Essay On Education (reprint from Musea)

ESSAY ON EDUCATION

This Issue is Only One Topic:
IS THERE A DUNCE CAP BIG ENOUGH TO FIT EVERY SCHOOL IN AMERICA

or Revolution in Education
This special issue of Musea on education is based on the 1992 essay “On Education” by Tom Hendricks

The more I know, the more I am opposed to the method of education that I grew up with. In my opinion, our education system is archaic, inadequate, and needs immediate and sweeping reforms. This essay outlines those reforms. They revolve around 2 basic ideas: 1) the desire to learn, and 2) the method of learning.

But before we begin we must first resolve to LOVE our children enough to care who’s teaching them, what’s being taught, and how it’s being taught. We must have concerned, creative, and smart teachers who will use every positive innovation to instilll in their students the desire to learn and give them methods to learn quickly, and efficiently – thus making school not drudgery but a joy. If we ask our children to learn more we must give them that support. We must care.

DESIRE TO LEARN

The first and foremost goal of all schools must be to instilll in their students a desire to learn. That alone will ensure a lifetime of learning. The desire to learn can compensate for every other deficiency in a school system. If there is one student who fails to WANT to learn because of the school then that school has failed and failed miserably!

The desire to learn begins in the home. Parents are the overriding influence on their children. It is they who instill the desire to learn, or destroy it. And they do this in the first years of the child’s life. The schools can only enhance or weaken that pattern of behavior. Therefore parents must begin by caring for their children’s education at home.

If parents have done their part; it’s up to the schools to magnify that positive learning pattern.

Here’s a test for every school. Ask the students to evaluate their schools by choosing one of the following:

a) I passionately want to continue learning every day of my life
b) I want to go to college and that’s it
c) I don’t feel that strongly about education one way or the other
d) high school is it for me
f) I hate it hear and want out now.
The grade the school gets is the letter the student chooses A-F,

Instead of promoting the desire to learn, we make it as difficult as possible for them to learn. In fact I don’t know how we could punish and torment our children more!

We take energetic, vibrant, talkative, curious, and lively children (that we swear we love) and begin step by step chaining them up! They must go to ugly schools that look like prisons, then to drab dull classrooms, sit at hard uncomfortable chairs for hours, not talk, not even look out the window – heaven help them if they daydream! Then they are forced to listen to some bored and boring teacher lecture on a narrow limited format of a course from a single viewpoint textbook. Add to this no free time to think, limited exercise, and lousy food at lunch and you are describing conditions similar to solitary confinement at a prison.

Furthermore the approach of the schools is to teach TO the student instead of let him learn FROM the teacher. And because he is being coerced against his will the student either becomes bored or rebels against the teacher. There is no incentive to acquire knowledge. Yet the same student will, often in an unbelievably short time, learn every possible fact about his favorite hobby or hero, on his own and without the aid of any teacher.

And even if in spite of all this the student somehow becomes curious about what is being taught and this in turn leads him to expand on that idea i.e. THINK, then that curiosity is soon checked. In essence teachers subconsciously tell their students “If the knowledge I’m teaching you should lead you to explore any other avenues of thought, ideas, or conclusions outside of the text or curriculum, I will try to stonewall and curtail that natural curiosity and restrict you to the narrow view of study in any way I can.”

First let’s stop format teaching! Let children learn naturally; that is let their mind move from one subject to another because their curiosity moves from one subject to another. It’s a form of brainwashing to try to limit what’s taught to one narrow, fixed, format, viewpoint. The child should see that all knowledge is connected. Then he’ll see how knowledge is useful because it is a part of the real world. Stop format teaching!

It is not amazing that there are so called ‘failures’ in the present educational system. What is amazing is that anybody can go through such a school system and learn much of anything. I contend that what is learned comes mostly from a natural inclination and curiosity in the student that even schools have not yet learned to destroy! When I went to school I thought there were things you had to learn, no matter how boring they were, and that to suffer in school was mandatory! But since then I have found out that I was totally wrong.

