let students make mistake and dont give them all the information that they need. I purposely let them fail, not to be sadistic or nasty but to let them discover why knowledge on that subject is important. I hold debrief sessions where all involved sit and openly discuss what when wrong, why and how it can be avoided or resolved. This seems a useful delivery method as tactile learners benefit from the hands on especially while visual or auditory learners get the knowlede from the white board sessions ( they also benefit from the hands on approach). I ve had some failures, but I am confident that tactile delivery is most important.
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      Sep 18 2011: Awesome. i already know this quote - it's pretty much my mantra for education.
      http://changethefuture.co.uk
  • Sep 13 2011: have it like they do in belgium and europe in general... college is basically free there
    • Sep 15 2011: I agree. Ive been to three colleges, and all they do is test you. The more you pay, the harder the tests are. But in every school ive gone to, the learning has always been up to me entirely. I shouldn't have to work my ass off and pay them my next 5 years salary at the same time. Next 5 years salary is an acceptable price for a brain implant... Learning anything requires working very hard, so therefore education should be a lot cheaper then it is now...
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  • Sep 8 2011: we reform it by getting people who aren't educators out of the system. for many years now, government bureaucrats, psychologists, and school boards have been setting curriculum and teaching policy, not teachers. you'll find great teachers everywhere who know how to teach well, but are forced into the current method by the orders of superiors full of opinion but no experience.

    let the people who actually spend every day in the classroom do what they find works, and you'll get well-educated kids.
    • Sep 8 2011: I agree with this. The woman who wrote the legislature on educational reform has since rescinded her position, both figuratively and literally. After leaving her post she wrote a book (!) and went on NPR to discuss how she felt that she was wrong, (oops!) to have vehemently adopted such a drastic position on educational reform that standardized the learning process when there is no standard student. Despite MA being #1 in the new educational model, the results are teachers have to teach to the test, as opposed to teaching for the absorption of the material, as necessary.

      Had her position never existed, had politics managed to stay out of the classroom, we would not have this new issue of "failing schools" where we now use test scores and grades as a metric of the schools' performance, instead of the grades reflecting on the individuals' performance. Politicians would not have these drastic power-play moves (such as Mayor Angel Tavares of Providence) where upon firing every teacher in the district is even an option to them.

      With a Mayor making decisions like that, what is the purpose of the Superintendent, Dean of Students, Principal, Vice Principal, etc.? Why have administrators at all? Oh, that's right, they went to school to learn how to run a school. Yet law students, with no training in education, are the ones with the power to make decisions.

      Yes, there is a severe problem with that.
      • Sep 9 2011: a good point on the law students, yet even law students have learned something, whereas elected officials and school board members can be absolutely anyone, and not only do they feel that they are more able than actual teachers, but this delusion is supported in that they are given power to enact their unfounded and ill-considered 'ideas'.
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    Sep 4 2011: Hi Taylor Kendal
    How do we reform (read "reconstruct") education?

    Two words.

    From scratch.

    One word.

    Organically.

    [:-)
    Mark Hurych
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      Sep 8 2011: Mark,
      I think you have one of the more frightening ieas, but one heavy in potential energy. Could you elaborate a bit? From scratch I get, but what does an organic education system entail? There seems to be an evolutionary component here.
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        Sep 13 2011: And Taylor Kendal’s retort tickles my fancy:
        “…what does an organic education system entail? There seems to be an evolutionary component here.”

        I do long for such evolution although I fear my words will fall on deaf ears…
        I’m so glad you asked, Taylor. Our human (organic) needs are for well being, not for industrial production. (Sir Ken, the knighted pointer to problems says as much.) So when I say “organic,” I am talking about everything that is not mechanical and linear about us humans.

        I make many assumptions, including one that this moment is miraculous. I’ll presume that we all have a potential for greatness. A metaphor arrives. What do we do with seeds that we want to see grow into healthy plants? Do we paint them all the same color, glue them to an artificial plant to show them what we expect, and punish them for not growing to the same height? No? Do we give all the different seeds the same exact conditions to nurture their best growth? No.

