Pondering education

June 14, 2006 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

It’s funny how things coincide sometimes.  This morning on the way to work I heard John Stossel promoting his new book.  During the spot, he mentioned that on average, ten thousand dollars is spent per year/per student in public education.  He said the government has a monopoly on education, and the government has never managed any monopoly well.  He gave the steel industry and airlines as good examples.  So here is what I’m thinking; if classes average 30 students, that’s $300,000 per class.  If those 30 parents were given the money and got together and hired their own teacher, how much better would the education rendered to the kids be? To some degree, wasn’t that the concept behind the voucher systems proposed (I’ll agree, I’m simplifying to a large degree)? 

Yesterday, I was reading some of the blogs I frequent, which generated this thought.  Are the teaching philosophies in today’s system out dated? Irving Wladawsky-Berger, from IBM, had this post yesterday:  Informal Learning and Community Libraries.  It’s a good read if you have a few minutes to spare. He was having dinner with a friend that addressed the issue of kids learning from online communities and has

“…been wondering if we shouldn't pay more attention to this kind of self-organizing, informal learning as a way to complement the more formal learning kids get in school.  In conjunction with that he has been pondering the role that community libraries should play in fostering this kind of informal learning and self-education.”

He goes on later:

John's main thesis is that formal learning happens mostly in schools, as opposed to informal learning which happens outside of school.  As we know, school reform has struggled on with limited success, so perhaps we should also look for innovative ways to influence and reform learning from the outside in, by focusing on informal learning and leverage what we learn there to help us transform the core of formal learning.

Later, I stumbled on this article (also needs about 5-10 minutes to read):  Are virtual worlds the future of the classroom?  Here, kids learned about disease control, red tides and marketing with notable results. It was even noted that some children with high absenteeism became more involved and even top performers. I think there is a place for formal education, but I found this fascinating. I wish it was available when I went to school. I think the kids are learning some valuable skills through these types of teaching.

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Entry filed under: Education, parenting.

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