Education: The Problem & The Solution
Note: Many of you, especially education wonks, will have heard all this before (except the solution video, below, may be new to you). For those outside of the educational system, these two videos succinctly yet positively summarize two foundational points. If you have kids in school right now, realize they are in the most difficult transition in educational history. As a parent, you'll want to take the extra effort to get your kids more 21st century education than 20th century education.
The current school system, from kindergarten through college, was designed and evolved for an industrial nation, and an industrial age. It was good at some things, and not so good at others during that age.
Now, it seems the 20th century education system is good for very little. The high school drop-out rates are unacceptably high, especially for boys. Business is complaining that new graduates aren't hirable because they don't have the skills required, even in our time of record-high unemployment. Teachers complain they are little more than babysitters, and the laws restricting the disciplinary actions and liability of teachers and school districts mean that the police are being called in to handle classroom discipline. (Two examples from the WTF file are here and here, -- and it keeps happening, adding this to the list on Sept 27, 2012.) Things are a bit of a mess.
It is a system out of its time. Just as public education came into being in the late 1800's in order to support the Industrial Age, so will the next educational system come into being to support the Information Age. There is no choice here; it will change, it is already happening. The only question is: how painful will the change be for you and yours? Will you or your child be more 20th century or more 21st century when their schooling is completed?
Sir Ken Robinson explains the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools' dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD in this RSA Animated Talk.
(You can watch the full, non-animated version, 55mins, here.) You can't hear him speak the stats on redefining genius and divergent thinking in the animation; it was displayed on a slide in the original talk at 49:14. The stats are:
Ages 3-5: 98%
Ages 8-10: 32%
Ages 13-15: 10%
Ages 25 and older: 2% (sample of 200,000 adults as a control)
Kids need to be doing the kinds of activities and learning the kinds of skills that are foundational for an Information Age economy. Here's a terrific example.
This year, David Preston's high school students engaged online thought leaders and used open source principles and tools to create:
- a microfinance operation
- a hackspace
- a venture incubator
- an online art dealership
- a P2P digital consulting practice
- a game lab
- an international digital research partnership
- an alumni/friends community designed to evolve into a massively multiplayer open source learning environment that translates knowledge capital directly to the marketplace
Several students documented the experience in the following work-in-progress video, "We Are Superman."
David Preston holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Science. He has taught at universities and graduate institutes and consulted on matters of learning and organizational development for 20 years. For the past seven years David has also taught English for students of all ability levels in grades 9-12 at America’s fourth largest high school (in Los Angeles) and at a comprehensive high school on California’s central coast. More on David and his work at http://www.prestonlearning.com.