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:
    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?

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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.
  • 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.


    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.
        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!
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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:


    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.
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    Sep 5 2011: In my guild, creativity is the head teacher. We don't simply equalize the RRRs and the arts. We ground the RRRs in the arts. There is much to glean from the creative process, vast academic skills that transfer to all subject areas. Each day, 40 to 50 students K through 12th grade eagerly participate in activities that require them to problem solve, to formulate, to actually participate in becoming educated in ways that are meaningful, in ways that have purpose. The outcome is rich, transcending traditional outcome goals. I have young writers being published, young painters collaborating with storytellers, mathematicians who investigate, musicians who compose for film, scientists who observe and hypothesize, on and on. I am privileged to mentor students to not only listen for and respond to their creative impulse, but also to care about the work of bringing shape to their ideas across a broad scope of subject areas.

    How do we reform education?

    Embark on the journey of mentoring individuals.

    I have documented my larger response in Habits of Being: Artifacts from the Classroom Guild.
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      Sep 8 2011: Kimberly, Your personal situation certainly seems to be strides ahead of what I would consider the national mean. So first, consider yourself (and more importantly, kids) fortunate. So the question then shifts...How do we create a nationwide education system that models the top echelon?
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        Sep 8 2011: Sir Ken suggests, “Revolution.”

        Thing is, any change involves a bit of risk and risk pricks fear and fear says, “No, no you can’t.”

        For the past 15 years I have been individualizing education corporately. I’ve developed a prototype model that works. My school is at once a school and not a school. Once, someone asked me, “Wow, your kids are being published? Great stuff Kimberly, but are your students able to score high SAT?”

        “Of course, but is that really what it means to educate?”

        I am not out to abolish national standards, but to enable my students to transcend them. I wrote a book outlining a philosophical shift that will facilitate reform. I have witnessed success with my own two eyes in varying degrees, in all sectors of education. But philosophical shifts often times need revolution to gain momentum.

        So I participate in revolution... a snail's pace bit by bit: I’m founding partner of a small educational press whose purpose is to empower students to “have an idea” and to do the work of developing that idea. Inside my guild, I ground all subjects on this premise, but reaching out to the wider field of education, the vision is targeted on language arts—books as mentors. Embedded in our curriculum is the scaffolding that allows the student reader and writer to discover their creative impulse and to do the work of shaping ideas. I have provided in-service workshops to enable teachers to best utilize this approach in public, private, and homeschool sectors. I contribute thoughts to blogs and educational publications.

        So can this method work on a national level? Yes, yes it can. But it won’t look or act the same and the good news… it will cost a lot less.

        No child left behind, even if it has to be one child at a time.
  • Sep 4 2011: Take a look at the Khan Academy:
    The founder Salman Khan also held a talk on TED:

    It's far from perfect, sure. But it's better than any unique idea that I can think of, capable of changing education.

    It's a pioneer project, paving the way for others to follow. :-)
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    Sep 4 2011: To reform education, in my opinion is straightforward, maybe not easy.

    Have knowledgeable teachers, excited and motivated share their knowledge on a subject with people who find that teacher and subject interesting and involving.

    Have the teacher spend one to one time with each interested student discussing the subject matter and answering each other's questions and providing guidance.

    Have the teacher only teach infrequently and spend the rest of their time researching and working in their field of interest.

    So there it is, classes on subjects of interest (not courses), infrequently from each teacher, but focussed and dedicated (and most of all excited). Not year long subjects or 5 year courses on a particular thing, but a time at University or school where each class will have a knowledgeable and highly motivated teacher who years for feedback and debate from students who feel and understand (empathise) with the teachers excitement and knowledge.

    No prescribed lessons, no curriculum's just pure knowledge transfer and growth.
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      Sep 7 2011: I definitely agree to that! But it seems too revolutionary with me, a bit structureless and i know that kids thrive in structure. But as I say - anything and everything should be done in order to get the students motivated.
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      Aug 31 2011: Interesting...the word revolution stirred around in my mind too, but I chose to leave it out (that is probably half the problem right there.) I agree, it is up to us. On Twitter it seems the talking whirlwinds keep going round and round and round (on this topic), it is so irritating to see the downward spiral of our children's future and not know where to begin to fix it. I know more and more parents pulling their children out of school to home school. Seems things may be reverting back to the "old way" of teaching...sometimes I wonder if that is just the way all things will go...back to the proven and tried ways after the "new and improved" ways have yet failed again. And what do you think about this online education era (in relation to grade school instruction)?
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        Aug 31 2011: I agree...the whirlwind effect we see, especially through social media, can get nauseating. I would honestly be afraid to see a revert effect take place. The skills of collaboration and the rapid evolution of world interconnectedness would put a home schooled student at a grave disadvantage IMO.

        This online education era is HERE, and I think that's the only understanding to come to. Technology is, and will continue to push towards the singularity with education as one of the many sectors tightly bound in its grasp. The ride has already started and kids are in the front seat.. We have to develop the safest and most innovative means of keeping the car on the tracks!
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          Aug 31 2011: Wow! So true, so true! Wow, I just noticed something about my mind...I have been so disappointed and discouraged about our education system that I had a mind-set of RETREAT versus FIGHT. Yeah, I totally agree with you about online education. Wow, I have never really thought about the evolution of online education (or imagined where it could actually go). Hmmm. I guess I better start walking down that track...
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          Aug 31 2011: I agree with you. I am an educator too. I have written on this subject about computers and social media. It is here as educators we need to have a voice in social media.