And why should we lock our children up in classrooms? Classrooms are the last place they should be. Education is better served in libraries, laboratories, field trips, outdoors (where the lessons can be combined with physical exercises) etc.

Let the community get involved with the school system. Let local innovative architects design schools so enticing that children want to go to them. I’m sure civic minded architects would be more than glad to help out if they were given the chance without the bureaucratic red tape. Let the school classrooms be a stop over or home room to a broader base of possible places to learn.

Stop chaining our children to silence and isolation. These are not convicts and schools should not be penitentiaries! These are our children. Just because our schooling was terrible does not give us any right to inflict revenge on our children. Stop torturing them with out-molded, cruel, and unworkable school systems that are so abominable that students flee from their classrooms at the sound of the last bell. Stop killing every inclination to learn, and start creating an environment that insures a desire to learn – an environment of caring and cooperation that involves everyone in the community.

METHOD OF LEARNING

The Process of Finding Answers.
The Stream of Consciousness Learning technique.
Notes on the SOCLT
Assorted Ideas.
Once there is a desire to learn , the schools must have a method of learning, or process of learning that gives each student the chance to learn as much as his abilities will allow.

Present day schools teach this method: the child must learn certain facts. The more facts he learns the better. This and a few math skills seems to be the basic emphasis now. YIKES!

PART ONE: THE PROCESS OF FINDING ANSWERS

One idea is to change the focus from learning facts to learning how to find facts, from learning the answers to questions to learning how to solve problems. In other words learn the PROCESS of finding facts and solutions.

Which is more important to the student and to our society – a walking reference book or a thinking problem solving human being? Twelve years of learning facts can hardly compete with a good encyclopedia, so what’s the point of teaching students facts when anyone can look up millions of times as many facts if they know the PROCESS of using reference materials, a library, etc. Here’s an example: Which is more important, to know that Columbus discovered American in 1492 or to have learned how to find every important date in history. Instead of teaching facts we must teach our students how to find facts. Then progress to how to find solutions for problems.

Teaching students how to use a library is vital to teaching them how to find answers. Teachers should make it compulsory for each student to know how to use the books and reference materials in the library (and the internet). In classroom discussions from the earliest grades up, students should be encouraged to have hands on training in how to look up every conceivable type of fact or piece of knowledge. This should include everything from dictionaries and encyclopedias to the most intricate reference materials and computer information storage systems.

Each and every day have students look up answers to questions raised in class or to their own questions and study. As they get older include more and more sophisticated sources of information. This is one reason why I suggest libraries are a better alternative for holding classes than classrooms. After this training proceed to the next step. Teach the students the many ways of getting information and solving problems. Here are some examples:

1. Ask advice from your parents, teachers, and other adults
2. Ask advice from experts: car mechanics, scientists, businessmen, religious leaders, athletes, government officials, etc.
3. Research what has already been written in reference materials plus study the classic writings in philosophy, science, art, history, etc.
4. Take time to think and contemplate about what you have read and heard.
5. Discuss with others.
6. Experiment.
7. Repeat all the above.

In each case teach the child how to get help from experts and how to use resources. Do this by going through the PROCESS of formulating questions, searching out those people that can help answer it, or the research needed to find the answers.. and answer the questions.

Ex. The teacher poses a problem: how do I get a drivers license, or how do I get a copyright, or how do I become a painter, dentist, police officer, etc. – up to incredibly sophisticated questions like ‘Should the English language be reformed and if so how?’, or “should I get married and at what age’ or ‘what would be my idea of a utopia and how does it compare with those thought up by philosophers and scientists in the past’, or ‘what safeguards should there be in genetic engineering and who should decide’, etc.

Then the teacher asks the class as a team project and/or as an individual project) to solve the problem – that is, call, write, e-mail the experts, do research, discuss ideas, experiment with solutions, and write up your findings – in other words solve the problem.

By the end of 12 years of such instruction (in every conceivable subject and situation) the new adult would have a problem solving ability that would help him solve the problems he will face in his lifetime.

