ED. Magazine

What’s the Big Idea?

By Ed. Magazine

Think Globally
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, we have to change the way we think about education and approach it as a cooperative, global effort instead of a local, competitive one. For too long, education has been defined as a domestic or local issue. When political leaders do talk about education globally, it’s often in a zero-sum way — if China is up, then the United States is down. But at a time when economies are linked and gross inequality anywhere is a threat to security and prosperity everywhere, we all have a stake in ensuring that marginalized children across the world receive a high-quality education. Consider the far-reaching consequences when India is projected to comprise a quarter of the world’s workforce by 2030 yet is failing to equip 90 percent of today’s students with a secondary school education. The good news is, momentum for change is growing. We can fuel it by building a global community among advocates and organizations fighting to expand educational opportunity in their countries. We should also lobby our leaders to embrace global benchmarks and work collaboratively with their foreign counterparts to move forward faster. There are more tools and resources than ever before to help us learn from top-performing teachers, schools, and school systems around the world. We should use them. We are all better off in a world of rising education levels and decreasing disparities.

is the founder and CEO of Teach For America.

IllustrationMake Coding Mandatory
Coding is the new literacy. All individuals must be literate in computer systems to engage in building a better society. Everything we do is tied to using computer systems — from reading the news and purchasing groceries, to communicating with family, to teaching and learning and activating community. How are America’s schools preparing youth for digital citizenship? Unfortunately, it remains mostly focused on the 3Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) while the ability to read, write, and manipulate code is quickly becoming more relevant.

Why? Coding breaks barriers of geography, enabling collaboration, creative storytelling, and innovation, as well as leveraging the diverse expertise of people in multiple places to solve the world’s most pressing problems independent of linguistic or cultural differences. This is why every student in every school should be required to learn to read and write code.

Some schools teach coding through supplemental programs or advanced computing classes, but this skill should not be a perk for some students in affluent zip codes; it must be available to everyone, starting young, despite geography or socioeconomic status. The only way to do this is through a national shift in K–12 curriculum. As with reading and mathematics, exposure to coding from an early age will yield deeper fluency — whether we become programmers or not. We all learn how to write as a pathway to prosperity, but we do not all become novelists. These days it is the same with coding. If we do not commit nationally to creating a pipeline of creative coders who can read, write, and think with this language, we compromise the future of our youth and our nation.

, Ed.M.’84, C.A.S.’85, is president and CEO of World Wide Workshop and Globaloria. She has advocated for teaching every child computer programming since the 1980s.

IllustrationEncourage Slow Learning
Schools should be in the business of teaching complex knowledge, and complex knowledge develops slowly. Slow learning involves radically expanding the typical timeframe devoted to learning about complex things. It might mean spending a few hours looking at a painting rather than a few minutes, or spending an entire afternoon examining the pattern of weeds growing at the edge of the playground. It might mean creating long lists of questions about a topic and then slowly sifting through them to discern multiple paths of inquiry. It might mean taking weeks or even months to explore a historical event from a wide variety of perspectives. It might mean spending an entire year exploring a problem in the community and designing and testing a solution.

Young people — indeed most of us — spend huge amounts of time speeding along the super highways of information and communication. Schools shouldn’t be part of the traffic, they should be a respite, a rest stop, a place where learning can unfold slowly and where there is always ample time to poke and probe and tinker with complex things and ideas. The path to complex knowledge doesn’t run straight, and it shouldn’t be traveled quickly.

, Ed.D.’91, is director of Project Zero and a lecturer at the Ed School.

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  • Bonita Hunter

    Very interesting set of ideas that are creative as well as imaginative. Great collection

  • alfred devaprasad

    Good collection of ideas. Will inspire many to pick up and implement. A brilliant idea in action, I recently observed,was a ‘ school on wheels’- a mobile classroom for children of migrant laborers in India

  • Joshua Jenkins

    Really enjoy the section about teacher talk reducing stress: so true! The Responsive Classroom model has lots to say about the power of teacher language.