          (1) http://www.sharonzspace.com/?p=565

          (2) http://www.sharonzspace.com/?p=480

          (3) We conducted an interview with teachers on Twitter about the digital age:

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    Aug 30 2011: Hello Taylor! The educational system of a society is a direct reflection of the society's moral, spiritual, and physical condition. Until the people leading this country understand that, I believe it will be a while before true educational reform will come again to America. And think about this, how important are we (the students coming up through the current educational system) on the global scene? Obviously, not too important if our education isn't.
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      Aug 31 2011: I suppose a reformation would have to, at least to a certain degree, come with top-down support, so perhaps I meant revolution. If we can agree that change needs to take place, and I'm fairly confident that's not up for debate, then I don't think it's a time for waiting on politicians. What is it that can happen, even if on a grassroots level, to give our grandchildren a fair chance at being prepared for the world they will face; which is admiditedly one I cannot forsee?
      I agree that leaders can provide shortcuts in solving big issues, but I also know that the world is changing at a pace that our dated leaders are having trouble keeping up with.
  • Aug 30 2011: I'm a high school student, and to me, the problem of the education system doesn't lie so much in the system itself as it does in how the system is being carried out. At my Canadian public school, there is no spirit, there is no class participation, there is basically no effort. I think that an easier solution than revamping the entire current system is to keep the one we have but get students more involved and responsible for their own learning, because no matter how you change the system, it won't be perfect. That being said, each individual can chase their own learning in a way that suits their particular needs if they feel inclined to do so. So, back to my original point, I don't think the system needs to be changed, but I feel that the system could be carried out in a better way. Some examples:
    1. Building a sense of "school community" by weekly assemblies where the only agenda is to keep kids updated on how the school is doing and how its students are doing.
    2. Having excellent role models be the leaders at schools - If kids have someone to look up to and someone who they don't want to disappoint, it will make them think more about trying to please the person at the front.
    3. PRAISE when it's good, PUNISHMENT when it's bad - There are too many empty threats that go around. If the school's rule is "Three lates = detention" then three lates should equal a detention, regardless of the teacher or the student. Being a good student, I could probably strategically place 5 late walk ins in the strictest teachers class and walk away with nothing, and that looks unfair to my fellow students. That being said, in some teachers' classes the worst kids can come in halfway through class every day and get no punishment. Teachers need to present a united front in their discipline so that kids gain respect for their school. Not only that, but if kids are doing something well, special time should be taken to praise them.
    Those are my suggestions.
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      Aug 31 2011: Great to hear your perspective given your current entrenchment in this very topic. Thanks for the thoughts, and I would imagine your participation in a forum such as this already puts you well ahead of the game :)
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    Sep 29 2011: If you make the education for teachers better and more flexible toward the ever changing technological circumstances and advancement this will help a great deal I guess.
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    Sep 29 2011: Conclusions anyone, before this debate expires?
    Bulleted list, 3 main points.
    Ready, set, go!
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      Sep 29 2011: 1. Teacher training.
      2. Student high intrinsic motivation.
      3. Updating technological facilities in the classroom (interactive whiteboard, comps, etc.).
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    Sep 29 2011: We can reform education only by creating a positive environment in the society,Parents should spend good amount of time with children and try to inculcate good habits
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    Sep 29 2011: Our present model of education is a one way system, top down. There is no meaningful feed back loop that identifies incompetence from the perspective of the students to their teachers or the teachers to their administrators. This disconnect drives and exasperates our ineffective and largely failing educational systems.

    me thinks....
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    Sep 28 2011: Thanks a lot for the comment Frans , as you said we do have a internet based system that can be used , but we can get much better than this by the use of internet and creativity and many other things together
  • Sep 28 2011: ok let me start by saying that i have it pretty good, i go to a private school that is much more creative and freedom allowing than most all iv seen yet it is far from perfect...
    So What Is??
    should we just play? well not exactly though for a start that is great (till around1st 2nd grade) the ability to enjoy the moment and really play is being suppressed... but after 1st grade just playing isnt enough to prepare for the modern world...
    should we have start reading, writing, math and so on earlier? no, Hell NO! how dare you rob a child of such freedom and creativity only seen in a young child? the end result would be the extreme opposite of the goal of smart creative respectable people

    what about mixing them? well with the right proportions it would be a start, but that is not where the major problem in our educational system lies well i feel that it lies in the fact that school has become "work", learning should never be work... how many times has someone told me something along the lines "it dosnt mater what i do when i grow up as long as i believe and love it; then you will never have to 'work' "

    So why do we start our lives with long boring hours with someone telling us do this, memorize that, or else... then go home to more hours of grueling homework? But you have to learn how to do something you dont like, nothing in the real world is pure fun. No its not pure fun there are many times when you have to do something you dont like but when you are doing something that you over all like or that you believe strongly in the cause you will endure that for the end result... my photography for example i have spent hours inside on beautiful suny days. do i like that? no. but i did it because i love the end result of a beautiful picture.
    personaly i go to school to learn not to get a good job i couldnt give a shit less at the moment... if i learn what i love then hopefully i will get a job that i love where i can use what iv learned.
    hope this made sense.
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    Sep 28 2011: Start with learning this man's work, understanding it, then implementing real change, not just adjustments.
    I suggest your watch all three of his talks available and then read his books.
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    Sep 28 2011: As everything else in life from our inner source. We have to change, think new ideas, give them the food of words and create a new reality. The World and our School is to our Image.
  • Sep 28 2011: I really like the approach highlighted here at TED used within the Khan Academy (an on line supplement to teaching... utilized in California I believe, with great results. Bill Gates endorsed it heartiliy. Give the teachers a break and more leeway. Most of them realltycare about the kids and their futures- definitely more so than politicians do.
  • Sep 28 2011: Invest more money in education... politicans still don't get it that children are the future.. and the future should be better educated than the average mass today.

    Teachers also need to learn social skills.
    And please cultivate subjects like art, music and social science the same way you cultivate languages and natural sciences.
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    Sep 28 2011: Depending on where one finds him/her-self the education curricula differs but the basic thing education should do is to save its student from the illness of ignorance, improve and refine their creativity set and eventually make life beautiful for them.everybody is got something to bring to the table so education should help find and refine those ideas and creativity sets,help to brand/package it well for the right market.That what education should do and i believe some schools are trying to do it or are already doing.
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    Sep 28 2011: Hi Taylor Kendal
    We still don't know what we want, do we? Still, yours was an excellent question. I hoped the debate would be about whether or not we scap the whole system and start over. I still like my September 4th and September 13th entries.

    Thank you for posing this question and wrangling some thoughts on the subject.