Though this sounds like a technique only for the more advanced classes, it can be used for all levels. Start with very simple problems: ‘how do you lock and unlock a door?’, or ‘ how do you tie a shoe, tie a tie, tie a knot, make a bed’ or ‘how do you find out what a sign says when you can’t read’ etc.

Every time a child solves a problem he gains experience and confidence in himself. And the teacher after giving positive reinforcement can gradually make each problem slightly more difficult to challenge the students.. In the end we have children who can solve problems daily, instead of children sitting on chairs trying hard to pay attention as the teacher lectures.

PART TWO THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS LEARNING TECHNIQUE.

The 2nd major change I would make in the process of learning is a learning technique I call the ‘Stream of Consciousness Learning Technique (SOCLT). Stream of Consciousness as defined by the Readers Encyclopedia is “The uninterrupted flow of sensations, thoughts, memories, associations, etc.”

In the classroom the SOCLT would work like this: The teacher would start by stating a fact or problem, or a question, etc. This would lead the class to a discussion (not a lecture but a discussion in which everyone takes part) of a related field of study. Then questions and discussion in this new field may in turn lead to still other related fields of study, etc.

Unlike rigid format classes of today, this type of no format learning would not be discouraged, but be encouraged! No knowledge or fact or field of study would be off limits (though the teacher would have to carefully monitor younger classes when dealing with controversial or adult topics.)

Here’s an example for an advanced class: The teacher begins by holding up a calendar and asking the students to find out why the month August is named August? The answer, of Caesar Augustus, could well lead to talking about his agrarian reforms, his great-uncle Julius Caesar, the golden age of Latin Literature, the latin language, Gibbon’s book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the life and times of Jesus, or the history of the Han dynasty, etc.

Let’s say the golden age of Latin literature is explored. A student reads excerpts from Ovid’s Metqamorphosis This in turn could lead to talking about butterflies, other Roman poets, or mythology.

Let’s say butterflies are chosen. This could lead to talking about color, color and painting, colors and survival in nature, the migration of butterflies, Newton’s study of optics, color and its psychological implications, etc.

Let’s say color and painting is chosen and leads to a discussion of oil painting, which could lead to such subjects as diverse as Van Dyke and his portraits, oil in the human skin, oil and vinegar for salad dressing, or the importance of oil in the world economy.

Let’s say the last is chosen and leads to talking about Saudi Arabia, world politics, Islam, the cost of gasoline – self service versus full service, solar power, etc. (Note the above would cover an hour or two)

As one can quickly see, there are no stipulations about what can be learned. The teachers’ role is not to force learning but to act as moderator, catalyst, and guide, to his students – helping them with stimulating facts, questions, opinions, and tasks that lead them ever further along in their education.

A good teacher will lead the talks away from the trivial toward substantial areas of learning. In doing so he will guide the class through all basic math and science skills, yet at the same time he will not ignore the other important fields of knowledge. Also the teacher will choose when to halt the discussion and start again in another direction.

Some of the benefits of the SOCLT are:
1. The student learns a massive amount of knowledge in a short time.
2. The knowledge learned covers every field.
3. Any age group could learn under such a technique. Imagine 12 years of study under such an all inclusive type of course!
4. The process would lead students back and forth through history, each time through a different avenue of thought and in doing so, it would allow the student to connect all knowledge and see how separate studies are dependent and integrated with all other studies. He can also see the relationship between the mundane needs of day-to-day life and humankind’s most evolved thought, achievement and culture. Note : today’s courses are too fractionalized. They seem to have no relation to any other course of study, let alone to the real world. It’s like learning vocabulary words without learning sentence structure.
5. This technique would require no extra money or equipment except access to a good library.
6. The student would enjoy learning. Like his method of learning his hobby, there are no boundaries or restrictions.
7. The student would participate in the learning process with his stream of consciousness questions, opinions, hands on research, experiments, etc.
8 The student would devise a system of learning that he could utilize for the rest of his life.
9. The student could, in turn, teach a massive amount of knowledge to to others.

