Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Headspacej Head's Up

I'm pretty sure that this blog is due for a transformation of sorts. I'm thinking that in August I'll re-launch with a revised focus. Something to do with aspirations, self-actualization, lifestyle planning, and how real learning can prepare people for the future of work. Educational technology and instructional design are fine, but I did some recent thinking about what I'm actually interested in.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Catching the Knowledge Wave

I really got into this excellent presentation from Jane Gilbert: Catching the Knowledge Wave? (online PowerPoint). It's simple, but offers a vision for learning that I agree with wholeheartedly. It seems like many progressive educators are thinking in this direction, but will society ever catch up? I liked her take on learning in the future:
  • involves generating knowledge not storing it
  • is primarily a group - not an individual - activity
  • happens in ‘real world’, problem-based contexts
  • should be ‘just-in-time’, not ‘just-in-case’
  • needs to be à la carte, not en bloc.
Thanks to Stephen Harlow and his nifty new blog, called Only Connect.

Stressed-Out Students

I wanted to save Will's quote from the front lines:
"Public education in general just seems so locked in to standards that all we seem to be producing are standardly good students. There's a surprise. So few of my students have passion, originality, or the motivation to figure out what THEY want as opposed to what we expect them to want. I know it took me a while to find my passions as well, but wouldn't it be great if we could create an environment that nurtured that exploration in kids instead of deadened them with conformity?"
On a more positive note, he also posted a link to a video created by Intel to explain the benefits of blogging in a high school journalism class. Good stuff -- this certainly goes a step toward creating that creative, nurturing environment he referred to in his quote.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Real Accountability in Education

If the goal of our current K-12 system is to create well-rounded citizens with a solid base of knowledge, why isn't that goal being tested properly? I keep hearing about accountability and standards and learning outcomes, but are any of these things artifacts of authentic, lasting learning? If the system is working, then five years after graduating from high school, most students should still remember a good chunk of the most important things they were taught and be able to show how they might be applied in the real world.

How well would you do on a Grade 11 algebra exam right now? How's your current knowledge of your country's political history? Photosynthesis? Even those of us who remember some of this stuff would have a hard time explaining how the "knowledge" had helped us in any meaningful way. Educational reformers would tend to agree that the system is not achieving its goals (maybe has never achieved them), but the solution isn't to do more of the same thing...it's time to question the goals themselves.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Post-Secondary Debt and Economic Mobility

There's no shortage of articles covering the rising costs of post-secondary education, but these two articles go a step further and discuss how the economic landscape has changed. Meanwhile, our expectations of the education system have mostly stayed the same.

The Ambition Tax: Why America's young are being crushed by debt -- and why no one seems to care.
"The myth of economic mobility has taken quite a drubbing lately, and rightly so. In September 2002, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Bhash Mazumder, concluded that 'the persistence in inequality is about 50 percent higher than previously thought' -- in other words, jumping from one class to the next is trickier than advertised. More recently, a pair of French economists, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, found that between 1973 and 2000, the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers saw their average real income fall by 7 percent."
Alternative Pathways to College
"Like de facto sorting machines left over from an earlier age, the design of these schools is still rooted in the idea of sending high-achieving students on to college while allowing others to step off the educational track to pursue a vocation or, for nongraduates, to fill unskilled labor slots. That is an untenable model for a 21st century society rooted in a knowledge-based economy, where highly skilled and educated workers are becoming the norm."