on education

thoughts from a graduate student at the university of mary washington

the changing purposes of american education. week twelve.


A blog that I recently read used this example to illustrate education in the 21st century.

This is a (probably overused) example of a student’s answer on a math exam. While the answer is technically correct, it’s not relevant. And within the context of what’s being asked of them, it’s just plain wrong. The author of the blog, Sam Gliksman, goes on to say that the education we’re giving our students right now is irrelevant. It doesn’t prepare them for the context they’re being raised in and around. He argues that life outside of school is vastly different than what happens on the inside, and “the more that life in, and outside of school, starts diverging, the less relevant institutional education becomes for our students (Gliksman, 2011). He gives some really interesting statistics on the use of technology in the world today — for example, 85% of children aged 7 to 16 have a cell phone, but only 72% of children in that same age group have a book at home. Most of our students have instant access to up-to-the-minute information, and we’re teaching them with 5 or even 10 year old textbooks. That doesn’t entirely seem logical or relevant to me, a lot like circling “X” on a math exam asking you to give a mathematical analysis. Mr. Gliksman also points out a valid criticism of the way in which schools are using technology. A lot of schools now have white boards (or smart boards) in their libraries or classrooms. However, teachers are still approaching their classrooms and lessons the same way despite this awesome technology. They’re standing in the front of the room, magic pen in hand, and lecturing to their classes. Who cares if you have technology if you’re still standing up there, blabbing at your students and not engaging them, right? RIGHT!

The world we live in today demands that we change the way we think about teaching our students. The transition from school to the real world should be seamless. We need to incorporate social media, web 2.0, and the technologies that our students have access to on a daily basis into our curriculum. Beyond that, we need to change the way that teaching happens inside the classroom. No more talking at our students, imparting static information. Students have to take charge of their education and build their own knowledge. Make their own experiments. Solve real-world problems. We can’t expect them to be an engaged and active citizenry if we don’t teach them how to do it. “Unquestionably, the goals of education must be relevant to the times. If the schools cannot adapt to the changing conditions and social forces, how can they expect to produce people who do? (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.429). Part and parcel of reforming the way we educate is involving the community and parents in education. The saying that it takes a village has truth in it. It only works – really works – if everyone takes action together. “Many people throughout society refuse to admit their own responsibility for helping children develop and learn…Without significant cooperation from parents and community members, schools are likely to struggle, and reform efforts are ¬†likely to be frustrated. (Ornstein, et al., 2011, p. 429).


This video is quick, but what I love about it is how the students interviewed are excited about going to this teacher’s class because of the way that he approaches education. And they’re only referring to one tool in his class — YouTube. Notice how he also says he’s able to move around his classroom more. He’s not just standing up there, watching them watch YouTube. I love it!



YES! Look at what happens when students take charge of their learning!



Gliksman, S. (2011, 02 04). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://ipadeducators.ning.com/profiles/blogs/are-schools-struggling-to

Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning


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