Published: Saturday, May 4 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT
I usually agree with John Florez, but on this piece he's missing some
essential ingredients.I grew up with the old "industrial"
system, in a classroom with a bunch of other kids, we didn't have any
computers, we barely had calculators when I was in HS. After graduating with a
degree in Economics in 1988, I found the job market for economists was slim, so
I went into IT. I could not have been luckier, as IT has become one of the
great differentiators in our economy. I scored in the 99% percentile on the
ACT, so I'm extremely fortunate that way, too.Technology works
great for self-starters, for the naturally technically adept, for the 30% of
kids who are bright enough to see where it can take them. I might have been
able to skip school altogether if computers were around when I was in K-12.But what about all the other kids?There is extensive,
rigorous academic research behind education and the science of how kids learn.
Throwing 20-something tech-savvy kids in the classroom as teachers isn't
enough.Nothing replaces a caring, competent teacher.
To 10CC, you seem to have missed John Florez's point entirely. He never
said there would be no teachers. He argued for creating a competitive
environment for education similar to the one that exists for business. That
would lead to innovation and result in a better product for lower cost. It
would also lead to a wider variety of options, allowing parents to choose a way
of educating their child suited to their child's learning style.
After I read this article, I found it to be a lot of words with no substance. I
didn't read one concrete idea on how to change a classroom. As a teacher, I
embraced technology. I created slideshows, lesson plans, homework which went
with our daily lessons, and so many other things. We used our excellent computer
lab almost daily on an excellent program to help a child work on their
particular levels in language arts and math. The only thing missing was parental
involvement with some students. That made a HUGE difference. How much time as
John Florez spent in a classroom. By the way, class sizes are slowly inching up
again. 36 just in 6th grade. Pathetic.
All if this sounds nice but what does it mean? I haven't read one actual
idea or plan from this piece. It would essentially be like me coming out and
wishing for world peace. Great concept. Yet how do we get it?
There is this incorrect idea, as pointed out above, that students and teachers
are not using technology. There is also this incorrect idea that technology
will solve all the problems that ill education. The biggest pieces are
simply:1) Student responsibility. This is seldom mentioned but at
some point the student has to become accountable for their own education. At
the secondary level this might mean attend class, track your own progress, tune
into the teacher rather than your own technological toys or the opposite gender
or the basketball game etc. 2) Parent accountability. Parents must
work with their children, support their children, support the schools, get
involved, track and monitor attendance and progress of their child.A
local junior high earned a grant to give every student an i-pad. It won't
solve all ills. The high schools can't provide this technology. But
teachers do have access to smart boards, and use labs and even the
children's access to it through cell phones all the time. The premise that
technology isn't being used is wrong. However, it isn't the same
everywhere and without the two pieces above, technology won't solve
Another thing, I'm not sure I would grasp onto the business model. Has
anyone seen our economy lately? Most businesses fail. Education isn't, or
should I say, shouldn't be a business and children aren't widgets and
teachers need to be more than industrial workers. Like most of Mr.
Florez's pieces, all talk and no walk. Also, a total lack of understanding
the real issues of education is evident. To infer teachers and schools
aren't using technology isn't the issue. But if our teachers had a
fighting chance with reasonably sized classes that might help. If salaries and
benefits restored so good teachers could be retained at higher rates and better
skilled individuals drawn to the profession that might help. If parents got
more positively involved, that would help. If steps were required to make
students even more accountable for their learning that would help. By and
large, the role of government might be to give the teachers and schools the
tools to succeed and a better outcome might come about. And by tools I
don't technology but treating the human beings that work with our children
a lot better.
Cs85:Howard Beal effectively answers your objection. It's
irresponsible to simply deregulate education. What if a group of left wing
hippie parents decide that having tests and grades is wrong and they do away
with them altogether? How are Universities and colleges supposed to evaluate
how the students from such a system might be candidates for admission?
Employers?In the world of business, many entities and ideas fail.
How do we handle students who are the products of failed, defunct, half-baked
approaches?What if we deregulated medicine, too? Surgeons generally
adhere to "best practices", and health insurance companies don't
pay for quack treatments. They demand results.We should do the same
with education. Why should the public have to pay for "quack"
educational ideas that come and go, not based on research and academic
knowledge? I don't want to pay for a group of fundamentalist Christians
who think prayer replaces studying.Under the covers, deregulating
education is an irresponsible idea.
