What To Do About Education

When the world paints a bleak picture, what are we to do?

We all know something is wrong with the current education system, there is no doubting that. There has been so much talk about action for years so why don’t we see change? We hear everyday that Americans are falling behind in test scores and we are

becoming a less competitive nation. Who’s to blame? Is it our school system? Our parents? Society? Ourselves? Should our nation gravitate towards a more “Tiger Mother” mentality and really push the youth? I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that we are not dumb. In fact, sometimes I believe, and so do many, that we are in fact becoming smarter. Smarter in the non traditional sense, in a way that we have yet to measure. This by no means equates that we can write off the current situation, it simply means we have to capitalize on an unmeasurable variable yet accounted for. What could it be? Could it be creativity? Could it be our honest willingness to achieve stability and harmony within our globalized world? Communication maybe? Like I said, I do not know, nor do I believe I hold the answer. I can tell you this though, something is happening and when that “something” does finally happen, it will be known and that magic variable we are looking for will be incredibly apparent.

However, this positive picture is not the current state. We have to figure out a way to get us there. We have to do it together. I believe we already have the tools at our disposal. With technology, specifically the internet, friendship, and the collective wisdom of generations before, we can succeed. In the mean time, I’d like to challenge everyone to forget complacency. Completely erase it from our minds. We can not settle. Becoming too comfortable has proven to be the beginning of the end for so many before us and I sure hope that is not the case for us right now.

How do we avoid complacency? We disorient. Like true Americans, entrepreneurs, and global citizens, we must take it upon ourselves to feed our minds and grow. Who ever said, education stops at graduation? Learning is a life long process, and today’s world, with its incredible pace and uncertainty, requires us to stay sharp and flexible. Like they say, “innovate or perish.” So let me ask you…

How will you disorient? How will you innovate? I want to know.

Feeling rather positive, let me step off my soapbox.

Best,

-Dan

“Creativity is the concept, innovation is the process” – William Coyn

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8 responses to “What To Do About Education”

  1. warrenbzf says :

    Use Google Apps for Education, and the new Apps it has for education. Combine this with the revolution of cheap cloud based computing of Chrome OS and cheap ARM processor based laptops/netbooks. Or use Android and cheap tablet or MID’s (cell-phone without voice service).

    http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2011/01/google-apps-just-got-smarter.html

    Look at what the Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) is doing. Give them money to expand into every educational arena, and we no longer need expensive highly trained educators. Instead they can focus on being mentors, which is easier and costs less to train people for.

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Ah this is fantastic! This is exactly the type of collaboration we need. Open source and cloud based education should be a no brainer; we have to shut that education, knowledge gap if we want to move this country forward. It is no longer a question of the select few getting ahead, we have to bring everyone along or we might as well not even try. The idea of mentors is one close to my heart, we only need to empower the young and they will often just teach themselves. Way to go!

      Cheers!

      -Dan

      • warrenbzf says :

        To me the “select few” you mention would include teacher’s unions, and educational book publishers. This technology is extremely disruptive to them, and so it may be hard to bypass the political power they hold over reform in the large bureaucracy of public schools.

        I volunteer to help with the computer infrastructure at my church’s school, and I’m hoping to start demoing this affordable technology for them in the next few months. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to confirm that the costs for these new wave of ARM processor & free ChromeOS/Android/Linux based devices will be in line with what the school can afford. I’m pretty sure this new generation of ARM hardware, open source Operating System’s, and per-student licenses for cloud based educational tools will finally enable any competent computer technician to enable computer centric learning for students in a way that is clearly more affordable and efficient than the current teacher/student form of education. American kids are steeped in a brew of electronic devices all around them (game consoles, cell phones), and this form of education will keep them engaged in learning as something that all of them can find interesting. Sort of like World of Warcraft, but the skills they learn earn them points and accomplishments, that in the World of Life have real rewards.

        The hardest part will be making sure that the educational software is mature enough to replace the need for the expensive educational certified books, and can fulfill state requirements for record keeping. I’m not experienced in this area at all. Hopefully I can connect with someone who is, and is also energized by the possibilities I’m seeing. I’m also hoping that the parents will see the benefits of no longer having the expense of back packs, pencils/paper, calculators, etc. They will also be able to better justify their home computers, and broadband or wireless 3G Internet expenses.

        Then when I get this all to work reasonably well, I look forward to approaching other private schools, and also the local public school board with the results.

        I’d also like to see this succeed world wide, and not just nation wide. I believe trade is good and the more productive the world is at what each nation excels in, the more we all will experience an improved standard of living.

        • Dan Fonseca says :

          You are preaching to the choir here. There is so much bureaucracy in our education system that is often why it is hard to be flexible in that regard. The public school system is controlled by a state that often has its own vested interests. Democratizing and opening up life though technology can take power away from these systems, making learners nimble and progressive. Yes it will be more efficient, effective, and cheaper, something that debt ridden states would probably enjoy. I wonder how teachers feel about these ideas? Something tells me they wouldn’t be too opposed. Ultimately, the idea I wanted to get across was the idea that we don’t need a classroom to learn, we simply need our desire to learn and the access to the information. These conversations are exactly what I was hinting towards!

          Keep in touch buddy

  2. carlos fonseca says :

    Dan,

    This is a fantastic post. Cogent, from the heart, and full of youthful optimism. You are on to “something”. Keep at it!

  3. Franziska San Pedro says :

    Hi Dan,

    just thinking about how much the world has changed within the last ten years and how much the educational system hasn’t.. Every competitive company out there is using the internet and the new technologies. Not the public services! Maybe it’s about time to outsource education to people who actually know something about it. If the system isn’t working, you gotta change the system.

    Also, if you think about what is taught in schools makes me wanna cry. Everyone goes global but the content of public schools doesn’t. What they teach in history class is so narrow-minded and so within borders that if parents don’t teach their kids something about the world, all they will know i.e. about China is the “made in China” label on their toys.

    Kudos to warrenbzf! Way to go for some change :)

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Oh I really like the notion that the world is going global but the classrooms aren’t. The truth is that we have a public school system based out of the needs of the industrial revolution. That was perfectly fine back then but we are dealing with a different economy and way of life, our schools should reflect that. There is just so many rules, regulations, and bureaucracy in the way for anyone to really try anything special. Once again, I believe the private sector will get there before the public one, even though the public system needs it the most! Thanks for weighing in Franziska :)

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