Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Spend $100 Million to Really Save Education. Really??

Please take time to read this article.
How to Spend $100 Million to Really Save Education
BY: ANYA KAMENETZ

My first thought is, "Do we really think $100 Million will do it?"
Second thought, "Wow, that's an overwhelming idea!" If we were talking about a car that wouldn't start, the mechanic knows it could be one of maybe 4 things that is causing the problem. On the other hand, if the car has been in an accident and has been totaled, sometimes it is just easier to scrap it and start over. That's how I feel about our education system. Yes, there are things that work really well, but we have been putting bandaids on and plugging holes for so long it is no longer fixable.

In this article KAMENETZ says,  "I wish he [Zukerburg] had taken his $100 million, and some of his smartest people, and designed a new framework for education from the ground up, much the way he built Facebook from a dorm-room idea to a global brand. Is it possible to craft an education platform that's as participatory, offers as much opportunity for self-expression, and is as magnetic to young people as Facebook itself? That would be a theory of change worth testing."


I agree, let's get really creative. Not just taking what we have and tweaking it, but take our existing system apart, set aside the parts that are working well (we'll use those again) and build anew. We need to get over the way we did school when we were growing up. The world doesn't look the way it did then, so why should school??


Some of my thoughts-
Year round school, yes.
Longer school days, maybe.
Alternative ways to access information, yes.
Digital classrooms, textbook,  yes.
Distance learning, yes.
More professional learning for teachers, yes.
More time for teachers to collaborate, yes.
Start kids in school at a younger age, maybe.
Rethink our tests, yes.
Build in required time for parents to interact with the teachers and students, yes.
Saturday school, maybe
(If school was a fun and exciting place to be kids would want to be there even on Saturday.)
Build a 21st Century classroom, yes.


I know many parents might object to the year round school idea, so maybe those parents could choose to keep their kids home during the summer as long as their kids were meeting the standards for that grade level.  In a brand new system we can set up multiple paths of learning for all students. 


What does a 21st century classroom look like? This is an exciting question. Well, there wouldn't be isolated computer stations. Students would be traveling around the "learning environment" with their own laptops or IPads, after all isn't that we really do? I'm not sitting at a large computer on an uncomfortable chair writing this blog, no, I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop, flipping between websites. 
You wouldn't see students sitting at desks in rows in the 21st century classroom. Students would be checking with a master calendar to see where their learning stations are for the day. This, of course, would be based on formative assessments, teacher observations and student-teacher conversations and would change frequently. 
You would see multi-sensory activities happening around the "learning environment". Teachers would be working with small groups of students or individuals. Students would be working with other students and parents would be present in the classroom.


If I were to rebuild our education system teachers would have plenty of time for planning and collaboration. This has been missing for so long in our current system. We have tried to squeeze time in for collaboration, you can't quickly collaborate, it takes a lot of time, but the end result is powerful. 


In the end, I am glad that many more people are coming to the table to have these discussions. The results can only benefit our kids in the long run.





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