It's not surprising that research shows an incredible decrease in student engagement after one reaches adolescence. Why else the rainbow knee-high socks and punk-leather Ramones jacket 9th graders love to wear?
Elementary school, full of its silly putty and division, is fun. I distinctly remember my class pet, Lily the lizard and my favorite book, Finding Bigfoot. Even research shows that middle school remains a place of enlightenment for students. They actually want to be there.
Enter high school. It's like a bomb of boredom goes off unleashing an atomic presence of anxiety and burnout.
Could a personalized entrepreneurial project be a key into revamping the enthusiasm for learning that drastically falls when students enter 9th grade?
Authentic assessments and an entrepreneurially-based personalized curriculum is slow work, but can be very meaningful. I'd love to see this learning model more aptly distributed to students from less-advantaged backgrounds. Obviously, a teacher at the Avenues cannot have the same lessons in a public school without figuring out a way to make the learning environment safe and comfortable so that behaviour doesn't become an issue. A teacher in an average public school, let alone a poor city school typically cannot enter a classroom expecting the students to behave. This may perhaps be the biggest difference that may greatly broaden the achievement gap.
"What's wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology." - Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is right; however, technology, specifically mobile devices and tablets now that they are more cheaply produced, can engage students on a more personalized level and allow for the structure of the education system to be transformed into a more blended learning environment for cheap. Students who have a tablet can watch lectures at home, collaborate with classmates on a global level, then come together with local classmates to present their work. Throw this in a school building 5 days per week with rooms acting more as learning centers and teachers become focused facilitators, helping students create their own projects.
Recently, however American schools have mentioned increasing the work day in hopes to get more education into the students. That way, U.S. schools will be like other countries that are doing better. Pasi Sahlberg argues distinctly against this. He stands by that overworking students and standardizing curriculum only inhibits creativity- an extremely valuable characteristic is the world's best leaders and innovators.
Two resources have barked at me to say this is all wrong:
1. Tim Ferriss and the 4-hour work week
2. The Japanese concept of being overworked and working to death, called Karoshi
Instead of thinking what can we add to the school system, like an extra hour of study, maybe we should be thinking how school can be more efficient. With the 35 hour study week in which most students don a book bag and tread the hallways of k-12 or higher ed, can these hours be spent more efficiently? Add in the stress of hours of homework and after-school work for pay and my eyes glaze over like Krispy Kreme on Christmas morning.
To explore this option, what resources can students better leverage for a quicker (maybe better?) diploma?
I had a student in class once read Ferriss' book. I owe it to him for this blog post. He told me that he doesn't like to waste his time. I said, "Who does?" Ryan, wherever you are, I hope all is well.
Thanks to Tim Ferriss for the witty title idea and brilliant insight into how to be more productive, like a ninja.