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Transforming Education
Although I'm not an institutional teacher, I find it fascinating how education is changing to take advantage of the current technology beyond the 18th Century methods currently in use. Since we have already arrived to a time when information is so rapidly being updated, it really doesn't make sense to test for information retention anymore - the information that testing is cramming down the throats of kids will be out of date by the time they have a chance to use it - if at all. (Think of how useless most of your own past education is for you now.)

For instance, in the category of "how skills be taught," it's heartening how innovative teachers are currently using video podcasting to replace lecturing. It's called "flipping." Instead teachers spend class time doing what would normally be "homework," giving individual attention. Teachers actually get to teach their subject one-on-one. Students get to "pause" the Vodcast lecture, (burned onto a DVD is provided for those without computer access,) watching it during the time they would normally do "homework."

How could education be improved if it were going to be completely transformed?

Given our world's rate of rapid change, what skills and subjects do you think would be essential for kids to have to equip them for an era most of us adults cannot even imagine? What skills and subjects would be worth the time it takes to learn them?

How could these important skills be taught and tested for?
Hi Franis,
What's wrong with the C18th education we give our kids? This is an interesting view:

YouTube - RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Best,
Nick
I have to admit my first reaction to teaching kids with video podcasts was one of skepticism. As a teaching aid sure, but to actually replace homework? It seems to me that the kind of learning you can do while passively watching a computer screen is rather narrow. You'll never learn arithmetic, language or artistic skills, how to play volleyball or how to balance a stoichiometric equation. Also, cookie cutter podcasts deprive the teacher of flexibility in managing the lesson plan, of opportunities to relate the material being taught to a text (assuming they haven't eliminated textbooks yet!), and of using class interaction to enhance learning. To me it seems indicative of our society's technophilia - it's shiny and new, so its got to be better!

Then I had a look at that Ken Robinson video to which Nick posted a link, and I think it's brilliant. He begins by asking a question that I think is fundamental to how we approach education: "How can we educate our children to take their places in the economy of the 21st century given that we can't anticipate what the economy will look like next week?"

I was going to make a short list of some of the interesting points he raises, then I realized it's all brilliant and it would be wrong to compromise his overarching argument by cherry picking points out of context. So I transcribed a good bit of it (it's so good I had a hard time deciding where to stop):

"The problem is that they're trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past, and along the way they are alienating millions of kids who don't see any purpose in going to school. When we were in school we were kept there with a story, which is that if you stayed in school and did well and got a college degree you would have a job. Our kids don't believe that, and they're right not to by the way. You're better off having a degree than not but it's not a guarantee anymore, and particularly not if the route to it marginalizes most of the things that you think are important about yourself.

"Some people say we need to raise standards as if this were a breakthrough. And really we should, I mean, why would you lower them? I haven't come across an argument that persuades me of lowering them. But raising them, of course we should raise them,

"The problem is that the current system of education was designed and conceived and structured  for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution. Before the 19th century there were no systems of public education. I mean, you could get educated by the Jesuits if you had the money. But public education, payed for through taxation, compulsory for everyone and free at the point of delivery, that was a revolutionary idea, and many people objected to it. They said it was not possible for street kids to benefit from education, they are incapable of learning to read and write and why are we spending time on it? So there is also built into it a whole set of assumptions about social structure and capacity. It was driven by an economic imperative of the time, but running right through it was an intellectual model of the mind, which was essentially the Enlightenment view of intelligence, that real intelligence consists of this capacity for a certain type of deductive reasoning and a knowledge of the classics originally, what we've come to think of as "academic ability", and this is deep in the gene pool of public education, that there are really two types of people, academic and non academic, and the consequence of that is that many brilliant people think they're not, because they've been judged against this particular view of the mind. So we have twin pillars, economic and intellectual, and my view is that this model has caused chaos in many people's lives. It's been great for some,  they've benefited wonderfully from it, but most people have not. Instead they suffer from this, this is the modern epidemic, and it is as misplaced, and it is as fictitious. This is the modern plague of ADHD...Don't mistake me, I'm not saying there is no such thing as attention deficit disorder, I'm not qualified to say that there isn't, I know that a great majority of psychologists and pediatricians do think there is such a thing. What I do know for a fact is that it is not an epidemic. These kids are being medicated as routinely as we had our tonsils taken out, and on the same whimsical basis, and for the same reason, medical fashion. Our children our living in the most intensely stimulatinga period in the history of the earth. They are being besieged by information that pulls their attention from every platform, from computers, from iPhones, from advertising hoardings, from hundreds of television channels, and we're penalizing them for getting distracted. From what? Boring stuff, for the most part, at school. It seems to me it's not a coincidence, completely, that the incidence of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth in standardized testing. Now these kids are being Ritalin and Adderall, all kinds of things, often quite dangerous drugs, to get them to focus and calm them down. But according to this <map of the US showing incidence of ADHD> attention deficit disorder increases as you travel east across the country. People start losing interest in Oklahoma, they can hardly think straight in Arkansas, and by the time they get to Washington they've lost it completely...It's a fictitious epidemic. If you think of it the arts, and I don't think it's exclusively the arts, I think its true of science and of maths, but I say particularly the arts because they are the victim of this mentality. The arts specifically address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one where your senses are operating at their peek, when you are present in the moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing you are experiencing, when you are fully alive. An anesthetic is when you shut your senses off and deaden yourself to what is happening. And a lot of these drugs are exactly that. We are getting our children though education by anesthetizing them, and I think we should be doing the exact opposite, we shouldn't be putting them to sleep, we should be waking them up to what they have inside themselves."

He then goes on to observe that model of education that we have is made in the interests of industrialization, and in the image of it, returning to his earlier point about how public education was conceived under the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution.

I've transcribed about half of the video but the whole thing is worth watching, it's full of arresting insights.

In response to Emma Brock
Hi Emma, obviously you don't quite understand the concept of "flipping." The teacher eliminates lecturing during class time, in exchange for helping kids individually with learning. (The teacher even resists lecturing on the content of the DVD later.) So, it sort of like having a teacher around while you're doing your homework instead of being on your own at home, puzzling through it by yourself. When at home watching the DVD of the lecture, you can pause the lecture to take notes or listen to parts of the lecture twice if you didn't quite catch what the teacher said or what they meant. The only problem with "flipping," is that some kids don't watch the lecture. Then they're really lost in the class where they're supposed to trying out what they got from the lecture.
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