The basic drawbacks are:
1. The first generation of such teachers would have to be extremely highly educated. A good library would be a necessity. Perhaps a number of teachers, each expert in one field, could work together in a class, shifting back and forth to each when the discussion reaches their field of expertise. Note students educated in this technique could at graduation easily become the 2nd generation of SOCLT teachers. It is only finding that 1st group of teachers, that will be a drawback to the process.
2. Even the brightest teachers will end up with more questions than answers. But this can be turned to everyone’s advantage by having the class go through the process of researching the solutions.
3. The students would need some type of already learned structure of knowledge that they could relate all these new facts to. I suggest a world history course (see below). Then whenever a question, fact, etc. arises, the student will be able to place it in his memory in relation to all the other knowledge stored there. He will have a file case (a world history time line) for his SOCLT facts, knowledge and experiments.

PART THREE; NOTES ON THE SOCLT

THE R’s: One advantage that we listed in the benefits of this technique is that it incorporates all knowledge into the discussions. Today’s schools are too narrow minded. They center on the 3 r’s: reading writing, and arithmetic (obviously not spelling!) to the exclusion of other just as important information. Three areas that are often neglected are:
1. Real life, reality training, basic skills in everyday life.
2. The arts.
3. Exercise, recreation, and sports – for all not just the few.

Reality training: We need to teach the basic skills and information needed in everyday life. They include money and credit management, basic health information, business skills, home economic skills (for both sexes), job finding skills, skills in dealing with the government: taxes, licenses, courts, etc., basic ideas about human relations, machine skills: cars, computers, etc. It amazes me how little, graduates know about everyday skills, and even more amazing is how little we seem concerned about it! As to machines we must know that we are now a world of machinists, and often the difference between the highly educated and the uneducated is the difference between their abilities to operate machines, computers, technology etc. (Also don’t forget basic skills in foreign languages.)

Art: (the fine arts). America has for reasons unknown, throughout its history been tough on her arts and artists. All this in spite of the fact that American culture is one of the richest in all history and certainly the most exciting now. It is time to stop the primitive notion that great art is somehow degenerating, or unimportant. We can no longer deny our children their rightful education in the fine arts.

On the other hand there also seems to be the narcissistic attitude that native arts (as great as they indeed are) somehow surpass those of the rest of the world and world history combined. Stop teaching our children to be provincial in their learning. Teach them that art is not only a part of being civilized, and even more importantly a great source of joy and pleasure; but that knowing the great art of ALL THE WORLD, whose geniuses often surpass those of our own local heroes, is essential to being well educated. Example: how many of us were taught the great oriental classics of literature. Their poetry, is arguably the best ever written, far exceeding any western poets, yet most of us grew up totally oblivious to this.

When we graduate scientists, and businessmen without even the rudiments of a knowledge of the fine arts then we are graduating fools and stealing from them their birthright to this incredible source of pleasure, joy, stimulation, and intelligence! (The fine arts include music, art, architecture, dance, drama, literature, film, photography, design, applied arts, etc.)

Exercise: Another important ingredient in every child’s education is exercise. Exercise, walking, team and single sports, etc. should all be incorporated into the curriculum. Have children walk a quarter or half mile in between classes, or up and down stairs, or on field trips, or in school maintenance (see below), or incorporate exercise in classes held outside, (or inside for that matter). In other words, unchain the child from his desk and incorporate physical development with mental development. Teach the student that the development of BOTH is preferable to either separately. Stress the importance of integrating a healthy body with a healthy brilliant mind.

Note: There are certain subjects that because they are controversial, schools have outlawed. I believe that it is unfair for schools to deny our children knowledge. They’re there to teach, not block students from learning. How can we dare tell our children that there is knowledge that you should never know. The child, especially in the later grades, should be allowed to talk, discuss, and learn about ANYTHING! The teacher on the other hand must make it clear the difference between beliefs and facts – scientific proofs and theories, established thought and fringe ideas etc.

The taboo subjects include: world religions, philosophy, political thought, sexuality, the occult, etc. I believe that these taboo subjects are vital to a rounded education.

