Here're some ideas I offer up for discussion.
What can we do to "fix" our current K-12 educational system?
For starters, let's start from scratch.
What if there was no public education? Too many children are falling by the wayside. Our society is dangerously polarized. We are falling farther and farther behind the rest of the world, and our economy is teetering on the edge. For the sake of our future, we must educate all children in this country. How do we do it?
Let's make our public education system democratic. Let's involve the entire community. Let's utilize all community resources: schools, libraries, informal science centers, parks, civic and professional groups.
Let's provide resources to preschool education as early as two years old. School attendance need not be mandatory till Kindergarten, but school should be available to ALL starting at the age of two.
School duty should be as mandatory as jury duty. As a sense of public pride, let's ALL commit to serving a certain number of hours, perhaps 20/year/person, to provide tutoring and other services to schools. There can be reasons to disqualify someone from school duty, or to allow someone to avoid it, but we'll work out the details later.
Let's remove the mandatory requirement to go to High School. Let's be realistic. If we lived up to our 8th grade standards, our children could work as soon as they turn 16. Why do we continue to require them to go to school if they don't want to? Let's let them decide. Let's let them find out how valuable education is. Let's have an open-door policy on our high schools. We should continue to provide a solid, college-prep curriculum for ALL students. We should provide this resource in the evenings and weekends as well as during the work day. Students should be able to enroll in High School at any age and follow the required curriculum on their time, with a limit on how long they can take to finish, but flexible.
Then, we MUST live up to our 8th grade standards.
And, let's integrate all subjects, as much as possible.
Let's use ALL appropriate methods of instruction and stop trying to fit our curricula into neat little boxes. We must use constructivism, inquiry, direct instruction and problem-based, project-based learning WHENEVER appropriate. Within and across lessons.
And, let's let the teachers decide. Every classroom doesn't have to be identical. That's NOT what democracy is all about.
But, every student should have access to the same resources and the same quality of teachers who are capable of designing a curriculum and assessing student's progress.
Every teacher should have a major in their field and a minor in education. Perhaps teacher education should take five years, like a CPA, engineer, or pharmacist.
Let's acknowledge that pedagogy nor content knowledge alone guarantee a good teacher. Teaching is a talent that can be developed like any other, but some people just aren't cut out to be teachers, no matter how smart, and others are just naturals and don't really need that much course work.
Let's provide professional development that works.
Let's make assessment transparent (more on this one in my next blog). For teachers, teachers of teachers, and students.
Let's acknowledge that the whole student must be educated, mind, body and spirit. Let's include music and art at every grade level. Let's allow every kid to participate in athletics at their own level.
Competitive sports should be pursued off-campus. All school coaches should be volunteers.
Have I left anything out? I'm sure I have.
How about safety? Nutrition? Length of the day? After school community involvement? Length of the year? Summer opportunities for students? Parental support systems? Parental requirements? Teacher salaries?
I particularly like how he calls for community involvement and democracy.
And, I missed the point about community service for students. That's a great idea!
So, provocative enough?
Let's talk about it!