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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The State of Education, and Where It Can Go

As a high school student, I can say with much accuracy that the current public educational system (or at least the New York City educational system) is going downhill fast. Some attribute it to the budget cuts, some to the union that refuses to allow bad teachers to be fired (tenure and all that). But me, I think the problem lies in the fact that the classroom is the single facility that has not been revolutionized by the 21st century. Classrooms are very similar to what they were ten years ago, maybe even worse!

Now being a technology enthusiast, all out Google fan boy, and about to do research in educational technology, I believe updating the classroom as far as technology goes is extremely important. Because when hundreds of thousands of teens graduate high school every year, they have not a clue how to use a computer beyond word processing programs and basic web surfing. It almost makes me sad when my peers ask me questions like "Can I install two programs at the same time?" or "Why is my mouse not working?" (mouse not plugged in). I do not mean to offend these students. In fact, they are the victims of public education, not the cause. Anyway, but where am I going with the Google fan boy stuff...

A recent post by Google's internal blog describes how cloud computing and Google Docs are the next generation classroom tools. To tell you the truth, I agree. Even if Google is not the leader of this movement (though they almost definitely are), classrooms need to move to the next age of learning and collaboration. Unfortunately, with schools spying on their students with laptop webcams, and Google's recent privacy issues, however overblown they may be, the goal keeps getting further and further away.

Anyway, I believe that the only way we can really start some reform is by motivating the students, rather than the administration. So to end this post earlier than I usually do: if you know any high school students, or even college students, urge them to update their classrooms in any way possible. We cannot have the only people who know how to use computers be a select group of MIT graduates.

(As a side note, I am currently attempting to do a research study comparing the effects of different educational methods on material retention over time. If anybody with experience has suggestions or hints that can help me out, feel free to comment.)

3 comments:

  1. Brilliant, Tyler. You are right, it is much worse than a decade of classroom stagnation. More like a century. Take a look at Frederick Winslow Taylor, Alfred Binet, and Lewis Terman. See if the overlap of those three don't strike you as vaguely familiar. :-)

    Keep up the great work.

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  2. Tyler - see http://www.johntaylorgatto.com

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  3. Hello. Nice to see your post. Dr. Heiny (robertheiny.com) was a researcher for decades. According to the federal government studies started in the 60s only direct instruction provided student gains in learning. Because this went against the teachers' unions, the results were ignored and cooperative learning, and other socialization models, were (are) used in the classroom.

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