The changing of education

imgresEducation is changing.  The good news is that there are many people working on new ideas, new companies and concepts to make a change in the way that we educate our children.  There are online platforms, there are charter schools, there are after school activities around STEM, curriculums are changing, etc.  There is also a looming college debt crisis coming our way.

If you look back at the history of education in our country there has always been times of innovation.  New thoughts on how to educate children.  Some work, some don’t.  I was part of one of the shifts in the early 70’s where my elementary school was formed around a group teachers that taught an entire grade with very little structure.  There were projects set up around the free-flowing rooms.  I took full advantage of this curriculum by doing nothing instead of being motivated to learn as much as possible.  I became the number one spit player including tether ball champion.  This did not bode well for me entering a classically structured junior high school  starting in 7th grade when I didn’t know what a verb, noun or adjective was.  I was placed in the English class with people who were clearly challenged but that is where I tested.  In about 2 months time I went from the not so smart class to the smartest class in the grade but I was doing a lot of faking it until I made it.  Those grammar issues still remain with me.

Fred went to MIT that is all about progressive learning.  You learn through taking things apart and put them back together.  Some of that is project based learning.  Our kids went to a K-12 progressive school that had no interest in rote memorization.  This type of learning allows you to gain knowledge by taking a deeper dive into exploring the subject matter.  There is a lot of data around this type of education and we are just starting to see colleges make the changes that come with that.

Having a teacher stand in the middle of a classroom vs standing in front of a black board is the first one.  Using technology as a platform to build on for any class.  Creating physical spaces that can be used for learning outside of the classroom.  It is important to use all space in learning facilities even if it means adding some chairs and a table for people to sit down an engage in conversation in a random nook that nobody uses.

I find it frustrating when people believe that their education 30 years ago worked for them so why does anything have to change.  Each generation is different based on the way the world changes.  We are living in a technology age where information is coming fast and furious and that changes the way we think, the way we should be educating our children (not as much the information but the technique), the way we look at education policies on college campuses from the drinking age to the legalization of marijuana, the way we think about curriculums for the future as our children will be competing in a global economy and most important how to teach kids to educate themselves for life.  Progressive project based education teaches people to challenge and engage after leaving school to look at the world in a more positive way.  Rote education is just spitting out memorized facts that doesn’t challenge you to think, explore and ask questions.

Education will be in a very different place in 10 years.  More data is being published on what works and what doesn’t.  In order to keep moving forward we need to continue to always think about each generation by evolving education curriculums including the spaces that are used for teaching to be ahead of the curve not behind it.