Posts Tagged ‘schools’

I think this is an interesting topic in the world of accelerated learning.  Most people learn by trial and error.  They really have not formal education on how to learn.  The question is, “is learning a skill like everything else that can be taught?”

One of the more interesting ways to learn how to learn is to try to teach something.  When you do this, you have to struggle with why others aren’t learning what you’re teaching or it doesn’t stick very long. 

Part of it is understanding your own learning style so you can productively work on learning something.  For example, I know people who need to write things down to understand and remember something while others need to actually see a demonstration.  So if this isn’t part of the way the teacher teaches than can you translate it for yourself.

I also think there are a lot of trick and techniques for things like taking tests, writing papers and even studying.  They aren’t always one size fits all, but they’re a start.   I remember when I was in school that there were two types of kids that got good grades.  One group that really studied hard and spent a lot of time going over things.  The other group didn’t study much at all but seem to do well.  I think they knew something the other kids didn’t.  Because of the school I went to, you can rule out difference in IQs or even social background.  They were very similar and at the higher end. 

My guess is that one group did things the hard way and the other group had learned how to learn. 

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One of the most important skills you can learn in life is how to sell.  It’s part of everything you do in your personal and business life.  It’s really all about how do you get other people excited about your ideas and getting them to agree with you.

 Unfortunately, there is a strong bias in educations and schools against selling.  So it doesn’t happen.  In fact, selling gets loaded up with a lot of negative connotations.  It’s really a disservice to kids.

Learning to sell is really about how to build rapport and connect with others, how to listen and ask great questions, how to present ideas and concepts in a way that persuades, and how to reach agreement and concensus.  Is this as important as learning to read?  Is it as important as memorizing the date of the Norman Conquest?

One of the key things about learning to sell is that it takes lots and lots of practice.  Getting started early is a big help.

So for all of you who have a chance to do something different than traditional school, I suggest adding sales to the curriculum.

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If you liked the last clips from Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?, then you’re going to like these two as well.  I’m not drawing any conclusions, but I think they speak for themselves.

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I’ve used the show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?”  to talk about knowledge retention and how to eliminate was in training.  I’ve run across a number of clips that basically speak for themselves.  This one is about science education.

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After 50 years of watching football, basketball and baseball, I’m a little bored with it all.  So in my constant search for something new, this is a sport I find facinating.  I don’t know if it would make a good college or high school sport…might be a little too macho. 

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There’s always a lot of controversy about our public school systems.  Part of the crisis comes from the fact that it’s part of the political system where the money goes to the loudest squeeky wheel.  All the focus goes to failing schools instead of the stand outs.  There’s also a lot of nostalgia.  “The old days were better.”  I think I heard this outside the second little red schoolhouse.

 Anyway, I’ve put together a short list of questions I have about schools.  Maybe you’d like to add a few.

  1. Why is k-12 the only time in your life that you’ll spend all your time with others of the exact same age?
  2. Why do we have k-12 instead of some other number of years?  I know the historical reasons, but haven’t things changed?
  3. Why do we teach subject by subject, in silos, rather than cutting up and sorting what needs to be covered in other ways?
  4. Why are teachers basically at the top of their profession the day they start?  (There’s a very short career path for teachers.)
  5. Why are schools all inclusive, one-stop shopping?  Couldn’t kids go to multiple schools at the same time?
  6. Why don’t schools teach life and work skills? 
  7. Why do we have homework instead of having kids finish their work in school?
  8. Why do schools need to have their own buildings?  Couldn’t they rent out space in the community?
  9. Why do schools promote a social system that is so clickie and unlike what people experience out of school?
  10. Why is it so hard from one school to learn from and adopt the best practices from others school?

I think asking a lot of whys is a good process.  In fact, that process may be more important that the actual questions.  I think a lot of the answers to the “whys” are, because that’s the way we’ve always done them.

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In the business world, we are always looking for ways to increase output while decreasing costs.  This is what the whole quality movement is about.  So how do you apply these principles to increase education funding.

First, for the sake of argument let’s just freeze education funding at current levels.  If we can provide the same or better education for less money we’ll free up money to do other things.  Second, we let’s assume we can change the funding from “butts in the seat” to some other formula we’re the level of quality of education equals funding.  I’ll come back to this.

Okay, so what we focus on is dramatically reducing time to proficiency for the middle 60 to 70% of students.  I’m leaving out the top and the bottom for right now because the real big dollars are in the middle with all the average kids. 

The first step is to define proficiency as the education the average student gets from K-12.  At the start, whatever the school system defines as proficiency will be our target.  Now, we measure the current time to proficiency.  It may be more or less that 13 years but we want a real time to proficiency not just the day you get the diploma.

Now through applying process improvement techniques that allow us to drive out waste and reduce time on the first pass I guarantee you will find 50 to 100 quick hit improvement ideas.  A quick hit is anything that reduces time to proficiency and that doesn’t require a lot of time or money.  These quick hits come from looking at the current curriculum in depth.  (By the way, my definition of waste is anything a student doesn’t remember after the test.)

A lot of quick hits have to do with our courses are arranged, rearranged, combined, modified and deleted.  You tend to break down subject and grade barriers and instead start to think in terms of start to finish.  For example, you set a reading level and you continue the education until the student reaches that level.  Instead of teaching reading in the first grade it may take several year to reach a certain level of speed and comprehension.  Quick hits are also trying to match the way people actually learn versus they way we traditionally teach it.

Through this effort you will reduce time to proficiency.  Some students will finish in 10 years, some 11, some 12 and some might take 14.  In the business world, we’ve always gotten a 30% reduction initially.  But let’s say you get a 5% reduction.   That means we cut an average education by about 6 or 7 months.  What does it 6 to 7 months of education cost a school system?  It’s a lot.  Now you can take the money and spend it on something like higher teacher salaries or a music program. 

You can read all about how this works in a business environment in my book Learning Paths.  I’ve also posted a whitepaper in my blog. 

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