Friday, March 18, 2005

Changing our schools

Darren has a link to the Drs. Eide and an interesting post on the need to change our schools. They state that three basic assumptions must be re-examined. They are:
· The notion that all students should master a core body of information at the same rates and in the same ways, using identical educational materials and informational pathways. ...

· The notion that students are best educated in age-based cohorts. ...

· The notion that lecture-based classroom instruction should be the primary--even a major--route of learning for all students ...

While I think these are very valid points, I wonder at the enormity of what they are proposing.

Looking at elementary education, it seems obvious that not all children learn at the same rate and some schools have mixed age groups, I guess. But by high school, we certainly think all fifteen year olds should be able to learn Biology at the same time in the same way. I know we, as teachers, try to address multiple learning styles, but that seems to be an adjunct, not the core of the course. We generally lecture. It is how we were taught and how many if not most, of us teach. But, as the Eides say, we aren't preparing our young people for the world they are going to face.

I see the need for the kinds of changes the Eides and others are calling for, but I struggle to envision what school would look like if we implemented some of the changes. How can you do this on a large scale? The assumptions the Eides mention need changing are some of the reasons I homeschooled my own children - even while I was teaching inthe public school system. But most of our schools are so very far from this right now. I guess I can see this happening on a school-by-school basis, starting as it already has with the elementary schools. The challenge for high schools and, I think, colleges is to find our own ways of changing to better serve our students.

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