[Note: The following is a response to the 2 Feb. 2013 report, “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence,” by the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. -Editor]
For some time we have been working around an obsolete model of education with the idea that, if we just somehow make the old model better, education will be better. I do not believe technology blindly applied is the answer, but look at three to five year olds and how they have learned to use iPads without a course in iPad usage.
Real reform will include the following:
- Every child will have an Individual Learning Plan.
- Every child will have a mentor teacher.
- Schools and educational staff will be open at least ten hours each day and open year round.
- High quality digital libraries will be accessible to learners at home and at schools.
- Schools will offer laboratories and facilities where learners can work together in teams or individually.
- Significant federal research and development funds will be available to create high quality digital learning materials.
- Teachers will participate in continuous learning with respect to new curricula materials.
- Learners will be scheduled for learning experiences as needed.
WE need to stop tinkering around the old school model that did us well yesterday but is inadequate for today’s digital world.
Schools shall also include things like Space Camps.
Schools shall include business cooperatives as in Germany where older students learn in real world experiences such as working side by side with personnel in such factories as BMW.
This is my 65th year in education. My first technology was a box of Crayons. We knew then that learners lost out during summer vacations. WE knew then that kids were not used to harvest crops in the summer, but even today we still let schools close in the summer so the kids can help with the harvest. It is important that young kids have alternative activities from sitting in a classroom, but to close a rich facility is foolish. WE need to organize schools so that there are multiple experiences. Each learner can have his/her own plan, and, as educators, we need to make the resources available to them year round to meet their learning objectives.
Learning resources and educational personnel can and should be accessible 24/7 year round. Teachers, mentors, and tutors should be accessible to learners daily year round. Learners should be free to learn individually and in teams in project-based learning environments. It is inevitable that technologies will shape our future learning environments. WE just need to be smart enough to help mold the future. WE need to stop tinkering with old outmoded models and reinforce new ideas. Learning resources should include schools, museums, and camps.
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