Showing posts with label education reform. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education reform. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Might Be the Worst Idea for "Fixing Education"

I cringe whenever I see a popular blog like Mashable run posts about "fixing education." Last week they ran a  post titled An Idea for Fixing Education: Skip College, Work at a Startup. The author of the article, Sarah Kessler,  proposes that students would be better served by spending two years in internships for these technology start-ups than they would be by going to college. I am all for students getting practical experience in the fields that they have an interest in working in, but to suggest that students can learn everything they need to know through a two year internship is ludicrous.

Internship experience is valuable if it is done correctly. Student teaching is a good example of internships done right because students get actual experience performing the job of teaching. Internships that turn students into glorified personal assistants don't benefit students. I'm not saying that these internships will do that to students, but even at their best good internships don't supply all of the other skills taught and experiences gained by spending four years college. 

Even if you think that spending two years in an internship is better than spending that time in college, committing to two years with an tech start-up is still a risky proposition. Tech start-ups rise and fall with remarkable speed. What happens to a student when the start-up fails one year into his internship? 

Yes, four years of college is expensive and students are increasingly taking on enormous amounts of debt, but the knowledge and experience good students gain are invaluable. An internship can be a part of that four year experience. An internship should not be a replacement for four years of education. The internships with which I am familiar expect that students already know how to write, research, and communicate. The internship is where those skills are refined and put to use in a career field. The internship is not where you learn those skills.

For the writers and editors at Mashable, please stick to making lists of Adorable Google Doodles for Valentine's Day and leave "fixing education" to educators before you send more students down a dangerous path. I know that you all think that anyone can become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates by dropping out of college and working on their tech start-ups. Just remember Zuckerberg and Gates graduated from exclusive prep schools and dropped out of Ivy League schools, so on some level they were already exceptional before they became exceptional. If you can afford (financially and personally) to go to and drop out of Ivy League schools then maybe you should just spend a couple of years at an internship. The rest of us should stay in school, graduate, and then work on building the next big thing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Balancing Reform with Reality

Image Credit: John Webber
This morning I had a conversation on Twitter that led me to writing a Google+ post about the need to balance our ideal education reforms with the realities of teaching in public schools. You can read my full post here. I've included the first paragraph below. In my opinion the first paragraph is the most succinct of the three I wrote. I also encourage you to read the comments and add your own on Google+

My chief complaint about many education "reformers" is that they forget to balance the realities of teaching in a public school with their ideal school situations. You can't tell a teacher to completely buck the system without recognizing that bucking the system could cost that teacher a job. Rather than telling teachers to completely buck the system, I prefer to encourage a systematic series of small changes that will add up to big change over time. Read the rest of the post and add your comments here. 

For the first time visitor: This is not indicative of my typical post, I generally prefer to stick to covering how-to topics and new developments in educational technology. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Watch Sir Ken Robinson Speak Live on September 17

Tomorrow, September 17, TEDxLondon will be streamed live on the web. The theme of TEDxLondon is The Education Revolution. There is a fantastic line-up of speakers scheduled. The "headliner" of the event is Sir Ken Robinson who is best known in education circles for his 2006 TED Talk Schools Kill Creativity.

I'm looking at the TEDxLondon streaming page in the eastern timezone of the US and it says that the stream will start at 2pm. I'm not sure if that is 2pm US ET or 2pm GMT. Please check the streaming page for yourself to make sure you have the right time to catch the live stream.

To spark your imagination before TEDxLondon I've embedded two of Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talks below.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Students Discuss Who Is Responsible for Education

This morning's episode of CNN Student News contains a segment in which students share their thoughts about the question, "what do you think students can do to get a better education?" This is a great question to ask our own students at the beginning of the new school year. Watch the video below.
Click here if you cannot see the video.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hey Seth, How About Some Practical Ideas?

Warning: This post is a bit of an editorial rant. I rarely do this on Free Technology for Teachers, but this has been bugging me for a while and I need to get it off my chest.

This week a couple of videos (here and here) featuring Seth Godin made the rounds on Twitter and other networks. In both of these videos Godin takes the public education system to task for not producing creative thinkers and for producing students who lack initiative and subsequently sit around waiting for directions from their teachers and later their bosses. That doesn't bother me because Godin's not the only person to say such things and I believe those statements are accurate when applied to the majority of public schools. What bothers me about Godin saying those things is that he doesn't follow them up by offering any practical implementation strategies. What's worse is that he has a huge following of people (many of them wealthy and powerful) outside of education who will rally behind him and further take public education to task while again not offering any practical reform strategies.

Now before people jump on me for using too small of a sample size to judge Godin's statements on education; I've listened into live web conferences in which Godin eluded questions of practical reform implementation, watched a dozen videos featuring him, read one of his books, and listened to the audio of another of his books. In other words, I think I have a good handle on what Godin's all about. In fact, I like what he has to say about business, leading people, and his general cheese-moving qualities. But when it comes to education, I lump him in with all of the other people calling for reform in education without having stepped into a public school classroom and without offering any practical solutions.

