|Issue Number 5||
The current criticisms of
our educational system are nothing new. See,
for example, The Saber-tooth Curriculum by J. Abner Peddiwell available
In this 1939 parody on our educational system, a caveman
gets the idea that children should be taught useful skills. Soon a
formal curriculum is developed, designed to fit the needs of the times.
Children are taught “fish-grabbing” (the barehanded catching of fish),
“horse-clubbing” (clubbing the type of small horse used for meat), and
“tiger-scaring” (using fire to scare away the saber-toothed tiger).
Over time, this curriculum becomes more and more out of date.
For a more recent parody see David Moursund’s 1987 short article Chesslandia available at http://iae-pedia.org/Chesslandia. This portrays an educational system completely focused on teaching all children to play chess well enough to avoid being eaten by the wild Chess-playing Monsters that roam the countryside. The development of computer systems that could play chess better than humans eventually made the educational system completely obsolete.
Looking at Current TimesDuring the past 15 years, authentic assessment—accompanied by authentic instruction and authentic content—has received considerable emphasis in education. See, for example, http://jonathan.mueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/whatisit.htm. There are two key ideas. First, content, instruction, and assessment should be aligned. Second, education should prepare students to deal with the types of problems and tasks they will face in non-school (“real world”) environments.
Looking into the Future
One of the major goals of
education is to help prepare students for
the opportunities and responsibilities they will face in the future.
Thus, one might expect that many educators and educational leaders
would be futurists, spending a lot of their time trying to understand
possible futures that their students might face.
Some aspects of this futuristic endeavor have led our educational system to understand that learning to learn, learning to take responsibility for one’s own learning, and learning to deal with change are all essential components of a modern education. Unfortunately, our overall educational system is not particularly strong in dealing with these general goals.
When it comes to more detailed forecasts of the future, our educational system does still more poorly. Consider a child who started first kindergarten earlier this fall. What will the world be like when this child is finishing high school, community college, or four years of college? What can this child be learning that helps prepare for the advances in technology and medicine that will occur during this time? See http://iae-pedia.org/20/20_Vision_for_2020_Challenges for an excellent article by Bob Sylwester, an educator who has specialized in brain science and its potential contributions to education.
Perhaps the heart of the matter is to provide students with an education in which they routinely learn to work with and learn about Information and Communication Technology and the other technologies that are changing our world. Include an emphasis on how such technologies are changing and contributing to each of the curriculum areas students are studying. For further reading on this topic, see http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.
About Information Age Education, Inc.
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