Is This Any Way to Get an Education?

Posted: 2011/03/03 in Classroom Teacher, Education, Education Reform

Let’s say you have a job. You report at 8 a.m. to an office on the second floor and work in the accounting department till 8:55. Then a bell rings. Five minutes later you’re expected at a desk in the fifth floor editorial department. Bells ring, you rush from one floor to another and your attention throughout the day is split between research and development, archives, shipping, and international relations.

How productive would your day be? How much would you learn in accounting? How much would you contribute to research and development?

This Factory Model has prevailed in American high schools throughout the 20th century. It works well when you manufacture widgets — put raw material on an assembly line and let it pass through different departments till you have a finished product. But how good is the factory model at producing educated young people prepared for life?

BTW: This company you’re working for needs publications designed, needs a website and other media (In a recent summer fellowship at a tech company I observed that all their new employee orientation was in Adobe Flash animations). But you don’t get to work on these or learn about them. Maybe one time in four years you spend a few hours painting pictures for the hallways.

When do you learn to be creative? To solve problems? To work together with a team? To take leadership? When do you experience the reality of a true deadline, or the satisfaction in seeing a piece of work through to fruition?

To reiterate one point from the preceding post: The skills sought by employers are not the skills learned when preparing for standardized tests.

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