Thursday, January 19, 2012

Disrupt Ed: 1st Meet Up

On Saturday, January 14th, I met up with this guy in Berkeley. Together, we went to this meet up in Belmont. The name of the meet up is Disrupt Ed(ucation). The purpose of the meet up was for individuals who have their own ideas on how the institution of education can be improved to discuss and network. By the way, I understand that this post does not relate to what I did at the elementary school that I'm currently student teaching in. I'm just including it because its related to education.

Anyway, 35 people said that they would attend. The turn out ended up being about 22 people. To me that sounds pretty good since the group organizer was only expecting half of the original "confirmed" attendees to show up. To start off, everyone offered their own ideas of what they think needs to be changed. That served as their introductions. Unfortunately, I didn't take notes on the event. The best I can do is to tell you what I remember.

I remember that John Bennett suggested that students stop learning math after elementary. He suggested that instead, they engage with a collection of logic and sudoku puzzles to build their deductive and inductive reasoning skills.

Roman believes that at least university institutions will become obsolete at one point because of online education and because of the rising cost of tuition for public (and private?) universities.

Angela believes that high schools should be designed in a more similar way to universities. That is, high schools should consist of different colleges from which students can select the classes that they are interested in.

And of course, there's me. I said that in roughly 20 years, I want to create an elementary school that offers classes in logic & reasoning for K - 5. Several of the attendees thought that I could complete my goal in a shorter amount of time. I firmly disagree with them because I don't think that they can argue with my numbers: I'll have my credential by April, so I'll exclude that from my calculation, 3 years to master the skill of teaching, 6 years to offer free classes in logic and reasoning for each grade from K - 5 (as a means of testing the efficacy of my classes), 2 - 3 years to obtain a PhD in Educational Leadership, 3 - 5 years to master the skill of being a principal (i.e. organizing and operating an elementary school), and 2 - 3 years to create the elementary school itself. How many years is that exactly? It is 16 years at best and 20 years at worst. If you can't argue with the numbers, then you have no argument against my plans as far as the timeline is concerned.

Now, unfortunately, I didn't remember too many of the attendees ideas. I didn't remember too many of them because there were only a few that were most related to me. I want to elaborate on why. I could sympathize with John's ideas to an extent. I sympathize with the idea that students should not need to learn math that they don't need. That is, not everyone needs to know how to use a quadratic formula. Ken suggested that some of the math may not be done for the necessary skills that are acquire but rather because of the cognitive skill that is involved in solving the problems themselves. I disagree with that notion. This is the first thing that I would ask. Exactly what cognitive skill(s) are involved in solving a quadratic equation apart from those skills that are observable. If you don't know, then you literally don't know what you are talking about, and thus, your argument is entirely speculative. Come back to that argument when you aren't relying on conjecture. In the end, when someone uses a quadratic formula, all you really know is that that person knows how to use a quadratic formula. Anything beyond that is a derivative of conjecture.

Going back to John how he said that students should be given a collection of logic and sudoku puzzles, I'm not sure what the point of that would be. I'm not sure that giving them logic and sudoku puzzles will improve their deductive and inductive reasoning as opposed to some formal instruction that actually addresses those subjects. I would think that formal instruction that addresses those exact subjects would be a better way to get students to learn how to deductive and inductively reason than merely giving them logic and sudoku puzzles.

As for Roman, I can't really argue against him because I'm not too sure what his beliefs regarding the future of higher education is based on. All I can say is that I'm skeptical of the idea that online education will ever be considered a permanent replacement for public universities.

As for Angela, I actually agree with her. I agree with getting students acquainted with their interests earlier. By giving students more control like that, it gets them more interested in their own education. Why? Because they think about which subjects they want to learn about. So, I would guess that the likelihood that they would drop out would decrease. Also, it gives students time to mess up early in terms of choosing/exploring their careers of initial interest. All I would add is that I wish there was some recurring method to track a student's interests as early as possible. The earlier a students' interests can be discovered, the earlier it can be insured that their interest in education will be sustained.

Ok. That's all I have to say. Here is a pic from the meet up:

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