Do you ever wonder if our children’s education even measures up anymore? I mean sure the internet was already invented when my teenage son was born but companies and people were just starting to try and figure out how (and why) to use it back then (I should know, I used to teach Introduction To The Internet and Computer 101 classes!).
The internet has changed everything. We can communicate, locate, debate, watch, cook, snoop and shop so much quicker. Am I the only one who wonders what this means to the future workplace? Oh sure, we can tell ourselves that some school boards, like Lester B. Pearson have introduced a new curriculum that includes MAC laptops, but let’s be clear: they are reserved for the select few that make it into their special Matrix program. You could also argue that this sort of education can wait for University, but I’m not just talking about computers and the internet. I mean you don’t need to be wealthy nowadays for your child to have access to an internet active device. I’m not very confident about how our education system is keeping up with how fast the world, business and and the economy is changing. Laptops and the web aside, maybe the way our kids our being taught needs to be completely overhauled.
3 years ago my friend enlisted her son in Brookside Montessori (for children potty trained to Kindergarten age). I remember her mentioning that aside from maintaining a 1 to 10 classroom ratio, the rooms were not busy or colourful (apparently simple, plain rooms are less distracting and more conducive for learning) and that they attempted to teach to different learning styles. I can recall her blowing my mind when she said “isn’t it obvious that all children should be taught for how their brains work?”. My response was probably something like “Uh, yeah sure”. But thinking about how our public school curriculum works for maybe half of the students does concern me. In 2007 statistics Canada claimed 1 in 10 had a learning disability but what does that really mean? How many kids struggle in certain areas and never fall into the learning disability category at all?
I myself just found out that my severe math problems in high school, today would probably (hopefully!) be diagnosed as ‘Dyscalculia’. I was schooled in an era where I believed I was stupid. Has anything really changed?
A friend of mine shared that when she told her sister that her son had a been diagnosed with a minor case of Dyslexia she responded with: “oh-no! And I thought he was so smart??!”. FYI: a learning disability has absolutely zero correlation with Intelligence Quotient. In fact, a person can have an I.Q. off the charts but maybe their brain can’t seem to connect the difference between a ‘b’ and a ‘d’. How often have you thought “my child is a visual learner”, “my child can only grasp sciences”, “my child seems so smart but can’t follow simple class instructions”?
In the news, there’s been talk about how we (students/parents) should be able to grade our teachers and how difficult it is for school boards to reprimand a “bad” teacher who already has tenure. But is it really a teacher’s fault when she/he is handed a class of 20 to 30 completely different students and is expected to teach each one of them to their ability? I don’t know what the answer is, but maybe not lumping kids by age and by learning style instead, is a start. But the rest of us would need to adapt also and wrap our brains around the idea that just because your 7 year old is in the same class as 5 and 9 year old doesn’t make him/her less or more than, in any way.
A few days ago I was reading a Fast Company article by Robert Safian (November 2012) who originally coined the term ‘Generation Flux’. He discussed how new companies and industries succeed and fail faster than ever before. His article described what companies like Nike, Cisco, Foursquare and Intuit had in common and showcased how traditional business priorities are no longer working: “standby’s like marketplace and competitive advantage are being redefined and being rendered almost meaningless …business life today can shift radically every three moths or so”.
Safian goes on to give examples of how a decade ago a marketing company might outfit it’s department with an obvious marketing background, but today, that same department might also be staffed in science, technology, music, defence and so on. Requiring that the department be able to adapt immediately to the demands of the industry, consumer and business.
This quote by John Landgraf, president and GM of FX Networks says it all: (quoted in Fast Company November 2012) “…you need all kinds of intelligence in all parts of business… you have to value all styles, because you will never know which type will solve a problem…”.
What do you think? I love feedback!
The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – October 24/2012 – Julie Cadieux