This free Information Age Education newsletter is written by David
Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. For more information, see the end of
Two Big Questions:
- Are you, personally, satisfied with the quality of our
precollege education system and our teacher education system?
- If not, what are your recommendations on how to improve
This issue of the IAE Newsletter contains a few of my thoughts. To
share your thoughts with others, please go to http://iae-pedia.org/Talk:Substantially_Improving_Education
log in, and add your comments.
The Russian space vehicle
Sputnik 1 launched in 1957 ignited the space
race component of the Cold War between the USSR and the United States.
This led to explorations into our education system and substantially
increased funding for students wanting to do graduate work in science,
math, engineering, and technology. It also eventually led to the Nation
Science Foundation beginning to fund a substantial amount of inservice
education for precollege teachers of math and the sciences.
April 1983 report, A Nation At Risk, helped to “stir up” politicians,
business people, and educators throughout the country. Quoting from
an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to
impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists
today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we
have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the
gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge.
My (Dave Moursund) personal thoughts: Education can be improved
by increasing the number of good, experienced teachers who are well
prepared in content, content pedagogy, and general pedagogy. The
standards currently being set in some of the discipline areas are too
low. For example, see my Webpage http://iae-pedia.org/Communicating_in_the_Language_of_Mathematics
We could substantially improve math and science education at the
elementary school level by having these disciplines taught by math and
Looking at Current Times
Over the past decade there
have been a variety of tests that allow
international comparisons of educational systems. Two well-publicized
• The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS http://nces.ed.gov/timss/index.asp
data has been collected in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007.
• Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006. This
presents the results from the most recent PISA survey, which focused on
science and also assessed mathematics and reading. For video that
summarize some of the results, see: http://www.asiasociety.org/resources/losingedge.html
addition, recent data suggest that only about 70 to 75 percent of US
students are graduating from high school. and there is little evidence
that our overall educational system has significantly improved during
the past few decades.
My (Dave Moursund) personal thoughts: In
my opinion, our precollege educational system is slowly losing ground
in its battle with attention grabbing and attention holding non-school
activities such as the various forms of electronic games, audio media,
video media, and telecommunication systems. Increasingly, curriculum
content, instructional processes, and assessment are not authentic—they
are not very well aligned with the “real world outside of schools.” One
way to attach this problem is through a substantial increase in
project-based learning in which students draw upon their full range of
education and interests as they work to produce a product, performance,
or presentation. See http://iae-pedia.org/Good_PBL_Lesson_Plans
Looking into the
We are living at a time
where the pace of change in science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics is both high and is
increasing. Among other things, this is leading to the world becoming
“smaller” and an increasing global competition for jobs. Some of the
very rapidly change areas include computer technology (including
robotics), nanotechnology, gene technology, and brain science.
(Dave Moursund) personal thoughts: Here are two major flaws that I see
in our educational system. First, many students are not learning to
take responsibility for their own current education. Second, our
educational system is not preparing students for the continuing rapid
pace of globalization. There needs to be far more emphasis on the idea
of illustrated in the following assignment:
this class we
are currently studying (teacher gives a short description.) The
assignment is to select some aspect of this topic that you feel will
empower you to better deal with possible futures you envision in your
life, present arguments supporting this choice of topic, develop a plan
of action for substantially increasing your level of expertise in this
area, carry out your plan of action, and demonstrate your increased
level of expertise. (See http://iae-pedia.org/Tools_That_Empower_Students.)
About Information Age
Information Age Education (IAE) is a non-profit organization
to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world.
IAE is a project of the Science Factory, a 501(c)(3) science and
technology museum located in Eugene, Oregon. Current IAE activities
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a Website containing free books and articles at http://I-A-E.org, and the
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