Sunday, October 17, 2010

We Need a Transformation in Education – Not Reform

“Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.”

- Terri Guillemets

“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”

- Roger Lewin

“Every education system in the world is being reformed at the moment and it’s not enough. Reform is no use anymore because that’s simply improving a broken model.”

- Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution

In education, we are heading in the wrong direction.

Sir Ken Robinson states in his 2008 Changing Paradigms talk at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA), that there are two reasons every country on Earth is trying to reform public education.

1. Economics - How do we educate our children to take our place in the economies of the 21st century?

2. Cultural – How do we educate our children so that they have a sense of cultural identity while being a part of the process of globalization?

Unfortunately, he notes, they are doing it with what was done in the past and not relevant to our current needs.

Sir Ken Robinson summarizes that our current system of education was designed and conceived and structured for a different age.

According to Robinson, it was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution. Education is modeled on the interests of Industrialization and in the image of it.

He states that schools are still organized on factory lines.

Ringing bells

Separate facilities

Separate subjects

Educates children by batches

He states, in view of the growth in standardized testing and standardized curricula, public education is about forcing conformity and standardization on children.

I agree. And I believe that is a bad thing for our future.

Our current juggernaut waddle of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top (RTTT) is heading us toward a national test based on a national curriculum and killing what we need more in 21st century education – creativity and individualized instruction. This current politically bipartisan approach to education will lead to further teaching to the test, narrowing of the curriculum, pacing guides, and forced conformity on teachers and students.

Our current education system is not working. The current reforms will make matters worse.

I believe that the federal take over of education is the true intent of our current reform movement. The unintended consequences of these reforms will be increased student dropouts and the mass exodus of teachers from the public school systems. This may sound like good news to some, but it is not.

If our slower students cannot keep up with the pace – they will quit. We are not graduating a third of our students as it is.

We have a teacher shortage now. Despite the so-called great salary, benefits, and tenure of teachers, fifty percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. And how are we going to attract the best of the best with corporate style performance based evaluations and financial incentives in a taxed based industry that never posts a profit? Are taxpayers going to foot the bill for millions of dollars of incentive bonuses in public education? California tried bonuses and we found that it could not be financially sustained.

Charter schools also have yet to show that they are overall a superior choice to pubic schools. And they have not yet been forced into the corner of literally having to education all students.

Our current education system is not working. The federal take over of education is not going to work. I rather see the privatization of a tuition free but profit making education system instead. It will be then that the entrepreneur spirit of free enterprise will give parents a true choice in education, improve individualized instruction, decrease the dropout rate, better prepare college bound students for higher education, and attract teachers by paying them what they are really worth.

This is not a pipe dream. It’s going to happen. Education as we know it is going to change anyway.

TED 2006

TED 2010

Please visit me at Facebook - Carlos Mendoza

1 comment:

elfig said...

Carlitos-you hit it on the nail! The problem with the reform and with the complaining is that people that are doing this are not in the trenches of education. People are making decisions on education that are not in the classrooms! Well put!