I use mathematical thinking, statistics, and data analysis constantly, whether I’m writing economics papers, trying to get better at golf, or hoping to pick winners at the race track. But the math tools I actually use, and the math tools I see people around me actually using, seem to have nothing to do with what my kids are learning in school.Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University and an expert on reforming math education, says that one of the biggest problems with the math curriculum in the U.S. today is that it’s a relic of a bygone era.
Education is over…
An edifice systematically built on the foundation of F.W. Taylor’s “scientific management,” the misguided application of standardization, and the emphasis on testing and human ‘data’ originally developed during the Second World War has come crashing down under the weight of something so small you can’t even see it: a virus.
Johnny wakes up groggily at 8:30 am, pours himself some cereal and sits down to eat at the kitchen table. He doesn’t have much time. English class will begin promptly at 9:00 am and he hasn’t even completed the previous night’s assignment. Opening his laptop, he speeds through the teacher’s short mini-lesson on figurative language and begins adding metaphors to his writing piece.The clock races.Time’s up. Class is ready to begin.He joins 28 classmates online via video chat; each of them filling a tiny box on the screen. Virtual English class has officially begun.Because of the recent outbreak of coronavirus, Johnny, like thousands of other students across China and Hong Kong has been forced to spend the next two months learning entirely online.
Today’s classrooms aren’t preparing students for tomorrow’s jobs.That’s a broad statement, but in many schools it’s the truth. Education looks very much the same—with some tweaks around the edges—as it has for decades, yet business and industry’s idea of what “work” looks like is evolving at a dynamic pace.
It is no secret that the workplace is changing. The shelf life of new technical skills is estimated to be three years (Auger, 2019), with core digital skills changing even faster. Today’s rapid changes in science and technology make it challenging to predict tomorrow’s skills more than a few years in advance. Even the most technologically skilled individuals will need to refresh their technical skills multiple times during their careers. This state of affairs demands some deep thinking about what workers really need to prepare for the future of work.
For years, we have started to react to an environment that is moving faster every day. We have read books, attended conferences, conducted countless training courses. We have spent many hours in long meetings of the management team or the innovation team, we have discussed innovation in many faculty meetings. We have implemented many innovative initiatives in our school or university. We even have a director of educational innovation. We have invested in technology and, perhaps, in new furniture or in the changing of physical spaces. And yet we have the feeling that this is not what we want, that we are still very far from reaching a turning point for change.
The current public education system has stagnated. The information and technology explosion has exposed a behemoth that is not able to pivot and adapt. Without massive action, the United States will continue to lose traction in our ever-shrinking global learning community. Is it time to push the Hard-Reset button and start over?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically described by the problems it presents. It is known as a neurological disorder, marked by distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity, which begins in childhood and persists in adults. And, indeed, ADHD may have negative consequences for academic achievement, employment performance and social relationships.But ADHD may also bring with it an advantage: the ability to think more creatively.
As a longtime project-based learning (PBL) practitioner, facilitator and advocate, I am continually on the lookout for a school, or school system…
Young teachers want to use technology to make a difference in the classroom, but they don’t feel like their preparation programs have adequately equipped them to use do so. They expect to work in diverse classrooms, but they don’t feel properly trained. And they are worried about stress and burnout.
LinkedIn recently analyzed hiring trends across its platform to determine both the hard and soft skills companies need most in 2020. The trends align with what I see in my executive coaching practice, where I help leaders manage stress, build resilience, unleash creativity, develop emotional intelligence, and communicate and collaborate better.
New pre-released data from the Learning Counsel’s 2019 Survey indicates that 58 percent of schools now rate their highest pressure is their student’s social and emotional needs. Alongside this information is the Learning Counsel’s new research that a whopping 27 percent of students nationally have left traditional public education for alternatives, including private schools, charters, online schools, homeschooling and a mix of these. Some States like California are experiencing 30 percent attrition, with 107 districts losing more than 15 percent of their enrollment in 2018, rumored to be accelerating in 2019. This data is “hidden” inside governance claims that include charters as if they are traditional public schools and underestimate the homeschooling movement.