Some of us seem to look at education as some product we can buy, take home, and
latter return if we don’t like it. The thing that’s wrong with that
notion is that by the time we find out it is the wrong fit, we may not have time
left to try something else. John says: “The new education
system ought to allow for innovation, risk-taking, the ability to adapt to
change, and yes, allow for failure.” I wonder if he would also advise
that for doctors and health care. The strategy of innovation,
risk-taking, the ability to adapt to change, and even failure are great in the
laboratory but don’t belong on the operating table or in the development
of children’s minds. The practice of medicine and education
should use the very best consensus of knowledge available, not the whim and
ulterior motives of individuals. The problem with local control of
schools is the likelihood that the children will be indoctrinated rather than
10CC:Well said. I would add another concern over say the mantra of
"local" and state control that actually happened in our schools. It was
called segregation. It had heinous educational results. Only the federal
government could change that because states wouldn't.
One way to encourage innovation in education is to encourage home schooling. If
parents could be paid just 1/2 of what the school gets to educate their
children, and were provided with good tools and advisors along with some
accountability built into the program, we'd have better educated kids at a
lot less cost.
I'm not going to rag on home schooling because some parents do a real good
at it. Their children are well prepared for college and life. I live next door
to a family that has home-schooled and their children are well educated and
capable, somewhat socially awkward but nothing to a troubling level.However, many parents are not equipped to home school their children. They are
not equipped intellectually or emotionally to do this. And with the home school
situation above, what made their story ultimately successful is there came a
point in certain subjects where the parents knew their limitations and actually
sent their children to the local public school for a few classes. I think
homeschooling through elementary is probably possible but much past that could
be problematic. I know some homeschooling parents do pool together resources
and knowledge to deal with these problems but even then, sometimes lack of
knowledge in some areas still brings challenges.And for other
parents, homeschooling is not an economic option. Give the parents say the
total amount of money Utah invests per pupil would be about 7K. That
wouldn't pay the bills. Then there is single-parent issue...
I would be interested if Mr. Florez supports the new Common Core Curriculum that
directly opposes what he just proposed. If anyone thinks that the Department of
Education has anything to offer other than the power to dominate a failed
system, they are sorely mistaken. I challenge anyone to give me one thing that
the Department of Education does with literally billions of lost dollars that
couldn't be handled with greater dexterity and effectiveness at the state
and local level. The Education establishment is colossal in its reach, power,
and impotence. Instead of increasing class time, longer days, and more money,
testing in Education should allow students to gain credit by passing a test and
spending less time in class, not more. Students have access to the technology
to forge ahead in unlimited ways only to be thwarted by a lethargic educational
dinosaur that is used mostly as a babysitter by more and more parents. Instead
of offering more freedom, government reaches for more control and more money.
Reading, writing, and arithmatic should be taught. Let the students find places
outside of school or after hours in specialized course offerings. Children are
ready. Let them go!
Want to change education? Deregulate it and involve "digital natives,"
as Marc Prensky labeled them — the under 30 crowd that grew up with
technology. They are the ones who understand how the technological revolution
has changed our world and how our education system is stuck in the industrial
era. QUOTEI don't buy this idea and don't appreciate
efforts to split people by generation.There are tens of millions of
people, well over thirty, who understand perfectly the widespread use of
computers in the world, and that their bank accounts, utility bills, and
business generally is centered on computer technology.They see both
advantages and disadvantages to such changes and experience both every day.Middle aged and elderly people use computers, even typing with both
hands and not just two fingers. They are neither stupid nor ignorant and
neither is everyone under-thirty a computer whizz. Like older folk they use the
internet for shopping, information, communication and media. Admittedly there's a generation, specifically those now in their eighties
and perhaps even seventies, who prefer the old ways, and who have that right,
and properly retain their right to vote too.
If Florez is right then the current tech revolution should be a powerful
democratizing force. But the distribution of wealth is increasingly top heavy.
What's going on? I agree with Florez that the under 30 crowd have a lot to
teach us, but a silver bullet they aren't nor will be.
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