        Continue the metaphor. Every seed has potential for greatness, but there are as many different kinds of greatness as there are different seeds/people. About 7 billion different paths reach healthy enriching education. Mass customization is one part of the answer. We have the technology, but damn it Jim, I’m a doctor not an engineer.

        OK. There’s that. Then there’s this almost completely untapped collective collaborative cooperative “neuronic” fusion beginning to happen with the cognitive surplus and we-think potential of the operating perameters of the World Wide Neural Net, I mean “Web.” If I only had half a brain and if I only had half the sense God gave a clam, I’d be using the biomimicry schemes just waiting for us. —as Nature herself intended of course.

        Mark the shark in the dark
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        Sep 28 2011: An organic system exists for almost a century.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education#Publicly-funded_schools
        When not copied a lot can be learned from it.
        Governments however, here as well as across the ocean are like trains. They sometimes take a switch but stay on their tracks.
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      Sep 28 2011: Yes! I wholeheartedly agree! But where to start? Who dares to disassemble the labyrinth this obsolete system has turned into?
      • Sep 28 2011: The students... i am sure that any number of them would willingly tear down the system we are chained to but more importantly have the openness and creativity to build a system that allows the individual to be Individual!
        kevin
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          Sep 29 2011: Ouch! You bring us to the news here, and again, you are right.
          They themselves cannot take it anymore, and are raising against it in ways never seen before. If you get the news somewhere other than mainstream broadcasting you will know how it is happening in many places, from Chile to France... it is lasting months, and getting bloody...
          Sad state of affairs... how long can we keep watching?
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    Sep 4 2011: I believe in order to reform education, the peer to teacher system must improve. I also believe that there should not be grade levels or standards because it so rarely improves grades, due to the stress and pressure it gives to the students that struggle to meet it. In order to make students learn, they have have to want to learn. Think about when you were a little child; your parents might of forced you to eat a certain vegetable, and you might of refused. No matter how much they forced you, you wouldn't abide. Well take that into consideration for education. You can't force the students to learn, its anti-productive. What this world needs is to allow the children to learn to love education, and challenges. We do this by allowing them to study and discover by themselves - not saying "hey just throw them in a school, maybe they'll find the books and read." It's more like guide them to find the answer without guiding them too much that you're doing all the work for them.
    I remember watching a ted talk about using the internet to change the way of teaching. Using the internet online courses as classes for students. This allows them to work at their own pace and allows them to absorb all of the material before passing to the next topic. It's brilliant, but the only flaw is - what's stopping them from not going online and watching those videos? The answer is simple, make them love education. Because love has the powerful drive to make a labor in to a passion and commitment.
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    Sep 4 2011: Go tablets, abuse the internet, and have teachers trained in philosophy, psychology, and some form of art requirement.

    Oh, and pay teachers good salaries??? Good pay = happy end of day mood ... you know, helping others and only getting words back can only keep one happy for soo long, but when little physical reward is recognized, I can see why teachers are quitting... why teach a bunch learning about sex younger and younger along with drugs, violence, consumerism, and even "band wagon personalities" in my opinion.. It isn't going to take one or two steps to creating a great education system. A lot of trial and error that cost people time and money and those who are in power do not want to waste "face time" doing "things" that are not immediately necessary...

    More than the education system has to change for things to get better and/or for the education to REALLY change.

    Public education is merely 1/3 of our actual educations in life. I would say less, but for fuzzy logic sense. 1/3 = family/guardians 1/3 = interest (music, friends, influences, etc..) The rest of education has to come from us, our explorations... We need to teach people how to explore properly, this education system is so poor. It disturbs me how little work I really did to have a B average my whole life. I learned more asking question to Google in a summer than 10 years of public school. Schools today teaches you how to cheat, lie, and manipulate your way to getting good grades.. I guess we are training politicians and nothing about politics, in retrospect.

    I was never inspired in school, and that is what kids need. I created my own illusions of achievement as a kid.. "lawyer" "architect" and "toy designer" were my big 3 job wishes as a kid. Remember those? But, I was tricked then, you do NOT have to be ONE thing. I could well be an architect who part time designs toys whom is a retired lawyer... current do not wish such.

    but why not tell a little kid he can well be a musician/engineer?
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    Sep 28 2011: Easy Easy. Find a way to pay teachers a good salary--make it a competitive job. Attract the Brilliant to the job of teaching, instead of, as the old adage goes "those that can't do....".

