Why We Think Education Needs a Major Shakeup
It’s often said that if a person alive 200 years ago woke up in today’s world, they would probably only recognize one thing: The classroom. It is quite true that in many ways, the typical school classroom is one of the only things that hasn’t really changed in our fast-moving, modern world. But times are finally changing and the evolution of education is inevitable for one simple reason: It is extremely ineffective to try and teach 30 or more children the exact same thing at the exact same time.
The need for genuine reform and innovation in teaching methods, tools, and the entire education methodology is acute and long overdue. Stephen Dubner (author of Freakonomics) recently spoke about education innovation on the Tim Ferris Show (author of The 4 Hour Work Week). Listen to the podcast episode here.
Education has a huge ROI and is a massive industry. Yet for the amount of money poured into education, we’re seeing very little educational innovation. This problem is mostly due to traditional ways of teaching children; all children of the same grade level need to be taught the same subjects in the same way, so they can pass standardised exams. This is a problem because every child is different, learns in a different way and has unique needs that may not be met in a traditional school system.
Innovative Solutions are the Future
Of course there are many innovative teachers who are able to teach the standardised information in a more individualistic way. This does require a lot more time, energy and preparation though, and many teachers won’t be compensated for this extra work.
Fortunately there are a lot of government-funded startups exploring new, personalized educational methodologies. One of which is School of One, a program in New York using middle school math students to test new learning methods. School of One is currently researching several different teaching methodologies or modes, including:
- Teacher-led, small groups
- Peer-led, small groups
- Single students studying with virtual tutors
- Single students studying on their own through drills etc…
Everyday they experiment with teaching the same material, using the different modes, to see which one works best for each child. The efficacy of each method is deduced by testing at the end of the day. The next day, the learning algorithm creates a playlist for each student, and the testing process continues. Each student receives their very own customized learning methodology.
Every other facet of our lives have improved by being personalized, so why not education?
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