If I Could Change Education
2016-11-15 Thinking about Teaching 3.0
My brother asked this question, "If you could do anything you want
regarding education, what would you do?"
This is a subject on which I'm
passionate about given how I spend copious amounts of time trying to
make really effective training products. So here goes.
A big variable is resources. Reality deals us a limited hand of
teachers, time, wildly variable parental interest and equally variable
students, some with learning or behavioral issues that would affect our
"ideal" -- in quotes because one situation's ideal is another situation's
- We must attract and keep motivated, talented teachers. Maybe
someday. In my ideal world, some reasonably high percent of taxes go
to companies that employ humans since increasing automation favors the
few who own it. Don't get me wrong, I'm mostly a capitalist but I see
a balance point where, insuring that lower paid workers share in some
amount of societal gains, exceeds the cost of such insurance. Teaching
is one of the areas ripe for that plan. Back to the question.
- Have small groups of people, probably no more than 10, who
are encouraged to value working together. Anyone who consistently
slows the group's progress should be moved to another group in a way
that people smarter than I can optimize.
- Discipline must be maintained enough to prevent disruption
but with enough latitude to explore. As usual, balance is key and that
doesn't lend itself well to thinking we have "solutions" to this
question. We don't think anything is perfect, but rather we're
realistic and work towards improvements.
So then, what to teach?
- First and foremost, throughout the experience, inculcate students in
the PROCESS of gaining reliable knowledge. If we graduated critical
thinkers who understood HOW we improve reliability of knowledge, who were
open to new or different ideas but, equally important, knew how to
evaluate them, the world would be a far better place. Of course religion
would die unless the process revealed that there was, in fact, any merit
- Teach the basics and expose the specifics. For example, having a
student actually LEARN algebra is nearly a waste. Having them be exposed
to the ability to answer mathematical equations lets them know it's even
possible. Same with electronics, programming, farming, history, and every
other subject. We must teach the basics, of course, but we waste immense
amounts of time on details they'll never use. What a shame.
- After the basics, allow specialization. A student who is INTERESTED
in math, or music, or whatever, should be allowed to pursue it.
- Expose students to trades and value them as highly as anything else.
A welder, carpenter, bricklayer, etc. should be as esteemed as much as a
rocket scientist. But include what automation can do, how to learn
different methods, how he can participate in the improvement of his craft
*IF* he aspires to.
- Have grades like what we have now. That's how life works -- some
will succeed more than others and it's valuable to know that not applying
oneself has consequences.