It seems old hat to repeat the same tired criticisms of American factory model education producing uninspired clerks who can do worksheets but lack the ability to think clearly. Now there’s another round of teeth gnashing and wailing; from the EdSurge Newsletter (#147):
Alarm bells went off this morning as the 2012 PISA scores came out. Asian countries–and cities–continued to top the charts, while the U.S. dropped from its 2009 rankings. Among peers from 65 participating countries, American students ranked 24th in reading (down one spot from 2009), 36th in math (down six), and 28th in science (down nine). U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it a “picture of educational stagnation.” Other responses here from Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten. EdSurge’s Mary Jo Madda took a deeper dive into the 52-page report and writes Why America’s PISA performance may not be as dismal as some claim.
From the apologists to the reformers, everyone loves a tragedy as it provides a platform to publicly criticize problems with the old model. But when pressed for solutions that will help our students rise from 48th place, sparse ideas emerge. In its November 2013 issue WIRED Magazine highlights the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak landscape of mediocrity. Nevertheless, an innovator who I have been following for quite some time is shaking things up for the global rural poor.
As part of my dissertation (Being-In-The-Web) I did extensive work on the power of open source solutions to promote democracy and education as a counterweight to the concentration of power in fewer global plutocratic circles. It was during that research that I encountered the work of Sugata Mitra via “The Hole In The Wall Project.” With a 2013 TED grant Mitra is again redesigning the frontiers of educational access and introducing organic pedagogy to a wider audience:
The School In the Cloud and the maker movement are a natural fit. Imagine a school with the technology to create prototypes, iterate additional ideastudent-drivenon and one that provides a supportive environment where student driven learning is the norm rather than the exception. Imagine a school that welcomes the arts and humanities as an integral asset in creating sustainable futures for coming generations. Imagine rich storytelling and creative science that provides useful data to the community. That’s the philosophy behind the Maker’s School Project.