As Ken Robinson implores in his talk Changing Education Paradigms, “If you are interested in the model of education, you don’t start from a production line mentality.” His talk elicits powerful images of children sorted in batches, moving down an assembly line. He brings up some tough questions we need to ask as parents and educators:
- Are our schools focused on “conformity” and “standardization?”
- Do our schools treat children like items being produced in a factory?
An article in the July issue of Wired,“How Khan Academy is Changing the Rules of Education,“ outlines how students can learn math for free at their own pace through the website Khan Academy. A motivated student can do some pretty amazing things on this site. The article tells stories of 5th graders independently learning advanced high school trigonometry!
But some teachers don’t like the idea of students making this much progress:
“Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who’ve seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea, but wondered whether they could modify it ‘to stop students from becoming this advanced’.”
We know that students learn at their own pace, and that they have different strengths and interests. It’s hard to imagine that, when presented with an option like Khan, some teachers are pushing against it. The last thing we want is to teach students to reach for mediocrity, or to sentence them to boredom day after day in the classroom.
As an educator, the idea of my students advancing quickly and going beyond what they or others ever thought was possible is exhilarating! In fact, the concept of individualization is the foundation of the Nurturing Wisdom Academy. Classes like math, reading, and writing will be self-paced and taught in very small groups. Students will also have independent time each day to pursue their goals and passions. Above all, our goal is not to keep every student on the same page. We don’t want to treat them like cogs along an assembly line. We want to encourage them to continually grow. We believe that there are no limits to what students can achieve!
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