98 per cent of children are positioned in the genius category of divergent (creative) thinkers as 3-5 year olds, but only 10 per cent remain in this category as 13-15 year olds, and only 2 per cent of 200,000 surveyed adults fit this category.
– Sir Ken Robinson, 2001
Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.
Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.
An article on the pitfalls of the G.P.A. system. Love that people are starting to rethink what being a “good” or “successful” student really means. I’ve seen so many kids that are “so smart” in a grades-focused academic setting graduate high school with no clue what they want to do next. Or, worse, those who graduate university, having completed the degree that their parents told them to do, and they are completely without passion or purpose for the rest of their lives.
Among the most significant changes is that schools must now have an English language teacher — like the woman drawing pictures at P.S. 160 — in the classroom for part of each week if even one student is learning English. In the past, students could receive English language instruction outside of the classroom, while spending the rest of their time in a regular class trying to puzzle out the words on their own.
Another shift requires schools and districts to create programs in which classes are taught in two languages. These bilingual programs will now be offered to students who are new to the public system, as long as there are enough children in one place who speak the same tongue.
An interesting article about how public schools in New York are trying to cope with the high numbers of students who are new to English. At least they’re doing something about it instead of turning a blind eye and hoping that the problem will sort itself out. Is this something Australia might have to consider for some school districts one day?
Peter Hutton of Templestowe College in Melbourne talks about an educational model that allows students to individualise their education and share control in the running of the school.
I’m excited that people are talking about what does and doesn’t work in conventional schooling. We might be a long way from completely overhauling our approach and perceptions towards education, but at least the conversation has begun.
I’ve read comments about how this educational model might not work as well for unmotivated students who are still trying to figure out what they’re interested in, or who perhaps might need a little more structure and guidance.
I can see how that might be the case, but I also wonder if students might have a better idea of what they’re passionate about if they were given more flexibility to explore in primary school. How would it look to incorporate some of these principles in a primary school setting?
It was what she said about raising daughters that grabbed me at first. And then she started to talk about spoken word poetry, which up till I watched this video was new to me, and even as a writer who never attempted poetry (and has no desire to), I couldn’t help but think: this is so cool. And then, I wonder if we could teach this in schools?
An oldie from 2012 that is so worth listening to. I love that people are starting to have conversations about school and education, or maybe they have been all along but I never realised it?
It’s also Generation Z, demarked by the end of the alphabet as we know it, that’s calling for the end of generational segmentation. It doesn’t ring true any more, [Adora] Svitak says: “It ignores a lot of the things that shape personalities and collective thinking.” It also ignores the fact characteristics are fluid throughout life. “Understanding shared Baby Boomer traits is easy because most of their lives has passed,” she says. “But anyone making generalizations about me will have to realize I will change many, many times.”
Research, though still in beta, points to the emergence of a stellar generation: educated, industrious, collaborative and eager to build a better planet—the very qualities exemplified by [Ann] Makosinski. In fact, in a manner typical of the need to neatly compartmentalize generations, Gen Z is already being branded as a welcome foil to the Millennials, born between 1980 and the mid- or late 1990s, who have been typecast as tolerant but also overconfident, narcissistic and entitled. Those characteristics weren’t an option for the first post-9/11 generation, one raised amid institutional and economic instability, informed by the looming shadow of depleting resources and global warming, and globally connected via social media.
And that gives me hope.
Spent a good chunk of the morning reading one of the best articles I’ve come across in months. ‘Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League’ by William Deresiewicz brings up some really important points about the system of elite education today, and his thoughts apply to kids everywhere, not just in the States. As an academically inclined Asian who grew up in an upper middle class family and who once harboured dreams of attending an Ivy League university (for no other reason than it sounded cool and exciting), this is familiar territory. Here are 8 important points from Deresiewicz’s article:
1. Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.
2. So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.
3. There’s something in particular you need to think about: building a self. The notion may sound strange. “We’ve taught them,” David Foster Wallace once said, “that a self is something you just have.” But it is only through the act of establishing communication between the mind and the heart, the mind and experience, that you become an individual, a unique being – a soul. The job of college is to assist you to begin to do that. Books, ideas, works of art and thought, the pressure of the minds around you that are looking for their own answers in their own ways.
4. Experience itself has been reduced to instrumental function, via the college essay. From learning to commodify your experiences for the application, the next step has been to seek out experiences in order to have them to commodify.
5. Perhaps it’s no surprise, when kids are trained to think of service as something they are ultimately doing for themselves – that is, for their résumés. “Do well by doing good,” goes the slogan. How about just doing good?
6. The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things … Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. It’s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker.
7. Is there anything that I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit? I don’t have a satisfying answer, short of telling them to transfer to a public university. You cannot cogitate your way to sympathy with people of different backgrounds, still less to knowledge of them. You need to interact with them directly, and it has to be on an equal footing: not in the context of “service,” and not in the spirit of “making an effort,” either…
8. Instead of service, how about service work? That’ll really give you insight into other people. How about waiting tables so that you can see how hard it is, physically and mentally? You really aren’t as smart as everyone has been telling you; you’re only smarter in a certain way. There are smart people who do not go to a prestigious college, or to any college – often precisely for reasons of class. There are smart people who are not “smart”.
Just found out about the Marshmallow Challenge and my favourite part of this talk was how kindergarteners perform so much better at this than graduates of business school. We were all children once, but along the way we seem to have forgotten that the best way to learn is to do, and experiment, and fail, and do it again. As grownups, we spend far too much time planning and thinking and talking and being afraid of looking bad or failing, when we should just be doing. It’s something I remind myself from time to time, but even the very act of reminding myself is “talking” instead of “doing”. Remembering that it’s okay to be in the beta phase makes me feel better about what I do and who I am, and it especially makes me feel better about this blog, which pretty much has been in “beta” for the past 10 years.
No, our children don’t need more school. They need more play. If we care about our children and future generations, we must reverse the horrid trend that has been occurring over the past half century. We must give childhood back to children. Children must be allowed to follow their inborn drives to play and explore, so that they can grow into intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically strong and resilient adults. The Chinese are finally beginning to realise this, and so should we.
If indeed (some of) the Chinese (in China) are starting to realise this, from what I’ve seen and heard, most of the ethnic Chinese in the rest of Australasia have not. And we need to, for the sake of our kids and our future selves.
A long while ago, I read an article that said kids should be allowed to get bored sometimes because that is when they start to use their imaginations and be creative. I don’t remember the source anymore but it was a great article because it made me feel so much better about how I regularly leave my 3yo to entertain herself while I work from home. I also began to notice that when she was left alone, she would tell stories, act out princess scenes, pretend play, build “houses” out of sofa cushions and “go shopping”.
Of course the question of what constitutes play then arises, and whether there’s “good” play or “bad” play, because inevitably parents will only want their child to do the “best kind of play”. That’s a different discussion altogether. For now, you can read Dr Peter Gray’s full article here. He raises some pretty important points.