Let’s then expand the 3 R’s to 6 (with poetic license on spelling): 1 Reading, 2. Writing, 3. Arithmetic, plus 4. Reality training, 5 Art, and 6 Ex-R-cise

Genius Thought. No matter what the class or subject, wherever possible, let genius be the teacher. In music don’t listen to the teacher, listen to Mozart, Bach and Beethoven; in painting learn from looking at and copying paintings of Raphael, Velasquez and Van Gogh, in economics read excerpts from Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblem, etc. I believe that the work of genius is the best teacher of all. They have a proven record of excellence. Why deny the student access to the very best in their field. Genius thought leads to more genius thought. The level of thinking of the students can seldom match the masters of their fields of study unless they are aware of the work of those masters and can benefit from their successes and failures. I believe it’s possible to learn from anything or anyone, but I also believe the most stimulating route is often through access to the works of genius!

Libraries & Textbooks. Most classes should be held, if inside at all, at the library. The teacher should incorporate into ALL classes the hands on participation of all students in looking up answers in reference materials. The library is essential to give the students access to as much knowledge as is humanly possible. And school funds should be shifted from other less worthy expenditures to the library. (Hopefully in the near future, the internet will develop into an open library of information accessible to all)

Now a word about textbooks. I believe that the narrow single viewpoint of a textbook is a major mistake in education. No matter how great the author(s) is he/she still represents only one viewpoint. Replace multi-copy single-minded textbooks with a full library of different textbooks, and reference materials. By eliminating textbooks we are telling our children that1, Many authors have knowledge to contribute, and 2, none have the final answer. Let homework assignments come, not from a single textbook, but from assorted textbooks, plus related classics, a student’s own notes, etc. This way the student searches out and finds the material he wants in the format he prefers. This in turn encourages the students initiative and problem solving abilities.

Learning vs. Lecturing. In the first colleges in Europe in the Middle Ages, (the University at Bologna was founded c. 1088) teachers lectured their students. Nothing has changed in the nearly 1 thousand years since. It’s time to update the teaching methods of the middle ages! Students learn by doing not lecturing. You can’t teach a child what chocolate tastes like.

Free Time. With all the bombardment of knowledge the child will need time to rest and think about what he’s learned. Perhaps the most neglected aspect of education today is TIME TO THINK. Each student needs to have time to assimilate knowledge, review, contemplate, discuss with the teacher and others, and most of all wonder – wonder about what he’s learned. And now that the library is the classroom, let the children have time on their own to explore its resources and think.

The western world would increase its productivity and well being if it stopped its mad pace of activity for some daily time, free from all distractions, to think!

World History Outline of Knowledge.
The SOCLT method teaches a great amount of random knowledge. And even though the teacher guides the students , this class by itself, would be a bewildering jumble of information IF the student doesn’t have something to relate all these facts and ideas to.

I suggest a course in world history. This would give a framework, or bare bones structure from which the student could attach facts as he learns them. For example he could see that Shakespeare and Galileo were both born in 1564 and that Einstein and Freud were contemporaries who once met each other. In other words he can see where all the facts fit in the history of the world and the development of ideas and knowledge through time.

But we also need a method of teaching world history that teaches it so quickly and so thoroughly that even grade school children can learn and recite it. Here’s how:
Most courses of history (or other subjects as well) follow a chronological order. It begins at the earliest time and proceeds to to the modern day. I suggest a different process of learning. I suggest beginning with a general overview of the entire subject, then a repetition of that summary with a few added details, then a repetition again with more added details and so on and so on. By going from the general to the specific the basic facts and ideas that the teacher feels the student should learn are learned quickly through constant repetition and details are added gradually so as to embellish and build on these basic ideas. Let’s give an example (and be sure to use any and every type of visual aid, maps, charts, etc..) On Day one you would take a map and point to the main centers of civilization in chronological order: Sumer, Egypt, Indus Valley, Chinese, Minoan-Greek, Roman, Islamic, European, and Americas, African, S. E. Asia, Polynesia, etc. Now repeat the history line but this time add the major rivers or oceans near by. Then repeat again and add any knowledge that the students have about each civilization. Then repeat again and again, each time reinforcing the basic time line of history while adding fascinating detail. Go over and over the complete history of the world many times a day, with each time adding more and more facts (either from the teacher and/or researched by the students). Maybe set up a time line in class that you can add facts to. Gradually each student will have a comprehensive view of world history that he will be able to write up or recite back, and any new fact he learns in his SOCLT class or any other class can be fitted into this knowledge of world history. Any age can learn through this method. Just imagine the knowledge of college students who had gone through such a course of history each day for 12 school years. Also this process of learning can be easily added to any school curriculum (Note this system of study that goes from the general to the specific should work equally well for almost all courses of study.)