I was venting about all of this on Twitter this morning when Colin Davitt asked who do I see as pointing out the problems and offering practical solutions. Here are some of the folks that are doing good work toward making practical change; Chris Lehmann, John Carver, Eric Sheninger, Patrick Larkin, and see my Twitter list of K-12 administrators for others. These people are in schools making changes happen at an administrative level. You can be out of the public school system and still make contributions to changing education. Wes Fryer, David Warlick, Scott McLeod, and others on my Twitter list of Ed Thought Leaders demonstrate that. And as classroom teachers we can stop wishing for permission and make changes happen in our classrooms, Lee Kolbert demonstrated that in her blog during the last school year. And as for me, I've sat in the hot seat because I don't wait for permission I go on the offensive with a case and evidence that almost requires a change of thinking. Nothing says "he's got a point" like hundreds of pages of research dropped on a naysayer's lap (yes, I literally did that once).

So Seth, have you got any ideas for us?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Educational Change Challenge

Here's a good video that would be appropriate to share at the beginning of a workshop/ presentation/ conference about teaching with technology in the 21st Century. The video has me excited about the conversations already taking place at ISTE 2010 and the conversations still to come.

Some highlights from the video:
Who seriously believes that locking 25 students in a small room with one adult for several hours each day is the best way for them to be educated?

Moving from the one-room schoolhouse to the one-world schoolhouse is now a reality.

And my favorite line from the video, In education the use it or lose it rule may mean if you don't use tech for learning, you may lose relevance. An educator must be relevant.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
15 TED Talks to Watch Before 2010
TED Talk Creativity and Play
Did You Know 4.0 (Shift Happens)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Bring On the Learning Revolution

TED just released the video of Sir Ken Robinson's talk from TED 2010 which took place in February. His latest talk Bring on the Learning Revolution is a follow-up to his wildly popular 2006 TED Talk Schools Kill Creativity. I watched Bring on the Learning Revolution this morning while sitting in a room in which some teachers were complaining about students not doing their paper-based rote exercises. The combination of hearing those teachers while listening to Robinson led me to Tweet:

Stuck in a room listening to teachers complain about students not doing paper-based rote assignments. Grr... stop giving crappy assignments!

I've watched the video once and plan to watch it again later tonight. Here are my three immediate take-aways from my first viewing of Bring on the Learning Revolution:
1. We need to stop using the fast food model of education.
2. We must recognize the need for a diversity of talents in education and in society.
3. Education shoud be an organic process.

Embedded below is Sir Ken Robinson's 2010 TED Talk Bring on the Learning Revolution.

In case you haven't seen it, embedded below is Sir Ken Robinson's 2006 TED Talk Schools Kill Creativity.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Common Sense Responses to Common Complaints

I very rarely write posts about educational theory, educational philosophy, or the politics of public education not because I don't have ideas, but because that's not the purpose of this blog. But, it is my blog and I do have ideas so this morning I'll venture off course just a bit. If you don't like this post, don't worry. I promise that the next 100+ posts will be focused on free resources for education.

Anyone that has spent more than a few minutes in a teachers' break room can probably tell you that the most common complaints from teachers center around disagreement with administrative decisions. Another common complaint, more common amongst younger teachers, is about low salaries. I'm as guilty as the next teacher of engaging in these complaining sessions. However, over time my response to hearing these complaints from other teachers has changed from joining into the complaining to blocking out the complaining plowing ahead to do my best for my students. (Although again I still do complain sometimes, I just try to do it less).

Yesterday, I read a post from Dr. Scott McLeod that really reflects my newer (relatively) thinking about the common complaints of teachers about the state of public education. After listing the responsibilities of school leaders McLeod writes,
We can point fingers. We can blame others. We can rail against the system. But we must recognize that we are in charge of the system."

He then goes on to write,
"We must point those fingers inward."

Granted, McLeod is addressing school administrators, but I believe those same ideas can be used by classroom teachers too. We can complain that we don't have the computers we know students need, or that we don't have the least restrictive Internet environments we need, but that shouldn't stop us from trying to creatively work around those problems and bringing those problems and our solutions to the attention of administrators in constructive manners.

Dr. McLeod's post reminded me of something Diana Laufenberg wrote last summer. In No One is Coming for Us! Diana addresses teachers with this,

"Many teachers are looking around wondering where the leaders are, who will ‘allow’ them to implement their big ideas for change. The thing that I have come to realize, people, is that NO ONE IS COMING FOR US."

Diana goes on to encourage teachers to stop waiting for permission to make changes in their instruction and to just start making the changes they need to make. Reading Diana's post last summer and again this morning reminded me of Seth Godin's Tribes.In Tribes Godin, like Diana, also implores leaders at all levels to stop waiting for permission to lead. Implementing change without permission can be a risk. Yet if we are to do our best for our students we owe it to them to take that risk.

On the topic of salaries, my friend and special education teacher Harold Shaw wrote a no-nonsense response to complaints about low salaries. Using simple mathematics Harold explains to teachers that we need to make apples to apples comparisons when comparing our salaries to other public sector employees. While Harold's analysis won't put more money in your pocket, it might make you feel a little better about your salary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Student Discussion - Education Reform Ideas

Today's episode of CNN Student News leads off with a segment about President Obama's proposed ideas for education reform in the United States. The video provides teachers with a good opportunity to have students discuss what they perceive as working or not working in their schools. After watching the video you may want to have students propose their own ideas for improving education in the United States. The video is embedded below.