all bits considered data to information to knowledge

7Jul/110

Education: back to the future?

Recent post by Glyn Meek, the geezer geek, in Computer World blog has caught my attention. I wonder how much of this "back to basics" musings on the state of the education in the USA is colored with nostalgia for Mr. Meek's youth, yet some of this does ring true to me (full disclosure: I have two teenage sons in the US public school system).

Multiple choice questions might be good for a quick refresher test but it has no place in situations where real deep knowledge is to be tested. The analogy with fast food is uncanny - while providing some immediate sustenance, it is not good for you.

Long summer holidays is a curse upon working families - either the kids are  at home playing their brains out and watching TV, hanging out with buddies or attending expensive summer programs… I am all for schools over summer; the problem is to find qualified teachers capable and willing to teach. <sigh>

Uniforms… there is something in there, mostly about peer pressure being somewhat alleviated. Yet I remember how much I hated my navy blue uniform in high school!

Single sex schools is a mixed blessing. Sure it will keep my boys more focused on their studies (maybe), but in a coed environment they will have an opportunity to develop their social skills communication with the opposite sex. In the end, social skills trump formulas every time.

Streaming. No contest here. People are different, they have different abilities, pace of learning, attitudes. And they should be educated differently.  In high school there is an option to take challenging AP classes but the problem is that it builds upon foundation laid in the middle school, and more often than not the material and the pace of learning there is dictated by the lowest common denominator… most people simply cannot take calculus without solid background in algebra!

Corporal punishment… While I support the idea of respect for the teacher through establishing  barriers with “sir” and formal attire nevertheless an “occasional slap” could all too easily transmogrify into an abuse. I’ll draw line there - no corporal punishment for my kids in school.

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