    Mark Hurych
  • Sep 27 2011: No doubt about...education will need to center around student engagement and making learning meaningful to each student. And you cannot hope to engage the student without taking into account their interests and methods of learning. In this day and age, technology is a given. Technology is interwoven in all components of young people lives, and ours as well. Utilizing those resources to engage learners and deliver content is the key to creating 21st century learners.
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      Sep 28 2011: ha, ha (sarc)
      Yes, we get the memos from administration, "make it about the children, they have to be engaged 100% of the time, make it relevant, use technology, test and document, we want to see results, teacher accountability,..." The orders were given, Some of the problems have been identified, but instead of addressing them courageously, they are expecting the same teachers that are the product of that passive system to, all of a sudden, turn 180º and be effective,engaging, inquiring guides.
      Those teachers need to unlearn old patterns and be trained in new ones. And those leaders know that they need to step down and make room for a different, more organic structure altogether...
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    Sep 27 2011: The problem with self directed education is that students don't know what they don't know. I disagree that most students know what their career paths will be. Based on what experience? If I self-directed my DIET at that age, I my entree would have been candy.
  • Sep 27 2011: Hi Scott,
    I understand language is fluid. The phrase "both of youses' " (opinions, viewpoints etc) is common here as are the gems in the endearing "I ain't gonna learn no grammer". Who will have upperhand in an interview, social setting or intellectual debate: the individual who uses double negatives & colloquialisms or the one with a simple command of the language? My daughter is receiving an education that requires immediate intervention and remediation. My child's options in life are being limited by the inculcation of improper grammer at the hand's of her "teachers".
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    Sep 27 2011: There is a great talk about this , I think the most important thing that we right now is the creativity and how to teach by being artistic and creative techniques .

    If there a reform or a revolution creativity should be on top, and how come we expect to have creative kids when we don't teach them in a creative way ?

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      Sep 28 2011: Hi, Amir. I heard that on my conversation...
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        Sep 28 2011: Hi Karina , you are right , I was so sad and so down I wanted to share it with everyone .

        So I edited this one and there is no repetition anymore , thanks for pointing it out :)
  • Sep 26 2011: I think what distinguishes what I wrote from current practice is that current practice focuses on assessing students, but what I am advocating would involve assessing teachers more and students less. Teachers, once assessed, would then become free to do what they want/need to do. Assessment of anything or anybody can certainly be overdone. We will agree on that.
  • Sep 26 2011: I'm devasted -now that my child is enrolled in kindergarten her lead teacher and some of the staff say the following:
    "Me and her are going to..." "That don't match..." "Where are that scissors at?" "Those ones...", "You're doing good..." and , a charm "She just loves them children".
    Really? I am teaching her that sadly, her teachers are not very welll educated and that we speak A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE in our family. What mixed signals. We can't afford private school at the moment and homeschooling is a legal option in my state. My daughter loves being in a classroom and I am working. This situation is NOT working. Any thoughts?
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      Sep 26 2011: Hi Daryl,

      language is a tool and it is dynamic. If it is not dynamic then it is a dead language and belongs in a museum.

      It has always been this way. As long as your daughter is able to change her language to suit the context or occasion, then she will be fine.

      You may find that, rather than not being 'very well educated' the teachers just don't cling to staid, formal language in their daily interactions. That would be the province of dictionaries and bureaucrats.
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    Sep 26 2011: @Ben. I don't like your reply. The 'disneyland" thing is too snarky. The end to the sentence contains two double nagatives and lacks clarity. If you mean that educations can't be entertaining/intersting, I strongly disagree. An algebra teacher told me that his subject cannot be made interesting. Maybe he couldn't but I wonder if some onoe else can. And by the way, I think story telling is the most engaging trait of any teacher. The ability to make material come to life is the ability of an actor. Teachers don't need a master's degree, they need a degree in story-telling.
  • Sep 26 2011: I just started working in adult education in May. I was shocked when giving reading and math assessments to people who were getting their GED...that so many were operating on ~4th grade level. I asked around at conferences and trainings over the summer, and found that this is not an unusual phenomenon, one woman said she assessed a young man who was at 1st grade level reading and math.
    I was stunned, then I started doing some research on how other countries do it (namely kick our butts on standardized tests) and was pleasantly surprised to find that Finland (who is #1) has a similar year to ours 190 days, but a big difference is they start their kids at age 7 and test as little as possible. Their children are healthier due to socialized medicine, and they are more mature when they start, they also have a socialized daycare system among other differences. Why dont we take a look at what successful countries are doing to educate their children?
  • Sep 26 2011: While I understand this topic is idyllic in nature we should also make an effort to be realistic in terms of cost and political ability. While tailored education would be great it just in feasible when cost if factored in. There is so much potential for teachers to talk about things they are interested in. Personally, there was nothing I found more inspiring than a teacher who was truly fascinated with the subject they were teaching. Another thing that got me truly interested in school was debate; the ability for students not just teachers to share their knowledge and ideas with the class.

    We need to create a system that covers essentials but does not stifle innovation and inspiration. I know this is mentioned in every political debate about education but it needs to be easier to get rid of teacher who are not performing. Allowing terrible teachers to continue to teach on taxpayer dollars is not good for anyone.
  • Sep 26 2011: Make it MUCH harder to become a public school teacher. That will improve teacher quality, create a shortage, and run up salaries -- good things all.

    No, I don't mean more silly course work in pedagogy and child development. You can get rid of all of that. Require undergraduate degrees in things like math, English, languages, sciences, history, etc. By the way, any discipline that has the word "science" in its name is not one. Any discipline having the word "studies" in its name is more about indoctrination than education.
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      Sep 26 2011: Hi Tom,

      I'm not sure about your idea above. By the same token, could we improve the medical profession by reducing the number of silly courses on medical ethics and techniques and just tighten up on who gets accepted into medical school?

      You're looking in the wrong place, barking up the wrong tree. It isn't the teachers that are the problem. It is the restricted and assessment-heavy environment that they work in.

      When standardised assessment is given a lot of weight (as it has in the past) then that is what drives everything else. At school, we are supposed to be teaching kids, not endlessly measuring them.

      As a colleague of mine likes to say "You can't fatten a pig by weighing it".

      Everyone is afraid of ditching current assessment practice, largely because they will have to THINK.
  • Sep 25 2011: Education, at least in Australia, has moved away from actually teaching useful things, like grammar and spelling, and has moved into teaching things like the "Habits of the Mind" etc.. They're great and all, but if you get a generation of children that can't read fluently, write coherently or solve simple maths problems, it's time to go back to the basics.
    • Sep 25 2011: I actually don't mind this change at all. One learns of the "pyramid of teaching", where thinking skills are separated into "higher order" and "lower order". Analyse, apply, evaluate are higher order and simple memorisation is lower order. Teaching things such as "Habits of the Mind" as you put it, is simply encouraging these higher order thinking skills so students can develop the creativity, initiative and leadership required for excellence in the wider world outside of school.

