Education 2020

I love teachers. Hell, I married one. I have three kids who became teachers. Many close friends are teachers.

One thought I believe to be true: The majority of men and women teachers are dedicated and doing the best they can with a system that has been screwed over by ignorant politicians.

Unfortunately I believe the educational system we now have is broken and can’t be fixed.

My point is I’m having a problem with the future of education. I’ve had an ongoing debate with myself about discussing the future of education here in this blog.

Future education will depend totally on technology. It doesn’t feel right. But, it probably is. Unless you can give me a good argument against my premise.
I don’t mean sitting a kid down in front of a computer and saying, “learn.”
Boring. Maybe one child in 20 could force himself to stare at the screen and learn something. Most would fall asleep or figure out a way to hack the silly machine.

Let me explain.

Before discussing the future, I have to look at my parents’ education experience, my own, my children and my grandchildren’s  education experience. I know those four generations intimately. I know how we learned, what we learned and why we learned it.

From the early days of public education until thirty or forty years ago the hired teachers were the best and the brightest females of their respective schools. Teachers were mostly female. The discriminatory glass ceiling was in any other career a female might be interested in. Teaching was always a respected profession and I don’t know many older Americans who don’t have at least one teacher in their background who inspired them to learn and achieve.
There have always been wonderful dedicated men teachers, too. But, even today they are less than 25% of the almost four million elementary and secondary instructors.
teacher 3

A slow creaky door started opening for women in business, law, medicine, science, military, and even NASCAR.  Suddenly jobs that weren’t a consideration were now not only available, but opportunities to rise to the top. Females became CEOs, Chief Engineers, Head Surgeons, Judges, Ministers and Astro-Physicists

There were still dedicated men and women who wanted to teach more than they wanted to have a more lucrative career. Just not as many per school.

So instead of the top 1/3 of the class going into teaching, the bottom 1/3 of the class did. Unfortunately that coincided with the politicians wanting more say so in curriculum and method, but at the same time cutting more and more funds from education.

We’ve watched the USA fall further and further behind many other countries. In the last fifteen years we have made no progress compared to most other countries. In the 2012 PISA test (Program for Student Assessment) we were about the same as we were in 2000. A great big MEDIOCRE.

One half million 15 year- old students in thirty four countries took the test. In math we were below average and ranked 17th. In Science we about average and ranked 21st. In reading we were 17th.

We are FIFTH in spending per pupil. The Slovak Republic, which scores equal to the USA in all subjects spends $53,000 per student. We spend $115,000 per student. To be fair, we have a horrible poverty problem for such a rich country. The thirty four countries average 7% in socio-economically disadvantaged students (Poor). A few countries like Vietnam, China, Korea, Singapore have 13% in the poor category. The United States has 25% socio-economically disadvantaged (Poor).

We have this multi-pronged mess of spending too much for too little. The people who are trying to solve the problem are also a mess. Most of the left-wing and right-wing ideologues have never had a job. Never. Had. A. Job. They spend all of their time raising money for the next election (city, county state, federal) and their whole life is leaning as far right or as far left as the political donations demand.
Here are their two diverse solutions:

Conservative: Break up teacher unions. Teachers are overpaid and not held responsible for their poor student scores. Fire the teachers with the lowest class test scores. Hold administrators responsible, too. Fire them and take over their school if they can’t produce better results. Stop spending so much money on education. Give vouchers to parents for the schools of their choice and have more competition with private schools for the students.

Liberal: Go back to the days of the best and the brightest. Pay teachers as other professionals are paid. They should be on a scale like doctors, lawyers, etc. Then the best and brightest will come back to teaching. Pay bonus money for teaching in poor areas.

I know there are more viewpoints, but my opinion is neither plan will work. |
To bring four million teachers pay up to what other professionals are making is fiscally impossible.
To fire tons of teachers who are given impossible tasks to teach kids like my parents and I were taught is also wrong-headed and also impossible.

However a kind of compromise of ideas is what has to happen in the next ten years. I predict it will happen by 2020.
We need excitement about learning. We need enthusiastic SUPER TEACHERS.
We need the best possible methods and curriculum.

