Jan 8th 2002 George Bush signs No Child Left Behind Act in the US. December 10th 2015, President Obama signed an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act. This is a very honorable law, on very sound knowledge that some/ most? children fall between the cracks at school. However it didn’t work. We’ll see if anything changes South of the border in the next ten years, but I don’t expect anything.
In Canada we don’t have the same law but the same objectives are the backbone of public school policy here, but many children are left behind.
Why don’t I expect things to get better? Because public school, as it is organized, is archaic.
Issues with the current school system
1. My first issue is age cohort. Why or why are children of the same age put together? The older children will continually be older and the younger ones will continually be younger. The cut-off date, different in every country, makes absolutely no sense to anyone who has ever been a parent. – Children learn things at different ages: all are expected to learn the same stuff at the same time.
– Peer help to understand and learn is essential: minimal
– Cross generational learning is amazing: zero
2. My second issue is that different children get on with different adults, so if they don’t get along with their teacher for a year in elementary school, then tough: one year lost.
3. Thirdly, teachers don’t always like what they teach. They have an education degree but then often need to teach something they hate: we can all think about an English teacher teaching PE
4. Teachers don’t always know what they are teaching, or here in Canada, the language in which they teach! Hence we have French Immersion Science teachers who have a degree in Geography teaching Science in French using Google translate!
5. Nothing in the organisation of school is done for the parents. The school year is divided arbitrarily giving parents the impossible job of organizing day care at different times, different days. Pro-days are never regular; school vacation is here and there, plus the impossibly long Summer. So elementary school students are shipped here and there, and high school students hang out and waste their time.
6. In this computer era, good typing skills are not expected everywhere! Well the teachers mostly can’t type so why the kids?
7. Lack of respect for Wikipedia which is amazing when used for the right information; teachers in general amaze me for insisting students not use its information.
8. Subject division into English, Geography, Chemistry etc. is artificial. Education is a whole. Critical Thinking is a whole.
9. etc etc…
Sal Khan suggests we give way more space to the arts and sport in general: not only the main ones, drama, music, and fine arts – football and baseball. Not everyone fits those boxes.
He as I and many others suggest we look at having varied professionals coming in to teach what they do best.
We suggest we use social interacting games, that Science becomes based on experience and not on formulae and a bunch of numbers.
We suggest teachers become tutors (mostly) – being at each child’s side as needed.
Lastly, each child should see school as an extension of home, where his or her parents are part of the school; not a group that must stay outside.
PS. I suggest we seriously look into year round school where parents can have family vacation at the time it suits the family.
Just dreaming? No. Sal Khan has written the book, The One World Schoolhouse. I firmly recommend it.