      Having said that, grammar and spelling are, as you rightfully pointed out important. However students are still learning this. These facets of learning have certainly not been wiped away, but are still there. There is simply less focus on them because they do not have the same impact as the higher order skills.

      In addition, Australia in fact has excellent educational standards, mathematically exceeding that of their respective cohorts in the United States and Britain. Students that do excel above Australian standards, such as those in China, often have less actual impact in the outside world, simply because they possess all the basics of the lower order thinking skills, the foundation is rock solid, but they lack the higher order thinking skills requiring them to truly aspire for excellence in the outside world.
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      Sep 26 2011: Hey Tobias,

      very old school of you. The amount of teacher and student time I've seen wasted in the "teaching" of spelling is ridiculous.

      In the past, facility with language spoke as loudly as your accent and the clothes you could afford. In other words, it was a "class" thing, if you like.

      Nowadays, it's just about communication and if you can do that then the rest doesn't matter.
  • Sep 25 2011: The notion that there is some "formula" for education is misguided. There is, stirctly speaking, no set standard by which the quality of an education can be judged. For example, if someone is a high-end surgeon, one may be inclined to assume that said person has had a quality education, but have they really? This can only be answered by such questions as what does the individual know about life? What other kills do they possess?

    Ergo, it is difficult to reform education in a universally beneficial manner simply because the quality of education is such a subjective manner? Is it based simply on marks in a final exam, or the success of that person in their future career or perhaps how they are perceived as young leaders in the world?

    An educational system that provides to the utmost for all these seems rather utopic and far-fetched, so any large-scale educational reform will inevitably cause a compromise between any of these conditions.
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      Sep 26 2011: Unless we don't talk of the "system" all together and instead allow the community to be involved in all aspects of the process, let children be children, and encourage age appropriate discovery and learning. We would all be surprised at how much they can achieve whengiven ownership of the learning journey.
  • Sep 25 2011: Western educational system is far more better than China's. As least, western teaching methods are versatile. Students are allowed to express their ideas freely whatever in class or to the teacher, whereas in China, students are compelled to follow the default answers, any douts, or questions or concerns are not allowed to speak up. Sympathetic. It is the Chinese education system that must be changed.
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    Sep 24 2011: "If you don't know where you're going, all roads lead there."

    Sometimes wandering around in the woods off the trails and roads is educational. It's quite useless as far as earning a living -- but quite educational. Until one has decided on a purpose, it's ridiculous trying to decide what skills or knowledge are required to achieve that purpose. As for parents picking the goal, history is littered with famous figures who refused their parents' wise guidance which including lives of quiet desperation as accountants, bankers, lawyers or physicians. And on the other hand you have Mozart....

    Which brings us back to: ""If you don't know where you're going, all roads lead there." Few seem to know where we are going -- and I count myself among the mystified. So I backpack and advise worried 20-somethings (upset that they're unemployed...) to relax, make lots of mistakes, soak up the sun, make memories and so on. If I could, I'd suggest they read Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time Of Gifts". But it's hard to educate the young .
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    Sep 23 2011: Education cannot be reformed it can only evolve to reflection the changing needs of end users and the evolution of professions.
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    Sep 21 2011: I am not and educator or a politician or anything like that. I am simply a parent who has been educated in the united states and mom who has a child being educated here as well. And what I am about to say is probably gonna piss a lot of people off. But here goes anyway.

    First and foremost in my opinion is that education must go back to actually being about EDUCATION of the children. Not about budgets or teachers pay. Not about school boards or who is principle. Our children are being treated like commodities. There has to be so many children in school for so many days and so many hours in order for the various school districts to get said amount of money. Teachers go out on strike because they feel like they are not earning enough money. EXCUSE ME?!?!?

    Since when has education been about money? And why has it turned to that instead about actually educating? I think classroom sizes need to be smaller and there should be more teachers in the schools. Not larger class sizes and less teachers. And by the way when we are hiring teachers can we make sure they are smart enough to be teachers. Example of why I say this, my son brought home math homework several different times and after he returned the home work to school and it was corrected by the teacher and sent back home I began to notice that there were problems being marked wrong that were not wrong. So finally I got fed up had a meeting with his teacher. Her response to this problem was well math is not my best subject" WHAT?!?!? Then just maybe you should get yourself some more education before you attempt to educate other.

    These are just some of the areas that really truely need to be addressed in "reforming" education. We need to go back to a time when education was about education. Children should not be forwarded to the next grade until they have a complete grasp on their current curriculum, people should not be graduating from high school who cannot read. EDUCATION PEOPLE.
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      Sep 24 2011: Of course - not graduation without reading. But please accept also: No welltrained teacher without fair payment. Teachers must not be altruistic; education is not altruism.

      In fact in Germany one of the education problems is that a talented person thinking of a success carrier will not choose to work in a school. If we want teachers to motivate and to teach children we must provide for them the same happiness and chances of a future we want them to provide to our children.
  • Sep 20 2011: Reforming education--this should be transforming education--is a complex process. I propose that our culture focus its efforts on supporting the family so as to support the primary unit by which people survive and relate. I define family quite loosely--man, woman and kids, single parent families, gay couples with kids, multi-generational families, etc.

    My idea would have all of the institutions focus on the needs of families, so they have the support they need to provide for their children. Here are some examples of how this would work:
    Schools would adjust their schedules so kids would be in school longer (during the day and year)
    Businesses would adjust their schedules and pay structures so that parents can support their children and spend time with them.
    Churches of all denominations would focus on providing support to local families.
    Health care facilities would provide services at a rate that families could afford.
    Political leaders would think about how all legislation support families.
    All adults would behave in ways that they would like to see their children behave--supportive, honest, caring, kind, considerate and so on.

    Educational transformation, to be effective, needs to be comprehensive and inclusive--which may make it impossible. But it is worth the effort!
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    Sep 19 2011: This is a Task Based Education Program that I thought of while in Corporate Education. It led to being able to receive a Job Specific Bachealors Degree that once you finished the Program you did not need to be Trained for the Job. Once you Graduated from the Program you could complete all the Tasks needed to perform the Job. I want to Re-create & give away for free.