Every classroom will have a giant TV screen on the wall. Class size will average 50-60 students(twice the size of today’s classroom). The video course will be taught by a Super-Teacher. Like a doctor, lawyer or engineer, these Super Teachers will be paid accordingly. Their video course will have engaging interactive videos, Tedtalks, essay prompts, professionally produced video of current events, interactive challenges and games students can play with other students around the world, printable worksheets and assessment tests. In each classroom will be a Classroom Facilitator. A $15-$18 dollar an hour room facilitator making sure kids are behaving and equipment is working.
Multi Media Internet Laptop with ObjectsNo need for teacher unions so the right is happy.

The best and the brightest are once again teaching our youth so the liberals are happy. Each course taught will be the best possible efficient and interesting course available in the country. No child will be left behind. Our country will finally have equity in every classroom.

Those ignorant old farts in Washington aren’t going to improve a thing. You, my friend, have to demand it. Or, maybe you have a better idea. Let me hear it.

About bakoheat

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7 Responses to Education 2020

  1. That’s a good idea for an education delivery method. If we created interactive software programs for education the way that Rosetta Stone teaches language or Aleks teaches chemistry, we’d need fewer teachers, waste less time on test prep, and do less work engaging a kid’s attention. That would also get the poor things done with the classroom and outside living life more often.

    It’s a shame that isn’t the only problem with our education system. They’re teaching kids to function in a world that no longer exists. Intel published a report a couple of years ago that said by 2025, most people will work like contractors instead of for companies long-term. So kids need to be learning how to pitch projects to companies, how to run one on their own, how to build a brand or put a team together, and how to use technology to collaborate with coworkers who live and work on the other side of the world.

    Even the best private schools aren’t teaching that.

    Workers need to be innovative and self-directed now. But the schools make them sit for long hours and ask permission to go to the bathroom. Sounds like training for a cubicle farm when those are on their way out.

    • bakoheat says:

      Great ideas, Mandy. I think you just hit upon another idea that you could start up. “Team Technology” could be another interactive course that could be a part of class we used to know as “Civics.”

  2. vince says:

    Thoughtful article. I agree with much of what you say. But testing is not the answer. Even the comparative numbers you use are suspect. I know.. it’s what I used to do for a living. Who do you know who doesn’t automatically assume that a test is a simple thing to construct and measures what it’s supposed to measure? The hard fact is that good tests are REALLY hard to create.

    You and I had the same background in being taught. We were lucky. It is was then, is now, and always will be, that teaching works when the teacher is given the task of working within reasonable expectations… not asked to teach pods of 50-60.

    Kids don’t learn from experiences or people they have no connection to. They’ll follow a bad teacher into hell if they like him/her, or hate a good one if he/she is an asshole. And yeah, I know,some teachers (think of football coaches) are both. Kids aren’t stupid, though.. they know when tough and hard and caring and loving are all wrapped in the same package.

    There’s absolutely no reason that the richest country in the world can’t produce a system of well-paid professionals, in a setting which does not demand more that is reasonable, and understand that learning is not about testing to see “who’s winning.”

    Another thing to add to your thesis is that all of the elected officials we see today in America are products of the same time period of the “lesser” third teachers you refer to. When we were kids, the classics were read, and loved. Today, the classics are comic books.

    • bakoheat says:

      I was thinking of you and what your thoughts on this subject might be. Thanks for the great insight. However I can think of TWO reasons why the richest country in the world can’t produce a system of well-paid professionals. 1. Republicans. 2. Democrats.
      At least the current elected groups on Capitol Hill and in most state houses can’t think past their lobbyists checkbook.

    • Robert D. Levinson says:

      Creating tests to measure or reflect what they’re supposed to is very difficult. ( Vince’s point) There is such ethnic diversity in the student base the tests are foreign to many of these kids. Tests cater to a certain ethnic majority, among other factors..Standardized testing may be here to stay but hate to see teacher’s with style, and a knack for touching a kid, go by the wayside. ( My wife for one)

  3. Mary says:

    We definitely need to give up the idea we are so wed to in today’s world — I had to learn it so my kids should have to. What stupidity. Let go of it, if it is useful they will learn it. If not, they don’t need it.

    I waste a lot of my time teaching useless things. Why should students have to spend so much time learning to spell rather than recognizing words and their meanings? Rote memorization of multiplication tables. The rest of the world has let that ship sail, but not us.Who says kids have to learn to read the written word? They can learn the same underlying important concepts with audio books. I watch very bright students every day struggle to read simple text. Read it to them, and you light a fire and have meaningful discussions. There are so many ways we fail them every day. My heart hurts thinking about it.

    I love the idea of letting them learn with the support of technology and well-paid professionals who are life-long learners themselves.

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