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Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

A Word About Old Education – Dewey

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I ran across this in my email this morning and wanted to share it with you:

Dewey (1899) (yes, that would be the 19th Century) wrote
<http://bit.ly/JvR3cG>:  ’I may have exaggerated somewhat in order to
make plain the typical points of the old education: its passivity of
attitude, its mechanical massing of children, its uniformity of
curriculum and method. It may be summed up by stating that the centre
of gravity is outside the child. It is in the teacher, the textbook,
anywhere and everywhere you please except in the immediate instincts
and activities of the child himself.’

We recently went through evaluation for accreditation.  One of the points the evaluators focused on was the compilation of student achievement in order to improve the educational program.   eTutor focuses on the individual student and makes improvements to the instructional program based on individual results.

Many students and parents, as well, view instruction and assessment as competition.  Learning is not a race and should not be viewed as such.  Each child is special and his/her instructional program should be special.  Comparisons between student learning result in a host of problems and issues that extend well beyond the school years.  It seems we have not changed much since the 19th Century.

Time – A Daily Miracle

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life!  It is yours.  It is the most precious of possessions…No one can take it from you.  An no one receives either more or less than you receive.

You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time.  Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul.  Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and of the most thrilling actuality.  All depends on that.  Your happiness…the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friends!…depends on that.

Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything.  With it, all it possible, without it, nothing.  The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it.  If one cannot arrange that an income of twenty-four hours a day shall exactly cover all proper items of expenditure, one does muddle one’s whole life indefinitely…

Single File – One Moment at a Time

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

We never shall have any more time.  We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.

- Arnold Bennett

Most of us think of ourselves as standing, wearily and helplessly at the center of a circle bristling with tasks, burdens, problems, annoyances, and responsibilities which are rushing in upon us.  At every moment we have a dozen different things to do, a dozen problems to solve, a dozen strains to endure.  We see ourselves as over-driven, overburdened, overtired.

This is a common mental picture…and it is totally false.  No one of us, however crowded his life, has such an existence,  even of a super-busy day.  The crowded hours come to you always one moment at a time.  That is the only way they can come.  The day may bring many tasks, many problems, strains, but invariably they come in single file.

Online Learning – Changing Our View of Schooling

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden.  She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school.  Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education.  Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that we most often use our own schooling as a standard of measurement for our children’s schooling.  I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education?  I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips.  It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the concepts and information that took us years to learn.  For the most part, children today begin school having access to more information than their parents had.  By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled.  When I was in school it took many years for information to change.  This provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency that is not available today.  Therefore, the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are inadequate for today’s student.

This need to absorb so many concepts and so much information makes the teaching- learning process even more challenging.  The Internet offers the opportunity for students to work at their own level, at their own pace, on topics that are of personal interest.  Our work at Knowledge Headquarters and eTutor is a continuing effort to assist those we serve to understand and adapt their instructional programs by offering choices for personal learning.

Web-based, online learning gives students a unique opportunity to explore learning and gain knowledge at their own level.  Online learning offers a way to stay ahead of the information tide of an expanding knowledge base.  Students do not need to be time bound by their learning program.   Online education can offer real-time learning for a vast number of subjects and topics focusing on individual instruction.  The best online learning programs provide students and their educators flexibility, breadth of content, and multiple ways to engage in the learning process that are necessary for true knowledge to take place.   We know that what we learned in school is not enough for the future of our children.  We have a responsibility to provide innovative and creative programs based on current technologies that provide students the skills and tools that will ensure them a successful future.

In this regard home schooling is reinventing the idea of school.  The integration of knowledge is a personal process, rather than a social process.  By viewing school not so much as a place, but the act of learning, those who home school have forced us to look at a new paradigm for schooling.  These parents recognize that acquiring knowledge does not need to be a group activity but is often more effective as an individual activity.  They know that how they learned is not the best method of learning for their children.  Home schooling parents use many different approaches in teaching their children.  Among these are online curricular programs, similar to eTutor,  that provide a new way of learning for their children.

How we learned and what we learned are not adequate measures of education for our children today.  When I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me.  The tried and true teaching methods of the past, that served us well over the years,  are not adequate today.  We must try harder to challenge our own ideas of education, the teaching-learning process and for evaluating schooling.