    Respect teachers. Revere teachers. If schooling and teachers become something of value in this country, over just a few generations, our entire society could change direction. If we keep cutting teachers, programs, funding, cultural programs, music art, science---exactly what can we expect in 20 years of our next adults? It's appalling how dismissive we are of a public school system that is already in place with the potential to outshine every other country in the world.

    It begins with quality teachers--and quality teachers need investment and respect.
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    Sep 26 2011: As an educator, trainer, and curriculum developer, here is my suggestion:
    step 1: stop alowing attorneys and lobbyst to decide what and how to teach
    step 2: bring back education of the people TO THE PEOPLE (allow local community and educators to make changes and have a measurable impact on all aspects of the process including curriculum, student/teacher ratio, salaries, etc only keeping federal oversight to insure safety, prevent abuses, and verify that minimal goals are met)
    step 3: make TED talks on education, or by educators, as well as TED ED videos part of the yearly required training for both teachers and administrators. Offer educational credits
    step 4: stop changing state objectives and testing/assessment tools every year or so; let the system -any, your pick- have enough time to work!
    step 5: (really, we should start here) let children be children and stop pushing them towards the unattainable goal of perfection under the guise of career preparation. We all know, and research proves this, that social skills is what lands them a job and secures a promotion. Focus on real-life learning, more contact with nature, and social skills development. Minimum requirements: return to family time, throw away the TV, learn to use available technology to connect with others and spread ideas and plans.. Make education relevant to life!
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    Sep 25 2011: Every year many documentaries are made like Earthling , Food Inc. and ...... All taking about Industrial animal farming, Animal rights and so on but there is not a single documentary about " Industrial Education ".

    Have you seen the classes ? How much difference there is between our classes and industrial animal factories ? Kids with very different talents and very different paces of learning pushed into the same class, and they have to face the most boring and meaningless subjects and that Kills the Spirit of Human Nature in kids on a massive scale just as an Animal factory slaughters animals.

    As Sir Robinson said Education does not need a reform but a revolution .The current system is almost 200 years old and for the super fast world of us it is too slow.

    Education is an organized way of delivering information. There are two big issues the access to info and the way of deliverance.

    Now that we have Internet and we don't have the problem of Access we can educate anyone anywhere not just the ones who can physically attend.

    About deliverance , Now a days by using Games, Movies, Interactive media and all that we can deliver info in a way that was not possible before , in a very fun and amazing way, but do we do that ? No we still use the most boring most depressing methods that we used to have 200 years ago.

    We always nag " our kids have problem with school " but don't seem to remember the fact that we , ourselves hated school, why ?

    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once your Spirit has been tortured everyday by the Industrial Education system.
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      Sep 28 2011: Such learning programs for the internet are already in use with children that live on remote parts like Greenland or Alaska.

      Most people involved in innovations, it seems to me, aren't able to look beyond the rim of their desk.
    • Sep 28 2011: i just have to mention that i value a human connection with a teacher extremly highly... somebody who is actualy there and really knows the material not just a movie that tells me information... i feel like a problem that we already starting to encounter is that at least for me i feel sometimes that i am just another memory stick that needs as much as possible cramed into it... instead of something that has an individual view...
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        Sep 28 2011: Kevin I totally agree with you and I personally do not suggest that we should turn schools into Flash Memories , the system of how schools work should change base on the needs of todays digital age kids and should be more fun less intimidating and .....

