New Ideas About Education

I tend to be a huge education reform advocate.  After teaching in the public schools for 9 years, I just couldn’t help but feel there could be something more.  I saw lots of people within the system trying their best (and some that weren’t), but the way the actual system is set up is very archaic, so it seemed no matter how hard anyone tried, we still couldn’t make the difference we wanted to.  The system was designed in the late 1800s to help get people ready for Harvard… why you ask?  Because the president of Harvard was on the committee that established the school system.  Hmmm… what a coincidence.

So I don’t understand why we want to move forward in so many things in our lives except for education.  Why do we still feel a program nearly 150 years old is still effective?  It isn’t.  It’s not completely terrible- there are some students who “succeed” and some teachers and parents who are OK with it as it is.  But is anyone passionate about it anymore?  Do you ever hear anyone singing the praises of the public school system?  Never!  So this should be unacceptable.  But how do we change such a massive institution?

There is hope.  Many, many people out there are standing up to the system.  Many people also have great ideas.  Many parents are pulling their kids out for an alternative that works better for them.  And many leaders are out there starting schools and other programs to help give people options.  And one of the reasons I started The Epiphany Place was to give people modern support while they make their way through this old fashioned  system.

One of my favorite people out there discussing education reform is Roger Schank.  Here is a quote from his blog, Education Outrage:

Ten Big Ideas In Education

1. Shut down high schools

2. Stop preparing students for college

3. Stop insisting everyone go to college

4. Re-focus colleges away from academics

5. Eliminate all testing

6. Get big business out of education

7. Make learning fun again

8. Let children choose what they want to learn about

9. Help children find mentors who will help them learn what they want to learn

10. Build on line experiences that engage students and that teach thinking skills

I have written about these ideas in more detail elsewhere and won’t repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that a high school system designed for the elite in 1892 could not possibly be right-headed today, yet instead of changing it you are making sure that we test every students to tears to make sure they have memorized the Quadratic formula, disregarding the fact that hardly any adult actually uses it.

I get so excited when I read all that he has to say, and it so mirrors my thoughts I get chills.  These are very extreme, but I have to say I agree.  We need to take the system as it is today and completely reinvent it; chop it down and start again.  Wouldn’t that be so refreshing?  But because it needs to start in the colleges and colleges are out there to make money, it’s going to be a hard road.  BUT there is a road, and it’s being paved with people like Roger Schank.  And that makes me hopeful.

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