  • Sep 19 2011: Actually I doubt such an equation can be practical ,cause someone's education depend not only his physical background & also his mental condition which is highly variable and often cannot measure.
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    Sep 18 2011: I think so too but many teachers scoff at that.
  • Sep 18 2011: I think if someone really wants to learn something , he can always go to the library.
    I think most of us have already forgotten the purpose of education , school really should be a place to encourage learning and helps future generation to learn from mistake that we have made , and rather than training "gold diggers" like nowadays.
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    Sep 18 2011: I have an answer; it involves checking out this temporary website, which will (hopefully by next year) be the place that brings everyone in society together to reshape education from the ground up :)
    My project, Change The Future, will be a system for collaboration and action.
  • Sep 17 2011: As they say education is the key to success there a lot of different caliber across the continent. The mathematics philosophical idea will partially work for a define area selected at random not probable everyone therefor, the system will have to wait for a while for any education reforms which will generally be introduce across the world. one thing that i do believe is that Africans need to change their attitude towards education and everything will be alright if we adopt to the practical things that is surrounding us rather we are trying to surround it ourselves.
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    Sep 16 2011: In a capitalistic country I would say more money and resources should be generated into the educational system. I personally think access to education should be a natural right for individuals (along with health care). With constant budget cuts all over the U.S. in terms of the educational system, it comes to show how much value is placed on education. If people are getting laid off from their jobs their next alternative is education but if that is cut off from them, then what are they to do with their lives?

    In order for educational to be truly valuable, it needs to be preserved.

    Also shows like Jersey Shore, Maury, The New Housewives should not be place at such a high value and standard and people like Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears, etc should not be viewed as role models.
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    Sep 16 2011: It is a worry than in most of the places I have taught, there is a set learning curve and a certain number of 'boxes' that a child must 'cross' a priory. The learning targets are set before even meeting the students. I can understand the need for references and standards, especially taking into consideration basic education is free in the UK (we could go into the argument that we actually pay for it with our taxes but I will not take that route at present). But these are entirely disassociated from the actual individual. And if any of these 'individuals; - my child or yours- 'fails' to perform, we have a problem child that will be punished, or told he is wrong. tell a child, or an adult even that he is wrong enought imes, he will stop trying. Death of creativity and improvisation. The school system rarely provides for the difference, and I believe it is in the difference that we will allow children to discover, to be creative, to embrace a future that we don't know what it is. We do not have all the answers, yet we are still teaching at schools like we do. Subjects are kept clearly labelled and unrelated to one another. Why? the should inform each other, old news! Children don't need to be quiet and sit down for hours on end to listen and learn, and repeat..... In fact they can't. Play time should apparently suffice to a 4 years old starting school in order to get rid of the energy he was free to play with last week at all times.....
    So we are trying to model them into a good citizen, which is what exactly, now our models with all our 'isms' have collapsed. We are hammering and pigeon holing children to conform rather than think, create, innovate. Give children a chance to speak and they will surprise you. We don't give young minds the credit they deserve, they are looking at our world with fresh eyes and might be able to come up with solutions to our tired old problems.
  • Sep 15 2011: Thank you Ramona Pierson! And Ken Robinson. Rather than the industrial model, we need to use Ramona's innovations to create an ingenuity and creative model of education. In this way, the technology can do its job and the teachers who are really good at teaching can focus on face to face interaction. The teachers who are good at planning or curriculum can focus their skills on those areas. Likewise the principal who is a good organizer isn't forced to deal with teacher/student problems. There's too much "sit n git" and the children are not engaged. That's why they "don't want to learn." When they are home, or in the classroom surreptitiously playing multiplayer video games or reading complexly structured fantasy books, they are learning a lot!
  • Sep 15 2011: How do we reform education? If you have the time, I would love to tell you all of my ideas, as it is i will simply outline them.

    1) much more flexible learning environment, what times things are scheduled for (maybe classes available from 8am till 6pm and you simply have to take 6 hours in between that)

    2) No more of this fooling around. If you TRULY don't want to be there, then let those kids leave, but allow them to come back when the realize they finally want that education.

    3) More accessible. Online involvement. PDF files of work sheets and packets teachers want kids to do, if they forget theirs, or lose it, they can get a new one right online.
    Also books should be available with online copies
    And teachers should utilize the internet with postings on a calendar of when projects are due and what the assignments were.

    4) more individualized approach. I was a student where if you gave me my text book, work sheet/assignment, extra resources (packets and such) and sent me to the library for the hour rather then sitting i the class room for discussions, I would ace the test no problem, but sit me in a room for an hour with students getting off track, or even just learning too slow for my pace and I drifted off and couldn't focus. (too bad my school refused independent study)

    5) (and last) Get rid of the no child left behind act. I've seen classes destroyed by having to teach to the standardized tests. We learn less when teachers have to make sure we pass a test rather then simply learn so we can know the information.

    (and this was the quick version!)
    • Sep 26 2011: Very well said! I also think that educational reforms must include parental involvement in every aspect of their child's education. A lot of students have no accountability at home.
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    Sep 15 2011: I've been in the classroom and in the education research world, and it's awesome that the tools Ramona describes are finally being built! Many of the nation's biggest school districts are working to individualize learning through technology but have had varying levels of satisfaction with the programs already available.