        What I am having in mind is a complement for the school not to close it, we humans love to be in groups , play in groups and learn in groups , all of our great memories are formed when we were in a group

        but we don't want to be tortured in groups.

        from Oxford English Dictionary TORTURE :
        " great physical or mental suffering or anxiety "

        Kids now a days are suffering mentally and get anxious all the time in the Schools , should not we change that ?

        a Kid commits suicide for being bullied , is in that TORTURE ?
  • Sep 24 2011: I think educaton should be a partnership between parents and teachers. Paretns have the capability to add experience and depth to lessons learned in school. Taking kids to museums, historic sites, national parks, or similar points of interest is one way to support and enrich lessons learned in school. Perhaps seeing the child gets to experience some arts, sports, cultural, political, or volunteer activities would help the balance. Teachers should comunmucate lessons to parents and offer suggestions for this type of activity. They have the vision of wherethe child's education will be going for that year, and with a little planning and foresight, perhaps the energy of the "helicopter parents" could be channeled into coordinated group activities such as scouts, concert trips, or similar field trips. from my experience in these areas i can tell you the problems are in transportation coordination (parents are very busy too) and liability(putting kids in some other parents car). Perhaps these issues could be discussed.
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    Sep 23 2011: Equation? - sounds a bit of a joke to me.

    Take bureaucrats out of the loop. Sorted.
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      Sep 26 2011: I agree 100%. Then, nobody from administration up would be left, and education would be back to what is meant to be: education. Not just a rush of information to meet state requirements, an excuse to get coveted grants and labels for the district, or babysitting from 8 to 5 till parents are off work.
      Parents would be accountable for their children's development and growth, and teachers would return to be facilitators in that process.
  • Sep 23 2011: I believe brilliance came in many forms. I do not believe in molding students but I strongly believe in growing them. They are like a seed of a plant; they are all different, different plants need different amount of water, soil and amount of sunlight to grow into a healthy plant. Students come with their own nature and the best thing to do to raise happy empowered students is to allow them to be who they are born to be instead of molding them to conform to the society ideas of what ideal people should be. We should let students to be more creative and explorative so that they will become critical thinking adults.

    Education should be personalized to each individual because intelligence is as unique as a fingerprint and we should make the children realize their own element and not destroying their dreams. I believe that a great educator inspire and guide their students to achieve their dreams because imagination is the seed of success.
  • Sep 17 2011: The government needs to get out of education. They want unthinking drones who don't question authority. They get unthinking drones who don't question authority. They don't teach civics and the Constitution any longer. They aren't teaching anymore they are providing a very expensive baby sitter that just entertains and doesn't challenge.
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    Sep 15 2011: Doing away with administrators and hierarchy of money jugglers would be a good start.
  • Sep 13 2011: It is kind of a tough question to answer since every school, and system has its own unique problems. Opening up room for experimentation, would seem to be a good way to try out new theories. New media is a great way to engage younger people. Young people are masters in social media, why not create school wide social sites where students can post questions, help others, communicate with teachers and even professionals in different subjects? Anyone who has played video games knows how they can submerse oneself in a different world. Say create completely navigatable recreations of ancient cities, where you can interact with people and learn about event, that would be a great interesting, engaging history lesson. Anything is possible in the digital world! I think another great reform would be to make education a community, experience. Kids get shoved in a box and have information thrown at them, we need to take theam outside and have the world shown to theam! Let the bigger population be involved, create states in the park, recite, poetry, and literature on the street. Show everyone around you how much fun learning can be!
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    Sep 13 2011: Very simple, love is the solution to all problems.



