Wednesday, July 10, 2013

- 10 ideas: education edition -

On the tracks of idea generation, Startup Weekend is a great place to hear and work on new ideas. For the first time since they started, Startup Weekend is limiting ideas - to education. On one hand, it's limiting the people who might've wanted to pitch. On the other hand, our education system is pretty broken as Ken Robinson eloquently explains.

So let's reinvent our education system

  1. Personal Paced Learning Rather than the traditional grade system, each subject is divided into difficulties and the teacher helps you through whichever difficulty level you are at. Teachers are assigned subjects (across all difficulties) rather than grades. You could be Level 3 English and Level 7 Math. Dividing by subjects makes much more sense as you can get tons of help from people in advanced levels.
  2. All-Year School Removal of the school year system completely. The current September system favours those born early in the year as they are stronger and smarter than their grade-mates. People can start school whenever they want - even after home schooling. A brief placement test for each subject would be needed. Because school is open year-round and there is no grade system, you could also take time off whenever.
  3. Online Texts Information is presented in a relevant and interactive way online. School would shift focus to answering questions and explaining concepts; working and playing in groups; and mentorship across difficulty levels.
  4. Clear Flexible Advancement If someone enjoys phys.ed. the most, they could spend most of their time exploring different sports available. If someone likes science experiments, they could see whether they prefer working with chemicals or dead living things. A small section of their day would still be allocated to necessary skills like basic arithmetics and logic, but the core focus would be what they're interested in.
  5. Performance-Based Rewards for Teachers Rather than being paid and promoted for being older, teachers would be paid through a mix of anonymized student reviews (measuring engagement) and students' progress (measuring effectiveness of teaching methods).
  6. Integrated School Systems Collapse pre-school, elementary school, high school and university into one. In order to keep costs under control, charge tuition for higher level courses. People accessing higher level courses would be serious about getting that knowledge and thus be willing to pay for it.
  7. Practical Exams Current test/exam system only checks how well students can write tests/exams. Exams should be an hour time-slot where the student performs an experiment, solves a real world problem using math they learnt, codes a useful application and so forth.
  8. Course-Job Hybrid At the highest levels of a subject, you are on a one-month paid internship to show that you can apply your skills in a work (or academic/governmental/non-profit) environment. You are given a small project - minor feature to code, web page to design, book to edit, financial sheet to balance - during that time. On successful internship, you are hired. If not, more learning and practice before the next internship.
  9. Mandatory Recess Three breaks throughout the day regardless of what level you are. Facilities from sports utilities to libraries for introverts are available to use. A chance for cross-subject mingling, especially for those that can't stay at school late.
  10. Teaching Certification through the System Teachers can teach a particular subject when they've reached the highest level of both teaching and their teaching subject. A teacher can have one or many teaching subjects. No additional certification would be needed, since work experience is included in the highest level.

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