Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our Education System Needs Radical Innovation - A Message of Hope from Charles Leadbeater

The last time I spoke to one of my nephews, he was an angry, rebellious teenager. I asked him how he was doing at school, and he gave me this you-really-don't-have-a-clue look and said, "It's all bullshit." I thought, I guess it's not going so well. What a shame, that he came to that extreme attitude about learning.

Then I reflected on my own high school years, which were in the early 1960s. I never made any grade lower than A during my 12 years of schooling. I was considered a smart kid. I was the valedictorian of my graduating class. But now, looking back from the perspective of 50 years, I have to say that some of it was helpful. But to be honest, most of it was irrelevant to the rest of my life. It was stuff the system had decided ought to be in the curriculum.

As for any useful knowledge that I now possess, 95% of it I learned on my own after I received my Ph.D. in 1977.

I think it's sad that this is the case. And as I continue to hear that the problems of education are getting worse, even as the world becomes more challenging, I wish this were not the case. I wish kids went to school hungry to learn, and that they were learning things they felt they needed to know.

I know there are some exciting experiments going on, but this has always been happening, and for some reason they don't get much traction. State Boards of Education meet and make decisions about curricula based on petty political agendas.

"We need a wave of social entrepreneurship to create highly motivating, low cost ways to learn."

This radical statement was made by Charles Leadbeater, who spoke at TED about the failure of our current archaic educational paradigms. Obviously they don't work in poor, developing countries. And they don't work in the advanced, developed world, either.

In the 20-minute format of TED, he only had time for truth-telling. He's been all over the world, and he's seen some amazing education success stories. He explained why certain radical new approaches to learning are succeeding in the developing world, and why we need to adopt these approaches everywhere.

The kinds of things he's suggesting are exactly what I've imagined for school systems in the modern world. But hey, listen for yourself....

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Lori Meyer said...

Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking presentation! It certainly challenges many of our perceptions about the role of education in raising our children and building strong communities.