If you hear the word “Greece” in the news these days, most people think of the financial issues in Europe. That changed earlier this week. A 10 minute video went viral that showed middle school students from Greece, NY verbally abusing a bus monitor. Three things immediately came to mind.
- These kids obviously have no respect for adults. I was never the “perfect” child but I had the ideas of “yes ma’am”, “please” and “thank you” instilled in me since birth. I don’t even want to think about what my parents would have done to me if I was on video participating in this stuff.
-Technology is everywhere. I doubt the person holding the phone thought their video would get hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. They probably didn’t even think it would leave their circle of friends. Think before you do or say something because someone is always watching. It is very hard to get writings, photos or videos back once they are out in public.
- This is one of the strongest women I have ever seen. Her ability to sit quietly and ignore these immature children is remarkable. Sitting in tears on a bus while being ridiculed by 12 year olds – not what you imagine when you go to work. I hope this woman can leverage her experience to write a book and begin speaking to others about “turning the other cheek.” She has a great gift and many people can benefit from learning it.
This video is an example of project-based learning. There are numerous reasons why project-based learning will become the norm in classrooms across the country. These reasons all contribute to a more effective learning environment for students.
The first reason that project-based learning is effective can be found in the unique learning style it presents. Research shows that students who have hands-on participation in the classroom are able to stay more attentive and effectively retain more information. This hands-on approach is rampant in elementary schools, but who said that it stopped working after a student moves to 6th grade?
The second reason that project-based learning is so effective, is due to the aspect of collaboration. When a teacher puts students in small groups and asks them to share ideas or answers, the students are able to expand their thoughts and minds. More importantly, collaboration is a skill that these students will be asked to continuously use once they enter the work force. The theory is that with more practice, these work force employees will be more effective.
Lastly, in project-based learning each group of students is asked to present a final project or finding. This keeps students accountable and allows them to take pride in their work. The more positive rewards and sense of accomplishment that can be given to students, the more confidence they will possess. As you see in the video from BIE, the students become extremely excited when speaking about their own ideas or models. Confidence within students leads to them taking more chances for accomplishment.
My prediction is that the more project-based learning that is implemented in classrooms, the more effectively our students will learn materials presented. The saying goes “Tell me how and I will forget, Show me how and I will remember, Allow me to and I will understand.” As teachers are exposed to more examples of this method, expect to see even more innovative applications in the future.
Education has made great strides over the last few years but there are three specific trends to look forward to in 2012. As more attention is given to the education industry, entrepreneurial perspectives and innovation will lead the way.
This year, classrooms will continue their incorporation of technology in an attempt to find different ways to enhance the learning environment. From iPads to the Khan Academy’s progress exercises, classrooms will use innovative technologies to increase students mastery of different subjects. It will be interesting to see whether these technologies will be able to realize the goals that they set out to accomplish.
A flipped classroom is where students watch lectures or videos for homework to create the foundation of knowledge. Class time is then devoted for projects and critical-thinking discussions to further solidify the learning that occurred at home. This type of learning environment has been used in numerous pilot programs, and will get adopted by more classrooms this year. As flipped classrooms increase, the hope is that student achievement will increase along with mastery of subjects.
Innovative Funding Strategies
It is no secret that schools continue to face drastic funding issues. As federal grants and programs begin to dry up, these issues will become even worse. With this scenario in the future, more focus will be placed on finding innovative solutions. Currently, public school systems have began to open up avenues for the local population to provide suggestions for solutions. As the problem increases, more informed individuals and experts will get involved to come up with new strategies. Hopefully this will lead to viable solutions that allow the focus to be placed on student learning in education conversations and circles.
What other trends are prevalent? What are other ways that these trends will occur? Are these trends conducive to the educational environment?
I was once asked what the most important job in the world was. The group I was with had answers such as the President, a doctor, and a trash collector. When it came my turn to answer, I thought that I had a common sense answer (never works out for anyone this way!). I said a teacher. The reaction around the group was astonishing. They acted as if there was no way, or that I had gotten the answer wrong! I felt I had to explain my answer to try to get them to see my perspective. Here is my best attempt to recreate my explanation and elaborate on it.
A teacher may not get any attention or credit in the public arena, but that is what makes them even more important. These individuals show up everyday to work to teach the children of our country and they are usually never known outside of the students and parents who come through their classrooms. They are hoping to share knowledge with their students that will be beneficial for a lifetime. Each one of you reading this post was taught by a teacher that most likely had a lasting impact on you. The impact of our teachers is far beyond that of Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, or the best doctor in the world. They teach us to enjoy learning, they teach us what to learn, and last but not least, they teach us that we can accomplish anything we want in life. Sounds like a very powerful and important profession to me!
This leads me to a question that many never think about. Why are teachers not paid like they have the most important jobs in the world? The easy answer is because as a country we can’t afford it. I believe it is not that we can’t afford it, but instead that we choose to spend the money elsewhere. The second reason is that teacher unions have created a system where tenure and job security for all teachers is more important then financially rewarding the good teachers. In essence, a good teacher can get paid significantly less than a really bad teacher depending on how long they have been teaching. Even worse, the school can’t get rid of the bad teacher if they wanted to!
This leads to a system where the best teachers are not given recognition, and the entire teacher work force is not compensated appropriately for the importance of the job they do. Instead of complaining, many people have come up with a solution that I agree with. Teachers should be treated as employees, and allowed to enter into healthy competition. Every year a school should be able to hire and fire teachers based on performance, and they would all be paid according to their abilities and effectiveness in the classroom. This would allow the school to make an effort to attract the top teaching talent and get rid of their bad teachers. The teachers would be making much more money which would also help to attract more students to join the profession. All of this leads to students getting taught by better teachers, who are getting rewarded for the work they do. Ultimately, the students getting the best quality education possible is the main concern of the school system right? Imagine if young kids said “When I grow up I want to be a teacher!” We will have truly created change then.
Have thoughts on teachers and their pay? Agree or disagree with this proposed new system? Please leave a comment below!
Here is a heads up on a site and service that is trying to break the traditional mold of education. Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) describes themselves as ”The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”
I personally have used the site extensively in the past. This is mainly due to how easy it is to use, along with each block of instruction being contained in a relatively short video. Topics range from Algebra to Civil War to Finance and even an explanation of the financial crisis. Sal Khan has the backing of Bill Gates and many other innovative entrepreneurs. Their support is not a publicity stunt but rather a vision for a society with a more effective education system. Check out the site, use the site, learn from the site.
Have you ever used Khan Academy before? Do you think it will be effective as a disruptor of the traditional education system?
This article (sent to me by JS, a close friend) does a fantastic job of laying out the argument for increasing the amount of computer science and coding exposure students receive in school. The reason that this is so important is that this exposure will allow a student to understand the basics of how majority of the products they use, work. Almost all adults today could not explain how a computer, cell phone, email, or the internet works. Just a product of the time and culture they grew up in.
The underlying argument for this type of new focus is that instead of arming students with regurgitated information and facts, you would now give them a skill set that they could utilize however they saw fit. I am a big supporter of computer science becoming a required course, just like math or science. With that being said, the most effective way to present the material in class is to allow the students to work on real-world projects. Imagine taking a class in high school where you built an iPhone application that contained a game that you and all your friends played. Hands on exposure to coding with tangible repercussions and results could create an exciting, innovation-focused culture among our countries youth. The next Sean Parker or Steve Jobs may be sitting in a middle school near you!
Do you agree with a shift to more technology focused learning? What are some of the possibilities for projects that students could be tasked with attempting or completing?