PART FOUR. ASSORTED IDEAS.

Field Trips. Classrooms are the last place students should be. I would suggest that as often as possible (1-3 times a week) that the school should sponsor field trips to get the students out of the school atmosphere, to show them how the real world works, to give them a variety of life experiences, and to expose them to the many different job possibilities and options that are open to them. Field trips can be to any possible location. The more variety the better: business offices, manufacturing plants, all types of stores, warehouses, laboratories, hospitals, museums, libraries, government offices, parks, courtrooms, police and fire stations, artists studios, TV and radio stations, garages, etc. In return for letting the students tour their facility, let the company or individual get a tax break on their school taxes. That way everybody wins and everybody gets involved.

Reading. Our children’s knowledge of classics is terrible and schools seem to feel that if a child has read Huckleberry Finn and something from Shakespeare he knows classics.

I suggest that instead of reading 1 or 2 classics in their entirety, that the child should read 1-10 pages from thousands of classics. That way we first give them an over view of all that’s been written, then later they can read those that appeal to them. And please don’t forget the classics in science, philosophy, history, etc. Example: one week the class reads excerpts from all the notable autobiographies in history. They might include those of St. Augustine, Rousseau, Ben Franklin, Cellini, Anne Frank, Pepy’s Dairy, Marco Polo, Henry David Thoreau, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, etc.

And Writing. Being able to write and write well is essential to every student’s education. Although talent sure helps, anyone can write reasonably well if they practice. I suggest that each student write some type of short report every day. Let each student keep a notebook of his daily writings. Let them be about anything: field trips, the SOCLT classes, book reports, history papers, daily events, dialogues with others, etc. What matters most is not what he writes about, but that he writes and writes often.. Also encourage the students to explore every form of writing: diaries, dialogues, poetry, essays, short stories, book reports, scientific papers, letters, speeches, dramas, etc.

Make sure students are given daily exercises in writing until it becomes not a frightening chore, like it is for most adults, but a habit. And don’t forget typing – with computers it’s a must.

Also do the same with public speaking. Let the children speak daily: during discussions, on field trips, or in front of the class. Make it, like writing, a second nature to them and get rid of the fear of public speaking that most adults still have .

Tests. Here are 2 types of tests to judge the progress of the students: The Big Picture Test, and The Little Details Test

A. The Big Picture Test. We need a test to make sure the child has a basic over all view of the knowledge he is trying to learn. I suggest tests with a single question such as ; ‘Write a history of the world’. I think very few adults reading this could answer that question; yet, those students who have been through the world history line courses, would have answered that question every day. And too they would have the writing or oral skills to do it on paper or in front of the class. More detailed questions could follow in other tests: “write a history of the US, or of painting, or of chemistry, etc.; or how would you set up a business, or how does the human body work, or explain atomic structure.
B. The Little Details Test. Besides the essay tests the students should be given detail tests. These are composed of all the basic facts and skills the school feels the child should know before graduating from that grade.

I suggest that an EXACT COPY of each test be GIVEN to each student on the first day of school. Tell them that these are the tests that he will be given throughout the year and that each question will be discussed and answered during the year. But if he wants to, he may take the tests whenever he wishes and he may take them as many times as he wants until he gets the level of excellence he wants – his best grade will be his final grade.

The student then knows from the first day what is expected of him. And with the help of the teachers, class discussions, and his own research etc. he can learn every answer at his own pace. Also he can make up any tests he has problems passing, and get the tutoring help, etc. he needs. No student should ever fail this system.