    Unfortunately for the school districts that don't have funds for purchasing technology have to do other things to try to work with their kids. From what I've seen, the other part of the solution is human- creative teachers and administrators who work to ensure that the environment and material is personalized, exciting and has a real life appliction.
  • Sep 14 2011: So many great ideas. I haven;'t read everything, and I'm not sure if this was talked about at all, but I think that there should be some schools that don't do the whole 9 AM-4 PM hours, and maybe start later on in the day. I have no doubt in my mind that this would be more appealing to a portion of students, and even allow them to focus more on their learning, rather than the half-speed ticking of the dreaded clock on the wall.
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    Sep 14 2011: Create an online platform that will be able to teach someone the very basics to the highest level of education achievable.
    I personally would love to see this.
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    Sep 14 2011: I have a concern about this new finals for our high school kids being performed online and from what I understand this final grade on this exam overriding all their hard work thru the year . So correct me if I am wrong . if they are to fail the online final exam they fail the class ?? I was told that no matter how great the student did in the class he must pass this exam and my main concern is for kids who have trouble with computerized test. I mean this is a perfect example of labeling and putting them in a box ..Tell me it isn't so . Reminds me the movie Antz.. worker - soldier
    I am truly afraid for the future generations if we do not stop with the money and politics and look at the big picture.
    Each child is his own individual and should be treated and thought as such .
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    Sep 14 2011: Khan Academy, and love...
  • Sep 13 2011: Groceries are more important than education in the scheme of things, right? No food, for sure, no education.
    Looking at how well our food delivery system works with competition, full shelves and full bellies, I'd adopt their paradigm of success. No government run schools but model funding for the poor on food stamps. Social services in the state will need to keep an eye out for neglect, but not educating your child is neglect of the worst kind.
    Like ending Ma Bell and princess phones as innovation, a market place of new ideas in education will compete the socks off the system we have now. Am I crazy or just off the reservation?
  • Sep 13 2011: I believe the education system in any society begins within the home before the child reaches the primary grade. This is easier said than done, granted. But anyone who feels that small person was worth being brought into the world should be committed to developing that child to offer them every opportunity within the limits of their learning ability.
    Once a child enters the public education system the need for parental involvement does not go away. Engage the schools, spend time with the student, create a dialogue with the educator.
  • Sep 13 2011: seperate into specalized schools for advanced, adverage, and basic learners.. the learning styles, should teach all the same things but to conform to the students at diffrent speeds. I could be the smartest person in the world if somebody just tought me instead of people just teaching me on a need to know base. I belive that we are all equal and simple minded but each of us learn the lession when we connect, how you see your teacher and how they see you is everything.
    • Sep 13 2011: These separate schools (advanced, average and basic) exist in Germany and have done for quite some time. Unfortunately it doesn't work. The kids in the basic group are "labeled" as useless and have a low self esteem and never think they will amount to anything in their life. (I'm generalising here a little of course) The kids in the advanced group have an enormous amount of pressure put on them (in part to succeed) and they are quite stressed throughout the ending school years. So much so that they sound like people who have a high end job and don't get any sleep or time for socializing. Once you are put into one of these groups, it is very hard to get out of it ie. from average to advanced or basic to average. It also assumes that the best years of ones life to be educated is when they are kids. There are many many so called late developers. Some people have an amazing capacity to learn when they are truly motivated. That might come when you are 20, or even older (what they do in the meantime is another question).

      For a reform in our schooling (which would cost an absolute fortune and also take quite some time, as all the text books and, and, and, and......would need replacing and integrated into the new system - which could not be implemented directly into a child's schooling mid way) I would personally recruit someone like Ken Robinson (the best speaker I have heard on the subject of education). I'm sure he and other like minded people would have a chance in making a real difference. If given the chance.
  • Sep 13 2011: Intersting when we talk of reforming education, that we dismiss what is happening in schools at present as poor practise. Sure, we do not always get it right, but most teachers are passionate about what we do and strive to become better teachers. Many great things are happening in our schools and should be celebrated. Yes we can get better, but this constant need for reform and improvement can create a "the grass is always greener" approach, where we are looking for the next best thing to improve our schools. So pwerhaps instead of talking about reform, perhaps the conversation should begin with..."What is working now?"
  • Sep 12 2011: I've spent the past five years doing my homework, traveling the country and visiting the winnners (organizations that obliterate the odds, that get nearly every child to college, and have reproducable models).

    If you are interested in what we've learned, you can find a presentation, "Fixing Education Made Easy and Affordable", on the subject at www.neweraschools.com .

    There is also a great presentation on the State of California's "True Lies" our second video, "The Real State of Our Schools".
    • Sep 13 2011: I do think we need to do to Public K-12 what we did to Telephony. End their monopoly and see the models like yours that evolve out of the process. Did anyone imagine cell phones when we had bell only providing princess phones for a monthly fee?
      Trouble is, there are too many 'suits' living off the current system and the union dues elect more 'suit' friendly politicians to shuffle more to the 'suits', er.. education.
      Obama gave his top 10 primary donor categories govt $$ for college loans. Good idea? Well, its good for universities who now have unlimited funds from tuition. the sky is the limit. and banks who make these loans are secure as not even bankruptcy frees a student from their indentured servitude to these loans.
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    Sep 8 2011: I think we should be asking children what they wish to learn about and grouping them accordingly. reading and basic math should be requirements and that can be done through their interests. i tend to read about what im interested in as do most people. its forced reading that bores children and adults alike. everyone has their own definition of intelligence and everyone measures everyone else to their own foot. its time we let some of the children of the age of technology begin to educate themselves. i do belive they may do a better job than we will try to do. we cant even feed ourselves properly.
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    Sep 8 2011: Taylor do you think when I say spirituality that I'm talking about a religion? With these courses I'm talking about pure energy spirit. It would be the child that chooses what path he wants. If you notice my last sentence is: "Then 6-12 can be learning the basics. And really digging to see what each student wants to do in the world, finding there talent." Key word (finding their talent.) So yes of course they would pursuit ones innate skills. But I think many folks confuse spirituality with being labeled as a religion. We all need some kind of spiritual training. Just to be aware of it. Then it's up to that students soul to choose what they want. So this is all open minded type of stuff.
    • Sep 8 2011: Okay, I'm interested:
      How do you predict that spirituality (of any sort) would cause improvement in student attendance, interest and ultimately, performance?
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        Sep 8 2011: It's about making school fun. Spirituality is about being able to express yourself, finding your you. Kids love to find out about themselves, and teenagers love to be independent. Spirituality teaches you to not be attached to outcomes therefore making life way more fun to live. But the really important reason is to build a solid foundation so that we don't repeat what our parents and governments have done with this economy. 90% of our parents never really talk about spirituality, so I believe it gets lost. It's the school systems job to create better humans, not create robots to just obey.
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    Sep 8 2011: Maybe is TRANSFORM, not reform.
  • Comment deleted

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      Sep 8 2011: Li,

      There's no doubt given your feedback that you feel strongly in regards to a problem I see in a very similar light. I try to be careful with how negatively I think about the issue, but in the current state, and especially for those on the front line, it's so hard to keep an optimistic spin.
      I've worked for the Library of Congress for a number of years providing professional development that I truly think bridges some of the gaps that exist due to this "weakened system" - http://www.loc.gov/teachers/tps/

      I'm certainly frustrated, but I think there's current initiatives that are working in the right direction.
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    Sep 7 2011: The challenges we face today in our current school system is we don't teach the basics. Like how to deal with a mortgage or credit card bills, or teach how to read a fininacial statement. Now let's take it to a deeper level. Building the spiritual foundation. I would like to have courses that build the spiritual foundation then moves onto the physical real world systems.

