Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wasting Minds

Ronald A. Wolk was a long time editor of Education Week and has long been involved in educational issues. His 2011 book Wasting Minds: Why our Education System is Failing and What We Can Do About It, discusses how we might change the education system to better meet the needs of our children. It is reminiscent of C. Schwahn and B. McGarvey's Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment. Both authors see our technology as being capable of being the driving force behind reenvisioning schools. Both see our current educational system as being so far from meeting the needs of our students and society as needing a complete redo.

Many educational professionals I have spoken with will give lip service to the idea that they feel all students should have Individual Educational Plans, like we do for students with special needs. They advocate differentiation to meet the needs of students in the classroom. That being said, I have yet to see differentiation actually work for either my gifted or my Aspie children. Teachers may say yes they will. The special education teachers wanted what was best and occasionally would proactively alter an assignment to meet the needs of my son, but rarely was anything done on a consistent basis. With a great deal of prodding they provided acceleration for my daughter, but separate assignments- not so much. The current age of CCSS testing has only made matters worse.

I agree with both sets of authors that schools are not going to evolve to provide individualization. We need a do over. We need an Apple compared with an Univax technology. While charter and laboratory schools were established to try out new ideas, most are now just variations of what is being done in the private sector. Some programs exist like the Met schools use a more different plan than most. Some innovative new constructions of schools have been built around technology access. Most "new" programs are not radical departures from the current plan.

In order to do this we need to create a parallel program that demonstrates the feasibility and success of a radically different program. There might be some increased support for such an idea at a time when opt-out of testing has created a national scandal. I am not necessarily talking about charters as they are used today, but charters of the past- innovative places to try out ideas. We need to see about using technology to meet individual needs. We need to ignore the idea of age-based grading and somehow figure out how to establish flexible multiage grouping. Think one room school houses on steroids of technology.

I think it can be done. Clearly others agree that it can be done. The question is do we have the social-political will to attempt the new build of our educational system.

No comments:

Post a Comment