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 6 2011: I'm actually extremely interested in this question, because I've been asking myself the very same for some time now.

    The responses here are only pie-in-the-sky, half-answers. I'm reading you think:

    "Survival of the Fittest - who cares if they don't make it?" but unfortunately, it isn't a matter of life and death anymore. Adaptation comes in multiple directions. Not only will they continue to survive, but those who don't make it in school simply become a burden on the rest of society, with increased costs in healthcare, increased assistance and increased violence and crime. So not caring, doesn't solve the problem...

    "Whole individual; mind, body and soul" and "Spiritual Development" (allow me to lump those two)
    This would be wonderful to nurture and develop students entirely. But how do we gain the consent of the parents? Ultimately, they hold schools by the metaphorical balls. They throw tantrums, threaten and complain about everything that inconveniences them, or that they don't like. Too frequently are parents and teachers on opposite sides of the table.
    Furthermore, how do we gain consent of the town? All too often, townspeople feel this is just one more bill, and don't see it as an investment, ultimately voting NO on any funding or changes.

    "from scratch, organically"
    How do you propose such a wild idea?

    "doing away with grades"
    How do we maintain healthy competition? How do we show that students are learning? How do we allow a student who works harder than the next one to stand out from the crowd? If we do away with any metric, we have no way to measure. If you can't prove to a student that the greater effort they put in as compared to their lazy peer (perceived or real) is giving them greater results, then they will dissolve those efforts. We need metrics, regardless what system is used.

    to be continued...
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      Sep 8 2011: Andrea,
      I totally agree, but the "to be continued..." is fairly important. I'm not insinuating the comment to be hypocritical, but what's a feasible plan knowing that it can't be utopia out of the gates? Perhaps there's an idea for planting a single slice of pie, perhaps just a few feet off the ground...
      • Sep 8 2011: I did continue it. The following post started with (continued). At the top of the threads list, is a system of organization: by "recently updated" or by "original thread sequence". Pick the latter and my continued post will show up.

        However, if the answer you are looking for his how to implement a 'reform':
        then my response would be related to the comment where I address the top-down issue of politics + media sensationalism interfering with education and having an effect on the listening and actions of families and students.

        My answer to this is not a popular one, but it's very simple.

        Educators everywhere who are serious about their work and are serious about making changes need to make their voices heard. They need to make their faces seen.
        Politicians pick on education because the field is so wide spread and simultaneously spread thin that the field is an easy target for their soapboxes and the vote of educators is so few that it matters little what we say or do.

        We've already been demonized to the point that anything we say or do, the general public trends in the opposite direction. We say we need smaller classrooms, they cut staff. We say we need more resources, they cut the budget.

        What do we do about it? Seriously?
        March on Washington.

        I wish I was kidding.

        We need to show our numbers. We need to show our ability to organize and demonstrate just how much we really care about the future of our country through the education of it's generations. There have been too many union strikes over disagreements, too much history with bad experiences. If we want to show that todays educators need to be taken seriously, we need to prove to Congress and our political parties that they need to stop interfering. They need to support us, not undermine us. I feel that this is our only remaining course of action.

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