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C'est la Z

Is the new Secret Sauce ever better?

I read this piece earlier today on Nancy Bailey's blog.

TL;DR (although it really isn't too long so you should read it) - it's on Laurene Powell Jobs, her efforts to "reform" education and why she's misguided as are most of the well to do non-educators working hard to change and in many cases privatize public education.

Laura posts a nice list of simple, common sense ways to improve education. I'll repost them here:

  1. For years, research has shown that high school students need more sleep. They should have later start times. .
  2. Smaller class sizes would help.
  3. Make sure teachers don’t have so many preparation plans.
  4. End advanced placement classes (IMHO).
  5. Improve career-technical classes.
  6. Provide rich extra-curricular activities.
  7. Bring back life skill classes.
  8. Include a social justice curriculum.
  9. Include students on the disciplinary board.
  10. Provide civics education.
  11. Make sure students get opportunities to participate in the arts.
  12. Work to include the community.
  13. Ensure students have access to counselors, and school support staff.
  14. Every high school should have a great library, a real librarian, and technology and books.

Looks very much like what those elite private schools that those rich non-educators send their kids to.

The other day I also overheard a conversation between two professors. One noted that they had just taught a course totally online for the first time and that the professor really had fun doing it.

These got me thinking more about all the secret sauce and magic bullets coming from tech to save education - things like MOOCS or "personalized" learning system.

I started to wonder - have these ever been pushed on public schools because they're better or rather because they cut costs (or in the slightly better case to reach a student that otherwise wouldn't have any opportunity which, in a way is generally cost related).

I couldn't come up with a single instance. They're always a way to replace what I consider personalized instruction – you know, when a teacher has a small class and can personally deal with, learn about, interact with, and teach the child. Kids spend hours in front of a screen instead of working with others. Kids do a MOOC (or maybe drop out of a MOOC) so that you can have your student/teacher ratio reach ridiculous levels. I've never seen any tech solution rolled out to public schools because it's better. Only to cut costs.

How do I know that it's not better? Well, we have Nancy's list above. It's what those rich people pay all that money to the elite private schools for. If all these solutions the Jobs and Gates of the world were so much better, wouldn't they insist upon them for their own children?

Just some Friday food for thought.

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