I am getting to the point I am willing to make the argument that the limits of the present K12 education system have been reached. I say this considering the resources citizens of this country are willing to spend on education and an awareness of the variability along multiple dimensions that exist in classrooms. Those who promote innovation are typically focused on practices that amount to nibbling around the edges.
Here are some realities I accept:
- Aptitude differences are real and result in differences in the speed of learning – time allowed is for all practical purposed fixed.
- As a function of aptitude differences and factors both inside and outside of the classroom, the variability in what students knows grows year by year.
- The variabilities in aptitude and background exceed what educators are capable of adddressing. This leads to frustration resulting from boredom and hopelessness. Frustration is one of several sources of motivational challenges that must be addressed.
- Students need both a general education and the opportunity to pursue personal interests. The role of mandatory education is to assure a common knowledge/skill base. Complete student-centered learning is also foolish as both young and old appreciate the importance of a common knowledge base and can anticipate the needs of a future world.
- Direct instruction and problemm-based learning opportunities each have important uses. The focus on one or the other because of turf wars miss the value of either efficient learning or learning to learn.
- Technology must be part of the answer. Human resources are unable to meet the individual learner needs that are present.
What do I think should happen. I think public schools should take a more aggressive role in implementing blended learning. Allowing charter schools in this area immediately leads everyone into political controversy and poor sampling that allows flawed evaluation. I would think larger districts should be able to apply blended models in elementary classrooms and alternate middle courses of core areas (math, composition). I think we should immediately focus on these levels because waiting means the damage has already been done and secondary education already allows a greater level of individualization.
I have been very busy the past view months researching and writing a book (now finished). I will take some time in the weeks ahead to expand the core ideas I h