Information Age Education Blog
Deep Insights into Problems with Our Educational System
Here are five poignant quotes from a collection that I have accumulated over the years (Moursund, n.d.):
- Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give. (United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959.)
- It takes a whole village to raise a child. (African Proverb.)
- We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. (Albert Einstein; German-born theoretical physicist and 1921 Nobel Prize winner; 1879–1955.)
- Imagine a school with children that can read or write, but with teachers who cannot, and you have a metaphor of the Information Age in which we live. (Peter Cochrane; United Kingdom engineer, technologist, and entrepreneur.)
- The most dangerous experiment we can conduct with our children is to keep schooling the same at a time when every other aspect of our society is dramatically changing. (Chris Dede, written statement to the PCAST panel, 1997; Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.)
Our children are growing up in a world that it is very different from the world faced by their parents and grandparents (Moursund, 2/15/2012). The first quote says that we owe our children a good education—it is a birthright. What constitutes a “good education” changes as the world changes.
The second quote reminds us that we all play a role in the education of our children. While “village” used to refer to a small settlement, we now live in a global village.
The third quote acknowledges that humanity has problems, and that to solve these problems we need to apply new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new tools. From my point of view, this means that “back to basics” is not an adequate approach.
The Pace of Change has Outstripped Our Educational System
The fourth and fifth quotes pinpoint a major problem—the pace of technological change in our world has outstripped our current educational system. Here are a few of the intertwined components of this very complex educational system:
- Home environments, including parents, siblings, grandparents, close friends, and so on.
- Community, state, national, and global environments.
- Sources of information and aids to processing this information—for example, books, media, and many aspects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
- Forms of entertainment, both traditional and ICT-based.
- Preschool, elementary school, middle school, secondary school, and post secondary school. This includes teachers and other school personnel, instructional materials teaching methods, assessment methods, building facilities, and so on.
- Education-related leadership, both non-political and political.
While this list can be expanded, it is long enough to serve the purposes of this short IAE Blog. Our educational processes and systems are slow to change relative to the pace of change in these six components. Children are growing up in a global village that is much, much different from the global village of their parents and grandparents. But our educational system continues to be mainly based on the thinking and implementation of these earlier generations, and many of them are today’s decision makers.
One striking fact is that the complex world of education—unlike defense, health care, or industrial production—does not rest on a strong research base. In no other field are personal experience and ideology so frequently relied on to make policy choices, and in no other field is the research base so inadequate and little used." (Improving Student Learning; National Research Council; 1999.)
We need to be investing more heavily in educational research and in ways to widely implement the results of the best of this research.
What You Can Do
Think about some of the roles you play in our global village educational system. What are things that you, personally, can do to help improve the system? You don’t have to deal with all of the components listed in the previous section. You merely need to involve yourself in some part of one or more these components or some other component that you add to the list.
For example, each interaction you have with a student gives you a chance to learn from the student and to help shape the education of that student. It is a chance to do something—to help bridge the gap between you and the student. Keep in mind:
An individual understands a concept, skill, theory, or domain of knowledge to the extent that he or she can apply it appropriately in a new situation. (Howard Gardner; American psychologist and educator; 1943–.)
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.
Each of us can help improve education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/each-of-us-can-help-improve-education.html.
Grand challenge problems in education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/grand-challenge-problems-in-education.html.
Purposes of education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/purposes-of-education.html.
Some underlying theory about electronic games. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/some-underlying-theory-about-electronic-games-in-education.html.
Video games, problem solving, and James Gee. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/video-games-problem-solving-and-james-gee.html.
Moursund, D. (n.d.). Quotations collected by David Moursund. Retrieved 9/14/2012 from http://iae-pedia.org/Quotations_Collected_by_David_Moursund.
Moursund, D. (2/15/2012). Some grand global challenges. Retrieved 9/14/2012 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/some-grand-global-challenges.html.
Written by davem, September 16, 2012.
The current design of our K-12 educational system precludes it keeping up with the pace of change of Information and Communication Technology. Our current system is deeply rooted in content, pedagogy, and assessment that changes very little from generation to generation.
Highly interactive intelligent computer assisted learning that is well rooted in teaching and learning theory will be a large part of the solution to this problem. Such instruction can thoroughly integrate use of computer technology to help solve the types of problems and tasks that students are studying. Such systems allow for rapid changes in content, pedagogy, and assessment that are just not possible in our current system.
We are just at the beginning of this change. Over the next decade we will see a rapid growth in hybrid courses, with a steadily increasing amount of content taught by computers and much more class time spent in human to human interactions making use of the content taught by computers.