Regardless of which political affiliation you adhere to in this great country, one fact remains that is almost universally agreed upon from the streets of NYC to the deserts of New Mexico: our education system sucks at the primary and secondary levels.
Chicago-schoolers call for vouchers, others call for increased funding to impoverished areas, and still others call for complete privatization of education, but the boogeyman still looms of us not doing the best job we can do to prepare people through school.
One blogger for the Harvard Business Review doesn't attribute the problem wholly to disparate socioeconomic levels, but instead to the dramatically different degrees of technological pervasiveness that are faced by children inside and outside the classroom.
You can read the full article here.
I will agree that, as a 23 year-old now, high school was most likely dramatically different when I was going through it than it is today. The fact of the matter is that no one had smartphones, fewer people were constantly connected to one another through Facebook, and though the internet still played a pretty large role in our lives, I wouldn't consider it to be preponderant.
Now, on the other hand, kids in middle school have smartphones and access to essentially infinite information 24/7, and I can see how this could greatly disrupt the almost draconian perception that the "teacher is always right" and is the voice of reason and authority between the hours of 8am and 3:30pm. This, coupled with the fact that the people I know who became primary and secondary educators post-college were academically unimpressive, leads me to agree with the author's points that the traditional method of teaching kids is starting to become dated.
Where I live, for example (in the Dirty South, famous for terrible education), a greater number of school systems are implementing online coursework for kids in high school. Some of these kids only have to go to the classroom for tests -- akin to distance education at the college or even graduate level -- and are free to work on their own schedules throughout the day. I'm not sure this is the approach to take, and might only work for students who have already demonstrated high achievement and self-discipline, but I do think it is at least a step in the right direction.
But the author also suggests that we dilute the prototypical public school curriculum of math, science, social studies, and english courses in favor of classes that kids want to take (the author claiming that these courses include computer science, business, and other marketable disciplines). To what degree can this be diluted before kids really do begin to no longer be "well-rounded"? I have always been of the belief that, in college, everyone should have to take courses in the liberal arts (i.e. through a core curriculum) because those courses teach us to think critically and abstractly about many different problems and questions -- I think this applies to a degree to primary and secondary education too. What do you guys think?
What do you all make of all this? Transition the classroom to the interwebs, or keep it old-fashioned and force up those artificially high ADHD rates? No but seriously, why does everyone have ADHD now?
Thanks for reading.