|Q & A||Links||Public Charity|
This non profit’s goals coalesced out of several experiences and thoughts I’ve had regarding the educational process students have access to here in America.
1. In the last ten years several million people lost work as textile, furniture and manufacturing jobs were closed in the U.S. and moved overseas. Yet the same news sources that relayed these people couldn’t find jobs also relayed there is a shortage of computer programmers in this country. With job boards online listing millions of posting, searching for people with technical training is it really a lack of jobs or the lack of skill that trips up displaced people? As we have progressed from agrarian based, to manufacturing then technology and now to an information economy how do people get skills to keep ahead? How do displaced workers retool their skill sets? How do current students get skills required in the current market environment before they graduate so they are relevant in an information based economy?
2. Watching The Charlie Rose Show repeatedly guests point out how far behind the United States is in training its student to compete in math and science fields as compared to China and India. With a population four times as large as the U.S. if China and India simply graduate the same percent of their population in engineering or computer programming as the United States does the raw number different is they are graduating more than one million more students in these advanced fields per year. But the situation gets even worse as we are reducing the amount of funding and loans available to college students and turning students off to math and science fields before students even reach college. High school students in America aspire to be athletes and movie stars and now with Paris Hilton, famous for simply being famous. We should be increasing the number of students entering the fields of math and science. We should be using the playbook of the entertainment industry to better relay how important and rewarding the study of math and science is.
3. Watching the football playoffs I wondered why it was so easy to know the stats of the players and identify who is the best in each position but I couldn’t answer the same question regarding who is the best teacher in the country, or my state, or my local school district, or even the high school I attended. We should be able to see who is the best teacher, for each subject, at each grade level, nationwide.
4. There are benchmarks in the financial industry: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Fed Rate. For-profit businesses spend a lot of time and energy to learn and apply the best practices of organizations that exceed these benchmarked standards. What if the best practices and ingredients that contributed to that success of teachers found in topic two (tools, resources, text books, lesson plans, educational background, personality traits, class sizes, PTA involvement, administration support) were relayed. We should be able to see the ingredients available to students of the best teachers so that all students could have access to the best education.
5. Teachers should be as much a salesperson for their profession as they are a relay of information. From the field of psychology Maslow's hierarchy of needs expressed 5 levels of development, where you can’t get to level 3 until you meet the needs at level 2. It seems the way math is taught has a similar progression and we should be teaching at level 5 however most schools are stuck at level 1. Level one is reading a book to students, like what a substitute teacher does. Level two is finding a teacher with some understanding of the material who will consistently relay the correct information. Level three is where the teacher increases the adhesion, increases the ability of the student to recall the material. How many students complete the homework but fail the quiz simply because the labels of the variables were switched? So level four is to increase understanding, where the student can solve similar problems based on the principle of the formula learned. Level five is where the student looks forward and outward, inspired to explore the fields of math and science and actually originates new solutions. Other countries are teaching at level five, can’t we be there as well?
While our project is about ways to explore and ignite the creativity in students in the fields of math, science and music, our goal begins with just looking at the problems differently. In the same tone, regarding social science or history classes, why study wars only? Study should include conflict resolution. My experience with world history classes was to learn who fought and who lost in world wars. Yet not once was there a pause or an emphasis to establish how those problems could have been resolved before they became wars. Instead of just studying wars framed as history classes students can study peace through communications classes.
We have got to change the way we approach education in our country. We have got to change how we deliver and relay knowledge. While highs schools have as their mission statement to help build self esteem and encourage self discovery should the focus be more about obtaining current skills relevant in an information based economy? We have got to increase adhesion and exploration of math and science concepts. We have got to increase our return of investment (improved test scores) and increase our sales (number of students graduating with math and science degrees).
By making information known we can benefit all students. Participating students can grow up to be skilled wage earners, contributing inventors, helping peer through the unknown and identify creative, new solutions that are relevant in the global marketplace, that improve our lives and strengthen our country. In a direct way we can improve our individual situation by helping others obtain marketable, relevant skills.
Your help is needed in pursuing these goals. You can make a difference.