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 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:
    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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