Monday, January 20, 2014

Millennials and Education

What's education worth?

As schools continue to address reform concerns it is amazing to wonder when or if education will evolve. American education needs a PR blitz or potentially a reality TV show that helps the public VALUE what possibilities education can provide.

A recent heated discussion has taken place about if high school students should have the opportunity to have open campus.   Students who have met their graduation requirements can opt to have open campus, which means they can go home or go to work or play music on a corner.  The requirement is simple, parents must sign off on for permission, they must complete four classes in the semester and they must be on track to graduate with the needed classes. Very simple concept but it highlights lots of issues that  are facing education.

The classes that are needed for graduation, the cores, have a distinct advantage in enrollment for most high school teachers.  The question than turns to if there are great electives, will students choose to be in those instead of escaping the school.  This creates an environment where teachers must look at their classes and ask the question, "are they valuable to students?"  Is it that simple?  Is there possibility to really improve classes by giving freedom to not attend?
Class size and value is debated in schools everywhere.  If a few students sign up for a class than does that mean it shouldn't be offered?  In my opinion, this is where schools have a chance to truly evolve.  Instead of only having the few classes that are offered under the  guidance of each teacher, schools could instead open up the playbook, so to speak.  This is where online/blended/face-to-face can run and meet the needs of students.  This wide open class catalog could have teachers guiding one, two, three, four or more classes during any given slot in the day.  Learning could be very individualized to students needs.  This fits nicely as a transition  between module based programs and traditional school schedules.

This debate brings up what I feel is a more compelling issue across this country, do we actually value education?  Parents have expressed that their students have earned the chance to do something else.  Really! What else is more important than education?  The world has changed and that is evident, learning is just fingertips away and schools are slow to catch up with the speed the world has changed.  With that said, parents, students and the general public have lost the value of exploring.  There is no other time in a students life when they truly have the freedom to try and explore lots of different educational classes.  This is the chance for schools and parents to help students learn all sorts of possible stuff, FOR FREE!

The question swings back to the schools and teachers, is what we offer students no longer useful to them?  School must address this issue.  This is a PR disaster that everyone in education  must take note of.  If we lose students to getting a nap and that is accepted, than schools will continue to be less and less valued.