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Sun Jul 5, 2020, 11:46 PM

This pandemic is an opportunity to do an education makeover.

The United States has an outdated, agrarian inspired educational system. In 1900, just under 40 percent of the total US population lived on farms, and 60 percent lived in rural areas. Today, the respective figures are only about 1 percent and 20 percent. So why do schools have 9 months of classes and 3 months of summer vacation? Because the summer months used to be set aside for farm kids to work the family farm and then return to the classroom in the winter months. It made sense for the population over a century ago but does it really make any sense today?

Right now, we have a rare opportunity change education for the next century and beyond. I suggest that we change the learning experience to more suit the needs of our society while we find ourselves being force to adapt to the new reality of COVID-19. But what would that change look like?

If it were mine to change, I would have school year-round in 8 week units. The first six weeks of each 8 week period would be devoted mainly to one area of education such as math, science, or history allowing more in depth exploration of the subjects. The last 2 week would be school breaks that would give the children time to process and unpack the knowledge that they have accumulated during the first 6 weeks and move onto the next unit. Each child would have to pass all 6 units to advance to the next "grade" or more accurately, the next level. No more holding back the eager learners just because some kids needed extra time to learn the subject matter. Nobody falls behind a full year for not passing a single unit nor do they advance just because they put the time in. The traditional cohort of 4th graders for example, would evolve into a classroom of students that would be together for the 6 weeks and then a new group would be assembled for the next unit in the learning series with a random or structured group.

The childcare consideration is the thought that most people latch onto right away. We would certainly have to alter the way we work and utilize childcare but that is hardily insurmountable and could easily be structured more appropriately to the type of society we live in today than the one we lived in over 100 years ago.

You could still have two weeks off for various holidays and summer activities. Family vacations would still happen. More eLearning would be an integral part of the learning process as we see happening today already. This is my opinion of what we need to do to change the educational experience and right now is the window we have to do it.

What are your ideas?

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply This pandemic is an opportunity to do an education makeover. (Original post)
Joe Nation Jul 2020 OP
elleng Jul 2020 #1
fierywoman Jul 2020 #2
Phoenix61 Jul 2020 #4
Phoenix61 Jul 2020 #3
fierywoman Jul 2020 #7
AllyCat Jul 2020 #9
The Velveteen Ocelot Jul 2020 #5
PoindexterOglethorpe Jul 2020 #6
AllyCat Jul 2020 #8

Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun Jul 5, 2020, 11:49 PM

1. As education is not a national thing,

in spite of existence of U.S. Department of Education, I HOPE the states can and will invigorate their 'systems' of education; we must depend on them to do so. Fingers crossed.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun Jul 5, 2020, 11:55 PM

2. And could we please look to Finland as a great example?

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 12:07 AM

4. They are rocking it aren't they? Japan too. nt

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 12:07 AM

3. No.

For a multitude of reasons. It wouldnít sync with the adult education system. Trying to get students back in the groove after an extended break is really difficult. Doing that more isnít going to help. The problem with our education system has nothing to do with how itís scheduled and everything to do with a refusal to acknowledge how children learn. This is driven, in my opinion, by the multi-billion dollar text book industry and elected school boards who get conned into buying the latest and greatest scheme.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #3)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 01:23 AM

7. And also that learning has shifted from problem solving to learning to take tests-- and then

forgetting the answers as soon as the test is done.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #3)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 06:31 AM

9. The summer slide takes 2 months to surmount.

Having a couple weeks off would not be that much of a stretch for students. Staff need the break.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 12:53 AM

5. A lot of schools still don't have air conditioning, which is something to consider,

and installing it would involve enormous expense for some school districts (which will become necessary as summers are getting warmer). Even a bazillion years ago when I was in public school, the last week or two of the school year sometimes got really hot, and sitting in a classroom was miserable and not at all conducive to learning. My high school graduation ceremony was so hot we all thought we were going to fall over dead before we were handed our diplomas.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 12:55 AM

6. I don't think each unit being only one subject is a very good idea.

I've long said were I in charge of schools in this country, at the high school level at least, I'd break up all subjects into six week segments. Some things, like math and history and some of science would need to be taken sequentially. But, if for instance you fail the first six weeks of algebra, you don't have to wait a full year to start again. You could take that beginning algebra the very next six weeks.

While foreign language instruction might benefit from six weeks straight of nothing but that language, I think there would be a real fatigue factor in a lot of courses.

So a more normal 4 to 6 classes, but again broken up into six week segments.

Two week breaks throughout the year does sound nice, but child care would need to be completely re done to accommodate those two weeks off.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Mon Jul 6, 2020, 06:28 AM

8. We need a balanced year. You would not believe the number of parents who

would fight this because of reasons unrelated to student learning. In Wisconsin, the Dells lobby already limits what we can do with our school year because of tourism.

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