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.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Andrew Kennedy

    “Those grammar issues still remain with me.”Great post. I graduated from High School in ’00, so different time period, but I too was underserved re: grammar education. It wasn’t until studying for the GMAT years later that I really and completely had control over all things grammar. My kids will know grammar….

    1. Gotham Gal

      our kids have incredible grammar skills. much better educated than me.

      1. LE

        My wife has a cousin that teaches in NYC schools. She actually says “axed” when she means “ask”. I don’t know quite what to make of that.

  2. Tim Huntley

    Happy to see “21st Century Skills” at the core . My startup is focused on a subset of 21st Century Skills by helping students in grades K through 8 improve Social and Emotional Learning through research proven, personalized games.

    1. Gotham Gal

      social and emotional is sooo important.

  3. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Thank God technology innovators are helping us change how we become educated.My spouse has been a teacher since the late ’80’s. His job has gone from challenging to soul-crushing. No one wants to be a teacher any more. The people who wanted to destroy public education are succeeding. The environment is Orwellian. The only thing redeeming the public education system right now is teachers, themselves (and I’m not just referring to my spouse — I’m thinking of my kids’ public school teachers these last couple of years).I’d be pretty depressed about all this if it weren’t for the new wave of education models emerging from the world of tech startups. I’m pretty optimistic. But the age of the USA having the best public education on the planet is over.Maybe it’s all for the best. I have to admit that having kids has made me re-think the way we’ve been educating our kids. When I see how quickly my kids pick up knowledge and skills when they’re enjoying themselves, I can’t help but think there has to be a better way. Not to mention, the environment of traditional school is insanely distracting and discouraging.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i agree with you. it is layers of bureaucracy that has killed the system.

  4. lauradaly

    While I agree with most of what you have written, I would say that as with health care and another social care the more money you have the better it is. I know that is a very simplistic comment but it does go to the heart of it.

  5. Ralph R. McKee

    I wholeheartedly agree that educators who embrace multiple ways of learning empower students to be independent critical thinkers. The ongoing learning opportunity for educators, parents, and the public to realize is that it is vital to recognize that many types of hands on learning should be cherished, lauded, and supported.I am the principal at McKee Career and Technical HS. Amazing things occur within theschool. McKee not only emdbraces academic prinicples embedded in AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determinatino), it is a career and ed tech high school with unique and diverse offerings (drafting, graphics, construction, auto, CISCO and more) it also has a software education program for students and is a leading school in NYC for it. The school recently competed in and won 2 of 3 awards for high school in a citywide competition.The ongoing battle for career and technical high schools is to convince parents, no matter what their socio-economic status, that such educational institutions are viable options. Additionally, to paraphrase Reshma Saujani, society has done a job in putting young ladies in a box. There are not enough images of young ladies involved in non-traditional fields. At various open houses, I have seen parents, guardians, and caregivers say to my face, I have a daughter. Do you have a Cosmetology program. When I say no, they redirect their child to another school with more options “for a girl.” Narrow answers always need to be addressed, and maddeningly, it does take time.Spreading the word, pushing people’s perceptions, stirring the pot are key ingredients to understanding that no one answer addresses all issues. Being an educator is both a constant evolving craft and art form and if one enters the profession, one must have a burning desire to always explore.

    1. Gotham Gal

      The desire to explore is so key. Interesting hearing your perspective. You are in the trenches.

      1. Aileen Gemma Smith

        Sharon Henry- principal at McKee- is one of the most hardworking women I have ever met. She is not only in the trenches- she is constantly pushing to learn and do more herself, Sharon ‘gets’ how much effort is needed to enable change- and despite all the uphill battles keeps at it. What folks on the outside may not appreciate is what it means for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to have those opportunities to learn- and how much work is involved in opening doors for them that includes helping families to understand times have changed.

  6. pointsnfigures

    Too often, the bureaucracy gets in the way of innovation. One startup I am invested in, is really helping people around the world learn math and science. Starting to see teachers in other countries embrace it.I wasn’t so hot at math-so I use it to learn too!I am okay with destroying some of the things in public education. Innovation always destroys things. For example, in poor neighborhoods why can’t we give the people vouchers so they can have the freedom to send their children to better schools rather than be forced by a centralized bureaucracy to go to a poor school?Most of the fighting we are seeing here in Illinois is the centralized bureaucracy fighting against any innovation and any way to cut costs (like changing pensions from defined benefit to defined contribution) or having teachers pay more for medical insurance or upping retirement ages from 55 to 60.

    1. Gotham Gal

      innovation always destroys things. true.

  7. LE

    Those grammar issues still remain with me.Grammar is one of those “snotty subjects” that goes way overboard as an actual real life requirement for communicating in this day an age. For a large part of the population at least. Especially when more and more actual writing is done informally by email and by text. The content and structure matters more than the knowing the rules when it comes to “getting the job done”. I still don’t know any of that yet I use words and writing every single day (and have since college) to get things done. Almost in the way that you can cook but you never (I think) had formal training. Writing is analog, it’s not digital. Mistakes that aren’t “gross” in nature can be made. We aren’t talking about dosing medicines here.I remember when I got into Wharton my fear was exactly the same as you are highlighting. I was worried, and for good reason, that my grammar wasn’t up to snuff. It almost certainly still isn’t. I read enough and can get by and luckily the way that I earn my living I am able to write in a way that I am not at a disadvantage. (I also type very quickly.) The reading comes in handy (all non-fiction) simply because I have patterns in my head that I can follow. So I have some kind of a clue when something “isn’t right”.

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