Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fascination with the past....

It appears to me that the leadership of our country and to a degree our profession (education) has a fascination with the past. We still believe that there is a specific batch of core knowledge that every child must "learn." Why is that? Who determines what that core knowledge is? Does it include data other than that of white euro-centric history, or does it include multicultural awareness? Does it include memorization, or is it OK for students to use hard drives, calculators, computers and other tools to solve problems? I guess I can say those are rhetorical questions since we all know the answers.
I just read a recent study that suggested that up to 20% of our high school drop-outs could be identified as 'gifted' students. These students say school is so boring they don't want to stay. Human motivation theory says that when a human is truly engaged in learning they get what into might be called a "flow" - not aware of time or distractions. Where is the real learning and engagement happening then, if not in schools?
The bigger question for me is why is this OK? Few students truly engaged in learning, huge numbers of drop-outs, obvious lack of competitive academic performance with much of the rest of the industrialized world. It isn't the competition that concerns me - it is the lack of true global understanding in an increasingly global community.
We have a very difficult time looking past our immediate personal and family needs - but if we don't address this soon, our grandchildren will be paying a very heavy price for our denial.