I attended a panel discussion on how technology cna improve education and decrease complaints from kids that they are bored in school. It seemed like a good topic, but the dicussion didn't go all that well.
The panelists agreed that we have problems. Schools are designed with a factory mentality of standardizing education by the age of the child, with the goal being they obtain a certain amount of educational knowledge and skill based on a certain number of days in the seat at school. Another panelist said the problem isn't that the school system is broken; it's that it is working exactly the way it was designed.
Okay, I can get behind that. So what do we do?
Well, there was very little discussion of technology. Sure, there were some comparisons to the way web companies iterate, and there was a request that companies design products specifically for education instead of repurposing business products, but that was pretty much it.
There were some disucssions about class size, core learning requirements, and other tweaks. But that's the problem. They articulated a number of ways to improves the current system. Some of them could be big and expensive, but they would just improve the current system.
In other words, they won't solve the problem.
The problem they articulated is that there is a fundamental flaw with the very structure of the education system in this country. You don't fix that by improving the current model; you fix it by getting rid of the current model altogether and implementing something that works.
There was a core disconnect between the problem they cited and the solutions they proposed.
I was waiting for one person to offer an alternative model. Or at least explain how technology will make the big difference, since that was ostensibly the reason we were there. But no one did.
This is a discussion that has been going on for years, and we are still calling for a new model without actually seeing on.
I suppose folks avoid talking about actual solutions like a new model because it will quickly be ripped apart in the press, the state house, and the local school boards. If you can't implement an awesome plan, and I believe the varied politics will prevent that implementation, then why throw a carreer away advocating a plan?
It's much easier to carefully articualte the problem.