Instead of playing guessing games with students in a make-it or break-it stressful final exam, this type of testing places emphasis, not on test taking, and cramming, but on learning: not on grades (everyone should get high marks) but on knowledge learned. The bell curve is cracked!

The final grade then comes from 1. Big picture tests, 2 little details tests, and possibly also daily writings and participation in class.

PART FIVE. STUDENT AS WORKER AND OTHER IDEAS.

School Maintenance. Besides learning knowledge our students need to learn responsibility. One idea is this: assign the students 1-5 hours a week of helping with school maintenance: sweeping floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning up restroom and classrooms., helping in the cafeteria, planting trees, mowing lawns, cleaning up litter, helping with decorations and displays etc. Also helping the school administration as aides to the principal, counselors, school nurses, etc. – in other words whatever they can do to help the school. Not ony will this teach the children responsibility, but it will also reduce costs, teach students new skills, integrate them into the school system and reduce vandalism (Who would mark on the walls if they knew they had to clean them up the next day?)

Teacher’s Helpers. Also with the higher student teacher ratio of most schools, why can’t students in the higher grades act as teacher assistants in the lower grades? Let high school level students spend part of each week as helpers for grade school and junior high teachers. Everyone wins in such an arrangement. The teachers are relieved of a lot of busy work, the high school students get a great experience, and the junior high or grade school gets a teacher student ratio cut in half at no extra cost. Also it’s sometimes easier for younger students to relate to slightly older teens then with teachers. (Note; a school system might even extend this idea to include anyone in the community who wanted to volunteer to help. In return the school could give them some type of credit towards school or city taxes).

Community Service. I also suggest that all students spend a few hours each month, perhaps one afternoon, helping out their local city government: – working at city hall, city parks, the zoo; or picking up litter on streets, etc. Let them help defray city costs by helping pay for their education through community service. It’s good experience for them and great help for the city.

Other ideas. 1. Give the students 2 or 3 small meals instead of one large one. It’s healthier for the student and may well be easier on the cafeteria staff.
2. Add school pets. Let the school have live-in dogs, cats, etc. that can walk the halls freely. Let students help with their care and feeding.
3. Reduce bureaucracy and waste! Throughout this essay I have very seldom mentioned MONEY. That’s because these innovations come from inventive thinking, not from wasteful spending. Money is a solution that hardly ever solves problems. Innovation and cooperation with every one in the community is the key to better education. Excluding better salaries for teachers of these programs (they would have to be twice as smart as present day teachers just to keep up with the students!) I do not encourage more spending. In fact I believe these innovations – if instigated free of bureaucratic waste and red tape, would SAVE school systems money. Think smart, not expensive!

PART SIX. A DAY IN THE LIFE.

Now let’s look at what a schedule might be for a junior high or high school student going to a school that uses all the innovations in this essay. Note: I suggest any schedule be changed periodically, to give the student some variety. Also if a school is going to change over from its old system to any of my new ideas, I suggest they begin with those basic courses: reference material, world history, reading & writing; and then proceed to the more advance courses of SOCLT, field trips, school and community service, etc.

SCHEDULE

1. Meet at home room for attendance ,daily news and schedule: 15-30 min.
2. World History: 30 min.
3. Reference Materials : 30-60 min.
4. Free time and snack: 30 min.
5. Exploring classics : 30 min.
6. Sports: 1 hour
7. Free time and lunch: 1 hour
8. Afternoon event: 2-3 hours – SOCLT class, field trip, special event, school maintenance, teacher helper, community service, etc.
9. Writing (or speaking): 30-60 min. This includes daily writing practice, that can be done anywhere. May also include some practice tests, etc.

Summary: We are a lucky generation. Ours is the first to have access to such a great amount of resources. Due to the technological advances in communications and storage of information, almost all knowledge of human kind is now available to almost everyone. It’s time for new techniques of learning to absorb more of this information faster and utilize it in a positive way to preserve our past, enrich our present, and shape our future.

MUSEA

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