    Ha ha, I come from China, here I want to make friends with you!
    • Sep 13 2011: I've had foreign students in my home from Afghanistan, Colombia, Brazil, Japan, India but never China. Welcome!
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        Sep 13 2011: hi~~~~~~~~~i'm Korean :)
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        Sep 13 2011: What do you use chat tools?
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    Sep 13 2011: Has anyone mentioned TED-ED? I don't see a link anywhere, so here it is! http://education.ted.com/
    And here's a link to (I think) the only conversation about TED-ED http://www.ted.com/conversations/4676/education_ted_com_ted_ed_ho.html
  • Sep 13 2011: I think it's impossible to reform education without reforming the way we view education. Our inability to resist "ranking" or "grading" ourselves against other students and tests hinders greatly our ability to truly and freely learn. Consistently comparing people to people denies the fact the we all learn incredibly different and view each lesson taught in the classroom in a completely different way. Until we each view ourselves as individual learners unable to be compared to others we cannot reform our education system, which is solely based on your ability to learn the way the teacher would prefer you to learn.
    • Sep 13 2011: Do you believe in the value of competition? This does not require measuring worth against another individual but there must be a standard of excellence to drive us to go beyond what is mediocre. The day we began giving everyone a trophy for simply suiting up is the day we started to devalue the fruit of hard work and determination. As a parent I try to instill a sense of competative spirit in my children, one that holds firm to honor, fairness, and teamwork. I also prepare them to risk failure and accept it as a natural event. This encourages them to reflect on where they can improve, develop a plan to overcome their shortcomings if possible, and try again.
      • Sep 13 2011: I agree with you and I'm an ex-college athlete and extremely competitive myself. I think it is necessary to compete and it does allow us to push each other to their best potential so to speak but I don't think a letter grade system is the best way to get the youth to compete. I think what I really meant by my first comment is that instead of competing against all students we should be competing against those with the same interests, fields of knowledge, and "career paths" if you want to call it that. I think, just as medicine is becoming extremely specific to the patient and circumstances, education should be specific and designed to single student cases. Rather than having students lumped into bell curves and letter grades we should get to know students individually and what moves them to compete with themselves and strive for excellence without putting them against others that learn differently or want to learn different things.
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    Sep 12 2011: When we talk about education we must understand this topic from the socio-economic perspective. Most of the time we just like to blame the 'system' and crib about lack of creativity, etc. But, from an administrative perspective, education system is the source of the labour force that runs the economy. When we decide on an educational policy we have to consider the direction of our socio-economic progress.

    Now, I know most of the readers visualize education and schooling as crayons and pigtails and when I spoil the picture with words like labour force and economy, they are bound to be taken aback. But, if you take a look at the origin and historical progress of universities, you will observe that they have been driven by socio-economic requirements. Take for example Land grant colleges (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morrill_Land-Grant_Colleges_Act) which resulted in universities like Ohio State & Texas A&M. Other examples are the ancient universities Takshashila and Nalanda in India. These universities were created because there was a huge demand for educated farmers, engineers, economists and administrators at those respective times. These universities have fed the economies and whether you accept it or not they have shaped the world as it is today and it is a world that is better than what it would be without these universities. So, as much as we love to complain about the educational systems, our economies are dependant on it.

    So think about it. You want to change the educational systems around the world fine, do it, but do you understand the social and economic impact of the changes that you make? What happens to the economy if we are short of accountants, engineers and other such essential human resources? Our societies are modelled around these skills and we need an assured supply of a labour force with these skills, and today's universities do exactly that.

