Reposted from User Generated Education:
How often have students (ourselves included) been asked to memorize mass amounts of facts – historical dates, vocabulary words, science facts, get tested on them, just to forget almost all those memorized facts a week or two later? Why do educators insist on continuing this archaic and ineffective instructional practice? Memorizing facts often means a waste of students’ time and energy. In some cases, too many cases, learners lose their passion and excitement for a subject or topic that, if taught in another way, may have not been the case.
Authentic learning can be the driving force for increasing context and relevancy. Jan Herrington describes authentic learning along two axes – the authenticity of the task is on one axis (from authentic to decontextualised), and the setting is on the other (the classroom/university to the real setting). The goal of educators should be to increase authenticity which leads to more contextual learning (and vice versa).
The visual image I use to describe context is all of these unconnected facts floating around in the learner’s brain. Since they have nothing to connect to, they end up flying away. This is especially true for abstract concepts. The following are some suggestions for establishing context…
What’s the difference between personalization of our Internet experience and manipulation of our access to different kinds of information? In this revealing TED Talk, Eli Pariser discusses how search engines and social networks tailor our access to web resources using relevance algorithms based on our unique, individual web histories. “What we’re seeing is more of a passing of the torch, from human gatekeepers to algorithmic ones…and the thing is that the algorithms don’t yet have the kind of embedded ethics that the editors did.” What we need, Pariser argues, is to make sure these algorithms don’t just filter for relevance…because we need to be made uncomfortable and be exposed to other points of view besides our own.
Joshue Katz contends that we have created a “Toxic Culture of Education” in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools by created by private education interests who have identified a supervillain of its own creation. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask “Why Not”?
Reposted from MindShift:
“Business leaders and economic thinkers are worried that today’s students aren’t leaving school with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the workplace. Representatives from tech companies and hiring experts are looking for applicants who show individuality, confidence in their abilities, ability to identify and communicate their strengths, and who are capable of thinking on their feet.
At the recent Next New World conference hosted by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, panelists addressed the question of how the American education system can better prepare students to meet the evolving challenges of the 21st century economy. Every panelist agreed that right now, the U.S. does not have a system that produces students that meet those needs.
“The problem is not to get incrementally better with our current education system,” said Tony Wagner, expert in residence at Harvard’s Innovation Lab. “The problem is to reimagine it.” Wagner is not the first to call for a make-over of the education system, and he certainly isn’t the first to advocate for content that connects with students in authentic ways or that teaches real world skills. His voice joins with the countless educators clamoring for the freedom to pursue those same goals.”