“There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” (Henry Louis “H.L.” Mencken; American journalist, essayist, editor; 1880-1956.)
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” (Albert Einstein; German-born theoretical physicist and 1921 Nobel Prize winner; 1879-1955.)
An intact human brain has a tremendous capability to learn to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Moreover, humans have developed and continue to develop powerful aids to their cognitive and physical capabilities.
The development of reading, writing, and arithmetic led to the “invention” of schools. The three R’s are powerful aids to representing and solving problems and to accumulating knowledge and skills that can be shared as well as passed on to future generations. Thus, our educational systems continually work to improve the teaching and learning of the three R’s.
Of course, we want people to learn more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. We want them to learn to make effective use of these skills as an aid to solving problems and accomplishing tasks. We want students to be critical, creative thinkers as they use these tools. Rote memory approaches to education just do not suffice!
For thousands of years humans have been faced by the problem of how to design, implement, and improve schools so they better meet the needs of students and our societies. This ongoing problem is exacerbated by continual growth in the total accumulation of human knowledge and the development of tools that help in solving problems and accomplishing tasks (Moursund, 2016b). For example, we now have Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that can help to solve a wide range of problems. With a combination of the three R’s, the Internet, and the Web, a student can access a huge and steadily growing amount of information. Moreover, as computers become faster and “smarter,” artificially intelligent ICT systems are steadily growing in their ability to actually solve problems and accomplish tasks (Moursund, 2016a).
The brief summary given above leads to two questions: (1) What constitutes “good” schooling? (2) What can we do to improve our schools? I am fully aware of the two quotations I have provided at the start of this IAE Blog. Moreover, I am aware of Alexander Pope’s statement, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” (Pope, 1711).
So, here is my simple solution to improving schooling. Make research-based changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment so that the current and steadily growing capabilities of ICT are effectively and fully integrated.
- Give far more emphasis to the goal of empowering students by improving their knowledge and skills in solving problems and accomplishing tasks (Moursund, 7/1/2016). You have heard the expression, “Viewing the world through rose-colored glasses.” I believe we should view schooling through “problem-solving colored glasses.”
- In each area that students study in school, help students make use of what they are learning as an aid to posing, recognizing, and solving problems. Remember that each discipline of study is defined by the problems it addresses, its accumulated knowledge, its tools and specialized language, and so on (Moursund, 2016c).
- Design and implement content, pedagogy, and assessment so that they routinely make effective use of “reasonably” up-to-date ICT and other research-based improvements designed to increase student learning and performance. Especially, if an ICT system can solve or greatly help in solving a problem or accomplishing a task that students are studying, then include the appropriate ICT in curriculum content, pedagogy, and assessment.
There are many other ways to help improve education. For example, we know that growing up in poverty is a major handicap to getting a good education (Moursund, 5/2/2014). Moreover, schooling is only part of a person’s lifelong informal and formal education. My ideas given above can be expanded to include all aspects of people’s ongoing, lifelong efforts to empower themselves and others, to help improve their own and other people’s quality of life, and to make the world a better place for all.
What You Can Do
Develop your own philosophy of lifelong learning for yourself and others. Decide what roles you want to play in helping yourself and others routinely participate in “good” and ongoing education that best serves your own personal needs, the needs of others, and the needs of the world.
References and Resources
Moursund, D. (2016a). Artificial intelligence. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 10/29/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Artificial_Intelligence.
Moursund, D. (2016b). Information underload and overload. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 10/29/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Information_Underload_and_Overload.
Moursund, D. (2016c). Problem solving. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 10/29/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Problem_Solving.
Moursund, D. (7/1/2016). Neuroscience, global education, and world cooperation on problem solving. IAE Blog. Retrieved 10/29/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/neuroscience-global-education-and-world-cooperation-on-problem-solving.html.
Moursund, D. (5/2/2014). Hungry children—America’s shame. IAE Blog. Retrieved 10/29/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/hungry-children-america-s-shame.html.
Pope, A. (1711). An essay on criticism. Wikipedia. Retrieved 10/29/2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fools_rush_in_where_angels_fear_to_tread.