SNS: Special Letter: The Reformers Are Leaving Our Schools in the 20th Century

SNS: Special Letter: The Reformers Are Leaving Our Schools in the 20th Century


Volume 14, Issue 4
Week of January 24, 2011

In This Issue

Feature: The Reformers Are Leaving Our Schools In The 20th Century

  • Fix the Education, Not the System
  • Assessment: The Big Gorilla
  • Don’t Blame the Teachers (or Students)
  • How Much Do Charter Schools Help to Build “21st-Century Skills”?
  • Changing How We Teach and What We Teach
  • How to Teach – Changing Our Pedagogy to “Partnering”
  • What to Teach (and What Not to Teach) – Changing Our Curriculum
  • Steps in the Right Direction
  • Ignoring Students’ Passions At Our Peril
  • The 3 C’s
  • Character and Passion
  • Communication and Problem Solving
  • Creation and Skills
  • Appropriate Education for All Students
  • The Importance of Asking the Right Questions
  • Why Business-Based Education Solutions Have Been Missing the Mark
  • Curriculum Overload and the Need to Delete
  • The Real Culprit: Stealthy Resistance to Forward Movement
  • Only the Right Education Helps
  • Focus on the Kids
  • “Easy to Do/Big Impact” Steps
  • Conclusion
  • About Marc Prensky


Publisher’s Note: For those who watched the U.S. State of the Union message from President Obama, there was perhaps one clear message that rose above all others: improving education in the United States. Various global and national tests and surveys released in the last few months, including the NAEP released this week, confirm every American parent’s worst fears: U.S. students now fall behind nearly all other developed-country (including China) students in science and math.

Among Obama’s suggestions were the hiring of 100k new teachers in science and engineering, and a concerted focus on improving education during his term.

I just happened to be scheduled to appear on BloombergTV the following morning, and I got a call from the producer asking if I would respond to some of these points on air. An hour before I went live, Reagan ex-budget director David Stockman (the person who first debunked the “trickle-down theory” of economics) was interviewed. He suggested that spending more on education was a bad idea.

In this week’s Special Letter, you’ll see that author Marc Prensky, a global expert on how children learn in the 21st Century, agrees. So do I.

Pouring another XX Billion Dollars down the hole we call our modern education system would be a waste of money, and a serious mistake. Why? Because the system has already proven its ability to absorb doublings of spending with no noticeable effect, and sometimes with negative effect.

As Marc points out in this opinion piece, the problem lies in focusing on the system, instead of on the curriculum. We are still using the same pedagogical techniques – and often exactly the same curricula – as Daniel Webster did. In an age of fast-moving scientific discoveries and technological progress, when the global economy is driven by technology, there is no excuse for such misallocation of time or resources.

With all of the arguments raging around what is wrong with the system, I think you will find Marc’s plaint compelling. You may take issue with one or more of his points, but his conclusions are almost certainly correct.

Shifting our view to this new perspective should go a long way in helping set a new course, before investing the billions envisioned by Obama to buy the ships to get there.  – mra.


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