Does 21st Century Education Require an Education Revolution?

This outline is from a proposal to the Rotary Club of San Jose Program Committee on topics for an Education Series of speakers for our Club. It is intended to suggest that the series start with a high level assessment of the education system in general and then have further presentations on other relevant educational issues.

1)       Introduction to Revolution in Education

a)       “Fix it up or trade it in” story

b)       Always been a systems type of guy (GST, MIS, ChaosTheory…)

c)       Been educating at University level and seen the product of our secondary schools

d)       Read through the 479 pages of the California Department of Education Draft CTE Model Curriculum Standards… [zzzz]

e)       The best, most effective education happens when the student asks the question

2)       Education in Santa Clara County, California, USA is Institutionalized

a)       Lots of infrastructure built and bought with specific class size and instructional objectives in mind

b)       Lots of large organizations with their own agendas and objectives attempting to hammer out some type of compromise

i)         Federal, State, County “offices of education” [administration]

(1)     Metrics that don’t reflect success, just progress

ii)       Teachers’ unions [teachers’ representatives]

iii)      An educational “military industrial complex” text book publishers et al

iv)      Lobbying groups of every size and description

c)       Lots of small stakeholders squeezed out of the process

i)         Students

ii)       Parents

iii)      Neighborhoods

d)       Structure/institutionalization of education results:

i)         literally beats the spontaneity, creativity and innovation out of our children [‘sit still and be quiet’]

ii)       rewards mediocrity [how does a teacher teach to a class of 25?]

iii)      targets college for everybody [and then suggests that we need to have a more robust manufacturing economy]

iv)      fails to teach in ways the student will retain the knowledge [forgetting curve]

v)       passes students who spend the time but don’t learn the material

vi)      attempts to teach as if every student learns the same way and at the same rate

vii)    squeezes the fun out of school

viii)   results in an educational option continuum with institutional education on one end and home school at the other

ix)      costs the taxpayer about $10,000 per student per year

x)       permanence which prevents any meaningful change in the process [punctuated equilibrium]

xi)      lots of meaningful improvement suggestions that take almost an act of Congress to become reality

xii)    lots of marginal improvements that have very little impact on the overall education of our children

3)       An increasing expectation/mandate that parents should drop off their child at 5 and pick them up at 18 ready for Harvard or Stanford

4)       Matriculating about half that are unprepared for college

5)       …What would education look like if:

a)       a neighborhood started with

b)       a clean sheet of paper [as if the entire educational institution had disappeared over night]

c)       and included *only* students, parents and a few local teachers as participants [isn’t this what all of education is about?]

d)       and funded it with, say, only $5,000 per student per year…?

e)       …what design and plan and objectives and metrics would they come up with?

f)         …is there any possibility that we could morph our existing educational institution to even come close [yeah, right]?

6)       Time for a revolution in education? Should we trade our existing education system for a new one?

…To quote a great work:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

…who can tell me where this quote comes from???

7)       I suggest that the Education Program Series start with revolution and then see if solving evolutionary issues will correct the educational institution

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