At the beginning of December, the Forum for World Education brought together over 300 youths, business leaders and educators at the OECD in Paris to reimagine education.It is an urgent agenda. For those with the right skills, digitalisation and globalisation have been liberating and exciting; but for those who are insufficiently prepared, they often mean vulnerable and insecure work, and life with few prospects. The most important takeaway from the Forum for me was this: Wherever we bring young leaders into a discussion on the future of education, it’s actually not that difficult to reach agreement on what people should learn and how people should learn to be ready for the future.
As public charter school teachers, we’ve heard a surprising number of myths and misunderstandings about charter schools. North Carolina offers an array of educational choices—including traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, virtual schools and homeschooling. But unleashing the power of these options starts with clearing up the confusion.
First administered in the 2000 to assess the quality of education systems across the
world, the PISA (short for Program for International Student Assessment) is
currently undergoing significant changes.No longer does the test, given every
three years to 15-year-olds, ask about math, reading and science. In the latest
iteration in 2015, questions covered collaborative problem solving, social
skills, and even psychological well-being.
Every now and then, seismic shifts remap the economic landscape. While these afford opportunities for some, they can also swallow the jobs people and communities rely on to support careers and livelihoods. Just ask any lamplighter, log driver, or switchboard operator.Even jobs that are the staples of history—our butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers—feel the aftershocks. Not long ago, these professions were the linchpins of any community. Today, they are split between small, artisanal craftspeople and mega-factories where a handful of people produce enough supply to provision several communities.And we’re already charting the tremors of the next shift. Called the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, it will see artificial intelligence, digital technology, and advancements in automation supplant vast swaths of the human workforce across many industries.
New schools and new views on teaching are springing up around the world to help prepare the next generation for a rapidly changing employment landscape.This overhaul of teaching and education methods is much needed – and not only because of the breathtaking pace of change being ushered in by digital technologies, AI and data. It’s also necessary because current models of teaching and education are still firmly rooted in practices that have been around for 200 years or more.
Are schools teaching the skills students need?
In some ways – It’s hard to generalize confidently about all education systems. Education taken as a whole is what theorists refer to as a ‘complex adaptive system.’ It’s complex in the sense that it’s a human system which includes millions of people – students, teachers, administrators and policy makers.It is also complex because they all have different interests. They all have their personal interests, but they also have different professional roles, affiliations and responsibilities, so it’s a vastly complex reciprocating system. Then there are all kinds of cultural differences when you move from one country to another. Each school in any system has its own character and personality. Each classroom is subject to the dynamics of individual teachers and their particular students.
We’re a math-traumatized people, Jo Boaler says (although she uses the British locution “maths-traumatized”). It’s a belief she sees confirmed in everything from students crying over long division to MRIs that reveal young brains reacting to numbers as if they were snakes or spiders. And it’s something she hears just as clearly in the resignation of that common refrain: “I am not a math person.”Boaler, a professor at the Graduate School of Education, sees math altogether differently — as a subject of beauty and creativity in which any student can thrive. Indeed, her Britishness only partly explains why she prefers “maths.” The plural, she says, is more apt for mathematics’ depth and variety. “Math” strikes her as narrow and constricted. “Maths is so much more than that,” she says.
Why Is Collaboration Important?
Over my lifetime I have encountered a small number of fascinating situations, some through research and some through personal experience, in which collaboration and connection produced surprising outcomes. Some of these have related to learning, some to the pursuit of equity, and some to the advancement of ideas, even in the face of severe opposition. These different cases all shed light on something that neuroscience is also showing—when we connect with other people’s ideas there are multiple benefits for our brains and for our lives.
We inherited a system of education that has six big problems: it doesn’t focus on important skills, it’s boring, it doesn’t work for most learners, it’s inequitable, it doesn’t measure well, and it doesn’t communicate well. These problems are most prevalent and vexing in high school—which should be a launchpad for life but is tedious torture for most teens. We’re excited about all the global initiatives making progress on these problems. A few in the United States include the Kauffman-sponsored Real World Learning initiative in Kansas City, schools supported by XQ and NGLC, and the new Whittle School & Studios. The solutions emerging from these initiatives are summarized below.