If you did not read yesterday’s posting, please do so before reading this one. Otherwise you may think I’m a little off my rocker.
So today I want to focus on question #2. At what level does the change need to take place? The simple answer is all levels. Of course, to be successful, the change must be embraced by everyone involved, at all levels. But what does that look like? How can we identify the levels, is there a flow chart that outlines the levels that need to be involved? Well in my opinion, there does not need to be a flow chart because the “levels” are easy to identify. Simply stated, EVRYONE must be willing to change. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, legislators, book companies, schools, school districts, even corporations need to get on board.
Consistent with Elon Musk’s theory of education, we must address the problem. The problem is we are teaching with outdated methods. By the time our students reach the 12th grade, the problems the world faces will look very different. They will need new skill sets and they will face different types of challenges. We must prepare them to face these challenges…but, how can we prepare them, if we ourselves, do not know what these challenges will look like? Unless we are Nostradamus…we have no idea what problems these kids will face.
So is it doom and gloom? No, the key is to build flexibility into the education program. Currently we address a set of standards for each grade level. These standards are “laddered”, increasing in complexity as students’ progress through their academic career. One skill builds on another. We spend much of our time on the “core” standards in reading, writing and math. These core subjects will always be required and should continue to be the cornerstone of any education system.
The change that needs to be made is in the “extra” material being taught. Why shouldn’t we teach students to problem solve? Why can’t problem solving be incorporated into our academic day. I’m not talking about problem solving that involves a bus leaving a station at 9:36 AM. I’m talking about solving problems like how to lower a school’s energy bills or finding an alternative to wood products, saving the honey bee, or overcoming cyber bullying. All too often we are guilty of saying “kids can’t do that”. Why not?
The natural way for most kids to solve problems is to take the easy way out. Given the choice between fixing a broken engine and buying a new one, most kids would select option B. We need to motivate them to take choice A. To do this we must have buy in from all levels. Take a second and imagine this. You’re in a classroom with 18 sixth grade students. One the screen, via Skype, is a representative from Boeing. Boeing is having a problem getting widget A to work properly. The Boeing rep asks the sixth graders to solve the problem. Well, because the sixth graders spent a lot of time problem solving with Legos and a 3-D Printer, they come up with a printable solution that fits tightly together and solves Boeing’s problem. Does this seem a little extreme? Well, in all honesty, yes. But why not? Why can’t students be given a problem to solve and just asked to solve it. No instructions, no restrictions, no outside interference? Why not?
To accomplish something like this, everyone must buy-in!
Come back tomorrow as I take a look at question 3!