As promised, a few more tips for improving our education system…
4. Change the methods. Sitting and listening to someone talk. Bo-ring. How many adults would actually pay attention the entire time? Now cut that number in half and you’ll have the approximate number of students who are actually paying attention to a lecture. If it’s dull, you better believe their brains are elsewhere. There’s a lot going on for teens these days. They have a lot to deal with. If you want them to be engaged, you need to make it relevant and interesting.
So dump the worksheets. Toss the thirty-minute lecture. And meet your students where they are. Go into their world and make the subject applicable to their lives.
5. Don’t knock the arts. The U.S. is terrified that we’re behind in math and science. “More math and science classes!” we say. “We need engineers and scientists!” But all the math and science classes in the world are of little worth without some creativity. People don’t develop inventions because they took a lot of classes. Inventions are born from the skill to see possibilities and apply knowledge. That takes creativity. And where do you find creativity? The arts, my friends, the arts.
I was lucky enough to attend a high school that was focused on the cultural arts. Nearly everyone in my small school was in either band, chorus, or orchestra. We were required to take 4 years of a foreign language, rather than the standard 2, and there were other creative elective options like theatre, speech/debate, art, and journalism. Most, if not all, of the top ten students in my class were involved in at least two of those creative activities. (And if you’d like to know all of the extracurriculars I was in, I’d be happy to furnish a list.) 😉
So there you have my top five ways to improve our education system.
If we recognize that the system is broken, why do we keep adding to it? We should be reimagining it, creating a new system. We need to recognize that memorization does not equate learning, and the most useful knowledge is not often learned at a desk.
I hope we recognize that before it’s too late.