  • Matt Renwick

    Great ideas – enjoyed reading all of them. I will humbly add one more suggestion: Teach handwriting. If not for penmanship, then for the meditative quality of this practice. Giving kids time to create words and sentences through pencil and paper can help them disconnect from our increasingly connected world. When I walk into my classrooms while kids are practicing this “ancient art”, you can hear a pin drop. I think they appreciate this time to clear their heads and focus on this present-evoking practice.

  • Lory Hough

    Matt, such a great idea! I’m happy to say that my son’s third grade class is learning handwriting and the kids think it’s fun. It’s too bad, though, that not all schools/districts include this in elementary school!

  • Lory Hough

    Matt, such a great idea! I’m happy to say that my son’s third grade class is learning handwriting and the kids think it’s fun. It’s too bad, though, that not all schools/districts include this in elementary school!

  • Anonymous

    That is really true and useful as it was. There are many people who really need to apply those things in order for them to have a successful output which kids will surely use for their future someday.

  • Travis Cram

    Wow they dont include handwriting in some schools! Thats mind blowing I am 29 have a boy in first and 3 grade but we are in argentina so I guess Ive been out of the loop caint believe it I didnt even use a computer untill I was Probably 12 or 13 like a time warp feeling. Pretty cool and scary.

  • Travis Cram

    Alot of amazing stuff, I love this! Not sure why I get so excited, Probably because its something that´s so vital to what makes the world go round. Great place for getting ideas out there for sure kinda goes along with the one about “Dont let the boss do all the thinking” when it says “Educational leaders must draw on the intelligence of everyone on their staff and student body, effectively doubling their brain force for free” Getting the public involved with world issues that interest them is a great way to set progress for a better future. I feel that the objective of life (for me at least) is to create a stable, fun life. Obviously the stable part can get pretty complex but thats why its important to work together and I agree calling upon the public is a great way to not couble but to imensly maginify our capacity for progress towards a more stable and fun future to come. So I was thinking why dont they make it more easy for the public to share there ideas in an organized official way Instead of having to pay for a patend on an idea why not create a government website or sponsored website where investors and entities of all types could turn to for access to creative and innovative ideas It would be like public records freely accesible to and by the public but as an incentive to the owner of the idea If they are the “original” owner of the idea and there post on this website is the first official documentation of the idea they would be legally entitled to a Royal of any profits gained by that idea Globally?Creativity would be important in making the right system to encourage public participation. I actually have alot of ideas Which the creativity reminds me of another I feel that the basics are overlooked in a world so complex and confusing its important to have a clear grounded mind in order to reach full capacity. They say our subconscious mind is capable of processing an enormous amount of data compared to our conscious mind and in order for our subconscious mind to work and participate we need to have a clear focused conscious that can direct our subconscious acordingly I think its the basics that we should focus on putting into our conscious mind such as creativity , patience , persistence. We live in such a fast pace society that we do not take the time to look at the basics becasue we are so overwelmed with the details so we lose consciousness of the principals. We learn details of chapter 3 , but we forget what the title of the book is or how to use the contents page or the glossary. Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach him to fish he eats for a life time, Teach him to learn he will Live eternally. So I say a solution to increasing the basic fundaments and principles of life is to come to a consensus of that the most important principles are and teaching them through “preschool at home learning” Children learn best early on why wait till they are 5 ? They should learn at home! A program that would Incentivate famillies around the world with children or planning to have children to log into live broadcastings from top performing teachers. For example Instead of paying for schools and teachers transportation food etc for teaching young children offer free laptop to those families and you would basically have a medium for providing direct acces to that child for @ 2 years before repair or replacement would be iminent. $300 dollars for two years is a pretty low cost investment for education obviously the teacher and the coursework as well but that would be minimal considering the amount of students millions that one teacher would be accessing. This could also be an oportunity to join efforts with non profit organizations against domestic abuse or child abuse or depression , suicide etc allowing for a direct comunication with families around the world allowing them to reach out for help with any concerns or comments they have. a coordinator could be assigned to a determined number of families responsible for any comments questions or concerns… I have other ideas But I think I will wait for the public patent page to open up lol. Hope its not a bore I like this stuff and would love to do investigative research and help out with ideas if anyone has any sugestions I am always open Travisleecram@gmail.com

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