A New Educational System
At the breakfast table, the children and their care givers (parents, relatives, siblings, etc.) review their calendars to reconcile any logistical problems and to assist in seeing that they all have the clothing, equipment and supplies needed for the day's activities they have scheduled.
As the students leave their homes, their movement is automatically monitored by the personal GPS devices they each carry and telephone links are activated that provide the care givers with continuous feedback about their whereabouts. As the children enter agreed-upon locations electronic confirmations are sent back to the care-givers monitors.
At some point in the teen years, monitoring is reduced to enable the children freedom to experience a growing number and variety of experiences on their own, including work, study and play, but, ideally, under the care of higher educational institutions and private businesses.  
The intent is to create wholesome, growth-oriented educational experiences for all children by combining the power of modern computer and communications technology with an expanded role for their care givers. The key is to use public resources to provide opportunity and to eliminate the time-honored, but failed practice of, essentially, throwing children "over the fence" into the hands educators who have to spend most of their time trying to follow state-mandated rules and regulations that were established before modern communications and for a time when most students lived in homes under the supervision of an at-home mother and a supporting father. This is not a criticism of today's society, but a recognition that the circumstance of our time contribute negatively the school's best efforts to carry out its mission.
To make the above educational scenario possible, I believe the following needs should be met:  
1. Needed: The ability to extend to parents and care-givers a meaningful, participative role in their children's' social and academic activities, all of which should be oriented toward the achievement of their children's personal goals.    
2.Needed: Free admittance to all tax supported learning activities, such as schools, publically funded lectures, coaching, musical and other practice sessions, laboratory experimentation, museum visits, etc. (Admittance could be awarded on the demonstration of a reasonable preparation for such activities including deportment.)
3. Needed: The ability to follow progress on the performance of students' contracts (hopefully self-assigned contracts, successor to school assignments).
4. Needed: The ability to require the attendance of academically unmotivated students at non-academic, social  and athletic activities to give them the use of public-funds to improve their personal and social skills. The change in emphasis from mandatory classroom attendance to providing it only to students ready and eager to take advantage of educational resources should not be in any way punitive or disrespecttul of individuals who for any reason are not interested in or able to participate in academic pursuits.
5. Needed: a means of viewing and recording students' work as demonstrated in their writing, (including keystrokes, pen strokes, pencil strokes, or brush strokes, etc.) and a means of authenticating who had done the work and when.
3. Needed: Non-school, non-governmental, independent publically-supported skills testing that students can use to evaluate and authenticate their skills if they desire it to be done so they can use the results to qualify for further education and jobs
An idea for globalizing educational systems
If lectures and books on all subjects taught today -- in number, perhaps, about like all of the topics on Wikipedia -- were printed in "Freeman-Style" interactive digital books, students anywhere in the world could study them at any time they wished. They could supply a steady stream of comments and questions back to the authors, who could make themselves available to respond after some kind of filtering to cut the participation down to some reasonable amount, perhaps based on a student's reputation, teacher recommendation, or other criteria. Classroom lectures would become largely unneeded but schools would then be free for other needed educational activities, such as social skills' development, educational motivation, etc. An especially important service that classrooms could provide, it seems to me, is the service of the management of each student's learning program toward goals mutually agreed upon by teachers, parents and students. Teachers could also provide encouragement and oversight of both effort and progress being made by each student. All activities associated with the educational process, from the attainment of goals, the ongoing demonstration of the students' skills, to the time spent on various activities would be online and viewable by students, parents, and teachers.  
As students digest various books and other materials, they would be able to comment upon them by adding their own thoughts. This would be possible by utilizing one of the most important capabilities of Web, namely the ability to insert links. These links could provide personal insights, corrections, and anything else students would like to record. Importantly too, the student additions would probably be of great interest to historians. For instance, what if Mark twain, who said that he never let education get in the way of his learning, had been able to leave comments in the books he read that we could study. Or what would be found in the comments in books read by Albert Einstein. Many marginal comments by great thinkers have been found in the books of famous people, but having texts available to anyone on the Web would make it economical for student's thoughts to be captured regularly as part of their learning experience.
In this regard, it should be noted that people should certainly not be limited to comments entered through keyboards. Input by the time this type of educational capability could be available will surely include special pens for handwriting, and drawing. Such is now available though digital pens and digital paper, but is not widely used.  
Ask the students waiting to be allowed into class, "What would you like to understand better?"
Could possibly be used to gain entrance to other public educational facilities, such as museums, libraries, etc.
We do not know what education can do for us, because we have never tried it..”
(Robert Maynard Hutchins, President, Univertsity of Chicago, 1925-1951)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Real Education is Needed