The 21st century has meant a bracing amount of change in technology and education. Smartphones, laptops and tablet computers make the pencils and notebooks of the past seem positively quaint. And with the Internet at kids’ fingertips, information has never been more accessible or easily obtained.
Is it any wonder that the old “Open your textbook to page five” rubric seems a little out of date?
The creators of the PlayMaker School in California think so. GameDesk, a research, outreach and development organization in Santa Monica, has developed a future-friendly educational model for students. Today, they’ll be introducing 65 sixth graders to a curriculum that’s “designed to prepare kids for 21st century success”.
According to their website, the new model will empower students to “create meaningful relationships with knowledge” through: Read more...
Britain has an opportunity to reinvent how it teaches information technology
A recent editorial in the Guardian newspaper wrote that Britain is in danger of producing a generation that doesn’t know how Google works. As such, the editorial states that this is a prime opportunity to overhaul the education system and bring information technology education into the 21st century.
Is North America any better? Maybe a little. Our kids know to how to download an app or a song and we’ve raised them to think of Google as a verb as much as a company, but are we providing them with the right tools to invent the next Google? In the current and old system, kids learn how to use specific programs, but what does that do when the essential programs completely change every few years? Schools should instead be teaching information systems. Read more...
Fiona Highet on the joys and not-joys of school fundraising
One afternoon we precooked 600 sausages. We started at 3:30 and finished around 7:30. We went back to the school at 6am the next morning, still reeking of pork, to reheat those selfsame sausages. What we learned by 9am was that we really only needed 400.
The next pancake breakfast, we bypassed the pancake mix in the overcrowded aisle at Costco because we were certain we already had two full bags. That night, as we were cooking the 400 sausages we realized that the pancake mix was probably “compromised by vermin” in the months that had passed and we were now at 7pm – batterless. What we learned was a little about taking inventory and much more than we wanted to know about vermin in the school.
If your kid had a longer school day, they’d have more time to put precious knowledge into their brains and you (or your spouse) wouldn’t have to rush over at that mid-afternoon hour to bring them home, or, you wouldn’t have to pay for the extra two or whatever hours of daycare. But should that extra time be more straight-up lessons like grammar and arithmetic? Some people think so, while others think extra time added into the school day should be spent napping, socializing and running around.
Clifford J. Levy’s story in this week’s New York Times Magazine is fascinating. When the Times placed him in Moscow, he and his wife had to find a school for their three kids. Rather than finding spaces for them in an international school with the kids of other foreign correspondents and dignitaries and such, Levy wanted his kids to get more out of living in Russia.
They chose Novaya Gumanitarnaya Shkola, or, the New Humanitarian School, which was all Russian, all the time. And, just like an ignorant North American might assume, the kids were ranked, with rankings displayed for the whole school to see. Why this school?
“It promised an enlightened and innovative interpretation of the classic Soviet education — all the rigor, without the suffocating conformity. Moscow progressives! Maybe the transition wouldn’t be too rocky. Read more...
The above animation comes from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert at the RSA. The RSA is “an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges.”
So what do you think? How can education systems take advantage of the fact that young kids are crazy-capable of lateral thinking? What’s the first step you take when you suspect that this traditional model of schooling is not working for your kid? In what education models would the creative kids prosper? If there’s anyone in Bunchland whose kids go to an alternative of an alternative school and think they’ve found some solutions, please let us know!
One Bunchlander things making things more open would make for better schools
For the past couple weeks, we’ve been asking you what you’d like to see in your kids’ schools. Bunch reader Dave Fingrut, who happens to have studied education a little, wrote to tell us he’d like things to be more open:
“Assuming that schools are going to continue using internet and computer technologies as educational tools, it would be great to see more open content materials, complemented by free and open source software, operating systems and hardware.
For kids at the elementary level who use computers at school – whether in the classroom, the library, or computer labs, and in desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device format – the experience would be more creative and interactive, faster and easier for teachers to plan, cheaper for schools and school boards, and students could use older computer systems without losing speed and performance.” Read more...
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s ESY is a full acre (or 4 square km) of fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers. All of the school’s 1000 students spend time in the ESY kitchen and learn about healthy, seasonal food. Teachers and garden staff link garden experiences to the students’ science lessons so the kids not only read about something in a book, but see it played out in real life. Read more...