Overhauling the Education System – Not an If but a When?
|April 11, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Education, Policy, Youth Development||
The debate over who is to blame for the state of public education in America (the usual suspects are “unqualified” teachers, “lazy” students, “absentee” or “helicopter” parents or “all-powerful” unions) is hardly new, but it never seems to get old, especially in an election year. New research from the Brookings Institution highlights the fact that classroom materials may have as much of an impact on student learning as teacher effectiveness. Unfortunately, while teacher effectiveness is now legislated and tied to compensation, there is little data on the overall effectiveness of the very instructional materials teachers use due to the logistics and costs associated with such a large-scale study.
Perhaps instead of micromanaging teachers, textbooks and lunches, the thing that will bring real change is – an actual REAL CHANGE. A paper from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation argues that secondary education in the United States should be re-conceived and rebuilt to better address variations in learning and the ineffectiveness of institutional, standardized educational opportunities. The brief, It takes a whole society: opening up the learning landscape in the high school years by Robert Halpern of the Erikson Institute looks at the drawbacks of institutional learning, as well as examples of secondary education in other countries and how such approaches might be (and already are) implemented in American schools. Methods to increase student engagement and practical problem-based learning while lessening the grip of traditional institutions and models (labor unions, school administration, classroom learning) include,
- year-round youth apprenticeships,
- quality Career-Technical Education (CTE), and
- more and varied off–campus learning opportunities.
Would such a model result in a better educational and vocational foundation for young adults? Would the high school experience described in the paper lessen the pressure to follow it with four or more years (at a total average cost of $26,000-$100,000) for a Bachelors degree in order to develop talent, skills and enhance hire-ability? Does our educational system really require a severe overhaul to better meet the needs of youth academically, socially and developmentally?