It's Time to Pivot! How Small Shifts in Education can Change the World
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There is a belief today that more time in school will improve education. However, the learning process of young minds involves much more than time spent in classrooms, and quality of education should be measured by more than test results. As noted in my post, "The US Education System is Broken, or is it?" school's primary purpose is not educating children, but preparing them to be educated by the world as lifelong learners.
The purpose of school needs to be providing necessary tools and experiences to be successful in an increasingly complex, inter-connected, and globalized world. The tools and skills that students learn must help them interact with and navigate diverse socio-economic environments in which they will find themselves. A truly educated person is able to engage the communities of which they will one day become leaders, and not simply able to score well on classroom tests.
Small, intentional “pivots” within our education system will more successfully prepare students for life. Moreover, we need to teach students how to pivot as they will live longer lives with the need for multiple adaptations in response to global changes. My own pivot process includes using previously accumulated skills and contacts to change course as needed or when greater opportunities present themselves (or can be created).
Shifts that make a difference
Funding for Equity
The US education system is producing average students according to PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment). However, these statistics change drastically among schools with less than 25% of students on Free and Reduced Lunch. These schools demonstrate that non-impoverished young Americans are performing at the top of the global spectrum.
Students in low-income areas attend schools that are often congested, understaffed, and lack the full-range of tools needed for learning in those socioeconomic environments. Generally, students attending low-income public schools receive lower quality education, not necessarily because the educators lack skills but because of the larger needs and disbursement of resources beyond the classroom (psychological counseling, food, etc.).
Current public school funding is based on enrollment numbers. However, public schools in affluent communities are better able to direct funds toward programs that build “cultural capital.” Efforts toward creating equity suggest that such allocations should be reappropriated on a need basis. Low-income areas need more funding for counsellors, psychologists, transportation, and after school programs for struggling students.
Title 1 Funding
Similar to the above, we need not only to increase funding but shift and expand funding to combat poverty which ultimately burdens US schools in comparison to other industrialized nations. In a recent radio interview I did with WVON "Talk of Chicago" we discussed former Vice President Joe Biden's current plan for education. It is a "pivot" from where he was as recently as 2015, with a call today for massive increases in funding for low-income schools and significant expansion of resources for families, including extended pre-k and dedicated counselors and psychologists in public schools (something that has been cut over the years and now falls on already overburdened teachers who are not and shouldn’t need to be experts in mental illness or psychology).
Regardless of whether we agree with Biden or Democrats in general, we can hopefully agree that teachers need to be equipped and supported to better address factors that impact students outside the classroom and provide more holistic resources.
Parents have the right to exercise school choice. However, this leads to segregation, whereby black American and Hispanic students often end up in low-income area public schools. Parents’ financial status often plays a determining role in which school students attend. Low-income families cannot afford transportation costs to far away schools, nor can they afford school lunch in schools not providing it for free.
However, even high income families pay a price for self-selected segregation. Cultural capital does not equal cultural competence, and in an age of Artificial Intelligence where according to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 38% of jobs will be automated in a decade from now, “college and career-ready” may become less relevant than being “community-ready.” The opportunity in cross-socioeconomic and cross-cultural collaboration will be what moves a nation forward.
Education systems need to pivot and focus on uniting students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Unifying different groups will lead to better interactions between different people in the future. We must teach cultural competence through instruction and experience so that youth have the skills to interact in a diverse world. This would enable them to develop core values that seek to unite and provide collaborative decisions versus a mindset that alienates and divides.
Shorter school days
More time in the classroom will not produce a better educated or more prepared life-long learner who is capable of absorbing the lessons of the world. Instead, students need more time to apply their education while receiving it; they need more time to interact with friends, neighbors, community, and family in order to truly learn life skills. Moreover, a little boredom enables the discovery of passion and hobbies, the development of creativity, and the opportunity for internships and co-curricular activities that provide real-world learning benefits for life.
A good education system has four key players: society and global community, teachers, parents, and students themselves. A system that primarily focuses on classroom instruction instead of engaging all players is flawed. Tools such as homework only reach their full potential when parents are encouraged to do it alongside their children to create family engagement--a child doing homework in solitude fosters resentment for education, and the classroom itself is where students should be collaborating (not through homework). Well-rounded students will be developed from plans, funding, and intentional environments that foster learning through interactions within all arenas.
With such pivots, I believe we can provide a truly “world-class” education and prepare students who will change the world. Please email me and let me know your thoughts.
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"Songwriting Safari" in Chile
Do not miss this opportunity! A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson. You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors. By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.
Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020