The new school year has started. I’m starting my 11th year at school as a parent. My kids are now in 3rd grade, 7th grade and 11th.
My eldest has started this year with great determination and a total focus. She chose her major topics, decided how she’s going to study, she’s taking control of the rhythm to the best of her ability, treating school as a mere accessory: realizing she must go through it to get her high school diploma and her final exams. Lead by the tempting scent of true academy she tasted during an amazing experience at the Weizmann Institute this summer, she simply decided “not to let school get in her way of learning”.
My 7th grader started this year fully aware of the fact that this year will be tougher on him than the previous one, with more material to learn and harsher demands from his teachers. At 12 years and a half he is expected to spend 40 hours in the classroom every week. I think it’s too much. Only 2 hours are sports and less then that is arts. How much fun or creativity is let into his other classes depends on the teachers: math, history, geography, bible, language… His successful adjustment to the schooling system so far is due mainly to the fact that his class is often engaging in more active discussions. But with more material to push in students heads, I am not sure how much of it will remain this year.
My 3rd grader started his year with a sigh. This schooling system is not for him. In a world where 2 year old kids can play with iPads, or take pictures with their parents’ mobile phone, find anything they want online, choose from tens of TV channels… in this world – it doesn’t make sense to tell a kid to “sit straight” for 5 hours a day and fill in the blanks in some workbook, or cut and paste with actual scissors and glue. In a world where kids use IM in first grade, and start texting when they’re in 2nd grade at the latest, followed by twitting – limited to 140 characters, it’s difficult to explain to my 3rd grader why it is important to answer a question in more than one word, preferably more than 3 words. Not to mention the mysterious value in it.
Now it’s my turn to sigh.
We’re living through an education revolution. It’s a serious revolution, but unfortunately not acknowledge by enough factors in education systems around the world. From students, to teachers to policy makers – too many people imagine it’s a temporary buzz and no drastic changes or adjustments are necessary.
Fortunately this revolution has some amazing world leaders. Greg Whitby, Sir Ken Robinson, Connie Weber and others, some I have mentioned in my blog before. Another one is Steve Hagardon. Just saw his slides for a talk at the “Future of Education” today.
“Three internet driven cultural shifts that are having profound impacts on how we think about education”, he writes, “How we find, create and consume information; How we get things done; How we connect with others”. And towards the end he asks: “Honestly, how well are we preparing students for this world? And how prepared are we for these changes?”
Me? I’m just waiting for the first teacher to add a remark in an assignment:
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