educational reform

Kevilina and Jaime are doing important work here. There are more than enough people and organizations around to galvanize a genuine worldwide revolution in school and education. But there is and always has been a disparity between us. Now though we have the tools to connect with each other. IncitEd will give us the opportunity to provide and access financial support to and from education models we believe in, and finally create some alternatives and competition in what has for too long been a stagnant educational marketplace. We will also have the means to scale other organizations models around the world e.g. if you wanted to open your own Sudbury school or Summerhill. Please have a look at the IncitEd website and if you can, donate a little. We have an opportunity to more effectively change people’s lives, and we shouldn’t waste it.

Cooperative Catalyst

My friend Alan Burnce is an experienced high school English teacher, having taught in inner New York City and rural Oregon for nearly a decade. Incidentally, he’s a graduate of Stanford and of Harvard’s school of education. In other words, he’s a well educated, experienced teacher, and he’s passionate about mentoring students. He’s the kind of  educator all young people should have the opportunity to work with.

Last spring, Alan was laid off due to budget cuts. But he hasn’t given up the work he’s been doing with students. He learned of an innovative education model in Massachusetts called North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens and decided to replicate that model, has students ready to join, and is currently seeking funding.

A nonprofit called P:ear “builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art, and recreation.” For eleven years, they have worked respectfully to rebuild the whole person…

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Education Reform – GOOD

Education Reform – GOOD.

This is a fantastic website, never mind for education, but for anyone with an idealistic bent. But for our purposes I’m sharing the education reform section. It has nearly 150 articles of creative, solutiony goodness. While the ideas might be somewhat disparate, its still a goldmine for anyone who is passionate about this stuff.

Marketing itself as a social network for people who give a damn, I’d recommend rowing in and giving ‘good.is’ a go.

Education Reform Continues To Go Round In Circles – But Is It Narrowing On A Point?

Should parents set up their own state schools? Discuss | Geraldine Bedell | Education | Education | The Observer.

In a long and winding story about the laborious battle for parents to take more control over their children’s education, one parent asserts that:

“Human beings were not meant just to get five GCSEs.”

While the author of the article interjects at one point with a relieving sentiment:

“Everyone wants local schools with a diverse mix of pupils who are able to explore and fulfill their potential.”

I should hope so.

Meanwhile in Ireland, this article shows there is some awareness of the need for educational reform, however, sound bytes such as “the need for a world-class education system” still plague this piece. At least in the sphere of education, world class, at the present time, does not entail a particularly high standard. There appears to be little public debate on the matter, a lot of Irish people who have little experience of their countries education system will still say things like “Sure don’t we have one of the best education systems in the world” based off placement on the PISA rankings from a few years ago. PISA is notorious for ranking nations based on standardized tests results where the standards vary from country to country,also leading to countries like India and China who slave drive their children into good grades and out of innovation, to top the rankings.

The article also notes that more reviews and reports from official bodies are in the pipeline, but at this rate an education that provides each individual with the means to grow, be happy, and fulfill their potential, is a pipe dream. The article calls for an honest discussion, perhaps we need a platform for this. Something to get teachers, educators, legislators, parents and students all in the same room and on equal footing.

One of the more encouraging resources I’ve found is this co-operative blog on education reform called ‘Cooperative Catalyst’. Its a hive of ideas and discussion, and the realization of what the article in the Irish Examiner was calling for – an open and honest conversation.

How do you guys think actual change can be implemented, or awareness of the issues effectively raised? What resources have you encountered? Please share!

The Flaws In Our Education System

Here’s a quick list of what I see as some of the main flaws in our education system. By ‘Our Education System’ I mean Ireland, China, the US, India and many others – there may be some differences but most education systems today and throughout the short history of public education, suffer from these shortcomings to some degree or another. Pardon the pun.

Some of our Education Systems most glaring flaws:

  • Standardized Testing: Life isn’t standardized. Does anyone care what Einsteins results were? No, because he dropped out when he was fifteen to go change the world. Do all the A grade college grads working in retail and bars care that their scores were so good when they’re not in the career they wanted? This is taking the joy out of learning and placing undue pressure on students at a time in their lives where they need to be given room to explore and experiment.
  • Excessive Rote Learning: The whole of human knowledge is a couple of clicks away, we need to be learning how to process and analyse all that info, not memorize so much of it when computers are so much more efficient at that. Even in Ireland where education has been as sleepy and out of touch as anywhere else, there is a growing awareness for the need to change, even in the political and educational establishments themselves.
  • Factory based education. Universal public education came about when adult factory workers became disgruntled with all the cheap labour children and teens taking their jobs. A compromise was made: An education system that would produce well-drilled, obedient factory workers was put in place. The workers got their jobs back, and the factory owners got a steady production line of unquestioning, reliable drones.
  • Teacher Training: While we all know wonderfully passionate and hardworking teachers, too often I or my friends were treated as obstacles to an end of week pay-cheque. Teacher training needs to change to shift the emphasis from one right answer, being obedient and memorizing, to asking questions, coming up with different ideas and viewpoints, and creating. Aswell as teachers loving the kids and wanting with all their hearts to help them succeed. For an example in the kinds of teachers we need, check out this post by Jamie Lee from Kids at SWiTCH

I experienced this alot in school myself. Though not with that specific question.

The following article on Forbes touches on the majority of the above points and I’d recommend reading it.

I’ll be following this post up with a similar list of possible solutions over the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

What, in your opinion, are the education systems’ flaws?