    Spiritual Foundation Courses 1-6

    -understanding power

    -peaceful conflict resolution

    -elements of loving relationships

    -personhood and self creation

    -body,mind and spirit: how they function

    -engaging creativity

    -celebrating self, valuing others

    -joyous sexual expression



    -diversities and similarities

    -ethical economics

    -creative consciousness and mind power

    -awareness and wakefulness

    -honesty and responsibility

    -visibility and transparency

    science and spirituality

    Then 6-12 can be learning the basics. And really digging to see what each student wants to do in the world, finding there talent.
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      Sep 8 2011: Denny,
      I agree that the foundation and scaffolding is currently misaligned, but I also believe that we have to be very careful with topics such as spirituality. A child who comes from a family where spirituality is less than emphasized, or perhaps even absent (my own in this case) will have a much different approach to creativity and learning. This isn't to say one is favorable, I just think education should be a pursuit of ones innate skills with as little prescription of the unknown as possible.
  • Sep 7 2011: I believe the answer lies in technology. Why shouldn't every student have their very own teacher or at least teacher's assistant that can help them with the most up to date information on an as needed bases who can go home with them and overtime learn how to best help and interact with them? Augmented reality is the next obvious leap in mobile computing and could easily become our children's virtual teachers and perhaps ours as well. BMW mechanics use them to speed up repairs while maintaining very high standards. The kids will be able to play educational virtual games together while allowing each child's experience to be unique and customizable to their individual needs and preferences. This will in turn cut down on the amount of equipment and supplies needed for various activities. Fewer or no more books would mean a greener footprint as well. There are already several augmented reality goggles and glasses on the market and once they are paired with a powerful computer and high speed internet the only things that are left are a comprehensive database, dynamic software like sixthsense when/if released and the creativity of the wearer. Imagine being bitten by a snake that you don't recognize and being told by these glasses instantly if you need to worry and what to do while calling the hospital if needed with the specifics of the emergency and your exact location, allergies, ect. or better yet they noticed the snake even though you didn't and alerted you to the snakes presence avoiding the bite all together. In japan there is software that can identify unknown plants and tell you where you left your keys or TV remote based on visual input by a mounted camera. This is only the start lets make the future.
  • Sep 6 2011: (continued) "Better teacher education and pay" (paraphrasing)
    This has been echoed by educators themselves, with the addition of "better training" because quite honestly, there is none." Our only training comes from the schools we attend and our practical time spent with a veteran teacher... someone who's been in the battlefield longer than ourselves to give advice on handling situations.
    I'll keep echoing this over and over again... how do we get experienced, grandfathered teachers to spend their hard earned money going back to school? How do we convince communities to offer better salary to their educators?
    It comes down to proving education as an investment, even if the education is not for yourself.

    How many people responding have actually been in your local school, as anything other than a student?
    How many of you have been in the battlefield, so to speak?

    So many students are distracted by peers, social 'dilemmas' ("OMG, HE DID NOT." "She is such a S*UT." "I NO!") They have issues at home, from lack of parental guidance, physical abuse, drug abuse, to poverty.
    All this, in addition to dealing with hormonal changes, physical changes and learning to operate in a cruel new society that they simultaneously perpetuate, love and loathe.

    Teachers don't spend their time discussing history and mathematics with each other in the lunchroom. They discuss what students did, how parents responded and what 'bombs' went off (sometimes literally). They discuss events, arts, and how to reach their kids.

    In classrooms, they spend at least half of the classroom time (so 1/2 of 45 minutes) getting the students to switch directions from whatever they were thinking about (boys, spanish, gym, what she said, etc) to thinking on the subject at hand. This takes time. They address social issues. They act as counselors. They do their best to take each subject and teach it to the different intelligences. They do their best to intersperse the actual topic into the day.
  • 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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    Sep 4 2011: Put it into spirituality and give us spiritual clarity.
    Alot of spiritual leaders have the clarity and understanding our collage professors lack.
    unless its snobbed off as mumbo jumbo; they enjoy elevated consciousness while we wondering what qualification we require to get that.
  • Sep 4 2011: Should Education not be 'modelled' upon the societies that we live in.. In my opinion, in England, there is a complete detachment between the education system and contemporary society. We should be nurturing original thought and persuading children to use there initiative, applying it within a specific context relevant to the society in which they are placed. Pupils need to see purpose and relevance in what they are learning, if they don't they will not see any point in learning. Rather than solely being spoon fed information, children should be supported in pursuing their individual interests. The role of the teacher should be to nurture and support, not to dictate and cause fear.
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    Sep 3 2011: If we develop qualities of teachers, it will enhance by itself
  • Sep 2 2011: An excerpt of and link to the research paper by the same research company that Ramona was interviewed at, during the Innovation in Education Summit, 2010.

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    Sep 2 2011: Think about this analogy:
    In a big play stage called education, there are groups of players

    Player group1: Learners
    Player group2: Teachers
    Player group3: Learning designers
    Player group4: Tool (software) designers
    Player group5: Educational Researchers
    Player group5: : Policy makers

    Since this is a play, every player needs to know the rules.

    What are the game rules for this type of play. I guess that learning science address the game rules.

    So, I can transform the question -- how do we reform education?---, to other questions:

    1. How can we discover the game rules, collectively collaborated by all groups of players
    2. How can we teach,learn, and apply the game rules?
    3. What is the scope and depth of rules that is desirable for each group?

    A professor in education comments that most PHD students in education don't truly understand about learning (games rules). If this statement were true, how can we expect that others truly understand the game rules?

    An educational researcher comments that we need design-based research, but the problem is that in order to conduct this type of research, the researchers need to be good designers and good researchers at the same time. It is difficult to be a good designer, and it is difficult to be a good researcher, not mentioning that one is good at both at the same time.
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    Sep 2 2011: Teach in all different mediums. Teach verbally, visually with a lot of interaction. That's how you bring out everyone's strengths. We all learn differently

    Also, there are subjects we all should be exposed to-period. Expose all children to science, to art, to literature and history of all kinds, from all over the world. Teach them not only about things (and about how to learn/search, as another person so poignantly pointed out) but about what it means to be human being biologically and even socially so everyone begins on the same page, so to speak.

