The future of education

September 3, 2009

Reading the recent entry by teacherken from the Education Policy Blog about the future of education reminded me of an educational conference I attended a few years ago held by the University of Louisville in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati and the University of Kentucky.  The key note speaker was Dr. Sam Stringfield who had just recently moved from the Center for Social Organization of Schools at John Hopkins University, to UofL as a distinguished scholar and Grawemeyer Award director.   His address was on the future of education (classroom, online, etc.) and our place in the world as educators.  The statement that remains in my head about this conference was one of the first comments Dr. Stringfield made,  “teachers are the biggest impediment to education.”  At the time, I thought he was an extremely brave man to say this in a room full of teachers/educators, but he went on to further question the pressures and constraints that face educators; What impedes teachers performance? What keeps them from being able to be good educators?

The Ed Policy Blog picks up this conversation by discussing the future of education through a Rafe Esquith interview in Teacher Magazine. Mr. Esquith is an urban educator and author with many impressive teaching awards related to his work with taking low income, minority students and making them successful academic performers.  What I like about the blog/article is that education is viewed as learning; not as temporary knowledge gained to pass as test.  One of the best quotes from the article (and the blog) is, “I [Rafe] think the absolute key is that learning, the education of a child, is a long process, and we are now in the middle of a fast food society.”  He further goes on to state that, “I’m trying to teach things that kids will remember after they’ve left my classroom, not just for the test at the end of the year.”  Now where have I heard that before?

Much like online learning, many of the tools that we master in an online course can be utilized long after we’re done with the class.  For example, many of my fellow 685er’s blogs have expressed appreciation for the new tools such as TappedIn that they can now use to enhance their students learning — and it’s free.

So like Dr. Stringfield, Mr. Esquith doesn’t have all of the answers but better yet raises questions; questions about the future of education that will help to improve it.

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