Amidst an uncertain jobs future, how can schooling complement, not compete with, students' informal learning?
Linda Alexander's insight:
Policy makers are asking us to return to the drill & kill "basics," while the US labor market thrusts into the future. Futurists, actually for the last 10 years, have been predicting "the end of the job." This isn't as far-out as it once seemed given the tremendous growth in freelance work. Moreover, we are not paying attention to how some of the more tech-savvy children learn today via socially-connected platforms, although it's hard to believe that low-income families, a huge number in the United States, will have the necessary bandwidth to create their own learning networks (as this article states). From where I stand, there could well be two separate educational systems in this country. First, a much more innovative, peer-to-peer, project based approached for children from higher income families, and the continuation of the same old educational practices for most everyone else. And that would be really sad.
The conversation about what kids need to know and to be able to do by the end of high school has gradually shifted over the past several years to emphasize not just rigorous content goals, but also less tangible skills, such as creative thinking, problem-solving and collaboration.
The culmination of my quest for more powerful learning grounded in theory and research came when recently I conducted an experiment in pushing constructionism into the digital age.
Constructionism is based on two types of construction. First, it asserts that learning is an active process, in which people actively construct knowledge from their experience in the world. People don’t get ideas; they make them. This aspect of construction comes from the constructivist theory of knowledge development by Jean Piaget. To Piaget’s concept, Papert added another type of construction, arguing that people construct new knowledge with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personally meaningful products.
Imagine my surprise and joy when I realized that I had arrived at constructionism prior to knowing that such a theory even existed. I believe that thousands of other educators are unknowingly working within the constructionist paradigm as well. Although many within the Maker movement are aware that it has it’s roots in constructionism, the movement is gaining impressive momentum without the majority of Makers realizing that there is a strong theoretical foundation behind their work.
After I came to understand this connection between my practices and the supporting theoretical framework I was better able to focus and refine my practice. Even more importantly, I felt more confident and powerful in forging ahead with further experiments in the learning situations I design for my learners.
We need to have higher expectations for ourselves as educators, parents, and policymakers; and we need to have higher expectations for our students -- they will meet the bar wherever it is set.
To address this challenge we must revolutionize what we teach, how we teach and how we measure the results. Fundamental and rapid change is necessary -- now, not sometime in the future. Solving our nation's education crisis will take commitment and investment in proven approaches to project-based learning.
We have to convert our thinking from maximizing content coverage and "teaching to the test" to using methods that help students understand the applications of what they learn.
===> We must help students develop problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills -- skills that will prepare them to compete in the global economy. <===
While I agree with the basis of this article, we do have a romantic attachment to the past, especially parents who want their children to experience schools as they DID, I don't completely agree with this article. There are reasons for understanding the "way things work" and there are reasons for knowing one's history--as Winston Churchill said, "Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it." That said, this article really speaks to the way we go about learning and, yes, that has really changed.
"Schocken believes that the traditional grading system is “degrading”—and he’d rather talk about a more positive approach to teaching that he calls “upgrading.” This means rejecting the traditional focus on correct answers. Instead, Schocken thinks we should encourage mistakes."
The Online Education Database offers reviews of thousands of accredited online colleges along with scholarship information and degree guides." There is also a state-by-state list of online colleges and universities.
Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. By Robert Putnam. Simon & Schuster; 386 pages; $28 and £18.99. THE most important divide in America today is class, not...
Linda Alexander's insight:
A few nuggets:
"Working-class parents, who have less spare capacity, are more likely to demand that their kids simply obey them. In the short run this saves time; in the long run it prevents the kids from learning to organise their own lives or think for themselves. Poor parenting is thus a barrier to social mobility, and is becoming more so as the world grows more complex and the rewards for superior cognitive skills increase."
"Upper-middle-class homes are not only richer (with two professional incomes) and more stable; they are also more nurturing. In the 1970s there were practically no class differences in the amount of time that parents spent talking, reading and playing with toddlers. Now the children of college-educated parents receive 50% more of what Mr Putnam calls “Goodnight Moon” time (after a popular book for infants)."
"The Future of Employment study makes clear that what matters most today is what you can do with what you know, rather than how much you know." - Dr. Tony Wagner
We need to create schools that coach students for skill and will, in addition to teaching content. If we don't make this transition quickly, a growing number of our youth will be unemployable at the same time that employers complain that they cannot find new hires who have the skills they need. - Dr. Tony Wagner
Chronic inefficiencies in primary education systems are preventing many countries from offering real learning opportunities. The 2012 edition of the Global Education Digest puts the focus on grade repetition and early school leaving.
Students in Matamoros, Mexico weren't getting much out of school -- until a radical new teaching method unlocked their potential.
Mitra’s work has roots in educational practices dating back to Socrates. Theorists from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi to Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori have argued that students should learn by playing and following their curiosity.
Einstein spent a year at a Pestalozzi-inspired school in the mid-1890s, and he later credited it with giving him the freedom to begin his first thought experiments on the theory of relativity.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin similarly claim that their Montessori schooling imbued them with a spirit of independence and creativity.
"In my 14 years of teaching and researching education, I’ve come to realize that 4 catalyzing actions, small steps that each of us can take fairly easily, can initiate change in positive ways from the ground up."
There are two examples of alternative education systems contained within this blog site, including the newest venture, Open Road out of Portland, Oregon that is using crowdfunding, that really caught my eye.
Here at Educon yesterday, I had the chance to learn a bit more about design thinking from David Jakes. David's central point was that schools and teachers often get stuck in a "Yeah, but..." mindset when thinking about change.
Of course, we'd have to work to take active steps to redefine almost everything about our schools if a culture of "Do" is really going to be possible.
===> Grading will need to change -- from a focus on content mastery to a focus on demonstration of an ability to apply content in novel situations <===
Mobile technology and social networks aren't just disruptive to existing industries like communications and media, they are also helping the change the way that students learn and how education is delivered both in North America and around the world.
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