    Education with integrity--> expands the mind, styfles myths, enriches the human experience and is, in my opinion an important aspect of what spurs the evolution of our species.
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    Sep 2 2011: Most Institutions tend to resist reform. Since Colleges and Universities are not just incestuous corporate institutions but actually exert enormous power and influence by their ability to define what is legitimate or accredited with little input from people outside the ivory tower the problem is exponentially increased. Think of the Catholic Church as an analogy. The one major factor that institutions do sometimes respond to is competition. The power of "higher education" to co-opt and blunt reform by denying credentials to anyone who does not agree with their agenda could be broken if there were other avenues opened which bypassed their monopoly. Years ago orchestras around the world were an all male preserve until after WWII when blind auditions broke the barriers for women. I think we need to create independent tests for competency for most "professions" by which I mean truly relevant and practical tests not run by the current institutions, which are basically clubs that collect dues and build endowments to further their own power and influence in return for restraining competition for the club members. I am hopeful that the online high schools now available may be helpful too, along with creative charter schools in opening up the high school level. But I am afraid that a real reform will make little progress until the "Ivory" towers feel the tremors shaking their foundations.
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    Sep 1 2011: One of the bigger problems here is that when it comes to education reform, we have politicians who act almost apathetic about the quality of a students learning. They say class size doesn't matter and that the teacher is completely responisble. Additionally, they decrease funding for schools, especially if the standardized test scores are subpar. Yet these politicians, who have no background in education, fail to see that our students today are learning differently. Kids respond better to technology than they do to actual books. We're seeing such a huge emergence creativity, yet we still test students in the most base way possible. A way that doesn't connect with them at all, and labels them as unintelligent. In order to get into most universities, you have to take one of two standardized tests, even though they might not correlate with whatever career you plan on pursuing. If we are really going to reform our tattered education system, we need to reexamine the way we see our students, and the way they see the world.
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    Sep 1 2011: I use I.Q. in a more generic sense, simply meaning more intelligence. I know that the official Stanford-Binet "I.Q" test is a poor judge of actual social performance and most likely had a race or culture skewed component. But my point still remains that we don't have the mental chops to keep up with the incredible panoply of simultenaities we face in an electronic, laterally connected civilization.

    Marshal McLuhan had it right when he coined the term "global village". The wires and airwaves have become our collective nervous system. Think of person who has been blind for 50 years suddenly regaining their sight. Cognitive dissonance is the result, with a side order of post traumatic stress disorder. We simply aren't equipped to handle the massive quantities of detail that swamp our cognition.

    The closer our education system can emulate astronaut training or air controller training, the better off we'll be. The alternative is to slip back into a medieval dark age. There are power broker factions alive and well in the 21st century who actually yearn and subvert human sentience for that end. I'm not big on feudal war lords and their Boschian circus of serfdom, superstition, black plagues, burning heretics... I'd rather train up to the task at hand.
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    • Sep 2 2011: Thanks for the link, Sharon. It is yet another example of how much we are changing - and how we will continue to do so.
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    Aug 31 2011: I recall that back in the 80's, some state governor started a program to issue pregnant women Walkmen with a belly speaker and a tape of classical music. I don't know what data he was working with. It seems to me to be an intuitive no brainer. Whatever the merits of the harmonic auditory structure of a Mozart becoming a sub conscious frame of reference in the fetal mind, at some point we have to conclude that we need to find a way to increase human I.Q. on a crash program basis, which means we simply do it, create experimental programs from birth. They certainly can't do more harm than insulting the infant mind with "Goo goo" baby talk. Infants, in the right conditions, can begin speech at age six months. Dr. Joyce Brothers illustrated this on the Johhny Carson show back in the 70's and its taken 40 years for it to become somewhat accepted as possible and desireable. That kind of time lag on an issue such as this borders on the criminal and begs the question, who benefits from a stupid citizenry.
    • Aug 31 2011: I.Q. means nothing without motivation, common sense, a good work ethic and decent social skills. I used to work with a man who had a very high I.Q, but was a complete ass to deal with. He could fix things I couldn't, yet he almost got fired and I got good reviews.
  • Aug 31 2011: I think in order to really improve education we have to shift our thinking as a nation about what is important. We cannot treat education as a business to be measured by profit or test scores. We must see students as more. There is no one magic bullet.
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    Aug 31 2011: We need a regimen whereby children are given the tools to teach themselves. Every human has interests and curiosity. These interests can be the foundation through which basic and, later, higher education can flow. We can actually begin education in utero to some degree. This is not a goofy idea. People are afraid of in utero stimulation, some sort of undeserved taboo. Playing Beethoven through a pregnant woman's belly speaker would be a hell of a lot more sentient than having the fetus hear stomach rumblings, flatulence and mom arguing with dad. Next time you are in a hot tub, sink down so your ears are under water and start singing. THAT is how loud sounds are heard by the fetus. Music, singing and other appropriate auditory and video stimulation should become a background experience for the infant up to two years old, at which point they are given a laptop by the state with a series of gradient GAMES so that they will GAME themselves to genius level.
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      Aug 31 2011: That is quite the utopian view...and I like it!

      Are there studies that prove the effectiveness of in utero "education?" I always thought it seemed like a better idea than going to a Metallica concert, but if there were proven benefits then it seems the public eye would be more keen to it. Either way, I definitely agree that learning MUST be personalized!
  • Aug 30 2011: I think the issue goes down to the model of mass production, this outdated model just does not meet the requirements of our time. now that needs to change, but in change itself lay an enormous problem. to change an educational system that has been established for a hundred years is very painful, it would take an enormous amount of resources to move something that has grown so big and set its roots deep into a society, a big force to overcome inertia. this algorithm that Ramona Pierson talks about is a step forward to mass customization, a destination that she figures the system ought to change into, but I think it is not a fix-all solution to a problem of this scale, it is a brilliant solution to just one of the problem education faces. I personally think improving a flawed system will not cure the ailment
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    Aug 30 2011: I came across one solution for our lack of tools to help our teachers and students with all their courses from kindergarten to graduate level Univ. subjects free to world @ http://efront.mybandisthebest.com/ctg=lessons it is based on complete Opencourseware from MIT, UC Berkeley,Stanford, Yale, U of Mich along with many of the World's finest University's and free content from other educators.
  • Aug 30 2011: Do we have big problems in education ?how could we reform education ?as for me ,i think it's very hard .when i learned in unversity , i found i don't like the form of education ,but i had no choice ,i had to accept .No big man would reform it ,nobody would really take actions to sugguest and reform it .what 's the reason ?