    Yes, the education system always needs to evolve with time, but I do not think we need a revolution.
    • Sep 13 2011: According to Ken Robinson, the education system at the moment (I cannot of course speak for every country in the world) was modeled on a system that worked during the industrial revolution. That is why we are having problems now, as the world works differently now. The system is (basically) the same. It hasn't evolved with time, hence the need (or the seeming need) for a revolution. This would need a lot of people to go against their grain of thinking and take this (educated) risk. A tough call for conservatives I would think, but possible?
  • Sep 10 2011: We need to change the form of education to the application of knowledge instead of just requring rehearsal of knowledge. This will require investment both in teachers, school administrations, and school facilities themselves. Unfortunately education is not really a priority for the elite of most countries; they would rather see a subservient undereducated working class proliferate than a well-educated population capable of understanding their circumstances and what lead to them. These circumstances being a low probability of seeing significant growth in personal wealth (to view it from an entirely economic standpoint). The elite would have to forfeit wealth if more people were educated and realized activism was necessary to change their current situation, the processes of the current economic and government systems being inefficient, insufficient affectors of change. If only people were not indoctrinated and distracted by the misleading promises of the political circus that serves only to distract people while critical, controversial decisions are being made on a level that excludes the majority opinion of the public and considers matters from an almost entirely economic standpoint (still leading to somewhat subjective opinions on what actions will lead to the highest economic growth, and even worse these subjective opinions are made by a small subset of the population who are being manipulated and influenced by corporate interests...and this corporate influence is much greater than the influence the general population has over major decisions...we have the choice between a few selfish, shitbag political candidates who have already sold out to even have the opportunity to be a political candidate, and then they make ridiculous, unrealistic promises that never come to fruition). To cut this story short and make my point, in a capitalist system activism is necessary to bring about change (such as education) that is beneficial but not clearly linked to economic growth
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    Sep 7 2011: In my opinion, education needs to emphasise on creativity a lot more.
    I am not talking about paiting pictures and let the kids to whatever they want to but about a more diverse way of solving problems and to apply them to every subject.
    When you look at a question creatively you also can argue on a totally different level and therefore broaden your horizon.
    on the other hand, always, always support a child with its passion otherwise it will not develop or maintain its creative skills.
    In order to achieve these aims, you will need to change syllabi and open up questions in exams so they will not ask for a specific answer ( and put some kind of evaluation into maths questions)
    Since I am still going to school, I am not pleading for harder exams but for more acceptance of different kinds of intelligence and talents.
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      Sep 8 2011: Tara, couldn't agree more! Times have changed, and to ignore that fact is simply ignorant. Creativity is king today and kids that aren't free to explore their innate abilities (which typically come off as misbehaving) are simply having their true potential thwarted. I've been working with primary sources from the Library of Congress for a number of years (http://www.loc.gov/teachers/tps/) and the potential for creativity and inquiry is amazing. Children these days are remarkable, just not in the way we may have defined remarkable in the past.
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      Sep 10 2011: And Creativity without proper spiritual foundation may be disastrous. The present generation is not lagging in the creativity, I believe. Creativity is good and required. Today World is so much diversifies and have both goods and bads, and they are being penetrated into everyones' lives without knowing. So without comprehension, education may end up useless.
  • Sep 6 2011: This is a great article:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/living/teachers-want-to-tell-parents/index.html

    the take away from it?

    The relationship between parents and teachers needs to improve, if we are to educate kids and make them better people. Parents need to trust educators as professionals, heed our advice and our insights.

    The general media and politicians would do well by our educational system if they would stop demonizing teachers. More than the majority are good with great intentions. Yet we drive away the really ideal teachers. We can't make the system better if we're always scaring away the best and brightest to teach in other countries where educators are respected and well paid. (Imagine that!)
  • Sep 6 2011: Reformation Not Enough...Revolution is required. Start from the fundamentals

    The whole system is cuurently wrong. So, there should be no debate on reforming it; it is time for a revolution. A real educational system should take care of the whole individual; the current system takes care only of the mind. The whole individual actually means the body, mind, heart and soul. Unless education takes care of all four in a balanced way, it cannot create a whole individual.
  • Sep 5 2011: Education should be based on what we know about how people learn. Our brains have evolved over time to help us survive and thrive. We naturally notice and wonder about what gets our attention. The educational environment needs to provide opportunities for the learner to notice, wonder, postulate, and search for information to satisfy this natural way of learning. The "basics" are not discrete skills and information. The basics are thinking and creative problem solving. The natural inquiry process needs only a prepared or natural environment to be stimulated. When the learner is thus motivated to follow his/her inquiry path, he/she is then open to learning the processing skills for researching the information needed. Reading then has a purpose, mathamatics is then needed, tools of inquiry such as libraries, technology, interview, etc. are needed - by the learner. The challenge to the professional educator or parent is to provide the environmental opportunities to stimulate this natural inquiry approach to learning and then provide the discrete skills and knowledge needed. It can and has been done by those who intuitively understand this or those who have studied learning and worked with children by observing how they naturally learn.

    How do we change a long establshed bueracracy to do this? Find the "thoroughbreds" in education and suppport them for leadership positions. Universities are not producing this type of leadership by the fragmented programs they provide. Curriculum needs to be redesigned based on this understanding that the learner constructs his/her own knowledge through his/her own inquiry.
    • Sep 8 2011: Jan,
      Have you read Howard Gardner's book on the 7 intelligences? This is the generally accepted understanding of how and why people learn differently. Education for educators typically includes psychology and application of the practice to create different methods of teaching the same information in a variety of methods. Good teachers already make daily practice of incorporating the different learning styles into each lesson.