Many people in the United States are not happy with our current educational system. Of course, many people in other countries are not satisfied with their current educational systems either. I recently read the following article that discusses changes going on in the United States and China.
Coppola, B P. & Zhao, Y. (2/5/2012). U.S. Education in Chinese Lock Step? Bad Move. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2/28/2012 from http://chronicle.com/article/US-Education-in-Chinese/130669/.
If brief summary, the United States seems to be trying to get “back to basics.” In some ways, the U.S. is moving in the direction of the way the Chinese educational system has been. On the other hand, in many ways the Chinese government is trying to move their educational system in the direction of the current U.S. educational system.
Quoting from the article:
The education systems in China and the United States not only are headed in opposite directions, but are aiming at exactly what the other system is trying to give up.
In the United States, through programs such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, as well as calls for more standardization and accountability in higher education, we are embracing the sort of regimented, uniform, standards-based, and test-driven education that has dominated Asian education systems for thousands of years.
What seems to be under appreciated in this country is how actively the Asian systems are trying to embrace the values and outcomes that we appear to be so willing to abandon: specifically, the American penchant for promoting creativity, individualism, innovation, and nonconformity.
For many years I have promoted changes in our (U.S.) educational system that incorporate appropriate use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the overall curriculum content, instructional processes, and assessment. In brief summary, I support:
- Changes that help to empower teachers and students. Teachers and students are not machines. Each teacher and each student is different—none are automatons.
- Content that recognizes both current and changing roles of ICT as an aid to representing and helping to solve the problems in each discipline.
- Teaching methodologies that more actively engage students in learning for understanding, higher-order thinking, and problem solving. Such methodologies engage students in doing rather than just learning about, memorizing, regurgitating, and preparing for tests.
- More formative assessment that provides good feedback to students and their teachers during the teaching and learning process. Less emphasis on high-stakes summative assessment and teaching to such tests.
- Much more rapid wide-scale adoption of continuing progress in the science of teaching and learning—including cognitive neuroscience. A nationwide initiative to incorporate such progress into highly interactive, intelligent computer assisted learning (HIICAL) systems that are made available at little or no costs to schools and higher education.
We have the knowledge and understanding to significantly improve our educational system. I believe that Coppola and Zhao are correct in their arguments that we are moving in a wrong direction.
What You Can Do
Every teacher is potentially an educational change agent. Think about potential educational changes that interest and concern you. Talk about these ideas with your professional colleagues, your students, and their parents. Carry out small experiments (action research) in your teaching to learn more about your ideas for change agents. Don't jump on the latest bandwagon—look before you leap!
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:
Faddism in education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/faddism-in-education.html.
Many of our students are weak in critical thinking. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/many-of-our-students-are-weak-in-critical-thinking.html.
Out-of-date education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/out-of-date-education.html.
Substantially decreasing the illnesses of elementitus and aboutitus in education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/substantially-decreasing-the-illnesses-of-element-itus-and-about-itis-in-education-.html.
We are doing way too much-high stakes testing. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/we-are-doing-way-too-much-high-stakes-testing.html.
Why isn't schooling a lot more successful? See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/why-isnt-schooling-a-lot-more-successful.html.