“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
1. Our educational system is in need of a paradigm shift.
2. We have a shortage of truly great teachers.
3. Despite government regulations, our children ARE being “left behind”.
Only now is American government beginning to realize that all those other countries that we never really paid attention to before have suddenly sprouted strong economies and their educational systems are harnessing available technologies faster than we ever have. We’re falling behind globally in many fields, and education is the most important of these.
As wonderful a step forward as public education was, it hasn’t kept up with all of the changes in the world around it. We still have the same basic emphasis in our schools – training one child to perform one job. In our present-day reality those simple jobs don’t exist. As new markets and technologies emerge, new jobs are created and people are needed to fill them. Some of the job skills that are deemed vital today were unimportant five years ago and every day more are added to the list. People must adapt to new types of challenges every day and be able to fill whatever positions are open in the companies of today.
But sadly we continue to teach in the same way we have for decades. Even with the integration of computers into our schools, most classroom learning is still accomplished via rote memorization and note-taking. Very little teaching of that type occurs in real-world work today, where an employee is given a project and told to accomplish it and are then expected to teach themselves whatever skills necessary for the project’s completion. In the workplace of today, employees are educated by actually facing a problem and developing the skills and strategies to overcome it, in much the same way that we taught ourselves how to speak and walk as infants.
Because of the failure of education to adapt to the changing needs of the world around it, we’re being forced to cope with the problems the old system has caused. Our system of education is still set up the way it was back in the Industrial Revolution; attempting to educate the average student at a rate frustrating to the exceptionally gifted and those needing more reinforcement in order to succeed. Students in low-income areas attend schools that can’t provide the same resources to them that their counterparts in higher-income areas receive. Thousands of students graduate from college every year with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to repay and find they are competing with ever-increasing numbers of graduates for the same jobs and are consequently forced to take whatever job they can in order to pay off educational loans. This creates a type of educational inflation – because so many people are obtaining bachelor’s degrees, positions now require master’s degrees, or P.H.D.s. Whereas, in the past, obtaining your bachelor’s set you apart now it simply shows that you’ve done the bare-minimum.
Our educational system has long been criticized for its chronic inability to adapt to the world around it. It is sad that it has taken major change in other fields, such as politics or technology, to cause it to re-evaluate itself and recognize the need for change. The past two decades have proven again and again that more efficient and engaging ways of teaching exist and that they are inexpensive and easily accessible to the public.
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” – Alan Cohen
This is the time for change.
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